5 Rules for Mental Strength

It is not always easy to be mentally strong. I struggle with this a lot. I’m still working on this one. There are days that I feel fantastic and days that I can barely get out of bed because I feel so badly about myself. I’m sure that many others feel the same.

How does this “being mentally strong” thing work? It’s a little different for everyone, but here are a few ideas:

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Being yourself. This is number one for me. I have fought very hard to be accepted for who I am by my own husband and that’s something nobody should have to do.

People change, and sometimes people can’t accept that. When you are comfortable with yourself, it’s much easier to be strong, because you have more faith in yourself. You know you can get through things. You know that you can tackle what is in front of you.

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Trust yourself. Many of us tend to underestimate ourselves, including me. I’ve made many decisions and second guessed myself, even on picking clothes, shoes and maybe even mascara. This tends to occur when you have low self-confidence.

I’ve learned to trust myself a lot more through therapy-working more to shut down that voice in my mind that says “That’s a bad idea, Wrae. Don’t do it. You can’t pull this off”. When you trust yourself more, you will believe in yourself more. You will make decisions with a lot more confidence, even about the small things.

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Build confidence. As Demi Lovato once said, “What’s wrong with being confident?” First of all, I love Demi. She has an amazing voice, has great style and she’s one of my sobriety role models.

She had a point with that lyric. What is wrong with being confident? I’m not talking about crossing the line and being all-out cocky or anything like that, but knowing what you are capable of and what your limits are.

Everyone has them, physically and emotionally. Don’t feel bad about those limits. For sheer example, I hate spiders, extreme heights, and public speaking.

I had to take public speaking in college and almost had a panic attack once. I was also hugely pregnant with Cameron. My professor wasn’t in the mood to send me into early labor, so he allowed me to give my speech from my seat and things ended a lot better than I had anticipated.

Confidence is good. This also helps with looks and body image- I’m a size 14 now and weigh in at around 170. I do not care to disclose that. I weighed 125 in 2015 before my life imploded and I was a size 4. I have been confident both sizes and weights.

Like every other woman in existence, even the awesome Tess Holliday (my favorite model), I have days where I think I look like crap, but then I remember what my body has been through and will continue to do and move on.

This took a lot of work because, at some points, I didn’t take my 60 lb weight gain well. This confidence can be hard to attain, thanks to social media and Photoshopped images of models. It’s tough to look at, so I tend to look at body-positive models.

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Daily reminders. I remind myself daily to take care of myself- this is a must do. If I don’t take care of myself, who will? I have two chronic illnesses and self-care is a must for both. I also remind myself “One day at a time” because that is how I have set my life up.

I just can’t plan far in the future anymore. Whether it is a phrase, app, or something else that helps, once you set your mind on something daily, it becomes a daily habit to take care of yourself and that leads to and supports mental strength.

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Not caring so much what others think. My mother is 62 and does not care what anyone thinks of her. She has always been like this. She’s small, very feisty, and hilarious. Clearly, these genes have passed on to me.

It took me a very long time to get to the point that I really didn’t care what others think of me, but that’s where I am sitting. It’s not healthy at all to care so much what others think of you, because it will break you down in the end. It erodes your self-esteem when you don’t meet their standards.

Your individuality will fade as you try to be more like others and less like yourself. This isn’t good for anyone.
These tips may be what you need to move forward onto becoming stronger. Take them and consider what else you may need to form more strength within yourself.

Book Review: “I’m Just Happy to Be Here”

I have decided to restructure my book reviews a bit. I hope you enjoy it, please let me know what you think in the comments!

Title and why I chose this book:

“I’m Just Happy to Be Here”

I chose this memoir for these reasons: I love memoirs, and I thought that this one would be a good one. It looked interesting and I was absolutely right.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

It is probably good for anyone that is currently experiencing issues with drinking, reflecting on their past or is close to someone that has either of those issues. It may create a better understanding of that person’s thought patterns.

What I liked:

I loved Janelle’s honesty. It’s all over the memoir, from beginning to end. I also like how she discusses her childhood and what led to her drinking, not just starting with the drinking. I enjoyed her vulnerability because that is important in a story like this.

What I didn’t like:

The story’s timeline jumped around a bit. That’s the only thing that bothered me.

Book cover

Plot:

Janelle grew up with her mom. She was a Mormon, whose family converted after missionaries showed up at their door. Her mom became inactive later (this means she stopped attending services and didn’t go on a mission) but when Janelle was 9, she was baptized into the Church.

As a teen, she started questioning the Church, as many teens do. She didn’t believe that she was the good person that everyone thought she was, plus, she hated the rules.

