Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Rushing...and music

Ever since I was a teen, the Christmas season has been packed with stuff.  I remember studying for exams between music concerts.

As our family has grown, so has the number of Christmas commitments.  Being a family of musicians makes Christmas a busy time for us, and when you throw in things like two age groups of kid Christmas parties, family parties, work parties, and baking parties...well, Christmas gets pretty crazy.

This week is our peak busy-ness week.  I actually don't have time to be sitting here typing this, but I really need to take a breather and regroup a little before moving on to my next task.

I have been in a constant state of panic mixed with depression over the past month or so, which really really sucks.  I walk around with a sore chest, shortness of breath, tingling extremities, gastro distress, nausea, and a feeling that I will start crying at any second (but of course I can't).  I have increased my Cipralex dose to 5 mg, which is the half-pill that my doctor wants me to take.  I think it is helping, along with an early bedtime, a happy light (thanks parents!!), water, vitamins, music, and healing isochronic tones with binaural beats as I fall asleep.  Really, at this point I just need to try anything.  Being overbooked makes my panic worse, but socializing makes me feel happy, so it is a delicate balance.

I did have a win this week to give me a boost.  This past Sunday at church, I sang on the worship team.  I started a couple of songs, which means me singing alone.  The last time I sang solo was for mother's day when my 13 year old was a baby.  And it was one line.  Before that...I think it was a competition in grade four.  I actually told the worship leader of our church earlier this year that I would sing on the team, but not alone.  Well, circumstances this weekend led to me stepping up to help out, and that is what needed to be done.  And I did it, even though the melody was closer to the top of my comfortable range.   And my hubby who I would trust more than anyone else to tell me the 100% truth said I did well.  And I am thankful that God gave me exactly what I needed in those moments to not choke or choke up.

There was a line that made me smile as I sang it, and now as I look up the lyrics, I can smile as I read the entire verse:

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You're sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

So when You call I won't delay
This my song through all my days...

(from None but Jesus by Brooke Fraser)

Music is powerful, isn't it?  This morning as I drove to work after a frustrating morning of my son missing the bus (again), I saw my beloved mountains and sang from the book of psalms, "I lift my eyes up, to the mountains, where does my help come from?  My help comes from You, Maker of Heaven..." and song after song continued to flow out of me until I got to work, calm and ready for the day.  Music gets me through a lot of stuff, and I am so glad that I have so much music in my head and in my heart, to help with the problems I have in my head and in my heart.  I'm glad music is at the center of our busy-ness through the Christmas season.  Even though we are rushing about, we still have no choice but to take the time to sit and listen, sing, play, enjoy.  It's perfect.  :)

 


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's just...the sadness

Heavy, cold, tired...sad...depression.

I think we are all feeling it around here lately.

The nasty intestinal virus that oscillates between diarrhea and constipation on an hourly to daily basis; it's exhausting.

I'm fighting the urge to stop eating altogether.  Again.  It would be so easy.  A few days this week, all I ate was lunch and only because my digestive system wasn't ready for food in the morning, and by dinner time I had learned my lesson - anything that goes in comes back out about 10 minutes later.

That's how I solved this at the worst of it in the past...I just stopped eating.  The discussions in my head lately have been ongoing:

"Just stop eating and then you won't have the pain and bathroom trips."

"No way.  Last time I did that I ended up stuck in the house."

"But you have medicine for that now.  Just do it, it will be fine."

"Hmmm...you're right.  I wonder what would happen..."

And on it goes.

In the end, I always convince myself to eat.  And then I regret it and wonder when I will stop expecting a new result.  I hate feeling sick at work.  I hate not knowing if I will be able to make it home without stopping somewhere to use the bathroom (I have always made it home without stopping; but I drive on a highway, so stopping would mean the side of the road).

My weariness continues, but every day I still take time to sing, to admire the sunrise and the beautiful mountains.  I cuddle with my children.  I eat lunch with my hubby.  I thank God for blessing us with all we have; our relative health, strength, happy children with amazing friends.  I soak up the awesomeness of my sanctuary bedroom - my comfy bed and antique heated blanket - all made up of gifts from friends and family.  I try to appreciate the now while planning the later.  These things aren't hard, but are little reprieves from the heaviness of the rest.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Progressions

Since I went back to work, our home has gotten very small very quickly.

Having one bathroom really really makes mornings difficult.

I don't have patience for the kid-sharing-rooms bedtime fights.  Because I am tired and I really just want time and silence to myself.

Seeing clutter everywhere constantly depresses me and saps the last energy I would use to clean up.  There is just stuff.  Everywhere.  All the time.  

Having our dresser in our master bedroom closet means that I can't hang my work clothes in there because a lot of them are too long.  So the long stuff goes up to the next level of the house, in a storage space, and some mornings, I run up and down the stairs multiple times.  But everyone else is doing that too, really, they just go the other way to the basement because even though I am okay at keeping up with washing and drying the laundry, it does not make it out of the piles on the family room floor.  It doesn't even really get folded until the room is impassable.

I think it is no secret that I loved my stay at home mom life.  This past week I was considering that maybe staying in this house wouldn't be so bad if I could just go back to the much calmer stay at home mom life I had before.  It is also no secret that the only reason I am working is so that we can buy a larger home that is more suited to our growing family.  Even my boss-est boss knows.

The thing I struggle with a lot is that when I started back to work, I am the only one that things really changed for.  Work doesn't replace anything for me.  It adds to my to-do list.  My family still has the same life, more-or-less, that they had before.  Except with a little more yelling and swearing and rushing, and a little less me volunteering at the school and attending performances.

And then I look at everything that I've just written and mock myself.  How can I look at all that I have and be anything other than grateful?  What right do I have to not appreciate the fact that I have a bathroom at all?  Or a house at all?  Or clothes, or kids, or a job??  

I do appreciate all of it.  Every bit.  I do realize that some people could look at me and think, "wow, she has it all."  I try so hard to be mindful of that.  So hard.  And still the frustration creeps in, every single day.

And every morning as I turn off the highway to head to work, I see the most beautiful mountains, and any frustration of the morning melts away.  And those mountains make me think of the friends I love the most and don't see nearly enough; they make me miss my parents and brother so much that it hurts some days.  They remind me that God is near, and that I need to shift my focus a little.  This world...it's not about me.  I want to be a good person to others.  A loving person to others.  A present mother and wife and friend to others.  I don't want to tarnish other people's days with my frustration and grumpiness.

I know that life is a work in progress, as am I.  I don't want to waste it by longing, wishing and not being grateful.  I do want to live with hope, optimism and joy.  I know I am wavering right now, but it has been done, and can be done again.  I just need to stop and remind myself every now and then.

Tonight in an effort to rejuvenate myself, I went to the gym.  I did a group cycle class, which I don't particularly love, but the sweat is good and I need it.  This is the first step in a new comittment to take care of myself again, so that maybe, hopefully, I will be able to take care of others better too.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Square One

So many times I think of our life as a family and the phrase, "hilarity ensued" pops into my head.  I don't know who finds it hilarious. Maybe it is funny, in a "if I don't laugh, I'll cry" sort of way.

