Hopeful.

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Wow. The support on my last post has been overwhelming. Not only have I received amazing encouragement on my facebook page, but I have received messages and emails letting me know friends are there for me if I need anything or they are available to chat and listen.

Just so you know – that means the world to me. It truly does.

It has always been my hope that opening up about my illness could help someone else. I’m still amazed that anything I write would be worthy of saving a life. But apparently it is. And I know for a fact that it has saved mine. Writing is like a life vest for me. I can be drowning in the ocean of depression and writing words will allow me to float until I can reach the shore.

I usually choose a “word of the year” at each start of the New Year. I started thinking about my word in December and thought I would choose fearless. I thought I had come through the worst of my illness and would be able to start a new year as fearlessly as possible.

And then I had another setback and wound up in the hospital again. When I was finally released I came home to ice on the ground and freezing wind. I walked in my house and immediately felt uneasy and afraid. What would 2016 hold for me? If I went by the past year, it didn’t look favorable.

But it’s May 31st and this is the longest I’ve gone without having to go back.

Does that mean the past five months have been fearless? No. In fact, they’ve been filled with fear. Fear of having to go back to the hospital. Fear of missing out on more life due to depression. Fear of people finding out what has happened and the judgement it would bring. Fear of hurting the people I love by not being able to stay well. Fear of how this would effect my children.

Fearful. Not fearless.

So should I be disappointed that the word I originally picked ended up on the complete opposite spectrum of what it has actually been? I don’t think so. Because I don’t think I can take anymore disappointment.

So I’m choosing, instead, to move on. Almost half of 2016 is over. But right now is my New Year. Right now is the celebration I missed.

I’m not saying the rest of the year won’t hold any fear. It will. This much I know.

But it can be full of other things too. Family, laughter, fun. But most of all . . . hope.

And that overrides fear every time.

So, I got sick

If I tell them, they’ll think less of me. Even I have a hard time believing it happened. But it’s the truth. It’s my truth. And after holding it in for nearly a year I’m ready to tell it. My story is worthy of being told.

I got sick last year. Not the kind of sick you’re thinking about. Not a fever or a stomach virus. No, not that kind. And not the kind of sick that is widely accepted in our society such as cancer or diabetes or even a broken bone.

I’ve made no secret on this blog that I am diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. My life has been a constant struggle of trying to stay well and, let’s be honest, a functional member of society.

But here is what has unfolded in the last three years . . .

When I learned I was pregnant with Sawyer in June 2013, I immediately went off all of my medicines that helped control my illness. I stayed off of them for the duration of my pregnancy. And then when she was born I continued unmedicated for another entire year while I breastfed her.

So, doing the math, I was unmedicated for almost two years. A bipolar person with no meds and hormone fluctuations all over the place. This does not make for a well-adjusted, functional person.

By May of last year, I was an emotional disaster. I couldn’t concentrate or focus on anything. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was in a full-on manic episode, which actually began right after I stopped breastfeeding Sawyer in January. It was bad. Really bad. I didn’t know which way was up or down. But oh, that roller coaster was fun at the time. My thoughts were all over the place. It was like the tilt-a-whirl in my brain.

Think of a movie on fast forward mode. That was my life. My mind racing at all times. I couldn’t shut it off. It was SO LOUD in my head. I was tired but I couldn’t sleep. I would stay up way too late writing, many times I was drinking at night. A glass of wine (or two or three) was the only thing that slowed my brain down long enough for me to breathe and sleep.

I was seeing a new therapist and had gone to my psychiatrist begging for medicines because I knew something was wrong. But it was too late. I had waited too long and the medicines weren’t working anyway because of the drinking.

I started running every other day even though I hate running. I lost weight due to my exercise routine and not eating as much. I didn’t need food. I was surviving on how thrilling life was. I’m not sure how much weight I lost but I remember being really excited when the scale read a number that I had last seen when I was in college.

