Tag Archives: life

On Hiring A New Therapist

2 Sep

8668157615_a9d970b4f6_b ΞSSΞ®®Ξ via Compfight cc

Change has always been a hard thing for me. When one season comes to an end, and another sweeps in to take its place, I usually need a good few weeks to adjust and settle in. Take this weekend, for example. I loved celebrating the end of August with our anniversary date night and the two days spent soaking up the end of summer at the pool with friends. But until we ease into our new school routine I’ll be fidgety and uncomfortable with the newness of it all.

Speaking of change, I had to break up with my therapist of five years because she stopped accepting my insurance and there was no way I’d be able to pay the regular office visit amount out of pocket. I’m sad about not seeing her again, and feel terrible about not having the chance to say goodbye at our last visit. But I guess that’s just the way life goes sometimes.

Tomorrow I’ll meet a new therapist who I’ll share details of my life with. It feels like the first day of school when everything is new and I’m excited and nervous at the same time for all the learning I know I’ll do while I’m there. I’m sure I won’t be able to cover my entire mental health history in our first visit. But in the event we do continue on after tomorrow, I have a few expectations for our sessions.

I hope she helps me figure my complicated self out.

I hope she challenges me to see things from a different perspective.

I hope she teaches me how to be more forgiving of myself.

I hope she realizes that just because for the past three years I’ve been a “high-functioning” bipolar 1 patient, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my symptoms on a regular basis.

I hope that we’ll hit it off and have a long-lasting patient-therapist relationship.

I know this is a tall order and I have high expectations for how this will work out. The truth is, we may not have chemistry and I may have to try several therapists before I find one who meets my needs. I’m prepared to do that if I need to. I’m prepared to work through change.

I believe I didn’t invest enough effort with my last therapist. I didn’t go to the appointments with something in mind to work on. It was more like going to monthly appointments where I sat and blabbed about myself and what I had been doing since I had last seen her. It didn’t do me much good. I didn’t grow the way I believe therapy should help a person grow.

This time I want things to be different. I’m ready to work this time.

The sun is setting on one season and will rise with the next. Bring it on. I’m ready.

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Five Minute Friday {15}: Small

16 Aug

Five-Minute-Friday-15-Small

I can’t help but think about how one decision always leads to the next. Some things, which may seem small and insignificant at the time, have the ability to change the trajectory of our entire lives. Choosing a major at the age of 18, going on that blind date that your friends set you up on, deciding there will never be a perfect time to have another baby and so you just go for it even though the house and cars are too small and you don’t know how you’ll ever afford college for them all.

Sometimes you have to stop over-analyzing and just pick a direction, hoping for the best.

I’m glad that I’m able to uncover and pay attention to that soft whisper of my conscious in the back of my mind. A tiny part of me believes it’s Him helping to guide me make the right choices. Yet, I’m constantly doubting myself. I’m constantly doubting my faith.

But He hasn’t let me down.

I’m still trying to comprehend my reason for being here, but I believe the decisions in my life that have made me who I am. All the left turns when they should have been right, and the right turns when I could have gone straight, the year and a half when I would take two steps forward only to fall back and not be able to get up for weeks. These small moments of my life have brought me here.

And I’m loving this place.
Five Minute Friday

We All Got Bruises

5 Aug

You know what I love about blogging? I love getting a chance to read a glimpse of a stranger’s life. I love when someone opens their heart and pours everything out, showing you that they are just as human as you are. The incredible thing about living your life out loud, for the world to read, is that people connect with you. You get to know them. You connect with them. Pretty soon you’re no longer strangers, you’re friends. And if you’re lucky, you get to meet them one day.

You might just become friends for life.

We all have bruises, they’re what make us interesting. How boring would life be if it was all roses and sunshine every day? It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone in our struggles. Whether it be mental illness, alcoholism, financial troubles, parenting issues, divorce, the death of a child, or countless other curve balls life throws at us. We all have obstacles to overcome in our lives.

Music is healing for me and of all the things it’s done for me, the most important lesson it has taught me is easily, “What will be, will be” and I need to put my trust in fate.

If a song speaks to me, I play it on repeat for weeks. I lose myself in the lyrics and belt the tune out while driving to the farm or the grocery story. I used to be drawn to pop hits produced by music giants whose record labels end up writing the songs for them, pumping beats into the background of the synthesized dance tracks. These days I’m much more into singer/songwriters who tell a life story through their music. The kind of songs which make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, giving you goosebumps as you listen to the words.

