Pandemonium

Holy Wednesday, Batman!

Today been nothing short of pandemonium. It started off like s sweet and normal day, then BAM.

I don’t cope well when things get thrown out of my expectations. By that I mean, I don’t necessarily have to have a particular routine, but if I have an expectation that I have to meet on a certain day, and that expectation becomes compromised, I become a little more than uncomfortable.

The last couple of weeks have thrown several curve balls from cray injuries co-workers have experienced, to the death of a friend and husband’s co-worker, to my kids’ daycare being shutdown because of the stomach bug from hell.

All of that will make a mentally well person fairly stressed out, but if I were unmedicated and not currently practicing mental wellness exercises, I would be a mangled train wreck. Ya know, the kind that people see on the news, cringe, and say a quick prayer for…and then keep watching to see if the disaster can possibly get worse.

So, today started out fine. I was a little busier at work, but I don’t mind that cause I actually really like my job. Then between work and picking up my kids, I decided to stop by a craft store which always leaves me with a dichotomy of feelings because I like making things but thinking about making all the things makes me want to unspool some fuzzy fabric and swaddle myself until all the feelings go away.

I leave said store with heart palpitations, dizziness, the sweats, and a candy bar.

I had to sit in my car for 10 minutes (I lied, 20) and do some deep breathing exercises while I chewed my emergency Ativan that I always carry in my purse for times like these.

I save the Klonopin for when I literally cannot control myself, and I am swaddled on the floor, usually with my daughter’s blankie because she gave it to me because that’s how she knows how to make mommy feel better.

I will happily digress from that lovely image to continue my narrative about tonight. I get my sweet children home, we play in the rain, which is  surprisingly incredible for stress. We came inside, put on some dry clothes, ran around, and sang Disney songs extra loudly until it was time for me to make dinner.

On cue, my kids hated the main entree for dinner and loaded up on cornbread. In an attempt to throw something healthy in there, I let them eat a carton of strawberries.

Then it was Disney dance party time which was interrupted by a phone call from my dear and loving husband. He had blown a tire, again. This happened to him last month with our other car.

He spends 2 hours trying to free the spare tire, get the bad one off, and put the spare on while realizing that it needs air. He gets to the gas station only to find out the tire won’t fill with air. He’s at least 20 minutes from our house, and there is no way he can drive on that thing. OH-and he did all of this during a thunderstorm.

So what does he have to do? Call for help, and help came running.

Meanwhile, I call the jury summons number. Oh, did I mention that I was summoned for jury duty tomorrow? I’ve been summoned probably 10 times in my life and have never EVER had to serve. ____Until tomorrow morning.

Normally, I’d be all “Cool! I get to do my civic duty. I hope it’s a crazy murder case.”

But NO. Not today, and I feel my reasoning is more than fair.

My brother-in-law is have brain surgery. That’s right. FREAKING b r a i n surgery. Yeah. I kind of don’t want to miss that one.

While he’s having surgery, my husband and I had planned to duck out long enough to pay respects to our friend and his co-worker who unexpectedly passed away over the weekend. So there’s that important thing too.

While all this is certainly putting a strain on my mentally compromised self, I’m actually feeling pretty OK.

Here are the 5 things I do when get tense for me:

  1. BREATHE. You’re brain can’t fully function without oxygen. I breathe deeply into my belly, hold a couple of seconds, and then release it.
  2. STRETCH. I carry so much tension in my face, shoulders, arms, and hands. While I’m breathing, I roll my neck and shoulders and stretch out my arms, wrists, and fingers. I massage my face and the top of my head about an inch back from my hair line. This little spot carries a ridiculous amount of tension.
  3. PRAY. Because some things I can’t do, but God can.
  4. GET AWAY. I have to separate myself from the noise, and go to a lesser stimulating place. This is usually my car when I’m alone.
  5. MEDICATE. I’m talking about my emergency meds here. I try to reserve them for when my nerves are running a bit too hot, and I need to get things done.

