Thursday, May 25, 2017

Stop It

Dear Overwhelmed Girl/Boy,

Stop.

You have done too much for too long. It is not fair to yourself (I won't even mention family, friends, children, spouses, etc) to keep up this unrealistic pace.

Where is it written that you have to do everything? Where is it written that you have to say "yes" to all that is asked of you? Where is it written that saying "no" makes you a bad person and therefore you should feel shame and guilt?

My dear Overwhelmed Girl/Boy, the answer to those questions is - NOwhere. NOwhere is it written that you must be all and do all. The thought of being perfect and doing everything perfectly is so overwhelming, you will drown in that thought alone. Perfection is an illusion. Reality is, your best, which changes from day to day based on your physical, mental, and emotional health THAT day, is enough.

Why are you so hard on yourself when you would never react that way to another person? Why do you hold yourself to such high standards when you would give any other person the benefit of the doubt? Why are you allowing yourself to be run over by excessive demands in life?

I understand that there are basic needs you must meet for yourself and/or spouse/children. But beyond that YOU have the power of decision on your side. You are allowed to say "no." You are allowed to put limits on what you will give (amount, time, effort, etc). You do not have to be pushed around by someone else's idea of what you should be doing.

I guarantee you, NO one is doing it all. NO one is living up to the perceived perfection you think you see. EVERY person has a breaking point. EVERY person reaches a point where she/he must decide, "Is it worth it? Is what I'm putting my energy into worth it? Is it worth my worries, thoughts, fears to stay focused on this?" Often, what is taking up MOST of our energy is of LEAST worth.

So, my precious Overwhelmed Girl/Boy, take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. And allow yourself to truly let go of the unrealistic and embrace the realistic. Realistically, you will get 1/4th of the things on your "to-do" list done today, if that. And you know what, Precious One, that's more than enough. Realistically you will need to ask for help. There are seasons of helping and seasons of receiving help. Please do not judge one as better than the other. Both seasons have their purpose. 

Spending time Judging yourself is wasted energy. Why Judge what is when you could instead be breathing in calm and gently going about your day, one activity at a time? Please, find time to sit and rest. Carve out space in your day for gentle rejuvenation. Whatever that looks like for you: laying on a blanket in the sun; getting your favorite cool drink; treating yourself to some hand picked flowers; going through the drive through for chips and queso; napping when your babies nap; putting on an hour movie and napping on the couch while your babies watch TV; asking a friend to come over and paint your nails; trading off meal making days with a friend; and on and on.

You, my Sweet Overwhelmed Girl/Boy, are more than enough, just as you are.

Please, just be.

And trust that all is well.

xoxo (<--- click-able)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Frequently Sick

Once again, there is so much I want to say about being sick. But I'm going to simplify the process for myself. I will bullet point what has happened while mixing in the lessons I've learned, the blessings I've seen from being sick, and the questions I've asked regarding being sick.

- Why do bad things happen to good people? Why are babies born pre-mature? Why do typically developed babies have traumatic births resulting in severe physical and/or mental limitations? Why did I go into my 20's before having severe difficulties with my mental health? Why do the innocent have to suffer? 

- The answer Heavenly Father has given me to these questions is, "Because it brings them to me." And I agree with that. 100%. I have prayed more in the last 8 years than perhaps the previous 20 combined. I have felt sadness so deep that I knew only Christ understood. I have fallen at the feet of my Savior and begged him for help. I have sobbed in the arms of my Heavenly Father many nights, seeking comfort and strength to carry on another day. When life is going well, I pray, but my prayers can take on a staleness. When life is hard, beyond what I know I can do, my prayers are thorough and take on a sincerity only pain/suffering brings.

- I have been so sick this year physically. I've had horrific colds, the flu, a sinus infection, and am currently trying to figure out a mystery illness. I miss feeling well. I miss sleeping at night and being able to breathe without coughing. I miss the energy that comes with being well.

- Being sick has allowed me to really appreciate all the things that I easily took for granted: not having a sore throat/not noticing my throat at all instead of counting down the hours until I get to take Aleve again; having a small, regular cough in the morning instead of an all day cough that often triggers my gag reflex; having a clear head, not one swirling with mucous; the amazing job my nose does at warming the air I breathe instead of needing a humidifier for weeks to do that work for me; waking up and feeling like I can handle the day instead of waking up daily and having my only thought be, "I honestly feel like I'm a thousand years old;" not having to go to the doctor all the time instead of weekly trips to some doctor.

