Monday, 11 May 2015

The Journey

As I mentioned in my previous blog I had attended Midweek at my church on Thursday nights.  Midweek has wrapped up for the summer and I really wanted to capture what the experience meant to me.  So I ended up writing my thoughts down and I thought I would share it on my blog.

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Joining Midweek

Since January I have been really wanting to focus on learning of more ways to better manage my anxiety and my depression. 

 Back in November my Psychiatrist had told me that going to an anxiety support group to learn ways to recognize when I was becoming anxious as well as different coping strategies.  By the way telling a person who suffers from anxiety to join a support group makes them extremely anxious! When he told me that it would be good for heart started racing, tears instantly came to my eyes.  

Dr. Larry assured me that he didn't mean that exact moment but it would be good for me to think about the possibility of going a group since I had said that I didn't want to be on meds forever if I didn't have to.  So fast forward to January and I had decided that I needed to at least look into support groups.

As I was contemplating, praying about this there were a couple of things that I knew I needed to look into.  I know I wanted the group to be faith based.  I also had to safe guard my evenings.  I am out a couple of nights a week, with doing respite and two small groups that I am involved in.  One I lead and the other I attend.  I realized that I really didn't want to be out 3-4 times a week.  I knew that our church offered a program called midweek that offers support groups for a variety of different issues.  Depression and anxiety, single parenting,  women's support groups, mens support groups, financial support groups and so on.

The only problem I had with attending Midweek was that it was on Thursday nights and thats the night I have small group.  I must admit the thought of leaving my small group rose my anxiety level to a very high level.  You see they have been a major part of my support system since I was diagnosed with depression, ADHD, OCD, etc. The thought of not seeing them every other week was terrifying.  I prayed about it and decided to take the leap.

It was one of the best choices that I made.  Don't get me wrong, I missed my small group but being surrounded by people who understood what I have been going thru the last 3 years was so refreshing.  I have learned new strategies to cope with my anxiety when it rears it's ugly head.  I have learned to look for particular behaviours within myself that alerts me to my depression trying to make itself known.

My support  group has wrapped up for the spring and summer and I miss my friends.  I miss hearing how life is for each of them, I miss laughing with them, crying with them and praying for them.  I miss them.  

I am so thankful to have joined Midweek and I will be returning on the off weeks that my small group is not meeting.  I am so blessed and honoured to have met and to call these members friends!  I am a stronger person because of them! 

I'm back!

Well it's been a really long time since I've posted anything.  I'm not sure as to why except to say that consistency is not a easy thing for me.  I am wanting to be more diligent about my blogging.  In order to do that I am realizing that I need to put myself on a schedule!  At first I was extremely resistant to the idea.  My Mum used to put us on a schedule so that she could keep a pulse on all that was happening with her kids.

I'm 43 year olds, schedules are for kids aren't they?  Well I am wrong.........for those of us with ADHD/ADD schedules are a great way to help us stay on track and to keep ourselves accountable.  It's a great way to figure out if we are doing too much that ends up overstimulating our brains or if we are not doing enough to challenge our brains.  

I am currently reading a book called "You mean I'm not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!" This book has been eye opening for me ; the authors Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo wrote this book for adults with ADD.

They stress the idea of learning more about ourselves as ADDer's (the name they gave us in the book).  I have been able to say so far in every chapter that I have learned something new about myself or I've said " Oh so that's why I do that!"  The authors have said how crucial a schedule is so I am going to try it and hopefully I will be more consistent in my blogging.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Catching up

It's been awhile since I've posted anything here.  To be honest it's been an interesting month to say the least.

To make a long story short; I had been without my anti-depressants for about two months (I couldn't afford ADHD meds and my anti-depessants) and I was experiencing mini anxiety attacks and then one night after attending midweek at my church; a support group for people journeying thru difficult situations, I experienced my worse ever panic attack.

