Monday, December 13, 2021

Navigating Mental Health in Today's Insane World

 Ok... So, the blog didn't quite happen twice in a week AND thats exactly why I said I would TRY.  If I nailed it the first week, I would have nothing to strive for.  It's all part of the plan:)

I have so many thoughts on this crazy ass world that we are living in.  I mean, I've been earth side for 40 years and never ever seen or experienced anything like this.  It legit feels like insanity.  I'm navigating it pretty well now but there were some dicey moments for me when the world was shut down.  For someone who needs to feel in some sort of control of her life and that literally being taken away- it was a lot.  I know that probably everyone feels that do some degree.

I can't help but feel bad for my kids (and yours.)  I never in my wildest dreams thought my children would be masked to go to school.  Regardless of your stance on anything- this is abnormal and bizarre.  Looking at people's faces and see expressions is where the human connection begins.  There is no doubt in my mind that connections have been lost.  As if navigating the never-ending national pandemic wasn't enough- now we have added MORE gun violence to the mix.  Instead of the kids having school canceled for the Snow Days they all dream and wish for- we are canceling school so that threats can be investigated, and students and staff can regroup.  

Let me give you an example of my daughter's week.  First, she is exposed to Covid even though she covers her face with a mask every day.  As a result, she has to be swabbed every day for 3 days to even attend school.  Next, she is named a witness to "information of interest" and has to give a statement TO THE POLICE.  She did not want to be a witness.  She did not raise her hand to volunteer information because she did not want to be involved but was NAMED a witness because she happened to be assigned a seat next to the child.  This is all in addition to the fact that I had to pick her up from school early the day after the shootings because social media scared the living daylights out of her and she was terrified.  You guys, she is 12.  And a middle schooler.  WHAT IS THIS LIFE???  I'm positive you all are experiencing similar scenarios.  And, its not OK.

The Oxford shooting is the most devastating tragedy to happen this close to our home that I have witnessed.  The students in our school knew these students.  Played sports with these kids and were in their homes.  The news gave a lot of detailed information, but it did not compare to what the kids actually knew, saw and heard via text messages from actual victims and family members.  These kids were so afraid and legitimately so.  Such a horrific tragedy.  I've put myself in those parents shoes receiving that phone call and it makes me physically ill.

It's absolutely no wonder that I have had more people reach out to me for help in the last month than ever before.  Life was hard before when it was "normal" and this is not normal.  I am refusing to accept this a "new norm."   Hell no.

Mental health is so important and very hard to navigate.  I have a lot of people coming to me so unsure of what they are actually struggling with.  Anxiety, depression, OCD, etc.  I want to kind of explain something I learned about myself that may be helpful to dissect what can happen.  This is not for everyone but was for me.  My core issue is Anxiety.  Anxiety is the number one "energy wasting" entitity.  It is exhausting.  It can cause people to be very obsessive.  That obsessiveness can turn into OCD behaviors.  Eventually you run out of energy from being so anxious and obsessing.  This turns to exhaustion which leads you into depression.  Too exhausted and upset to function.  Once you sit in that state for a while, you get anxious about not getting things done.  And.... there we go.  It all happens again.  A vicious cycle that you cannot break.  A lot of times what is wrong with us... is all of it,  Between the crazy state of the world, the violence added in and sprinkle in the "my life is perfect social media posts" and we are all doomed.  It is a lot.  And, it is ok that you feel thar.

Christmas is a super fun season but also stressful and hard for people for many reasons.  Some are  moving through with the loss of loved ones.  Others are at a financial hardship and worried about making their family happy.  Some don't love to spend time with family as they are triggers for emotional distress.  PLEASE slow down and be aware that things are not easy for so many.  Be KIND for gods sake!

If you are stuggling emotionally or mentally- please don't ignore it.  It is not selfish to want to feel better.  When you are in a good place, you have more to offer everyone in your life.  You cannot pour from an empty cup.  There is nothing to be ashamed of and I promise the other side is worth the walk through the fire.

Be well.

Friday, November 12, 2021

The Tide

 I recently listened Joe Rogan's Podcast and he had Jewel on as a guest.  I had no idea what an amazing and strong human she was.  Truly incredible.  She told some stories about what you can learn from Mother Nature and described a time when she was sitting on the beach watching the Tide roll in and out.  She explained how long it can take for the Tide to come back in once it has gone out.  When things got difficult throughout life, it helped her to understand that she just needed to wait for the tide to come back in... because it always does.

My tide has been out.  Just stuck out there.  I have been waiting and waiting for it to roll back in.  For those of you that have followed this (terribly inconsistent) blog before... you know I have a lot of shit.  There is not really a prettier way to say it.  I've got all the things and I'm always just out here trying to stay semi-steady and somewhat thriving.  Never looking for perfection or even "great."  I'm very ok with just feeling content and making sure my family is happy and I feel decently good.  Good is good enough for me!

After I heard the story about the tide, it became clear to me that that was what was happening to me.  I started to panic about how to get it to come back in.  I contemplated a med change but OMG it took me flying across the damn country to find a combo that "mostly" works for me and I am terrified to change it.  I thought about going back to therapy for the 6537995 time in my life but that thought is exhausting.  My history is long, complicated and frankly its been very hard to find a therapist equipped to deal with me.  I am super self aware.  I know myself very well.  I'm insanely stubborn.  And, I feel like people cant always help me as much as I can help myself IF I will allow myself.

