Saturday, September 27, 2014

my inpatient painting

i don't know why it has taken me a year and a half to share this painting i did while i was in inpatient. the only answer i have is life is a process - and i must've needed time to process this part of my journey. i have kept the painting in a drawer with other things i accumulated from my time there. almost immediately i gave a copy of it as a present to my dear friends s and a. sometimes when i am over at their homes i look at the painting and go "wow, that is so cool and it looks familiar - oh ya! i did that!"


after seeing it at a's home yesterday i decided that now was the time to frame it and hang it in my room. i'm not crazy about the frame, but it'll do for now. mostly i want to talk about what it represents to me.

when i went into inpatient for suicidal thoughts and depression, i was in a really low place. if you can for a minute - go to a sad, low place, and stay there. what i saw during those days and for months (8-9) after is all grey in my memory. i was in inpatient over the weekend so there was less going on, which was fine for anxious me. when the recreational therapist came in on saturday she said we were going to be doing painting. i love painting but hadn't done it in a long time. i was overwhelmed at first with thoughts of what was i going to paint, how was it going to turn out, was it going to be bad, and then i decided to just paint something simple - a tree.

i painted it intentionally in blocks of color because up to that point in my life i had had things scheduled in 'blocks' ex: 2 years in high school, followed by 2 years in community college, followed by 2 years at a university, followed by what was supposed to be an 18 month mission, and then my life started falling apart and the lines got blurred and black entered - hence the black outline and the black blocks and the mixing of colors. the bottom (trunk) of my tree is more blocks - how i had my life planned - after 18 month mission, 2 years grad school, then get married, work and have babies, and life would be set. but the leaves on my tree are more flowing - how my life has actually turned out - with sadness and adversity - waves and bends and unexpected twists and turns. but all in a beautiful tree. there are some brown spots and some black spots and some dark spots but without those spots i wouldn't be able to appreciate the yellow and the red and the purple and the other magnificent colors god has blessed me with.


in my own way in inpatient i think it was my first step at practicing a dbt skill i didn't know about - radical acceptance. i was beginning to accept my life the way it was - accepting reality on reality's terms. i didn't like it, but i didn't have to, i just had to accept it. i wanted to create something beautiful and meaningful out of my suffering - and that's what this painting represents to me. meaning. purpose. something greater than myself. that i'm not going through all of this for kicks and giggles. that there is a divine plan and my suffering is part of it.

i have also kept my bracelet from inpatient. some things are just too hard to give up. parting with it seemed like parting with part of myself. i finally had an idea of what to do with it!


i put it in a plastic display case so i can see and remember where i have come from and all the progress i have made since then. i put it next to a sign i got from natural life which says "you are loved." that was not by accident.

 
my journey continues. i grow each day. i'm a learning, progressing, succeeding individual. and so are you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

you are LOVED

i have found during this time in my life i need the reminder more visually.

once again natural life came to my rescue (they feed my addiction to owls and cute things!) with a reminder that i am loved by many, many people; to many to list but all in my heart.


i often feel mists of doubt, discouragement, fear, and frustration surround my thoughts. i know this is not how god would have me live my "life worth living." he would have me feel hopeful and think positive about the future - looking to it with bright faith.

i had to look back and remember my motto for 2014 : 

"i am only one idea, one dream, or one person away from my miracle. don't give up. 
the future is bright."

and it is true. a miracle does await me. i'm sure if i took a moment to reflect, miracles have already taken place in my year as it is almost october! but that is for another post.

i want to focus on you are loved.
 
one of my favorite church leaders is a man named dieter f uchtdorf. he will be speaking in a meeting on october 4-5 called general conference. i think he has so much wisdom and i love hearing his voice. it comforts my soul. these are some quotes taken from different talks he has given over the years about how god loves and knows you. the italicized part are my thoughts on what he said.

“Never give up on anyone. And that includes not giving up on yourself.” god will never give up on me. he will never give up on you. so don't 'shoot yourself in the foot' and give up on yourself.
 