- In the midst of all of these negatives - I still see incredible blessings, not the least of which is having insurance. My dad works so hard at his job and a huge blessing of his job is insurance coverage. I am able to get the treatment I need because he works. Another great blessing is not having a regular part or full time job. What a strange blessing, but it has been amazing to see Heavenly Father provide for me financially while still giving me time to rest and heal. I tire easily and any interruption to my system takes me a few days to recover from.

- So, you see, much good has come to my life from being frequently sick this year. Ya, it sucks. But I was told in a Priesthood Blessing that "this sickness will not last for the rest of your life. You will be able to figure out what's wrong, get the appropriate treatment, and move on. You already have more than enough trials for one person in their life and what is currently going on will not be an ongoing trial." I will reflect on that promise from Heavenly Father when I feel my worst. He knows me, He loves me, and He will heal me. I will be responsible and go to my doctor appointments, then trust that Heavenly Father is leading me to where I need to be. There are no mess ups or mistakes in His plan.

Monday, May 15, 2017

4 months have passed

My Dear Blog (and Readers),

It has been an eventful 4 months. I'm sorry I haven't written for so long. I built up writing to be big - TOO big - that I couldn't do it. The words would not flow from my fingertips as they do now. SO much has happened. I am progressing and living life. But to stop and write about it felt like a burden instead of a blessing; an energy-sucker. My energy is sacred and I can't afford to invest it in activities that don't fill me. So, I took a break. During this time I have thought about how I would blog my experiences without spending hours trying to create something perfect, instead of the realistic, good enough. I have found the middle path of good enough and am ready to blog again.

The following (and maybe more) blogs will be written (hopefully) this week (and post-dated to match the time when they actually happened):

January 19th: Quitting my Job as a Night Receptionist

February 14th: Valentine's Day - A Day FILLED with Love

March 19th: Standing Up for My Mental Health: Quitting My "Preschool" Job

March 24th: Passion and Purpose (Jamie!)

April 6th: Meeting DAYNA!!!

April 18th: Joyfully Celebrating 28 Years! 

April 16th: Easter!

April 30th: Nessa's Greenhouse 

May 6th: Picture with Jesse the Screech Owl :)

May 14th: Mother's Day

May 16th: Frequently Sick (2/10; 3/4; 3/11; 3/15; ER; Onions)

With Love and Hope,

Rachel


Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Quit

*I am going to bullet point what happened leading up to the decision to quit my job as a night receptionist - my goal is to keep this simple for myself.*

- I noticed an increase in anxiety before work going into work the end of October/beginning of November.
- I was unhappy and uneasy at work. There were many changes going on and I began to feel unsafe.
- The middle of January I came to the conclusion that I needed to quit.
- Wow. There were specifics that happened. People Heavenly Father sent to help guide my thoughts, but I didn't write it down at the time, and I cannot remember the specifics of what happened.
- I just know that the days leading up to telling my supervisor I was quitting were filled with horrific anxiety. I was not able to sleep, I was experiencing more dissociation, and the day I told my supervisor I was quitting, I had nausea and diarrhea all.day.long.
- My supervisor was amazing. She suspected I was going to quit and that things in the evening were worse than I was letting on. I did give her my two weeks notice but due to the reaction and words of a co-worker, my supervisor did not let me come back.
- I had an episode in her office and had to have mom come and get me. It was such an unfortunate way for things to end.
- I am still sad that I did not get to say goodbye to the clients. There are two in particular who really meant a lot to me. It's so sad that one day I was there and the next I was not.
- All things happen for a reason. I believe my 18 months at that job were filled with learning and purpose. I wanted to hang on tight and not quit until I had another job lined up. Heavenly Father kept telling me that I needed to quit first before the way would be shown. 
- For a long time, I have been angry with my body for shutting down in stressful situations. This anger is shifting to immense gratitude. For weeks leading up to talking with my supervisor, my body was telling me that the work setting I was in was not right for me anymore. Anxiety increased, dissociation increased, ticks/twitches increased, sleep decreased - all signs that the stress was too much.
- I believe quitting was the best decision for me.
- Heavenly Father knows all and even though I do not have another job right now, I feel at peace. I am doing my part and my life is in His hands. He knows what is coming - He is providing - and all will be well.
 

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Perfect Day

Sometimes, Heavenly Father gives us the perfect day.