I can picture God sitting up above, lovingly giggling the way a parent does as they watch their child stumble through something that they have to learn - and will master one day - despite the difficulty of it all.  He blesses us for sure down to so many little details that I know when I share them with people they add it to the list of reasons why they think I'm crazy.  If not for those details...I just don't know what.

So, I've not posted here for a very long time and the reason is simply that I didn't want to be putting more and more negative here.  The transition to me working outside of the house continues.  There is still not a happy free-flowing routine around here.  Part of the reason is that not only did I "return to work", but two of our children started attending a new school with a calendar schedule that is not only different from all we've ever known, but is also way more demanding of time and money than we have ever known.  The oldest joined marching band, which is very time demanding.  The youngest three kids have not started their fall activity yet (Hap Ki Do starts next week), and I already feel pressed for time.

Interestingly, it's not really the time thing that affects me, personally.  I love to be busy.  I make a schedule and follow it, and everything is happy...when it goes that way, which is rarely.  As most parents know, it is impossible to keep six people completely on schedule.  Six people don't have the same priorities as each other (like being on time for things), don't all walk the same speed, don't all like to be busy.  This is where frustration comes in.  Sometimes there isn't time to "start getting ready earlier".

My biggest struggle has been exhaustion.  Being exhausted makes following the schedule very very difficult.  The fact that I cannot fit workouts in anymore is very pivitol in my life and my family's life.  I continue to gain weight, but lack the motivation to change.  I planned that I would head to the gym in the evenings when I started working, but have realized that my kids need me in the evenings.  How can I rob them of that time?

My self-esteem is affected - I hate the picture in the mirror.  My brain is foggy and I make bad decisions, mistakes, and overlook things.  This is a problem because my position at work entails doing tasks that I have never done before or received any formal training on.  I have no relevant education, and no background or experience or instinct to draw potential solutions from.  I am spending a lot of time reading and learning and trying to make sense of everything.

At home, my children are: the moody one, the depressed one, the explosive imp, and the whiny one.  Three of them fight.  Two of them are violent to each other.  All of them should be actors based solely on their amazing drama skills.  We parents trade off in struggling with patience more than the other, so the more patient one is up to calm, talk, soothe, coerce, convince kids so things that need to happen can happen.  This stage of parenting takes more energy than all other ages combined.  As soon as control is lost and a word is yelled, children shut down, stomp away, slam doors and hide, which throws all plans and schedules off, adding stress and more yelling.

This is pretty much a summary of what the last while has been.  Throw in some strange diarrhea virus that has hit random family members in non-succession, sinus colds, my bowling arm injury that now affects my back/shoulders/neck, stressful volunteer positions, a house that cannot stay in order, and you get a good picture.  My birthday was awhile ago.  It was an absolutely horrible day - a Monday after a horribly stressful Thursday to Sunday.  I had given up Cipralex in an attempt to lose some weight (worked, actually), which meant I had no mental support to deal with all the crap, and while I felt I was thinking clearly for the first time in a really long time, there were also withdrawal symptoms going on.  I went to bed early on my birthday and cried and cried and cried.  I'm pretty sure it was a backlog of all the tears that don't come out when I am on Cipralex.  I restarted the drug the next day.  The weight is back.

Square one.



Sunday, September 6, 2015

Week five of doing the work thing

This week was easier, but no less exhausting.  I managed to stay up until a regular adult bedtime most nights, but my house still is a disaster.  It was another type of transition week for us as the older two kids returned to school on Tuesday.  I am thankful that their transition seems to be going smooth enough because I feel that I've reached my limit on putting out emotional fires. 

There is a huge uproar in my city right now about school bus stops being unreasonable for students.  I almost let out a whoop in my office when I found out that my kids' bus stop is at the end of my alley.  It was a GIANT load off my shoulders.  Now, as the issue is revisited, it is one more thing for me to think about and pray (selfishly) for no change while trying to be ahead of the game with a plan for if that stop is yanked away from us and moved somewhere else.  I wish I could not think about it, but now that I am working, everything seems to require a lot more thought and planning than it did when I functioned on a stay-at-home-mom schedule.

I increased my Cipralex dose this week.  I've been taking 1/4 pill since I went back on it in February, and my doctor has argued with me about it every single time I've seen her since then (she insists that even my prescribed 1/2 pill is "nothing").  But September is September (and August is September around here too), and I feel like I need that little extra drug boost for patience because I am getting worn out managing it on my own.  One way that anxiety manifests is anger and frustration, and that occurs for me, as I am not naturally a patient person to begin with.  With doubling my dose, I've experienced the start up side-effects to a lesser extreme.  Yawning and jaw clenching for sure.  I've tried to stay at the tiniest dose not only because I believe that if 1/4 works, why take more?, but also because I firmly believe that taking Cipralex has caused me to gradually gain weight since I started taking it.  Again, my doctor says that is not a side effect, but based on evidence in my own life, I just can't believe her.  That messes with my self esteem.  Once again, I have a closet full of clothes that don't fit me.  So, lots of depression this week, low energy, and many panic attacks hanging about and waiting to pounce.  So much prayer this week for strength not only for myself, but for friends who have lost a loved one to cancer; and those struggling with loneliness, with regret, with physical pain and with uncertainty of what the future will bring. 

My house in disarray is a strong contributor to my depression, so I started this three-day weekend determined to get stuff back in order here.  I did a great job on Friday with part of the kitchen, completed the kitchen on Saturday afternoon, and then lost steam on my mission shortly after.  I have 1.5 days left to hopefully use wisely to complete the main floor and plan for the week ahead.  Each week gets easier, and I expect that this week will be no different.  Once my house is in order, I can buckle down on our finances, which is also an area of concern dragging me down on a regular basis here.  That's September with four kids in school, I guess.  By October, my financial outlook will be way more optimistic.  I hope.  LOL




Sunday, August 30, 2015

Back to work week four

Wow!  Four weeks already.  It was another tough week.  Not because of the work, but because of the rest.  Because of life.  Because of emotions.  And normally I am not TOO affected by outside stuff, but I think the exhaustion is making me more susceptible.

So here's an emotional dump about last week.

Horomones, feeling disgusting, low iron, low energy, a new workout plan that has me up and moving super early, new eating plan, no time to straighten my hair in the mornings which makes me feel unkempt, fatigue, frustration, three friends going through major surgeries, remembering babies lost, school picture day, feeling left out, dizziness, nausea, disappointment in others, expectations not met, two medical appointments requiring a follow up and orthotics for my daughter and a "we can't do anything about that painful lump" for me.  The realization that I am growing out of my clothes and they are becoming quite uncomfortable to squeeze into.  The smokey, smoggy air keeping everyone inside with windows closed, and making it hard for people to breathe - the realization of the seriousness of asthma, and the thought that people are losing their homes and their lives because of raging wildfire and they can't do a thing about it. 

It's crazy to be filled with gratitude for something that you don't currently have.  I felt this in a HUGE way two separate times this week.  The first was because of the smoke.  I am so thankful for the clean air we usually have, and the blue skies. 