So there you have it. It’s been pandemonium between my ears this afternoon, but rain is falling steadily and drowning out all other sounds.

May your night been uneventful and cozy. I’ve got to throw out the empty ice cream carton before my husband realizes I ate it all.

P.S. This will be me tomorrow trying to get OUT.

jess day jury

Nighty, night! Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

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My Way, the Right Way

I’m an incredibly judgmental person.

Not in the sense that I dislike someone for what they are wearing, their socioeconomic status, the color of their hair, or their job.

I judge a person’s character on how they drive. If you are a bad driver, I secretly want retribution to find you. Put down the cell phone. Stay in your lane. PAY ATTENTION. Are these too hard to ask?!

I judge a person by the way they treat wait staff at a restaurant. If you do not acknowledge the person that is bringing you your food, and you do not use your manners when they refill your glass and bring you more tortilla chips for your third run to the salsa bar, I will secretly think that’s you’re not quite Satan but maybe some other loser demon that  does all of the lackey work around the office.

Here’s a hot one that’ll push some buttons. I will judge you for smoking cigarettes. I think they are disgusting and proven to kill you. I’ve seen how addicted people can become to them and will choose buying a pack of cigarettes over buying food and drink or their kid. Both of my parents smoked, and I have an overwhelming disdain for it.

Let’s take a step back for a second.

It’s easy for me cast out these judgments and proceed to be offended by the fact that others aren’t going to do things the way I would do them. However, what does it accomplish? Who does it benefit?

Nobody.

I work hard on re-framing my thinking. If someone is driving super fast and switching in and out of lanes, I try to think “Well, maybe his wife has just gone into labor, and he’s trying to get to her.”

The person who hasn’t looked up at their waiter may be severely depressed and finding the words to say require too much energy. He may be sitting in a complete daze not even able to concentrate on what is going on around him, let alone say thank you every time someone refills his cup.

People who smoke all have different reasons for why they do it despite the known health risks. Someone may be smoking because they needed to trade an addiction to a more dangerous substance to cigarettes. Someone may be very lonely, and that cigarette provides them with enough comfort to keep moving.

My judginess began to shift the more familiar I became with mental illness. I found myself to be more empathetic in seeing why people do things the way that they do instead of getting worked up over why they just don’t see it my way which is more efficient, well thought-out, and just all around better for the world at large (I have a chronic case of Imalwaysrightus that likes to flair up from time to time.

Tomorrow I’m going to share with you some specific examples from my life where I deliberately chose to shift my perspective about someone(s), and how it liberated me from one link in this chain of mental illness.

Thanks for stopping by my comfy corner. Come back again tomorrow night as I share a bit about childhood trauma and its affect on me as an adult.

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How Was Today.

I struggle with what to share with you tonight. I had an idea of what I wanted to present, but honestly, it would take more mental energy than I have to spend this evening.

Today was OK.

It was fairly typical. I begrudgingly got out of bed and slowing put myself together. Morning has always been my nemesis, but it is more of a bother since I’ve started taking new sleeping pills.

Insomnia has been a frequent companion of mine for a while. Mostly since about 2009. I used to take those OTC sleep aid pills which are nothing more than Benadryl, and they worked for a little while.

Over the last couple of years, my sleep patterns have been fairly normal. I would sleep most of the night. That was until my last major depressive episode began after this past New Year. I would sleep 2-3 hours then wake up wide awake and be up for the rest of the night fully energized and ready to get my day over with.

A few weeks of only getting a couple of hours of sleep a night had some unfortunate effects which I will elaborate on in a different post.

I now have medication that helps me sleep all night, but I haven’t found the exact dose and time in which to take it so that I do not feel like a complete slug in the morning.

This morning, I was particularly sluggish and a total grump. Fortunately for me, I live in a house with 3 morning people (insert sarcastic eye roll). Before I even got to the bathroom, I was asked 6 different questions, about completely unrelated things, by my almost 4 year old.

