Waiting Not So Patiently

File Apr 08, 11 33 03 PM

Funny how quickly a year can pass, even if it’s one of the most difficult years you can recall, you always arrive at some point where you say to yourself how fast the year flew by. At least, that’s what I’m doing right now…as I worry and reflect and try to keep perspective.

One of my very first posts on this blog (and that wasn’t all that long ago) was a post titled “Where it All (Sort of) Started” detailing an event that I now realize was a big red flag alerting me that depression had stuck its claws into me again (bad monster). That event involved the discovery of a spot on my lung and the process of going through finding out what it was and that it wasn’t something to be concerned about. There’s a lot more meat to it than that, but that’s the short condensed story so that I can get you up to speed.

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That’s the read flag that totally should have been more obvious than it was at the time.

Now, here we are and I’ve been sick recently. Quite sick really. Pneumonia. A shot in the rear, breathing treatments, steroids, antibiotics… I’m doing the drill, ya know? Trying to rest as much as I can during the days while the kids are at school and my husband has been awesome and super supportive in the evenings. And then today, I get a phone call from my doctor.

It’s a new doctor and I like her a lot. She wants to know if I know about this spot on my lung that their radiologist saw on the X-ray they took a couple days ago. Naturally, I said “Yes! That was scanned last summer (turns out it was actually last May) and they thought it was benign.” She proceeded to ask if I had the report…and while I have the CD from the scan, I couldn’t locate the actual written report. Dang it. She wanted to know if I remembered the size of the spot (lung nodule) and I couldn’t accurately recall. We formulated a plan that I would obtain the report and since I was going to see her in a few days for a follow-up I could bring the report with me then. And… she mentioned that the radiologist measured it at 9mm currently.

I was instantly alarmed because I knew that wasn’t the size it was almost a year ago, but I still couldn’t recall the exact size. I got off the phone and my adrenaline started PUMPING. I could feel it coursing through me as I got a wind of energy like I haven’t had in many, many days. I looked and looked through the CT scan report I have on CD but it didn’t tell me anything in actual words, it was all pictures, the black and white kind. Not helpful at all.

I am bad at waiting. Like really bad at waiting. This is ironic because I posted about waiting on the Lord on Instagram this morning. I spoke of how if we wait, His way will always be better than ours. You know, we need to try not to act on impulse and not seek out instant gratification constantly. That went out the window as soon as this event arrived. In fact, I didn’t even recall that post until right now as I’m writing. (hangs head)

I called the imaging center and all I needed to do was drive over, show my id and I could get a copy of the report. Guess who couldn’t wait until Monday but had to drive over during rush hour on a late Friday afternoon? Yep, me. I got that report in my hands as soon as I possibly could and now, I know the answer. The answer is that my spot was measured at 7mm 11 months ago. And, depending on the actual size of the spot now (which may or may not be 9mm because X-rays aren’t nearly as accurate as a CT scan) it’s either grown, or it hasn’t. Either way, I’m sure I’m going to need another scan…this will require waiting. Waiting for the insurance company to pre-authorize the scan, waiting for the scan appointment itself and then waiting for the results. See a theme, here? Then there may or may not be more waiting…I could go on.

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This is so NOT me right now, but who doesn’t love a picture of a bride? And she is obviously annoyed about something, much like me.

I’m trying really hard not to jump to conclusions but meanwhile I read a whole lot of articles and reports tonight that I somewhat understand. They discuss growth rates of nodules in the lung and what they may or may not mean and all kinds of other tidbits about lung nodules that you really don’t need to know…most of which I already read last summer!  I’m trying not to worry. I’m trying to give it all to God. I’m trying to understand that waiting patiently for Him and the answers is the only way to go if I want peace of mind. 

All this to say, it really could be nothing. And God wants me to be brave and courageous and just wait for Him…so I’m going to do my very best.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be Bold and Courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14 NLT

 

 

To Be Seen Again

One of the hardest things I have been dealing with these last few months is a sense of not wanting to be seen. I don’t want to be seen by the world, by the people in it, by even friends of mine and sometimes by my own family. It’s as if everyone is going to see all my pain and shame just by looking at me and even worse, they will see how much I’ve failed.

In my mind it’s like nobody has anything better to do than to look at me and judge me. Which we all know is a complete fallacy, a trick of the mind, but a really good trick because it feel so true.

The real truth is that I don’t go out in the world judging people. I’m not sizing anyone up. If I ever do it’s because of some sort of envy or admiration, which can be both good and bad. But in my heart, I don’t want to judge anyone and I believe a lot of people feel the same way. Additionally, most people are really only interested in their own stuff, their own life, their own weight gain or loss, their own hair, their own makeup, their own outfit and just so focused on themselves that they really aren’t looking at me.

