It’s All Him

Good Morning, All!

Ya’ll! I am plum worn out! I can’t seem to get through my day without a nap and going to bed super early in the evening…like 8 o’clock pm kind of early. We have been adjusting to a new schedule recently and it’s kicking my booty. Kermit and I are on the same page; I thought this meme pretty much sums it up…

Brian was on a 12 hour compressed shift at work; which just means he alternated between working 4- 12 hour shifts a week and 3- 12 hour shifts a week. It was great because that meant that he had either 3 or 4 days off a week (with the exception of overtime days). We were able to plan more things to do together and with the kids because he had those days off. Now he is working 8 hour shifts, Monday- Friday, with very little opportunity for overtime. It has been good for us in other ways, though. I really like having him home earlier in the day. We have the opportunity to do things in the evenings, we are able to have dinner at a normal time. (We were eating dinner as late as 8 or 9 pm. Now we can eat at 5:30-6:00, like normal people!) He’s always off on Sunday, which allows us to start having our big family dinners on Sunday afternoon after church. Change is really, really hard for me, so I just try to focus on the positive things about the change.

One of the things that helps me manage my anxiety is routine. I struggle with change, especially last minute change that I wasn’t expecting/prepared for. I do really well when I have a predictable daily routine. However, I also have to work hard to not become SO dependent on my routine, that I panic if something doesn’t go according to my “plan” for the day. So, I am working on finding a new routine, that works for me, that I can “go with the flow” of the day and get through the day.

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about my routine for the very first part of my day; which is waking up early enough to have coffee, prayer, and bible time with Brian before he goes to work. The next part of my day is my favorite…

After I get back from taking him to work, while the house is still dark and quiet, I make a comfortable spot on my favorite couch, brew a fresh cup of coffee, and write. My goal is to write and have “me time” before I wake my kids up for breakfast and school. It seems to help me set the tone for the day and it makes me feel productive. Definitely more productive that coming home and going back to bed until noon and wasting half of my day.

Sometimes I write in my personal journal. Sometimes I write here, on this blog. Sometimes I write love notes to Brian to stick in his lunch bag the next day. Sometimes I write out prayers that I am praying for different people or situations in my life. Writing is so very therapeutic for me and I thank you for taking the time to read the things that I write.

I have been sharing my life and experiences with anxiety and other mental health disorders here on this blog for a couple of months now. I’ve told you about the worst panic attack of my life and about how my journey led me to therapy. I’ve told you about my husband, Brian, and the amazing support and love that he shows me on a daily basis. I even did a whole post about what the phrase “Like a Boss” means to me and why I gave my blog that name.

Now is the time, perhaps, that I share with you the truth about HOW I deal with my mental health disorders and physical ailments on a day to day basis. I feel that if I am going to share the struggle, I need to also share the answer.

In November of 2018 my anxiety was at an all time high and the depression had me at an all time low. I struggled to breathe, all day every day. I barely got out of bed. Nothing brought me joy. I couldn’t crochet or write or get through a day without a panic attack of some level. Even being close to my kids caused symptoms of anxiety- irritability, nausea, etc. Brian and I had the biggest fight/struggle/conflict that we had ever had and…I left.

I told him that I was done. I was ready to “check out.” Out of our relationship and out of life. I. was. done. I left our house and started driving in the direction of the hospital. The broken feeling that flooded my mind, heart, and body intensified and as I approached a large bridge I said aloud “God, if you are there and You are real, I’m going to need You to show up, RIGHT NOW!” I had every intention of slamming my car into the side of the bridge and falling over it, hopefully to my death. I knew that I could not continue to live with the weight of all of this “stuff,” in fact, I didn’t want to live anymore at all. I couldn’t see anything but the hard, the heavy, the struggle.

The truth is that I have only found ONE way to get through the hard, the heavy, and the struggle. He showed up that day. He spoke to the deepest part of my heart and gave me a hope that the hard and the struggle would end. So instead of running my car off of the bridge, I drove home, to my husband. We sat together and prayed and cried and held on to each other for dear life.

Jesus met us there, in our bedroom, that day. He flooded my heart with a peace that just didn’t make any sense. Does that ever happen to you?! You are in a situation and you should be all kinds of worked up, angry, etc. but you just have this calmness, this peace, this assurance that it really will all be okay?

After that day, all I could do was read His word, listen to worship music, pray, and write in my journal. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote down everything that I felt that He was saying to me. I wrote down prayers; for me, for my family, for people who had hurt me. I wrote down goals and visions for our future that He spoke to my heart. In “christian terms” I was “ON FIRE” for God. There was this huge high, where I couldn’t get enough of Jesus, and I wasn’t feeling anxious, and I was getting out of bed and being productive and I just FELT GREAT.