“It is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.” adversity is sure to come in life, and when it does, focus on the essential things that will get you through the moment. for me that is daily prayer and scripture reading, writing, using my dbt skills, and going to counseling. that's how i simplify. how would you simplify?
 
“Sandwiched between their (he's talking about Disney Princesses) “once upon a time” and “happily ever after,” they all had to experience great adversity. Why must all experience sadness and tragedy? Why could we not simply live in bliss and peace, each day filled with wonder, joy, and love? The scriptures tell us there must be opposition in all things, for without it we could not discern the sweet from the bitter. Would the marathon runner feel the triumph of finishing the race had she not felt the pain of the hours of pushing against her limits? Would the pianist feel the joy of mastering an intricate sonata without the painstaking hours of practice?” even though i really hate the bad days, they help me appreciate the good days even more. on days where i am depressed, have low energy, am anxious, feel seizure-ie, and am craving sweets from the pcos i feel upset and almost out of my mind. on days where i can manage my emotions, take my walk, eat well, get a good amount of sleep, blog, interact with friends and family, i feel more like myself and i feel well and in better control of my mind and body.
 
“One key relationship we have is with ourselves. It may seem odd to think of having a relationship with ourselves, but we do. Some people can’t get along with themselves. They criticize and belittle themselves all day long until they begin to hate themselves. May I suggest that you reduce the rush and take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential.” learn to love yourself as god loves you. learn to see yourself as god sees you. use god's measuring stick - not the world's - to measure your success in life.
 
“There are those among you who, although young, have already suffered a full measure of grief and sorrow. My heart is filled with compassion and love for you. How dear you are to the Church. How beloved you are of your Heavenly Father. Though it may seem that you are alone, angels attend you. Though you may feel that no one can understand the depth of your despair, our Savior, Jesus Christ, understands. He suffered more than we can possibly imagine, and He did it for us; He did it for you. You are not alone.” you are not alone. christ understands. and there are angels - seen and unseen - who are there to lift and support you.
 
“…Hold on a little longer—even when things look bleak. Know and remember this: the Lord loves you. He remembers you. And He will ever sustain those who ‘endure in faith to the end’ (D&C 20:25).” god remembers you. keep going. he's right there with you.
 
“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God's love encompasses us completely. ... He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.” oh how many times i have felt broken! but god's love encompasses all of that - and with his love i can be healed. it is such a hopeful thought.
 
“I would like to use this little flower as a metaphor. The five petals of the little forget-me-not flower prompt me to consider five things we would be wise never to forget....first, forget not to be patient with yourself...second, forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice...third, forget not to be happy now...fourth, forget not the why of the gospel...fifth, forget not that the Lord loves you.” the lord loves YOU.
 
“I do know now I was never forgotten. And I know something else and as an apostle of our master Jesus Christ, I proclaim with all the certainty and conviction of my heart and soul, neither are you. You are not forgotten! Sisters, wherever you are, whatever the circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love. Just think of it! You are known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful and glorious Being in the universe. You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time. He who created and knows the stars knows you and your name. You are the daughters of His kingdom!” i LOVE this quote! you are NOT forgotten by god. he knows your name. he knows YOU. he is aware of you. and he will lift and strengthen you in moments when you feel weakest. he has done it for me. and i know he will do it for you.

life is not for sissies, that's for darn sure! but we can do it. you are loved. i am loved. we are loved and watched over by god and his angels.
 
one step at a time. one moment at a time. one breath at a time.
 
 josh groban - you are loved

Saturday, September 20, 2014

meds

this is a post i feel needs to be talked about and one i want to share with my readers.

after 4 years i feel like i'm on a regular routine of meds and it doesn't change every time i go to visit a dr. there are adjustments as i keep living my life and problems come up that need to be solved, but for the most part my daily routine is the same.

i must admit, sometimes i feel shame when i print out a page of meds to bring to a dr appt. for crying out loud i'm not an old lady! but i do have several different medical things that are being treated and i have chosen to treat them with prescription drugs.