I had a trip planned with a girlfriend for the following Friday.  The week of by Tuesday, I was losing my damn mind.  Just kind of spiraling inside.  My brain likes to do this thing where it goes on repeat and I cant shut it up.  I was also doing the thing where I "need to sleep" all the time and was staying in my bed way too often.  Paige also said "I dont know why you never feel good." That broke me.  I've heard them say that before.  I knew I had to stand up and help myself and one thing that has worked for me before is to be completely alone.  No distractions.  Just sit with myself and devise my next plan to get back on my feet.  I changed my flight and booked an extra two nights at the hotel.  I was going to bring that tide back in.

Of course, nothing is easy.  As I sat in the back of an Uber headed to the airport very early the next morning, the tears just flowed.  All of the guilt of leaving the kids for extra days, making life harder for Matt, missing sports all made me feel like an awful human.  The plane ride felt long and I was so mad at myself for bailing on my people.  Now remember, I bailed for TWO extra days.  Thats it.  The brain sure is powerful.

I arrived at the hotel, put my things in my room and went straight to the beach.  The minute I heard and saw the waves, I knew I did the exact right thing.  I felt immediate peace.  My chest loosened and I could breathe better.

Being alone is weird.  Especially at a hotel or on a vacation.  The normal tasks to busy yourself around the house are gone.  There is nothing to do but sit with yourself.  Its always in that time where I can figure out what I need to do.  I wanted to come up with my own solution before I went to outside sources to "fix" me.

I came up with a few things that I will share.  One thing I have known but really understood last week is that money doesn't equal success to me.  It doesn't make me feel good or fill my cup.  Now let me be crystal clear.  I am fancy.  I like all the designer things.  I like to travel to warm areas about 6 months a year.  I love clothes and expensive skincare and nice cars.  And, to be fair- I have those things and I want to continue to have them.  My point is that they are just things and my self worth has ZERO connection to it.  I don't know if its because I grew up in a home where I was given pretty much whatever I wanted or if this is a normal thing?   I do know that I go to work because I want to help provide for my family and I want to have  the "extras" without too much struggle.  But, those things will never define who I am.  If money makes you feel successful, that is OK too.  We all have our things, that just isn't mine.  I have figured out that I get so much more from the stuff I do for free.  Representing the Hurley Foundation as  a Board Member and continuing to support their mission makes me feel good.  Having people who are struggling in some form or another reach out and trust me to help them- makes me feel good.  Coming here to this blog where I can write and get my feelings out- makes me feel good.  Which is why I am here right now.  I told myself that I want to try to post two times a week.  Force myself to sit down and pour out whatever it is I am thinking about.  I want this to be a place people can relate to.  And agree with.  Or disagree with.  Just an open forum for me to not hold everything in.  Its interesting that I like to write but I dont like to talk.  I never feel like I can spill my guts or talk to people but after I sit here and type on this computer, I always feel lighter.  

There are a few other things I came up with that I am going to share at a later post.  I just wanted to send this out into cyber space to honor the commitment to myself to TRY to make this a habit and create a space.

For now, the tide is in. I am energized and goal oriented and happy to carpool kids again.  Life right now with my three kids involves five different team sport schedules and three different schools.  It is chaotic and difficult and frustrating and also TRULY what I always dreamed about.  My intent is to enjoy (most) of the moments and not hate myself when I loathe them!

If your tide is out, KNOW that it has to come back in.  Give yourself permission to do whatever it takes to bring her back in,  It will be worth it to you and all those that love you.

Talk Soon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The National Pandemic from Hell

Hello my friends.  So sorry its been over a year since my last post.  You see, writing is therapy for me and when things are going along ok, I'm not compelled to write.  When things get complicated-it helps me to get it all out and because I dont love to communicate- I write.  So, here I am.  In a rough spot along with the rest of you and my only intent to sharing my writing is that I hope it makes one person feel less alone.  I know there is a lot of suffering out there.  Per usual, I have no idea what I am about to say and I will not proof read this entry.  Its not about perfection, its about therapy.

Quarantine.  What does this mean to me?  It means taking away all of the coping mechanisms I have been taught to survive in this world.  It has taken me nearly 30 years to figure out how to live in a way that isn't destructive.  That isn't harmful.  That isn't mean (to myself.)

You see, I have all the things.  Recovering Anorexic, severe depression, extreme anxiety.  I've suffered for so long in so many ways and worked SO DAMN HARD to find not the answers, but the right things for me to help me live a life that I can feel and enjoy.  A life that I can be present in and participate in.  I've been to the worst and the best treatment centers in the United States.  I've been on every drug you can name.  I've done it.  I've tried it all.  Some things made me worse.  Some things made me numb.  Some things helped me feel real.  I would say that the last 5 years of my life were where I actually participated in the fight to save my soul.  To be clear, you can have a life and friends and children and the best husband and family and still not participate in any of it.  You can be physically present for it all and not be there in any other sense.  Its hard to wrap your brain around but I know it way too well.

I finally have felt like I have a grip on what I need to be ok.  I've let got of everyones expectations of me and I truly dont take on any judgements from others.  I make all my decisions with intention and thought and if I'm good with it- that's all that matters.  This doesn't mean that I want to let people down and I want to piss people off- that's not it.  What it means is that when I hit the pillow at night, I have to be OK with what I have done during  that day.  I've learned that I have to medicated.  I've spent my entire life trying  to convince people that I am tough enough to do this on my own.  That I can control my feelings and my issues.  I am the toughest broad I know, therefore I am FINE.  Wrong.  I'm so not fine.  I've learned what medications work for me. I do not feel numb.  I feel happiness and I cry over sadness.  I am present but stable and for the most part, I've made my life doable... and even enjoyable!