The other thing is much bigger.  It is almost September and as most or all parents know, money gushes from our bank accounts freely at this time of the year.  Despite our household income being significantly higher than it has EVER been, our bank account is running at a $500-$800 deficit right now, even before the $850 cheque I wrote for a marching band membership this week (thank you overdraft!!), and on top of the debt we've accumulated over the past year of income not meeting expenses.  On Wednesday evening, I went out to put air in my leaky tire and complete a few other errands I'd been putting off.  As I was crouched down trying to get the air hose to seal properly and send air into my van tire instead of letting more out, a man called out to me from a few metres away.  He asked if he could exchange favours with me - if he filled my tire, could I please maybe buy a cheeseburger for his partner.  She was sitting over in a parked van and hadn't eaten yet today.  They were living in that van right now.  His eyes were concerned but kind.

I told him that of course I would buy her a cheeseburger, and that he didn't have to fill my tire; I was doing just fine (which I wasn't, by the way.  LOL).  He put his hands together and bowed his head to say thank you, and I watched him let her know, then cross the street and start approaching people at the convenience store across the way. 

Wary of strangers, I pulled up to the parked van in my van, and I didn't get out, but I rolled down my window.  There sat a woman, not old, not young.  She turned to me with sad eyes and an embarrassed expression.  I smiled and said, "I heard that you haven't eaten today."

She confirmed that she hadn't and I told her I would buy her a meal.  She asked me if she would have to go into the restaurant with me, as she showed me her holey sneaker.  I told her I would just drive through, and asked what her favourite thing was on the McDonald's menu.  I had to convince her to tell me; she kept insisting the cheapest thing was perfect, no matter what it was.

In the end, I got her a super-sized meal of her choosing, with a gift card for the man to use that evening or the next day.  There were tears in her eyes as she got out of her van and thanked me.  They were living in their minivan, begging to get by.  That day, they had received a total of $8 for their efforts.  They had tried to stay at a shelter, but she had gotten sores on her skin from staying there, and after a visit to the hospital to get them looked at, had decided not to return.  They had no other clothes, and hadn't showered in two weeks; even a shower at the truck stop was too expensive.  As I pulled out of the parking lot to return home, the man was on his way back to his van.  He saw me and smiled; put his hands together in prayer position and bowed his head to me again.

I didn't have the money to buy this couple dinner, but I knew that there was more money coming to me, so I did it anyway.  I am heartbroken for them in their situation.  It could be any of us, couldn't it?  Even as this all played out, my brain still argued with itself..."Are they telling the truth?  Am I getting scammed?  I want to do more for them.  But what if they are just playing me?  I should buy them real groceries.  No, don't fall for it.  I could take up a shoes and clothes collection and meet them back here.  You'll never see them again. They just want a free meal.  But they are working so hard for it.  What about Jesus saying "I was hungry and you did not feed me?"  Does it even really matter if it's truth or a lie if you are doing a kind deed for another person??

$20 in the grand scheme of things isn't as big a deal as it once was for us, but I've lived times that it was.  I have thought of this couple all week, along with others going through times so tough that I can barely imagine how they are breathing through the physical and emotional pain.  Knowing that there is nothing I can do in some situations really makes me feel helpless and depressed.  I've sensed so strongly this past week that the world is so broken, so hurting, so full of pain and struggle and loss...I wish I could do something to make it better.  Better for one person, better for a few.  Better for more than a few. 

But there is only one me. 

And I am so very tired.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Back to work week three.

Another week under my belt.  This week the person who started training me from the start was away on vacation, so I had a lot of freedom to test my confidence, make decisions, create and complete projects, and settle into my space.

Today was the first event that I had to miss because of work.  It wasn't anything big - just a school assembly - but with 14 new staff at the school, including a new principal and assistant principal, it was hard to miss the event where I would get to know what is going on for this year.  I already feel disconnected, and I don't like that.  It's a big change because I have been very present in the school community for 8 years now.

With the new arrangement of me working, hubby has taken over morning duty so I can go into the office early.  He gets the kids off to school most mornings, but he had an early dentist appointment one morning this week.  As I sent my two littles off across the field, my girl clung to me and cried.  I've never had this resistance to go to school from her before, and I know she is having trouble adjusting to all the new.  It started in July when I closed my dayhome.  We have had extra kids here my daughter's whole life, and she has always had someone to play with.  All of a sudden with her brothers off doing their own things, as they do, she was struck with boredom and totally at a loss about what to do to fill her time.  She and I have done so many fun things together since then, and I do my best to say yes EVERY time she says she wants to do something with me.  Transitions.

I'm feeling so grateful to have this job.  My first paycheque felt SO GOOD.  I took my besties out for appies and drinks to celebrate; kind of a tradition as they did the same when they each returned to work.  I feel empowered and encouraged - my take-charge attitude is not being squelched, but is being met with positive comments from my co-workers and my boss.  For the second week in a row, hubby came home and shared how impressed the boss is with tasks I have done and projects I have initiated and carried out.  I LOVE to shock people by going far beyond their expectations of me.  Positive and impressed comments make my heart soar.  I feel intelligent and strong, but I get the impression that people don't see that when they look at me.  Bonus:  I get to shock everyone!  :D   

It has been super awesome to do grown up things all day (including an almost-daily lunch date with my hubby!) but still be home in time to pick up my littles from school, and to chat with all my school mommy-friends while our kids play together on the park every afternoon.  This afternoon, I came home at noon, put dinner in the oven to start and stop cooking when it should, and took all four kids bowling.  It is just such a wonderful cap to the work week.

All this said, it has been a hard week mentally.  I've really been struggling with exhaustion, fatigue, depression.  I felt anxiety trying to take over one evening, but I was able to ward it off.  My body has been aching like never before; even climbing into my van has been difficult.  I went to yoga on Monday evening and soaked in an Epsom salt bath last night.  Sometimes the heaviness in my body makes me feel like I'm going to melt right down into the earth, it's pulling so hard. 

I have goals though, and I'm going to press on.  And I'm going to be more diligent in taking those iron pills that my doctor prescribed last month.  Must take care of me so I can take care of others.  Not just my family, but a whole office full now too!  :)

Now it is the weekend, and I'm going to work to return my house to the relaxing sanctuary I know it can be.  And my hopes are high that next week will be filled with a clear bright joyful feeling rather than the cloudy muddled joy of this week.  <3

Friday, August 7, 2015

Returning to work...through anxiety.

This week sure tested my mad anxiety coping skillz!!

Saturday was a family reunion for family of my husband's mother's mother.  Lots of socializing, lots of people I didn't know, lots of people I have only met a handful of times.  Outside (eek) for hours and hours, and on top of all that, intestinal problems that come from being away from home for three weeks (bleh).  It ended up being a ton of fun!!

Sunday we woke up 8 hours from home and had to have our oldest son home and back out at a location 30 minutes from our house at camp before dinnertime.

Monday I ended my stay-at-home mom career and rushed around to prepare my children for the week ahead, and Tuesday I started a new job in an office, where they all are just so excited to have me come and DO ALL THE STUFF.  LOL  It was a very busy learning day, and when I got home I was absolutely exhausted.  I was so disappointed in myself, that I would be so tired after one day of work, and I already was doubting that I could have this life that seems like an amazing dream to me.

Turns out the exhaustion meant something and the early to bed didn't ward off the bug that hit me hard on Wednesday morning.  The thought of vomiting skyrockets my anxiety, then to actually do it AT WORK on my second day there, in a small office, where all the employees of TWO companies could hear every sound...horrifying.  I made it home, rested up for the rest of the day and one more, and returned to work today - Friday - trying to calm my anxious thoughts all the way there. 

