Snowballing Thoughts

I’ve written a lot about going to therapy. I spent two years seeing a therapist that kept me from going to jail, rehab or both.

Those posts are: Going to Therapy: Setting Goals and Smashing Them

How Can Therapy be Beneficial for You?

Well, it’s time for another round.

I’ve been struggling with writer’s block because I’ve been depressed and anxious. It’s hard to write when you don’t feel like it’s any good.

Motivation is probably my biggest issue- I’d stay in bed all day reading or watching TV if I had the chance. Instead, I drag myself to work for 5 hours. Those hours crawl by. I’m not happy at all with my job and I’d quit tomorrow if I could.

This leads me to my career in general- I don’t know what’s next and that just creates more anxiety. I worry about the kids and my marriage.

These thoughts snowball and are hard to stop.

Facing Reality

I really struggled with the idea. I felt like I failed. I decided on a different therapist because I couldn’t face my former one. It just wouldn’t be the same.

I even got into a psychiatric nurse practitioner. She’s great and I started an anti-depressant. I can’t say yet if it’s helping but I sure hope it does.

She asked me if I had cravings for a drink.

Until then, I hadn’t even thought about it.

Sometimes when I’m stressed, sad or both, I’ll think “I could really use a drink.” I guess I wasn’t paying attention. Part of why I went back to therapy is because I don’t want to relapse. I’m not sure how I’d come back from it.

One of the promises I made to myself when Jake died was to finish the work he started. Even thinking I didn’t do so broke me. As Sara put it, sometimes you need a boost. Plus Jake would be angry at me for not going back because he wanted me to be happy.

As usual, Sara was right.

I felt like I was letting everyone down because for the most part, I’m okay. I got myself back together. Going back means I wobbled on my path.

I talked to Matthew and my closest friends about it and all of them were supportive. If you don’t have friends like these, you need new ones. Matthew hopes it helps because he noticed me pulling away from him.

I cried. I cried a lot. My friends’ support means a lot more to me than they realize. They really do care. I’m not the burden that I thought I was.

That’s the depression talking. It tells me that I should be doing more professionally and that I’m a terrible mom and wife.

If you’ve been depressed, you know what I mean. There’s that voice in the back of your mind telling you things that are hard to process.

I went to my first therapy session with my new therapist last week and she’s very nice. I’ll be there once a week for a while and that’s okay. I have to remind myself of this when I start thinking the bad things.

One day at a time, right?

2020 Post-Holiday Check-In

I entirely forgot to do one of these before the holidays so here goes:

Physically: I spent a week in a flare that required steroids. That’s the first time I’ve had to get them, but have had a different kind for migraines. The steroids helped and I’m good.

I went in for labs- my liver and kidneys are good. Yay for my liver cooperating. I’m on Vitamin D now but otherwise my other meds stay the same.

Sobriety:

I have three years as of 1/1/2020. This is and has not been easy. I struggled a lot with wanting a drink but it isn’t worth it. Plus, I gotta keep my liver in good shape so it can tolerate these meds.

Emotional:

Ugh. I’ve been a huge mess off and on for the last couple months. I’ve decided to go back to therapy, but this time with someone who can prescribe meds. I think it’s time.

I had a really hard time accepting that I need to go back to therapy. I felt like I failed at my promise to finish Jake’s work. As a friend told me, I did fulfill that promise, and it’s okay to need a bit of extra help.

She’s right.

I also struggled with telling Matthew and my close friends. I felt (and sometimes still do) feel like I should have myself together and that I’ve bothered everyone plenty over the last few years.

I did tell them and I cried for a while because they support me. Good thing I wear waterproof mascara because that day’s would have been ruined.

I’m not even sure what happened. I’ve tried to figure it out, but I can’t live my best life if I’m constantly anxious, sad and not wanting to get out of bed. I have been a lot happier so I know what it feels like.

My first session is on 1/8/2020.

What’s Next?

I couldn’t begin to tell you. I’m not sure about the job I’m at right now for numerous reasons. I got an email for an interview for a position that I’ve previously applied for twice and never got a response.