After midweek I was a wreck, I couldn't stop crying my friend that had driven me suggested that we go to our small group leaders house.  We went and when I walked in the door I had a major panic attack.  I think in total I had 2.  I couldn't breathe, I was hot, I couldn't stop crying.  I ended up wrenching (sorry if that's too much information) and I also had a nose bleed.

My small group leaders were wonderful as were those that were there.  They held me, told me when to breathe, prayed over me.  It was one of the worst experiences of my life.  I am so thankful that I was surrounded by members of my small group.  

Since then I have been doing much better, I am taking both meds, my anxiety seems to be lessening.  Prayer is a wonderful thing!!

My work is going great.  My am boy has been doing really well.  He is speaking a little more each day, saying his letters, mimicking what I say (which means I have to watch what I mutter under my breath) and overall adjusting to transitions a little easier.  My pm boy is starting to talk louder, and not need to be around me as much during free play.  

One of the things that I have learned over this past month is that community is so important.  Sharing where you are at is so important.  Listening to others stories is vital to your own health and wellness.  We can learn so much from others.  Our stories may not be the same but the emotions can be.  Learning different techniques how to handle different life situations is key.  

If we think that we can't learn from others then we are sadly mistaken!  As I journey this life my hope is that I will pay attention to those around me.  Be involved in their stories, share mine.  If I focus solely on myself not only will I be selfish but I will miss out on helping others.

Chat with ya later!


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Well this week my musings are not going to be about my diagnosis etc.  They are about my job.  I LOVE my job!  It is fantastic.   It is hard to do sometimes, exhausting but man is it rewarding!  I am an Educational Assistant and I work in a Kindergarten class in the morning and a Nursery class in the afternoon.  

My morning boy has autism and he is non verbal.  For the sake of privacy I will call him Mr. Happy bc he is one happy, affectionate kid!  He is five years old and I have been working with him since November.  This kid is AMAZING!  I have learned so much from him all ready.

When I first met Mr.Happy he was not so happy.  He didn't do transitions well (still has difficulty) and because he has a hard time communicating he would scream, yell, hit etc when he wasn't being understood or when asked to do something.  We have come along way he and I.  Mr. Happy is inquisitive, a deep thinker.  I have learned from him that stopping what your doing to run and give somebody a hug makes the day better.  He will often stop playing with a toy, run over give me a hug and then go back to playing.  This is usually done with a giggle or a smile for me.  

Mr. Happy has taught me to look at the world or a situation from all angles not just what's in front of me.  The other day Mr. Happy was playing with his magnetic letters; he grabbed the N and the Z and held them up examining them.  After a few moments of looking at them he tapped my arm and started taking to me.  I of course could not understand what he was saying but he then held up the two letters and then made them both 'N's. He then sat down on the floor and looked at them on the table, and he then walked over to the other side of the table and examined them from the other side.  He even went so far as to stand in front of the table bend over and look at the letters upside down.  Now i have no idea if that helped him in whatever it was he was really discovering but we were able to talk about how they are the same shape and how smart he was to figure it out!

I got to thinking later how I need to examine situations from different angles.  I try not to look at things thru just my lens but I have to admit, it's much easier if I do.  Especially at work.  It might not be right but it is easier.  Mr. Happy took the time to look at both letters and to spend equal time turning them around before he showed me that they were the same.  In my job I know that I can sometimes make quick judgements or not really hear both sides to the children's issues.  

Mr. Happy is such a blessing to work with and I am so blessed to be able work with him.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Things that make you go Hmmmmm!

Its Wednesday night and I have put the boys to bed ( I do respite for friends once a week).  The house is quiet and I have been thinking about the past 3 years and what I have learned about myself, the good, the bad and the ugly.  I have come to realize well I think I have known all along but acknowledging it out loud that I am a quirky person.  

I think in some ways having a firm diagnosis has opened my eyes to some of my quirky habits and why I do them.  At the moment I can't think of any to share but maybe one or two will come to me by the end of this blog.  

