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(Beauty from)Ashes #1

This is a hard one to write. It has been a long time coming.

The words and thoughts rattle around in my head like hamsters running on a rusty exercise ball…sometimes there is a smooth spot and sometimes it’s a laborious process that I have to work and work and work to get through the tight rusted together spots…

For the past 6 months or so I have been seeing a therapist. Not physical, not occupational, but as I described it to my 5 year old daughter: a mind doctor.

I started going because I was still dealing with depression that I have dealt with from past births, (see post #1, #2 and #3, also related) also PTSD from the car accident I was in 15 years ago.

My body has finally started healing from it, I figured it was time to start healing my mind too.

Sigh. This is where it gets tough.

Going through therapy I have learned a few things…mostly about myself and how to deal with things that trigger my anxiety and PTSD.

Some of those triggers happen out of nowhere…like on a trip to a ladies retreat 2 years ago with my baby sister (who is in her 20’s btw…not a baby) and having a panic attack out of nowhere because I couldn’t see the lines that were on the side of the road. Commence a tense conversation that ended in tears because I was reliving when I was hit head on. Now mind you, my sister was being the picture perfect driver, no swerving, no veering…no…nothing. I had to explain that I still get panic attacks when my husband, whom I trust with not only my life, but the life of my children with, is driving. My sister, who is no stranger to PTSD or trauma or anxiety, understood where I was coming from and got that there was nothing I could do to avoid those triggers and it had nothing to do with her, but everything to do with how my body and mind process the information coming in. Once the episode was over and we were seated talking and crying and comforting (she was comforting, I was mostly just blubbering), and I was able to remind myself that I was safe, we were able to move on.

The more I go to therapy, the more I am coming to realize that the triggers can come and go and they are not always the same…there are a few that are, but often they are disjointed, seemingly unconnected and they come out of nowhere. Unbidden. Unwanted. Flashes of memory that send my mind into a whirl, my body trying to grasp at the fleeting bits of air that are getting sucked out of the space I am in (it could be indoors, outdoors…it doesn’t matter and doesn’t make logical sense), and makes my jaw clench, my hands ball up into fists and sends my heart pounding and racing.

I get into these fight or flight modes that often I don’t realize until after the episode the reason of why it happened…and it leaves me feeling…stressed. Angry. Hurt. Vulnerable. And scared.

Because of those feelings that come up, and I am still learning to recognize them for what they are, the feelings overflow from my mind into anger. Anger at the kids making noise. Anger at Cris sitting in the wrong seat. Anger at the fact that a dish I dirtied is not magically clean…down deep it is actually Anger at the fact that I am scared. That is what is at the heart of it. Fear. Fear that I will be a hurt, broken bodied 19 year old stuck in the hospital again having to relearn how to walk, write and use the bathroom again.

Fear. An ugly 4 lettered word. Depression grabs hold of that word and fills it out…puts flesh on the bones of the word and knows how to work it’s way insiduously through the rooms of my mind, slowly filling up every area until I feel stuck being overcome by the FEAR. Fear that I am not good enough. Fear that I am not loved. Fear that because I have a broken body, I am not up to the task of leading my kids anywhere. Fear that I am not whole. Fear that I will be stuck in the dark hole of depression forever and never be able to find my way out. Fear that because I have experienced brokenness that that is all anyone can see and that means that I am not worthy.

Worthy of what? Worthy of beauty. Worthy of goodness. Worthy of Grace or of Mercy.

More coming later….

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Overcome.

Tonight I was watching a show that dealt with the issue of PTSD.

Then the next episode was talking about trauma and the issues that stem from it.

I found myself crying when the subject was brought up.

I have been seeing a therapist for a while now. Actually, two therapists. One to deal with the physical after effects of a traumatic incident(s), and the other to deal with the mental effects that are much harder to deal with than the physical side effects.

With each new session I have with the physical side, I find more and more ways for my body to get back to ‘normal’. Many of the times I have to ask the PT’s “does this look right?”, ” is this normal? It doesn’t FEEL normal”….and they remind me that its because for the past fifteen years what has become my “normal” is actually skewed.

