Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Victory: Getting Back on My Medication (and being okay with it!)

A few months ago, I was feeling pretty dang good mentally. For some reason, I decided I could probably go off of my medication. I talked to my doctor about it, and I starting weaning myself off. Even though I was going off, I told myself I wouldn't be too proud to go back on. There's no shame in taking medication. The day I took my last pill, I got some pretty devastating news about a dear family friend. Even though it was hard, I did really well. I was doing okay!

As time went on, I was still okay, but I could sense more and more anxiety creeping up. Oddly enough, at first, I didn't really link it with going off the medication; until one day I was talking to my sisters. We were talking about anxiety and I said, "I've been having a hard time mentally lately, like ever since...(pause as realization occurs)...I went off my medication." I started laughing. It was so obvious!

I fought off a little bit of pride (even though I had told myself I wouldn't have any!) and decided it was probably a good idea to start looking into getting on medication again. I liked my doctor, but I didn't really feel like she was the right fit in my situation. So, I started praying about and researching for a new doctor. I found one that I really liked the description of, he mentioned working with anxiety and depression specifically in his online bio. I called and scheduled an appointment, but I couldn't be fit in for 3 weeks. That's a long time when your mental health isn't quite where you want it to be!

When the day finally came, I was really nervous/anxious about it. It can feel very vulnerable to talk to someone about your mental struggles. This new doctor was perfect. He sincerely listened to me, asked questions, and made me feel confident in my decision. It was a fabulous appointment. He got me a new prescription and I started that night.

For a second, part of me was upset. For a moment, I had seen getting off of medication as a victory. Now I'm back on. Lame. NO. It's not lame. It's a victory that I saw I was struggling and had the courage to find something to help me. It's a victory that I was able to push through that bit of pride that wanted to stay off the medication. It's a victory that I have learned strategies to help me through anxiety along with the help of the medication. It's a victory I can write about this and not be ashamed.

When I was really struggling and fighting my pride, I confided in my sister in one of the best ways possible...a Facebook message ;) She replied to me and said,

"I don't try to 'manage' my way through anymore. Yesterday I was on a walk with my friend and she had an allergy attack, the pollen was killing her and she called her husband to bring her her allergy medication that she takes in the spring and summer. I was like, 'Wow, we're breathing the same air and it affects us both so differently.' My eyes were maybe a little itchy from walking past a hayfield, but that was it. I need [medication] to function and regulate my emotions right now. She knows what it's like to be stressed or frustrated but she doesn't know what it's like to be totally incapacitated by your thoughts and feelings. So why would my friend 'try to be strong' when there is help available?"

I still live with my anxiety daily, but the medication helps me live with it so much better.

If you're struggling and think medication is the right option for you, I encourage you to go find a good and understanding doctor and talk to him or her about it. It can be hard, but it's worth it! If this small thing can help you go from okay to great, or from managing life to LIVING it, it's worth the time and effort it takes to get there!

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Friday, April 15, 2016

It's Okay to Feel Sad Sometimes

I was pretty excited the day I realized I could watch kids' shows with my little boy (I'm still a fairly new mom, so I'm not tired of them...yet). Channels 7 and 11, just like they were years ago when I was a kid. One of our personal favorites is Daniel Tiger. I love it because it is a tribute to Mr. Rogers, so it reminds me of when I was a kid.

Each episode Daniel, and his various family members and neighbors, sing a different song that teaches some sort of lesson. (The best part is when Jason Mraz sings it at a certain point each episode.) They have a new song each time, each is geared to teach your child a certain thing: "You've got to try new foods 'cause they might taste good!" "When you're feeling frustrated, take a step back, and ask for help," and many more.

One episode was really sweet and made me think. Daniel and his friends sang,

"It's okay to feel sad sometimes. Little by little, you'll feel better again."

I love this.

I used to feel guilty when I would feel sad. I thought I was being ungrateful or childish. I thought to be sad was a sign of weakness. I didn't want to be a "Debbie Downer." I didn't want to be considered "hormonal" or "moody" or any other title we tend to give sadness. I thought I always needed to be bubbly and, if I ever was sad, it needed to be short and hopefully seen by very few.