You feel yourself nodding, “Me too,” as your soul soaks in the sweet melody. A good song gives me a new perspective on my troubles.

I’ve got Train’s newest album, California 37, on a loop lately.

These bruises make for better conversation
Loses the vibe that separates
It’s good to let you in again
You’re not alone in how you’ve been
Everybody loses, we all got bruises
We all got bruises

I’ve been a little overwhelmed by life lately. Wanting to pursue my dreams, but realizing that writing doesn’t exactly pay the bills {at least, not yet}.

A lump formed in my throat the other day when looking at finances. It was obvious that I need to pick up a part-time job. We live in one of the most expensive areas in the US, and the reality is that it’s really hard to cut it on one income. So I had a rough couple of days last week when Ben was traveling for work, filled with fear and self-pity and hugging my best friend while tears poured from my eyes, the kids looking up at me wondering what was wrong with mommy.

Once I calmed down and started to look at things with a clearer head, I quickly realized that things aren’t nearly as dire as I had thought. I was talking with my brother over the weekend about what was bringing me down and he told me to call one of our oldest friends who was looking for help with his business. It’s the type of work I’ll be able to do around the kids’ schedules, allowing me time to continue with my writing projects, exactly what I need right now.

Part of the reason I was so upset last week was because I was afraid that I’d have to give up writing to go back to work, and my heart was breaking at the thought of having to stop pursuing my passion. Sure, I’d still try to write in the evenings, but I know how hard it is to juggle everything and at the end of the day you’re just exhausted. I’m hopeful that this situation will provide the best of both worlds: the income we need with time to still pursue my dreams.

In the meantime, it’s songs like this that remind me to embrace the ups and downs of life for what they are.

Que sera. {What will be, will be.}
 
We-All-Got-Bruises
 

The Truth About Living Openly with Bipolar Disorder

10 Jul

LivingWithBipolarDisorderMe & my little firecracker on July 4th

I will never regret my decision to write openly about living with bipolar disorder. Never. There is something to be said for reaching a point in your life when you take an important leap. One you can tell your kids about someday. When I realized it hurt too much to keep it bottled up inside was the point when I realized that I wanted people to know I’m not perfect but I still love my life just the way it is, mental illness and all.

I love the moments right before I fall asleep. My mind replays my day’s highlights, as if to ingrain the smile or giggle or kiss in a corner of my brain, so that I won’t ever forget it. Tucked away safe so that I can unwrap it again when I need that memory.

Lying still, listening to the steady rhythm of the one I love beside me, I think about the day that awaits me when the sun rises.  I soak up all the sleep I can because chances are, I was up too late writing the night before. I no longer set an alarm; the sweet voices of my kids will wake me when the sunlight pours into their rooms.

The truth is, even though I will never regret my decision to tell the world about the chemical imbalance in my brain, I still wonder if I chose the right time in my life to open my heart.

Living openly with a mental illness means you’ll always wonder if the world is judging you. You’ll wonder if you will ever be looked over for a job you applied to or a promotion you earned because of the fact the employer knows you have bipolar disorder. You might wonder if you will ever work a regular job again now that you’ve written about the darkest and also the most manic times of your life.

These are the things I’ve been worrying about lately.

The truth about living openly with bipolar disorder is that even though I know my husband loves me with his entire heart, someday he might not because my illness might get in the way one time too many. My entire world would come crumbling down around me.

And if my world did come crashing down, if I was left to manage on my own, how would I do that? Again, the future employment picture bubbles to the surface. How would I support myself financially when my loving husband has been the main provider for the last six years? And would my symptoms suddenly break through the surface again, like a volcano that has been dormant but now is ready to explode?

These are the big, scary thoughts that sometimes make me wonder if I did the right thing.

Because the truth about living openly with bipolar disorder is that once you’re diagnosed, it’s yours to live with for the rest of your life. It’s yours to manage, to curse, to medicate, to appreciate. There is no erasing a mental health condition. Therein lies both the beauty and the beast.

The truth about living openly with bipolar disorder is that it’s shown me how far I’ve come as a person. How I’m no longer afraid of showing my true colors. I love my brain and all the creativity it has allowed me to express. Even though it may break down from time to time, I love this piece of me which has shown me what I’m capable of. And that is overcoming my fears and insecurities.