For sheer example, I’ve seen an older version of the BYU honor code (circa 2003) and it was not easy for me to consider living by, but then, I also wasn’t raised Mormon. At some point, Janelle started experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

This eventually equated to drinking wine while making dinner. She would drink while cooking and then have a cocktail with dinner. I used to make dinner with a glass of Pepsi of juice with a splash of Fireball. The kids knew not to touch my glass.

She discusses a difficult experience with PPD, which borderlined on psychotic, which she was medicated for. After she and her husband moved out, she began counting down the hours until she could drink.

There is something comforting about knowing when you will feel better about your day, or maybe your whole life. This used to be in the form of alcohol for me. Now, it’s probably yoga or writing.

Janelle’s story takes many twists and turns throughout four pregnancies (yes, she does stay sober throughout) and her tumultuous marriage. I was intrigued throughout and read it over a weekend because I couldn’t stop.

It wasn’t until her second child was 6 months old and she relapsed that she began to think that she could possibly be an alcoholic.

Does Janelle get a happy ending? Find her book online or at a local library. I don’t want to spoil it for you!

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Quotes that I loved:

“It made it worse because I knew he simply did not have what I needed.”

At one point, my husband did not have what I needed. I needed to know that I was a good mom, person and not just a sex doll. I needed more than just my own strength.

My depression became a lot worse once I realized that he did not have it in him to give me what I needed. My drinking also got a lot worse.

In case you can’t tell, I highly recommend this book. Come back for next month’s pick!

A Talk With My Mom

My mom and I were talking today (2/6/19) and we were discussing the death of a soap opera actor that she really liked. It’s been suspected that it was due to alcohol and I told her that I had once been close to, if not, actually had alcohol poisoning.

“Why didn’t you tell me it was that bad?”

I didn’t really have an answer.

I had to think for a minute.

“I don’t know. I already had a lot going on. I was so messed up for a while and I didn’t want you to worry more.”

It’s called shame, y’all. It’s a big topic in recovery.

My mom hit me with that “don’t bullshit me” look that I’ve gotten about a thousand times in my life.

“No, seriously, Wrae. You can come to me with things like that.” She actually looked hurt. My mom’s not much for feelings so that must have really bothered her.

The Sunken Place

When you’re in the deep, dark place that is alcoholism, or even binge drinking, there is not space for telling many people how bad things are. This might even include your mom.

There is mainly room for drinking. The feelings you have go away, at least for a while. The alcohol clears out the pain and if you’re lucky, maybe you won’t remember the dumb things you did.

The emotions you’re trying to drown out are usually big. They feel too big to manage, and sometimes the usual coping skills just don’t work. I drank well before my life took a huge left turn, but Jake’s death destroyed me. The grief was too much to take.

There isn’t much talking. You don’t want to talk about why you drink- but telling someone about a wild night of drinking might be fun. It’s so hard to face up to the damage you are doing to yourself and potentially others. That day does come, however. My day came and went two years ago. You can read that story in Two Years of Sobriety

Since that day, I’ve finished therapy and started going to a Yoga 12 Step for Recovery class on Sundays. It’s one of the best things I do all week. I struggle with reaching out for help when I need to talk.

Writing helps a lot and I am able to get my thoughts that way, but I know talking is better sometimes. Honestly, it gets exhausting. When I get done talking about how I feel, I’m drained. I need a nap. I used to leave therapy tired as hell, especially if I had been crying.

All The Feels

I’m still a work in progress. I know I have a lot of people that I can talk to. It’s just a matter of speaking. Doing so requires lots of feelings- shame for even having this to deal with, guilt for having to unload on people who have dealt with my problems for over so many years, and just having to process whatever might be under the surface.

Can you tell this is not my favorite thing to do?

Quote courtesy of Pinterest

Post-Holiday Check In

I’m back with a post-holiday check in. Things went pretty well, for the most part.

Physically:

Not bad. Now that I have decent insurance, I will be able to get into my PCP for thyroid related bloodwork to make sure my meds are still at a good dosage. I can also go back to the rheumatologist. Yay.

The kids and I had a busy winter break- after Christmas shopping, skating, and a few smaller fun things. Tails and Miss Purr had a nice Christmas. All the activity wore me out a bit, but I made sure I got the rest I needed.

My 36th Birthday

My birthday was on 12/29. I got my hair cut, shopped and got lunch.

Sobriety

I celebrated 2 years yesterday, January 1, 2019. I will get a chip at the yoga for Recovery class that I attend this Sunday. I’ve never gotten a chip so this means a lot to me.

