Little Miss Sunshine

December 21st, 2017

The sun will come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There’ll be sun!

 

Just thinking about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
‘Til there’s none!

 

When I’m stuck in a day
That’s gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,
Oh

 

The sun will come out
Tomorrow

Yesterday was a gray skies, down in the dumps kind of day. I went for my walk and every step was difficult. I couldn’t get excited about any of it. If you told me that the sun would come out and that things would be better today I would probably get very frustrated with you. It’s hard to be rational when things are looking bleak and hopeless.

Yet, this morning I woke up with a smile on my face. I ran 4 miles and the sun came up as I did so. The weather is much improved over yesterday and knock on wood so far there’s been no lost keys, sick kids or major disasters. If I could bottle up the feelings I have today and save them for another disastrous day I would, but it doesn’t work that way.

While I would love to salvage every surplus of joy and sunshine that’s radiating in my heart today for another day, I know that it’s fleeting. I know that what I woke up with today is enough for day, and for that I’m grateful. I’m grateful for today’s blessings. I’m grateful for the ability to find joy in the activities I had lost pleasure in doing like enjoying a long run with my favorite furry friend. I am grateful for time spent with my husband on his day off of work. I will enjoy today’s blessings and be present for them as they come. I will pray that when tomorrow comes that it brings enough sunshine, smiles, joy, happiness, courage and fortitude to get me through another day.

Managing the Madness

December 19th, 2017

It’s been a few days and I haven’t updated. Not because I couldn’t or didn’t want to, mostly because I kept thinking no one wanted to read what was going on. I kept hearing the inner voices that told me there’s no reason to blog my day because no one cares. The truth is my blog is for me more than anyone else. I could journal, but I don’t really like to hand-write things out and if I am going to write I figure I may as well share it. Plus, I do believe there is power in sharing your story. There could be someone else struggling with something similar, even in the day to day, that needs to be reminded that there’s hope that they aren’t the only one going through something difficult or that there’s a better way to cope with what they are going through. If we all suffer in silence then we are withholding hope from others and it also doesn’t allow us to find our own healing through the process. So, here it goes for today….

It’s been a week since I worked. Or rather since I worked for a paycheck. I do plenty of things that are hard work. I cook, clean, chauffeur kids and myself to doctor appointments. I spent countless hours taking care of myself, either by walking, running, doing yoga, practicing mindfulness or talking to counselors or people I care about.

In addition to using these coping techniques to battle the illnesses that I face, I fight against chronic pain on a daily basis. Some days the pain can be debilitating. Fatigue is also a constant friend.

Yesterday I battled forgetfulness that resulted in losing the only key to our minivan. We could not find the key anywhere and the loss resulted in paying $280 to replace the key. All because of the brain fog that caused me to lose the key. The guilt that I still feel for that loss is heavy on me. The financial burden too high during a time when I’m already costing us too much.

I have coping mechanisms in place to help me manage things like dealing with guilt, worry, anxiety, sadness, grief, low self worth and depression but sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes you can’t always do it with simple processes. Sometimes I need help. The last few months I’ve needed a lot of help. I’ve had to dig deep and I’m slowly rebuilding a deeper base of support so that it gets easier to cope on my own in the future. I’ve had to call in the big machinery and with the help of counselors, new medications and a few new coping techniques I’m slowly starting to feel a little like myself – sadly I still do stupid things like lose keys and overspend at the store.

Overall I think we’re making progress. Today I went to a new yoga class. Tomorrow I’ll go back to a new chiropractor to see if that helps with some pain management for chronic neck pain that I haven’t been able to handle on my own. I’m cutting back on my mileage because I’ve noticed the more time I had the more miles I did and the more pain I had in my knees. It’s all about learning what works for me and what doesn’t. It’s all about the process, trusting it and discovering all at the same time.

I wanted to leave you with a few practical ideas for how I manage the stress. They are simple things I do when things are overwhelming and during this holiday season it’s important for everyone to slow down and lessen the stress in their lives.

