Monday, July 27, 2015

This is a Post About Me. Beware.

So, for most of my life I've struggled with depression.

Many of my family members have struggled with different types of mental illness. Clinical depression, addiction, bipolar disorder, suicide attempts.

The fight is real and it's brutal. It ruins friendships and tears apart families.

After Emie was born I started thinking I was developing type 2 diabetes because I had these horrible attacks of nausea and chest tightening and shaking. My brain would race and nothing would help me feel better. The attacks would last an hour or so and leave me feeling totally wiped out.

I searched for answers with my family practice doctor and an internist. After a few months it was determined I was having panic attacks. The internist diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which I thought was kind of strange because I'm not generally anxious.

I happily took my prescription for Xanax and was on my way. I had a follow up a year later and my prescription was refilled. And again the following year. No new questions just, "How're you doing? Do you feel you need to up the dosage? See you next year."

And that was it for three years. I never mentioned for years I had been dealing with varying degrees of depression. I also never thought to bring up the bursts of energy and enthusiasm I would get that would culminate in a dozen half started projects, a cleaner house than I'd had in months, and new plan for everything in my life. (That would last a month or six weeks before I crashed and burned leaving horrifying wreckage in my wake.) I thought this was just a part of being alive and everyone was prone to dramatically shifting moods, especially with a big family to wrangle and a social life to attempt to keep up.

Then it happened. The bottom totally dropped out. Earlier this year I started the deepest depression I've had in a decade. It made no sense. I had an amazing supportive, understanding husband, children who were everything I could hope for, a small but fulfilling social and professional life. Why the debilitating sadness? It just didn't add up.

I sought council from friends and family. I talked to Travis. I got up the guts to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist. It was a big step for me. I don't like new things. I am a creature of habit. Just making that phone call felt like such a victory.

Six weeks later I was sitting in the psychiatrist's office discussing my mental health history, my family, and my current life situation.

After a long couple hours of talking about myself (which is super weird and uncomfortable) the doctor said, "I think I know what's going on with you."

It was music to my ears. Someone had an answer. There was a word for what I was feeling and it wasn't just "crazy"!

Bipolar II. Bipolar I 's little sister.

Then came the talk of medication options and "titrating to therapeutic dosage" and no more Xanax because that's why I have been having cluster panic attacks.

I went home with new prescriptions, follow-up in 6 weeks, and hope. Hope had been missing from my life for longer than I had realized.

I've been on the new medications for almost a week and some of the side effects while I'm increasing to therapeutic dosage suck. I'm jittery in the morning and exhausted by 4:30pm. I'm always nauseated. I just keep remembering this too shall pass. I will feel better than ever. If I don't, there are other medications to try.

I promise this isn't going to turn in to a blog about me and my journey with mental illness. I just needed to get this out there, for me to move forward.

I don't need to be ashamed or embarrassed by my mental illness. I don't need to hide it or make excuses for it. It is a part of me. It's okay.

Other bloggers have written much better about this topic. Jenny Lawson is the main person who comes to mind and who is one of the writers who helped me get to the point where I was ready to be honest with myself and seek help. Amanda Palmer and her book The Art of Asking gave me the courage to be authentically me and ask for help and patience from the people around me. Also, Jared Padalecki and his Always Keep Fighting campaign. Oh, and Project Semicolon.

This might be part of the reason why I'm a Terrible Homeschooler. I have been stutter starting for the last year and a half because of my own struggles. I will continue to be a Terrible Homeschooler, but I hope in the future the "Terrible" is in reference to being a Terribly Happy Homeschooler.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Keeping It Real: 102

So, real life keeps getting in the way of keeping up here. I have many photos and many fun times that I've wanted to share, but just haven't had the time to sit down and record them properly.

And that's okay.

I don't need to feel obligated to post here constantly; that's the nice thing about keeping a fun personal blog like this.

We had another round of illness in the house for the girls and me. No fun.

I had an MRI of my c-spine to help figure out why I'm still in pain after 10 weeks of physical therapy. There is some not so fun stuff going on there and I'm waiting on an appointment to see a specialist. They also found three nodules on my thyroid, all of which are assumed (after a thorough ultrasound) to be benign.

So, many appointments. Not a lot of time for writing or editing photos.

We're still plugging along here though. Preparing the house for another remodel, this time of our tiny terrible kitchen.

Getting ready to enroll Alex back in school part time.

Working on signing Emie up for Tae Kwon Do.

Cassidy has been spending lots of time at a good friends house this summer and has this amazing sun kissed look that I haven't seen on him in years!

Dorothy is talking more every day and has the silliest personality.

Travis has been helping his dear friend at his machine shop and has been able to see some amazing things and work on some interesting projects in the last few weeks.

I'm doing okay. Not great. Just okay.

And it's okay to tell people that, I have to remind myself. I don't have to put on the "everything-is-great-I'm-wonderful" face.

It's okay to just be okay.