Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloweeeeen!!!

Not much makes me happier than seeing my Sarah feel beautiful!  Every single year she has desired to just simply be a PRINCESS!  I'm embarrassed to say that last year I finally talked her into being a Chef just to "spice" it up a little.  I learned my lesson.  She just did not walk around proud.

My beauty is back and MAN...I LOVE this girl!!!

Who is that crazy witch in the background?  That princess, cupcake and Mine-craft Steve better watch out!

I feel happiness to know that my Sarah does know she's beautiful!  I tell her everyday over and over and I just think it's sticking!  She is the most beautiful, special, dedicated little lady!  (Now I'll go on before I get tears all over the computer)

I can take no credit for this fancy's all Justin!!!  What a Dad this young man has!  He's a Mine-crafter at heart!  I have to admit that in his limited time we give him on that game I sit back and watch in awww his engineer mind at work.

The only peek at Justin we got this year...right behind that pretty little cupcake...clear up in the corner by the front door.  Yes, folks.  That's my man!  I didn't get one decent picture of that hunk of a news reporter.

Love that we had a little carnival at our Trunk or Treat this year!

You know what really got me in the mood for all this Halloween stuff though...oh, my heavens...this was soooo yummy.  A pinterest gone completely wonderful...

Just click right here for the recipe to this glorious goodness!  We had some friends over to eat it with us and you know it's good when everyones going back for seconds, thirds and fourths!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Pattern of "Highs" and "Lows"


I left that office with the red winged back chair.  I had my arms full of reading material and a new prescription but I did not have the same conviction that my doctor did.  I didn't believe that I had Bipolar...yet.

There was temple trips, lots and lots of praying and a plethora of studying going on at our house.  Through my studies I first found a wonderful psychologist (therapist) and then I began to realize the "highs" and also the "lows" in my life that were making me see that this diagnosis was real.

I mentioned in my earlier post very detailed descriptions of the "lows" I was experiencing that sent me to the doctors in the first place.  At that time I did not recognize that I had previously been experiencing many highs that made my body crash into a out right panic attack.  That panic attack sent me into that cycle of "lows."

Hmmm, I was seeing a very real pattern going on.

My "highs" looked something like this (by the way this was all at one time...not kidding):

-walking every morning at 5:00am
-baking bread constantly
-teaching preschool
-I was coming up with numerous ideas as I lay awake at night
-selling Shelf Reliance with 3+ shows a week
-caring for a Special Needs daughter that was starting to hit puberty
-taking care of a 2 year old that was starting to potty train
-throw a 9 year old boy in there that needs to be loved
-I had racing thoughts all day about everything
-supporting my husband that was back at the airlines finally after being laid off but huge pay cut, oh,   and gone 4 days at a time.
-teaching piano lessons to 12 students every week
-ward music leader
-visiting teacher (serving and caring for a couple different women)
-following a cleaning schedule every day to the T!  (my house was soooo clean)
-laundry was always done
-dishes were always done
-feeding the missionaries dinner probably weekly
-mowing the lawn
-homemade dinner was always on the table
-keeping up a personal blog
-keeping up a cooking a Shelf Reliance Preparedness Blog
-taking sales calls daily
-listening to conference calls weekly and training team members to do what I did
-reading my Sunday school lessons on time every week
-reading scriptures every day
-clothes were laid out for school every week at a time
-had creative and different school lunches for the kids everyday
-then my high continued into the summer as well...yup...did all this with the kids home!!!

Doesn't that all sound so wonderful?  It was!  I was loving it!  I was feeling "on top of the world."  I said those exact words to my doctor I'll have you know.  Then I told him how frustrated I was that all the sudden I couldn't do any of it anymore.  My chest was tight all the time.  I couldn't breathe and all of this stopped!  I didn't like it all!  My home was running like a very well oiled machine and now it's out of control.

So, when I began to put this all together and realize I really had just come out of a few months of being in a Manic or High Cycle to then a Depressive or Low Cycle that was lasting more than a month at that time I questioned my history.  I wanted to look back in my life to see if there was a pattern.

