today, I painted my nails

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Today, I painted my nails.  They aren’t perfect but I keep looking at them and feeling happy.  I feel happy because I took a few minutes today to do something for myself.

The past few months have been heavily consumed with many things beyond my control.  My daughter has done amazing with her FPIES.  She has passed every single food we have tried– which is a tremendous blessing.  She can eat squash, zucchini, carrots, blueberries, pears, apples, and bananas!  When I think back to the night she went to the hospital with violent vomiting after eating oatmeal, my heart aches.  I feel such fear.  When she got the FPIES diagnosis I felt defeated.  I felt like the next few months would just be one anxiety attack after another.  Thankfully, my mind has calmed down and so has her stomach! haha.  She has done so well with her foods and I am so thankful.  This week we go to the hospital to trial a trigger food.  Chicken.  I pray that she passes this as it will be a big step for her!  She also gets her allergy testing and I hope that she has no traditional food allergies.  She is a healthy, strong, beautiful princess and I am full of hope.

As for my son– we are still dealing with… “is it autism? is it not? is it ADHD? is it something that will get better with time?” etc.  He was supposed to meet with a school psychologist this week to evaluate him further… but I’m not ready.  I will push it off for a month.  Sometimes we have to make selfish decisions.  Today, I painted my nails while my husband cleaned the kitchen.  Today, I decided to postpone my son’s evaluation for myself and for him.  I would like for him to get more familiar with his new school and teachers.  I would like to give him a chance in another environment.  His new school is full of supportive, loving, caring, kind teachers.  I want him to experience that support before potentially labeling him with autism.  And for me, I won’t have to deal with the possibility of my baby going to the hospital with a food allergy and my son being labeled with a developmental condition in the same week.  My mental health is fragile and though I am much better, stressful times are very triggering.  I need to be the best mom for my babies.

This week I’ve spent many hours crying.  I see my son riding his bike with such joy.  He screams randomly, “mommy!! I love you!” …I melt into a puddle of tears.  I’ll never tire of hearing such precious words.  I cry because he’s so wonderful and perfect.  I don’t want anything to be hard for him.  I want life to be perfect.  I want him to be care free and happy.  I cry because things may be harder for him and there is nothing I can do to “Fix” it.

This post is getting lengthy, but I just needed to get a little bit off my chest.  I could write for hours about my thoughts and feelings about both of my children… specifically with their health issues.  I am personally struggling with the possibility of my son having an autism diagnosis.  I don’t know if that makes me a bad person or not.  I’ve had crazy thoughts…selfish thoughts. I’m just trying to work through it all in my head.  My husband has been working nonstop and I haven’t been able to get to therapy so I’ve been trying to work it all out on my own.  It is hard.  Anyone else struggle with the possibility of an autism diagnosis?  How did you cope?  How did you get to a good place?

-c

 

evening thoughts.

I’m not going to worry about sounding poetic… I’m just going to write because I’m sitting here crying and I feel so alone with my feelings.

My son is struggling at preschool. He doesn’t interact well with other children. He has trouble expressing himself. He is hyperactive. Nearly everyday I get a negative report from his teacher. I feel anxiety when going to pick him up from school. I don’t know how to help him. I know that as a child I was painfully shy. I often felt that I couldn’t talk to certain people, go in certain stores, etc. I felt that I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t know how to start conversations. I was nervous. I know that some of my issues will inevitably trickle down. He’s also experienced environmental hardships in dealing with my problems. Maybe he has social anxiety issues. I’m thinking out loud. I don’t know what to do. I feel so helpless.

Today at the park, two little boys were playing together. One tried to reach out to my son. The other little boy said “don’t bother, he doesn’t play.” I didn’t hear it but my husband did and told me about it this evening. I immediately started crying and haven’t stopped.

My son is bright, brilliant, funny, sweet, tender-hearted, joyful, beautiful, perfect. I never want anyone to see him as anything other than those things. Parenting is hard.

There is hope in the fact that today at the park he saw the other boys in one area.  He watched them.  He walked over to them.  He didn’t speak… but he noticed.  He was interested.  He smiled.  He tried to approach them.  I hovered and when I saw he was going too far away called him back.  Maybe my helicopter parenting has contributed.  Maybe I try so hard to help him that I’m not helping him at all.

He’s 3 and a half years old and that is exactly how long I’ve been a parent.  I’ve never done this before.  I’m trying, but this is hard.

Claire: a one minute poem 

I knew I was on the road to recovery when I felt inspired to write. I held my almost 3 month old daughter and could feel the words being created in our bond.  Postpartum depression/anxiety can rob you of a lot of things- but eventually you find your way home.  These words aren’t groundbreaking literature, but in that moment they were everything to me.  They were me breaking free from darkness and discovering my new self.  After 3 months of feelings that were hard to manage, I was allowed to feel the joys of a new baby. She was and always had been the biggest blessing- even when I had trouble seeing anything beyond fear.  I am grateful for this moment and will never forget it.

