Thursday, March 27, 2014

GOOD NEWS!

:) :) :)

yes, i just came from my second neurology appt and i have some GOOD NEWS!

back in 2011, i was diagnosed with a conversion disorder because of my episodes where i would lose function of my limbs, my eyes would cross, and i would jerk. i would also fall to the floor on occasion. my new neurologist, dr harney, listened to my symptoms and said, "no, you are having epileptic seizures, drop attacks and you have a channelopothy. the chanelopothy is rare. i see about 2 or 3 cases of it a year. this is when two ions are about to communicate at the nerve level and the gate opens to let a protein enter and it over fires. this over firing causes migraines, seizures, and other 'over functions.' (the gate can also be closed and not let the protein in.)" he explained it better and in a much more scientific way but the point here is that my symptoms are NEUROLOGICAL not psychological! and now that i am on medicine (topomax) that is WORKING to treat the seizures and i feel AMAZING! it has really given me a lot of hope for my, as s would say, bright future.

also, i haven't had any drop attacks - where i lose all muscle tone in my limbs and fall to the floor - and that's really nice!

we are adjusting the amount of topomax to get it just right so i don't have any 'foggy brain' feeling or 'floating away from my body' sensations. i'm so grateful for modern medicine and that it can help me get to where i need to be.

dr harney also said that there are no restrictions on my life - the biggest being driving! yay!

i feel good about how the appointment went and he seemed really pleased with my progress :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

a year ago today ...

.... i was released from inpatient.

march is a month of hard anniversaries.

i remember being so thrilled to be out of that place. i hopped in the front seat of dad's car and said, "i want paradise bakery's chicken salad sandwich on a croissant with a chocolate chip cookie please!" that was one of the things that kept me 'sane' in there. every bite was delicious.

new memories have come back of some not fun things i remember about being in there. and then i remember my roommate and how kind she was; some of the nurses and now sweet they were; the techs and how on top of it they were.

i am not where i was a year ago, that's for sure. i have made a lot of progress and grown a lot. after inpatient they put my into an intensive outpatient program where i met the director, chloe, who helped me so much along my journey. she gave me good advice and was key in leading me to susan. chloe was there three days a week to teach, listen and advise as i struggled with my depression.

also during this time i was transitioning from living on my own to moving in with my parents and not working full time. it was so hard but my parents stepped in and did so much of the heavy stuff that i couldn't do. i remember sleeping a lot. days and days. i just curled up in a ball and pulled the blankets over my head and wished the world away. so much of my stuff - what i felt like was my identity - was sold. it hurt. i cried.

then i started seeing susan and began dbt. instead of turning all of my emotions inward i had someone who would listen and help me understand their purpose and function and give me strategies on what to do with them. it was empowering. it has taken me 9 long, hard, work filled months to start implementing the skills in my life, but, they work! i'm proud of my accomplishments.

i told susan how amazing chloe had been in helping me and so she called her up and asked her to be our co-leader in group therapy. i love seeing chloe each week. she says she has seen some great progress in me.

i'm so grateful for a and that she stayed the night with me before i went inpatient. it insured that i did not act on any of the life ending thoughts running around in my head. she was sent as an angel from god to protect my life. i'm grateful for a dr who picked up on how serious my life ending thoughts were. i'm grateful for s and her validation that my time in inpatient was really hard.

god has surrounded me with amazing friends and professionals during this difficult time in my life to make sure that, though hard, it is a time of great growth. i see his hand as i look back on this past year. i am grateful for him leading and guiding me though my darkest time.



Friday, March 21, 2014

i don't have my shit together


i like to scroll through pintrest and imgfave at night - it relaxes me and i treat it kind of like looking at a magazine. anyway, i've been having some bummer days recently, and when i came across this it just hit me like - BOOM!

ya and TOTALLY! i don't have to have all my shit together by the time i'm 25. hell, my life is completely different from what i thought it would be back when i had a "life plan." things have not turned out AT ALL like i planned. and i'm slowly becoming ok with that. do i love it? no. but dbt teaches we radically accept reality as it is. reality is, i am where i am. doing what i'm doing. living life on life's terms. and i suppose in reality living the life god always planned for me to live. still doesn't mean i like it, but i can accept it.

