Thursday, July 31, 2014


remember i wrote about walking for a coach purse 6 weeks ago??

well, that got changed a little when i contacted my amazing friend and artist, aelias, and asked him to paint me something very specific.

my prize for walking 30 minutes 3 times a week for 6 weeks changed from a coach purse to a painting by him :)

and i couldn't be more thrilled with it!

i just finished my goal yesterday and my prize serendipitously came in the mail today!

let me explain what i wanted aelias to paint.

if memory serves me right, the idea came to me after coming out of inpatient and dealing with my, what third 'round' of depression, that i wanted a tear drop tattoo on my left hand, middle finger, right side, with the colors blue, teal, and purple, to represent/honor the sadness and suffering i have gone through on my journey through the past almost 4 years since coming home early from my mission.

when i picture it in my mind i always see it in this place and in those specific colors.

 i was so excited to get this - it was revision number 3 ;) look at that detail!

the tear drop represents the many tears i have cried over the trials i have experienced these past four years with anxiety, depression, seizures, and pcos. not knowing fully their purpose or when i would see their end.

i do not feel comfortable committing to a tattoo so i decided to use one of my dbt skills - alternate rebellion - and had aelias paint this image for me!

i also wanted the quote "god hears tears like a prayer" in the painting and he did an incredible job of tying it in with flowers (roses, my favorite which he didn't know!) and decorating the wrist with pearls (something else that is my favorite which he also didn't know!).

i couldn't believe my eyes the day he sent this to me - i was amazed

i cannot take my eyes off the painting. i have LITERALLY taken it with me everywhere since i got it today - to work - to the store - and to group therapy. i'm even going to keep it next to me tonight. it means so much to me. aelias has done more than bring an image in my mind to life - he has helped validate some of the most painful and sorrowful moments and memories i have experienced so far. 

this is a piece of artwork i will treasure forever, just like the one my sweet cousin, britney, painted for me in the post i wrote about here.

and the great news is, he's for hire!

follow him on instagram @aeliasmcham - contact him with art work requests. you won't be disappointed :)

the finished product in a special frame, this picture doesn't do it justice,
 - come over so i can show it to you in person - 
it's stunning and 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

sadness, cupcakes, and skills

writing is what i do. it's what i know. when i need to think clearly or get something straight in my head, i write.

i consider the week monday - sunday, so earlier this week i had a situation that did not turn out as expected. i keep a daily dbt diary card for susan and started noticing increased sadness in my days. i knew i was feeling sad but didn't know what it was connected to. after calling susan and having her 'coach' me over the phone i did some journaling and was able to connect the sadness to the situation that happened.

the sadness fit the facts because it did not tun out as expected but it was not effective because it was lasting so long and i didn't want to feel sad. so i decided to really use my skills - especially opposite action - and work on decreasing my sadness and increasing my happiness.

thursday was when all of this came together and it also happened to be the day when i had dbt group therapy. when i started dbt with susan 15-ish months ago i committed for a minimum of a year and to attend a group at least once a week (once i was comfortable in individual sessions). at first group was hard to go to - new people, homework - but now i LOVE it and really look forward to it each week. in group we learn the skills of dbt and have opportunities to practice them with our homework and work through situations with each other. it's really great.

i decided that as my opposite action for sadness on thursday i would make cupcakes. if you'll recall from an earlier post i love cupcakes and they really make me happy. i made them for my group and we were able to use them as our mindfulness practice that night. i also really participated in the activities of my day and worked on being in the moment instead of worrying about what was to come.

i found that as i used this skill my sadness decreased! as a reward for making it through this week of difficulty i got my nails painted blue - it is my way of honoring the sadness i have felt - and got a JUMBO cupcake from bliss cupcakes and confections. it's the best cupcake shop i have come across so far and it's worth the drive no matter where you live! seriously! i consider myself a regular now :)

what emotion are you feeling and how can you increase or decrease it through skillful actions?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

my darling and adorable aunt e!

god has blessed me with some incredible people along my journey throughout my whole life, but in particular these past almost four years as i have struggled with depressive episodes, anxiety, seizures, and pcos. one of my greatest supporters and cheerleaders has been and continues to be my aunt e.

she is incredible. if every person had just a fraction of the kindness and compassion she has, the world would be a gentler place to live in. years ago, she started sending me cards just because she loves me. cards to cheer me up, pick me up, lift me up. and each time they would arrive at the perfect moment. it would be a breath of fresh air, a hug in an envelope. i knew she was thinking of me, praying for me, and encouraging me from miles away.

she has one of the sweetest voices you will ever hear. it is soft and gentle with a slight kentucky accent :) she is always the first person to volunteer to help out at her church or to help someone in need. aunt e does things all the time without anyone knowing. it is just the type of person she is. she spends lots of time with her grandkids, making memories with them and being the kind of grandma they will love forever.

