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So When Will I Get Better? {a new way to look at recovery- from the blog 1000 Ways To Be Fearless}

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Have you ever had someone ask you, “So, are you better now?” It’s a well-meaning question, but it is one that is sadly a misinterpretation of just how mental illness works.

But in all fairness, I have asked myself the same question.

“When will I get better?”

It isn’t an easy question to ask, because I already know the answer.

“People tend to think that recovery is one upward trajectory. You go through a bad time, you get better, then you’re back to your normal self. Unfortunately, the complexity of human emotion and experience doesn’t quite fit into such a pattern.”

-Ruth, 1000 Ways To Be Fearless

from: A Talk: Recovery Isn’t Linear-A New Way of Viewing Recovery from a Mental Illness.

But what I’ve come to see…is that I’m not a failure for struggling with mental illness. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean that day is shot. Worthless. Over.

No.

Recovery from a mental illness is not carefully constructed. It can’t be controlled or planned.

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It just is. It might be a bit messy, but that’s life, and life is messy

I want to invite you to check out this post from Ruth, of the blog 1000 Ways To Be Fearless. Her blog has been a wonderful tool in my own journey towards recovery. 

In her post she shares a speech she made at an event for the NHS (National Health Service in England). I thought what she had to say about recovery was beautiful, relatable and so, so true.

I really enjoyed this post of hers and I think that you will too ☺

A Talk: Recovery Isn’t Linear-A New Way of Viewing Recovery From a Mental Illness

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Motherhood

Stinky, Poopy Diapers {and what they’ve taught me about being a mom}

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I really hate poopy diapers. Not always, mind, but much of the time.

It happens at inconvenient times. At least, inconvenient to me.

As if to prove this point my daughter, reeking of dirty diaper, sat down right next to me as I began this post.

So I got up to change her, as I always do. As must be done. As is my duty as a mother.

But let me ask you. As a mother, do you ever feel resentment when confronted with this? Frusteration? Feel inconvenienced?

Sometimes I forget that my daughter is not toliet-trained like her brother. And giving her the care she needs seems hard.

Maybe that’s the seasonal depression talking. It happens in the winter. I know I’m not the only one in that. I know that January is a hard month to be a mom. Fyi It’s often difficult to blog during this month. When its cold and when isolation and sickness bring challenges.

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But that is not the point of this post.

Awhile ago I started reading Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. I fought with the idea of reading it. I knew reading would push me, change me. And I didn’t know if I was ready for that.

But finally, 10 chapters in I feel like I am getting somewhere. And I feel like I’m maybe beginning to learn.

Ok, but what’s that to do with poopy diapers?

“The ability to last in motherhood requires giving up expectations for our own lives, deciding that sacrificing our desires and wants for the sake of our family is our gift of worship to our heavenly Father.”

-from Desperate, Chapter 10 by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

One day after reading the bulk of chapter 10, I looked at my daughter who had decided to fill up her britches. I was im the middle of something, but instead of feeling inconvenienced I felt a mental shift. I found I could manage a smile instead of a frown.

This is not always the way of things. I am no Mary Poppins. Human I am, human I will remain. But that brief blip. That small, slight shift. I hope it will become more and more a part of me as I seek to treasure my children. Treasure not just the happy and the beautiful moments but also the difficult, the hard times.

Not because I’m some kind of higher-than-thou person. But because to learn to treasure my role as a mother I need to continually learn the art that is shining light where there is dark. A smile in the face of a challenge. Gladness of heart in the face of trying circumstances.

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Motherhood is balance. And I think what I’ve most struggled with is the idea that to be a good mom, I need to give up on taking care of me. Which is misplaced. I don’t have to give that up to be a good mom. It’s not my time or my self-care that needs to go but my negative thinking that damages my relationship with these sweet babies I love so much.

Perfect mom syndrome? Haha far from it! (A fly on the wall today would have seen something else entirely.) But I’m learning. One step at a time 🙂

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All photos are from Unsplash.

Motherhood

Havoc in My World, Peace in My Heart

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If I was a superhero, I’m pretty sure my name would be Mother Mahem. Oh wait…yeah that’s my reality already.