Thankfully, through time, I've realized we are humans and we were created with all sorts of emotions. It's important for us to listen to our emotions and work through them. All of them. Sadness, jealousy, fear, anger, etc.

Sadness does not equal weakness, it is a powerful emotion that we all experience. (Side note: if you haven't seen "Inside Out," don't rent it. BUY IT. You won't regret it. And, it teaches you all about the roles of happiness and sadness. In fact, I should do a whole other blog post on it. Or 5. Thankfully, my sister wrote one! Read it here.)

Little by little:

The other day, I was pretty upset about something. Even though it was seemingly insignificant, and I felt a little immature that it was upsetting me so, a situation was causing me to feel left out and just S-A-D. My sister knew what was going on and actually texted me the words of cute and silly little Daniel Tiger's song. In that moment, I really appreciated the words, "little by little." There was really nothing I could do to fix the situation, so I just needed to feel sad for a little while. I held onto the thought, "little by little, I'll feel better again." In my case, it only took a day or two to feel much better, but I realize (and have experienced) many situations that take much longer than that. Just hold onto the thought, "little by little." The progress might be slow, but it's still progress.

I've been trying to have a new quote each week hanging in my house for my family to read/look at. (It's week #2, and so far I'm at 100%! ;) ) This week, it reads:

"God didn't design us to be sad. He created us to have JOY!"  
-President Uchtdorf

God yearns and works for us to be happy, but He also knows life is hard. Sometimes we are sad. There are times of sadness all along the road of happiness. I think this quote by President Uchtdorf (read the full talk here) is reminding us that we are sad sometimes, but we aren't designed to stay that way. We are designed to be very, very happy. (Isn't that a wonderful thought?) 

I have realized it really is okay to feel sad sometimes. And, it's after we are sad we can truly appreciate how good it feels to be happy.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

I Am Not Weak

A few weeks ago, I had had a good and productive day. The baby was down for the night, and I was excited to spend a relaxing evening with my husband. Then, something happened that triggered an anxiety attack for me. I feel anxious multiple times everyday, but this was a little more intense. Luckily, with the coping strategies I have learned, it didn't get out of control, but I was upset it happened at all. It kind of ruined my "relaxing evening." I had planned on doing several things, but my evening turned into solely focusing on my breathing so I could keep my anxiety under control.

I was a bit angry. "Why can't I control this?" "I was looking forward to tonight, and now I'm miserable." "I'm so weak."

Luckily, as I said earlier, it didn't progress too far and I woke up the next morning feeling good.

A few nights later, a similar thing happened. I was looking forward to a relaxing evening, but then I had a horrible head ache that turned into a migraine. It was not a fun evening, but it was missing one thing. I wasn't beating myself up or calling myself "weak" for getting a migraine.

Why do I get angry with myself for having anxiety? Why do I see it as a character flaw? The truth is, it isn't. I don't think less of myself for getting a migraine, so I shouldn't get upset with myself when I have an anxiety attack. The anxiety attack changed my plans that night and it upset me, but a stomach ache, head ache, or the flu could do the same thing. I don't look down on myself for getting physically ill, so I shouldn't belittle myself when I have a hard time mentally.

I have truly gotten so much better at working with and through my anxiety attacks. There have been several times I have worked through an attack and realized that, a little while ago, that same attack would've been a much bigger deal and lasted a lot longer.

I'm learning to work through my anxiety. I'm also learning to not get angry with myself for the time it takes to do this. Heavenly Father helps me to do this everyday.

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Every Day

I deal with anxiety every day. But, even as I write this...I realize..I'm (pretty much) okay with that. It has been interesting as I have learned more and more how to work with it instead of against it. I still have loads to learn, but it amazes me how much better I have gotten at dealing with it. Here are some things that help me:

1. I have found one of the best things for me when I start to feel anxious is to pay attention to my breathing. I am a religious person, and I fully believe that God sends His spirit (the Holy Ghost) to comfort us. When I feel anxious, I strive to breathe and pray to invite Heavenly Father's Spirit to comfort my heart. I am so thankful for this. I tell myself, "Just breathe. That's the only thing you have to do right now. Just breathe."