i understand in writing this that not everyone chooses to go down the prescription drug path. to each his/her own journey. for me it has been medically necessary to control my seizures and depression/help with the suicide thoughts and my anxiety was at a level where i did not feel capable or comfortable handling it on my own. i respect your decision to not use prescription drugs and i know you'll respect mine to use them. they have given me the boost i have needed to begin the recovery process and have a clear mind to work with.

with all of that said, here's what i take daily to manage my seizures, depression, anxiety, pcos and miscellaneous :)

ready - set - go!

for seizures i take 200mg of topomax in the morning and at night. this also helps with mood stabilization (aka depression). for depression i take 100mg of pristiq in the morning (i love this one and really feel it has changed my life - it's expensive - but my parents are amazing and pay for it and i feel it has helped me so much) and 15mg of deplin (which is also expensive and not covered by insurance because it is seen as a 'vitamin' but i have to have a prescription for it and get it from a special pharmacy - again, my incredible parents pay for it). for anxiety i'm on good ol' xanax - 1mg in the morning and 1mg at night. i have been having panic attacks and nightmares at night so we are trying me on trazadone 50mg at night to see if that helps. i also take melatonin at night for sleep. for pcos i take over the counter pregnitude twice a day and spironolactone and minocycline for the acne that comes with pcos (fun fun). a week ago i was on birth control for pcos but ended up having a severe reaction to it, so i'm waiting until i see an endocrinologist in november before proceeding with anymore hormone changes. i have acid reflux and slow gut so i take 40mg of nexium and reglan to help with those. and finally to balance me out i take a multi vitamin, fish oil, and vitamin d - the last two as prescribed by a dr.




as my mom says, i'm a medical miracle - lol ;)

my parents really are amazing. they pay for my insurance, dr appts each week, and prescriptions. i help out when i can, but it's not often. i've told them many times i can only hope to 'pay it forward' in my life, all they've done for me, because i can never repay them.

i am so grateful for these meds. they have improved my life so much. i am able to function without having a seizure every 20 minutes. i can work through panic attacks with the help of meds and skills instead of being a prisoner to them. i no longer sleep for days and weeks on end because i feel so depressed and see only gray. i am grateful for wise drs who have listened to me and have responded to my needs and have figured me out.


i never thought i would have the numbers to a psychiatrist, neurologist, endocrinologist, dermatologist, obgyn, primary care, and gastroenterologist in my phone - but i'm really grateful i do because it means i'm getting the help i need.

i'm the best me - and you are the best you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

to 15 year old me

 
dear rachel,

if i could go back in time and slip you this note, under your pillow during one of the nights when your chest was pounding on the bed and that's all you could hear and feel, i would.

i know how frightened and anxious you were. let's see, 15. you were beginning college and starting driver's ed. you were worried about deciding on a career and moving away from home. and that strange vein thing your finger tips did - turning turquoise and shit - oh ya, you swear now :)

i'd give you some advice. 1) first off your anxiety is real. it's not in your head, you're not making it up, it's not something you do because you can't think of anything else to do. go.see.a.psychiatrist. wow. did i just scare you? ya, maybe a little. and that may change really big events in your life. ok 1a) MELATONIN. take some. every night. it'll at least help you sleep. 2) in games - as in life - it's best to get tagged out early. best advice i could ever give you. just get out first. intentionally. then you can just sit and watch the other suckers play the game! it's wonderful. 3) everything is going to work out whether you worry about it for hours and hours or not. god is more than in control - he actually has a plan for you and he is in charge. he is literally leading and guiding your life and will put up road blocks if you're not where he wants you to be. trust me. i speak from experience here.

you feel really lonely now and feel you don't have any true friends. i remember. i promise you that the day is coming when you will have best friends (yes, plural) who will shower your days with joy. you're so young and need to learn a little more about yourself, your likes and dislikes, so you can know what to look for in a friend. but oh man when you know you will pick the most AMAZING friends! they will be there to support your through some of your saddest, darkest, and loneliest as well as joyful, cheerful, and happy days.