I was afraid that I would see the bathroom and my body would remember.  I was afraid that people would be awkward around me. 

But, I walked in and got to work.  And when my office buddy came in, she made sure I was really okay before we got down to business with more learnin'.  I nibbled crackers and drank water through the morning and went out for lunch with my two bosses and my hubby.  And as the day went on, I felt better and better.

After work, I picked up my boy from camp and we met my hubby at the music store where we ordered our son's trumpet earlier this week.  He saved up to buy this trumpet and today was the day it was finally in his hands.  On the way home, I stopped to pick up the first Slurpee I've had since Monday.  It was sunny and I drove with the windows down and the music turned up.

I still don't feel 100% health-wise, but my heart is bursting with joy.  I am so thankful for my new job - today as we worked on payroll stuff, my office buddy told me that she is SO glad I am there to do all this with her.  I'm so thankful for my friend who introduced my hubby to this company, and that I was welcomed in too.  I'm so thankful for my kids - their maturity, love, and their excitement to see each other this evening.  I'm so thankful for my hubby who totally went above and beyond to get us all through this week.  I'm so thankful for the camp that my boy attended where he had an amazing time and rededicated his life to Jesus and came out with a gentleness for his family and an excitement about attending church this weekend.

Anxiety was present this week; lurking, waiting to ambush me.  But the people around me didn't let it happen.  God didn't let it happen.  And what could have been one of my toughest weeks in 13 years turned out to be one of the most joy-filled. 

I noticed.

Recently I read this line in a book:

"I noticed.  I can't stop noticing.  That's my whole problem."  (About Last Night, by Ruthie Knox)

Okay, it was a cheesy romance novel, and the conversation was about attraction, but the line really stuck out to me as a general life problem I have, and I wonder if other people have it too.

Noticing is something that I just do.  All. the. time.  I can't get away from it, though I sometimes wish I could take a break and move through life for a week or two blissfully unaware of my surroundings: footloose and fancy free. 

Unfortunately, I am the type of person who will replay a situation over and over in my mind looking for meaning.  I will be sad if I detect that I've let you down in some way.  I will debate my ethics in a conversation with myself.  And if I haven't been in contact with a close friend in a while, I feel it, and it wears on me - Is this person still my friend?  Are they thinking horrible thoughts about me?  Will reaching out to reconnect make me look foolish?

I notice the weather, changes in landscape, broken property and broken people.  I notice body language, rolls of the eyes, airs of uncertainty and unspoken exasperation.  I notice people missing from regular places in person and online.  I notice changes in pattern, in words, in posture. 

And then I wonder.  What's going on?  Is it my place to ask?  Will I help them feel valued?  Make them embarrassed?  Will I embarrass myself? Are they wondering why I'm not asking? Do they think I don't care?

Seriously, there is just too much thinking going on when you can't stop noticing.  My brain never stops.  There is relief in talking about things, but sometimes stuff just can't be said out loud.  You know, politeness and all that.

Anyone with me on the noticing train? 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sick

Well, it seems that I have caught some sort of gastro bug; my favourite kind.  

I went to work this morning, all ready for my second day of learning and adult socialization.  I felt weak and shaky in the morning, but I figured it would pass.  Less than two hours into the day I found myself running to the bathroom and vomiting loudly for all to hear.  Not awkward at all, right?

Fortunately, I have awesome co-workers and bosses who were glad to send me home to recover, for as long as it takes.

I was offered rides home, but I figured I could make it - and I did - and I spent the day between bed and bathroom, dozing when I could; listening to the rain and hail and thunder and flooding.

As much as I detest the fact that my body was working hard to turn itself inside out in more than one way, I feel like it was a really nice day.

At work, I was treated with compassion and understanding.  My hubby had texted the kids to let them know I was on my way home and they met me at the door with concern.  

After I was settled into my bed, within my calming sanctuary of a bedroom, the kids came to ask what they could do for me.  When I asked if they could find me a cracker, my 7-year old came back to say, "We don't have any crackers.  Would you like some toast with or without butter?"  I marvelled at her maturity, and the fact that she knew that toast was a good substitute to offer.  And I was so proud when she and her brothers brought two pieces of toast to me on a plate.  I unfortunately quickly realized that I couldn't keep anything down, but I was so filled with pride, joy, love at my sweeties' actions.

Mother Nature was busy cooking up storms today, and at two separate times, a child came upstairs to seek reassurance and have their fears of thunder, of hail and of tornadoes  dashed.  They were able to lay next to me in my bed, cry a little, cuddle with me and feel better.  Even if it was because of illness, I'm glad I could be here for them. Since falling rain is one of my favourite sounds, I'm also glad I could be here stuck laying down in my bed, unable to look at my phone or speak extensively, and have my window wide open to hear it all afternoon and evening.

My wonderful hubby brought home crackers and Powerade for me for dinner, and as I complete this blog post, I am thrilled to say that I just finished the cracker I started three hours ago.  It appears to be staying in my belly at this point, which I am so grateful for.  And my lemon-lime Powerade is so refreshing to my thirsty bod, even in tiny well-spaced sips.  

Goodnight friends.  I'm signing off happily with high hopes for a healthy tomorrow!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Magic of Have a New Teenager by Friday

Last week, I read a book by Kevin Lehman called Have a New Teenager by Friday. 

I had previously read Have a New Kid by Friday, and found its suggestions to be helpful and effective, but somehow we fell off track *ahem*  for a few *ahem* years.

I started trying out a few of the methods while I was still reading the book because I just couldn't wait.  Normally, I wait to read an entire book before following a plan that it lays out, but this time, I just had to try it.  Things have been a little out of hand at our house for awhile.

Well, to my amazement, it started working right away.  The book presents a way to force the kids to work out their issues on their own - without dragging the parent into it.  Seeing the way this has played out in our household over the past week or so has impressed my husband.  He didn't read the book (I hope he will someday), but I've been coaching him through stressful interactions with our teen.  He has been receptive (I'm impressed) and I feel like things have been just the tiniest bit more peaceful around here.  Family relationships are getting nicer.  The kids are harbouring less resentment.  Today I saw two of them resolve a fight immediately, without dragging me into it, and they came up with a solution that was effective for both of them and went on their merry ways.  Another fight between two others ended with them coming out of the room composing underarm fart sound music together, and laughing.  I love this.

There are other solutions to other major issues in the book, but the kids fighting has been causing me frustration, anxiety, anger, and depression.  When I and my hubby are out of the equation and the kids are working on their relationship on their own...well, it just brings such joy.  I am proud, and I trust that this will build a strong foundation for their relationships as they head into adulthood.  I hope that they always want to hang out together, share meals, watch their kids build strong cousinly bonds, and just enjoy the fact that they have each other and know they can count on each other no matter what.  


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Testing, testing, 123

This morning I had an appointment for some lab work.  It was my annual test, so I had to fast for the bloodwork.

Since I made the plan to get better, breakfast has been a mandatory part of my day.  When I was sick, I skipped breakfast because I didn't want to eat and then have it go right through me at an inopportune time.  My body got used to me not eating in the morning.  Since that is no longer the reality, not eating breakfast today was very difficult. 