I realized in some of my reading material I was given that, my doctor had been trying to tell me that another sign of Bipolar was my "baby blues" that I had experienced after my babies were born.

Sure enough, I popped open my journals and began to remember...

Back in 2002 when my Sarah was born, it was an emotional roller coaster for sure.  We almost lost her to death multiple times and we were just trying to keep her alive on top of learning to be a first time parents.  I really truly just hung on by my finger tips.  I floated through that year on my FAITH!

Then I got pregnant with Spencer when she was 15 months old and was told He may not make it to term, and if he did, wouldn't survive more than a few hours.  He had cysts on his brain that lead to another one of those genetic disorders that we were already way too familiar with from our still very sick daughter.  Once again, I hung on by my finger tips and floated through with my FAITH!

He was born and strong as ever!  It was a miracle!  I bounced back wonderfully after his birth.  Until he hit 4 months old I was running all over the place and making amazing strides with Sarah's health and accomplishing all kinds of good.  Well, at about that 4 month period, I remember sitting there staring at Spencer wondering "what have we done?"  He would wake every 2 hours at night and scream.  I went through a depressive state that I now recognize as such from journal entries.

When Spencer was a year old, I could see that a Manic or High cycle hit me again.  I started working out at the gym every day.  We moved form one city to a neighboring one and I did it pretty much all by myself while Justin was working and studying.  I saw many of the "highs" that I mentioned above in this time.

Then we made a large move across states due to Justin being hired on at the airlines FINALLY!  It was a huge change and soooo welcome.  A couple months after our move I had a miscarriage.  Right away I think I was handling it quite well.  I bounced back to what you might call a "high" until months later when I still couldn't get pregnant and I could see a "low" or depressive state set in for a while.

The first real noticeable "low" or depressive cycle that was noticeable to others was after my Allison was born in 2009.  It was another battle through lots of pregnancy sickness followed by 3 months of complete bed rest!  Seriously!  I emotionally did really well through all of that and then just like before I bounced out of bed after that baby was born and all those "highs" from above came back.

Then just like before, when Allison hit 4 months old was that noticeable "low." That one that sent me into my Bishop for the first time.  That one that sent me into my OBGYN begging for help.  That one that made me swallow the first medication I had ever tried.  I took it until Allison was a year old and then I slowly took myself off it.

And that took me up to my "highs" in the summer of 2011.  That landed me at my Panic Attack and then to that moment that I was sitting in my bedroom searching my journals trying to remember and trying to put patterns together as I was in and out of my therapists' office with this new diagnosis of Bipolar.

I had my answer.  It came to me through study but mostly a very soft, peaceful, confirming feeling from my Heavenly Father that I could feel from my head clear down to my toes.  I had Bipolar and Anxiety Disorder.  I had a doctor and a therapist that I was clearly led to.  I had a husband that loved me "no matter what."  I had a Bishop that was leading and guiding and teaching me that I needed to fix what was broken.  I had parents and in-laws that were flying out to help me.  I had dear friends that were watching children and such.

I knew as do the psychiatrists and psychologists that my set of symptoms that were present in clusters were lasting for a certain length of time, and were "episodes" that literally had a beginning phase, a middle "worst" phase, and a recovery phase.  I knew that I needed an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer medication at the right dosage for me.  I knew I also needed help with sorting things out in my mind and tools to help me and my family.

I was learning that this was a life long journey for me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bipolar. Scary Word?

Bipolar is a scary word; it does scare people!  Most really don't understand it.  I would even venture to say that those that actually have Bipolar Disorder don't even understand it.

The first time that I had a doctor sitting in front of me telling me I "had it" I literally got mad!  I thought I had a good understanding of what it was and I was certain it wasn't me.  Then I began to study it out with my husband by my side.  More than our studies, we prayed about this diagnosis that was stuck like a label on my forehead that would never come off.  At least, I felt like it was there.

