Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Stay Positive












As I was scrolling through Facebook today, this image came across my screen. The message is simple enough, right? View the glass as half full, be the positive person in a bad situation. After all, a little positivity goes a long way.

But what if I can't? What if hard, negative situations cause me to shut down? What if I want so badly to be positive but if I'm able to feel any emotions at all they are full of dread?

Unfortunately, in many cases, this is my reality. I shut down so easily. It can be so small, just a comment made in passing or in the middle of an argument that I can't handle anymore.

When it happens, I'm numb. My thoughts are blank, my emotions disappear. I'm a robot whose batteries have been removed. It's scary sometimes, because I'm so emotionless that nothing brings me joy and with no joy, what's the point in existing?

This is where the CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) practice of mindfulness comes in handy. It involves focusing on the here and now. Looking at a situation and being mindful of what you can and can't control. And right here is where little reminders to stay positive no matter the situation are needed. For me, it's so easy to focus on the things I can't control. On the awfulness of my current world. And when I'm shut down, it's even more difficult to remember that I do, in fact, have positives in my life.

The most important thing is to learn how to get out of that funk. Sometimes all I can do is go to bed and pray the next day will be better. Other times, something as small as what put me there can bring me back out. And then, there are times when despite the odds I am able to use my coping skills and get back to a positive place, even when my world seems to be falling apart.
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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Because PPD is real

Having a baby is wonderful and exciting and beautiful. You hear stories of the wonders of birth and how amazing our bodies are. Of how sweet it is to hold your new, little miracle. How each day, despite the exhaustion, is better than the last.

And then there's the crying. The constant feeding. Exhausted and over touched until you just can't anymore. The idea of changing one more diaper makes you want to cry. Your breasts are sore and cracked or every single bottle is dirty. Looking at that sweet face brings anxiety and sadness. This is postpartum depression (PPD).

PPD is more severe than the baby blues and doesn't go away on its own. According to Americanpregnancy.org, 70-80% of women will experience the baby blues while 15% suffer from PPD.

Feeling lonely and isolated, women struggle to keep up with the demands of a newborn. Whether they are a first time mama or 20 kids in, PPD can come on strong and fast.

Bringing a new little life into your world is hard. Birth doesn't just come with the physical trauma that everyone talks about. There's mental trauma, too! I don't think it matters how many children you've brought home, a new baby will always rock the world of everyone living there.

Even now, it seems that society believes it is the mother's job to hold everything together. That's so much pressure! But it's why I was determined to not even send my first to the nursery when I was in the hospital. It's why, as we moved cross country with three kids three and under, I did my best to pack up my unorganized, dirty home consumed by my PPD without help until the very last minute. It was an embarrassing disaster, but thank God for people who love us.

All the pressure, all the loneliness, all the pain built up inside me like a volcano until I didn't want to live anymore. I felt that everyone would be better off without me. That they deserved someone who could actually hold it together. It was the beginning of the worst time in my life, a constant climb up a mountain with faulty safety ropes.

But I made it.

Mamas, please don't be too afraid or ashamed to express how you are feeling. Talk to your spouse, a friend or most importantly your doctor. Don't let PPD bring you to that mountain. It's ok to not be ok. Self care is the most important part of being a mother. Putting yourself last, like so many do, will eventually result in pain and loneliness. Be kind to yourself. Be forgiving of your flaws. You are a beautiful soul - don't ever forget it.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The diagnosis

Being diagnosed is a rough thing to handle. I knew something about me was different, but knowing that it was in my brain was hard to wrap my head around - no pun intended. 

For me, the diagnosis came after a full mental breakdown followed by months of suffering and suicide attempts. Medicines were tried, hospitalizations came one attempt after another. Minimal psychiatric testing was done until they finally consulted a specialist. I created stories based on single pictures and filled in hundreds of circles on questionnaires. I told the specialist about my history, he reviewed my chart and finally we had answers - Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, severe depression and severe anxiety. 

My medications changed but the symptoms didn't. Eventually, I was sent to a residential facility for 3 months to work on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) while trying to find the right medicine combination in a controlled environment. The medical aspect of the stay was horrible. The doctor prescribed so much lithium and seroquel that I could barely walk, talk or write. My therapist finally stepped in and I was sent to a different facility to detox. Once that issue was handled, I was able to better focus on learning coping skills. 

After it was all said and done, I can say I walked away with three things: 

1. I was never going to blindly trust doctors like I did before. I needed to start strongly advocating for myself when things didn't feel right. 
2. There were coping skills out there that I could use. The biggest being writing, something I had been away from for quite awhile. 
3. There are AMAZING people out there who "get it" in a way no one else can. Some of my dearest friends came from this stay. People who I can reach out to when I am struggling and need to find a way back to my wise mind. 

Now, over three years later, I'm finally on a good medicine combo, I recognize when I'm starting to slide and I can see all of the reasons I have to live. I can see all of the love from my amazing support system. 

This is a lifetime battle, but I feel as though I'm on the right track. There will be regressions, I'm sure. Maybe even a few more inpatient stays. Continuing on my current path would be wonderful, but I am also realistic in knowing that things aren't perfect, medications will change over time and that I have many hills and valleys in my future. Though the diagnosis will always be there, I have the tools and support to beat it every time.
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Have questions, comments or just want to connect? Email me here or head on over to the community on my Facebook Page!