This is How I Fight My Battles

I’ve had a couple of really tough days. A mix of medication changes, being involved with an intensive outpatient program, and still having to work despite major concentration issues and the weight of all the work from my program have triggered me to have a couple of really difficult days littered with crying fits, hyperventilation, panic, racing thoughts including thoughts of self-harm, yet still my heart beats on.

I’ve learned a few coping mechanisms, and to  my surprise, they’ve helped. I woke up crying this morning. I couldn’t seem to make it stop. So I grabbed my IOP notebook, and found a list of survival exercises. The one that was first was to place your face in icy water or find the equivalent. I took an ice pack and covered my face with it. It at least made me stop crying and literally cooled me down.

Secondly, the exercises suggested raising your heart rate through exercise. So I hopped on the the elliptical for 25 minutes and watched a show.

Thirdly, the exercises suggested eating something if you hadn’t. I had only ingested coffee, so I ate a high protein mini meal.

I then retreated upstairs to find a coping mechanism. I chose distraction. I watched celebrity interviews because they are light and mindless. When I was done, I felt the urge to be productive and started editing photos from a shoot that I’ve needed to complete for a long time.

My husband then came in and shared this song with me. The lyrics “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You,” spoke to my soul today, and I hope they also speak to yours.

Advertisements

VERSE OF THE MONTH: October 2017

phil413

I chose this verse for a couple of different reasons. One being its popularity. Folks deeply devoted or barely acquainted with Christ can more than likely prattle this off as one of the verses they have memorized. I also wanted to highlight it because there is power in it, and it has brought me much encouragement and strength these last few weeks.

I will not lie, last month was hellacious for me. Finding the right combination of medications for me has proved to be beyond taxing, and I’ve clung tightly to the Word of God during this time. I’ve constantly come back to Philippians 4 as a whole, prayed it – declared it over myself because I have had days where I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I would stand still in my bedroom, large chunks of times would pass. When my husband would come in, I would just weep because I couldn’t get ready for the day. I was consumed by fear and brought low by the unbalanced chemicals in my brain.

Through prayer and a medication change, I’m doing much better. This month has a bright start, but I want to remember that no matter the challenge, Christ will give me strength.

I pray that you will find strength in the challenges that face you this month.

Happy October!

img_1191-6

Moving Thoughts as Heavy as Pianos

Have you ever moved a piano?

I do every morning.

My wallet was stolen a few months ago by a couple of creepy thugs, and I quickly became paranoid that they would take the information found on my license and come to our house and break in. Because of this new found paranoia, our Wurlitzer spinet gets pushed in front of our front door every night (Do not talk to me about fire hazards), and I assume the right position and push it back to its rightful place in the morning on my way out for work.

When I first started moving this large and dreadfully heavy instrument, I struggled to get it to budge. However, with time, I have learned where and how to plant my feet, which position my hips need to be in to assist with the push, and just how much weight I need to throw forward in order to get it to move.

This is my every morning, but it won’t always be this way. My paranoia will fade. I will be satisfied with the alarms we have on the door as well as the windows. However, until then, I must push.

This is where I am at with my mental health. In my mind, I have made no progress these last several months. My depression is OK, but my anxiety is heavy and hard to maneuver. I have been crying a lot, and I feel like I’m unsteady most of the day. I find it difficult to complete small tasks, but I keep saying to myself:

“Just push through.”

This thought of encouragement doesn’t make the task that I am facing any smaller or lighter, but it readjusts my posture for how I am going to face it.

While I feel I’ve made no progress because I still feel pretty awful, I have to remind myself that seven years ago, I refused to go to a doctor for help, I was reluctant to see a counselor, the idea of medication was offensive, I was having panic attacks almost daily, and I was painfully suicidal.

Now, I have more of a vocabulary to use to describe my symptoms, I see a psyche practitioner monthly, I’ve started counseling, I make a lot of my own phone calls instead of waiting for my husband to do them, I can often walk and talk myself out of a panic attack, I know when my depression is heading to a dark and bad place and unashamedly cry out for help.

I’ve learned a better posture for pushing against the heaviness of Bipolar 2 Disorder, and even though the heaviness of it hasn’t changed, I can push through it a little easier. It’s just taken practice. I won’t always have to repeat this small mantra in my head, but it is a tool that I’ll carry for when the need arises.

Just. Push. Through.

VERSE OF THE MONTH: AUGUST 2017

1cor10_31

This month’s verse is 1 Corinthians 10:31. I chose this verse because this month I feel like the Lord is calling me to make some lifestyle changes to enhance my journey toward healing. While there are many things that I need to adjust, the one I am starting with is exercise.

I know that exercise can help with depression, and it did to a degree for me in the past when I was an athlete. However, since having my second child, I’ve allowed myself to become physically unfit; and it has taken its toll on my mind, body, and spirit.