This was and is my answer.  I now see that I'm so blessed to know that I do have Bipolar.  I've always felt like the hardest part about a challenge is the "not knowing."  When I get an answer than I can work with it; I can deal with it.  This answer was super hard and I still have days that I want to toss it out the window but I'm dealing and learning and feeling blessed now.

A little more of my story:

A few days ago, I blogged about my so called "heart attack"... that my body was screaming at me to change.  I awoke.  I changed.  I decided that I really did need to start taking that antidepressant that was supposed to help the panic attacks that were causing me to stop functioning.  Through my prayers, it was my answer.

I went and filled that prescription and jumped in.

My heart and chest didn't just suffocate me on that one day anymore.  I was having those same feelings every single day.  I started to look back over the last few weeks (possibly months) and realize that I really was feeling stress.  I wasn't being myself.

(What I'm about to share kills me.  I only do it in hopes that it might help somebody else. I'm also only able to do it because I have had the help I need now.  It doesn't happen in my home anymore.  I'm so grateful to The Atonement of Jesus Christ and the professionals that have helped me.)

I wasn't being calm and sweet to my husband any more.  I wasn't handling all that was on my plate well at all.  Just putting the kids to bed at night was literally turning me into a witch.  I kid you screaming and hysterical crying was stopping everything in my home multiple times a day.

It hurts me and rips at my heart to share this but I remember screaming at my dear precious husband way too many times over really stupid little things like the towel on the floor and thinking in my head "why am I yelling? this isn't me.  where is this coming from?"

I would be curled up on the bathroom floor crying so bad I couldn't breathe and be there for hours.

I slept any chance I got and then some.  I was not interested in things that I normally loved.  My eating habits were crazy.  My house work basically stopped.  I stopped going on walks just to be in the sunshine like I loved.  I never shopped.  It took all I had to get behind the wheel of my car to drive if I absolutely had to.

I couldn't look at anyone in the eyes anymore. I stopped answering the door.  I couldn't pick up the phone.  When I went to church, I had to come late so I didn't have to talk to anybody and would sometimes just get up and leave in the middle because my heart was racing so bad I couldn't breathe again.  On top of all that, Justin is a pilot and was never there at church and gone days at a time.  My poor sweet children were cared for by close friends (so grateful for them).

I wasn't okay.  I would go back to my doctors office quite a few times and he would just raise the dosage until finally one day he said he couldn't do anything else to help me.  He told me I needed to find a psychologist that could do more.

Justin and I went through weeks of prayers, insurance lists, different doctors office, met some really wacky psychiatrists and psychologists and finally one day Justin called an office for me and set up an appointment.  He made extra precautions to make sure I could be directed in the office by him and could sit in a quiet corner.  That is how bad it was.  He literally had to hold me and guide me in.  The psychiatrist walked out of the office and came right up to me and guided me back to his office.  I felt peace.  For the first time in weeks I knew we were in the right office.

I was overwhelmed with the peace I felt when I sat in that big red wing back chair and began to answer question after question. I couldn't quite muster the eye contact while telling my story but all the sudden I looked up in his eyes when he told me he wasn't as concerned with my Anxiety Disorder but more concerned that I have something called Bipolar!!! I was angry and I felt all that peace vanished.

I was not out spending crazy amounts of money we didn't have.  I had never had thoughts of suicide.  I wasn't doing risky or foolish things out in public that I saw bipolar described in the movies/tv shows.

Now I know that my angry feeling caused that peace to go away.  I left that office with gobs of reading material, a prescription for a mood stabilizer on top of the antidepressant I was already on and a foggy memory of anything else that he said to me that day.

So, What is Bipolar?

It's textbook description is defined as shifting between extraordinarily manic behavior, feeling on top of the world or supercharged with energy, to feeling depressed, withdrawn, and suicidal.