I had to say goodbye to my dear friend Caroline on Friday. I didn't know how I was going to do this or how the time leading up to our goodbye would go. I desperately needed Heavenly Father's help but didn't know what to say in a prayer. So I kept it simple and as I pulled up to their house quickly uttered, "Heavenly Father, help." 

From the moment I stepped into their house to my final hug with Caroline, the day was perfect. Caroline and I went to pick up the kids from a friend's house and I was greeted with hugs, smiles, and happiness! While there I noticed that my shirt was on backwards and went into the bathroom to switch it around but didn't lock the door. In came Emma and Ian - I loved it! Ms Emma had to go to the bathroom and asked for help and Ian climbed in the tub lol I got to buckle them into their car seats when we left and talk with them all the way to McDonald's where we had lunch. Both Emma and Ian wanted to sit by me (I felt so loved!) and Emma snuggled up next to me, looked up and said, "I love you, Auntie Rachel." My heart melted. At one point I had my arms around both of them and we snuggled while waiting for our food. Emma and I played a few amazing rounds of rock, paper, scissors, and I loved seeing the joy on her face when she won. We went home and while Ian took a rest, Emma and I played in my car. I got to introduce her to "doing donuts" not "eating donuts" HA! When I said "Do you want to go do donuts?" She said, "I love donuts!" I then explained what that meant and she still had a good time! We stayed at the top of her cul-de-sac and kept it under 1 MPH so she got to sit buckled up in the front seat. It was so much fun! Ian woke up and I sweetly found myself with Ian on my left leg and Emma on my right leg, snuggled up for some cuddles and TV. Caroline walked by and said, "Don't move. You're not allowed to help pack." I didn't fight that at all. I sat in that moment, soaking in how much I loved them, and let the tears fall as I experienced sadness that they would be far away. I'm so grateful for the skills I have now to not push the emotions away, but rather, let them come, and know that they won't last forever. They had a snack and then we all went out to play in my car. I asked them if they wanted to drive my car - crazy, I know, but I couldn't help it! One of my favorite memories is sitting on my Dad's lap, "driving" the car! Emma was thrilled and actually did a really good job! Ian was content to honk the horn ha! We did some more donuts and then I introduced them to the magic that is my non-automatic windows! They had a blast rolling up and down my windows. I was so happy to have their finger prints all over my windows - it'll be a long time before I wash my car. Next we went to the giant truck they had rented and I encouraged them to run around in it :) Because I'm cool like that. I loved every second of their running and giggles. All throughout the day I kept wanting to pull out my phone and record what was happening - but Heavenly Father encouraged me to just live in the moment, to be fully present, and completely enjoy them. (We later found out that there were two huge nails sticking up from the floor of the truck bed and the kids had been running around there without shoes on! I know Heavenly Father sent angels to watch over them so they didn't hurt their little feet.) They got to explore the cab of the truck and then I gave them a "treat" (hello reese's pieces) from my purse. Oh the simple joys of chocolate and peanut butter. I knew it was almost time to take them to their cousins' house and began to panic a little. The drop off was quick but filled with precious moments. Emma hasn't been into having her picture taken recently, but she happily came and gave me a tight tight hug and took a few pictures with me. She was so silly and said, "Pretend we're married and dip me!" LOL That girl is SO fantastic! I told her how much I loved her and that I would come visit soon to see her new pink room. Then Ian came too without tears and let me give him big hugs and kisses and said he wasn't going to show me his room when I came to visit but would go with me to the beach HA! Saying goodbye to Simon was so hard - I didn't have any good words to say. I'm just so grateful for his friendship, for how happy he makes my dear friend, and for the amazing dad he is to my niece and nephew. I hated saying goodbye to Caroline. I could've hugged her for days. She has been the answer to so many of my prayers. Her influence in my life has been tremendous. She IS an angel Heavenly Father sent to watch over me. Looking back on the day, it was perfect in so many ways. The kids were delightful. I needed all of those hugs and "I love you, Auntie Rachel" and reassurances that I matter to them. They are so precious to my heart and knowing I am important to them means the world to me. I needed the snuggles at McDonald's and on the couch. At one point while we were playing in my car, I had Ian climbing all over me and Emma showing me tricks and bumping into me. I felt like I was reaching my "touch" limit, and then had the thought, "This doesn't happen very often. Relax and enjoy it because you'll look back on this moment and miss it." That has proven to be true. I do miss the climbs and bumps. They translate into, "I love you." I am so happy they made it to FL safely. I'm so thankful for facetime and phone calls and texts and facebook and pictures - all of these things will help the distance be a little less painful.