I woke up reminding myself that I couldn't eat anything, and that I would need to make sure my bladder was full for the urine sample part.  Funny story...my body remembers when I wouldn't eat anything but I drank lots of water for the "full" feeling.  And my body didn't like the memory.  It wanted to throw up the water, then it wanted it to come out the other end.  The ill feeling in my stomach brought on the usual panicky feelings and I had to work to stay relaxed and calm (thankfully I have progressed VERY well in this area). 

I was blessed with an on-time appointment and the best lab tech I've ever had.  I didn't even feel the needle go in.  My bladder decided that it wasn't shy anymore after only a minute, so I was able to get out of there to find some food quickly.  I had planned to attend my step class, but there was no way that I'd be able to make it through the hour with an empty belly (oh how times have changed!), so I grabbed some breakfast and ate it in my van very slowly because my stomach was now in full-on remember mode and had shifted back to the "we don't really need food anyway" mentality.

Seriously, they say the gut is a second brain with a "mind of its own" and they are not kidding.

The thing that scared me about all this is I was thinking about how easy it would be to get used to that again.  My brain whispered, "You only feel the hunger for a little while, then it goes away," and "remember how much you hate all the weight you've put on?" and "if you just do this for a little while, your clothes will fit again."

Interestingly, I had planned to skip lunch because I had eaten a fast food breakfast, but someone is looking out for me and that wasn't going to happen.  I have a soft spot for fast food.  Today was fun lunch day at my kids' school and I headed in to help our fundraising coordinator distribute the meals.  The restaurant had packed us four extra sandwiches and marked them "Free", so my friend sent me home with two, and I ate one for lunch.

I feel like today was one big test for me on the whole IBS/Anxiety subject.  I'm not sure that I've passed yet, but I did make it this far, and hopefully the rest of the day will see me making good choices.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Growth

We have petunias in planters outside of our door.  They smell so wonderful that I sometimes step outside to just breathe in their scent.  They make me so happy. 

We've had flowers there before - my mom got me started on planters on our cement front a few years ago - but there has never been such a wonderful scent there in the air.  I like flowers but not the upkeep, playing in the mud, weeding, or dealing with bugs.  So far, though, my daughter has kept the flowers happy.

My hubby has always wanted a vegetable garden, but I've never really thought it possible here with our limited yard space and crummy soil.  This year, I decided we should try it.

I asked one evening if the family thought we could get rid of the disintegrating playhouse in the backyard and replace it with planter boxes.  Amazingly, the answer was a quick and resounding YES!

So...

My son who loved to climb and jump on that house helped me move it, tear it apart, and throw it into the dumpster. 

My husband got right to work designing the planters, and took our oldest son out to purchase the materials within two days.  He had never constructed anything big from wood before.  Hubby and our third-born spent a day with power tools cutting and drilling.  I'm so proud of their fabulous work!

A friend and her beau had soil left over from a recent project they had done and generously shoveled it into their truck, brought it into the city for me, and shoveled it into the completed planters.

And then my man, my almost-man and my girl planned and planted and watered.

A few weeks later, green bits are poking from the dirt.  It is really exciting for me to see this - I've never eaten food grown in my own backyard before. 

What did my family plant in our garden?  Peas, cucumbers, spinach, corn, potatoes, onions, garlic chives, basil, and carrots.  We also have a pepper plant and a tomato plant.  I'm looking forward to sampling, and I can't wait to see which plants thrive and what just doesn't work out.  Lessons for next year.

I am enthralled by the growth of these plants - all of them.  The beauty of the flowers that are so bright and delicious, and watching the miracle unfold as seeds become food.  Seeing my family work together to build and tend these fragile living things...it all fills my heart with love and pride and joy.

Yes, I think that growth has blessed - and will continue to bless - me this summer.  Beauty and miracles indeed.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Melancholy

Sometimes I get sad about things. 

Things like friends out of touch, and unwritten rules about life.

It's never cry-sad, but more of a ho-humness. 

I wish I could change this without looking crazy or controlling or both.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The People

This past week, I took out a book on the enneagram from the library.  Last night after dinner, I went to bed very early, then woke up just as everyone else was just turning in for the night, so I had some quiet awake time on my hands.  I decided to explore the enneagram and find out what "my" number is.  It was a few hours of reading and re-reading descriptors and figuring out which ones applied to me.  It was a few hours of comparing reactions to situations and examining what characteristics came out in those situations.  I had a lot of trouble deciding between two numbers.  Eventually I figured out that the reason for the difficulty is because I have changed.  I used to be so shy, 100% introverted.  So quiet and guarded and closed.  I'm not like that anymore, but those characteristics do linger in my mind and my body.  They aren't forcibly suppressed; they just happily hang out in the background, lounging and snacking, while my newer more extroverted self develops.

I see it everyday now - being with people energizes me.  I love conversations.  I love to meet new people.  Over the last seven months, I have been studying and updating my professional skills.  My main goal was to receive an Office Administration Certificate, and as I went along, I added on two more certificates - Bookkeeping Principles and Applications, and also Business Communication.  Between the Office Admin and Business Communication certificates, I ended up taking a LOT of courses on communication - writing, speaking, negotiating, dealing with conflict and difficult people, body language, listening.  There was a common thread that ran through each of them and I picked it up very quickly, and set out to improve myself by mastering this one small thing.  Thousands of tuition dollars later, I will give you my takeaway for free - ask good questions.

I have never been a great conversationalist, but I can see myself improving as I seek to ask good questions.  I can feel it.  It isn't scary for me to be around people anymore.  It is not uncomfortable to be with strangers.  Today I went to a large party and had a blast.  I stepped out of my old comfort zone and dressed up in a costume and wasn't embarrassed about it.  I joined a team with my husband and two other couples that we'd never met before, and we raced around a small city gathering clues and performing tasks.  After our 'amazing race', we went back to a house party and I had conversations with five people I know well, two acquaintances, and at least six people that I didn't know before today.  It was great!

The more I realize how much I love to communicate in person, the more I put myself in the position to make it happen.  I compliment people that intimidated me in the past.  I start conversations with other moms after school as our children play (sometimes for hours!) on the playground.  A "hello" to neighbours I don't know well can end up being a conversation with them and their friends about weekend plans and movie recommendations.

I find myself seeking out opportunities for visits, coffee dates, lunch dates, walks, shopping dates, pedicures (!) with friends who express interest in those sorts of things.  I seriously feel like a butterfly coming out of a quiet dark cocoon, ready to explore the world around me.  I'm excited for summertime and I hope that I'll be able to hang out with friends at parks and on the beach while the kids run and play.  And I am looking forward to September when I'll re-enter the workforce and get to grow my world even more. People make my life awesome, and I'm so glad for every one that I am blessed to meet and to know. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Beyond Anxiety

When I started this blog, it was with the intention of documenting a journey.  I wanted to share my anxiety journey with others.  I figured that I was not the only person ever to have experienced this, yet I could not find any help or hope online.  I thought I could be some help and some hope. 

This blog was made to bless others, and really it has blessed me.  I've written about so many sides of anxiety - the anger, the depression, the self-doubt and the relapsing.  I know I am not alone in suffering from these things, and others know that they aren't alone either.

All that said, over the past week, I've been questioning this blog.  I've been questioning myself.  I've been realizing how much more I know now than when I first set foot on this path.  It starts with the title. 