When I relearned how to walk in the care home, I remember HATING the tools that helped me get to where I needed to be. The gait belt, the parallel bars, the wheelchair, the bedside commode, the clock that signaled the time for my occupational therapist to come in and help train my muscles to remember how to write, how to put on socks, and even how to use the toilet properly…. The physical therapists helped me with the muscles strengthening, and the occupational therapist helped me with the day to day living side of things. I hated those tools, but at the same time, they were what got me out of that bed and walking and writing again. What helped me have the ability to put on socks by myself again.

Watching the show, brought to mind all of the physical side of things, but it brought up a lot of the mental side of things too.

Just like the physical therapists have helped me deal with things that, for years, I thought was normal, the therapist I am seeing for the mental effects is also helping me learn that not everything is normal there either.

I remember having a conversation with my brother in law who has served two tours over in the middle east…we were discussing the fact that his PTSD would rear its ugly head when he would drive by the base and hear the guns going off…or when he smelled something, he would automatically be transported to where he spent his time as a gunner in the military. He would tell us that he would look up and one second he would be back there and the next (what felt like a) second he would be a few miles down the road.

I remember kind of smiling patronisingly and saying “that’s not PTSD….” And they told me that it was an official diagnosis…I told them “it can’t be. That’s just normal…I should know! I have that happen to me often enough, that’s just memories!” My sister in law and brother in law both kind of looked at me in disbelief and gently and kindly informed me that “no, Becky, that’s called PTSD”.

Fast forward a bit….talked to my therapist and sure enough. The description I have given to her of my symptoms and yep. Confirmation of PTSD diagnosis.

We are slowly peeling back the layers of the trauma I have gone through in my life. Oh how I hate that, just like I hated those tools to help me learn to walk…but yet…we are dealing with things.

Trauma that happened when I was just a kid. Trauma that happened when I was a teenager, and trauma that has happened to me as an adult.

A lot of the things that come up at times have surprised me with their ferocity.

Things I thought I had dealt with because I wasn’t thinking about them all the time…come to realize some of them have never been dealt with, they have just become buried so my life could continue…but they, like the physical aspect of the trauma, are rearing their ugly head, reminding me of a slow trickle over time.

My gait was messed up for fifteen years, and my foot was turned in on itself, like a backwards ‘C’…I would walk on the outside edge of my right foot….that in turn affected my hip, which affected my back and which culminated in last year finally, my shoulder. I was seeing a physical therapist for almost 5 months, just to try to alleviate the pain I was having in my shoulder…ribs were out of place, feet were not in alignment, shoulders were out of whack…all thanks to one seemingly innocent foot being ‘normal’. When I started being able to walk with my foot flat(er) on the ground it ached. Oh the pain of having something touch a part of my body that was not used to touch… The inside of my foot. It made me cry…not because of the PAIN, there was ache there, but the pain was not. It just felt…so…weird. So…unnatural. I actually got a bit of a callous on the inside of that foot and NOW, it feels unnatural to even attempt to put my foot back in its old ‘normal’ position.

I am waiting for the day when the memories that come to me, often unbidden, of the sights and smells of a car accident, of the feeling of being held down as an infant while doctors tried to help with a kidney infection I had, of the feeling of confusion as a teenager who had hit puberty a bit earlier than my friends and having my grandpa try to “warm his hands up” while sticking them down my shirt, the fear I felt while trying to take care of my siblings while being threatened with physical harm from the neighbor kids because my skin was a different color….I am waiting, sometimes anxiously (the therapist is helping with that too!) For the day when those memories become not a sensitive spot, like my foot had, but more of a callous… Acknowledged and then moved on. Until that day comes, some of the memories get stuffed back down, only to come out, sometimes during therapy, and sometimes late at night, triggered by watching a TV show while I wait for my husband to finish work.

I am holding out hope that just like the physical effects that were portrayed in my body have slowly been changed for the betterment of the rest of my limbs and ligaments and even joints by retraining them to be where they need to be and to do the job that it needs to.. That one day my mind will be retrained as well. Even though my body is (still!) Healing from trauma I have gone through…I still have scars. No amount of retraining or changing to proper alignment can take those scars away… I expect to have mental scars as well.