i've been really worried this week about turning 25 in less than a month. it seems like such a big mile marker. a quarter or more of my life is over. and i feel like i have so little in my life to show for it. but that's a judgement about my life. i am worried about work and being able to handle more and wondering if i'll go back to school and how i'll pay for that and if/when i'll get married and how i will manage kids with my mental health and wanting to move out again but how will i make enough money for that and getting my own insurance and how will i pay for that and will i still be able to see susan a year from now and on and on and on my head races. see, i don't have my shit together.

but, if i can just S T O P. and breathe. and s l o w d o w n. and take a minute and look at what i have done and what i am doing i realize i am making progress. it is slow and paced progress and that's ok. i have to remind myself of this often otherwise i'm screwed and get super anxious. 

slow and steady. that's my goal. paced progress. measurable improvement. a little at a time.

left foot, right foot. one breathe, one moment, one thing at a time.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

my dear :

mamaw,

today is the third year anniversary of the day you passed on. wow - three years. so much has happened in my life during that time. i know you've been watching over me. i know you've been near. i've felt you especially near this past week, with dreams of you. you were so happy in the dreams. and i was bursting with joy to see you! you make my heart glad :)

i was looking back on my blog to see what i have written on past anniversaries. i was surprised to find nothing. then again, this day is really hard for me. you were such a bright spot in my life. i loved visiting you. oh, the final turn that led to your house. always - always - the car would be bouncing with us four kids going up and down, up and down, unable to stay in our seats any longer after 18 hours! you were the first person i wanted to hug and the last person i wanted to hold on to.

remember you took me to my first dirt race?! you'll make a red-neck out of me yet :p that was so.much.fun.! and remember the red hats we made together?! what a blast! now the great-grandkids try them on and do 'fashion shows' for us. i think that would've brought you a lot of joy. also, remember, holding my hand and rubbing your thumb across it? you were so sweet. your touch calmed me. i always wanted to sit by you. remember when we were younger picking berries? i got so messy! remember canning green beans and pickles? it got so hot in the kitchen even with all the fans going and the windows open! remember swinging on the front porch? i loved that.

i get really sad sometimes when i think that you won't be here to hold my babies or be at my wedding or that your voice won't be on the other end when i call your house. it's not easy to move on without you. i find myself wishing for one more day with you. i don't think i'd pack it full of things to do. rather, i think i'd just spend the time asking you questions and talking to you, laughing with you, making memories. boy, i sure do miss you like crazy.

two of my final memories of you and me is you laying in bed, breathing steadily, me reading a book in a chair next to you with my feet propped up on your bed, hands held, you rubbing my hand. the room was dimmed and quiet. i think time stood still in those moments. remember when i was sitting behind you and you asked, "where's rachel?" and i popped my head down right in front of your face and said, "i'm right here, mamaw!" and aunt ev said, "oh that's so cute, hold on!" and snapped this photo of us? guess what? i cherish this photo. it's my 'no regrets' photo of you and me. my 'always and forever' photo of us. i see it every day.



i will always honor your memory.
i will always remember you.
i will always keep you near me because i love you, forever.
love, rachel

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

waking up

i read this the other day and it made me pause :




now do i still think depression is a mental illness? yes, very much so. but i also think it's a state of deep rest for the brain and body. sometimes your mind just can't do all that you and others and life is requiring of you. and so you fall into a deep rest - usually at an inconvenient time - and stay there until you get the help you need to get out.

i call what i have experienced over the past mmmm year and a half practically a 'depression fog' : with the thoughts and plan for suicide getting me the help and course change i desperately needed. about a month ago i got on a high enough dosage of a medication that has really lifted me out of my 'depression fog.' it's like i'm waking up from the fog that took over my brain. i feel like i now have a baseline for normal again and can handle the ups and downs of life with more clarity. i'm remembering what it feels like to feel good and not just sad. instead of being only aware of how tired and drained i was i can now see other things like hope, healing, light. all of the darkness that surrounded me so oppressively is now seen with new, fresh eyes. it's not that it's gone, but that i am better able to handle the sad times. i feel more positive and re-freshed.

