anxiety, clarity, communication, identity, journey, life, purpose, self esteem, strength, trust

Puzzle Pieces…

Ok… This is all so interesting… unraveling parts of me that I have tried to ignore… Parts  I’ve pushed aside to be able to muddle on… to keep on keepin’ on!  My body and my brain have decided I wasn’t going to ignore them anymore, it needs to be dealt with! It is all beginning to come together and make some sort of sense!

I will need to rewind, talk about things I haven’t touched on in this blog before.  I don’t like to complain, whine, or feel self pity.  I press on… until I can’t.

I mentioned in my last post that I would be seeing a specialist for some ongoing health issues I’ve been having for years.  They have progressively gotten worse and the burden of chronic pain is taking its tole. What that all meant, I didn’t really “get”… I have been beating myself up recently about not being able to feel like me…struggling with everyday things and sheer exhaustion! I was able to for a while blame it on pneumonia, something physical, something seen by others… then the dizziness hit… vertigo, equilibrium issues causing me to not be capable of walking without holding on, nausea, migraine headaches… issues!  When I sought help from my primary doctor it seemed it may have been related – possible Vestibular Neuritis due to inflammation from the sickness. I went to PT for what I thought would just be routine Epley Maneuver (something I’ve done many times before for my vertigo) and it would be relieved and I’d move on (like so many times before).  Well, not this time… 3 WEEKS OF CONTINUED VERTIGO and lots of balance/dizziness issues!  I was referred to a specialist at MA Eye and Ear, I got in quite quickly and was happy to have someone treat me while symptomatic, as I’ve ailed from these things before, but never this long. It’s always been only my words that could describe how I felt, until now.  Tests revealed some different abnormalities in brain function and a Brain MRI was ordered. The doctor suggested I take some time off from work and rest and relax, he ordered me to be out of work for the month until I see him again. I finally was able to stop holding my breath when I got the MRI results two weeks later, it felt like an eternity…  There were no tumors or aneurysms found! Phew!

I was put on a special Migraine Diet to help eliminate trigger foods in my diet. I was put on certain supplements to help my body and my mind.  I have been religious in following my protocol, keeping a diary of all symptoms and reporting for PT sessions. I will be going back to see the specialist next week.

The time the doctor has given me has allowed me to really slow down and see/feel everything for what it truly is.  The constant pain I feel in my arm, neck and shoulder are so prominent when I’m not having to push through everyday, the assessment of myself in the morning of the poor nights sleep I got due to tossing and turning from tinnitus interrupting my sleep, or neck, arm pain has been very eye opening.  Stabbing random headaches that seem to come out of nowhere are felt and documented.  I’ve come to realize how long have I been feeling (or NOT feeling) these things and the crazy amount of stress I’ve put on my body and mind trying to deal with it.  I found out a year ago this month that I have two herniated discs in my neck as well as an Arnold Chiari Malformation… I went to a neurosurgeon then to discuss this and he left it with me that if I lose motor control… not able to zip zippers or button buttons to come back to him.  I have been following that “rule” ever since, allowing myself to think that if all that is still intact then I must be okay.  The chronic pain, stiffness, constant aches, and weakness, tingling in my arm and hand are obviously taking a tole on me… I have begun to be more patient with myself and knowing fully now that my anxiety and new onset of depression certainly could be a result of these physical ailments.

Because the constant pain has been normal for so long, the new onset of constant worry and trying to find a root problem to my saddened state has allowed me to dig deep into my psyche and pin point things I felt were contributing.  I feel that this has added to my already emotional drain and fatigue.  I have taken a break from seeing my new therapist during this and will plan to see him again when I have more answers to my physical ailments.

It is reassuring to me to begin to put the puzzle pieces of “me” together and have a medical doctor really listening to what I’m feeling!  I feel like I’m on the road, I feel like I am taking care of me… I am finally paying attention to what I need! …I feel brave!