I look at the physical scars and I see many things. I see where God saved my life. I see opportunities to give glory to Him because I am still alive. But I also see past pain and struggles and overcoming.

The mental hurts, aren’t always scarred over yet. Slowly but surely, working through them we are taking them out, piece by piece, sometimes too fast, and sometimes agonizingly slow (always at my pace because I have a great therapist), but letting each one see the light of day and start the process of healing so they can become old scars, callouses.

I can not go and change the past, or change the trauma I have lived through…but one day I won’t see, or feel, fresh wounds. I will only see the reminders of where I survived.

 

Fitting in Life

I wrote a blog yesterday after the thanksgiving rush of visiting family, getting last minute food made up, realizing that I left the leftovers of my favorite- roasted veggies- at my bestie and sister in laws house (Cassie, did mom steal them?), and realizing mayyyybe I shouldn’t have indulged in that uhm….number that ends in ee….pieces of pie, after all of that and after all of the mentioning of fitting in fitness and working out and being on my game as far as food goes and the feeling of being accomplished once I hit the workout and was able to get all the way through it without a child getting sick, or me not able to finish because I was out of breath…..(like you will be if you read my sentence out loud and not just in your head!)- I realized that sometimes its OK to take a minute.

Its ok to Take a pause.

Its ok to spend time with family and not focus on the next workout.

My world does not revolve around “working out”, and I dont think the founder of the online studio, Fit2B, wants that for ANYONE. If there is something I have learned from being a part of this amazing resource for the past 5 years, it is that she wants to enable people to be able to function for the rest of their LIFE. Not just be able to get through a workout, not just be able to lift a weight, she wants people to be able to be present in life to play with their kids, jump on a trampoline without peeing themselves, to have the resources to utilize proper alignment when working on a laptop late at night, or during the day (as I was typing this, I remembered a video thats called Align it Flat that is all about making our alignment work for us and I realized that I was having what I call- Sticky-outy-neck where your jaw juts forward and you hunch your shoulders because you are trying to see the too small print on the computer screen, even with your glasses on, and I fixed it!), she wants people to be able to be strong for the rest of their lives. If that means changing how you think of lifting the groceries out of the cart, or out of the car once home, or changing how you hinge at the hips to get the baby up and out of the crib, or sitting the toddler on the toilet, THAT is Fit2B’s aim.

I am taking strides to change my health, mental, physical, and spiritual, one little step at a time.

Yesterday at Thanksgiving with my family, I was able to have a conversation with my sister about how sometimes the shoes we wear effects our posture, which in turn can effect our mentrual cycles, and I never would have known that except for the resources that I have found as part of the online community that is Fit2b.

Monday, Fit2B is having an online sale – Cyber Monday- in which the premium membership is going to be on sale for $119! That is normally sold for $159!!! There are so many other options besides just the premium membership, but please take a minute to go to the page HERE to check out the sale thats going to be happening and see if there is anything that resonates with you.

The other resource that I plan on taking advantage of is the Sale over at The Tummy Team in which many of their rehab programs will be on sale as well. Fit2b and The Tummy Team often work together and the founders of each, Beth Learn, and Kelly Dean, are more than just co-workers, they are in real life friends, and enjoy bouncing off ideas and learning from each other. If you are interested in viewing a recorded video that they did Live that kind of went over some of the differences and similarities of the programs they offer, go HERE and see if anything stands out to you.

 

Happy Weekend and dont forget to check out Cyber Monday Sale over on Fit2b!

Sale Sale Sale!!!!

Hey there!

I don’t know how many of you  have been able to see my live video feeds on FB, but in them i mention some of the resources that have been helping me get my health back.

I mention the online fitness studio I am a part of, Fit2b, quite alot, and I wanted to share with you a sale they are doing for Cyber Monday!!!!

I am so excited for saving money, I wanted to make sure that you get that info and savings passed on to you!!!!

