Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Resources for Sanity

I promised this post about a month ago. Sorry. Also, ironically I came home early today from work due to an anxiety attack. I'm hoping to avoid more of those in future because gasping for breath and not being able to talk or calm down is not a fun experience.

That being said, obviously my depression and anxiety is real. I've already established that it's a part of me and isn't going anywhere.  However, that doesn't mean that I can't take steps to help me deal and attempt to stay sane.

First of all, I am a small time blogger. Unlike some of the amazing blogs I follow and love, I do not have affiliate links.  Which simply means I'm not paid to tell you how much I love these products and am not paid in any way if you choose to try them also. (Unless you choose to buy from my Advocare page, but honestly I only use it for myself and don't even know how their process works--how's that for unbiased?)

Last summer I decided to go off my depression/anxiety medication. I didn't like the weight gain, zombie feelings, and lack of libido. I did like how it regulated my mental illness, so that needed to be addressed. Also, if you are thinking of detoxing off your meds please do so with your doctor. I cut mine out slowly but still experienced some detox symptoms such as body aches and changes in my sense of smell. Psych meds are no joke and affect your brain big time, so be smart about it!

Without further rambling, here are my attempts at keeping sane.

I CHANGED THE FOOD I EAT

If you haven't heard of paleo, you're probably living under a rock. It includes all foods that heal the body and rejects those that do not. It includes proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Yes, that does eliminate many foods and sounds super scary, but after the first month or so you feel so great it's worth it. I still enjoy a glass of wine here or there and meals out. I just know that the choices I'm making will affect how I feel the next day, for better or for worse. To learn more check out some of my favorite blogs and books.

Blogs:


Books


It Starts with Food
A great introduction into the Whole 30. It gets nice and Science-y about the foods we eat and how they affect our body.


The Paleo Diet

This explains it all.


Wired to Eat

Full Disclosure: I just started reading this, but I love the plan to find the 'form' of paleo eating that works best for your body.  I also love books that dig into the science of how food affects our body.


I TAKE SUPPLEMENTS

I am not an MD or a NTP (Nutrition Therapy Practitioner) but that would be a sweet gig. I take a variety of supplements, Vitamin C, B12, Magnesium, and Melatonin occasionally when I can't sleep. But this Clear Mood blend from Advocare is a must have for me. In fact I had been off a few days which contributed to my anxiety attack today. It works with the serotonin and melatonin in your body. It keeps me nice and level so I can keep myself sane.







PRIORITIZE

My house is most often messy. It takes me days to wash, dry, fold, and put away clothes. But I meal prep like a boss, because food is important. I make time to work out and get sleep. I also spend time in the Bible and in prayer.

I WORK OUT


Yup. I get happy 5 times a week. Andy is still alive. :) I love doing BodyPump and throw in some cardio because it's good for me. Find some type of movement that you enjoy and go for it.

I TRY FOR ENOUGH SLEEP

I know. I have kids too. And a husband. And I love Netflix. But I do better on eight hours of sleep, so that's what I go for.  More sleep = More happy.


I hope this helps you out too! Feel free to ask about more details. I have lots of fun recipe book suggestions, workouts I love, and paleo resources. Take care of yourself, claim your truths, and count your blessings!



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Never Say Never

Absolutes. Women make them all the time. We experience a stressor, a hurt, or even a simple inconvenience and we swear we will avoid XY and Z FOREVER so that we will not go through it again.

My most common absolutes often stem from living life in imperfect home. Now, my house is not trashed, there aren’t hoarded piles anywhere, but sometimes I have to wash a dish before I can use it.  Sometimes I have to dig through clean clothes to find socks for myself and my family.  Sometimes I need to clear a spot on the counter to set something down. I give these moments the power to absolutely wreck my day. It looks trivial as I write them down, but talk to any mother who has had to wash a specific color of sippy cup while her toddler screams at her knees. This is real life, friends.

So every few months I download a new chore list. If I clean a little every day, life will be great again! I keep it up a couple weeks, but slowly lose my focus. The cycle repeats. This morning was no different. I haven’t followed by schedule, and was worn down as l looked around my home. I felt badly about myself, my role as mother and wife, and the reflection I think my home has on who I am. I felt like a failure.