On several occasions recently I’ve shared with my husband that I feel unable to do something because I just don’t want to be seen. It’s an undeniable feeling, it’s intrusive, it’s anxiety producing and just plain sad. He tries to understand. He’s good like that. But I don’t think I fully understand it. It’s part of this depression, anxiety, bipolar goop. It’s part of a shame I’ve lived with for too long. It’s actually quite self-centered. I’m truly not the center of the universe, or am I? 😉

I know a large measure of this is due to body image issues as well. Can anyone relate? I’ve gained A LOT of weight over the last year due to poor diet, inactivity due to depression and medications. For all the wrong reasons, when I am overweight I feel under-lovable. The more the weight, the less worth I have. And during this time, I need to feel loved more than ever. It’s as though if I’m not pretty on the outside, then you will know I’m not pretty on the inside, either.

Whether it be society, childhood trauma or self-sabotage, it doesn’t matter the cause because I’m stuck in the feeling of wanting to disappear, regardless. But somehow, deep inside me, I have to find the love. I have to find the love for myself, I have to find my identity in Christ and the courage to bravely face the world despite how much I feel like shrinking back inside myself or under the covers.

So, I’m working on that. I’m facing the world when I have to and sometimes when I don’t. Like when I went to the Go Blog Social conference several weeks ago, or when I went to a bible journaling meet-up this past weekend anticipating a small crowd (turns out there were only two of us there). And when I go to church on Sundays, I’m facing it. And I’m spending time in the Word again. I’m listening to worship music and spending time in devotionals and Bible study. I’m bible journaling. I’m listening to faith based audio books (never have done this before) and surrounding myself with His message. (If you are struggling with feeling beautiful and lovable I highly recommend the “You’re Beautiful” devotional that comes in the “Beautiful” devotional kit by Illustrated Faith. I’m working through this now and it’s touching me right in the most tender places of my heart.)

I’m doing these things and more (like starting to incorporate healthy eating habits into my life again). I am taking action. And I’m working to really embrace the fact that my worth is not completely tied to my appearance. I am seeking the knowledge that it can be okay for my pain to be visible and it can be okay that I am visible again. Maybe the world wants me in it? Maybe the world will be a slightly better place if I participate in it? Maybe, it will be good to be seen.

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”.png

Trouble in Paradise: Vacationing with Depression and Anxiety 

 

 FYI, I’m in Florida visiting my parents along with one of my children at the time of writing this post.

 Apparently I brought some friends with me on this vacation of mine. We’ll call these friends depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. PTSD is always with me too, I guess, but it likes to lurk or hang far back so I don’t know it’s there until the most unlikely of moments and you know, all of these guys can be pretty sneaky.
I don’t expect to see them when I’m traveling or even during preparation for a trip, but they decided to show up, darn it. I’ve actually been experiencing a little bit of a vacation from these friends, so I thought. (We all have friends from whom we need a vacation, right?). They started to make themselves known the day I left for my trip. I think they were actually hiding behind the curtains the day before. Either way, it turns out they never really left.

It’s kind of a problem when you’re a grown up traveling with your ten year-old child and it takes all of your fortitude to hide the tears you want to shed because suddenly you’re gripped with fear, sadness and intense anxiety about leaving your husband and home. I mean, you don’t want to freak your kids out about flying or traveling in general, so you suck it up as long as you are able. Plus, I really don’t think my child, who has some anxiety of his own, would have benefited from that whole “mommy can’t adult today” business in this instance.

The tears fell for me after I spoke to my husband once we arrived safely in Florida, but I had to wipe those away quickly again because I didn’t want to cause my mom to feel bad. And then I thought “This is not the way you’re supposed to feel when you embark on a new adventure, especially one in Florida!”

That’s the thing about these kind of friends…they really like to ruin everything. Last night at dinner my mom told we we were going to go have dinner the next night with some friends of hers and family of ours that also live here. Instantly my eyes shot her a look of complete surprise and my heart sank. It was as if all the darkness I had been fighting fell upon me again. That fast. I was terrified and all I could think was “Please don’t make me do this!” Honestly I was a little annoyed with my mom…doesn’t she know me at all? But…it’s a lot to expect someone to understand social anxiety when they don’t have it. It’s also a lot to expect her to know the intensity with which I’m having to deal with it right now.