I know I’m far from alone in this struggle and I will continue to take things one day at a time. I think I need to work a tiny bit…okay, a lot more, on telling someone when I get into that space where I really want to drink. It’s a dangerous place.

Emotionally:

I’m slightly anxious because I start a new job on 1/7, which is also Cameron’s 14th birthday. I’m not sure where 14 years have gone. We decided to get him a cell phone, and of course there will be limits.

Lily bought her first purse and wallet, plus she now wears junior size clothes. She’s not a “little” girl anymore and now I want to cry.

I’m very glad the holidays are over because they’re always a bit stressful. I’m ready to start a new year, job and see what else happens.

Are you ready for 2019? What are your goals and hopes?

Two Years of Sobriety

I’m here, and I’m sober.

A Bit Of A Flashback

Two years ago, I woke up from drinking for the last time- I drank until Sara and her husband, Paul, were worried that I had alcohol poisoning.

I was a bit hungover.

Not at all surprising.

I was used to this- so were Matthew and the kids. I’d been drinking steadily since 2013 and after Jake died, it only got worse. I had to escape the pain. Even with therapy, I still had a hard time seeing the days ahead of me.

I cried constantly. I was still trying to move forward from the grief. Losing a man I loved so deeply was something I never saw coming. Drinking took that pain away, if only temporarily. I didn’t realize, however, the internal damage I was doing to myself.

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The Wake-Up Call (Literally)

It’s a well-known fact that I have RA and hypothyroidism. The journey to detect and solve both issues began with blood testing in late 2016. I have a great PCP- she later found the nodule that was removed from my thyroid in 2017, along with other issues. She knew I had been drinking but not the whole story.

I’ve met many alcoholics and addicts and not one has been super honest with their PCP if they have one.

Dr. Tobe called me herself- not her Medical Assistant, Stacey.

YIKES.

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I don’t remember the conversation verbatim, but let’s just say my labs looked pretty interesting, especially my liver enzymes.

You see, the liver is an interesting little piece of your body. It can grow back from being removed, injured or otherwise messed up.

In my case, as Dr. Tobe explained, if I stopped drinking right then, I could stop the damage and not end up with cirrhosis.

I saw that as a hard pass. Matthew’s best friend’s mom died from cirrhosis, and it is a terrible death.

I thanked Dr. Tobe and hung up.

Some Serious Thoughts

I’ve got kids, y’all. Nobody is grown yet and somebody’s gotta be here to get Julian to adulthood. This isn’t saying Matthew couldn’t but he knows he would be lost without me.

I don’t think I’m quite done living, so I decided to have one last night of drinking and be done. I did just that.

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Having a bit of sober fun

I also discussed this at great length in therapy. I won’t say sobriety is easy, because that would be a huge lie.

My liver gets tested every few months thanks to Plaquenil because it’s known to affect liver functioning. So far, it seems to be getting slightly better. This process can take years.

It’s A Hard Life

I read The Big Book cover to cover once and part of my plans for this year is to read it again. I’ll be tracking that reading in my bullet journal.

The 9th step talks about amends and making then except when it would hurt the person to hurt more. This one has been hard. I’ve apologized to my kids, Matthew, my friends and even my mom.

Jordan is that one person I hurt terribly. I wasn’t sober when I attempted to apologize and I am almost certain he wouldn’t hear it now. He’s Jake’s younger brother, the one whose now ex-girlfriend I seriously upset.

I never meant to hurt him- you couldn’t pay me to. I’m hoping one day he realizes that and maybe we’ll speak. I haven’t seen him since Sara’s mom’s funeral in May.

This is the kind of thing that happens in alcoholism and addiction. I know I’ve tried and that’s the best I can do. I also know he’s okay and that’s enough for me.

I struggled a lot with apologizing to my kids and not feeling like a good mom. I’m a lot more present these days. They’ve brought me all kinds of stress, but that’s how parenting works.

The Sober Life

Relapse is part of recovery. I’ve come close. I’ve had horrible days in which all I want to do is go to the closest store and grab a bottle of vodka, but I’m able to talk myself out if it.

I remind myself of the progress I have made. My kids haven’t really said it but I know they’re proud of me. I would lose that progress the minute I opened the bottle or took a shot. That would be heartbreaking.

I also know one wouldn’t be enough because I would become horribly depressed.

Also, I’m pretty sure that alcohol doesn’t agree with my meds.

I recently joined a 12 Step Yoga for Recovery class and I love it. I realized that I needed a bit more support, plus, yoga is great for me. It helps a lot and I look forward to each class.

Two years has gone by so quickly! I still take this one day at a time- it’s what works best for me.

Photos courtesy of Pinterest

Other pics are mine.