It starts with a phone interview, which I definitely prefer. Cross your fingers and toes.

Today is Matthew’s 37th birthday. Cameron will be 15 on 1/7/2020. Yuck. Where did the last 15 years go? My little 7 lb, 5 oz baby is now 5’7″ and weighs as much as I do.

There will be a book review this month.

Stay tuned to find out what comes next.

A Guide to the Holidays: Staying Emotionally Healthy

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people. Many deal with stress and/or depression, grief, or other issues like toxic family members. Some even go through the holidays alone. This can be especially hard. It’s important to know how to stay emotionally healthy during this time so that you can enjoy the holidays and possibly be able to help someone you know.

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If You Are Alone

This situation is caused by different factors- distance, family issues, financial issues, and so on. There are ways that you can make this a positive time of the year:

  • Reach out. Many people will offer to extend an invitation to someone they know may be alone for the holidays. Let them know if you are available, offer to bring something. If you have friends who wouldn’t mind an extra person, ask if you can join them for a celebration.
  • Create alternative traditions. “Friendsgiving” potlucks have become popular in the last few years among those who aren’t able to see their families. I’ve gone to a couple, and it’s a lot of fun. Everyone brings a dish, decide on a fun activity, and let the fun begin.
  • Pamper yourself. Do something you enjoy- a day at the spa, nails, a new book, shirt, etc.
  • Help others. This can take many different directions- volunteering at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, etc. This can help remind you of how fortunate you are and it’s a good experience.
  • Travel. If you can afford it, go out of town for a couple of days. If you can’t, try a “staycation” and go places in your city that you haven’t been to.
  • Self- care. Check in with yourself daily- feelings, hygiene, etc. You don’t have to be cheerful 24/7 during this season, alone or not. If you realize you are having a hard time, reach out. Please see my Resources page for more information.

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For Those That Are Grieving

Grief is a hard process any day of the year. The holidays can be harder on someone that is grieving than most people realize. If you are grieving or will be celebrating the holidays with someone that is, these tips may be helpful.

  • Take care of yourself. Grief can affect people differently. Depression can cause a person to not care for themselves as they did before the loss. Self-care is important, even the tiniest steps like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, etc.
  • Don’t rush the process. It may take years for a family to feel like holiday gatherings are “normal” again after a loss. Do not rush through your grieving process for others. Everyone grieves differently and this should be respected.
  • Plan ahead. Do you really want to host Thanksgiving this year? Can someone else do it? Think about where you are in the grieving process and how comfortable you feel hosting holiday events. It might not be for you this year, but in a year or so, it might be okay again.
  • Share stories. This might be hard, depending on the situation, but it can also be helpful. Sharing stories can be good, however, when they focus on the good times with the person, acknowledging that they are missed.

If you are going to a gathering with a family who has had a recent loss:

  • Offer help. Maybe the family needs help with shopping, cleaning, decorating, etc. This can be a huge relief to them. It’s one less worry in an already tough time.
  • Ask how everyone is doing before attending the gathering. It may be a somber or joyous gathering, but you will not know unless you ask beforehand.
  • Respect the right for everyone to grieve. This is very important.

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Holiday Cheer or Holiday Stress?

There’s a lot of pressure to spend lots of money on presents, spend time with family that we may or may not get along with, get our kids everything they want and so on. How do we remain, or even get, cheerful about the holidays? How do we deal with the stress?

  • Tune out the noise. The holiday specials, songs, and movies can be a bit too much. If it becomes too much, turn it off. I can’t stand the radio stations that play nothing but Christmas music- starting before Thanksgiving.

Can we get through Thanksgiving first? It’s a bit much for me to hear this music for over a month, so I don’t even turn it on. I am stuck with it when Matthew and I are in the car together because he loves it- there’s a thing called compromise.