she reminds me so much of mamaw : sweet, gentle, loving, kind, compassionate, decent, funny, understanding. i think mamaw knew i couldn't make it through the rest of my life without her (mamaw) so she sent in her best likeness, her daughter, aunt e! with so many characteristics of mamaw i often think aunt e is my guardian angel and look to her as my aunt, godmother, friend, and "mamaw."

my life has been so richly blessed because of aunt e. she always comments on my blog posts, saying how applicable they are to everyone and how proud she is of me. she has done so much for me - so much to better my life. 

i love her with all my heart.

i love you, aunt e!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

a parable from my life

as i've been thinking about my situation with the a/c in my car going out, it has occurred to me that there is a parable here. a deeply powerful and spiritual one. first i will start with a story my car situation reminded me of, then i will relate it to me, and finally i will relate it to my Savior and his atonement.

this story is by stephen e robinson and is called the parable of the bicycle

"I was sitting in a chair reading. My daughter, Sarah, who was seven years old at the time, came in and said, “Dad, can I have a bike? I’m the only kid on the block who doesn’t have one.” Well, I didn’t have the money then for a bike, so I stalled her. I said, “Sure, Sarah.” She said, “How? When?” I said, “You save all your pennies, and soon you’ll have enough for a bike.” And she went away. A couple of weeks later I was sitting in the same chair when I heard a “clink, clink” in Sarah’s bedroom. I asked, “Sarah, what are you doing?” She came to me with a little jar, a slit cut in the lid, and a bunch of pennies in the bottom. She said, “You promised me that if I saved all my pennies, pretty soon I’d have enough for a bike. And, Daddy, I’ve saved every single one of them.” My heart melted. My daughter was doing everything in her power to follow my instructions. I hadn’t actually lied to her. If she saved all of her pennies, she would eventually have enough for a bike, but by then she would want a car. I said, “Let’s go look at bikes.” We went to every store in town. Finally we found it—the perfect bicycle. She was thrilled. Then she saw the price tag, and her face fell. She started to cry. “Oh, Dad, I’ll never have enough for a bicycle!” So I said, “Sarah, how much do you have?” She answered, “Sixty-one cents.” “I’ll tell you what. You give me everything you’ve got and a hug and a kiss, and the bike is yours.” Then I drove home very slowly because she insisted on riding the bike home."

i LOVE this story! sarah did her best and her dad made up the rest. this fits perfectly for the situation with my car. i was talking with susan yesterday in our session and i told her that i really feel like i am making some excellent progress in my life. i am on a steady incline - working everyday, exercising regularly, going on outings daily, participating in new activities, being creative, doing things i enjoy, using my skills, and my list could go on - and for the first time in many months i have been continuously happy. i feel like this is me at my best. i am not making a lot of money doing these things. learning a lot does not always equal paychecks in a monetary sense. when i found out the dollar amount of what it would cost to repair my car i felt ill. i simply did not have the money. my dad was there when i found out and the first thing out of his mouth was, "i can split the cost with you." that became the solution! his generosity took me from ill to ok! i was then able to use my skills to cope with my feelings on unexpectedly spending so much money on my car. i feel like what was required of me in the moment was the same required of sarah : rachel, what do you have? "x amt of dollars.... give me all you have and i will make up the rest. a father is happy to help out his children." those are the exact words he said to me. i will never be able to pay my dad back - maybe one day monetarily - but for his attitude of generosity - i can only hope to carry that spirit on to my children.

and now, what has me really thinking : the example these two fathers set pointing towards what my Savior Jesus Christ did for me. he suffered and died for my sins. he made it possible for me to return to live with him and my heavenly father one day. and this is what he asks, "rachel, what do you have?" "my best efforts, which are a willing heart and trying my best to be like you every day." "then that's enough and i'll make up the rest." i love what stephen robinson said later in the article he wrote : "We may not be personally perfect yet, but because of our covenant with the Savior, we can rely on his perfection, and his perfection will get us through."

i feel incredibly blessed to have such an amazing dad who loves me and takes care of me. i feel so blessed to have a Savior who watches over me and blesses me at every turn. my life is worth living.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

unexpected turns

life takes unexpected turns - this we know. for people like me who struggle to regulate their emotions these unexpected turns can really throw them off. i have found dbt therapy so helpful because it gives me the skills i need to respond to life well when it doesn't go how i thought it would.

in group therapy we are learning about opposite action in detail, going through each major emotion (anger, fear, envy, sadness, guilt, etc), talking about when that emotions fits the facts of a situation, and what it means to do opposite action when that emotion does not fit the facts or is lasting so long that it is no longer effective.