I’ve been feeling the pull to write about this for a week or so. People seem to like the moments of vulnerability and honesty that comes with sharing the everyday moments and struggles of motherhood.

I’ve got one for you. Actually I’ve got several. Ok I actually have way more but I can’t remember them all, and maybe that’s a good thing.

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Do you ever have a moment, a day when your kid does something and it just breaks your heart? Sometimes these things just happen and I’m like “Why?? Why me? Why this?” And I’m mad and sad all in one.

This happened to me one morning. And I get it. Out of all the things that are going on in the world, this is small. But small things can seem big at the time.

I woke up to discover a mess. It was partly my fault for accidentally leaving my sewing things out. They were all in my sewing bag but not put away. An obvious temptation. Especially tempting, apparently, were my sewing scissors.

And so a certain someone took the liberty of refashioning a few things about the house.

My daughter’s quilt (in progress project) I was able to fix. Thank goodness.

However, this

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One of the “doors” to our t.v. stand.

This was done for. As you can see, it looked a bit trashy. So instead of wallowing in despair (tempting) I decided to fix it.

I had some fabric scraps that matched just right. So I cut, sewed and ironed, pinned and sewed some more.

 

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I used a modified blanket stitch to attach the fabric.
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Finished product. Now for the fun of re-attaching the door!

And how did I manage to complete this with two little munchkins running around? I sat them down with a mountain of playdough.

They “played”, a word here which is loosely correlated to playing and tightly correlated to throwing it all over the floor. But hey, I finished my project 🙂

That’s what motherhood is all about. We take the messes, the difficult things along with all things bright and beautiful. We get through it. With our sanity intact? Doubtful. But maybe just maybe as we learn to let things go and repair what we can we can restore a measure of it unto our hearts 🙂

A toast. To motherhood. May your moments of mayhem be short and give way to deep breaths of peace.

God bless.

~Rachel

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Reflections

Poet’s Heart.

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I’ve been looking through old poems and came across the one I wanted to share today. Well. I didn’t want to share it initially. I felt the nudge, the push to share it but I fought it for awhile.

This poem means a lot to me. It was written in my early 20’s not long after my Grandpa passed away. I was already familiar with depression. But this was different. This was worse. I was dating my (later-to-be) husband and the joy of our relationship was a deep feeling in itself. In spite of this I found it difficult to balance my emotions.

There is no correct formula in life. But sometimes I like to sit down and ask myself deep questions, figure things out. This is how much of my poetry is written and I imagine other poets might think the same.

I enjoyed sharing my other poem “Nothing Is a Mystery” (you can read about that post here) so I thought I would share another. I need to get back to writing more poetry so I can share some recent ones.

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~*~

Perspicuous Heart of Mine

 

Bleeding heart,

Bruised heart.

I’m suprised you feel

A thing.

You sort through

All my thoughts.

You sift through

So much pain.

Where is your limit?

Does sorrow

Have a bottom?

Does happiness

Have a boundary?

Is grief eternal?

How many wounds

Does time heal?

Only some…

Or none at all?

Why do you suffer so?

Why does happiness

Or joy

Not stay long with you?

How I wish you weren’t so sad.

Moon

And sun.

Sorrow

And perfect ecstasy.

It’s ying and yang

But not with you.

Can’t you open up?

Sorrow and Love.

Keep them equal.

Mirror images

Dancing on a line so thin.

-*-

~Rachel

Books, Lessons In Literature

5 Things Meg March Taught Me About Being a Wife & Mother {from author Louisa May Alcott}

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Honestly speaking…I don’t like Meg. I love Alcott’s Little Women. But I’ve always had a fondness for Jo. She seems more likeable for her blunders and awkwardness. Meg is kindof…prim, proud and careful about everything. Perhaps being the eldest such things were ingrained in her mind.

But even though Meg is not my favorite I was in for a shock when I began part 2. When I read chapters 28 and 38 I thought, “My goodness. Our stories are remarkably alike.”

Join me as I thumbed through these much loved pages to find 5 common, yet unique pieces of advice that Louisa May Alcott has hidden within this most beloved novel.

