Saturday, April 9, 2016

Blasting Light - Exposure!

To a point, the phrase, "Healing takes time" is true.
Without awareness of what one needs to do to heal, time will be an enemy.

I wish to lay my soul bare before anyone whom will read this. I do so with trepidation. However, I have heard it said, "Vulnerability is the greatest measure of courage." To write this AND post this will be a defining moment towards my healing.

I was diagnosed in December with severe depression and anxiety disorder.

A process of losing me began to stew over 2 years ago when I was in my zone, my niche, my flow and we moved. Allow me to preface, I blame no one. I was shook and it has taken me a while to stabilize. We moved from a place where I finally wasn't known primarily, as a stay-at-home-mom and/or the city manager's wife. The details aren't important for the sake of healing. I am not at a place where I can bullet point all of the emotions....the underlying thought: When do I matter and to Whom? The past is the past, while one needs to identify the tripping events.....I can't change it and I know now, I wouldn't change it. I put on my "face". I dug in, in our new community, and put myself out there to start sharing my love of my business - Young Living while trying to keep connected to my people I left behind in the previous community. I was determined I would "fake it til I made it."

Two months later, we learned I was pregnant. If you have read any of my blog at all, you know, this was not joyous news no matter how others put on their dancing shoes and gave no thought to what I was going to have to deal with prior to a baby truly getting here. I felt like I couldn't be honest with those that I had been close to because I was met with, "Be positive. Have the right attitude!" There would be another baby! That is the important thing, right? [Disclaimer: The past 2 lines are dripping with sarcasm. My face would give that away, if we were conversing face-to-face. I am still a work in progress of realigning with reality of relationships after the past 2 years. I can't change how it made me feel. Also, I swear. Yes, I have a potty-mouth occasionally. I won't apologize or be shamed for it. ] My parents? They were scared shitless, initially. Why? Because I was at great risk. My Mom was my biggest support through the coming months. Me? I cried for weeks after learning the news. Fear shrouded everything. Guess what? Only Steve saw me cry almost every night. I pushed myself until I literally couldn't. I didn't unpack our home. I didn't scrub floors, I didn't do laundry. Our home looked like we needed an intervention for an episode of Hoarders. It was so awful because I do not know how to function in that. And I didn't know who to ask for help and I was ashamed of anyone seeing the condition of it ......because this was not the first impression I wanted to expose in our new community! My mind ran rampant with people talking about how the city manager's stay-at-home wife doesn't do anything all day. "That poor man!" The reality is I have been burned by that gossip factor, in the past [not on my housekeeping] but other things. There's a great possibility NO ONE would have said or spread anything. However, since I didn't know where I was safe and I was in survival mode....I just kind of rolled-over. I didn't love myself enough to be vulnerable and ask for help. I was in physical pain most of the time. We went to have the "big" ultrasound in Iowa City at 20 weeks. I had reservations about delivering in Waverly. Iowa City examined me and consulted that they would be happy to have me doctor in Iowa City but all looked great! So it was our decision. Well, we knew we didn't want to drive 2.5 hours every month in the Winter for regular appointments. PLUS - it was a girl! I was able to breathe. And I did.

4 weeks later, my water broke. [Please read the post "A Warrior Princess is Born" for the story of the beginning of that adventure.]

The experience of Katie's pregnancy, her birth, the separation from my family, grieving how nothing went ideal through 3 pregnancies, anger towards myself for not being able to have a "normal" pregnancy, coming home as an alien and being thrust into "regular" life......I wasn't being honest with myself. I was shutting down. The insecurity was magnified to a point where I started resigning that maybe I didn't have a place here. Maybe I was just the donor of babies to the world. I have seen myself as a vessel all my life. One day I wrote, "You are bigger than the life you are cramming yourself into." The issue with that statement is that I wasn't taking ownership of who was doing the cramming.

The week of Christmas 2015 - It got bad. The thoughts of harming myself......I had kept all the pain killers the hospital sent me home with, 10 months before. I remember when I left Ronald McDonald House the thought was "throw them away - you didn't use them in the midst of that pain...." and I packed them with the story, "I may need an out. I am weary. Some have made it clear to me, I am not needed as a mother or a wife. What if they don't need me? If it's as simple as that - I will want out." I still had a month before Katie was discharged. I wouldn't know if it was as I feared, until I got home.
The week of Christmas 2015 - I found a counselor and started anti-depressants. The shame. I am no longer ashamed - so please don't send messages that I needn't be ashamed.  Also, I don't want pity or sympathy. I share because I know I am not alone. I know there are others that are imprisoned by their fear of dying and/or living and worst of all- dying with a heartbeat. I had nearly completely disconnected. I called the OB who sent me to Iowa City the night my water broke. She was the only doctor I trusted in a close proximity to where we had moved prior to getting pregnant with Katie. She was part of my story. She saved my life and my daughter's life. On the phone, I trembled and told her, "My thoughts are not ok." "Do you want to harm yourself?" she asked. "Yes, but I can't. The baggage it will leave my kids with......" and I sobbed. She said something I will never forget, "Good. If you only knew how often children save their mother's lives." Then she told me the regular professional and clinical stuff and we set up a time for me to see her, and it was prompt. Then I was connected with a family medicine doctor to oversee the administering of an anti-depressant.