I've decided that perspective certainly plays a large role in finding or diagnosing this disorder.  This is certainly just my opinion and my experiences written here on this blog, but we are all very different and function at home, in our own minds and in public so different.  So, what looks like to me and Justin that I have Bipolar may look completely normal to somebody else in the world.

We rely so much on what we know I am, what I am not, my nature, and what our Heavenly Father inspires us to do.

From my studies, I have learned that there are factors that are believed to cause the cycling of Bipolar Disorder:  pretty complicated genetic background, individual biochemistry and life stresses.  Learning this brought me immense peace as it lifted my burden and self-blame that I brought this all upon myself--maybe through lack of faith or weak character.

So over two years I've wondered.  Is it in my family background and in my biochemistry?  What triggered it to manifest right now in my life?

That my friends is why like Elder Holland said I should, I found a professional psychologist (therapist) to help me sort that out.  I really did not know those answers.  I really was searching and needed so much help.  The medication from my psychiatrist was not my only help.

This is getting a little long for today.  I will go into more details about the wonderful therapy program I was lead to and what I've learned of Bipolar/Anxiety Disorder another day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I was having a HEART ATTACK

Just over two years ago, I was standing in the kitchen with my husband, Justin.  We were trying to get dinner on the table, the kids were loud, Sarah was doing her "woodpecker thing" she does, homework was dangling, piano lessons had just finished up for me.  I kept saying to Justin that "I can't breathe."  I just kept saying it over and over and the only relief would come when I would literally bend over and hang my head upside down.  I seriously thought I was having a heart attack after a while.

Justin was wise and took me straight to the doctor.  

I was feeling so frustrated that the doctor wasn't checking my heart out...not even listening to it.  He was just sittin there on that little rolly stool thing and kept asking me questions.  I was so frustrated!

Then all the sudden the doctor starts to tell me that I just experienced a Panic Attack.

"What?  A What? Huh?"  I kept thinking--"uh, no I'm not.  I'm not stressed!"

Then he starts to say that I need to take it easy and stop doing so much and that I probably need to start some medication.

"Oh my heavens!  Seriously?!?!"

A flood gate of thoughts was pouring all over in my head at this point.  I did not need medication.  I just came here because I can't breathe!  My heart has always had some funny little skip to's gotta be that.  I hate medication.  I have my life completely under control.  I just need to exercise more.  I really need to just eat better.  The one time I was on medication was from the baby blue stuff when Allison was born.  That was two years ago. I hated it!  I got myself off it and never need to go back there again!  I am way too strong for that.  Nope...Heavenly Father will help me...I know it!

Well, folks.  I'm so glad that I have a very wise husband that he just got me calmed down (he does that so well) and let me know we can just give it a try and go from there.  We did just that.  I battled over and over about that MEDICATION!!!  I questioned and questioned and questioned what I was doing.  I promised my smart husband though that I would do it.

This day that I'm talking about is where my diagnosis story begins.  I will never ever forget it!  My body just couldn't take it anymore and I like to think that this was my body telling me that it had had enough. It was time to change!

I like this quote by President Thomas S. Monson:

"Throughout our lives, we must deal with change.  Some changes are welcome; some are not.  There are changes in our lives which are sudden...."

I was determined to make this sudden change that came upon me something that was welcome because on that day it was not feeling very welcome at all!

I guess this face is how I felt about that change at that moment?!?!

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Beg for "NO Judgement!"

I plead with you to set aside all judgements.  I warn you that I have prayed long and hard about the things I write here.  As I sat a couple of weeks ago and watched Jeffery R. Holland give a talk called "Like a Broken Vessel" (it seemed like to just me), I knew it was time.  I must begin to write.

There are some challenges and trials that I have been blessed with.  I say "blessed" because I mean just that.  My challenges and trials have become prized possessions to me that make me who I am today at this very moment.  Each time I experience one of these trials/challenges I consider myself to be just a little more empathetic, a little more less judgmental or a little more able to have charitable or christlike love for others around me.