So, no we are on house arrest quarantine.  Yup, I am well informed and know what is happening.  I am not in denial at all and my heart hurts deeply for all the people suffering alone.  For all the lost loved ones.  For the inability to even celebrate their damn life.  Its all a for real national disaster.  Its unfathomable and its scary and its almost too much for me to comprehend.  Its a lot.  I feel all the feels about this.  I'm worried for my family businesses, my husbands work, all my small business owner friends,our favorite places to eat where we hang with family and friends.  I'm scared of it all.  For me, I am not afraid of catching the virus.  Don't ask me why.  I dont know.  Maybe my brain cant take that on.  I'm afraid for the world.  I'm afraid for all the things!

Personally, I've lost all the tools I use to be OK.  For example:

I have no personal time.  Time to sit with myself is important to me.  It quiets the chaos in my head.  It slows me downs.  Currently, my children follow me everywhere.  I shower, they come in as if I am not naked and washing my hair.  I go to the bathroom, they are outside the door asking a dumb question.  I read a book in my room, they come in to show me something I dont care about on their ipad.  I want to ride in the car- they beg to come.  ZERO breathing room and I am suffocating.

I lost my gym.  The gym is more than a hobby.  It provides socialization and my fitness.  As a recovering anorexic, my workouts are extremely important to me and without them- I dont eat.  Period.  I have an issue.  Workouts are how I maintain it.  That is gone.  I do have a home gym and my training is finally going well again thanks to my amazing coach/friend.  I did take about 3 weeks to be in florida where I ate very little and felt terrible about myself.  I think I am getting back on track but the struggle to get there is just insane.  This is a HIGE test to me.  I'm ready to rally but the month long fight has been exhausting.

Friends.  Not seeing friends is hard for me.  I can be an introvert even though I appear the opposite.  Getting me to the gym each day means I get dressed and out of the house.  Something I didnt use to do.  I used to always just go to dinner with Matt or my family.  I have worked really hard at becoming social and doing girls trips and trying to do once a week out with friends because it is GOOD for my soul.  Its interactions I crave yet have not allowed myself to do.  I've worked hard to build that social calendar.  I've worked hard to get out in the world.  And, now I cant.

Activity.  Not having any errands to run or places to go plays with my brain.  It makes me feel useless.  It makes me feel lazy. Those things like to translate into my brain as a reason to punish or not eat.  On the flip, I want to compete in the fall so I have to eat to do that.  The chaos in my brain is so exhausting.   I'm exhausted from doing nothing.

Here is what I want to do.  I want to lay in my bed and sleep it away.  But, then I feel lazy and then I want to get up and do all the things and be a super Mom and the cleanest housewife and blah blah blah.

 Guys, I am WITH YOU.  I am SUFFERING.   I am TRYING.  I'm trying to remain calm and stable with all my coping tools being stripped away.   I'm trying to find gratitude and peace.  I'm trying to just survive.  That's the bottom line- at this point survival will win.

I know we are all bored and stir crazy.  The world also appears so judgy.  Lets all just do what we have to do to get through this time and save your judgments on other peoples behavior and action for another time.  Say...a time when we aren't in a national pandemic crisis.  You all do you.  Do what you have to do.  Be Safe and know that I'm in the fire with you.  We will walk through to the other side.  We WILL make it.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Lessons Learned

Oh hey, here I am!  The most inconsistent blogger you have ever met.  It's a new year and a new me!  Just kidding.  Not a chance.  Same girl over here and I will not promise to get more consistent at blogging because, well- that would be a lie.  I come here when my mind has lots whirling around in it and I leave it all here hoping someone says that their mind is thinking the same stuff and I'm not quite as crazy as I feel.  I read something and it really hit me as it seems like what I am constantly trying to explain to my husband as to what my life feels like. 

First of all, I must say that I am probably the furthest person from perfect and have zero desire to even be close BUT I am kind.  And, I do have boundaries.  And, I do have empathy.  I've put my struggles out into the universe because I absolutely have no shame in my story. I have no shame in the steps it takes me each and every year to fall and rise and learn how to be a better human.  With sharing your story, it opens you up to a lot of responsibility.  You have to be ready  to help, ready to hear pain and ready to develop action plans.  Part of sharing my struggles has given me the gift to help, actually TRULY help, so many people.  So many unexpected people.  I say it is a gift because the fact that people trust me, respect me and need me, is not something that money can buy.  I never knew that sharing so much would bring this to me but its been an opportunity to add more purpose to my life.  The  moment I receive a message, because that's how it always starts, my heart completely opens and I have the ability to turn everything else off and listen.  I'm not a therapist, I'm not a doctor, I'm sometimes not even a friend but I am a person who has walked through fire time and time again and always rises out.  I promise you that I'll continue to stumble and fall but I also promise that you'll always see me on the other side of it.  

Here is the flip side.  There are people that will come and unload their baggage on your plate and leave it there.  They will take your time, take your advice, and disappear.  They will never ask how you are.  They will never do nice things for you.  They wont even say thank you.  They will take what they need and leave.  Maybe doesn't sound like a huge deal.  To some it may not be.  To me, it is.  Here is why- If you give me your sadness, your pain, your suffering, I am OK with that,  I'll receive it because when I'm suffering, I dont have the ability to give it to anyone because I shut down completely and its horrifying.  Understand, if you've given it to me, I cant just set it down and walk away.  I feel it, I hurt for you and I will carry it day and night until we can make a better plan because that's just who I am.  