I spoke up. I probably could of done a better job of communicating my needs but she heard me and ended up canceling the plans. I’m relieved. I’m grateful that my mom tried to understand as best as she could. But it’s also sad that participating in normal and small gatherings is too much for me at this time.

I can feel depression lurking in the small sadness that is constant. I can feel it in my body and I feel it as a weight in my eyes, as weird as that may sound. I feel depression in a lack of enthusiasm. I don’t feel excitement. I feel kind of numb. And I know what I normally feel like when I go on vacation…it certainly isn’t numbness. This, dear ones, is not feeling like paradise, even though there are signs all around that say it is. My parents even have a mural painted on one of their walls (a big one) with beautiful images of palm trees and the declaration that it is indeed another day in paradise!

I’m trying really hard to not let these pesky “friends of mine” take the fun out of everything while I’m here. My mom and I were able to do our Bible study together last night and that was pretty cool. We also had some art time and she showed me how to do zentangle. These kinds of activities really bring a sense of peace to my soul. I’m surrounded by so much beauty and opportunities for fun. I’m doing my best to take in the little things and focus on God’s creations….from a flower, to a palm tree, to the love of my parents.

I’m determined, these guys aren’t going to ruin my vacation, but it may just not feel like paradise this time. And, I guess that is okay. It’s just the way it is right now.

It Really is Bipolar Disorder

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I was diagnosed just a few months ago. I suppose I always had a hunch. Others in my family history have dealt with this disease. But I thought I only had major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (along with it’s friend social anxiety) and ptsd and oh yeah, I’m a recovering alcoholic, too. (This long list just made me laugh a little out loud, I suppose it’s because I have an odd sense of humor. . .I think it’s called gallows humor.)

I’ve experienced symptoms of these other mental health issues since my teenage years. I have always been told what I was dealing with was major depressive disorder and major depression I have always had, off and on. I’ve had 3 hospitalizations now, 4 if you count the outpatient partial hospitalization program I went through a few months ago. But maybe it wasn’t until I became more knowledgeable about the symptoms of these different disorders, or until I noticed the times when I overspent money and/or times I felt super euphoric for no real reason or for the littlest reason only to come crashing down in mood quite rapidly. I’m not sure exactly when, but something in the back of my head thought it was possible. Something else in my head said, “No way! You don’t do the extreme things that are said to be symptoms of bipolar disorder.” Even my psychiatrist said I didn’t meet the criteria when I mentioned it to him a few years ago.

But this Fall, when the most severe symptoms of depression worsened and I began my descent into the pit, my therapist at the outpatient program I mentioned previously confirmed my concerns, then in November, the doctor at the hospital where I was an inpatient confirmed my concerns. And finally, my new psychiatrist after the hospitalization confirmed it as well. Bipolar Type 2 was the general consensus.

Something in me really didn’t believe it though. Something in me didn’t want to have that diagnosis. Something told me that I was going to face a whole new set of stigmas and I did not want to deal with that. Something in me said, no way.

But I took the new medications. I hated the new medications. We switched around some of the medications. We’re still switching around some of the medications. And, believe it or not, I think I’ve turned a corner and I don’t feel like dying, most of the time. (Praise God.) But something different is going on with me now.

I’m waking early in the morning before my alarm clock goes off. (This is really odd for me, as I am a sleeper!) I can’t fall back asleep these days. I now have new found hobbies and interests that are consuming most of my thoughts and time. As in, I can’t stop thinking about them and all the things I want to do and what I should do next and all of the ideas are flooding my brain at once. My mind is racing, as if it’s trying to catch something and I’m running with it (and running really isn’t something I do). It’s not simply that I have a lot of thoughts, I have a lot of thoughts all at once and they are grand and filled with the greatest of optimism and I feel high. My days are full somehow. There are so many things to get done! But guess what? None of them are things that I really should get done. If it weren’t for my meds I doubt I would go to sleep at night at all here recently, at least not until very very late. Additionally, I may or may not be spending money on things I shouldn’t be…and rather impulsively.

I added all these thing up in my head and I did a little research on “what hypomania feels like” and it turns out, I could so relate.

I had an appointment with my psychiatrist yesterday. They took my blood pressure. It was unusually high for me, not dangerously high, but high for me. I found this interesting considering how I’ve been feeling. I told my doctor about all of these symptoms I’ve been having and yep, she thought I was definitely experiencing hypomania. She believes I’m in what’s called a mixed state right now, because I still have depressive thoughts and moods, but am also experiencing the hypomanic highs. She’s made a few adjustments to my meds (again) and now I’m a little worried I’m going to feel sad all the time again.