I was diagnosed with a soft form of bipolar and anxiety disorder almost exactly 2 years ago!  There!  I wrote it and I'm about to send it out to whoever reads it.  Until now, I have shared every second of this with my husband, a little less with my family, a little less than that with a select few friends and been closed about this to so many others.

I must say that when I do open my mouth and share I'm always surprised to find others going through similar things.  I've learned that it's very therapeutic to me when I'm sharing these challenges with others and very uplifting to me to feel like I'm actually helping someone else because of my own suffering and learning.

I feel like Elder Holland gave me permission to have "no more shame in acknowledging" this bipolar and anxiety as "realities of mortal life."  He said that there is no shame in speaking of "high blood pressure" or in speaking of "the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor."

I also feel like Elder Holland shouted from the roof tops for me--he said that those "discouraging moments" we all have  with the ups and downs that life just brings is not the mental problems that I am dealing with.  He put words in my mouth to help me describe these trials..."an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts (my) ability to function fully."  My "crater in the mind" as he describes it is "so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if (I) would just square (my) shoulders and think more positively!"

Just as I have found others that I look up to that go through these same battles, Elder Holland highlighted even more people that I look up to for their faith and leadership that have had depression or similar issues (including himself).  I felt normal.  I felt validated. I felt just as good as those people are when he spoke that conference day!

When he laid out the things we should do in this situation I had the realization that everything he suggested, I mean EVERTYTHING he said, I was led to do.  I testify that my Heavenly Father, your Heavenly Father too, led me gently down this same path he spoke of.  Let me just highlight what he said:

           He said to "never lose faith."  I always knew every second that My Heavenly Father loved me.    I never forgot for one second my testimony of all thats true!  

           He said to "faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord."  Even though I didn't always feel the peace I sought for, I promise you that I always read my scriptures, said my prayers, sang hymns and went to church.  Always!  I did just as he said...devotional practices that I had practiced my whole glad it was a habit already.

           He said to "seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being."  I wont go completely into it but the day I was diagnosed, my husband had to leave on a flight for work.  I was left in my puddle of tears on the couch when I heard a knock on the door.  Now, I'll write about this more soon but one of the things I just could not do at this time was open a door to anyone.  It didn't matter who it was.  Somewhere I mustered the strength to open the door to my Bishop that day.  I kid you not, my Bishop was standing there, on my porch.  It was the middle of the day and the middle of the week.  He was led there.  He was sent by pure inspiration.  That gave me that opportunity I needed to "seek his counsel!"

           Elder Holland spoke of "cherishing priesthood blessings."  I did just that--sometimes from Justin, sometimes from home teachers, once or twice from my own father.  

           I loved when Elder Holland said flat out "slow down, rest up, replenish and refill."  I was able to do these things through the "advice" I sought from a "certified trainer" that in Elder Hollands words had "professional skills and good values."

I'll end tonight with one of my favorite lines from Elder Hollands talk..."If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing AND get the best medical care available."

So, this isn't all that I know I need or want to share.  It's just the beginning.  Keep visiting here as I unfold experiences and lessons learned.  I sincerely pray that as there is "no judgements" placed here that complete compassion will be felt for each other.

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Marathon Runner!

I'm so proud of my marathon runner--Justin!!!

He's been wanting to wake up in the early morning hours and stand right there in Central, Utah with thousands of other runners (especially Ben) since twelve years ago when we were first married.  He was forced to stop his training with knee injuries and as a dedicated husband/father, he plowed through life putting that dream on the back burner.

Life has settled a bit.  His knee is fixed.  His dream came true!  He finally did it!

 "That's the thing about running:  your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success.  They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is."  --Kara Goucher

 Right there...Steven, Ben, Paul, Marium, Justin, McCoy and Danny!  The five brothers, mom and nephew crossed that finish line together!

 Our life is so wonderful!  Justin talks and talks about how fun those four hours were with his family.  We are so blessed to have such wonderful family and blessings.  I am so blessed to have such a strong, dedicated husband!  When he puts his mind to something he goes for it head on!!!
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