“A strong woman has the faith that she is strong enough for the journey … But a woman of STRENGTH has faith that it is IN THE JOURNEY that she will BECOME STRONG!”

~ Unknown

anxiety, communication, identity, purpose, self esteem

Feel the pain? Really?

They say letting the pain emerge is best… let it runneth over.

Accept it, acknowledge it, feel it. After having done a lot of self-help books and learning these things for myself, I felt like I couldn’t get to the point of forgetting, forgiving, and moving past it… so I began therapy. Its good, it’s okay. I’ve only been going 2 weeks. It’s weird ~ what crossed my mind after my last session ~ I didn’t expect it…

I realized my therapist is a stranger to me, I was in a state of need when I reached out to him, I went straight into my history… my “stuff”. When I got through that initial emergent feeling of needing help after having a prolonged sickness, after having been worn down, tired and vulnerable… I got back up and back into my routine… I began to feel regret for opening up so much. Regret for not just being the reclusive me and fighting through this alone like I always have. That is what I do… that’s been my go to.. I hide my pain, I have for a long time, hiding behind a mask is my norm.

As I continued to go and he would ask questions like “how I was doing” I felt strange, I almost felt defensive.

“What? You don’t believe I can handle this? … You don’t know me!! I fight, I survive, I am charming and lovely and I handle things with grace! That’s who I am! ~ Sorry that I allowed you to believe otherwise, forget all that! I’m fine!” I didn’t say this, it’s just been my internal feeling. I realize now … I’ve only shown him the weak, sad, the in need part of me … I am NOT that! WHAT AM I DOING? I have never shown that, I am regretful that I am doing that now! What is wrong with me? I’ve allowed my friends into this new version of me as well, often times I feel pitied and weak … I’ve always been the strong one. I have always had all the answers, People come to me for my strength and wisdom. Who is this person that goes and sits in front of a stranger and whines about her life?? He doesn’t know ME!! He doesn’t KNOW that I am GRATEFUL, BLESSED, STRONG, WISE, AMAZING!!!!! He doesn’t know that!!! I almost wish I never started … like could we just wipe away what I’ve said… I’m fine, I don’t need help!!

What is this? Why am I battling with my own self about this? I started out feeling brave to do this. I assumed it would bring me new confidence and understanding of myself … so far it’s only made me feel regretful… shameful for feeling… guilty for sharing… it’s almost made me feel weaker. Like I’m dwelling now on these things I’ve said out loud, almost feeling like a victim, I don’t want to feel like a victim!!!! I feel like I’ve shed my armor, an armor I’ve spent a lifetime creating for myself. I am out of my comfort zone. Is this part of the process?

Thank God I read something recently that said “if you question and think you’re going insane then you’re not” ~ it went on to explain how an insane person doesn’t stop to reflect, look inward and question it, they are just irrational and out of their own mind. I do have to say that’s brought me comfort. I am really struggling to know how to help myself right now.

The truth is I am going through a lot right now. I am still home from work due to illness… another one …I am stressed about that to say the least. I am seeing a medical specialist next week to try to get some answers to literally years of ailments, most of them having to do with vision, balance, migraines, and chronic pain. I am quite sure the sitting in this chair with pain, feeling isolated and sorry for myself, questioning why I can’t just be “me” without so much effort to feel normal, I remember when that came with ease. I am exhausted, I am frustrated, I am sad… I read and read… I ponder and research my thoughts trying and hoping to find answers.

I do try to snap out of this, try to tell myself to get up, get some fresh air… use my body and mind for something else but then I stand up and the dizziness takes over, I can’t, I literally can’t. It’s a horrible cycle that I don’t know how to stop. People who love me tell me to be patient with myself… I know this, I agree and I try, I honestly try.

I will again try… Baby step #1 will be to go to the specialist next week, not expect healing that day, but hope for understanding. I will pray for some answers, some explanation to what is going on. I will pray that he gives me something to do or focus on to begin to break free of this cycle, the fear, the anxiety and now I suspect some depression, from being out of commission, being and feeling so far from center for myself.