Journeying Through Anxiety.

Here's what I've learned:  there is no through.  There is no through.  You don't 'get through' it.  There is not an exit door on the other side where you return to life as it was before.  There's no window that you finally reach, open wide and gulp in the fresh air and then step through, thinking, "Phew.  Glad THAT part of my life is over and done with."

I've done my best to keep all posts to this blog on the topic of anxiety.  This paints a very dismal picture of my life.  If you notice the dates of the posts - months between them - you will realize, it's a bad day here, a bad day there.  But for those who find my blog (are there any readers who have just landed here by chance?) and read every post all in a row, searching for a glimpse of a bright, happy, relaxed, non-emotional day...I don't think that those days have been recorded here.

I ended my family blog at the end of last year, but I've kept this one going because I'm a blogger.  I use blogs to vent and to share and to give out information to friends and family that I just don't feel is important enough to force on them verbally.  If it's written, people can choose not to read it, and I don't have to see them turning and walking away while I'm mid-sentence.  I've felt that the good and bad of the anxiety was important to share here.

Last night I decided that the good and bad of not anxiety is also important to share here.  Though I've realized that there will always be anxiety - waiting at the edges, in the shadows - I've also realized that there will also be not anxiety.  There will also be 'normal life' and day-to-day and functioning just fine through task and responsibility. 

Starting today, this blog will be about all that - the WHOLE picture.  And I am excited for the change!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Body Image Issues

Well, they've arrived.  I knew this time would come eventually, and this month the feelings have hit me hard. I felt like I prepared myself by trying to expect these feelings of "ugh", but expecting them doesn't make it any easier when they actually finally show up.

I look in the mirror and I don't like what I see.  I see the rolls, I see the fat.  I don't see the strong anymore, and I don't feel it. People can tell me what they see 100 times and I won't believe it.  Because I can't see what they see.  I see what I see.

I was so proud that I gained back those 40 pounds lost in the anxiety pit.  I was so proud that I looked stronger and healthier with the weight on.  I was a little bothered as I watched the size tags in my clothing increase by twos, but I knew that it had to happen if I was going to be healthy again. 

Last year and this year I have participated in a fundraising campaign called Junedresses.  It is put on by United Way and the idea is: you wear a dress or skirt every day in June, and people sponsor you for your efforts.  The money raised goes toward other charities that empower women. 

The irony is not lost on me that as I struggle into dresses that fit me right last year and are a little too snug this year, I am not feeling empowered.  I'm feeling sad and defeated and self-conscious and embarrassed.  While I am confident about my smarts, my intelligence, my brains, my passions, my loving nature, my mothering, my everything else inside...my appearance does not make the list.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people complain about something and do absolutely nothing to fix it.  I firmly and vehemently believe that is not okay, and I have been brainstorming ways to fix my problem, and have revived some old habits.  I'm trying to choose the healthy habits and avoid the ones that got me into this mess in the first place.  It is hard.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Not ready to talk

Last night I took my first shot at talking about my anxiety in real talking words and relating it to something else.

And it was hard and it was frustrating.  I realized that it is an emotional topic for me - much more than I thought it was.

In our Bible study group, we've been studying parenting through watching videos and talking about our thoughts and experiences afterwards.  Last night's study centered around discipline, and the idea that discipline isn't strictly punishment, but also a way of setting our kids (and others) on the right path to benefit their future; to shape their values to be the values we hope for them to have as adults who will successfully function in society.

We focused on a passage from Hebrews 12 in our discussion, and in my newly learned understanding of discipline as preparing for the future, verses 11-13 really stood out to me.
 11:  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  12:  Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  13: "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."
I addressed the group and said that I have an experience that I can relate this passage to.  I read the first verse and my voice was already shaking by the end of it.  I wasn't going to give up though, so I went on, sharing that my discipline in my sudden affliction with life-numbing anxiety was awful, but through it, I was able to help my boy through his own intense struggle.  And I was able to guide him through with a confident attitude of righteousness and peace and gentleness and understanding because I, myself, knew the path.

I said all this through tearless sobs as my brain and mouth stubbornly forged on to share this message and my heart screamed at me to stop talking.  I know I sounded awful, but I just couldn't quit.  I've learned not to quit. My second oldest son heard me from a nearby sitting room and came to rub my arm as I spoke (which made me tear up over his heart that bursts with compassion).

I pointed out (still sobbing sans tears) that as my boy struggled and fought his own way through the all-encompassing pain of anxiety that was worse than my own, my husband told me that he could not be patient and I had to deal with the boy...fix him.

I know I've said it before, but this reminder of the other meaning for discipline, and seeing these words right there in front of me...it gave a renewed purpose for the anxiety journey that I have traveled, and continue to travel.  Even though I have NO IDEA why I suffer from panic attacks and no idea what my triggers are, I know that they exist for a reason.  Reasons are revealed to me every single day.  I know that my strength and my fight and my journey make a difference to people in my life.  My husband and I can see our own son taking the strength I've demonstrated as an example and using it to help others through their anxiety journeys.  This is a discipline that I am proud to teach.

I really struggled though the worst of my anxiety because I couldn't see God.  My faith still is sometimes weak and shaky - even as recently as last month I was questioning the beliefs I've held for so long - but this study combined with these verses...they were a spotlight on my struggle, and the disclosure hit me a lot harder than I anticipated as I started to speak.

I wonder if this emotion that burst forth last night will be within me for always, or if it will ever just go away.  I don't like to show emotion...I know it makes others uncomfortable, and that makes me uncomfortable.  Hopefully this is just one more step of the journey, now taken and complete.





Friday, March 27, 2015

Cipralex Dreams

I came on here to check out when I restarted the Cipralex, and it was exactly one month ago.  "They" say it takes 4-6 weeks to be in your system the way it should, and it looks like that is accurate.  Last time I started it, I believe it took that long to get through the side effects, but this time I didn't have noticeable side effects, so I've been noticing other things that have changed.

I have an app called Optimism where I track my mood/sleep/exercise data, stay well strategies, triggers and symptoms every day.  The graph has been working its way up to the "good" part since I started tracking.  It is very interesting to watch it climb as the days on Cipralex fly by.

The real "tell" on how the drug is building up in my system, though, is my dreams.  I've always had intense dreams to begin with, and the drug magnifies the intensity times 100.  It is hard to wake up in the mornings because I am so exhausted from my nighttime adventures and emotions.  Last night's dreams were no exception.

I started out at an old school friend's house - it was his birthday and an ex-boyfriend of mine was going to attend.  We were all already married - to our current spouses - but I wanted my friend to tell me later what my ex was up to since I couldn't stay for the party. 

Then my dream moved on to me outside my current home, where I found a cell phone that belonged to a girl named Cindy Jeffery.  I figured out that was the sister of a current friend - who bears the same name as my school friend above - and so I made my way over to his house to give him this phone.  He also was having a get together.  But I couldn't stay because I had to get to school.

My school building was downtown and I had to walk through lots of downtown people - business suits, homeless suits, people rushing and people sitting.  There was lots of traffic (people and cars) and lots of dodging.  The part where I was actually at school was short and I don't remember it.  I just remember that the ground floor could be rented out for functions.  There was a kitchen, sitting area and at least 50 beds in rows in the "foyer" part of the building, even next to the escalators going up.  All the walls were windows like those of downtown buildings usually are, and people could see in, but they weren't looking.