At times I felt invincible, on top of the world. Other times I dropped to my knees, utterly exhausted by my own energy.

I spent a lot of money that I shouldn’t have spent. I made really bad decisions but believe me when I tell you, they felt so right at the time. It doesn’t excuse my behavior. But it does explain it. Read up on bipolar manic episodes. A lot of people think they would be fun. But the aftermath tells a different story. It was a textbook manic episode as I had every symptom. Weight loss, not sleeping, racing thoughts, overspending, obsessing over a certain task (running, in my case), abusing a substance, and some other ones that I won’t even discuss because . . . ugh. I just won’t.

In early June I was hospitalized for the first time. After coming down off of my manic episode with severe depression I was hospitalized a second time in early September. And while everyone else was partying it up for New Year’s Eve, I was once again in the hospital. It was the worst depressive episode I’ve ever had. Going from a manic episode directly into a depressive episode. Oh God. I’m not sure how I’m still here.

I’m finally writing this, at the urging of my husband and my best friend, because they know what I’ve known for awhile. I haven’t been able to write on my blog because not writing about this was like having a huge pink elephant in the sidebar! I have always been honest on my blog. I’ve always shared what’s going on in my life.  But this time, I was deeply ashamed and stayed quiet to please everyone. It is now clear that hiding this has been to my detriment as I have lost something I dearly love . . . writing. Since I was sixteen it has been a sort of therapy for me. Writing and sharing my struggle and all the while still being hopeful. It helps me.

But this . . . I wasn’t sure about telling the world about this. I am scared – no – TERRIFIED, to put this out there. What will people think of me? Will they think less of me? Will they betray me after learning the truth of what has happened over the last year. Will they stop talking to me or wanting to be my friend?

I know I have nothing to be ashamed of. This illness is not something I chose. This illness is not who I am as a person.

The reason I have chosen to be open about this is because I want others who are going through this to know that they are not alone. You are not alone. And if we hide it, try to sweep it under the rug, well that serves no one.

I thought about my kids. I thought about if they, God forbid, have an illness such as mine, would I want them to feel ashamed? Would I want them to stay quiet and go through their struggle alone? The answer is NO. I wouldn’t want that for them. I would want them to feel safe telling me anything. Life is hard enough. I would want them to be open with me and feel free to live their life out loud. Because that is the definition of bravery and hope. Standing up and saying, hey, I’m hurting but I’m not giving in.

This illness haunts me like a ghost. It follows me wherever I go. But I fight it. I fight hard. I turn around and punch depression in the face on a daily basis. I tell it where it can go.

And that’s what I’ve been doing the past year. I’ve been fighting. I’ve been in so much pain and confusion I can’t even explain it. Just know that it is an absolute miracle I am sitting here today, writing this for you to read.

At times, death was a very real possibility. I didn’t know if I would make it to my 37th birthday. (I did so it’s okay!)

I’m not really even sure how to end this blog post. I didn’t know how to start it either. I mean, what do you say anyway . . . “Hi! Oh, you know, I’ve been good. I went to a psychiatric hospital three times! The food was bad. So what’s going on with you?”

AWKWARRRRD.

I will hopefully be able to share more details as time passes. But it was eating me up inside not to share this part of me with those who have been reading for so long.

There’s nothing wrong with me. I didn’t fail. I’m not “less than” someone else because of this. But I still have to tell myself that every single day in order to believe it. Some nights the shame is too much to bear.

But somehow, I still find hope.

Mom Brain – The Struggle is Real

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ProPharma USA. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you’re a mom you’ve probably noticed your memory is not as good as it used to be before you had kids. The term “mom brain” has been coined to describe this struggle and it couldn’t be more true for me. And it might be for you too!

Maybe it’s because we have so many things to remember and our mind is trying to process multiple things at one time. Maybe it’s because we are constantly interrupted mid-thought. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because we’re tired :)

I’ve been looking for a solution to this problem – and I’m pretty sure I’ve found it in UBERA.