I promise myself… I will continue to try.

anxiety, clarity, identity, life, purpose, responsibility, self esteem

Asking for Help…

Well, my life until now has been defined as being “the helper”.  I have now decided I need the help. I have worked tirelessly to help myself through reading, gaining knowledge, looking inward, meditating, staying aware of my emotions… among other things.  This has been YEARS!  I have done a lot of healing on my own, through self awareness and soul searching.  As my children have grown into adults my time has been my own and I have been using that time to begin to heal.  I say “begin to” because I feel like I’ve done all I can do alone. I need help.

I began seeing a therapist this week.

I have mentioned in past writings that I have difficulty with transitions. I have determined that may be my biggest weakness with my anxiety.  I recently got very sick with pneumonia, I was out of work two weeks prior to our Christmas Break and then our break was two additional weeks.  I most likely over did it over the holiday with company and family time, that I refused to miss any parts of, therefore not allowing myself to heal fully over that time.  I honestly tried, and laid pretty low, but it clearly wasn’t enough rest.  When I returned to work on Monday, after having been away for 4 weeks I soon realized how difficult it was going to be. I knew I needed to return for my kids (I work in a first grade classroom) but physically I was very drained and my body began to react to that.  On Tuesday I went in convincing myself it was the “right” thing to do, I could not make it through the day… headache, body aches, upset stomach and rib pain from the torn cartilage I had from all the coughing through my sickness were just not something I could bear while trying to be positive and helpful in the classroom.  I went home and began to fall into an emotional wreck.  Crying and wondering when I would feel like me again and get back to my duties at school.  If you’ve followed me here as The Bountiful Mom over the years you will know that my home-work balance is something I’ve struggled with in the past.  My mind went wild with thoughts of people questioning me and my illness and my time out of work.  Most of what I was ailing from at this point is unseen, I’m not coughing anymore and I look okay.  I was, and am still, not okay!

I spiraled with thought.  Thoughts that twisted me up. Familiar feelings of guilt and shame. Feelings of questioning my own self… was I really still this sick or is this my anxiety now?  Am I convincing myself of the physical ailments in order to have something to blame my thoughts of anxiety on?  I reeled with overthinking! I had absolutely been here before.  I knew I needed help.

I searched the internet for counselors, therapists and doctors in our community who may be able to help me.  I’ve considered it before and even made a couple attempts at setting up appointments.  I always went with women and always skimmed over men when looking … I’m not even sure why? I guess as a mom and all my complexities of thought I assumed a woman would understand me better.  Then I came across a name I was kind of familiar with but not familiar enough that it deterred me.  What I mean by that is I live in a small remote community, so finding someone I do not know a lot about already or have a relationship outside of the therapy room had proved itself difficult.  This one somehow felt good, worth giving a try.  I called the number on the screen. I needed help.

To my absolute astonishment I wasn’t met with an answering machine or a voicemail. A male voice answered my call. I stuttered a bit as I began to speak, my voice broke as I began to feel weepy in my need.  He asked when I hoped to begin sessions.  I told him I was out of work and felt stuck. I asked about meeting today, explaining how I knew he was busy but… he stopped me, he said “How about 1:00pm?”  I was relieved and yet a bit scared. But, I needed help.

I feel brave and courageous. This has been a big step. That first day was good but it kind of began with my backstory … I didn’t really talk about immediate need which was getting over my sickness and getting back to work.  I left his office feeling hopeful for the weeks ahead and had a restful afternoon.  I had been to my primary doctor as well that day and had been advised to stay home another day and allow myself healing and rest, I was told the pneumonia had wreaked havoc with my body and I had to give in to it.  So, the next morning I did some of the home remedies suggested to me at my medical doctor and settled in to rest for the day.  I was once again overcome with thought in the quiet of my living room. Questions of what’s wrong with my immune system to make me not bounce back yet, how could I continue to do this to my coworker and my students? My new therapist had told me we could text if need be, he wouldn’t charge for phone sessions if I needed it on a whim… I decided to reach out again, that took courage.

