Mental Health Awareness Month: Cling to Hope

I didn’t expect this blog post to be so difficult to write. I knew I wanted to write about Mental Health Awareness, but I didn’t know how to approach this article… and not because I feel like I don’t have a voice in this battle. I know I have a voice, a story, and a passion about mental health… but how on earth do I put words to the ache in my heart?

I fought depression on and off from 11 years old to 28 years old. I am only 31 years old. I struggled with anorexia in middle school, late in college, and then briefly after having my second child. Depression has been a part of my life more often than not. Depression is what stole my childhood. Depression is what stole my motherhood for the first 4 years of it. Depression stole my identity for so long. I believed the lies it fed me for far too long. The lies of You’re not good enough. You’re not worthy of (Fill in the blank/literally anything other than pain). You’re not loved.

Y’all I went so long believing these lies were true. It wasn’t until I was about 26 years old and in counseling while I was recounting my thoughts out loud to my counselor. Specific thoughts I had when I debated with the idea of suicide… My counselor was able to help me realize that those thoughts were some dark lies. Many have said suicide is a selfish decision, and I understand that perspective. I also understand the perspective of the one with suicidial ideations… you’ve convinced yourself this is the most selfless thing you can do for your family. You’ve convinced yourself that they are better off without you, that you’re easily replaceable, and that you truly don’t matter. You’ve convinced yourself that the lies are true. **Please note: If you are thinking about suicide, I urge you to stay. Stop listening to the lies in your head. Know that you are LOVED. You matter. You have purpose. Go get professional help.**

This month, and every month, I stand with those of you affected by mental illness: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar, schizophrenia, you name it. I stand with you, I will fight for you, and I will pray endlessly that you hear God’s truth, and not lies.

Even though I had studied for years about psychology and have a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, it took my husband to convince me to get help. I was in such a dark place after we had our third child… I went to counseling, I took Zoloft for a while, I continued studying and found Dr. Caroline Leaf’s work from my counselor’s suggestion. (If toxic thoughts are running your life, I highly recommend her book Switch on your Brain). Before we got pregnant with Sarah, while working with my doctor, I weaned off of Zoloft. I started using some holistic measures in place of it (and still do), and after having my fourth baby I didn’t struggled with postpartum depression. I don’t know if you can appreciate the magnitude of that sentence… for the first time in YEARS I didn’t have to battle my mind while caring for my children. Sure, I still dealt with those raging hormones the first couple of months, but I felt the JOY of motherhood that I had only heard about from other moms. To this day I don’t have to take Zoloft, and I no longer have to fight the daily fight to chose life and not death. 

I want to provide hope. If you’ve been struggling with mental illness for months, years, or decades… there is hope. I know, please trust me I know, sometimes it feels helpless. I have many memories of crying out to God begging him to just take it away. I am incredibly thankful He provided me with a solution for my body and emotions.  I want to encourage you to continue to seek help and healing. Reach out to your loved ones. Know that you are loved, wanted, valued. Go to counseling. Provide your body with solid nutrition, exercise and supplements. Feed your mind with positive thoughts and emotions. Surround yourself with loving people and influences. Believe in healing. Cling to hope.

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Sweet & Sour Kids

sweet-sour-2

You know those Sour Patch kids commercials? “First they’re sour, then they’re sweet.” That’s about what it’s like every day with kids.

My day usually starts around 3:00AM (sour) with a wake up call from my baby Sarah letting me know she’s ready to nurse. I usually groan, hit my cell so I can use it as a flashlight, then get my baby girl and make my way to the couch. As I nurse her, sometimes I’ll scroll through Facebook, sometimes I’ll close my eyes and doze off again, but other times I’ll choose to soak in the moment. I look down at my (sweet) baby girl and realize she will never be this little again, she will never need me as much as she does now again, and I kiss her cute little cheeks before putting her back in her Pack n Play while I crash back in my bed next to my sleeping husband.