You know who else thinks those things about me? Absolutely no one.

Certainly not my husband who lovingly takes care of me. He would rather I sit with him each evening after the kids are in bed, talking about our days, sharing our plans, and talking through our crazy plans to have a hobby farm. (Side note: ask him how many questions I can come up with about cows. My ignorance of farming is scary.) My children would rather I have snack with them after they get off the bus. True we do our little chores, but Bedroom Reading Time is gaining their support slowly but surely. And watching their minds turn while we play mancala is priceless.  

Today I devalued those precious moments by swearing that I would FOREVER AND ALWAYS keep my house clean. What? Why on earth would I promise to clean the floor instead of reading my daughter a story? Why would I sacrifice sleep to do dishes? I continue to choose the lesser important task over the more important task.

My cleaning absolute is small. Trust me, I’ve made many questionable decisions. They range from the vane desires to appear like I have it all together, all the way to the cringe-worthy-all-too-familiar-crying-into-my-pillow vow after a late night fight to guard myself against my husband, the very man who sacrifices himself daily for me. I’ve fooled myself into thinking God can only work in my life if I NEVER miss a quiet time.

Determining to follow an absolute builds a wall around a hardened heart. I know that my God can only work in me when my heart is soft, raw, exposed. Trying to be a perfect Stepford wife damages my relationship with my family, my friends, and my Christ. Keeping track of absolutes and trying to control everything will only lead to more stress, strained relationships, and, in my case, legitimate panic attacks.

I want to be vulnerable. I want close, deep relationships. For goodness sakes I want to be able to relax in my own home, regardless of it’s appearance. I want to be loving towards my husband and children. Giving of yourself as a wife and mother goes so much deeper than taking care of your home. You’re taking care of hearts, you’re teaching character, you’re supporting a man who, quite honestly, doesn’t always know how to handle you emotionally. And therein lies the rub. The strength you need to do all those things is only found in a relationship with Christ.

I’m going to claim my truths. If you haven’t read through that post, go check out my post, My One Self. I’m going to force myself to look at the big picture. I’m going to talk through the snowball as it avalanches all the way down the mountain I’ve made in my mind. Because at the bottom I won’t find tragedy. True, I may find that I need to wash a cup with a crying child, or even have a really tough conversation. But it won’t end me. God gives me the strength to do ALL things. Even when that thing is digging for a sock through frustrated tears.  

"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; It will be unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable." C. S. Lewis


I pray that you are blessed by my post this week.  I know we’ve all been there. What are the absolutes you make? What do you do to get back on track?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Renewal....What does that even mean?!?!

I've wanted to be many things. When I was a child I thought I'd be a veterinarian. In high school and college I though I'd pursue being a Special Education Teacher. I then decided to be a secretary, waitress, retail worker, patient financial counselor, and now a shipping/office manager. While those jobs all have served my family and I well, they don't touch the passion I feel for a few other roles I have in life. I'm also a wife and mother, and have helped bring others into the world of parenthood as a Doula. Now my dream is to live simply on a farm, with animals and a garden--one day with a small country store, a smokehouse, and possibly a few cabins to serve guests.

Being a depressed, anxious thirty-two year old working through my identity did not make the above list. 

But you know what? That's where I am today. I asked God for a year of renewal. He has not disappointed. The last few weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of lessons. This list is going to make it seem like I'm complaining. But that's only because I am complaining. Life lessons are hard.