For this I say, I’m glad I’ve decided to be open about the fact that I have bipolar disorder.

No looking back. There’s only the beautiful mystery of what lies ahead.

An Open Letter to My Former Psychiatrist: On Being Right

3 Jul

8122306436_73cee6df2bMukumbura via Compfight cc

Dear Dr. H***,

You were right. Five years ago this August, I left your office with my husband, round belly bulging with my nearly full-term first child, cursing your name. It was our first appointment together and you basically told me I was going to fail. When I explained to you that I had been off meds and symptom-free from my bipolar disorder for almost a year and that I wanted to stay off medication to breastfeed my son, you nodded with a sympathetic smile on your face and simply said we needed to have a plan.

A plan for which hospital I’d go to when I became manic to the point of needing that level of care. That level of care that you were so sure I’d need.

You were right.

At that stage of my fight, Dr. H***, I was still in denial about the fact that I had been diagnosed with a mental illness. I thought maybe, just maybe, since I had nearly a full year of stability without meds, that maybe the past had been a mis-diagnosis. Maybe those eight psychiatrists I had seen over the years since my two hospitalizations for mania were all wrong. I mean, I hadn’t experienced any significant episodes of depression or mania since 2006 and most importantly, I felt solid and stable. Didn’t that count for anything?

Didn’t that make me normal again?

I was so excited to be a mom and every spare moment I had was spent preparing for this new little life who would soon enter the world. His crib was set up, clothes had been washed and put away, and diapers and wipes sat waiting on the changing table in his blue/green fish-themed nursery. One of the last things on my list was meeting with you, a psychiatrist who agreed to treat me without medication for the remainder of my pregnancy and beyond, according to my wishes.

Man, am I glad we met when we did. Because you were so right. And when the time came, four weeks after his birth, when the compounded lack of sleep and absence of meds in my bloodstream caught up to me, my husband had someone to call for help. He called you.

I made it through. It wasn’t easy, in fact, it was pretty awful being in a psych ward for a week of my new baby’s life. But I got well with your help, and with support from my husband and family.

I focused on getting stable and my full-time job as a stay-at-home-mom. I followed my treatment plan and took my meds religiously. Then it happened again. I thought I knew what was best for my next baby. I didn’t. Full-blown mania reared its ugly head, repeating the nightmare a year and a half later when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter.

You were right again.

Those days are tough for me to look back on, the times I was in the hospital and the weeks of recovery afterwards. But I wouldn’t trade them for anything because they are a part of who I am now and they tell the story of how I’ve changed. Those slices of my life do not define me, but when added into everything else that makes me the person I am today, I am grateful for those experiences.

You are the expert when it comes to psychiatry, Dr. H***. Me, I’m just the patient. But when it comes to making life decisions, decisions about my future, I asked for your opinion but of course only I could make that call. You expressed the same sadness that so many in this world share over the injustice mentally ill people have when they expose their conditions. I was looking for justification that it would be okay if I wrote openly about what I had been through, but I didn’t get that. Once more, it was as if I were hearing “destined to fail” all over again.

Good thing I didn’t listen that time.

I’m writing now, Dr. H***. Remember when I told you I wanted to write a book? Well, I still do, but first I’ve started publishing myself online, to gain experience. I have a blog, and over the past two years my readership has grown tremendously, all organically, due to my dedication to sharing my story in order to help others.

I’ve met so many amazing people through blogging and social media. It blows my mind how I can write about what I’ve gone through and in return, I get emails from people saying, “Me too!” and “Thank you so much for being so brave.” My heart is blissfully content because I know I’ve uncovered my purpose in life and my words are having an impact on people, a positive impact. And every time I put my thoughts out there for the world to read, my voice grows a little stronger.

My new role in life is mental health consumer/advocate.

For years after I was handed my diagnosis I feared the backlash of people who knew me finding out about my mental illness. Conversations were uncomfortable, I cared too much about what other people thought of me. It didn’t take me very long to realize that living in fear is not really living. Taking off my armor and choosing to expose myself and my story was one of the best decisions I ever made about my mental health.

Revealing my vulnerability has freed me to follow my dreams.

And I have you to thank. Thank you for being right. Thank you for letting me fall. Thank you for being there when I needed you. Thank you for doubting me. Because I needed my chance to prove someone wrong and you were that person for me.