The question becomes in this crazy world is how to sort out the good people from the bad people.  And, maybe they aren't even bad people but people that are bad for you.  I'm learning this very slowly.  I'm learning that not everybody who wants in your life should be allowed in your life.  I'm learning that some people you met yesterday might be the next best person in your life or might be the absolute wrong person to enter.  Relationships and friendships have to be mutual.  The effort and empathy towards each other must be parallel.  Its even OK for friendships to end if you change and grow.  We are certainly not the same people we were 20 years ago.  Thank God!
It seems like people are so distracted or overscheduled lately that they put everything in the whole worlds importance over actual people.  They are "SOOOO BUSY" yet I have to wonder, what the hell are you doing that you cant dial the phone while you are driving to ask how your friend is?  How are you so busy that you can't make it to the gym to be a better you yet you have a ton of time to complain about being unhealthy and enough time to post and scroll Instagram for hours each day. How are you too busy to go to dinner, yet you eat dinner every single day of the week so that's 7 opportunities to see a friend.   Check out your screentime per day people and then decide how "busy" you are!  Again, I'm not innocent here, I'm just saying this world is becoming very impersonal and its sad.

I have found myself so disappointed in so many people this year and it really was difficult for me.  I had a lot of hurt feelings and felt a ton disappointment.  I dont believe in resolutions but I do believe in growth and change.  My current goal is to really figure out my circle.  I want to surround myself with people that give what I give.  I want to learn to ask others for help when I need it and I also want to help those that need help.  However, I need to eliminate some of the "takers" from my life and that is not always an easy task.  I've got some soul searching to do and once I can create a more positive environment for myself, I hope my children can learn to do the same.  We don't have to be everyones friend.  We have the right to choose who we surround ourselves with.  However, we do not have the right to create harm or to be hurtful to others.  Its a delicate balance that I'm going to lead for myself and for my family.

I hope you all find your people and I look forward to what this world brings to me this year!

A little update on my family:
Everyone is doing great!  Matthew started a new job in a completely different field and is loving it.  We are excited for the opportunities it may bring to our family and are so happy he is enjoying work again.  Carter is in middle school...lord help us all.  He is a straight A student, an excellent athlete, absolutely gorgeous and has found this super awesome new personality of talking back and actually thinking he will EVER have the last word with me.  Now come on, that's actually funny!  Never, child.  Never.  Paige is doing ok too.  She had a rough start to the year with some mean girls but we are teaching her how to weed them out and she is feeling good again.  She got a new bunny named Storm and I love him as much as my children.  Just kidding.  Kinda.  Paige really loves him and carries him everywhere she goes.  She takes care of him completely on her own and is doing a great job.  She is still dancing her heart out and also joined a travel softball team.  Easy is still Easy!  He is in 2nd grade.  Loves Math and Recess and Gym.  His lungs have turned back to complete garbage and the poor kid has more asthma attacks than you would even think possible.  He continues to be a super good sport about it and doesn't really let it slow him down from anything.  His teeth are falling out like crazy and he for sure eats more than any other member of this family.  He makes us all laugh a little harder each day:)As for me, I earned my PRO Card last year and will compete as a PRO in Washington DC in October.  I'm nervous and so excited all at once.  My goal is to win.  I'm pretty sure top 10 or even 5 would be a great goal but I am going to do EVERYTHING in my power to bring the absolute best package possible.  I love a plan and a goal and I've got my mind wrapped around that.  I also want to get involved in some other organizations and do some more volunteering in other places as well as my beloved HURLEY!

Clark Babes 2018 Christmas

We still LOVE Florida

Thursday, April 12, 2018

It isn't in my blood.

My husband sent me a song the other day that reminds him of me.  In My Blood by Shawn Mendes.  The chorus:
Help me, it's like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
No medicine is strong enough
Someone help me, I'm crawling in my skin
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can't, it isn't in my blood
It isn't in my blood.

It isn't in my blood.  He is so right about that.  I don't know what I'm made of but its a whole lotta fight mixed with will power and determination.  I lose sight of that.  Often.  But, when push comes to shove, I continue to rise.  Claw myself out of the hole, doggy paddle to stay afloat, barely surviving- it's not pretty, surely not glamorous but its still rising, dammit,

I had another ebb.  I always prefer to flow and I had a good run.  Six months or so of flowing is epic around here.  I was doing well.  Feeling good, accomplishing life's tasks, not getting too overwhelmed, sleeping at night, you know- flow like things.  And, then it happened.  It almost feels like overnight but when I become clear (after) I can see exactly what took me straight to a hard ebb.  

You see, life is hard.  For everyone.  If you tell me that your life is perfect and easy- then that's awesome but I don't believe you or your instagram life so you can just keep living the dream and kindly leave me alone.  We do not need pretenders in this world.  We need Allies. Partners.  Friends.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying life isn't wonderful- I'm saying it isn't easy.  People forget to post that stuff.

I started realizing things were slipping with me a couple months ago.  I started laying in bed during the day.  I started NOT making plans.  I was tired 24/7 yet couldn't sleep.  Nothing was fun.  Everything was a chore.  Everyone bothered me.  I talked to very few people.  Then the dreaded horrific feeling of wanting out of my skin came.  And wouldn't leave.  I had a constant pressure in my chest.  I always felt like I couldn't breathe.  The actual attacks started.  Then the tears.  Then the panic.  I had allowed myself to fall further than ever since I went to Arizona.  I was mad.  I wasn't sure why or how I let it happen.  I'm supposed to be tougher than that.  I'm supposed to be an example.  I'm supposed to be grateful.  I'm supposed to be Lindsay…whatever that means to people.  Except, I'm human.  And, I fall.