Check out their sales and see if there is something that resonates with you!

One of the many reasons that I love Fit2b, is the continual support I get from the online community. I have made friends online, that have transferred over into real life Mommy Friends who understand where I am at, and encourage me to get me where I want to be,  (Chris Church, I’m looking at you!) and those relationships are priceless to me.

Some of the workouts I have been utilizing lately have been a Kickboxing video, and more recently a Core Cardio workout. The kickboxing one is designated as HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training), and I feel strong and powerful and it gets my blood pumping! I get it done in 23 minutes, and for a person who hasn’t worked out cardio-wise in a long time, i had to work up to that time frame. The first time I was only able to do about 11 minutes due to a sick kid vomiting that put a damper on the whole day. Running back and forth from the bathroom to the couch to clean up said puke, and take care of her non-sick (until 2 days later) older sister and her younger sister (who got sick 4 days later) was a workout in stress management, i couldn’t add  anything else in.

The next day I was able to get about 13 minutes in when a phone call came in and honestly I was so happy because I just couldn’t do it anymore. Not because the workout hurt, but because my body wasnt used to moving and getting the blood flowing like that early in the day.

The day I was able to do the whole entire workout I cried. My husband was home and said just the right words “Good job babe” and that made me cry even more. Part of it was me acknowledging where the pause in my life had gotten me because I didn’t make time for myself during the different season of life that is growing and birthing and nursing a baby for 2 years.  I would do a workout here and there and sometimes it was because I just needed to do something for myself and that was my release-during that time I was so grateful for the 5-10 minute videos that showed things I could incorporate into my every day life, such as belly breaths, activating my Transverse Abdominus (abdominals? I cant remember the proper term for it), hip hinging and leg releases that enabled me to live and move and work on proper alignment during every day life. I am still grateful for those shorter videos, but also for the reason that I have found that I LOVE aerobic exercise! I love the thrill of getting my heart rate up, getting my blood pumping and finishing a workout strong! At least in this season of life I do. lol.

One of the really cool things about this workout studio is that I was able to do the workout with my husband in the room, my kids in the room and not have to worry about someone flaunting all of their goods for my whole family to see. That is huge for me. I love that there are kid workouts, and workouts designed to Bag a Better Booty! Bag a better Back! that utilize grocery bags full of canned goods. THIS IS REAL LIFE! THOSE are workout tools I have PLENTY of because everyone knows that a grocery bag is like a rabbit- they multiply when you aren’t looking!

There are so many good things about this fitness studio that I could go on and on, but for now, i wanted to encourage you to go over to their site HERE so you can look around for yourself to see what they offer, and what their sales are going to be on Cyber Monday!

Thanks and Enjoy!

Fitting in fitness

It’s been a long while since I have written anything.  Having 3 kids, 6 and under, and helping family members who have broken bones, and everything in between has a habit of just popping up and pushing writing to the side, as it (w)rightly should.

Now I am in a position where I can write.

 

I am trying to take back my health, take back my mental and physical  health as having three kids in 6 years has seemed to take a toll on me, and those have probably gotten the worst of it.

 

As before when I have been in good, and not so good, headspaces, I have tools I utilize to get there.

For my health, I have been making an effort, spurred on by my determination  to get and be better, (and by a visit to a few doctors that gave me information that I was not hoping to hear) to do some form of exercise  every day, changing eating habits,  and making time for my health.

 

I have been utilizing my membership with online fitness studio, fit2b, and if you search through my blog, you will see that many times it has been a lifesaver to me. The online community of current members, old members, and want to be members, plus the encouragement and love given by the founder Beth Learn, who is a friend from back in the days of PK and PM (pre kids and pre marriage), has saved my sanity and often led to better ways of viewing and talking to and of myself, not to mention the actual physical benefits  of the workouts.

 

I am going to try to share my story and my struggles on here, as a way to keep myself accountable, as a way of releasing the stress associated with changing a lifestyle, and as a way of….just writing exercise I guess! lol!