5 Things Meg (March) Brooke Taught Me About Being a Wife and Mother

 

Cook What They Love

At the beginning of her marriage, Meg struggled with cooking. She made too much, or made too little and didn’t know quite what to make.

“She was too tired, sometimes even to smile, John grew dyspeptic after a course of dainty dishes and ungratefully demanded plain fare.”

Little Women, Chapter 28

It took Meg awhile to find what worked for her family and how much was just enough. She had to budget wisely.

 

On Saying “I’m sorry”.

One of my most favorite parts of Little Women is when Meg decides to can currants. She attempts to make currant jelly (with currants harvested from her own garden no less!) with disastrous results.

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Meg is distraught. And even more so when her husband comes home from work with a friend to stay to supper! Everything is a mess. Meg can’t understand why her husband John could think she could make supper in her sorry state. John doesn’t understand why his wife can’t just put forth a bit of effort and make them a small supper.

And then he appears to laugh at Meg for getting caught up in her failed jelly. This proves more than she can take and she declines to make supper.

Long story short, she remembers her mother’s words of advice and everything is made right when she makes up her mind that

“(She) will be the first to say, ‘Forgive me, John’.”

 

How To Live Within Your Means

It was Meg’s job to “keep the books”. She dutifully kept track of every penny she spent. Meg could be frugal when she had mind to be. But sometimes it got to her.

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Meg was often in the company of Sallie Moffat. She was a good friend but a rich one. Meg on the other hand was not rich and felt it. She was not envious but merely hated being pitied.

Because of this she bought “trifles” here and there until the trifles increased to the point of a length of not-so-trifling silk fabric.

It was $50 then. Hard to figure what that translates to today with inflation and whatnot. But apparently it was worth as much as a man’s new winter coat.

Because that’s exactly what her husband denied himself because of Meg’s frivolous purchase. In the end, Meg sets all things right. Sells the silk to Sallie, buys her man his coat. Peace restored and wisdom gleaned.

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The Babies and the Beloved

The question of affection is a common issue. One I have struggled with many a time. It can be so hard making sure everyone gets your time, your love.

Meg found this out too.

She made her twins, Demi and Daisy, her world. She didn’t cook (they hired an Irish lady for that) and she was always in the nursery. When the babies stopped teething, stopped needing her so much, then she turned to her husband.

But he was not there. He was at a friend’s house. An environment that was welcoming, friendly and most importantly not lonely.

John had not given up on his wife, he had waited 6 months for things to change. But because of Meg’s decision be a solo parent, she and John were drifting apart.

The solution? With Marmee’s advice, Meg was determined to 1) ask for her husband’s help with the kids 2) make time for John in the evenings and chat about his interests and 3) start going out more with John on dates!

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On Taking Care of Yourself & Accepting Help

How easy it is to not do these things. And how quickly it can destroy you. Self-care and the occasional help are vitally important as a mother. All people need this. We are not solo beings but creatures who need people. Need community, support and advice. We need each other.

Meg here relies a lot on her mother. She gives advice and is a seemingly bottomless pit of motherly wisdom. She reminds Meg that Hannah is ready and waiting to be a help with the kids.

I want to say, “Duh Meg of course you need help girl! You’ve got twin babies!” But I know it takes a lot of reminders for me to get it too.

Pockets of alone time, girl time, excercise time even grocery shopping time (haha); these are all times that are necessary for a good mom to become a healthier, stronger and even better one.

 

Conclusion

Meg is a good girl, really. She’s smart and gentle and giving. She still seems a bit too perfect to me but I loved looking at all the issues we have in common. I wonder if Alcott knew that 149 years later, people would still identify with and greatly adore her little book?

~Rachel

Reflections

Bravery in Motion: 10 Ways to Help Overcome a Panic Attack

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Here is a subject that is not easy for me to talk about. And yet I feel a super-strong pull to write about it.

To be transparent.

I have been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks for 2 years. It came back with a vengeance fairly recently. I felt so defeated and broken. Alone. And scared. I realised I needed a game plan. Change. And a greater push back in the area of self-care.