Destressing techniques:

  • go for a walk
  • spend time enjoying nature
  • take a bubble bath
  • listen to music
  • journaling
  • write a friend a letter or short note
  • yoga
  • get a massage (or give one!)
  • exercise
  • go for a bike ride
  • read a book
  • call a friend
  • play a board game
  • make a list of things you are grateful for

What goes up, must come down

December 15th, 2017

After school today:

Zeke: It’s so clean in here.

Me: Yeah that’s what happens when your mom doesn’t have a job anymore.

Unfortunately I can’t take all the credit for it today. It was honestly clean today because no one was home to mess up the house. It also helped that yesterday in a manic state, in addition to doing 5 miles, yoga and going to the dr I also cleaned the house from top to bottom.

The downside is that today I couldn’t get out of bed. I used to think fibromyalgia was to blame. I would overdo it one day and the next I would be miserable. I would have one good day. A day when I could conquer the world. I would think, why can’t every day be like this. I would accomplish a lot. On those days I would make great plans like signing up for my next half marathon. Yesterday I was thinking about signing up for the flying pig in the spring because I did 5 miles. I was thinking I could easily build my mileage back up since I had just down a half marathon in October.

A few months ago I joked with Dean about whether all of my half marathons were just mania induced pipe dreams and if I was just crazy when I decided to sign up and train for them. I’ve kind of always known something was wrong with me, I just hadn’t had a doctor to diagnose it. I mean who really signs up for a half marathon knowing they shouldn’t really be even running when they have arthritis so bad their joint replacement has failed? That’s crazy right? Well, that’s me! I’m fighting the urge at the moment not to create a half marathon training program as I type this.

I want more than this. I want every day to be like yesterday. I want to be able to be active, get a lot accomplished, to be social, to have my kids come home and be excited that the house is clean, that dinner is planned out and something they will actually enjoy eating. I don’t want every day to be like today.

Today I took the kids to school, attempted to drive to my dr appointment but cancelled en route because it was unsafe for me to be driving. I came home and slept for 5 hours straight. I woke up and got the kids from school, walked the dog a mile and gave up on going further because I just couldn’t today. I managed the energy and desire to clean up the kitchen, mostly because Zeke’s comment about it being clean impacted me so deeply.

We have plans tonight that I’m not sure I’ll engage in because I just don’t feel up to it. Today is a down day. It’s the polar reverse of yesterday and I hate everything about it. I have to be very intentional to get out of the funk. I slept because I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. I didn’t sleep well last night thanks to yesterday’s mania going into the night. When the crash comes it comes hard. This is why I quit my job.

Yesterday I regretted quitting. Yesterday I thought I feel pretty decent, aside from my normal every day aches and pains. I got in exercise & got a lot done. I thought if every day feels this good there’s hope. But the truth is there’s not a guarantee of what tomorrow holds. With bi-polar tomorrow is unknown. Tomorrow could be another up day or it could all come crashing down. I had two really good days. Today was a bad day. I’m praying a good day is on the way.

Earlier today I looked out the window and there were at least 50 birds in the back yard. It was my reminder that just like those birds, no matter what today holds for me, my God is providing for me. I don’t know what they were out there seeking – but they were finding it in my backyard. I know that this is just where He has me planted for now and it’s where I’ll be content even if the day doesn’t always go as I planned.

For now, I will keep being present and doing what I can to manage in the moment. Sometimes it’s all you can do. Today was a reminder that this journey will have ups and downs. My prayer is that the downs are less frequent than the ups.

Blind Spots

December 14th, 2017

You can’t lie to a massage therapist. You can tell him you didn’t eat that extra cookie after dinner last week, but your thighs don’t lie. You can tell him you aren’t stressed out over your in laws coming over for the holidays but the tension he feels in your neck tells him a different story. You may wear flats to your appointment, but the callouses on your feet show him that you wear high heels all day long. You can’t hide the bruises, the scars from past injuries, the cellulite – he sees it all.