  • When you're sick, you need to rest--mothers do not get a free pass on this. In fact, they need to learn how to balance rest with making sure the household keeps running. Sub-lesson: Keeping the household running does not mean keeping the household perfect. That's impossible even if you aren't sick for two weeks, feel better, and then get sick again.
  • You're not going to have great passion for everything you do. Please hear this correctly. I am beyond thankful and appreciate my job. It provides the perfect flexibility for not only my family, but for my journey through depression as well. My job helps me contribute financially to our family. However, packing and shipping are never going to be my life's passion. Neither are laundry, cleaning, and helping kids with homework. Too bad, those things all need to get done.
  • You can't be everything to everyone all at the same time. I can't be a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, doula, worker, worship leader, small group attendee, wanna-be blogger, housekeeper, laundress, cook, car-cleaner, reader, learner, decorator, sewer, knitter, gardener, and anything else that tickles my fancy--perfectly, all at the same time. You'd think as a grown woman I'd know this by now. But I don't and I keep on trying all while thinking I will get a different result each time. And yes, I know the definition of that behavior. I'm not denying that label.
  • Things that I think I may want, I may not really want. Anyone else fantasize about their blog being 'discovered' and offered a book deal? Getting crazy recognition for your hospitality and having people flock to your farm oasis? Being heard on stage and offered a spot on a worship tour? Spoiler Alert: I'm a lazy, introverted homebody who doesn't like talking to strangers and doesn't adjust well to changes in life.
  • My depression is not going to disappear. I can eat the right diet, find the perfect balance between working out and giving my body rest, take all the correct supplements, and run my life with perfect routine and efficiency. I can have days, weeks, or maybe even months of vitality. But some days, regardless of my effort, I'm just going to wake up sad, emotional, unmotivated, in pain, and feeling lost.


Being renewed means I need to leave the old behind to make room for the new.  

I have to make room for new priorities, attitudes, and opportunities. I have to take these lessons to heart, and then re-learn them as needed. I have to leave the house messy a bit more often without guilt. I have to give myself permission to be silly with my kids and husband. I need to replace loathing with gratitude.






Sunday, December 11, 2016

My One Self

I listened to a Ted Radio Hour podcast (titled Headspace) the other day and a few things Andrew Soloman said intrigued me-mostly because I could certainly relate.


"The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality."

"Depression is something that is braided so deep into us that there is no separating it from our character and personality."

"There's no sharp line between personality and illness. There's not a self that is the undepressed self that is more real than the depressed self. There's only ourselves." 

I have felt like two different people for a very long time. In fact, when I'm depressed I feel like a totally different person. And when the fog lifts I feel like I've been in a daze, like I've checked out for the last two weeks. What I do remember is fuzzy and I am certainly not proud of how I acted as a wife or mother.

If I say that I don't want my depression to be an excuse for my behavior, I can't just 'space out' for weeks at a time and blame Depressed Abby for the chaos, fallout, and sometimes hurt feelings that are left in her wake. It's easier to say I did it because I was depressed. It's easier to have a scapegoat.

The truth is that I am a busy woman with depression. I have many roles: wife, mother, friend, worker. I don't want to split myself in two anymore. I need to embrace who I am at all stages of my depression--on both good and dark days. And honestly, I think owning it will help.

On bright, beautiful days I know that I am a daughter of the King. I know that I am doing my best to be a respectful and loving wife and mother. I am a giving and caring friend, and a hard worker. I lose those truths on dark days. I forget that I'm still a daughter of the King when it's hard to get out of bed and get dressed. I believe the lie that I'm a terrible wife on the days I cry to my husband and then rest on the couch while he graciously loves on me by feeding and caring for our kids. I feel like a flake when I cancel on my friends, when I can't be social, or am slow at work.

Writing this on a bright day makes aligning these two people seem easy. But it's going to take work to remember I am the same person next time I have a dark day, week, or month. When you move so far from one end of the spectrum to the other, it's hard to remember you're the same person. Depression has a way of stealing your future and your hope. It's the most debilitating part.

I need to claim the same truths on bright days and dark days. I need to write them down, commit them to my memory and my heart, ask others to remind me, and tell them to myself. Next time I'm crying over failure, fear, and exhaustion I will remember:

God loved me so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for my sins and save my life.

My husband showing love to me is not a burden or an inconvience.

Brady and Nola were gifted to me by God because I am ALWAYS the best mother for them.