Claire

Breathe you in
Warm skin, loving lips
My hair around your fingers
Pulling me close
Covering you
Protecting you
Your skin so soft
Your will so strong
A simple kiss
A loving gesture to you
Your home and your protection
Keep me this close forever
Forever with you

mindfulness.

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Yesterday I had therapy.  I feel like a lot of people dread going to therapy or don’t see the value in it.  I’ve been those people at one time or another.  It feels good to get it all out …but you don’t necessarily take anything from it.  I’ve discovered after having this therapist for the past 6 months …that all of those times I felt that way were because I had the wrong attitude, or maybe the wrong therapist ha.  I am currently seeing a phenomenal, intelligent, gifted therapist and she has really helped me with my struggles over the past 6 months.  I can honestly say that I feel like I am improving and it is in large part due to biweekly sessions with her.

I just wanted to put that out there because I feel strongly about therapy.  It can be REALLY beneficial.  Yesterday, I told my therapist about the conversation with my husband.  I was able to take her through each part of it again, and she was able to walk through the emotions I experienced with me.  The breakthrough in this is that for the first time I was able to lead her.  I was able to carry her with me through the initial anger, the frustration, the sadness and then eventually to the acceptance, the silver lining and the push to get better.  I was able to take a situation in my life and approach it calmly… on my own.  She taught me how to do this.

In the past I’d approached therapy like a reality TV show.  I would go …tell them about all of the psycho moments I’d experienced. Each session I would introduce more characters with crazy stories… and it started to feel like I was going just to shock them with my day to day life.  It was interesting to tell a stranger about my past and see them feel for me.  I was there for the viewers but lacked the substance.  I don’t know that I ever really had an actual desire to change anything.  Maybe I thought just telling them about it would suddenly shift everything around for me and things would change on their own.  Maybe I hadn’t been broken enough when I went to therapy before to allow it to help me.  I don’t know what the answer is honestly.  I just know that 6 months ago I walked into her office completely beaten down.  I feared everything.  The anxiety was too much.  The OCD was taking over.  I felt paralyzed with these emotions.  Something had to change.  She has guided me each step of the way.

I know people that refuse therapy.  They think it isn’t beneficial.  They feel dumb… or they feel scared.  They feel like they don’t need it at all.  I think everyone needs it at some point or another and they shouldn’t be ashamed.  Being mentally healthy is critical. I’ll gladly go every other week if I can be a better mom, wife, daughter and friend.  For these reasons, I’d like to share a few things I have learned in therapy so that maybe this experience can help others.

Mindfulness.  This is so important.  Just being present in your life.  God has blessed me with 2 beautiful children and a husband greater than any man I’ve ever met… and for large parts of each day I was missing them completely.  I was in my own head.  Dwelling.  I was abandoning them to spend all day with my thoughts.  This has happened so often and for so long.  It is tragic.  Being present in this life.. in this moment.. with your blessings.  It is unbelievable.  I told my husband that at one point I laughed whole heartedly with my son… and in that moment I felt truly present.  I immediately felt pain in the pit of my stomach.  I’d left my anxiety post and allowed joy to creep in.  It felt scary.  My husband couldn’t believe it.  He couldn’t believe that I’d had so few happy experiences like this that my body didn’t physically know how to react to it.  Over the years I’d programmed my brain to scan for danger.  I’d programmed my body to respond with fear.   There were no other emotions.  There was “no time.”

I am in the process of retraining my brain.  I am trying to teach it to fear a rational amount of things and let the rest go.  I am devoted to being more present and I am seeing a change.  There are many ways to become more mindful.  One of the most beneficial tools I’ve used is the Insight Timer app.  This app has changed my life.  After only a few meditations… I could feel a change.  They work in the moment to reduce anxiety and they work overall.  There are such wonderful meditations.  The loving kindness meditations are probably some of my favorites.  If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, anything really… please take time to download this app and meditate with me!  Be receptive …it can help you.  Try not to go into it with negativity.  Approach it with an open mind and an open heart.

Another important thing that I’ve learned is that your mental health is a class that you have to work VERY hard at to succeed in.  You have to do all of the work… you have to study it, practice it, live it, and work at it.  Showing up for therapy and psychiatrist appointments does not get you an A.  You have to do work.  This may seem like a “duh” statement… but for a really long time I didn’t think it really mattered.  I didn’t think I needed to work so hard just to exist peacefully.  It takes work …and that’s okay.   It takes time… and you’ll find it.  You’re worth it.  Some of us are blessed with the ability to live mindfully and peacefully with minimal effort, others of us have to fight like hell to keep the peace.  (ironic huh?.) I am not going to dwell on why things are so hard… but instead I am going to try hard to make the best of them.

I hope this blog post helps someone… I hope that anyone suffering finds someone like my therapist that can help them.  Tomorrow, I may feel horrible again.  I may look back on this and feel like a fool for thinking I could feel better.  –but that’s the beauty of living in the present.  I have this moment now… and for now, it is wonderful.