Respectfully yours,

Jennifer Marshall (your patient from 2008-2011)

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Five Minute Friday {13}: In Between

28 Jun

EmersonBeautyQuote_BML

Things have been status quo around here for a while. I feel like I’m at that in between stage of life again. Like something incredible or terrifying could be just around the corner. It’s exciting and unnerving at the same time.

I believe that all we can ever do with our in between seasons in life is try our best. Wake up with anticipation for the gift we’ve been given of another day. Approach the motions of our day with love and try not to get too frustrated with setbacks like the toilet overflowing again or the tenth accident of the day during potty training week. {Those two go hand-in-hand, I guess.} Learn to appreciate the little things we’ve been blessed with, like overall good health and a roof over our head and a week’s worth of groceries in the refrigerator. Life is good.

As scared as I might be about the in between times in my life, I’m beginning to learn to embrace them rather than hide from them. Because as much as it may feel like an in between, no one ever really knows. What I do know is that all we’re ever promised is today.

So I’m going to carry on make the most of it.

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker’s

Five Minute Friday

Back to Normal Life

18 Jun

AirplaneHomeOur view on the flight home from Cancun.

It feels good to be home. Terrible-two-girl-tantrums and all.

There is nothing like the anticipation leading up to combined with the time spent enjoying vacation to the fullest.

We definitely milked that vacation for all it was worth. After nearly a week of indulging in gourmet meals (sometimes brought directly to our room), one-too-many drinks during and after dinner, and the lazy, I’m-not-going-to-exercise-I’m-on-vacation mentality, lounging by the beach and pool with fruity, boozy drink in hand for six days, my body was ready for a detox when all the fun came to an end. All good things do end sometime.

 

We’d soon be back to our regular family routines. But first, we had one more day with all the family together to celebrate Father’s Day at the marina where my in-laws keep their boat.

Smiles all around as week took a leisurely ride around the bay before circling back to the dock to gather around the picnic table for a lunch spread fit for a king, three actually, courtesy of my mother-in-law. Owen and Vivian squealed and giggled as they chased each other in the grass, busy bees at work playing while we ate.

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They displayed for us all what was spinning around within my heart: joy and gratitude.

How did I get so lucky with these three amazing, loving, kind, smart, funny, fathers in my life? They’ve each given their children so much in life by just being themselves. And I’m so proud of each of them.

 

Today, I find myself back in my little mothering moments.

Rising early to the sound of my son’s voice at my bedside.

Calming the third tantrum of the day before naptime by the little miss.

Smiling as I gaze out the window above our kitchen sink, washing fruit for lunch.

Piling laundry into the washer, folding the load that just finished.

Blowing bubbles on the deck for over an hour, surprised at how big it seems they’ve gotten in just a week.

Catching up with friends I’ve been missing, making dates to get together soon because it’s been too long.

Crafting with the kids, snapping pictures of their masterpieces as we go.

Picking up the same toy I picked up a few hours before. Repeat. Repeat.

Pondering what to attempt to make for dinner.

Eagerly awaiting my husband’s arrival home at the end of the day.

These are tiny moments in my day. Each day a little different than the next, but always full of my three favorite people living life within my favorite place to be, always. Home.

 

Linking up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary who has just arrived with her family in their new home in Austin, TX. Welcome home, Heather!

Five Minute Friday {11}: Listen

14 Jun

When I listen to my heart, it tells me to keep being brave. To stay open and to keep giving and sharing my story, especially when I feel like giving up.

This week I’ve listened to the waves methodically sweeping in, crashing into the sand in gentle whispers while laying on the beach reading. I’ve listened to tropical birds coo and sing, their vibrant chirps awakening me from naps taken under the shade of palm trees.

But my favorite sound, by far, has been the joyful laughter of us, four friends reunited.

Our voices reminiscing over meals shared together. We listened to each other declare short term goals, we remembered all that we have experienced in our many years of friendship and marriage, and we discussed how hard it is to raise a family.

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I’m so grateful for this week.

It’s our last day here in paradise. By this evening we will have returned to the reality of normal life. And I’m quite sure that we’ve all been refreshed and energized by this vacation. I’m excited to arrive home and listen to the sounds of my family settling back into our routines, our summer together.

Time to return to living my story. One glorious day at a time.

Five Minute Friday

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