Claiming those truths won't suddenly make my dark day bright, but it will help me remember who I am. I want to be myself regardless of how my depression makes me feel on a particular day. I don't want to run from my depression anymore. It is as much a part of me as my stubbornness, my joy of sunshine, my love of cooking, and everything else that makes me who I am.



Saturday, November 19, 2016

Let's talk about Sex, Ladies.

This post got really long, but I can do what I want, it's my blog. :) I wanted to start with a quick reality check of my life. I want to share what God is teaching me, but I don't want my life to appear all roses all the time--It most definitely is not.

SAD RANT. I have 2 kids and a dog. My house is for sale, and the offer extension for the home we want to buy is up in the air. It's the only house we want right now. So if our house sells and the offer falls through we are basically homeless. Whatever. Speaking of selling our house, since my last post we have had 3 showings and an open house. Another showing today at 1. Showing are encouraging, but also a ton of work. No one really lives in a spotless home all the time. Well, unless you're my one friend who will admit to being flat out crazy about cleaning. Now,  correct my first sentence-I  am a sick mom and I have 2 sick kids . This cough just will not stop and now dizziness and nausea have shown up.  I finally gave in and went into the doctor. I have vertigo, then I don't have vertigo. Also, this may or may not be mono. Just rest. Easier said then done when you work outside the home and have 2 sick, but still active kids. Plus I also like to build up my hubby who is also shouldering where our family will live, balancing our finances, and kicking butt at his job. And don't forget to enter in MOMGUILT over spelling tests, reading progress, and this new level of stubbornness my youngest and strongest-willed child has developed.

This past Tuesday was a dark day for me. I pushed through work, busied myself at home, and kept mostly quiet at small group. I was putting my kids to bed-an hour and a half past their bed time. Guys, I was 100% drained. My lack of patience and uncompassionate attitude towards my over-tired children manifested itself into an actual weight in my chest. I was heaving for breath and crying as I tucked them into their beds, praying they would just comply and close their tired eyes. This Momma was done and went straight to bed. Praise God His mercies are new every morning!

End sad Rant. Now, lets talk about SEX.

I recently listened to a podcast on Song of Solomon. When you're struggling you should go to the Bible first. And we all know the sexist book is Song of Solomon.

Here are two things that most stood out to me.

In Chapter 5 the couple is already married. Their love and love making is described as wine that they can drink deeply. So lets talk about wine.  While wine was a very common drink in biblical times, it's mention is often followed with a warning about over-consumption. We are not to get drunk on wine, do not over-indulge, everything in moderation, don't lose control as a result of your drinking, etc.

But here--when it's the passion and ecstasy of love making, the couple is encouraged to drink deeply.

"Oh, lover and beloved, eat and drink! Yes, drink deeply of this love!" Song of Solomon 5:1

There is no mention of limiting this passion, no warning of over-consumption, nothing telling the lovers to reign it in. No, it's quite the opposite. They have waited for each other, and now they are encouraged to lose themselves in passion, to partake in all the pleasure that God designed sex to be.

As I mentioned before, I like wine. So let's take a look at getting drunk on wine. I know this may not be the most "Christian" way to describe what I'm trying to get at, but I'm going there. Getting drunk on wine can start out to be very pleasant. First of all, wine engages all your senses. It pulls you in with it's delicious scent. It's pleasing to your tongue. And then it takes over your body as the alcohol hits your system. Your inhibitions go down, you feel lighter and happier, and your body may even feel blissful with a bit of tingling. (But hello! Spoiler Alert! Alcohol is a toxin in your body. The Bible tells us not to get drunk on wine for our own physical and emotional safety. Also, hangovers are absolutely not blissful.)

Sex can have all the above mentioned rewards of wine. It will make you feel amazing, exhilarated, and leave you satisfied. And when you wake up in the morning you will still have all those blissful feelings.

If sex is so great, then why do I find myself not wanting it?  

Well, the answer to that question lies in the second lesson I took from Song of Solomon. Solomon and his bride compliment each other on everything. Seriously. Every. Little. Thing. And they do it so eloquently--even using descriptions of gazelle, deer, and flocks of goats--and it still all means lovely sentiments.