When I first found out for sure that I was ADHD, OCD,  riddled with anxiety etc I wasn't really sure what to think about the labels,what the letters mean,  about anything really.  It was a big ball of yarn in my head and I was having a hard time unravelling it.  I was chatting with a friend of mine on Facebook one night and I shared with her my diagnosis and I was telling her that the OCD one really threw me for a loop!  To which she replied "Really Sis, I'm not surprised at all!"  Which had me thrown for another loop....what in the world was she talking about? How dare she say that!  Was the thought I had in about 3 seconds.  When I asked her to explain what she meant she reminded me of some of my behaviours growing up.

I hated having sticky hands, dirty hands ( I still do).  I would make sure that all the songbooks and Bibles were organized 'properly' in the pews after church on Sunday's to name a few small habits I had.  Looking back I can see different areas where it is quite evident that the letters behind my name are there for a reason.

I think one of the hardest things about all of this; is not using the diagnosis as an excuse to keep doing what I'm  doing which  is not helpful in my life, as well as trying to explain to people why I am grateful for the diagnosis.  You see, I have know for probably 20 years or more that my brain seems to be wired quite differently then those around me and that I couldn't figure out why I kept doing what I was doing.  With this diagnosis it has given me an explanation for how I'm wired and why I do what I do.  Now it would be extremely easy to sit here and use it as a crutch and not try to make better/healthier decisions for myself.  

I really don't want to do that, I want to change the areas where this diagnosis has an negative impact on my life and I also want to use this diagnosis to help me in the areas that are positive.  It is a daily struggle to not get bogged down with the weight of it, but there is so much joy.  

I am not alone, I'm not married, no kids, not even dating at the moment and I am not alone in this new part of my journey.  I not only have the amazing support of my family and friends but God has been with me every step of the way.  

I have been really thinking about my life verse lately.  It's my life verse bc my Grandpa and Grandma declared this verse over me years ago and I have clung to it.  It's Jeremiah 29: 11.  "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."  

Three years ago this verse meant something very different to me.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit it but I think there was a part of me that was thinking "cool, the heartache and pain of life will be minimal bc God doesn't want that for me."  That's right, I was that naive to think that.

When my depression was at it's worst I was sducidal, I really didn't think that life was worth the effort.  I was hardly functioning and really who would miss me?  My family would be better off without me as would my friends.  It was on this night that the verse really changed for me.  I'm lying in bed crying my eyes out thinking these thoughts and in the midst of it God showed up.  How you may ask?  I felt his presence......the lights were off in my room (no God didn't turn the lights on) but He gave me such a peace in the midst of such a terrible night.  My thoughts went from trying to figure out how to  end my life to how can I save it!  I will tell you this.....the switch that happened was so not thought patterns and ability to hear, believe and understand truth was not functioning, yet there I was crying and crying for hours, going from sucicidal thoughts to not thinking of sucide and then deep merciful sleep.  So what does this have to do with the verse you may ask?

It was in that moment and since then that I have come to realize that the verse doesn't say that bad things won't happen and that I won't get hurt.  What it does say is that God's plans for me are good.  I have depression, SAD, ADHD, OCD and anxiety issues, is that what God wants for me?  I don't think it is, however we live in a crazy sinful world and Satan is fighting like crazy to destroy God's plan and I believe metal health issues are a part of Satans plan to try and win.  

Now I am not saying that I am demon possed and that others who suffer with mental illness are demon possessed.  What I am saying is that I believe there is a battle between good and evil and evil is using different mental health issues to fight.  

So how is God using all that I have been thru for good?  How is this going to prosper me, where's the hope?  Well I am still sorting that out but what I have discovered so far is that thru my depression, I have been forced to not wear a mask anymore.  I can no longer say I'm fine if I'm not.  I have been able to share my story with others and others have shared with me giving us the strength to see that we are not alone and that there are people who understand what we are going thru.  How is this going to prosper me?, well because of all that has gone on in the last few years I have been forced to take a hard look at myself and see where I need to make healthier choices for me.  