Today I had the pleasure of enjoying an hour long massage thanks to a gift from a friend. It was just what I needed to relax and to ease my muscles. But I couldn’t help laying there and think that this stranger was going over parts of my body that my husband hasn’t even touched in a while. There’s nothing wrong with that, I would prefer people not to be touching my feet thank you!

We all have blind spots in our life. The parts of us we don’t want others to see, and those we try to hide from others. Yesterday I shared a big one that I could chose to hide from the world. One I’m choosing not to hide from. Today I chose to fight against it.

My life is a work in progress. Whenever you start the process of creating something new, there’s potential for messiness. I admit right now my work zone is messy. The canvas of my life has been a disaster for years, I’m sure you were nice enough not to mention it, but I’m not willing to gloss over it anymore. I know it’s going to take a lot of work to become the best version of myself. It won’t be easy. I know that on the other side of this mess, things will be better.

Today that meant doing a little yoga, going for a 5 mile walk with my favorite four pawed friend, and opening my heart in counseling with my husband. We learned a lot about what living with bi-polar means and it gave me hope. For 38 years I’ve struggled to cope with symptoms of a broken mind and body on my own. We’re slowly learning how to cope in healthier ways with this new information. I feel like I’ve been given a new  lease on life. It’s almost like I’ve been handed an owner’s manual to an appliance I bought 38 years ago – me! 

For the last 4 years I have tried through the use of healthy eating and exercise to manage and it wasn’t enough, because we weren’t fighting the right demon. We now can target our arrows in the right direction, take aim and ideally land them where they belong. I prayed for answers and while this is not the answer I ever expected, you can’t always get what you want. I’m grateful for a newfound hope and a supportive husband who never gave up on me despite the mess.

My goal now is to discover what works best for me and to be willing to be open to let others join me on my journey. I know that life is best when done with those who care for you. So thanks for joining me on this journey. I guarantee the view won’t always be pretty, but struggling in silence helps no one. When I share my story with others, and you yours, the world becomes a little less scary and we all start to look a little more normal.

Reversing Polarity

December 13th, 2017

It’s crazy cold outside. If you told me when I was younger that I would one day enjoy going for a run in 20 degree weather by myself let alone with a dog I would think you were crazy. You see we never grew up with a pet in our home. The only things I remember about pets were negative in my childhood. My hermit crabs died, I vaguely remember something about their cage being cleaned and the cleaners being what did them in. I vaguely remember stories about having a dog when we were young who ate holes in the walls. For most of my childhood, pets were nonexistent. I wanted my kids to have a different memory of their own childhood.

We have tried guinea pigs and dogs. But I never loved a dog as much as I have til Ozzy. I think it has a lot to with how much I need stability and how much I need someone to force me to get moving every day. There’s no denying Ozzy gets me moving every day. There’s no excuses, not even 20 degree temperatures with this guy. He loves the outdoors, and it turns out so do I. I just didn’t know it.

I’m learning there’s a lot about myself I didn’t know or understand that in hindsight was there all along. For example, this week someone asked me when the last time I felt healthy was. I laughed, because I honestly can’t remember. I answered it was probably 20 years ago. They followed up with asking what happened 20 years ago that made the cycle of unhealthiness begin, I again laughed and joked I fell in love and got married. But the the truth is if I am honest, the unhealthiness was there long before that.

I remember as a child falling and having to use crutches. I remember having to quit soccer because my ankles and knees swelled for no good reason. I remember getting sick after family gatherings. I remember countless doctor’s visits where my mom told them I had an upset stomach and the dr saying they couldn’t find anything in the stool samples they made us do. In hindsight, I wish we knew then what we know now. If we knew about food allergies. If we knew about my muscle issues. If we knew about my electrolyte issues that causes me to have chronic low potassium. If we knew I am bi-polar.

You see two weeks ago I was finally diagnosed as crazy. Certifiable, lock me up for a few days in the hospital to keep me safe from myself crazy. It was the lowest time in my life. It will also be the most life changing time in my life.