However, I don't think that simply giving compliments is the key. The key is that they genuinely believe these compliments. Let that sink in a second. Solomon or his bride did not look for the hidden selfish agenda, didn't feel like that they were being buttered up, and they especially didn't think, "yup, I guess he wants sex tonight." Don't even pretend, I KNOW I'm not the only one who has had that flash of selfish reaction to a compliment from my husband.

Solomon and his bride genuinely believed each other. They built each other up in pure, unadulterated love. For example, take a look at how the bride's opinion of her dark skin changes as the book progresses. Her lover told her over and over, in many different ways, that he was attracted to the very thing that made her feel self conscious. AND SHE BELIEVED HIM. It made their relationship real, raw, and very very exciting.

So here's my challenge.  Start taking a pause when your husband gives you a compliment. Watch his face, see his eyes light up and spark. Take a second and realize that desire IS FOR YOU. I'm gonna be honest here: he is probably thinking about sex. But that's not WHY he complimented you. Think of this, HE WANTS YOU. Despite your self-perceived flaws (which he doesn't even see,) despite your sins, and despite how you may have treated him earlier. You are the absolute pinnacle of perfection for the woman he desires. Let that truth settle on your heart first, and your body's desire for him will soon follow.

You are the absolute pinnacle of perfection for the woman he desires.

It's not going to happen overnight-you may have a lot of cynicism to break down. Or maybe it will, but in a few weeks you have to start all over again. THAT'S OK. Solomon and his bride had to check themselves too. You know what the solution was? Complimenting each other. We have great power in our words.

I know this post is uber long, but here are some other amazing tangible tips I've heard or gathered to help boost your spirits and initiate the mood. Do what you need to to feel confident in your looks. I promise your husband will be excited about you regardless of how you look. But if you feel sexier in lingerie, then go get some! If you feel more confident with your make-up on, then wash your face after. Make your bedroom a haven where you are only husband and wife--not a mom and dad. A friend suggested getting a back rub to start the mood. Find what works best and put it into practice.

I hope this blesses your heart and your relationships. God has done great work in mine as I let these truths play out in my life.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

I Just Need to Start

God and I have been wrestling with this for a long time. I've been avoiding this for a long time. This project has been heavy on my heart and I've simply decided not to do it. I can't see it clearly, I don't know if anyone will read it, if they will show me grace, if it will even help, and I don't have a thorough and well thought out plan (if you know me you know this is TERRIFYING.)



I'm a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, worker, and team member. I suffer with self-doubt, self-worth, depression, anxiety, jealousy, and all sorts of sin. I've been on medication, off medication, and back and and forth again. I spend a significant amount of my time crying. So much so that if I disappear to my room, my son immediately asks if I'm crying. I am quick tempered with my husband and children. I like wine a lot. A LOT.

But here is what I know for a fact. I am no longer a slave to sin.




When I first learned this concept, being free from sin, I understood it on such a elementary level. Jesus saved me from my sins. While this is true, I don't think that's what Paul is talking about in Romans 6. It's not just freedom from the punishment my sins deserve. It's freedom from a life wrought with sin. I don't have to fear anymore. The weight of sin can no longer weigh me down. I have a choice, I have the Spirit of God to help me, and I'm free. More specifically, I don't have to fear the unknown about obeying God's call on my life. I'm free to be obedient and to receive his generosity as He sees fit.

So here's where I get hung up with my depression and anxiety. It is so real that it intertwines itself into every little part of my life. When all you want to do for the day is lay down and watch TV, even the simpliest of tasks feel monumental. Taking care of my family suddenly feels like a punishment--and because depression is so illogical, the punishment feels like it's never going to end.

Things I Loathe About Depression
Physical aches and pains.
Exhaustion.
Mood swings.
When selecting an outfit brings me to tears and negatively changes my opinion of myself.
Feeling in a trance for weeks at a time.
Honestly not caring--which then makes me feel like a terrible person because I do want to show empathy for others.
Thinking my current situation will go on forever.
I miss wanting to sew, knit, garden, read and cook amazing things.
Where on earth did my sex drive go?!?