She’s the literal worst in the morning. She doesn’t stop chirping until I get her to school. I’m not a nice person until at least my second cup of coffee, and sometimes that’s pushing it.

I almost fell asleep at the wheel twice this morning which only scared me a lot. Thank Jesus, I made it to work in one piece. I poured my second piping hot cup of nectar of the gods and got situated at my desk.

I started a new job 3 weeks ago, and I’ve settled unusually well into it. Because of my propensity to be enveloped in anxiety with a little surprise bundle of depression on the side, change usually does not suit me very well.

Change, whether good or bad, has a way of sending me into a tail spin. It’s quite annoying.

This time it hasn’t been so bad. I really like the work I’m doing, and the people are incredible. I had a longer work day than I normally do, but I didn’t really mind.

My anxiety spiked when I thought about having to get my kids, take them grocery shopping, and getting them home and settled in.

For the 1 millionth time in my life, my mother swept in and saved the afternoon. She picked up my kids from school and brought them home which gave me enough time to wrap some work and go buy some (read : way too much) food.

I’ve learned to ask for help when a circumstance elevates my anxiety. It is not an easy thing for me to do, and I always feel guilty asking for help, but in the long run, it saves me so much hassle.

Everything was seemingly perfect today.

However, the deep, lonely sadness knows where to find me, and she folds herself around  me in a way I cannot escape.

Luckily, as quickly as she comes, she goes. Compared to this time last year, this is progress.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I truly do appreciate it.

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Taking it Back

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS CONTENT MENTIONS SUICIDALITY

Dr. So and So : Mrs. W, how long have you felt these symptoms of depression?

Me : Every since I can remember. 

According to the most sought after medical expert, WebMD, depression can have a slew of symptoms including but not limited to:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Additionally, it is said that you have to have one or more of symptoms for 2 weeks or more for it to be classified as a type depression.

Dr. So and so: So you’re telling me that you’ve dealt with feelings of depression for your whole  life as long as you can remember?

Mestanley

Kids can’t process their emotions on their own, and I was no different. I was hit with a minor trauma which I will go into later, and the results sent me into a downward spiral of childhood depression. It manifested most painfully in excruciating stomach aches that would start mid-afternoon and last until I fell asleep. I was also very weepy at school, lacked energy to play with my friends, and felt like I was just a burden to be around. No one knew much about childhood depression at that time, so I was given a strong set of antacids when the stomach issues became so bad that I was shaking in my dad’s bed as the reflux bubbled up into my throat.

Moving on a few years, I hit puberty earlier than anyone else I knew and started middle school at a new school where I knew one person a few months later.

Not only was I more physically developed than any other girl in my 6th grade class, I was also the outcast because I was new. Everyone had their “clique,” (read:squad if you’re a young millennial) and I was so uncomfortable in my own skin and awkwardly stuck out like a sore thumb. At least this is how I saw it.

Making friends was not easy, and I was just learning the finesse of sarcasm which I felt gave me an edge. (Sorry, Ma!) The classwork was boring and hard for me to concentrate on (depressive symptom #1). I grew more and more irritable with my family by the day (depressive symptom #2). I was sure that no one liked me or cared that I was there, not even my evil homeroom teacher (who really was a minion of Satan) (depressive symptom #3) And lastly I became unusually fascinated with death and pain (WARNING: depressive symptom #4)

I heard of the term “cutting” while watching Mtv (The TV channel that used to play music videos). I learned a bit about it on one of their segments, and it appealed to me. I felt like I was just bad. I couldn’t get anything right. No one wanted to be my friend. My parents were always mad at me because I was getting bad grades. I had no one to turn to. So I used cut my hands and arms as an outward way to express my inner anguish. I felt like I deserved to be punished for not measuring up, and could breathe a little easier when I was done.