friday the a/c went out in my car. for anyone who has read my blog for any length of time you will know that heat is not ok with me. i don't tolerate it well - mostly because it is a trigger to my anxiety. my dad and i took it to a shop and they ran diagnostic tests on it and found out the compressor is bad. all in all the work on my car will cost around $1000.

i started having envious thoughts of my sister's new toyota camry and a friend's new jaguar. "their cars are new and they don't have this problem; why can't i afford a new car; their cars are so much nicer than mine; why did this have to happen to me" and on and on thoughts cycled in my head creating envious feelings.

envy (when another person or group gets or has things you don't have that you want or need) is a powerful emotion but in my case it was not an effective emotion. so i stopped thinking envious thoughts and started doing opposite action.

to do this i counted my blessings about my car, all the way, and did it with a half smile (literally while lifting the corners of my mouth into a half smile) and in a relaxed place on my bed, stopped exaggerating others' net worth/value, and did some slow deep breathing.

here are the blessings i came up with about my car : no car payments on it since i bought it, it is the color i wanted - black, dad is willing and able to help me pay to fix it, i have a job so i can help pay to fix it, gets me where i need to go, i love the sound system in it, it is the perfect size for me, not overly fancy - what you see is what you get - like me - matches my personality and style, is fast and zippy, has never caused me any big problems, has a lot of miles on it so it was probably time to fix something, is a really good solid car.

i have also been using the skill of radical acceptance - where you just radically accept that things happen in life - cars wear out - things break down and need to be repaired and they cost money. you make money to spend money. over and over when i start to feel my chest tighten and i begin to get stressed i just take a deep breath and relax and say, "it is what it is and it will all work out."

i know god is watching over me. it'll all be ok.

Monday, July 7, 2014

life is going well :)

i saw susan today. during the course of our session i brought up that lately my life seems to be going in a really positive direction. i feel upbeat, positive, even happy. i have had two close friends say to me that their recent encounters with me have been really positive and that they see in me happiness. coming from such a dark and low depression, it is almost scary to have feelings of positive happiness because in the back of my mind i wonder, "is it all going to come crashing down again?"

so i posed the question to susan. "do you think i am building my life with a false bottom?" her response was quick and direct, "no! look at all the things you are doing: you're working everyday, you're exercising regularly, you've lost quite a bit of weight, you're social life is improving, your health (seizures/pcos/depression/anxiety) continues to improve, and you are taking more steps to be independent. what about that wouldn't create feelings of happiness?"

when she put it like that i could see the new life i am living for what it is. i am enjoying living every day. i am so grateful for the happy days. i can't thank god enough in my prayers for the health and healing in my life. my body is on a better sleep schedule, i am waking up at normal hours, i am not exhausted all the time like i used to be, i can think clearly. truly the blessings in my life are endless.

one of the fun toys i have been using the past few days is called a fitbit. you wear it on your pants and it tracks how many steps you take, how far you walk, how many calories you burn, how many stairs you climb, tracks your sleep, and it has a little plant that grows and shrinks depending on how much you do in a day :) so far i LOVE it! it's super motivating and fun to see the progress you make each day. i absolutely recommend it for anyone looking to increase their awareness of health.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

i dedicate this to you :)

my dear, sweet, w,

i gave you a standing ovation the other day when you texted me and told me about the struggles you were going through. it takes courage and bravery to speak up for yourself when you are faced with feelings of anxiety and depression. often times these feelings come at times when we are not expecting them. you have been under some extreme pressure lately. remember that. none of this is your 'fault.' remember that too. we have a strong family history of these two mental health issues and it's nothing to be ashamed of. you are going to get help. rock ON girl. rock on.

here are three phrases for the coming days when life may seem overwhelming :

handle one stupid thing at a time.

it's ok if the only thing you did today was breathe.

don't let the rush rush you.

here are some things that help me when i'm feeling anxious :

ice packs. i like the chattnooga ones.


a cool drink from sonic or sonic ice to chew on (send the hubby or go yourself if you need time away :)

a weighted blanket - this gives me deep pressure that i am usually seeking and calms my sensory system.

a cool shower with aromatherapy shower gel from bath and body works to calm my senses.

here are some things that help me when i'm feeling depressed :

recently, going walking a couple times a week.

going to visit my friends with babies - baby-therapy (Jo!).

going to see a movie by myself.

sometimes curling up in my bed, pulling the covers over my head, and having a good cry really helps.

getting my nails painted a bright color.

there are lots of other things i do too - scream, swear, break glass, call my therapist, drive fast, visit friends, etc - some options better than others lol but this is just to get you started.

i love you so much. i am proud of your journey and the steps you are taking to make your life better for yourself and your family. i know you will be successful. i am always here/hear. i'm so close, just a text, phone call, fb message away. 

xo always