i don't want to ruin the surprise but one day you will be a godmother to an incredible little girl :)

 
right now you see your life in 2 year blocks. be open to the possibility that life is messy and doesn't follow your rules. i remember who you thought you would be and where you thought you would be by the time you were 25. you're nowhere near that person, but it's ok, because you actually love who you are.

knowing what i do, you're going to be ok. you won't always feel ok, but god is ever mindful and has a specific path he wants you to take. not only is it the road less traveled - it's a road traveled only by one before - and that's jesus. he's the only one who knows what you are going and will go through. you have beautiful and dark days ahead. don't let the fear of facing one stop you from embracing the other.

there are so many things i wish i could spill the beans on, but to do so would take away the joy of discovery. you are a constantly evolving, changing, growing human with the potential for peace and contentment in this life and the next.

at 15 you were worried.

at 25 you are healing.

i love you, you innocent, young, worried little you. keep trying. i know you'll become the best me. and i'll become the best you. and together we'll become the woman of our dreams.

love,
rachel

ps - one word: owls <3


Sunday, September 14, 2014

balm in gilead

i have been open about the struggles i have been having with sadness in my life the past few weeks. people who matter to me and are close to my situation each have a different opinion on what has triggered it. taking all of their input into account and sitting with it in my wise mind i think that the moving away of my sister b, the almost moving of my brother c to alaska, and the upcoming mission of my sister s (like the one i did) made me feel pressure to 'get my life going' (get a job in speech now or go back to school, make money to support myself, get my own insurance before i turn 26 in april, move out, don't be depressed ever again, don't be anxious or panic about life, know and use all the dbt skills, accept, embrace, and be ok with being single for the rest of my life, repaint my car, loose weight, get on weight watchers eating plan for pcos, keep up my walking - AND DO IT ALL NOW!). add to that the hormonal imbalance from the pcos and i have been feeling very sad.

dealing with this sadness has been hard on me. going into another depression is one of my biggest fears. during this time my thoughts have turned towards heaven to my loving heavenly father. i have been praying for strength, support, comfort, and peace. 

these are some of the answers he has given me.


the following quote is from thomas s monson

"It may be safely assumed that no person has ever lived entirely free of suffering and tribulation. Nor has there ever been a period in human history that did not have its full share of turmoil, ruin, and misery.

When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, there is the temptation to think or speak the phrase, "Why me?" Self-incrimination is a common practice, even when we may have had no control over our difficulty. …

However, at times there appears to be no light at the tunnel’s end—no dawn to break the night’s darkness. We feel surrounded by the pain of broken hearts, the disappointment of shattered dreams, and the despair of vanished hopes. We join in uttering the biblical plea, "Is there no balm in Gilead?" We are inclined to view our own personal misfortunes through the distorted prism of pessimism. We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone.

To all who so despair, may I offer the assurance of the Psalmist’s words: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).

Whenever we are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life’s fight, let us remember that others have passed the same way, have endured, and then have overcome."



i am grateful that heavenly father has heard his daughter's - this daughter's - weeping and has answered my prayers. many family members and friends have served as his angels to bless my life during this challenging time.

i am a mormon.

find out what i believe here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

another 6 week prize!

it's not exactly what i wanted, but what i wanted wasn't in the budget because i spent first and thought later. so i improvised - thought about my spending choices and consequences - and reminded myself of what i really want to walk for this next 6 weeks - A SNOOGLE!!!

here is what i earned for walking for the past 6 weeks :)


i really, really wanted a new purse but coach didn't have anything that struck my fancy so i just pushed that aside. well my awesome friend, c, must've been inspired to give me my christmas present early because it's a beautiful red grace adele bag that is no longer made and i.love.it!!! i consider it very rewarding and part of my prize for walking.


 i got my nails done - which is usually my prize for waxing my legs - but this time i counted it towards my walking prize because i only shaved (it was the best i could do in the moment) and i got a pedicure which is not what i originally planned. i got them done in teal because september is pcos awareness month and that's how i'm helping to spread awareness.