I needed help.

He said “How about 1:00pm?”  I was so relieved, he was kind and understanding.  I went this time to talk about work.  My work-life balance that has seemed so off-balance for years.  I questioned it being aligned with my passion and if it is even the right job for me anymore? I talked about my own childhood trauma of anxiety and misunderstandings coming into play and being triggered by some of my student’s behaviors and cries for help.  He helped to restore some of the confidence I had lost over my physical illness, time spent alone at home in pain and basically he helped me to feel heard and understood.  I don’t talk about my anxiety to many people.  I feel judged by it. It is a label, not an understanding. From experience I have learned that when someone doesn’t battle with it themselves or have a loved one they have seen deal with it, they honestly can’t relate. It is hard for someone to understand what my brain allows me to believe when I am not at my strongest.  So… I keep it to myself.

After that appointment, I felt stronger and more confident than I had in weeks. I went to work the next day!! I struggled through my weakness and was there for my kids ~ with a fresher outlook on my abilities to return to them and be what ~ and who ~ they need.

I will continue with therapy.  He explained to me how much work I’ve already done on my own to get this far.  He said we are able to skip over so much that we have already reached the AP CLASS… he told me “Our time together… this won’t take long”.   That also has given me confidence. I am (and have been) working on me, a version of me that I love and respect. I know she’s in there, but sometimes the darkness traps me and I struggle to see the light again.

I asked for help and I am receiving help.

 

awakening, clarity, family, identity, life, peace, purpose, respect, responsibility, self esteem, time

I guess that’s why they call it work…

I have been in a working relationship with a difficult person for 10 years. I have attempted to look at this problem from so many points of view and perspectives that I have exhausted myself time and time again.  I am a fixer, if there is a problem I want to fix it. This one, there seems to be no fix. I have had to learn to “fix” from within.  This has been such a growing period in my life that I honestly feel as though this situation has been given to me. Like maybe I should even thank her for the struggle, because I am a stronger person for it.

I could call her names (I certainly have done that over the years)… she’s controlling, she’s heartless, she’s self-centered, she’s C-R-A-Z-Y!   What I’ve come to see and understand is that this doesn’t help me. Finding her faults and focusing on them doesn’t help me be better at who I am and how I conduct my work.  I have become stronger because I have learned to see my strengths and weaknesses through it all and work on them instead.  I cannot work on her… I cannot help her, I have to concentrate on helping myself.

Leaving was never an option. I absolutely love my job. I am very clear that it is my calling. I am very good at it, it is aligned with my passions and beliefs, and I will not give it up because we cannot get along.  I have been supported by my administration which has been a blessing. They see how valuable I am and I am proud of that.

My advice to people struggling with co-workers is to take all of it and look inward. Do not allow your ego to get involved. When my ego steps in and wants to take over it gets all befuddled. I need to stay focused and calm with my eye on my goal. The goal isn’t to beat her, be better than her, or to prove anything.  It is to personally have a good day, to do the job I am there to do and do it well. I have learned to leave my emotions at the door.  We do not speak about our personal lives to each other, we are strictly business and this works for us. I am such a social person that not having a personal relationship with someone I spend so much time with has been an adjustment, but with doing it I see it is for the best.

I do have to admit that I am in a new stage of life and it has helped me at work this year. My husband and I became empty nesters this year, our youngest has flown the coop and my home-work life balance is feeling much better. I believe I contributed to much of the “stuff” at work by having inner turmoil about not being able to be 100% at either place. I like to give all of myself to where I’m needed and I never felt fully respected for what I have had to give to my family over the years of working in this job.  I am on the other side of it now and my family is strong. My kids are succeeding, I have raised good humans and I am in my 25th year of a beautiful marriage. I pat myself on the back for where I am today and have also learned that I don’t need anyone else to do the “patting”, I know what I’ve done is right and I am stronger for it all.