Each item on this list makes it incredibly easy to just lay down for the day and give up. I know that because I've done it. And my husband, even though he doesn't always understand, shows me love by letting me shut down. I do mean to brag when I say that God blessed me with an amazing man.

I don't want to need to shut down. I want the good that God has planned for me. I want to be the woman, wife, and mother I see when I'm praying over my day. I do not want to use depression and anxiety as a justification to sin. I don't want it to stop me from creating beautiful fruits of the Spirit. I don't want it to stop me from having sex with my husband. I don't want it to separate me from my friends and family.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. THANK YOU for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--and how well I know it. 
Psalm 139:13-14

God in His sovereign wisdom decided that I would have depression and anxiety.  He didn't give it to me so that I could wallow in self pity over wearing the wrong shoes with a certain cut of jeans (yes, it happens.) He gave it to me so that HE would be glorified when I overcome through HIS strength. It is easy--absolutely not. Am I going to fail miserably most days--without a doubt.

Like Paul, I've begged God to take away my depression. I've begged for a stronger desire for empathy, love towards others, and to physical want my husband. The best solution in my mind is for God to just take it away! Problem solved. But what does he say to Paul when he begs for his thorn to be removed?

Each time He said to me, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness."
2nd Corinthians 12:9

I pray his power works through my weakness. I pray He uses my life experiences to help other's with depression.

Next week: How to love and care for your husband when you don't want sex. Spoiler alert! I don't actually have the answer, but I'm working on it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When the helper needs help

I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. Last night we shared a joy and a struggle at small group--I hate that it was easier to think of a struggle than a joy. I get frustrated that my house is dirty, the laundry is never done, that I feel weak and powerless against the raging, strong-will of my 3 year old daughter. I can't fulfill the needs of my husband and my family. I'm sick and cannot seem to get enough sleep. The meals aren't planned, I can't keep up with my work. Life is real, I am exhausted.

Some girl friends and I were talking the other day about missing the village. You know, 'It takes a village to raise a child.' When it's time for me to do laundry, make a meal, get the shopping done, or clean my home I miss the village. Imagine with me for a moment: your only job today is to do the laundry for 20 people. That's all. Your children are being cared for, someone else is tending to the shopping, cleaning, and cooking.  I'd take that gig in a heartbeat.

But here's the thing: In our modern world we can witness the village, heck we can tell you what the village is eating, where they've traveled, and what they are doing with their time today, but we are not a part of the village. We are not contributing to their day, and they are not contributing to ours. Instead we are comparing our lives to one another--adding things we 'need' so we can look like our Facebook friends, so our homes can look like pictures on Pinterest. I don't look nice today and there is nothing in my home that even remotely resembles a pin from my For The Home board.

So, what do we do when the helper needs help? (Yes, I refer to myself as the helper in my marriage. I was created to work alongside my husband. Yes, I believe we each have specific roles in our marriage. I'm not saying it's easy.)  And here's my struggle today. In a world where women can have it all, how do we get it all done? How do I work to provide part of our income, raise our children, clean our home, do our laundry, cook our meals, get enough sleep, have sex with my husband, put his needs before my own, stay fit and healthy, and remain sane? The answer: I am going to do it with other helpers.

What?!? No, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength?!?!" Well, yes--but here's the thing. He doesn't promise super human strength so we can do it all on our own. He promises His strength. His strength softens my heart towards the needs of others, His strength humbles me so I can ask for help, His strength calms me and enables me to rest.



I am going to call on other helpers. I'm going to create a village. Yeah, the logistics will be crazy and it will feel different. But I'm willing to give it a go. I'm willing to help others and I'm ready to ask for help. I'd like to be done with feeling exhausted. I don't want to do it all, and I don't think God intended for me to do it all by myself.

I am going to create a Facebook group for my friends and I. I hope that we will post our needs and help each other. I will gladly watch a friend's children for a few hours in exchange for them watching mine. I will gladly provide childcare in exchange for meals, or do laundry in exchange for someone running my errands.

Let's get back together. Let's be a village.