and lastly i got this amazing print from natural life - i'm totally in love with their website and stuff. it really spoke to me and i bought it on a whim and then realized i needed to count it towards earning something. i got it framed all fancy and put it up in my room and i see it every day. it really captured my attention. i love what it says "not all who wander are lost."


there have definitely been times in my journey when i have felt lost. right now i would say i'm feeling a little lost. not as lost as i've been before, but a little lost as far as what to do and where to go next. but it hasn't always been this way in my life nor will it always be this way. sometimes i wander just for the sake of seeing the beauty and joy of the journey. i wander for wandering's sake. i wander to see the joy in others' journey. and i believe that's part of taking joy in our journey is to wander a little. because not all who wander are lost, they just are.

i have been sad recently. i started a new medication and i found increasing depression slipping in, panic in my daily life rising, unskillful and unhelpful thoughts of ending my life creeping in, mood swings where i'm laughing one minute and crying the next, and very vivid dreams where i am having a hard time separating reality from non-reality. i am working closely with my counselor and doctors to manage these symptoms and get them under better control but it is taking its toll on me. i feel like a wreck and that so many things are out of my control. pray for me?


a song that came to my mind "where can i turn for peace"

Saturday, September 6, 2014

inspiration is all around me

s has often said to me "the outside world is a reflection of the inside world." i believe this is true. when i first moved back home in march of 2013 after i got out of inpatient i had about 15 plants from my apartment that i loved. gardening was a hobby i had taken up. over the course of the next 8-10 months i let them all die and i let them stay dead in my room and rot because i felt so depressed and like death. their withered leaves and molded dirt reminded me of the way my soul felt: dead, shriveled, and infested. i wanted that visual reminder so i kept them until one day a few months later it clicked - after something my mom said and a session with susan - that it wasn't healthy for me physically, mentally, or emotionally, and i was ready to give them up. i was in a better place and realized i had a life worth living. around this time s also gave me another nugget of wisdom that has stuck with me - she said : you are living a developing life not a desperate one.

when i came home, i did not come home to my old room, my little sister had moved into it and i did not want to kick her out of it because she had made it her own. i came home to the guest room. it took me 10-ish months to hang a picture because i felt like a visitor - i did not feel like the change was real and did not know how to make such a small space mine. over the course of time i have bought a few new pictures that i have wanted to put in my room - and there have been a few things from my apartment i have needed to unpack since moving that i have been too afraid to get out because of the emotion behind it. 

for some reason friday night, i just started dusting and throwing away and organizing and redecorating my room. it came so smoothly and calmly. i did start to get overwhelmed and anxious at one point but i reminded myself that i was working on one section at a time and that's all i had to do.

it has come together so nicely! i love how cozy it is. people have given me lovely owls to place around my room, i have pictures that mean so much to me from people i love hanging up, and things are organized the way i want them.

see for yourself :)

this is what you see to the right when you first come into my room. 
"someday i will change the world"
"sing your song - dance your dance - tell your tale"
all of these are very motivating to me and remind me that my life is one of purpose.

my bed is next to the night stand and i love having these two pics next to it.
the sunflower is from a.
the other is a gift from s.

this is my little corner where i have the desk st bought me for my apartment - i love it.
there's the poem desiderata hanging up.
my painting that c and i did.
something i bought from a girls' trip which says
"live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to god"
and a gift from c and e which says
"today is a perfect day for a perfect day"

better focus on the dresser - my dad bought it and i really like it because it is a lot like the ones mamaw has in her house. 
there is my favorite picture of me and mamaw.
a red hatter bear that one of my aunts gave me to remind me of mamaw.
and 5 dried roses in a special vase. those roses dried all on their own while they were still in water when i was living in my apartment. i've had them for probably 3 years. they died gracefully, as mamaw did, and that's why i keep and treasure them. i cannot give them up and take special care of them. you can see in the mirror that my bed faces my dresser. mamaw is the first person i see when i wake up and the last person i see before i go to bed.