2. I have been learning not to fear the actual physical anxious feeling. Everyone may experience it a little differently, but I tend to feel my anxiety in my chest and sometimes in my legs (I know it sounds weird). I have started to almost "step back" from the feelings to observe them. When I step back, I realize this feeling that seemed so HUGE and SCARY is just a sort of pressure on my chest or a tightness in my legs. Like my mom has told me, "Remember, it's just a feeling."

3. I talk to myself. I'm not ashamed to say it! I often have to talk myself through things. I often say, "Everything is just fine. I'm feeling a little anxious, but that's okay." I tell myself to breathe. I tell myself I only have to do one thing at a time. I tell myself everything is going to be great. I tell myself that God loves me.

4. I try to validate my feelings a little bit. There are some things I get anxious about that are quite ridiculous or don't make any sense, but there are some things that are very normal to worry about. I try to tell myself, "It's okay to worry about <insert fear here>, but I don't need to let it debilitate me."

5. I try to give my brain time to rest. If I can tell my mind is starting to obsessively worry about something, I try to do something that doesn't take a lot of brain power: TV, solitaire, resting, taking a shower, surfing the internet, etc. I try not to waste a lot of time, but give my brain time to rest and recover.

6. I've talked about my quiet book before, it has helped me so many times. My quiet book is filled with quotes I have collected that really touch my heart. Most of mine are from religious leaders, but they can be quotes from anywhere. If I start to feel my mind get "cloudy" or I start to obsessively worry, I pull out my quiet book and read the quotes that are special to me.

7. I talk to others about it. One of the things that has helped me the most is talking about it. I used to hide my anxiety. I didn't want people to know about it. Now, I am very open about it. I try to communicate with my husband when I am having a hard time. I try to notice others I see struggling and talk to them about it. I blog about it. It really helps to talk. When I talk, I realize I'm not the only one who experiences these things.

I used to react to anxiety by trying to fight it. I would try to force my brain to think differently. I would get extremely tense, emotional, and unhappy. Now, I try to "go with the flow." I know the anxiety will pass, so I try to calmly deal with it until it subsides. Sometimes it's hard, but it is very doable.

I can't lie, I often imagine what it would be like to have anxiety completely out of my life. But, until then, I can use the things I've learned to live with anxiety and still be very happy.  

A page from my Quiet Book
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Monday, October 19, 2015

The Best is Yet to Be

I love being a mom. It is the hardest and most wonderful thing I have ever done. That little man has changed my world forever. I love him.

What I didn't expect, was the pain and anxiety I feel each time I realize he is getting bigger. First, I packed away his newborn clothes, then I put away his 0-3 month clothes. Ouch. It was a similar feeling to putting away Christmas decorations, but with those, I can console myself in remembering I will be pulling them out again in less than a year. I don't know when I will see the clothes again, and my babe will never wear them again. The dreaded night we moved him to his crib to sleep, I wanted to go sleep on the floor next to his crib, but I stayed in my bed trying to be strong.

It is so hard to watch him grow, but it is also SO wonderful. He has started rolling, eating cereal, smiling, laughing, reaching, and he puts everything in his mouth. He observes the world around him. He responds to me and his daddy. The other day he reached for me. He reached for me! It was amazing. He loves to play with toys and "talk." He has the sweetest giggle and he can now put his binky in his own mouth. He is learning what his hands and feet can do. He gets cuter everyday.
It is wonderful, but I find myself worrying about the future. "How will I drop him off on his first day of Kindergarten?" "He won't be this size forever, he's changing!" "Will he visit me on Mother's Day when he's 40?" I can almost send myself into a panic attack. That is why I have hung a new sign in my house. It says, "The Best is Yet to Be." I tell myself this every time I start to worry about my little man growing and changing. "The Best is Yet to Be."

It's okay that I feel heart ache when he is growing, but I will strive to enjoy every stage and remember that the best is yet to be.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

What My Sweet Baby Has Taught Me About God's Love

“Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend.”