That particular “high” season ended somewhere around May of this year. It didn’t slowly fade…it just stopped. I stopped writing again, I stopped worshiping, I stopped reading my bible, I stopped praying. Everything just stopped. Guess what happened next?? The anxiety crept back up, the depression spiked up, the exhaustion came back and it was all I could do to stay out of bed for a few hours a day. June is when the panic attack that put me in the hospital happened. (You can read about that here) I started feeling, again, that this was never going to end; that I’m going to have this struggle for my entire life and I just have to “manage.” Ya’ll, that’s a pretty depressing place to be; to feel like there is NO hope that it will EVER get better. That you are just stuck there and there is nothing you can do about it.

I just felt stuck there, and so I stayed there for a few weeks… again. Why?! I don’t really know, these things are not logical, but I stayed with the anxiety and the depression. I stayed in bed for days on end. Brian has said that I went weeks without ever smiling at all. It was a deep, dark place to be. That’s when my doctor sent me to a psychiatrist, who sent me to therapy. The full story about that can be found here.

Now it is October and Brian and I strive to wake up at 5am each morning so that we have time to spend together, with Jesus. I make our coffee and he plays worship music and gets ready for work. We sit on our bed and pray together. Then we open God’s word and read it, discuss it, and seek to understand its truth and how it applies to, and affects us today. We ask Him for His peace, calmness, love, and mercies to be with us that day; and for His guidance, direction, and protection.

Long story short…Jesus is my answer. He is my answer for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. He is my answer for the triggers that still exist and try to keep me trapped. He is my answer for how I homeschool and raise my kids. He is my answer for having a healthy marriage and healthy friendships. It is Jesus, ya’ll. Jesus is the only reason I am still alive. He keeps my head above the water, so I can keep my eyes on Him through the storms. He meets me right where I am and hears me when I call out to Him.

You’ll find, as this blog continues, that a lot of (but not all of) my writings will have content that relates to Jesus and the bible, and how it all shapes and steers my life.

I pray that all of this comes across how I actually intend it; to be encouraging, uplifting, and possibly even helpful to those that read it. The things that I write about have been my personal experiences in my life. Not all of it has been sunshine and roses. There has been much darkness and trial and struggle. However, this is what I believe helps me deal with my mental health issues, as well as my physical health. It is Jesus. I believe that as I read His word and draw closer to Him, He gives me a peace and a calmness that beats out the anxiety and chaos. The bible tells us that we will have struggles, trials, failures, hurt and heartbreak in this life. Ahhhhh…but Jesus! He doesn’t always take it all away; but He does ALWAYS help me through it. And that is why “It’s all Him.”

What struggles do you face right now? What have you found that helps work for you in managing/dealing with your struggles? How can I pray for you? Feel free to leave a comment below and let’s open the dialog about these things.

Forever In His Grip,

LB

P.S. As a “BONUS” on this post, please take a listen to this song by Avril Lavigne. I pray that the lyrics speak to your heart and that God keeps your head above the water, so you can see Him. Note: I do not own the rights to this song.

Full Circle

I graduated high school just a few months before the bombing/attacks on 9/11. After graduation, I began looking into joining the Navy. I wanted to join for many of the same reasons that most people do…to serve, to travel, to learn, to have a steady paycheck after having become an “adult.” 🙂 I was just trying to figure out where in this world my “place” was. The typical things that most, if not all, graduates deal with; “What do I want to BE when I grow up? Where am I going with my life? What kind of “life” is it that I desire to create for myself?”

Just a couple of weeks after graduation, I joined; and my “ship date” was set for mid-July. For what remained of my time at home that summer, you could find me working my part time job or preparing for the Navy. Great Lakes, IL was to be my destination for the next several months for Basic Training and training school.

Fun fact about me: I am a “Daddy’s Girl” through and through. From the time he came into my life, it has been my goal, all my life, to make him proud of me. We had a special bond that not many people understand. We had so many similarities that people often questioned me when they found out that he was not my biological father. The number of people that have told me that I had his smile or eyes is just ridiculous. And, of course, I would just smile, knowing that we didn’t share the DNA that would make that scientifically possible.

Let me say here that we did not always have a great relationship. There were many mistakes made over the years, damage done, healing that had to take place. Dad and I came along way over the years. At this point in my life (18 years old and fresh out of high school) our relationship was still strained, but my goal was still to make him proud. In hind sight, I really do think that I joined the Navy more because HE did. You see, my dad was a “Navy Man” and served our country during the Vietnam War. I thought that by joining the Navy, it would make me even more like him and he would be proud of me. Right?!

Dad’s “official” Navy picture from when he was in boot-camp.

I don’t have any pictures of the day I left for the Navy, but this is one of my favorite pictures of us together.