here is my wonderfully organized bookshelf!
a friend just got me the owl - too cute! i love his little legs hanging off the shelf :)
the flower arrangement is one from mamaw's funeral.
i have my 'jar of broken-ness' that i made years ago, filled with glass, when i felt broken and shattered - it reminds me of how far i've come.
an envelope from s filled with confetti because come on, everyone needs that!
and signs that say
"crazy just might work"
"breathe: what if we treasured every breath?"
"keep calm and eat a cupcake"
and i made the cube- it's actually the congreve cube from the movie mr magorium's wonder emporium. if you haven't seen it, you must! one of the quotes on there is - "fun and mental is fundamental!"

love this corner. it has my rocking chair that is really important to me, my amazing painting from my cousin b that sums up my journey beautifully - i love looking at it everyday - , an owl pillow from my sister b, an angel throw blanket also from mamaw's funeral, my p-fak box, an owl decor on the wall from my sister s, and my newest addition (more info on this next week :) a wonderful poster from natural life that says "not all who wander are lost."

lastly i leave my room with this gentle reminder - just like i did at my apartment when i left my front door - "remember to dream."

it's a beautifully cozy space that is mine and i feel more at home in it. i am content. in the moment. today was a productive, good day, thanks to friends, family and god, all who encouraged me.

i got my nails painted teal in honor of september being pcos awareness month. i didn't ever think my journey with pcos would be this difficult but as s would say, "i'm dancing as fast as i can."


Monday, September 1, 2014

pcos : some realities

i am always real about my challenges here. one of my current challenges is pcos and the effect it's having on my life. at the moment i'm struggling to regulate my cycle, i feel like i've LITERALLY been pmsing for going on 4 weeks now (i'm eating everything in sight, all day, every day, and sweets are the only thing i seem to want), and the acne that comes with it. i've been too ashamed to step on the scale to see if it's reflected in my weight but i can only guess that it has. never before have i felt so out of control of my body and hormones. it's like living with or in a monster. 

i feel ugly. i feel i look ugly. the medicine (pregnitude) i take to help with the pcos makes my hair grow faster so i have that to deal with, which means most days i wear my hair in a bun because i don't feel like dealing with the thick hair on my head. and i don't wax my legs as often as i should so i wear long pants. meds are great but they usually come at a price. showering and putting leave in conditioner daily has been a HUGE step for me. now if we could just get fixing my hair and make-up on that list.

acne. ya. it's a huge embarrassment to me. it's all over my face, back and chest. the face is what really gets me. i can cover up the other places with a shirt, but i can't go around with a brown paper bag on my face - though the thought has crossed my mind. it's just terribly ugly - discoloring and such. i wake up multiple times a night and pick at my face because i feel so ugly. you know it's bad when you wake up from sleep to pick at your face. i find myself wondering if i would be horrified if i met myself as a stranger in the store - would i look away in disgust? possibly. 

these are just the physical symptoms of pcos i'm struggling with. there are many emotional aspects to it that hurt me. i often worry about being able to have children - from the pcos, the seizure meds i'm on and the depression/anxiety meds. it's a sobering thought to know that the timing of my children will have to be medically planned. yet, in all honesty, every time i start to worry, a simple thought from god enters my mind: "yes, but what if the conceiving and birth of your children is a miracle and another personal witness to you of Me?" and i feel calm. it almost upsets me that god knows how worried i am about this and calms me each time - but why would it upset me - that's silly - he's just reminding me that he hears me, he knows my thoughts and he's aware.

i read a blog post today by al fox carraway called the secret to have your best life and she talked at first about the tears she shed over not looking the way she wants after having her first baby recently. i could relate - in the not looking the way i want. i haven't been able to cry about it, i more get sad and internalize my feelings. she then moved into how we are worth happiness, love, joy, and acceptance, from ourselves. we can gain more of this as we learn to see ourselves through god's eyes. it's a really amazing, uplifting post and i hope you'll take the time to read it. she gave a challenge at the end to post a picture of yourself with anything positive about you - below is mine - so as not to end this post on a low note :)


(this is the real me tonight - no make-up, hair in a bun, and a full tummy!)
positives: my brown eyes, love to walk, love of owls, compassion for those suffering, good writer.
#myworth #imatter