I started spreading myself too thin.  I started taking care of too many people.  I started not putting my needs first ever.  I started not doing things that fill my cup.  I started only giving and never refilling.  I felt unappreciated and unimportant.  Nothing was OK.  Not one thing.  

What happened next took me by surprise.  My friend lost her daughter.  The empathy I felt was overwhelming.  This isn't someone I have known forever.  This isn't someone I hang out with everyday.  This isn't someone who is in my every single day life.  But, I felt broken.  For her.  My children are the same ages as hers.  I've been to hell with my son but I got to come back.  It was horrific and intense but I didn't lose him.  Why did she lose her daughter?  Survivors guilt is real and I cannot minimize that and Im sure that is not what I had but its some kind of a version of what I felt.  I'm going to do my best to explain this carefully and properly.  I didn't want to change places with her.  However, I wanted to walk through the pain for her.  I've walked through lots of fire and I just didn't understand why she had to walk through the absolute forest fire of them all.  It consumed me.  Her pain.  Seeing her at the funeral home and funeral was so incredibly physically painful and she was a beautiful pillar of Strength and Dignity.  It wasn't that- I just didn't understand why her and not me.  I know I am not God and I know I don't get to decide but the entire devastation of all of it was beyond overwhelming and took a very personal toll on me that was unexpected.  I still don't understand and I never will. But, I do know this- I'm so proud to have this woman in my life. 

After that experience, I was going to get my ass up and handle all the things.  I was going to just be grateful and the best wife and best mother and best friend.  Rigghtttt.  As if, that is how it works.  Like you can just tell the anxiety and imbalances you are feeling to take a hike and then everything is better.  Not a chance.   I knew what needed to be done.  I knew I needed to call my therapist.  I knew I needed to take extra meds to relax.  I KNOW the drill.  But, I didn't.  I got paralyzed.  I couldn't do ANYTHING.  I went to the gym and then I went home.  End of story.  

I only share this because I am not the only one suffering and I KNOW that no matter how open I am- people never, ever picture me in this state.  My poker face is stellar.  This is where it gets ugly:

I got the headache.  The god damn headache where I can't see out of my left eye.  I do not know why or how my body does this but it is the last straw.  Its the final warning.  Its the fire alarm.  It's my body saying "Game over."  It happened 12 days before I went to Arizona and didn't leave.  I knew I was in huge trouble when it hit.  I was in bed for most of the next couple days.  This always leads to tears.  Tears of failure for accomplishing absolutely nothing.  Tears of sadness for missing my kids.  Tears of fear of scaring my husband.  Tears of of disappointment for not taking care of my friends.  Tears for all of it.  The sobbing came one night and couldn't stop.  I was sitting on the edge of my bed and my husband came in with the look of absolute devastation.  He had a pill in his hand and he so sweetly gave me all the reasons why I needed to take it to rest.  To lose the headache.  To give my brain and body a break.  He went over all the reasons why I needed my therapist and I wasn't a failure.  Bless this man.  Bless  him!  It was a bit longer of a conversation than that but I took the pill and gave my body a rest.  I woke up, called my therapist and my Matthew changed my plane ticket for the families Spring Break to four days earlier so I could have peace and solitude to collect myself, think, make plans and start digging out.  I felt like I couldn't leave my family and go early because of course I would be selfish to take time alone but he and my therapist convinced me to do so and it was 150% exactly what I needed.  To be removed.  From People.  From Responsibilities.  From Life.  

I spent those days sitting in my church (aka the beach) and listening to the water and really evaluating my life.  Priorities. Everything.  Being alone is hard for a lot of people.  Actually sitting with yourself can be tricky.  I wasn't always sure I loved it but I've now found a peace and healing with doing just that… actually sitting with myself.  I did the work.  I didn't just go to the beach. I didn't just run.  I talked to my therapist.  I talked about all the things I don't want to talk about.  I thought hard about the actual changes I was going to make.  We all know the definition of Insanity and therefore change does not come without change.  I made decisions.  I had conversations.  I set goals.  I DID THE WORK.  I FILLED THE CUP.  Thats the thing, nobody wants to go to the painful spots.  The uncomfortable feelings.  The hard stuff.  You have to walk through the fire baby, if you want to get through the other side.  I put on my bravest face and stormed through...

And, I'm back!  I had the best time with my family.  I still hate the weather here but I'm flowing my way through the days.  I think each time I hit the Ebb, I learn more about myself and I come back not only stronger but swingin'!  I'm grateful for this life.  This wonderful, terribly difficult, awesome journey with my chosen people.

Giving up… it just isn't in my blood.  Thank God!

In my favorite place with my favorite people.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Often times I run into people who randomly say to me, "Hey, I read your blog!"  It always astonishes me, each and every time, not only that people read it but that they genuinely seem to care about what I have going on.  I just looked and its been SIX months since my last post… thats just shameful!  I have no idea how time passes so quickly in this busy life but it does and today I had a rocky start to my day so it seemed like the perfect day to sit down and reflect.