I guess I booked this space because before I knew it, I was back there with my car, trying to find parking on the street.  I lugged in some bags and surveyed the corner where I would set up the Christmas tree.  There was already one there, sparse and barely standing, but with lots of presents under and around it.  The space had been double booked.

The other people there didn't even notice or care that I was there, and my parents came with plans to spend the evening and night there with me, even though I had only planned for the evening.  I didn't bother setting up our Christmas tree or any stuff; we couldn't figure out where everyone was going to sleep since most of the beds were already taken.  A fluffy black and white cat met me in the kitchen area, and he needed food.  In the next second I was at my home (not my current house) with my mom, finding cat food in my pantry.  The cat food was made up of giant-sized chunks of vegetables like carrots and celery, along with the standard dry cat food nuggets.

As I held the cat in my arms, it gagged and threw up a little mucous, which I figured was because it was so so hungry.  It took a few bites from a slice of carrot that was as big around as a loaf of bread, and in the next frame, the cat wasn't there.  I held a beautiful baby girl, round and pink and snuggled right into my chest.

I was at an outdoor event, sitting on a bench, with my mom beside me and my grandma standing in front of me and we were all talking about this sweet baby girl that I held.  I decided I'd be adopting her, and was suddenly at my house with people milling about and me telling them that I was adopting this sweet girl as they stopped to comment on her beauty.  She slept in my arms, snuggled into my chest and my heart was filled with sad that someone had starved and abandoned her and joy that she was now mine and would now be healthy and loved.  I knew that my current kids would be thrilled.

--

Then I woke up super drowsy at 6:56 and turned on my alarm to go off at 7:00 since I forgot to turn it on last night.  And I snuggled into my warm and cozy bed soaking in the dream joy and waited for the bathroom to be free so I could get up and get ready for the day.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thanks, doc.

One month and 20 days ago, I was at my doctor's office asking for something other than Cipralex because my anxiety was getting out of control and I wanted to avoid the cholesterol problems that I found I had during the last time I took it.  Well, my doctor was less than helpful that time; was annoyed that I wouldn't just go back onto Cipralex and in a mocking voice asked if I wanted to try Effexor then.  I said I guess so, filled the prescription, did research and decided that Effexor is a little too scary for me.  So, as noted here, I started up with the Cipralex again from what I had leftover from last year, and took the smallest dose possible to try to feel better.

Yesterday morning I was back at the office to refill my prescription to Cipralex.  Since I've been having some other issues, I had prepared a whole speech for when my doctor came into the room.  It went like this:

Dr:  Hi, how are you?

Me:  Well, I've been struggling with a weepy eye since November, low back pain since December,  an aching chest since January and frequent migraines and extreme fatigue over the last little while, but I'm here to get a Cipralex refill.

That did not happen, because all I could think of going in there is how doctors only hear people complaining all day long.  And I didn't want to be just another complainer.  So this is how it really was:

Dr:  Hi, how are you?

Me: I'm doing alright.

Dr:  What can I do for you?

Me:  I am here for a prescription refill for Cipralex.  I know you gave me Effexor last time, but I researched it and the side effects look too scary for me.

Dr: *gives me an I told you so smirk*

Me:  So I've decided to take the Cipralex despite the cholesterol problems it causes-

Dr (cutting me off):  High cholesterol is not a side effect of Cipralex.

Me:  I had good cholesterol before I took it, high cholesterol while I was on it, and good cholesterol when I was off it.

Dr:  I've never read that cholesterol is affected by Cipralex.  I will refer you to a dietician nurse for your high cholesterol and I'll monitor it.  And you can ask the nurse about cognitive behavioural therapy too, when you see her.

Me:  Okay...

Dr:  How much are you taking?  5? 10?

Me:  2.5 mg

Dr:  What?  That is not anything.  That is not enough.  You have to take 5 mg.  Even 5 is nothing.  10 is the therapeutic dose.

Me:  It works for me.

Dr:  Take 5 mg.  *hands me prescription*

Me:  Thanks.  Have a good day.  *leave room*

***

I left feeling so very sad.  Sad because I am a strong and confident person who is not afraid to stand up for myself and I still left frustrated that I was not heard.  Sad because I had a great relationship with my doctor until I started taking antidepressants.  Sad because I can feel that even though I see all the campaigns to get mental health out in the open and recognized as a real thing, nothing is changing. 

I have a friend who, after much encouragement from me, worked up the courage to tell their doctor about their struggle with depression.  Something that had been going on for years.  That courage was rewarded with a simple "go out walking more, and spend more time with your family".  Guess how helpful that was.

It is over two years later and this person is STILL fighting depression, trying to figure out a way to manage it on their own, but sinking deeper and deeper by the day.  For over two years I have been listening and encouraging this person to get a second opinion, but they are resistant because they spoke up and got no help.  Can you imagine feeling like you are drowning in a deep dark pool for years and years with no hope of rescue even as you look up and see someone standing at the side with a branch strong enough to pull you out??  Some people reading this will say yes.

I was thinking of these people as I drove home from my doctor appointment, and about the photo that shows dealing with life-threatening injuries the way mental health issues are dealt with.  I have a new one..."Yup, your arm is definitely broken.  Go out walking more and spend more time with family.  That should clear it right up."

I'm looking forward to my appointment with the dietician.  I plan to bring a list of my meals consumed, exercise done, and sleep accumulated to the appointment, to avoid wasting her time and mine.  I know she will ask why I'm there.  And I will not have a good answer.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Joy

I had a very short reminder of joy this evening.  It felt so good.  I hope that it comes back long-term soon.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Friday, February 27, 2015

Take two

Cipralex take two.

1/4 pill (2.5 mg) every second night.

Defeated.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Valley

I knew it would happen, but I was naive to how bad it would be.

I am on day seven of panic/anxiety.  I want to call it a panic attack because in my experience, panic attacks are way worse than the general anxious feeling, but by definition, panic attacks are short periods of panic that pass quickly, and one of the things I've read is to tell myself is that it will be over soon. 

It's not ending.

I'm going about my life just as I have to.  Classes and coursework, driving everywhere, working in the nursery at church, socializing with people I don't know and people that I do know, party planning, grocery shopping, meal prep, making my child go to counseling because I am out of ideas, going to the gym and working out despite the "I may be having a heart attack" thoughts and feelings, Connect group, volunteering, school concerts, babysitting, laundry...  I keep telling myself that if I just stick to routine, there will be comfort in that.  But there isn't.  There is exhaustion.  Because everything routine takes at least twice as much energy now.  And I'm behind on stuff.  Late for stuff.  And that is heavy on my shoulders.  And sometimes I can't fall asleep. 

I can't stay asleep.  My body has stopped digesting my food and I have no appetite.  I force-feed myself at regular intervals to try to protect myself from things getting so much worse.  If I go somewhere and there is food; I take some and force it down even if I don't want it.  I finish it even when I feel nauseous after the first bite.  I no longer seek and long for my daily caffeine/sugar fix.  Today I actually made a deliberate plan to get a Froster to see if it can help me, but the morning was full of volunteering, and almost immediately after that, my afternoon started - an entire afternoon of watching elementary kids dance - amazing and adorable - while their mothers pretended not to see their little siblings running around the gym and climbing on stuff and falling off stages and chairs, and pretended not to hear them screaming.  I actually stuck my arm out to stop a kid from running away from her mother and off the stage for the 100th time, and instead of a thank you, the mother glared at me.  Nice.