The day I left for basic was probably one of the more emotional days I have had in my life. We got up early, loaded my things from our home into the care and drove the 15 miles from where we lived, to the recruiting office in a near by town. We unloaded everything from our car, to the recruiter’s car and started the “goodbyes.” I was really proud of myself! I made it through the goodbyes with my mom, my sister, and my boyfriend without crying. I had pushed the time too far and my recruiter was hurrying us along, so my goodbye with my dad was the shortest (are most with dad’s?). He hugged me tighter than I think he has ever hugged me and quickly whispered something in my ear. It wasn’t what I was expecting; it caught me off guard and the tears immediately started to flow. I cried and cried and cried. I ugly cried all the way to Dallas. My poor recruiter! Lol! He was probably thinking “IS this girl going to stop crying?! Like, EVER?!?” It was only he and I in the car for the drive, so it was a little awkward, to say the least.

The thing that he said to me that day, shifted everything for me, although I didn’t realize it at the time. It has resurfaced over the years; like now. It has been close to 20 years now, and I can’t tell this story or say the phrase aloud without crying. He said “I love you, Sis. Do yourself proud.”

“Do yourself proud.” At 18 years old, though, I barely knew what that meant, much less how to execute it. It shifted, however, from wanting to make him proud, to knowing that he was already proud of me. Now it was time to step into MY life that I wanted to create and do something that I could be proud of myself for doing. It wasn’t anything that someone else could do for me; if I was going to succeed in the Navy, or in life, I was going to have to live my life in a way that I would be proud of. Those three words have stopped me in my tracks, they have made me cry at least 100 times, and they have made me pause…think…contemplate, even. Am I living my life in a way that lives up to those words?… Do. Yourself. Proud

In March of 2011 our family decided it was time to transition from our home town to Lubbock, TX to serve with a ministry there called Malta Farms. (You can visit their website, maltafarms.net, to learn more about the amazing work that they do in Lubbock County.)

The annual pumpkin patch for Malta Farm’s fall fundraiser. This was such an amazing thing to be a part of and WHO KNEW that there were so many different types and colors of pumpkins?!?!

I was SO excited to be going to serve the ministry that changed Brian’s life and we knew that we knew that it was supposed to be our next step. Once again, however, anxiety showed its ugly face and made the move extremely difficult for me. It took me months to pack our house because every time I started to pack, I started to have an anxiety attack. Even though I KNEW God’s hand was in it and even though I was genuinely excited, I literally could not do it.

July came, we celebrated Baby Girl’s 8th birthday and the 4th of July with family and friends, and then on July 10th, we loaded the U-Haul and left our hometown for Lubbock. Once again Dad’s “goodbye” was short and sweet; he hugged me tight, told me he loved me and handed me a card. I read it and immediately started crying. Ugly crying, ya’ll. Sobbing. I’m sure that he intended it to mean that I could do the move to Lubbock and be okay (which I did, mostly), but there have been many times since then that I’ve read those words and felt peace wash over me.

I’ve come to realize that it was exactly 10 years (July of 2001 to July of 2011) from the time he first said “Do yourself proud” to when he gave me the card. I have it hung on the wall in my bedroom. It seems to catch my eye at EXACTLY the perfect point in time every now and then. I often find myself saying “I know, Dad. I know I can face this.”

I still need these reminders every so often. “Do yourself proud” and “Keep going! You can do it! I know that you have what it takes to do this!” While I have come a long way, and I do want to live my life in a way that I can be proud of; and even though he has since passed away, I hope I am making him proud, too.

I pray that any one reading this finds hope and truth in these words. “Keep going!” “You CAN do this!” “I KNOW that you have what it takes to do this!!”

Forever In His Grip

LB

Anxiety is…

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I think that anxiety is the single most stupid thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. If you haven’t read any of my other posts, then let me tell you… I think that anxiety is the single most stupid thing I have ever had to deal with in my life!!!!

However, anxiety is not defined as “stupid”; it’s actually defined as:

anx·i·e·ty / aNGˈzīəde noun

  1. a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Similar: worry, concern, apprehension, apprehensiveness, consternation

This is your typical “I’m a little anxious to get the test results.” “I’m worried about how I’m going to be able to pay this bill.” “I have a huge presentation at work and I’m nervous!” type of anxiety. Almost every human, ever, has experienced this type of anxiety at some point in their life. This what most people tend to think when I say that I have anxiety. Perhaps, that fault lies with me and I need to be more specific. I say that, to say this:

There are also various Anxiety Disorders. There are a total of about six different ones; I have three of them. According to the Mayo Clinic anxiety disorders are (especially note the parts in italics):

“Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).

These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger and can last a long time. You may avoid places or situations to prevent these feelings. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood.

Examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias and separation anxiety disorder. You can have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment.