During all of this, I have had friends and family who continue to encourage me along the way. I still have days where I struggle with depression,and sometimes wonder if I always will ,  maybe that is my struggle, but I know the more I try to take care of myself, the better I feel.

What’s holding you back from changing things in your life for the better? Anything I can help with? If theres one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t make someone change, even for their own healths sake, but you can come alongside  of them to ease the struggle and to encourage one another.

 

Thanks for visiting!

 

 

Encouragement- life

The other day I was feeling it again.

The siren call to the pit that is oh so hard to ignore.

Right when I was thinking “no one gets it…no one understands” is when I heard my dad start his sermon series “Mountains and Valleys”.  It was all about moments in life that we have been in the valley and on mountaintop experiences. Talking about being prepared, looking around, who is with you? It reminded me of some of the survival books and blogs that I like to read. In those blogs they mention “stop”. “Asses your surroundings”, ” asses your possessions”. They are trying to get you to not panic and to think logically, what do you have with you that you can use? What can you use around you to help you survive? Kind of like the bit of the sermon I heard. What is around you? Who is with you? Who can help you in your current predicament?

As Christians we have the awesome Holy Spirit indwelling in us.. We have other Christians surrounding us. We have the awesome and powerful word of God that is meant for our edification and building up.

The word “edify” from biblehub.com means:

1. (v.i.) To build up; to strengthen; to instruct, especially in morals or religion.

2. (v. i.) To instruct and improve, especially in moral and religious knowledge; to teach.

3. (v. i.) To teach or persuade.

4. (v. i.) To improve.

I love that.  So Gods word is meant to build us up (when we are broken), strengthen us (when we are weak), instruct us (when we don’t know what to do), improve us (when we are worn down), to teach us (when we don’t know where to go from here)…if that is not helpful during depressing times…I am not sure what would be

I don’t know about you, but during the pit days or times all of those things I mentioned in the parentheses are emotions that course through me. Mostly unbidden, but sometimes because I have chosen to dwell on sin. I admit it, I am human and I still (to my shame)sin, and sometimes that sin leads me to depressing thoughts. Usually it is because I have chosen not to submit to Gods word, or something else I am supposed to be changing in my life to reflect that of Christ’s.

So back to survival in the mountains and in the valleys. To take quotes directly from my dads notes (which I asked for after his first sermon- thank you Dad!) After he talks about God creating both mountains and valleys I love this thought he presented : “Say, for instance, if a mountain creates weather, the valley gathers the results of the weather and sends those results to where they need to go. In a sense, both depend on each other or both are codependent on the other one.”….

Wow! What a concept! I love the idea that God can use my valley times (or times in the pit) to gather strength from the times I have been on the mountain. In the midst of the valley, or pit times though, it is so so so hard to remember when I have been up on the top of mountain. Which is why its good to remind ourselves of those times.

I mention to other momma friends that are going through depression to write down peoples names and numbers they can count on to encourage and uplift them or just listen to them, and to do so during the good times. To write those names and numbers in BIG BOLD letters and place them in prominent places to be reminded of those times.

What if we did that with Gods word? Wrote down encouraging passages, or passages that can help us up out of the pit? I remember a friend growing up who did just that. I don’t remember her reason for it, but I do remember going to her house and in her space she had scriptures written on sticky notes all over. By her bed, on her nightstand, on the bathroom mirror, on the top of the toilet tank, on the doors and doorframes, everywhere one would put their eyes pretty much, there was scripture.

How’s that for survival? How’s that for encouragement? Arming yourself during the calm, good times, to be prepared during the rough, trying, tumultuous times?

That would be encouragement to the soul.

I’ll leave you with this verse from 2 Peter  chapter 1: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence .”.

 

Everything pertaining to life. LIFE!!!!

Thats just what I need when I am in the pit. Life.

 

 

 

The Pit (#3)

We have been talking about the Pit of depression  (post 1 and post 2) and sometimes being depressed can be aided and abetted by physicial problems as well as chemical imbalances*.

*I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv, this is just from my own personal experience*

Today I wanted to take a minute to have you ask yourself a question.