As a mother, as a wife, as a daughter and as an employee I feel I have had to make my decisions day to day to where my loyalty has had to be. I will have to continue to do that and go forward having faith that it will feel balanced.  I plan to continue on this journey becoming stronger and better than I was yesterday. I’m happy with me!

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

adult children, anxiety, clarity, communication, identity, life, peace, purpose, raising kids, responsibility, school, self esteem, trust

Finding Ones Balance

How do I feel about my two adult children being prescribed medicine from a phsychiatrist in the last few months? Well, mixed emotions I suppose (like most things in my life). After all,  I am the one who suggested and advocated for the visit to the doctor.  Did I suspect medicine was a possibility?… Well the answer is, not really!?! Not right away.  Maybe get to know them and have an understanding of their lives before prescribing… but then I tell myself he’s a doctor – he looks at facts – he asked questions and he knows the proper answers. Well okay then, I understand.  But it is still my children, it is still their brains and bodies that are being altered.  But yes altered, altered because there is a possible chemical imbalance that is causing them to struggle, isn’t this what I wanted someone to help them with? Yes.

Do I fully understand medicine today and why it is so much more common than when my parents were children? No.  Do i want to learn? Yes. Do I look at my extended family and see alcoholism and struggle? Yes.  Do I want to find a way for my children to be successful and able to fulfill their own hopes and dreams? Yes.  Is medicine the answer to helping them through a difficult time so they can achieve this?  The answer here is… I have to put trust in their doctor and believe that they are well monitored. So yes.  Yes it is the answer for them for now.

I have also struggled in my life.  I ask myself the question “Am I trying to pave a smoother road for my kids than I have had?”  Isn’t that what parents do?  Is medication for them the correct answer for doing this? If I had been medicated for my anxiety would I have done all the soul searching that has led me to today?  Does medication take away creativity and true personalities?  Is this right for MY children???  I could ask 100’s and 100’s of questions and never have answers to them until it is tried for them as individuals.  I have to continuously remind myself that they are being monitored by both me and their doctor through the beginning stages of beginning the medicine.  This has been done thoughtfully and professionally.

Do I know whether or not medicine for me in the earlier years of my life would have helped me? No.  Do I think I may have been a better student or a better friend had I been medicated to help my anxiety and focus? No, I don’t know the answers to these many questions that flow through my mind… all I know for today is I helped my children to seek help for the way they were feeling and this is where it has led us.  Does there seem to be stigma attached to people on “meds”? Yes indeed there is. Should there be? No, there absolutely should not.  Each person is traveling their own journey… We all gain help along the way in different kinds of ways.  I am thankful that my children are on the path to self-understanding and learning about themselves and their bodies.  The medication they are on will help to regulate some of the things that have been out of sync for them and should help to put them back in balance.  Life is all about balance.

quotes-on-balance1-min-450x450

adolescence, communication, expectations, family, identity, marriage, raising kids, respect, school, self esteem, teenagers, toddlers, trust

All we expect is respect.

It seems to me that kids have a lot of expectations put on them today.  Expected to perform at high levels in school, in sports, and basically in life. When raising our children, my husband and I tried not to put a lot of expectations on them. We have found a foolproof way of transitioning through each phase of our children’s lives with just one thing expected: respect. We certainly didn’t set out 22 years ago as parents with any theories or agenda… we have navigated ourselves along with one simple basis for everything. Our three children, now 22, 18, and 17 were raised with my husband and I nurturing them, guiding them, and respecting them. We in return felt we deserved respect and used it as the foundation for each and every stage of their lives.