Then my alarm goes off at 6:15AM telling me it’s time to start getting ready to take Noah to school. I snooze it a couple of times, knowing Nathan will be up and starting breakfast for everyone (thanks, babe). I finally drag myself out of bed in time to make Noah lunch and see how crazy his bedhead is to fix it. We walk to school, and he chats with me about his new friends and recess (these walks are so sweet). As soon as he walks inside the school doors I realize how freakin’ hot it is at 7:30 in the morning in October, and sweat like a pig on the walk back (sour).

The rest of my morning is filled with watching Tim and Isaac make a huge pile of pillows and blankets to jump on to (sweet) and being a referee when they both jump at the same time and knock heads (sour). Baby Sarah is quick to remind me every few hours to nurse her and will coo and laugh with me (sweet) until she poops (sour), and then laughs some more at me. The amount of diapers I go through a day with 2 littles still in diapers is ridiculous.

After lunch everyone takes a nap. I think most people will admit that kids look the sweetest when they’re sleeping. Some days I nap with Tim (sweet), other days I decide to tackle the dishes or work on the pile of laundry my kids create (sour). Then I wake them up to drive to get Noah (because I’m not walking 2 miles in 100 degree South Texas weather with all the kids). Now, that pick up line is something else: it seems no matter what time you make it in the line you end up waiting at least 20 minutes, and then occasionally our A/C goes out when the Suburban isn’t moving (oh so sour moments).

The rest of the day is a blur. I just try to keep the boys from hurting each other until Nathan comes home, feed and bathe them, and then put the boys to bed. This is usually when baby Sarah wants to tell me about her day so we chat and giggle at each other… These days aren’t glamorous, but they’re mine. These days are demanding and not always encouraging, but I know that even though I have some sour moments, I’m guaranteed some sweet moments too.

How about you? Share some of your sweet and sour moments below!

When’s the Last Time You Blogged?

“Hey babe, when’s the last time you blogged?”

I cringed and kept scrubbing the pan that had bacon grease practically burnt on it. I really need some new pans!

“It’s been a while.” I casually responded back.

The truth is, I’ve been avoiding it. I kind of just feel like a big failure in the blogging world. I had told myself over and over I’d be consistent, and time after time I dropped the ball and stopped blogging for extended periods of time. I felt like I didn’t deserve to take another crack at it again… Then I thought about it some more, and decided Who flipplin’ cares if the last time I blogged was when I announced we were pregnant and now our baby girl is one month old?! By the way, look how adorable she is!

sarah at wbs

I was a little busy growing a human, chasing 3 boys, and teaching essential oil classes! Now, I’m still doing all of those things (minus growing a human, now she’s just attached to my boobs every couple of hours, which is still pretty time consuming). I’m still trying to figure out how to run a business, keep 4 children 5 years old and under alive, and occasionally take a shower or brush my hair. I probably “don’t have time” to write consistently, and I probably will still have times where I fall of the grid for a while, but I LIKE writing. It makes me happy, and sometimes is the only time I think about things other than what I’m going to make for the kids’ lunch. So, I’m back at it! Yay!

Even as I wrote those words down I thought: What am I going to write about? Will I be able to come up with enough topics/stories/recipes to keep readers engaged? What am I going to make for the kids’ lunch? Didn’t they JUST eat? 

I don’t know… I don’t know what I’ll write about, or if it will even be something people will enjoy reading. I may just ramble about my kids, or how I dream of what it would be like to shower every day… But that’s okay. I think this will help keep me sane because, as I confessed to a friend, “I feel like I’m drowning in diapers, laundry, and nursing pads.” If all else, it should help keep my mind sharp because right now it seems like all my mind is good for is singing the theme song to Bubble Guppies… In my defense, it’s pretty catchy.

So if you’re curious (as am I) to see where this leads, join me and follow me in this new adventure of my life.

Friday Fun Facts #16

We're adding another pumpkin to our patch!