Shortly after my baby was born, my friend brought me a frame with this quote in it. She knew I was struggling a bit with postpartum depression and came to lend me her love and support. While you might think this post is about postpartum depression, I am actually steering it in a different direction (although that topic is very worthy of conversation that will probably come in the future).

Ever since I was born, I have been taught that I am a child of God and that He loves me very much. The quote above has touched my heart, but I feel I have gotten a greater understanding of it since I became a mom.

One of the first nights we came home from the hospital, I was looking at my sleeping little boy and I had tears streaming down my face. When my husband asked me what was wrong, I responded, “Nothing, I just love him so much.” While I was still a bit hormonal, the love I feel for him is so real and so strong.

When I think of him and his little mind, it occurs to me that, similar to the quote above, he can’t even comprehend right now how much I love him. He knows I hug him, kiss him, feed him, and change his diaper. I pray he feels safe in my arms and feels that this person who is with him all day every day is someone who thinks he is very special.

Then I think of all the things he can’t comprehend yet.

He can’t yet comprehend that I carried him for 9 months and delivered him. He doesn’t know how many times I googled things to make sure I could take a certain medicine while I was pregnant or to make sure something that was happening to me was normal. He doesn’t know how terrified and excited both his dad and I were in the delivery room. He doesn’t know I counted down the days to his birth and doodled his name on post-it notes over and over again. He doesn’t know that the password to my computer was his name.

He doesn’t know that his dad and I went college and to work for years to prepare to earn money so we would be financially stable enough to welcome a little person into the world. He doesn’t know yet that I have dreamed of being a mom since I was a little girl.

He isn’t aware that I have called and visited his pediatrician several times to make sure he is developing the way he should. He doesn’t know that when he is in pain, I am in pain and wish I could take it away from him. He can’t comprehend the bittersweet feeling I have when I realize how much he has grown since we brought him home. He doesn’t know that the thousands of pictures that are taken of him are so we can remember and preserve how sweet and precious he is.

He doesn’t know that we pray for him every night. We pray he will feel our love and our Heavenly Father’s love for him.

He doesn’t know that we pay a bill every month towards our mortgage for the home that he lives in, the water in his formula and baths, and the electricity. He doesn’t know that after he falls asleep, we have a baby monitor to hear if he cries and make sure he is okay. He doesn’t know the planning that went into his first and middle name. He doesn’t know how much more carefully I drive ever since he was born.

He doesn’t know that there were millions of little pieces that needed to fall into place to bring him here: his dad and I getting married, both sets of our parents getting married, the grandparents, great grandparents, and the list goes on and on.

He doesn’t know that his dad and I have sacrificed some things just for him: sleep, vacations, free time. He doesn’t know that carrying him changed the way my body looks and I am trying to learn not to be self-conscious about it.

He doesn’t know that I think of his future constantly. One year, three years, twenty years. He doesn’t know that I yearn to keep him little while feeling so excited to watch him grow.

There are so many things my little man can’t comprehend yet. He has no idea how much his dad and I love him. It is the same with our Father in Heaven. We know He loves us, He sent His Son to die for us, and He created a beautiful world for us to live in. We know those things, but our minds can’t even comprehend HOW MUCH He really loves us.

What a lovely thought it is that such a magnificent Being cares about us more than we can even imagine. 
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Quiet Book

A common thing you will see at church is a "Quiet Book." Parents keep these books stashed in their diaper bags to pull out when children are starting to lose interest in sitting quietly and listening. There are a variety of different types of quiet books. Many include pictures of Jesus, scripture stories, letters, numbers, etc. The goal of the quiet book is to help a child stay reverent by keeping them appropriately entertained.

I recently started to make myself a quiet book. My quiet book has a slightly different goal, though. My quiet book is made to help me in those moments when I find myself losing hope. It is for those moments when the fog of anxiety and depression becomes so thick that I start to forget how good life is.

In my quiet book, there are a variety of scriptures, quotes, song lyrics, etc. that each have a special place in my heart. I enjoy typing up these words and try to make them look beautiful with pictures and colors. When I read and add to my quiet book, I feel God's love for me and I am reminded that my anxiety and depression are not in control.

One of the pages in my quiet book.
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