Question 1: is there something that is lending to your run-down-ned-ness (yes I made that up) that might be making things more difficult for you? (Silly question right? My answer might be “I have kids. So yes. There IS something, or someONES lending to my run-down-ed-ness. But just keep reading)

Things such as not enough sleep? Just checking. You have kids right? Have you found the adage of ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ to be as silly as I did once I moved from 1 to 2 to 3 children? This one is the HARDEST it seemed for me to accomplish, at least during the day. And to be honest, at night too. I would so rarely get to see my husband alone (even just sitting together on the couch!…together and yet alone from the children) that when we would put the kids to bed, inevitably I would stay up late just to have that time alone with him. So what did I do? I stayed up. Oh you BET I stayed up! Almost like I was staying up late to SPITE the little cherubs that kept me awake all day long.

Dear parent, if I could advise you to do anything it would be this. Do NOT stay up late to spite your children. 1)they don’t know or care once they are asleep. 2) the only person this hurts is you. A actually that is not true. Sometimes it hurts your family too. How often have I let myself (see that?! It’s a privelege to me to stay up late.. Sigh. I am still learning here. 🙂 ) stay up late just to be woken up late in the middle of the night, or in the very early hours by a crying baby that is teething, or a sick child that just needs my help, only to be grumpy at them and snappy because I didn’t get the proper rest? Too often is my answer.

If this is difficult for you too, remind yourself and your husband that is only a season. This will not always be this way.Though it may feel like forever while you are going through it, it does come to an end. There will be a time where you can sleep through the night and actually get rest. Some ways to help with the sleep aspect of this time in your life is to….set a timer! Timers work wonders for distracted, overly tired, stressed out parent brains. There are all sorts of apps for smart phones and for TVs and also physical egg timers or visual timers that you can use to remind yourself that “its almost bedtime” or “it IS bedtime”, or even to shut the electronic device off FOR you! My husband used to use one for his video game days (thank the Lord those days are not as they once were-Thankyou Cris too!) that would turn the game system off after a certain amount of time. If it helps, change your mindset to use it as a countdown to something positive instead of a sort of impending doom mindset. “Nooooo not the end of my Facebook!!!! Noooo!”  Not tattling on myself at all. 😀

Now don’t do something drastic like try changing your bedtime from say…midnight to 9 pm the first night. From personal experience, its not practical and it just means you end up staying up in bed tossing and turning! Try changing your bedtime and wake up time by 5-10 minutes at a time. Also, if its OK with your Dr., midwife or ND, try taking melatonin. Make sure throughout the day that you are staying hydrated, eating well and using the bathroom appropriately enough. Being constipated or dehydrated will NOT lend itself to proper elimination habits and WILL be another area that will make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.

The other thing I have been trying (and its helping!) Is to have no electronics in my face for at least half an hour before I fall asleep. I can’t just go straight to sleep like my husband  can, so I try reading a book at night. Like a real, hold in your hand and turn the pages book. Currently my choice has been the Triggers book by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. Its all about exchanging angry responses to our children to gentle and biblical responses. (Remember a couple of paragraphs earlier where I mentioned the being grumpy part? Yeah. I am working on it)

This has helped my eyes and brain know when its time for sleep and some nights I actually get to bed and asleep before 1 am. I am doing it all in babysteps too, Its not going to happen overnight. (<— see what I did there? Talking about more sleep happening but not over night…? :D

Lack of sleep, I recently read (on fb late at night!) Is something that can be used for torture. I believe it. If you are not getting enough sleep, it will make the time that you are in the pit seem endless. Take heart though. There IS hope. If you find yourself stuck in the pit of depression, take a look and see if this is an area that you need help in. Sometimes, you need to talk to your doctor, or to a trusted friend and let them know you are struggling. If someone smiles and nods and says “yes, I remember that stage” ask that person for help. Maybe they can come and sit with the kids while you nap or while you “sleep while the baby sleeps”…even if that baby is 4 years old. 🙂

I have been there before dear parent. Read this blog to see what I mean.

Please share with me in the comments what has worked for you dealing with lack of sleep or dealing with depression in the past?