My body has random aches and sharp pains, and I think I need to cry, but I can't make it come out.

I hate that today, my babyest boy's birthday, I am feeling tense and frazzled.  I don't want that on his birthday.

Over a rushed dinner, on the verge of tears that won't come out, I told my husband that I think I need to go to the doctor to get meds again.  I told him I'm not sure I can handle feeling like this much longer.  I have handpicked most of the stuff in my life and put it there because I love to do it, and still I feel like this.  It's some kind of lesson, I'm sure.  One that feels like a big ol' slap in the face.  To the bearer of the hand...f u.

I need to get out of this valley.  I need to blog more; let more thoughts out.  My head and chest feel full of thoughts that need to get out.  Fight, fight, fight.  The fight is just so. much. work.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Panic attack

Last night I barely slept.  It was another panic attack night.  I could not calm my pounding heart, I could not stop my aches and painful twinges.  It is so frustrating not being able to control this, and being frustrated just adds to the problem.

In all the extra hours I had to ponder this, I realized that my week has been very off track.  I haven't expended my body's extra energy by working out.  I haven't been drinking enough water.  And I haven't been eating enough food.  Yesterday I ate a granola bar for breakfast, a slice of chocolate cake and a bite of kd for lunch, and nothing for dinner because I never eat before evening plans (old habits die hard).  Since I hadn't eaten dinner, I had another granola bar at my class, then when I came home at 9:30, I had some nachos that were left over from the dinner I wasn't home to eat.

Then I had a shower and spent hours trying to calm my heart and sleep.

Just in case you are wondering, when your body is plunged into anxiety hell because you starve it until you get there, it does not forget that place once you finally get out.  It remembers.  And it lets you know when you are on the path back.  It lets you know VERY early in the journey.

Today I am exhausted and sad.  My chest hurts, my arms hurt, my stomach muscles hurt, my back hurts.  I know I need to take care of myself.  I know how to take care of myself and the needs that my body has developed.  I don't know why I cannot learn the lesson that I can't have the carefree life I used to, and I don't know why I keep letting it slide.  You bet that I took supplements today, ate a healthy breakfast and lunch and answered my belly's loud calls for dinner even though the thought of standing up to get myself dinner seemed like it would take a little more energy than I have.  I drank Powerade to help the rehydration even though I don't like it; and I am working on getting in a sufficient amount of water.  I have a new app that will remind me going forward.

My life is so fabulous right now - I have almost everything I ever wanted.  I love every single day.  I can't let anxiety win...not today and not ever.  I hate that I have to fight it; I wish I could just scare it away and have it leave me alone forever, but that's not how it works, unfortunately.  THAT is a lesson I am learning for sure. 


Monday, January 19, 2015

Cipralex and Cholesterol

In researching Cipralex before I started taking it in November 2012, I came across an internet post written by a Canadian gentleman claiming that Cipralex had caused his otherwise heart-healthy mother to die of a heart attack, very shortly after she took her first dose.  Since I did not find any other information reporting the same, I wondered if he was just upset that he had lost his mother and that he had felt the need to pin blame somewhere and Cipralex was the place.

After my own mother had a heart attack at the end of 2013 (not Cipralex related), I sought out that claim again in an attempt to gain more information on the subject to see if my family history of heart disease paired with Cipralex would increase my likelihood of having a heart attack.  I don't know what search terms I was looking for, but I didn't really find anything that was alarming or concerning to me and I let my suspicions fall to the wayside.

In May 2014, my doctor called me into her office to discuss the results of my annual bloodwork.  I expected the regular low-iron talk or to hear that I am not keeping up with my vitamin D.  I have had both calls in the past and despite my good intentions to keep up with the recommended doses of iron or vitamin D supplements, they slowly fall away from my daily routine as I feel better and stop thinking about how crappy I feel.  What I was NOT expecting to hear was that my cholesterol was elevated well above my last measure and that it had been flagged in the report as high.

My doctor calmly stated that it was borderline high, and that I should not be too concerned yet, but due to my mom's recent heart attack and my family history of heart disease, I should take action before it gets worse.  She recommended that I change my diet and increase exercise immediately, and that we recheck my cholesterol levels in six months to determine if drugs were something we'd need to consider sooner rather than later.  You see, my mom's cholesterol had been only borderline high for the 10 years leading up to her heart attack.  Even her blood pressure was within normal range WHILE she was in the middle of the whole thing.  With this knowledge in her pocket, my doctor does not want to play around, and for that I am thankful.

She told me to cut back on red meat and stop eating peanut butter.  More exercise, fewer cholesterol-containing foods, stay away from fats.  I know that the baffled expression on my face made her think I didn't understand.  And I kind of didn't.  How would I find time to exercise MORE than the four hours per week I was already putting in?  The only way I could eat LESS red meat than I already did was to cut it out completely.  And how would I get enough protein to manage my digestion and adrenal health issues without my go-tos of peanut butter and eggs?


Now SHE wore the baffled expression.  She had no answers for me.  And once again I was left to figure this out for myself.  Kind of a theme with my health care.


As the months went on and I just kept doing things the exact same way I had always been doing them, my weight steadily climbed.  I started to speculate that my LDL cholesterol was climbing as my weight climbed, and that the visceral fat encircling my waist was growing there because of my buddy, Cipralex.  I tried to find new ways to lose the weight, or at least stabilize it, but no change made a difference.  After I wondered about this connection and research brought me no answers, I started counting the days to my next cholesterol check, just so I could see.


Well, the way things went, I ended up weaning myself from Cipralex.  I really really was convinced that it was the cause of my weight gain and I did not feel healthy or beautiful, which was also affecting my mental health.  As I cut back on my dose so very slowly, I found that I was still doing okay, and that gave me courage to see and interest in seeing just how far I could go in decreasing, rather than increasing, my dose.  On September 15, 2014, I took one last half-pill.


It was tough at the beginning to not just go back on.  But my curiosity consistently won out.  "I wonder what one more day without it will be like?"  Every day was "just one more day" and that stretched into now four months of Cipralex-free days.  My weight has been dropping at a consistent but healthy rate.  Six pounds gone in the past four months. 

I had my blood drawn on December 8, 2014 to recheck my cholesterol and my liver function.  My liver function is good, and my LDL cholesterol came in at a healthy 2.95.  Just under one month before I started taking Cipralex, it was 2.61.  In May 2014, my high reading was 3.54.  December 2.95, and the only thing I changed was the Cipralex. 

Since I know the numbers now, I want it to be back at that 2.61, and I am going to see if I can get it there by my next physical.  Maybe I can get it even lower.

I am glad that I was able to come off Cipralex.  It was literally a lifesaver for me - mentally AND physically - and I remember thinking that there was no way I could ever live without it.  But here I am, drug free!  Knowing what I know now, if I ever need to take antidepressants again (I have heard this is likely), I will do a little more research with my experience in mind and see what else is out there and what kinds of effects they have on heart health.