 
Saturday night Mom and I were talking in the family room when she said, "I want to tell you how proud I am of you for getting genuine joy from other people's children. It's a very Christ-like quality to find joy in something that you could be upset about. Right now you want children and a family of your own and you could feel bitter towards Heavenly Father that you don't have those things. But instead, you are reaching out and finding joy in other people's children. It's an endearing quality." I was so touched by her words. I had never thought of my love for my friends' babies and children in this light before, but I was so thankful for my Mom's insight. I feel happy and loved when I'm with these little ones. I can't help but feel joy. I know my time to be a mommy will come. I believe it will come. And until then, I'm going to love the children Heavenly Father has put in my life.

Tonight I'm feeling especially grateful for Heavenly Father's hand in my life. He has given me so much - a perfect goodbye and lots of babies to love. My heart is full.


 







Monday, December 26, 2016

Flowing Slowly

Christmas was different this year. Slower. I feel like it flowed easier. Chris was in a motorcycle accident Thursday (12/22/16) and spent the night in the hospital. I know there were angels keeping him safe. He could've died. But he didn't. He is going to be ok, though the whole thing is still ridiculously scary.
I've felt stronger and more capable this year. There is a direct parallel between my awareness of limits and my ability to accomplish things. I know what I can give and how much is too much. It has been incredibly self-reinforcing for me to give myself permission to do or not do.

With Chris's accident on Friday, Mom needed help shopping for Christmas Eve and Day dinners. Becca and I did that and again, I was confident in my ability to know when enough was enough. We did a great job and all things flowed well. Christmas Eve I wanted to go shopping for a few things. I wanted to test myself and my skills - to see if I could manage my anxiety and conversion symptoms under increased stress. Truly with God's help I did amazing! 3/4ths of the way through my shopping trip at Kohl's I realized I was panicking. In the moment I was able to talk to myself, "You're going to be ok. You really are. You have your cold water in the car. You can take your anxiety medicine. Oh, you're hot. You can sit in front of the AC in the car and rest. You're doing great. You really are! Breathe. You're going to be ok because you just are." I was so happy with my ability to talk myself off the "Cliff of Panic" and back to a safe zone where I could manage my symptoms. I realized after cooling down in the car that I was hungry - so I gave myself permission to eat out. The whole experience was really very validating of all the hard work I've done in DBT over the past 3 1/2 years and reinforced to me that I have the skills to cope with life.

One of the coolest things that's happening is that I have energy after coming home from errands. Even as recently as 4 months ago, I was toast after 2 errands and had to come home to nap for 2-3 hours. Now, I'm switching to a more normal routine - I sleep better if I don't nap and I'm able to do cooking/baking/cleaning after errands if I give myself 10-15 minutes of "sit and stare chair time." How amazing is that?? For years, I honestly thought I would never be able to function without a daily nap. I didn't think I would be able to do more than 1 or 2 things in a day. I thought I would always have psychogenic seizures. Because of these thoughts my life seemed pretty doomed. I'm stunned to say that I was wrong! Promises of healing from God are happening! Not in the way or time I expected, but they are coming. I see being able to shop at 3 different stores, come home and make 3 different dishes for dinner, and clean up after dinner as a huge healing! Last year I wasn't able to do one of those things - and if you had told me, "In a year, you're going to do 7 different big things in a day!" I would've started to cry - because I thought I knew there was no way that would ever be possible.

To my joy, it has been possible! I'm so grateful for the rhythmic flow of life. Yesterday was Christmas - Chris is bed-bound for the next few weeks and Sarah got really sick. So we all "flowed" with the day. Stockings, church, breakfast for lunch, presents, naps, and we gave ourselves permission to not make Christmas dinner! It was amazing. We did that tonight - it flowed so well. I was extremely pleased with our flexibility as a family. This has been an odd Christmas in the sense that one of our loved ones was in a serious accident 3 days before Christmas. It changed everything. But we adjusted and moved slowly accordingly.

I am doing better and better at living in the moment. Being present and attentive to the here and now. Tomorrow will take care of itself and yesterday has passed. So I'll just be here for now.