I haven't been sleeping well.  At all.  Most of you know that I am the worlds worst sleeper when I do not have medication to help.  The crazy part is this- if I am doing just fine, this medication knocks me out unconscious like I may not know if the house burned down around me.  BUT, if my body is feeling anxiety- doesn't work at all.  Its mind boggling to me how intelligent and intuitive the body really is.  So, this morning I rolled out of bed feeling all sorts of grumpy and tired and my kids said "Mom" at least 4,634,902 times.  I have no idea why.  Its like they know.  I actually didn't lose my shit on them which I was proud of but I knew I had to lay right back down after I got them on the bus and push my gym time back. And, then it came.  Ugh.  As I laid there and tried to rest I got that terrible, overwhelming feeling of hotness and the feeling where I need to climb out of my skin.  I laid on one side of the bed.  Then the other.  Then, as crazy as I know this is- I tried laying at the opposite end of the bed where it might have less of my body heat and I could be cooler.  Then my hands felt like needles, then I felt like I couldn't breathe, then I wanted everything to shut down.  Its legit the worst feeling.  I actually did the right thing for once in my life and managed to get to my purse and swallow a xanax.  I spent the next 15 minutes just praying and wishing the tightness in my body would release and that my head would stop and thats all I remember.  I woke up at 12:10 in the afternoon.  My body felt sore.  Groggy.  Tired.  All the lovely after maths of a good old fashion anxiety attack but I was OK.  Mainly pissed I lost half my day.

Here is what I want to say about that.  I really am doing well.  I'm happy.  I've found a rhythm to life that works and I'm learning to TRY to take care of myself on days that don't feel right.  But, this STILL happens.  It can be unprecedented.  It can be random.  It can be come before the realization of something that is bothering me or it can come after.  Its a disorder.  I do take medication.  It still comes and goes when it wants.  Here is the difference.  Today- it came, it went and then I decided to rise.  This is where I differ from years before.  Once my head became clear, I still went to get my eyebrows done (super important), went to get my son a new pair of pants and hit the grocery store.  I still have to get to the gym, organize my kids so they are ready for the next few days as I leave on a little "getaway" and I need to pack my bags.  Usually- I'd have chosen to give up today and today I choose to reclaim what is left of the day.  Life is not perfect, nor am I.  I will say this, I  am giving it every ounce of what I have.  Everyone has some challenge, I just hope and pray that they can find a way to live with it and not let it steal their life as it did mine for many years.  Thats the biggest victory of all time:  knowing your shortcomings and accepting and acknowledging them instead of allowing defeat.

On to better things!  So….. I did the thing.  I did the fitness show.  I still cannot believe for one second that I actually did that.  TWICE!  Here is the thing.  I like to do hard things.  I like to challenge what I am made of.  So here I am, a horrible anorexic in recovery that will not even get on a scale at the doctors office- standing in a skimpy bikini on stage in stripper heels being JUDGED on her body.  I mean, what in God's name could have been more of a personal challenge?!

The first show I got 1st Place in Masters and 1st Place True Novice.  I was 2nd Place in Novice and Open.  The second show I was 1st Place in Masters and 1st Place in Open.   Mission Accomplished.  I couldn't be more proud of myself not for the body I have created- but for the courage I had. 

Im sort of in an in-between stage with my fitness obsession right now.  I'm all set with shows.  I came, I won, I'm moving on.  I'm still killing it at the gym on a daily basis.  A new gym, that is.

Something happened to me  that I've debated talking about.  I'm going to say very little but I am going to bring it up because its important and it affected me greatly.  One week before my second show which is an extremely mentally and physically challenging time- I was assaulted in my gym by a woman in her mid-40's.  The cops were called and I went back and forth with pressing charges.  In the end, I did not because I truly feel sorry for the woman that did this to me.  Who, at that age, that is a mother would actually do this to another woman?  This woman needs more help than an assault charge will bring her.  Sadly, I had to fight very hard to get my membership terminated at the gym as they saw nothing wrong with this happening inside their doors. I was treated with complete disrespect and am grateful I had a backbone and was willing to stand up for myself.   I've heard this woman who hurt me wanted me gone for whatever reason… and my friends,  I walked out that door and never ever looked back.  Her victory has been achieved and I can only hope she rests well at night and that she feels accomplished.

However, its worth noting that I still got my ass on stage 7 days later and kicked some royal ass with TWO first place wins.  Having someone actually put their hands on you is devastating and violating and very hurtful and I'm not talking physically.  Bruises fade but memories remain.  My guard is up and I'm a little gun shy of new people but I got right back out there and I am still doing my thing.  My way.

My family is doing great.   We had an incredibly busy fall.  Paige played soccer and danced twice a week.  Carter continues to play soccer for the Celtics and absolutely crushed the season of Flag Football.  Easy is not wheezy (yay!)…AND he played soccer and flag football.  We (Matt and I) ran our booties off getting these kids to everything and we are finally on a small hiatus until mid-November with the exception of dance.  I begged Matt for a small getaway for us before more chaos and he is whisking me away tomorrow to my favorite place on earth.  

Thanksgiving, my absolute least favorite day of the year is coming up and we are planning to spend it with the Babes in my favorite place AGAIN!  Cold weather came and in my usual fashion- I hit the keyboard in booking trips to get me away from the cold.  Its so bad for my personality.

There you have it.  Life at is rawest.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  At the end of the day, I'm still full of gratitude for the life I do get to live.   Keep rising, friends.  Its the only way!

I'll leave you with a few pictures of my life.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A letter to my son.