Since this is the first change I feel like the Lord is wanting me to address, I have challenged myself to workout for at least 20 minutes every day this month. It’s going to be difficult for me, but it needs to be done. God has given me a healthy body, and I need to tend to and cultivate it so that I can better serve Him.

I hope you have a happy, healthy August!

img_1191-5

VERSE OF THE MONTH: JULY 2017

Eph2_10

Brand new guitar strings fall out of tune more quickly than it takes to get them to play the right notes. At least this is true of the type of strings I prefer to play with. They require quite a bit of stretching and adjusting before they are able to hold their assigned note. However, after they are worked with thoroughly, they can produce the sweetest melodies.

Similar to these guitar strings, we must be pulled on, stretched, tested, and worked on until the tune of our heart is pleasing to the Lord.

My prayer for this month is that the Lord will tune me in a way that Jesus can be seen through me so that whatever good things He has planned for me can come to pass.

Happy July!

img_1191-5

VERSE OF THE MONTH: JUNE 2017

Isaiah 601

At the first of every month, I’m going to begin posting a verse of the month. For June, I’ve chosen Isaiah 60:1.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

June ushers in the second half of the year. The first half of my year has been shadowed with a dark cloud brought on by  a new mental health diagnosis, and the rocky path that comes with changing medications. I’ve found myself in places that were pitch black with hopelessness and despair.

In the previous chapter, Isaiah 59, there is a thick darkness that is described. Darkness is for slumber, worry, and fear. The light is for awakening, and when it comes upon us, we must respond by rising up.

The illuminating glory that comes from the Lord is what washes over you because He has caused His face to shine upon you for both your redemption and for others to see the salvation He has brought to you.

June is my month for rising up, and I believe it is for many of you as well. When the darkness creeps up on you, remind yourself that “your light has come,” and that light will always overcome the darkness.

Happy June, friends!

img_1191-5

Withdrawal: An Unexpected Drug Addiction

psalm563

I’ve been radio silent for several days because I’ve felt like hell, and I’ve been catching up on some Zzz’s and spending a little more time with my family.

I want to say that I know nothing about recreational drugs. I’ve went to precisely two parties in college where there were a few people standing outside smoking weed, and those few people didn’t include me. I didn’t even get drunk at any of the college parties that I went to except for the one time I became pretty tipsy after taking a big shot of peppermint schnapps, which I immediately regretted, not because of any convictions but because it set my esophagus on f i r e.

I only know that you can snort cocaine because of the term “booger sugar” (my husband is giggling like a 7th grader as he reads this). I once had a conversation with a friend about some of her friends who got slipped some sort of drug that was laced with something, and I said something to the effect of “Maybe it was laced with LCD.” I quickly remembered (5 minutes later) that it was LSD not LCD.

After stating all of that, you can guess that I’ve never done recreational drugs or even smoked a cigarette (I detest smoking).

However, when it comes to prescription drugs, I can rattle off things about Xanax, Valium, Ativan, anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, hypnotics, and so on. I’m privy to this knowledge because I’ve taken several medications from all of this classes at some point of another.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I was on a medication for several months before it stopped working, and I dropped into a dramatic depressive state. Well, in that last month, I was weaned off of that medication. I did it over the course of two weeks.

This med is called Effexor, and my psyche professional wanted me to come off of it (I was at the max dosage) because it was causing me not to sleep and not to even miss it. Of course, sleep deprivation always catches up to me, and the depression sneaks up from behind me and pulls me under.

After weaning off of the Effexor, I started having horrible physical reactions. My neck stiffened, I had unbearable headaches, nausea that made me throw up, and insane vertigo.

This is when I went to the doctor thinking I had a bad ear infection. I didn’t and was diagnosed with an inner ear inflammation due to allergies. Predisone was prescribed which sent me into a wild manic state followed by a quick and furious drop. It was truly the worst mood shift I’ve EVER had.

The vertigo persisted as did all of the other physical symptoms. My anxiety also shot through the roof because of this. Another doctors visit ended with a referral for an MRI. I didn’t go in for that because I didn’t want to spend the money.

My husband called my psyche practitioner because he was worried about me. She told him that it sounded like withdrawals from the Effexor. She sent in a prescription for the lowest dosage of it to reintroduce into my system.

I also realized that I had been taking 150mg more of one of my mood stabilizers that I was supposed to which also contributed to the horrific side effects.

After sorting out these issues, I’m starting to physically feel better and mentally blunted. My moods were highly unstable, but now they are way more even.

After dealing with all of these withdrawal symptoms, I have an even deeper compassion for those who go through DTs from stronger drugs. What I went through was minimal compared to what they must grow through, yet I felt like I was literally going to die some nights.

The one thing that I’ve been clinging to through the many downs that I’ve experienced over the last few weeks is the verse Psalm 56:3:

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” 

Repeating this over and over in my mind or aloud has slowed my heart rate, slowed the racing thoughts, and stopped the throbbing in my temples.

I one day further in my healing process.

Until next time, friends!

img_1191-5