I am not angry or dreading the new year like I was last year. Oh my word. I read my post in December of last year and January of this year. WoW. I look back at myself with compassion. The me then was terrified and depressed. Two horrible feelings to have together. Life had lost so much of its meaning for me. But, I kept going. I remember how sad January was. The whole month I was afraid and depressed - "afressed." But I survived it and went on to conquer 6 months of exposure therapy - launch a successful GoFundMe campaign (THANK YOU FOR DONATING!!!) - go on 5 different trips - make tons of fun crafts for Christmas gifts - and I could go on and on. There have been so many big and little things that have happened this year. Some of my favorite little things have been becoming in-tune with my body. I have been able to talk to my body calmly and compassionately. For example, a few weeks ago I had been sick for 2 weeks. I literally couldn't stop going to the bathroom. I prayed for help in understanding what was wrong and then talked to my body, "Body, I know you're hurting. I am aware that something is making you unhappy. I really want to help you get better. Please help me understand what is wrong so I can fix it for you." Later that day I was able to identify a supplement I was taking too much of, adjust the dosage and ta-da! I was better. Showing compassion to my body has been a huge step for me. This time last year I was writing about how much I hated my body. But within the last two months, a love for my body has been growing. I see myself as beautiful. I see my body as a tool to help me live my life to its fullest. When it's sick, that's feedback for me. That's my opportunity to look at it with compassion and say, "Yes, you've been working so hard, you're doing so much for me, what can I do to help you feel better and be more efficient?" I love being kind to my body. It's been a blessing to have compassion for myself.

This year, I can say with confidence, "I'm not where I was a year ago and I'm not where I'll be in a year!"

I'm going to enter 2017 with an open curiosity for life. I will not spend time worrying about issues that are out of my hand. Instead I will invest my energy in positive, uplifting thoughts and activities.

Maybe the Best really is yet to come. :)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Time to Mourn

It's hard to be ok. To smile and look the part when inside I'm crumbling. My anxiety took a hard hit this week. My mind has been frantically "rabbit-holing" all week. I hate November 18th. I thought I would have more peace or at least more acceptance this year, but it actually just sucked. It's an "anniversary" that haunts me and in its goulish voice it whispers lies that I'm too weary to negate. I've heard these lies for years and when I'm vulnerable they come crashing onto my shore, stealing away the peace I had. I could feel the episode (seizure is such a harsh word and not everyone agrees that that's what it should be called - so I'll say episode) building all week. The stress was written on my face. The increased depression effected my energy. The anxiety tried to escape as I relentlessly picked at my skin, fingers, and toes. What goes up must come down. The pressure was too much inside of my mind and body. Today it came down through multiple episodes. I hate the episodes. I hate being in my body but not being in control. And crying. And feeling scared. I feel so scared. I want it to end as soon as it begins but I have to let it run its course. There is no out. This IS the out. After I cried for a few minutes I decided to take my time in the episodes to pray. To pray for peace and calm. To pray for my body. To pray for my mind. And I pled with Heavenly Father to give me strength through Christ's Atonement to overcome this. Or to at least have the strength to carry this trial. I asked Him to give me a picture of me and Christ - something I could think of while my body is away. Into my mind came the scene of me and Christ on "My Path" - my long winding path that eventually leads home to heaven. The path rolled up and down over hills and disappeared in the distance - I couldn't see the destination, just the path. There on the right side of the road was me sitting, knees pulled to my chest, arms crossed over them, head buried in my arms, with my hair falling around my face and tears streaming from my eyes. I couldn't go on. I didn't want to go on. My Path looked much too long and difficult. So I sat. And there next to me was the Savior, left arm around my shoulders, knees bent and right arm resting on his knees, face looking off into the distance. He was there, offering his quiet understanding. He knows I'm tired. He knows I don't want to keep walking. And he understands that for this moment I'm not ready to move at all or be carried by him. I simply need to sit on "My Path" and mourn. I need to mourn the heartache from returning early from my mission 6 years ago; the disappointment from missing out on get-togethers with friends after having episodes; the fear that I'm damaged goods and no man will want to be with me or walk My Path with me; the anger over losing so much independence; the relentless thoughts that I won't make a difference in the world because I'm "sick;" the hurtful comments from doctors that I'm faking the episodes and that nothing's wrong with me; I need to mourn a loss of self - a loss of the idea of who I was, what I was going to become, how I was going to accomplish life. Everything is different. I'm different. Some days I can see the progress - I can see the good - I can see Her/Me through a loving-kind lense. And other days I want the me I grew up thinking I was going to be, back.