I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was four years old. Anxiety?! At FOUR years old?!? Yep. I bet you’re wondering “What the heck is a FOUR. YEAR. OLD. anxious about?” Well, generally speaking, a four year old would have nothing to be anxious about. Some four year olds, though, have had a rough go of it from the start; traumatic births, health problems, surgeries, etc. Some four year olds have already had more than one divorce in their parents’ lives, and some times, both of those marriages were abusive anyway. By the time I was four and WELL before I had a clue what the word “anxiety” means, it had started affecting me by manifesting itself in the form of physical symptoms. I had severe digestive/tummy issues and my hair had started to fall out by the handful.

The time that I reached middle school (and started puberty) is when a couple of the men in my life chose to do what they did to me. (I am choosing to leave out the names and some of the details…for now, as I am truly still finding my healing.) The two people were both sexually abusing me, on a regular basis, with neither of them knowing about the other. One was a little heavier on the mind games/mental aspect of abuse than the other; in fact as I grew older, learned more, and looked back on those events, I was being “groomed” for much worse by one and the “worst” was already happening with the other. The thing that did the most damage, though, was being told that I was not acceptable how I was and that I needed to be “stripped down to nothing and built back the way that he wanted me.” What he meant by that was, “I want to control you so you will do whatever I say and I want to scare you, so you will never tell anyone.” Ya’ll this is just my life up until middle school, and this is just the MOST MAJOR stuff that happened, (not everything) and suddenly the question of “Why do I have anxiety?” has an answer.

I have struggled my entire life with feeling like the real, true me, was not good enough. I often feel as though my whole life, thus far, has been me acting; trying to act in a way/ways that would make me “acceptable” and truly loved. Now that I am in my mid-30’s, I feel as though I am starting to grow into what, and who, God created me to be. I am discovering who I really am and not just what someone else wanted to create, what I really love, what I really can’t stand, the types of friends I want to have in my life and the kind of friend I want to be in return. Having reached the point where “just managing” the symptoms of anxiety, but mostly pretending that everything is “fine” is just not working any more; other strategies have had to be put in place. Brian and I decided that I would try the medication route again and I’ve decided that I’m not going to let anyone else’s opinion about how I care for my own well-being, contribute to my anxiety. I just am one of those people that needs medication to keep me on a level playing field. Therapy has been absolutely invaluable; as it is teaching me strategies to fight the anxiety and not just lay down and let it take my life. I have to “do the work” and find my healing or its going to kill me.

It has been thirty two years since I first showed symptoms of anxiety. It has been twenty four years since the abuse I endured stopped and the people involved faced their consequences. Still, even now, as an adult, I still frequently deal with my body exhibiting physical symptoms, whether or not I am experiencing any mental or emotional symptoms at that time. Almost daily I experience nausea, rapid heart rate, difficulty catching my breath, upset stomach, sweating, muscle cramps/spasms, tingling, difficulty sleeping/staying asleep. Now, most days I don’t experience ALL of those things, but I do experience most of them to some degree or another.

I hope that this has given you a little bit of insight into anxiety, and especially the difference between the anxiety/anxiousness that most people feel and the severe anxiety disorders that so many suffer from. Thanks to the support system that has rallied around me, from my husband and kids to my doctors, my therapist and my Camp Gladiator workout family, I am doing better now than I have in many, many years. It is possible. Hang in there.

I would now like to leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the social interwebs…

What have your experiences been with anxiety? Do you struggle with it or do you know someone who does? Let’s talk in the comments. Be sure to “like” and “subscribe” to get my posts sent right to your inbox!

Welcome!

Hello Everyone!

Thank you for stopping by my blog! My hope and desire for this blog is that each of you find something that you can relate to in such a way that it makes LIFE just a bit more bearable, because LIFE is hard sometimes and at least you know someone who has been “there” too; wherever “there” is.

I’ve started this blog as a series of “late night musings” about my life with several health/mental health issues. I have been writing “journal style” since I was a teenager. My very first therapist recommended it as a way to “process my trauma.” She gave me a suggestion that went something like this; “Just sit and start writing. Write every. single. thing that enters your head. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t all have to be about the same topic, etc. It doesn’t even matter if the first thing you write is ‘I think this is stupid, I have no idea what to write about.’ Just start writing.” She was right, you know. Somehow, writing seems to help unscramble all of the feelings/emotions/thoughts/etc. that come with LIFE, and make them a little more bearable. Sometimes, just sometimes, I will write something that is almost divinely inspired, that I don’t even remember writing. When I look back on those things I don’t even know I wrote, I find healing in my own words.

I am a 30-something woman who has been happily married to the love of my life for just short of 16 years. We have three children, the oldest of which is 22 years old. We also have a 15 year old and a 12 year old. Our family has two precious doggies and they are entirely too spoiled. I am a teacher by trade and training, but quit three years ago to become a home-school mom.

Forever In His Grip,

LB