It is not God's desire for me to experience harm, pain etc. However I would be extremely naive to believe that just because I have a relationship with Jesus that I won;t experience it.  What God will do is journey with me thru the lows and the highs.  Giving me unconditional love, strength for the next day.  Do I have this all figured out?  HECK NO!!  What I do know is that Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise that has such deep meaning for me because I know that God cares about it all.  

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

To Medicate or not to Medicate; that is the question!

It's 9:45pm and I have just tidied up my place from having my small group over.  I am one of many small group leaders in my church and I am honoured to be part of a group of single women varying in ages from 21-30.

Part of our discussion led us to talking about how in the midst of the worst parts of our lives there can be peace.  It is hard to explain but during the darkest days of my life, while I was lying in bed crying off and on for hours I still felt God's peace with me.  It doesn't make sense but I know that he was with me during those days.

It was during that time when I had to make a decision; drugs or no drugs.  I wasn't sure that I wanted to go on medication for the rest of my life but I also knew I couldn't keep living life how I was.  So what did I do when I got home from my Dr's visit in Winkler?  I ate a bag of Lay's Dill Pickle chips and Philadelphia cream cheese dill pickle dip.  I decided not to decide.  I ate my chips and dip and watched TV.  

I ended up talking to my parents about what the diagnosis was and asked for their advice.  My parents were and  are awesome.  They were so supportive during that time and after chatting with them, chatting with a few close friends I decided to try meds.

My parents pointed out to me (as did Dr. Larry) that trying meds didn't mean I had to stay on them but they may help me focus enough to do the cognitive stuff I needed to reprogram my brain.  After a lot of praying, discussing with family and trusted friends I decided to try the meds.

I have a confession to make;  when I decided to go on meds I really thought it was going to  be a quick fix.  Its been three years and I think we have finally found a medication that is helping.  My Dr and I decided to start off with me taking meds for my ADHD.  For most medications they can also help with other issues, like depression, OCD etc. 

I was sadly mistaken about the quick took a bit of trial and error but we have found one that has helped me focus and help me control some of my impulses.  One thing I have realized that the depression and anxiety piece didn't seem to be getting any better.  After some intense debilitating panic attacks over the summer I finally came clean to Dr. Larry and admitted to him what had been going on for the past 3 months.  After 2 sessions  of discussions we decided to add a low dose antidepressant.  I am still in the process of finding a good mix but I am confident that we will find one that will help.

If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be a person who needs to take meds everyday I would have laughed.  I am not against people taking meds (obviously...:-) ) but I really didn't  see how impulsive I was and that the choices I was making were making my life more difficult.  There are many views about medications and faith and I'm not going to get into nor do I want to get into a debate about it.  I chose with prayer and guidance from my parents and friends to try it.  I hope that one day that I will not need to take meds to help me live my everyday life but I have also decided that if I do need to I will do it because it is what makes sense for me.

I have learned that although the meds do help I still need to put the work into changing my habits, my thoughts and how I do certain things so that I can be the best me that God wants me to be.  This road has not been easy, there have been days when I have wished that I had a different brain and that I was a 'better' person.  I realize that in saying that, I am telling God that he made a mistake when He made me.  I'm not comfortable with that thought process so I have to say that I am working towards being proud of who I am and that I don't have to be perfect but I do have to be willing to work on the hard stuff that God is asking me to.  

I do believe in my heart of hearts that bc of the way I'm wired it makes me good at my job.
I love working one on one with kids with behavioural issues or special needs in a school setting.  There is a part of me that understands them and that has been crucial in my ability to be compassionate yet stick to my guns so that they can strive.

I have no idea what the next few years will look like but I am thankful that God has used my deepest, darkest days to help me see that there were (are) area in my life that I needed to address and not run away from.  More on that at another time. 

Chat with ya later!