in a strange way, the fact that i had an anxiety attack on monday is actually a good thing :) because it means i'm looking forward in my life, making plans, anticipating things - and with that, in me - comes anxiety. so 'that old familiar pain' came rushing back and i was on the phone with susan within minutes calling for HELP to navigate my way out of the attack. even in the middle of it my brain was patiently helping me see that nothing could be done about my grand plans that night - i was reasoning with myself! it's amazing to see the changes that are happening.

in speech therapy i would always look for measurable changes. well one measurable change i see in myself is getting the trash ready to take out. it sounds simple but towards the end of me living on my own in my apartment i had trash bags lined up, ready to go to the dumpster, but the act of walking them out was too much for me. i remember filling a pizza hut box up with lots of water bottles and gogurts and snack bar wrappers. today i got my trash ready in a simple, smooth motion, and tomorrow i'll take it out. remembering how hard it was for me so many many months ago fills me up with compassion for myself. i had no idea how much i was struggling. how hard i was fighting to stay afloat. i needed resucing but i kept swimming out to sea.

through the process of getting on the right meds and being so tired i've mostly slept i have gained weight. it's something i can now talk factually about that even a month ago i would have been too shameful to even bring up. i don't want to stay this way forever, but the fact is right now, many of my clothes don't fit well and they are 2 years old. and seeing as i've been in a 'depression fog' i'm pretty literal when i say that i've worn the same pair of 3 pants and 5 shirts these past years. no thinking put into it. it was just on automatic. but as i've been changing on the inside and working with susan my outside has been wanting to change and i had a little extra money so with a prayer for courage i went shopping and got 5 new pairs of pants and 10 new shirts! :) and i feel good about it.

also regular showering has been hard for me. and my hair has stayed in the style i dubbed 'depressed bun.' so susan and i made a goal for me to shower every other day and fix my hair once a week. i feel like i can do it. and not only can, but want to. it's amazing to see how these little changes are shaping me into a better, more stable and able person.

i couldn't have gotten this far without so many people, but the truth of it is i wouldn't have gotten anywhere without my savior. he has been there for me, depressed days, hopeless days, lonely days, and has brought me through to a greater and promised, beautiful, bright, hopeful day. it is because of him that i have joy in my journey, whether through sadness and struggle or happiness and smiles. i would be nothing without him. he is my joy and strength.




"come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and i will give you rest."
matthew 11:28

Saturday, March 8, 2014

"daring greatly"

last weekend i went to the texas speech and hearing association conference to earn my 20 hours of continuing education credits to keep up my license for work. the keynote speaker was brene brown who is a hero of mine. i was so thrilled when i heard she was going to speak! it has been a secret dream of mine to hear her speak in person. the reason she is one of my heroes is because she is the first person who got me thinking about shame when it came to my depression. did i have something to be ashamed of? was my depression my fault and something i needed to fear and hide? i decided the answer to these questions was NO and that my story was worth telling. so with her book the gifts of imperfections in hand i started this blog. she inspired me to live a life above shame, when - as i've later learned from susan - it doesn't 'fit the facts.'

at the conference she spoke about living a life of vulnerability - which is courage, not weakness - and how when you do so you open yourself up to so much more. she talked about doing this in a way she called 'daring greatly' and i fell in love with that term. it brings to my mind so much positive power in how you can direct the course of your life and influence for good the lives of those around you. she quoted teddy roosevelt as stated below : 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

what a beautiful image of the human spirit this brings to mind! can't you just see this man fighting the great fight?! conquering his demons and at best triumphing over them and at worst failing but doing so greatly?! 

there have been so many days and weeks when i have seen no light at the end of the tunnel - no hope - no 'out' - where i have fought my depression and seemingly failed. there were hopeless times - if you've been a reader long enough you've read them here! - but these past few weeks many things have come into a better alignment for me. a HUGE factor has been the right dosage of a good medicine. it has helped me find a new normal to deal with all the ups and downs of life with a better attitude and has lifted me from the depressed fog i seemed to have been living in for so long.

i don't know if i will stay where i am for a short time or a long time. susan says the dbt way is to take the good days as they are and deal with the bad days when they get here. but i hope that in any case i will begin to live my life 'daring greatly.'