I was having anxiety attacks and had no idea that's what they were. I couldn't breathe. There was tightness across my chest. My body or parts of my body would go completely numb. I realized I have lived with anxiety all my life. Just always told myself, "You are neurotic and weird." A tip: if you view yourself in any light other than amazing and fabulous? Don't share that with those that don't love you. They will pounce and agree. Experience talking - when you have a low self-confidence, those who don't love you see you as prey and will jump at the opportunity to reinforce the negative self-talk. I don't know why. I still struggle with anxiety. When I feel it coming on, I try to do something fun or do a mindfulness exercise. There are many triggers: hearing from certain people, loud noises, the dog barking unexpectedly, the boys fighting, when Katie is in kitchen because we don't have the capability of putting a baby gate at the back steps going down from the kitchen, something on the calendar, leaving the house, large groups of people........I will keep working at it. I fear being perceived as lazy for as often as I have to sit and do breathing exercises through out the day. Oh....I struggle going out to community events.

No one else is responsible for my healing, but me. Sharing my story is part of my healing. When I expose shame and fear, darkness loses it's seduction and power. A couple months ago - I was in no place to write this and post it. My last post was called "Sanctuary"......we all need Sanctuary. Sanctuary is not synonymous with Seclusion. No one else is responsible for building my self-esteem but me. And that is what I have been doing.
Choices....choosing life over existence. Choosing to see me as my Creator sees me. Choosing to embrace this moment, and this moment, and this moment and the next and each thereafter. It's a discipline. I also need to start exercising...but I am giving my mind exercise - the good kind. Not running aimlessly.

I got stuck. I was spinning out, in my mind, over hurts, over my purpose, over things in the past, things I couldn't control, things I was and still am angry about. I seek ways to reinforce and pour energy into what is right with me. I have had to get to a point that even if not another single human being sees my value and treats me accordingly - it's ok.. because I will.

I had a distinct turning point, two weeks ago. I was watching my new favorite show Super Soul Sunday on OWN. It wasn't one single moment turned around that pierced through and shed light on my stinkin' thinking. It was 3 episodes of Super Soul Sunday. One with Daniel Goleman about Emotional Intelligence; a second with rock star Brene' Brown about her book Rising Strong (which has inspired me to be transparent about this struggle), and a third with Jon Kabat Zinn about Meditation. In that third episode, Oprah repeated a line from a previous guest she'd had, defining mindfulness as, "If you are cooking and stirring the pot, stir the pot." I heard that and instantly my mind's eye scrolled fast and furiously. I could see how I rarely ever look zdown and stir the pot, for the meal I am cooking without worrying about where are the kids? Anxiety for all I have to do or what I haven't accomplished and how I could be doing something else than stirring that damn pot. Which leads me to another quote by Eckhart Tolle: "Stress is nothing more than wishing the moment you are in was something different." Is that not true???

Therefore, I have communicated with Steve about what I need. I had two Saturdays the past month just Tilly and me, in our home. Recharge time! I meditate a couple times a week. I have to make it a discipline because it is incredible. There is an app called Calm - so great.. I have started coloring in adult coloring books. I have bought tickets for a couple cool things to do over the next month, Steve and I will see Garth Brooks!!!! A new friend and I are taking a painting class. And a life-long friend and I are going to a foodie gig Sunday! Progress also means I have made Katie cry it out at bedtime. That is a whole other post. I basically haven't slept since the 3rd week of September until the past 2 weeks. She is not a special needs baby. For me it was part of the trauma of her birth and for 12 weeks I didn't get to hold her whenever I ached to. Not until the day before she was discharged. While that is true, I was doing her no favor by giving in to her every whim. That night, I took back my nights. She is almost 17 months old, coming up on 25 lbs., wearing 18-24 month clothes, eating and drinking everything she's given.....she is perfect. She always has been. We are now at the place where no one knows she came in the second trimester and weighted 1lb. 11oz. That her daddy's wedding bad could slide on her leg up to her thigh. She is good. Great! Time to take care of me again!

 I have vision for my life. There's a scripture that says, "Without vision, my people perish."  I lost myself gradually over the past 2 years. I have been finding myself the past two weeks! :) I have stopped taking the anti-depressants - I am being transparent. I've had no ill side-effects. I have nothing against anti-depressants. They serve a purpose. They got me to where I could see different options. When the light shines in and solutions are evident and in my control - I'd rather struggle and work it out. Plus, the thoughts were starting to get scary again, the prescription was up and I decided to just stop the drug. After 4 weeks of taking the drug, my energy increased - but no joy. They never really did help with anxiety. Joy returned when I started practicing living IN the moment. I am still seeing the counselor who gave me the green light for "Driving out of survival mode." I also saw a post on Facebook the past week that said, "Struggle is not the same as suffering." That really speaks to me.

I have dreams again. I am also practicing my listening so I can learn more from God. A belief I have which is helping me tremendously is that when I was a twinkle in Heaven, I chose this life. This body, these desires, my parents, these struggles, this path and said to God, "Ya! That life! Sign me up! Put me in the game, Coach!" maybe sounds corny but what if Not only God knew what we'd face, in our lives, but at one point our spirit's did too?  Look at Super Man! He comes to earth and all his senses are jacked with and he has to learn how to discipline and train himself and hone his supernatural abilities to still be who he is, while loving and living presently, on Earth because it is a Gift to be on Earth. Huh. I like that.

Thank you for reading this. I know depression and anxiety are real. I also believe they are wake up calls to paying better attention to living authentically. I am grateful for when our bodies and minds indicate something isn't right - because then we have the opportunity to make it right. I haven't felt this great in 2 1/2-3 years. We are more powerful than we think. Being still is my new favorite place to be.