When they were young, even before the age of 2, our children were taught to understand respect. Even without language yet, there was unspoken communication happening. When they were told not to touch something, but they did anyway and looked to us for a reaction, we were teaching them then how we would handle such things. We were being tested, this set a basis for our forever relationship. If we were to say “no” to something, the follow through we exhibited was crucial to our bond and our trust. If we had not stayed true to every word we uttered to them as toddlers until this current day, I believe the trust and respect we share today could not have existed. Our oldest son said something to me once… I remember the exact spot we stood in the hallway by the kitchen, at the age of 16, towering over me… he said, “Mom, I don’t always like what you say, but I trust it.” That coming from my oldest child, at my first attempt at parenting a teenager, was a monumental moment for me. I knew in that moment that all the years of being true to my word was helping us in one of the hardest transitions of life.

We have honestly displayed to our children since day 1 of their lives that all we expect is respect. When they became school aged children we did not put great emphasis on grades. We did not have expectations set for how their letter grades on report cards should look. Our marks were always based on respect for teachers and authority at school. By learning that we had expectations of certain behavior at school the grades would easily follow. When they would uphold themselves a certain way and respect the school and the classroom, they learned respect for themselves and the learning happened.

When it came to sports we didn’t have expectations of how they would perform on the field or the court, it would be expected that they respect their coaches, the officials and their teammates. Their performance level would grow and grow due to them respecting themselves and others, and always working hard.

Our children’s social lives have always been nurtured as well. We have always put great emphasis on respecting relationships and friends. We have always welcomed their friends into our home as family members. I believe my marriage of 22 years is stronger everyday because my husband and I respect what each of us do financially and emotionally to contribute to the growth of our family. Our children are witness to that and it helps them to be better people.

Our society today puts so much emphasis on the wrong things. Raising children with morals and values and to have self respect will equip them for most anything. I am blessed to have been a stay at home mom until our youngest was five, caring for other people’s children to help out financially. If people could find ways of putting more effort into their families we would have stronger communities and stronger communities translates into even bigger successes for our entire culture. When people begin to realize that emotional wealth is more important than financial wealth. Our children’s well being should mean more than the car we drive or the house we live in.

When paying our monthly bills, I often strategize with numbers in hopes of paying more monthly to the principal of our home mortgage to pay it off earlier. To do this we would need to cut money in certain places, it’s always the “extras” that would have to go first. The “extras” in our life right now are weekend social expenses … that translates into our weekend trips to watch our son play football at college, visiting our daughter away at school and treating her out to a nice dinner, and/or the expense of buying pizzas and drinks for our 17 year old to host friends over for game night in the basement… Each and every time I consider cutting those expenses I know that we are doing the right things with our money. The investment in our children’s emotional well being far outweighs any desire I may have to cut some years off of our mortgage. What I see these days are bigger homes, fancier cars, fancy vacations, and kids who feel lost and disconnected. I have a strong wish for things to be different for future families. We need to get back to simpler times, less material things, and family togetherness.

I believe if all things could begin and end with respect we would all be better off. The definition for respect is ‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.’ Kids can learn to respect their peers, their parents, and most anyone. Teaching people to set aside ego and find things they admire in others can boost self esteem enormously. In today’s world we have to be careful to teach our children that you don’t respect someone just because they are your authority, respect is earned. It is important to learn respect for yourself as all other relationships hinge upon the one you have with yourself.

Finding ways to show our children they are special and important is the key to them learning to respect themselves and others. When we take time to really be present in their lives, they feel it. Being at sporting events, plays, or concerts… anything that is important to them makes them feel they are important. Photographing them at special times and just ordinary times shows them we care… then looking through old photos together bonds us and helps them to grasp the beauty of moments past and those yet to come. We always have had grand birthday parties, celebrating them and finding great joy in their existence!! We still have grand birthday parties at the ages of 15, 16, 17… Everyone loves a party!

We have found ways in our lives to honor and respect our children and they in turn learn how to do the same for us. Children have their own sets of woes and worries and when they do not feel like they are ‘less than’ just because they are ‘kids’, they feel respected. Let’s face it, the problems and obstacles they encounter each day are all relative to the ones we face.

“The family is the nucleus of civilization.”  ~ Will Durant

DSC_0334