1. We’re pregnant!! How’s that for a fun fact?! We are super excited! So, basically these past few weeks I have been sleeping every chance I get, which is why I’ve gone silent for a while. So, these Fun Facts are gonna be all about pregnancy! Yay!

2. Yes, you can congratulate me. This wasn’t an accident. We were trying for another baby. Children are a blessing. Please be happy for us, because we’re pretty happy about it!

3. I haven’t been working out during my boys’ naptime because I have been SO TIRED. I forgot how tiring it is to grow a human in your belly. It’s work, y’all! BUT I have been taking naps, which is the next best thing, right? So Noah and Timothy have been having a cuddle buddy the past couple of weeks and they love it.

4. A cute conversation-
Me: “Timmy, there’s a baby in mama’s belly.”
Tim: “No, mama.”
Me: “Yes, sweetie, there is a baby in my belly.”
Tim: “Mom, baby Isaac is in the living room.”

5. My husband got the amazing opportunity to emcee a concert for Trip Lee. If you’ve never listened to Trip Lee, you need to. He’s my FAVORITE Christian Rap artist, and I’m missing it because I knew there was no way I’d make it through a concert (the other day I went to bed before Noah did LoL). Sad day for me, but I’m super excited for my hubby and told him he needed to take a selfie with Trip Lee for me!

Potty Training from the Trenches

Potty training. *Wince* *Cringe* *Close my eyes and pretend it’s over* That’s what I really want to do when it comes to potty training, but I can’t really do that. So, here we go. Today I’m hoping just to give you some tips about what has helped with my boys, and offer a little encouragement along the way. I’m right there with you, potty training my second son right now. So, let’s do this!

WARNING: Throughout this post there will be words like “potty” and “poopy.” Deal with it.

pottytrainingnoah

1. Every child is different.
By now if you have more than one child, you know this. Consider for a minute though, that if your children are different than chances are they will respond to differently to different methods of potty training (and discipline, for that matter).

Noah, our firstborn, is much like me in that he likes systems and schedules. He likes thing a certain way: THE ONLY WAY. Each toy belongs to its coordinating bin. We have our weekly routine and we should always stick to it. The way I chose to potty train Noah worked great for him: I set a timer for every 20 minutes and he would sit on his little potty (with me right next to him cheering him on) and he got a sticker every time he went (a BIG sticker for a poopy). After about a week I didn’t need a timer anymore, but he still got stickers for one more week. After about 3 weeks he was completely potty trained.

Now, my Timmy, on the other hand is more like his daddy: a free spirit. He doesn’t care which toy is in what bin. He doesn’t care what our schedule is, he just wants to have fun. I tried to potty train him multiple times the same way I did with Noah and I failed miserably every time. Do you know when he decided to potty train? When I was in California! LoL By the time I got back to Texas he would just tell me when he needed to go. He never used a little potty. He never needed stickers or a timer. He just needed his own time and his own way.

2. There may be setbacks.
We both of our boys we had small setbacks. When we were potty training Noah, he had to go to the hospital for a crazy stomach bug. So he was in diapers a couple of days during that time. This past week while Tim was dealing with a stomach bug he was in diapers too. If something like this happens, it’s not the end of the world. They don’t forget how to go in the potty. Just pick up where you left off. Life goes on.

3. It’s not a matter of if accidents will happen, but when they will happen.
Be prepared for accidents. I like to have some underwear and shorts in the diaper bag or car just in case something happens when we are out. I started keeping wipes in various places around the house to easily clean up any messes. I have found that I am much less stressed if I know all this is in place.

4. Grace.
Ok, now this one is a tough one. Potty training comes easily for some kids, not so easily for others. I know it can get frustrating and it’s time consuming. I remember when I was potty training Noah thinking it was easier when he was in diapers. BUT your efforts will pay off. In a short time they will be able to go potty on their own and not need you anymore. They will eventually be able to clean their own bottom. It will happen before kindergarten. So for this short time, remember to have grace for your little one during this learning process. I’m right there with you, cheering you on.