Today is your 6th birthday!  That means that I have now had the pleasure of being your Mom for five whole years.  I wanted to sit down and write you a letter on this day because although you have heard your story a million times throughout your life, I don’t think I have ever told it directly to you.  I never want to forget what these last five years have been like for me and I want you to know exactly how special and what a miracle you are.  I know you wont read this letter today and possibly not even for a few years but this letter is from me to you and will be given to you as soon as you can read it for yourself and when I’m sure you will understand the content.   Your story is only five years old so far, but it is extraordinary.  Easy E, here is your story.

Every single detail to your story is a little different than all the rest.  For beginners, I was surprised when I found out I was pregnant for you.  I was always planning to have more children but just not so soon!  When I did find out I was pregnant for you, I took seven tests.  Why so many?  Every other test I took had a different result, four were negative and three were positive.  I had no idea what was happening and if this was real or not!  Little did I know this was only the first of the “Adventures with Easy!”  When we finally got the blood test results that did show you were in fact on your way, we were not just surprised- we were ecstatic!  Our little family was growing.  When I was just 19 weeks pregnant for you, Mom and Dad went to a Kid Rock concert that you must not have enjoyed because it put me right into labor.  I didn’t go to the doctor right away but the next morning I had a bad feeling that the contractions I was feeling were real.  Sadly, I was right.  At less than half way through your pregnancy I was ordered to strict bedrest, weekly progesterone shots and stress tests and steroid shots for your lungs on four different occasions.  I was admitted to the hospital in early labor at least five times and even spent my 30th Birthday in Hurley trying to keep you safe.  This was a really hard time for us because Carter and Paige were only one and three years old and I wasn’t able to care for them at all from my bed or the hospital.  I knew in my heart that you needed me to follow doctors orders and I did everything in my power to keep you safe inside of me for as long as possible.  While you were growing inside me, we spent a lot of time alone as Daddy took care of your siblings.  I talked to you all the time and I feel like we made some “deals” about you doing your part and me doing mine.  I was bonded and connected to you well before I ever saw your face.  I knew you and my instinct that you knew me was confirmed later (and I’ll tell you how later in this letter.)

Before the storm...
There were so many trips to Hurley with contractions and labor but we were so fortunate that by the Grace of God we made it to 36 weeks.  At this point, you were so low and ready to come out that I was in excruciating pain that couldn’t be tolerated without medication and your heart rate was starting to show some signs of decelerations during the ever present contractions.  The decision was made that I could get out of bed and deliver you.  The morning you were to be born was full of gratitude and relief that you had “made it.”  You were supposed to be a decent size, we were out of the major danger zones where we didn’t think you would need support to breathe.  Your sister was also born at 36 weeks with no complications so in our hearts and minds- we knew you were good to go!  Oh , Easton, how I wish that could have been true for you.  The labor for you was so quick and the delivery even quicker.  It was only a few hours from start to finish.   As soon as you were born, all the weight of the world was lifted.  I was so happy you had arrived safely after months of fear.  I loved you so much.  When you are first born, the nurses give you scores on how healthy you are.  Yours were perfect.  It was one magic moment after the next.  All of our family was there and after I held you, I let them all pass you around and see for themselves what a perfect miracle you were.  After only about 30 minutes, I heard you making this little noise.  Everyone in the room thought it sounded like you were cooing and was talking about how sweet it was.  I instantly knew that you were not OK.  I knew right then and there in that moment with your little sounds that my world was about to rock.  I begged the nurses to come in and look at you.  They thought you were OK.  I told them you weren’t.  The NICU doctors were present for your birth and cleared you but I made them come back.  Easton, I knew you were sick.  I knew you needed help.  I was never more sure about anything in my life even though nobody really believed me.  I wasn’t able to leave the room to go with you but I made Daddy follow you.  He called me from the NICU and said that you were doing OK and that you were just born too fast.  Everyone was so relieved.  Except me.  I didn’t believe them.  There was something in my gut that told me you were not even close to OK and they just didn’t know it yet.  I knew you.  Nobody else did.  As the night  went on everyone told me to rest.  I couldn’t.  I kept walking from my room to the NICU even when they told me not to.  Everytime I walked in the NICU- you were worse.  You went from breathing fast, to a nasal canula to bipap, to a Ventilator in less than 12 hours.  Easton, this is where things get hard for Mommy to tell you about.  I did not know what a ventilator was for.  I didn’t know that it can be a temporary relief for you. I thought that when a human being went on a ventilator- they didn’t come off unless they died.  When they told me they were putting you on a ventilator- I thought that you were not going to survive.  A name you have heard many times and will continue to hear for the rest of your life is Roberta.  Roberta was your nurse that day.  When she realized what I thought, she came and pulled Mommy up off the bathroom floor and put you in my arms for the first time since you were born.  She knew you were not stable but she also knew that I needed you and I think you needed me at that moment.  I think I was able to hold you for about one minute- but in that moment, I gave you all the support and will and fight I had to give and I begged you to FIGHT!  Buddy, that was the last time I held you for almost three weeks.  You were so sick.  They had to move all the other babies to another room and they put up these privacy walls so that there was no extra stimulation.  I couldn’t even speak around you.  You could sometimes tolerate the nurses and doctors speaking softly around you but every time I spoke or attempted to touch you- your little body went crazy.  This is when I knew for sure that you knew me.  You knew your Mommy even in a drug induced coma.  You knew my touch was different from anyone elses and the very sound of my voice was enough to break you through all those heavy meds.  As painful and devastating as it was to not hold you or touch you or speak to you- I feel like my silent presence a few feet away gave you courage and fight.  Everytime I left the room which was rare, I did whisper to you “fight the good fight, buddy.” 
Bi Pap
Nasal Canula