I say “push-back” because that’s what it is. As a mom I literally have to push back against the heavy burden of day to day demands and carve out a bit of time for me.

I research. I claim time to be alone while others watch my children. I invest in me. I seek out wise counsel. I realise that mind, body, spirit and emotions are connected.

And I look at all the things that have helped me fight against the pull of an attack.

This is my list of things I have learned throughout the years. It is by no means a complete list. But I hope it can be a help to get you thinking about what best benefits you. You are not alone in your struggle, my friend.

 

10 Ways To Help Prevent a Panic Attack

 

1. Deep breaths.

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The simple act of focusing on your breaths and nothing more can have a calming effect. Oxygen flowing to your brain & body is a good thing 🙂

2. Focus on magnesium.

Add magnesium through diet. Many many Americans, myself included are deficient in magnesium. It helps so much to add more magnesium-rich foods. Ancient-minerals.com states that “Magnesium-rich foods include whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds.”

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Lately I love drinking nettle and chocolate mint tea and eating pumpkin seeds to up my magnesium. There are tons of foods to choose from…most nuts and seeds, black beans, bananas, avocados, brown rice. All good.

3. Cut that sugar.

Decrease or cut out sugar completely. This article is one among many that explains how a high fat and high sugar diet does not work in your favor. Sugar depletes magnesium and cutting it out, hard as it may be, will work in your favor and help decrease your anxiety. (Trust me I have a huge sweet tooth and this is hard for me too but it helps!)

4. Epsom salts.

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A good soak in the tub with 1-2 cups of Epsom salt (depending on your body weight) is very beneficial for mind and body. I purchsed the book Epsom Salt: Natural Remedies for Health, Beauty and Home, by Josephine Simon a few months ago and I have enjoyed learning more about this stuff.

Epsom salt soaks will relive aching muscles and will give your body a good dose of magnesium via absorption through your skin. Just don’t use soap as it interferes with this absorption.

5. Chanting (out loud or to yourself).

Chant a soothing short phrase and focus on it completely. Sometimes I choose a scripture and other times its just whatever helpful phrase comes to mind.

6. Carry a small object with you.

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I kept a lavender sachet in my pocket for awhile. Something that gives you comfort and peace. Things that engage one of your senses is good for diverting anxiety.

7. Herbs can help.

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This tea is very soothing. A bit on the strong side if seeped for too long. I also love Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea.

Camomile and lavender are well known for their soothing properties. Passion flower as a tea, supplement or tincture can also be helpful. I’ve also heard good things about valerian root capsules. Check with your doctor and do your research to find what works best for you.

8. Aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy can work wonders. Again chamomile and lavender are great. I also love the Skin Restore synergy blend. Formerly called anti-scar stretch blend, it is a lavender and neroli combo from Plant Therapy.

I use it in my car diffuser or simply smell it straight from the bottle.

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Love this stuff.

There are tons of resources out there for essential oils to use for anxiety, calming and sleep. All of these categories will help with anxiety.

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For me, the best and most soothing essential oil has always been lavender 🙂

9. Get a pet.

Since we got a cat I have felt more calm & at ease. I love my kitty Stella. She gives me much joy.

Did you know that cats purr for different reasons? They purr when they are happy, but also purr to calm themselves or to help heal themselves. I can’t help but wonder if a cat’s purr can soothe and heal the human spirit as well.

10. Guard your thoughts.

An episode can sneak up on you so easily. 9/10 times I notice it happens when I let my thoughts totally run away with me.

I have to focus on what I am thinking about. Know when I am feeling overwhelmed and know how to put a halt to the anxious thoughts. It isn’t easy.

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But with focus and practice it can happen. Don’t discount what you are worrying about. Recognise it as a real issue but rationalise it. Sometimes I get to thinking that an issue is the most important thing in the world when its not. What is important is my health and balancing self-care with responsibilities.

~~~

I want to add that it is ok, completely ok to seek help. Go to counseling, take a perscription for awhile if your doctor agrees it is needed. Do not be afraid to seek care for yourself. You are not a failure if you need outside help to get you going. I know it can be so easy to feel defeated but you’re not alone. There is help & hope ❤

~Rachel