No more denying that I can do this on my own. No more pretending I can struggle through another day without help. No more pressure to be perfect. Validation that I am crazy, but it’s a legitimate craziness stirring in my mind that’s been making my life a living hell and not some random unknown lurking danger that can’t be fixed. There is hope. 

Today I am beginning a new journey to wholeness. I’ve resigned from my job so I can spend more time focusing on my physical and mental health. My goal is to return to a place of holistic health where I am thriving and ready to return to the workplace, stronger, smarter, and better equipped to serve others. For now I am not able to be my best self and my family has suffered as a result. We have been struggling for some time under the weight of my illness and the impact has even reached outside the 4 walls of our home. We appreciate the love and support of those who have been walking beside us so closely these last few weeks and hope some of you will join us as we move forward.

I hope to share my journey more publicly as I process what living and thriving with mental illness looks like. I believe it’s an issue society doesn’t address well enough as many struggle in silence. Today I start my journey out of the darkness on the road that leads to reversing the polarity of my mind.

 

 

Out of the Darkness

October 20th, 2017

There are days when I simply can’t find the words, I often find myself deeply sighing as I try to go through the motions. I can remember exactly when the sighs first started and I pray every day for the peace to make them stop.

At the end of the suicide awareness walk last weekend, there was an illuminated path where family and friends had left notes in honor of those they loved who lost the battle or who are still fighting depression and suicidal thoughts. It was heartbreaking. At the Out of the Darkness event I walked hand in hand with my husband, knowing if I hadn’t sought help he may have been walking the journey alone. I looked on as two of my sons were nearby and was grateful that I was able to be there with them.

A few months ago I told Dean that I was worried. I told him the first time it happened. I was on a long walk along the Miami River. I thought that if I walked out into the water, I could disappear forever and no one would care. Around the same time as I was driving to work I considered driving my car into a tree. The only reason I didn’t that day was because I knew it would be my luck I would survive and end up living a life of more daily pain.

At first he didn’t understand how serious I was when I told him. He didn’t know these were more than passing thoughts. I truly felt hopeless, alone and was done fighting. Years of physical pain, heartbreak, trauma and depression had taken their toll. I was alone on the journey and knew I couldn’t keep doing it anymore. I asked him to help me. It wasn’t his fault he didn’t realize how bad it was. After 19 years together, he had watched me overcome so much and hide my pain so well he didn’t know how severely I was suffering.

I eventually confided in my closest friends and my Dr. I am healing, and we realized the suicidal thoughts were caused from a bad cocktail of meds my doctors had me on. I still battle depression, but after stopping those medicines I can again think clearly and see through the pain. It’s still there, but there is a light that wasn’t before.

When my cousin committed suicide we were all in shock. I no longer question how she could have made the choice she did. I have fought my demons and while I don’t know what hers were, I know she is one reason I choose to keep fighting.

I think about how I repeatedly asked others to help me and no one understood. If I wasn’t my own advocate I know I wouldn’t be typing this today. I don’t want sympathy. I have learned how alone I am on this journey and accepted that others can’t deal with my mess.

I want others to know that while it may be easier to suffer in silence, it’s not going to help you find healing. I want to encourage others to reach out for help, even if it takes countless attempts to find the right person to take you seriously. Don’t give up on yourself, even if other people do. What I want to do, as always, is to remind those who might be struggling that you are never truly alone. To not give up, to fight for yourself even if no one else will. You are worth it.

Breathe deep. Inhale. Exhale. Be grateful for the chance to try again.

Every day is a new opportunity to seek out the light, even if we wake up in the darkness.

Queen of a broken heart

October 7th, 2017

The last time I did the queen bee was in 2014. I was at my healthiest – my lowest adult weight after losing over 90 lbs, able to run and was having mostly painfree days. I had recently graduated college and life was going well. Dean & I had recently overcome some difficulty in our marriage, but we were at a point where things were turning around.