And truth be told, I’m also a little sad that it’s true. I really do live with bipolar disorder and I have been for a long time. I suppose there is a little bit of grieving that goes on with any new diagnosis, a grieving for the health we had or the health we thought we had, whether it be true or not.

The good news is I finally know what I’m dealing with and I honestly have no reason to attach any kind of stigma to myself. Living with bipolar disorder is no more shameful than living with arthritis. Unfortunately, if I’m really being honest, it’s going to take me a while to believe that in my heart, because for some reason I feel a little more faulty and a little more broken right now.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling right now, please reach out to LIFELINE 1(800)273-TALK for help and support.

 

I’m Kind of a Mess

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I’m kind of an ever-lovin’ mess. You know, the completely disheveled kind, that can only manage a few things in a day or their mind explodes? That kind.

I really don’t want to be this way, I want to have my stuff together. And I have the best intentions of doing so…but then the morning comes, the kids are off to school (and that can be a big ordeal, let me tell you – youngest child has severe autism – need I say more?), my psych meds leave me all groggy or my fibromyalgia pain has kicked in, or both…and there I am trying to muster the energy to do anything. I get really stuck at this point, trying to determine which way to go and what to do next.

Today, I took care of something really important that took about an hour…and then I did my new devotional and then, I closed my eyes. Two hours later and it’s like most of my day was gone which makes this mommy grumpy. I’m supposed to give myself some slack for this kind of thing, I’m supposed to go easy on myself as I’m in the process of coming back from a long dark horrible bout of bipolar depression. But my head, says things like, “You’re a loser. You’re ridiculous…you need a nap after being up for 3 hours? Why can’t you get your act together? You have a ton of laundry to do…don’t you think your family really needs you to do that for them?” And then, naturally I feel like crap.

That crappy feeling, well, it leads to more crappy feelings and then I’m sitting here at the computer telling you all how crappy I feel. It’s kind of a bad deal. And actually, I just chuckled at myself and sighed…because I guess I’m on this roller coaster of ups and downs. And, I did do a couple of other important adult type things before I got on this computer that I’ve been putting off for a long time. So that’s good and positive and I should be a little bit proud of that. Sometimes, the little steps are big steps and the little steps take you to the same destination as big steps…and my current destination is recovery.

I don’t know if I will ever feel like one of those people who “has it all together” but hopefully someday I’m going to feel proud of myself and proud of my accomplishments, big or small, without downgrading them. Hopefully, I’m on the road to being me again and that road is just going to have its moments, good and bad, just like everyone else’s does.

Mental Illness Steals My Weekend


As I browse through the streams of Twitter, my feed on Facebook and posts on Instagram, I see the ever present enthusiasm for the weekend every single Friday. Quotes like “TGIF” and “It’s Friyay!” are prolific. But instead of joining in the joy, something in my soul sinks as the weekend approaches each and every week.

I used to join the masses in the anticipation of a weekend where the family gathers and activities we are unable to do during the week become possibilities. Movie nights, quality time with the kids and my husband, church…all used to be a part of the little joys I used to look forward to. But something has changed and I don’t like it. In fact, I very very much don’t like it.

Depression and anxiety can be very selfish. They have taken things from me. They have taken my sense of peace, confidence and ability to enjoy my family.

When the weekend comes I am filled with anxiety over what is expected of me, albeit these are normal things, they invoke a new kind of stress. I feel mixed emotions at the thought of watching a movie with the family as a racing heart and chest pain has become customary during this time. I fret and worry about attending church as I am required to be present and seen by people that know me…people who can see all the weight I’ve gained in recent months and people who care for me, yet because of the fact that they have eyes and know me, they feel foreign and intimidating. I panic at the thought of the possibility of needing to care for my children on my own for any extended period of time if my husband has to work or coach a basketball game.

During the week, when the kids are off to school, I can make a trip to Target or Hobby Lobby without the dread of being seen. For some reason I get the feeling I’m just one of the masses and can blend in, almost invisible and shielded from the scrutiny I imagine in my head. But during the weekend, with kids in tow, I am visible and open for judgment, in my mind’s eye.

It’s a horrible feeling, dreading my weekends. There’s guilt and shame attached to it all, too. Thoughts like “Who in the heck doesn’t like the weekend? What kind of mother wouldn’t want more quality time with her kids? What kind of Christian dreads going to church?” plague me.

I look forward to the day, that must be coming, that I once again enjoy the weekend. It will be a good day, indeed.

*I’m entering this post in the #Iwouldlikeyouto linky hosted by And 1 More Makes 3. Muddle over and check it out!*