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UBERA is a unique blend of 3 of the oldest known herbs – Hawthorn, Ginkgo, and Kudzu all in one capsule. These herb capsules are used to support blood flow and sharpen the mind/improve memory.

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I’ve been using it for a week and some positives I’ve seen so far is improved concentration and a better, uplifted mood. I also have more energy than I used to have!

I love that UBERA is a natural product that is made in the USA. I trust it and I hope you’ll try it to overcome that mom brain syndrome!

Here’s my video review of the product!

 

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Planted

Someone mentioned the other day that due to my blog posts lately they could tell I’m not in a good place. And they would be right. I haven’t been in a good place. I’m coming off of my worst manic phase ever – which, believe me – is always super fun at the time. Then summer is over and you realize all that fun you were having was really, really bad for you. And for other people too.

Then the depression comes next. And I hate it. People may think I revel in it. But I don’t. I hate feeling so low. I hate crying. I hate darkness.

The seasons are changing and it’s time to stand and face the wreckage. I didn’t want to face it because the truth is scary and messy. But it’s necessary to get myself into a better, more positive place. It’s time to make better decisions when it comes to my health and my family.

I want to be myself again. I thought I was getting there but apparently it was not going well on my own. So new doctors have been found. New medications have been started. I’m finally getting the help I need to get back on track in my life. It hasn’t been easy at all the last few months. But there are moments now where I can see a little bit of light on the other side of sadness.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost this battle. I feel as if I’ve lost myself completely but worst of all, I’ve lost my faith. At one point I looked up instead of looking down. I didn’t realize my life would change so drastically when I surrendered to my illness and just said – Okay, God’s not going to take this away so I’m going to let the darkness win.

But then I realize – every time I have tried to surrender, something has stopped me. Or maybe it’s someone. I used to pray to God to take this away. But then I realized I was praying wrong. I don’t think God should take this away. I think I should thank him. I think I should use this battle, this war, because it has been my life’s greatest lesson. It has brought me so many gifts. The gift of hope. The gift of creativity through writing. The gift of knowing I’m beautiful just the way I am. Flawed and imperfect. But still loveable.

So I thank God for planting in me a hope so deep it can’t be pulled out. I may be rooted in negativity and an inability to see myself as worthy right now. But there is bursting evidence of love in my life. I know I can learn to believe in myself. And I can learn to love God for the abundant blessings He has given me.

I was so happy, on top of the world this summer. Now I feel buried under dirt. But I’m not buried at all. I’m planted. Planted with the hope that I will rise. I always do.

Sometimes when you'rein a dark placeyou

Organize Your Medications Easily with This app

I received compensation for my work on this campaign. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.

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Millions of people in this world take medication every day. I am one of those people and I’ll admit, sometimes I get confused. You see, I have to take different pills at different times of the day. Morning, mid-day and at night. You can see how anyone with this schedule could get confused.

Add to it the fact that I have three children, a full-time job and a full calendar. My memory starts to get muddled when I’m busy. There are times when I can’t remember if I took something or not. This can actually be dangerous because I may take something twice if I can’t remember. So I was looking for a way to organize my medication schedule that would work for me. I’m constantly using my phone so it seemed finding an app to help me stay on track was the best option.

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Medisafe, the leading app to help you stay on top of your medications, is the one I chose. It allows you to enter all of your medications and insert the time you should take it. You can set reminders so you don’t forget! If you would like, you can connect to family members and soon, your doctors! Naaman (who is constantly asking if I’ve taken my meds) doesn’t have to wonder if I’ve taken them. I can connect with him and he can see it for himself.

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The co-founders decided to create the Medisafe app to help their diabetic father manage his health and medications. It brings peace of mind to more than 2 million people. And it definitely does that for one of the most important things I do every day to stay well.

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The Medisafe app is available for download on Android or iPhone. I highly recommend it for anyone who needs to keep track of medications.

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I received compensation for my work on this campaign. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.