            There were so many scary days but I want to tell you about the scariest day of our life.  The day I witnessed

a miracle- YOU.  Easton, you were three days old.  You were on a ventilator and then they moved you to a high frequency ventilator which shook your little body as it breathed for you.  The settings were maxed out and they were pumping every drug they could into you.  It wasn’t enough.  Nothing was working.  Your little body was giving up.  You were gray.  You were limp and there were probably 15 people working in perfect unison around your tiny body.  They were fighting so hard for you.  They called a helicopter to come take you to another hospital because they thought you would need  something called ECMO- a heart/lung bypass machine.  I stood watching you and praying so hard.  I begged God to save you and I begged you to not leave me.  One doctor turned around and told me that you were leaving this hospital but that you would not survive the flight to the next one.  They told me you weren’t going to survive, Easy.  I don’t have the words to tell you what that meant or felt like.  There aren’t any words that can do that justice.  I made a couple phone calls and your whole family showed up in the waiting room within minutes to be there when you left us.  Then it happened.  The limp baby whose SAT’s kept dropping despite all the drugs and being bagged for so long, the one who was awaiting transport- became stable.  Not super stable by any means.  Your o2 popped up into the 70’s again and you sort of stabilized.  So much so that they didn’t want to transport you because they knew you couldn’t handle the stress.  They wanted to put you back on the conventional vent, fill you up with maximum steroids and basically sit still and wait.  I was staring at everyone in that rooms face.  I could see the shock.  Nobody had many words for us.  They had hugs for me and a lot of tears in their eyes.  I knew what just happened.  I knew you had just fought the fight of your life. 
Too many drugs.
Willing my strength into you
Paralyzed baby:(
            The rest of your stay in that NICU was more of the same.  You had so many terrible days and very few good ones for so long.  They did not give up on you and neither did I.  I sat and stared at you all day, every day.  Rooting you on from afar because Lord knows I couldn’t touch you.  I know you knew I was there.  I know you knew I wasn’t giving up.  Day after day it was a roller coaster.  You were never really OK but you weren’t as bad as that dreaded day 3.  After about 3 weeks of that, you slowly started to turn the corner.  You opened your brown eyes.  You let me touch you and eventually, you were placed in my arms again.  We made all kinds of deals again on that day.  I thanked you for fighting and I told you all the things we were going to do with this life you fought to have.  All you had to do was keep fighting and I would carry you through.  Me and you, baby.
That poor chest!
Getting closer to home.
            Exactly one month later, on your due date- you came home!  This was dramatic of course as well.  Your airway was floppy from being intubated so many times and you only failed your car seat test FOUR times!  We finally got the OK and I had to ride in the back and try to keep your head straight so your airway was open.  So stressful you were!  We had home health care come a couple times a week and every single time you were right on the line for needing supplemental oxygen at home.  Have no fear, you prevailed as always and we skipped that!  Thankfully.  Soon we got another surprise.  You screamed all day.  Literally 23 hours a day.  You see, when you were in the hospital you had some narcotics running in your IV’s all day long.  These were to keep you calm, still and not in pain.  Your poor little body started to really like them and then you had withdraw symptoms once you were home and without.  Here is the good news.  I told you I had made a lot of deals with you when you were in the hospital.  One of them was to not ever wish you to be silent.  On a ventilator, you could cry but it was silent and I swear it’s the worst thing to watch, a silent cry.  I wanted so badly to hear you scream.  And, scream you did.  For months on end.  All the time.  I’ve never been very patient but I will tell you that I never lost my patience.  God knew I needed them and gifted my endless patience and gratitude.  My son, you screamed in my face for months and I did nothing but love you harder!
FINALLY meeting!
            There were many other complications such as failure to thrive, muscle weakness on the left side and pneumonia 5 times and RSV 3 times all in the first 9 months.  We did occupational therapy, physical t

herapy and saw the Neurologist regularly.  You were admitted into the hospital for respiratory support three times during those first nine months but guess what- you were on track and walked before your first birthday!  You are the biggest inspiration of fight I’ve ever witnessed.  I’m so proud of you.
            We started a charity called Team Easton Gives Back and held the first event around your first birthday.  We knew that you were with us to make a difference and we weren’t about to let your fight go without serving a purpose.  To date, we have raised over $100,000 for Hurley NICU and Pediatrics in your name.  You are leaving a legacy, young man and I cannot imagine where this world will take you.  This year you were selected to be the Speedway Sponsor for the Children’s Miracle Network and you will continue to raise awareness.    Six years old and already a role model.
            Before I close this letter, I want to tell you about you as a little boy.  You are exuberant.  You are literally full of life.  Every day at school is “great!”  Every gift you receive is “The best one ever!”  Every time you are sick or in the hospital, you find the bright side.  “At least I’m only here 5 days instead of 6!”  You are tolerant of your crappy lungs.  You push them by being an active young boy but you recognize when they need a break and you give them one.  You are not held back by them.  If you find something you cant keep up with, you simply find something new.  You are full of stories and always surprising us when “Jesus sits on your shoulder.”  We take our cues from you and we know you are here with purpose.  You are a breath of fresh air and you teach me so many lessons in this world.  I truly believe you are happy to be alive and you know somewhere deep inside your soul- that you were given an extra shot.  Easton Edward, you changed everything and I love you more than anything in this world.  Keep fighting that good fight, baby.