  • Set limits for presents. This can be a number of presents, price, or even both. We have four birthdays within 2 weeks after Christmas, so we really try to watch how much we spend. (Those birthdays are mine, Matthew, my father in law, and Cameron.) Plus, there’s the battle of making sure each kid has the same number of presents. Kids need to know that money doesn’t come easily and that they may not be able to always get what they want.
  • Toxic people need to be shown the door. Not everyone in your life is meant to be there, and that includes family. Your time is valuable- why spend it with people who don’t value you? Be realistic about what you can handle.
  • Be grateful. The main message behind the holidays is counting our blessings and being grateful for what we have. It may be a good idea to make a list of the things you are grateful for, no matter how small they are. This can be a bit of a lift, especially on the harder days.
  • Have fun in moderation. You will feel a lot better if you don’t overeat, drink too much or overdo other activities. Everyone has their limits- don’t go past them or you may disappoint yourself.
  • Take care of yourself. This can be a very hectic time of the year, and self- care can slide to the bottom of your to-do list.

Example: If you’re a perfectionist, it’s okay to let things go a bit. You can find the perfect gift for everyone, but if you’re so stressed out finding it, you’ve lost the fun part. It becomes a drag. Try loosening up a bit- don’t spend hours online looking. If you need to, take a break after an hour and come back to it the next day. Start shopping earlier to relieve some of the stress.

  • Say no. This is okay. It’s possible to become overburdened with parties, work, and other activities. Saying no lessens that burden. It’s important to remember your needs.
  • Nourish yourself- physically and emotionally. Don’t entirely skip the good foods, because there are plenty out there. Try a smaller portion. Treat yourself. Try taking a bit of “quiet time” each day to read, write, draw, anything that helps you rest your mind a bit. You will feel much less smothered by the demands of the season.

Do you have any tips for a stress-free holiday season?

All pics are from Unsplash

Information from Psychology Today

Intimacy Is Not a Bad Word

Merriam-Webster defines the word intimacy as:

“something of a private or personal nature” and/or “familiarity”.

There are a number of reasons that we can be afraid of intimacy. Two examples:

  • Childhood issues, as in inability to attach to a caregiver, having been abandoned, etc.
  • Past negative events of being intimate with others- abusive relationships, sexual assault, etc.

Either of these issues can set someone on a path of trying to keep themselves “safe”. This can be both good and bad- it’s good to protect yourself from those who may have bad intentions, but may not be so great when someone means well and just wants to get closer to you.

The fear of intimacy can keep you from getting close to others. It can also cause behaviors like:

  • Purposefully pushing others away
  • Keeping friendships and/or relationships superficial so the person can’t see who you really are
  • Coming off as “cold” or “closed off” to others around you.
  • Fear of abandonment and/or rejection.

“Some People Are Worth Melting For”- ” Frozen”

I can’t believe I used a “Frozen” quote but…it fits.

There was a point in my life in which I had become cold. I didn’t even realize it, which is very common. I’d been dealing with anxiety and depression due to my marriage issues. Things were so bad that I felt the need to protect myself emotionally so that I could keep going. I was basically on my own planet.

When your husband is emotionally and verbally abusive, it hurts. It changes you and your marriage permanently.

I was quiet, had lost some of my humor and kept to myself for the most part. I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t notice the tall, gorgeous man that kept trying to approach me at work.

That man was Jake.

I am forever grateful that I met him. He had a quiet, gentle spirit that helped me open up and heal. I was scared that I would get hurt (and I did) but somehow, I realized he was worth that risk.

He told me once that he didn’t know what to do because I kept brushing him off. I would literally walk away from him because I didn’t want to be bothered, but he kept trying- not in a mean or harassing way.

I apologized to him for seeming so cold- that’s not me at all, even then. I realized that I didn’t want to come off that way to others, so I tried my best to open up and let Jake in. It was one of my best ideas in years.

After his death, I had to address my marriage and where it was going. If we were going to stay together, I would have to work on my fear of being close to Matthew again.

I cried my way through lots of therapy sessions before I could decide to let myself take that risk again. Matthew had changed, so I needed to do the same.

I talked a lot about my fears and realized that I was the only one that could truly fix them. Over time, I’ve been able to be fully intimate, meaning emotionally and physically, with Matthew again. It’s helped our marriage a lot.

Thinking

How Can I Make Changes?