Since then, I’ve struggled with countless health setbacks and the stress of it all has taken a toll on every area of my life. I’ve gained some weight back due to those issues, but have been able to maintain a little more than 50 lbs lost since my heaviest. The last few months have been extremely difficult – physically, emotionally and mentally. I’ve cut back on my hours at work to be able to focus on healing in all areas of my life, out of necessity not laziness or because we can afford it. I’ve been reaching out for additional support and it’s been exhausting, but I know it’s needed.

As I’ve tried to survive the last few months on my own, it became evident I couldn’t do it alone. I was going through the motions every day but that was all. While I have been training for a half marathon, I found very little joy in what I was doing. In the past I enjoyed going out and training. I would enjoy time spent outdoors on the trails. Recently I have had no joy, in any area of my life. I kept pushing myself to continue doing the daily things like walking, training and trying to participate in my family’s life but it wasn’t helping. I was still feeling lost and stuck in a hopeless place.

With the help of our newfound friend, Ozzy, I have been prompted every morning to get out of bed. If it weren’t for him, I can’t say I would make that choice every day. I am grateful that I had the insight after grieving Ginger to know that I needed that kind of the help every day. Thanks to his help, I have consistently trained for today’s race. So today, I got up and anxiously laced up my shoes. I was in pain before my feet hit the floor. I knew it was going to be a difficult day, doing a half marathon or otherwise. I was thankful I had prepped my gear last night, otherwise I don’t know that I would have made it out the door at all today. I was running late and due to lines at the port-a-potties I actually was one of the last half marathoners to start. I didn’t realize the other participants waiting behind in the corral were waiting for the 4 mile event to start. I finally asked one of them why their bib was a different color and unfortunately without pre-race stretching headed off to the start line and up the first hill of the race.

For me, the first two miles of any race or training are always painful, with or without a warm up. This race is even more difficult as it literally is 2 miles uphill from the start. I was surprised at how well I did on the hills considering, cardio wasn’t my issue as much my leg pain that started before the race even began.

After that it was pretty much smooth sailing for a while. I even went pretty fast for a bit, aside from bathroom breaks. (My garmin clocked one of my miles as 12:22/mile – and that was just walking!) I ran into Dean around mile 9. This in itself meant more than you can know. We’re again in a tough place. Chronic illness, depression and our past issues can take a toll on any relationship. Our relationship is no different. Knowing he took time out of his day to be there meant a lot.

Miles 10-13 were very difficult. I was grateful to have run into some familiar faces along that portion of the course. It made a huge difference. I finished just a few seconds under my goal. I was really hoping to do better time wise than I did, but considering how my morning started and the need for frequent restroom breaks due to stomach issues it was amazing I even met my time goal at all.

I had a ton of valid reasons not to do a half marathon, today or ever. My body has real limitations. I am reminded of this daily. It’s for these reasons I fight every day to keep moving. It’s for these reasons I strive to push past those limits.  I finished the half marathon today for these and other reasons. This week in particular because I’m choosing to fight for my life, health and happiness during a time when things feel particularly hopeless.

Every step I took today was me choosing to put one foot in front of the other. I daily have to make that choice, and while it may not seem like a hard decision to make – if you were to walk a day in my shoes you might understand just how hard it is. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, not even myself most days. I fight through the pain, sadness and anger of having to try so hard to overcome what seems so easy to others because the only other choice is giving up – and that should never be an option. I could give more than 13 reasons why, but today I walked my 13.1 in honor of the countless reasons why I choose life, today and every day despite the pain.

Join me on October 15th to support those, like myself, who are impacted by mental illness and have either lost family members or friends to suicide or struggle with the daily fight to overcome the negative voices every day so they have the hope they need to never give up! Help us bring light to this important issue. You can donate online if you can’t participate in the walk. (I started a team called “Better together” or you can join as an individual if you want to walk, or you can just donate. There is no “fee” to join the walk other than the donation which is any amount you choose to give).