This behavior morphed into thoughts of how I didn’t want to live anymore. How could I kill myself? Would anyone even notice if I was gone? Fortunately, the accessible internet was still young, and I didn’t use it regularly to research anything, so I had a very limited knowledge on how one would kill themselves. Still, the thought raged angrily in my head for months until I was given some relief when summer break came.

I was 11.

The last sentence rocks me to my core because at the time, I felt like I was so mature and so grown in dealing with such heaviness. Now that I take a look back, my chest tightens because   I    w a s    a    c h i l d.   I didn’t see myself that way then, but I now sob because I see myself from completely different eyes.

Dr. So and so: Sounds like you’ve had a difficult time with this. Let me prescribe you three different medications you can’t pronounce and one that is highly addictive and easy to abuse, but I’ll only give you 30 of those so you’ll be fine. Take those when you feel a panic attack coming on. I would also recommend counseling in addition to sleeping 8 hours a night, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and exercising 8 days a week. 

Me: Okie doke! Sounds like a swell plan!

Being a depressed kid is hard because your brain isn’t developed enough to know how to form words and sentences to express the wretched emotions and processes your body is dealing with. If you have a kid or are around a kid that exhibits any or all of these symptoms, do something about it. If a kid can get help while they are young, it can help reduce the chance that they’ll turn out like me and have to deal with it their entire life. The information and education wasn’t available when I was young, so I don’t blame anyone for not recognizing it in me. However, there is plenty on the subject now, and you can help save a kid’s life by acting on it.

Tonight’s post was a little heavy as I took it way back, but I appreciate you sticking it out with me. I hope that you come back tomorrow with your fuzzy blanket, cup of hot tea, and comfy jammies. The content will be hard at times, but there will be some sunshine here and there to make the journey sweeter.

Until tomorrow,

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If you are anyone you know are struggling with suicidal thoughts, PLEASE reach out to a professional for some help. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a great resource. You can call them at 1-800-273-8255.

 

Let’s Be Honest

I’ve had this patch of internet space reserved for quite some time now. There have been a number of excuses as to why I haven’t started publishing to it, but those have fallen by the wayside, and it’s time for the “Come to Jesus” moment.

Mark 5:27-33( ESV)

27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.

This passage has spoken to me on different levels at different times throughout my life; most specifically during times when I’ve struggled with my mental health.

I’ve been in a raging battle against my own mind for years, and I haven’t sought help until recent years.

Through periods of debilitating depression, smothering anxiety, and unpredictable panic attacks, I’ve been robbed of a life of joy.

This last depressive episode pushed me to a point I haven’t been before. It pushed me to a point of determination and reaching. I’ve prayed for healing from this disease of the mind. I’ve fasted over it. I’ve had friends who have offered up prayers. I have seen the miraculous healing power that God can offer, but not for this.

This last episode made me truly want to push toward change.

So here I am, shoving my way through the crowded space in my mind, reaching out to the one who can truly help me. But do you know what else I have to do?

I have to tell Him the “whole truth.”

That’s the part of the story that gets overlooked. She told him the whole truth. It wasn’t just an “Oh, Jesus, I touched your robe,” It was an “Oh Jesus! I have suffered from this affliction. It has ruined my life. I needed relief from it, and I heard you could give it. I’m sorry for trying to sneak in and see if I could be healed just by touching your robe. I’m sorry for thinking that you would be like every other man who wouldn’t allow me to touch them because they thought I would make them unclean, but I felt something in my body shift when I touched you. I believe that you are the Healer, the Messiah.”

Of course this part isn’t recorded in the Bible. It’s just Fatima’s commentary.

Jesus then told her that her “faith had made her well,” and that she could “go in peace” for her “suffering is over.”

So welcome to my journey of telling the whole truth. I’ll candidly share about my experience with mental illness and my pursuit of God it has led me to. I will write a post every day for the next 30 days, and I hope you’ll grab a fuzzy blanket, pause Netflix, and spend a few minutes with me each night.

I’ll see you back here tomorrow!

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