Changes are definitely possible, but they may not be fun.

Coming to terms with this fear can be difficult, depending on individual circumstances. Some may require therapy. Some can work through this fear on their own.

Either way is okay. Everyone’s different and heals in their own way.

A few steps for facing the fear of intimacy:

  • Think about it- what is it exactly that makes you fear intimacy so much?
  • Write it out- this can help sort out your thoughts.
  • Talk. Then talk some more. Rachel, my former therapist, once told me “If it’s on your mind and bothering you, you should probably say it.” I admit this was a big struggle for me, and it’s still an issue sometimes, but it is worth it.
  • Get informed. This is a deep fear for many and there’s information all over the Internet. The information for this post is from Psych Mind
  • Take small steps. Don’t rush into something because you’re trying to get past a fear. It may take years for intimacy to feel okay for you. Examples: Try opening up to someone you have wanted to but only about one topic. Let someone take care of you.
  • Seek a therapist if this fear is keeping you from living your best life.

Forming a sense of intimacy with others can be tough. Facing this fear can create personal growth that you may not have expected.

Has intimacy been a problem for you? What has helped you face the fear OR what keeps you from facing it?

The Things I Forget

Parenting is challenging.

Every. Single. Day.

If you have one kid with any kind of medical issue and/or special needs, the challenge gets more intense.

Fair pic

Inside This Mom’s Mind

I didn’t realize that sometimes, after some years, that we can adjust to our kids’ issues so much that we can almost forget about them.

Sometimes. It depends on the kid.

It’s not that I forgot about Lily’s delays, but maybe I did forget that delays aren’t just during baby/toddlerhood.

Once she aged out of First Steps (early intervention) at three and went to preschool, I thought “okay, we’re good”

The person that completed her exit eval reminded me: “She may be behind in some areas as she gets older, but we don’t know which.”

She had a difficult time learning how to read. Even after she got good at it, she still asked to read to me, Matthew or my mom. These days, she’s reading “Dork Diaries” books, so I’d say she’s on track.

As you’ve read in other posts, she’s had further issues that pulled me to put her in therapy.

You can read those posts Special Needs Round Two

Thoughts on a Second Diagnosis

A Big Breakthrough

As of now, Lily is 4’9″ and weighs about 160 lbs.

Her pediatrician is concerned and as a result, she’s had labs drawn to see what’s up.

Of course, her thyroid is basically nonfunctional. I wonder where that came from? Mine was bad before losing half of it, but Lily’s levels are basically bottoming out.

Don’t worry, she is seeing a pediatric endocrinologist in early November. Her pediatrician is certain she will end up on the same meds that I am on.

We’ve changed her diet (still in progress) and she got referred to a dietician. The very nice dietitian asked if she could discuss Lily with the Occupational Therapy department and…

Here I am, filling out paperwork for an OT eval.

I know she doesn’t need speech therapy. She’s loud and there is no misunderstanding her. In that area, you can definitely tell she’s almost 12. The attitude is real.

In the years since First Steps, I guess we have adjusted the best we can.

Lily hates exercise, new foods, and most things yucky, except slime. She LOVED slime. At 11, she still can’t ride a bike. This doesn’t mean we haven’t tried. Julian even tried to help her ride a bike- he’s been on one since he was four.

While filling out the OT paperwork, I’m reminded that even though she isn’t a baby, she still has issues that are impacting her health. Her daily life.

*sighs*

How do I feel?

Tired. Overwhelmed. You know, the usual. I have many thoughts, some found in The Deeper Thoughts of a Special Needs Mom

Dunk tank

Birthday water fun

Trying My Best

Lily has ADD, minus the hyperactivity part. (Julian took that part and RAN with it.) I try my hardest to remember this when asking her to do things and when she’s in trouble. I forget that she is a bit behind her peers emotionally and socially. Being her isn’t always easy.

But yet, I entirely screw up. I lose patience. I get upset with her. I apologize and try to move forward. Some days are better than others.

Parents aren’t perfect, no matter how hard we try. We have to give ourselves some room.

The things I forget come back at the weirdest times!