Now when you’re cheering your cute little toddler on, and saying, “You can do this!” just tell yourself the same thing, You can do this!

Ok, fellow parents and grandparents, what potty training tips do you have to share?

“I Just Want My Body Back”

We have all heard it from a pregnant mom, or may have even been that pregnant mom to utter these words, “I just want my body back.” I’ll admit, I said the same thing when I was pregnant with my second son (who was 9 pounds 14 ounces when he was born)… But here’s the truth of it… You’ll never get your body back. Beloved, your body was never yours to get back. Trust me, not getting your body back is so much better.

Your body carried your baby for nine ten months (You’re pregnant for 40 weeks, which equals 10 months. Why do they say 9 months?!?). It’s truly amazing to think about. The nourishment your baby gets, the way your child develops in your womb. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made.

During labor and delivery your body goes through pain you didn’t even know was possible. What used to be your “10” rating on the pain scale is a “1” compared to childbirth. But, oh the joy that comes when you can hold your child and all that pain starts to disappear.

painscalefaces

Once your baby is here, you have the blessing to provide your baby nourishment, again through you body. Your body is still not your own (and you’ll be reminded of this at 3:00AM), but when your baby is hungry you have the privilege to nurse and care for him.

milk coma  (Isaac in a “milk coma” state. The best ever!)

Even after your baby nurses, your body is still not your own. Oh please, don’t pray to get your body back. Your body becomes a human chair as your little ones crawl in your lap, and right now I’ve managed to be a chair for all 3 of my boys at the same time.

allboys       all boys

My boys have used my legs as a slide, my back as a racetrack, my arms to throw them in the air and catch them. I am a human playground.

My body is a source of comfort as I kiss boo-boos and wipe away tears as another crash between brothers occurred.

To my children, the sound of my voice singing is the sweetest singing they’ve ever heard. Every night, Jesus Loves Me, is requested and encored. Even on nights with a sore and scratchy throat, you better believe I sing it to them (just once those nights), and they love it just as much.

sleeping noah (See? Knocks them right out… Well, maybe just Noah).

My body is a natural sleep aid to my Timmy, who is finding it impossible to nap unless I lay down with him. Right now I’ll gladly take this cuddle time, wrap my arms around him, and some days fall asleep before he does.

Now, my boys are still preschool age so there’s so much more I have yet to experience, but to all the moms out there that never “got their body back,” dear one, you got so much more instead!

P.S. This post was primarily about moms and their babies, but moms remember your husband too. Once you said “I do,” that body was in an instant covenant to be shared (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). So take a shower, shave those legs, and go have sex with your hubby in that body that you never got back! 😉

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope all you moms out there are having an amazing day! Sadly, I know that’s not a reality. Some moms are truly struggling today, whether it be mentally, physically, or spiritually. Motherhood is an amazing blessing, but at times a struggle. A couple of years ago I wrote a poem for a friend of mine who was a single mom of young children. Children too young to know about Mother’s Day, and all the expectations that come with this holiday. Mother’s Day is bittersweet for many. Children that have lost mothers, or mothers that have lost children, single moms in the trenches, or for the mom that has it all but still battles with depression and is overtaken by the guilt inside. For all you moms out there, I hope this may brighten your day and bless you this Mother’s Day.

For everything your kids are too young to say…

Thank you for the 9 months in your belly
For carrying me, even when I got heavy
Thank you for the sleepless nights
Gently rocking and holding me tight
Thank you for teaching me what to say
What, when, and how to pray
Thank you for learning my favorite things
And making up those silly songs you sing
Thank you for showing me right and wrong
While having patience with me all along
Thank you for all the love you show
Caring for me more than I’ll ever know
Thank you for being the perfect playmate
And for those nights you let me stay up late
Thank you for showing me how much God cares
And how much love He has to share
Thank you for trusting in Him each day
Knowing with Him it will always be okay
Thank you, Mom, for all you do
I hope you know how much I love you…

For everything your kids are too young to say
Happy, happy Mother’s Day.

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