Thursday, August 25, 2011

We Must See Past What it Seems…..

I am sharing a really great story that was originally blogged at the Brave Girls Club. Anxiety has really made me more compassionate towards others suffering with their own trials. This story is such a great way to look at things, I love it. Enjoy!

"After a dear friend telling me about a hurtful experience she’d had this week…..I began thinking again about a story I have told a few times….a story that my children will tell to their children, and maybe even beyond that… because it was such a learning experience in our family….maybe even a turning point…it’s a story that I think about often because we were the main characters in it 3 or 4 years ago, and even though it was something that lasted less than 15 minutes….it changed all of us….and now I see others differently, especially when it seems that they might be main characters in the same story…or one a lot like it. I used to be too embarrassed to tell this story….but I am not anymore. This is a human story that everyone needs to hear, I truly believe this…I hope you will stay with it, it’s kinda long.

As we move along…I want you to think about some of the big signs with big messages that I bet you wish you could wear around your neck sometimes so that people would be more gentle….or even that you could put around the neck of someone you love….so that you didn’t have to go into a big long story to defend yourself or someone else….so that people would just stop judging and and just be kind.

First, if you don’t know my history because you are brand new to Brave Girls Club…welcome welcome welcome! I need to start this story by giving you a little bit of background….. you see, my husband had an accident in 2004 that injured the frontal lobe of his brain……it has taken 6 years to get him back……but in the middle there, between 2004 and now…lots and lots of stuff happened. He was essentially out of it…but not just that….he changed to someone else, we lost him. His personality changed completely, he could not work, he was angry and depressed and could not cope with human beings. He did not feel love or affection, really he only felt anger…rage…and he was suicidal most of the time. He did not remember a lot of things. He could not take care of our family or even himself, really……..(and I want to mention again that through lots of miracles, he is 100% recovered now…we are so thankful….he is even BETTER than he was before his accident)

But……during that time…..he would have these confusing and amazing glitches of time when he would be totally normal. It was bittersweet. They would last for an hour sometimes, and sometimes for days…or even weeks…then he would sink back down into that horrible place. When he was sick, I protected him fiercely. I didn’t want anyone to see him like that…I had faith that someday he would recover….but man oh man it was lonely…I wished every single day that I could just walk around with a sign like this….

….because on the outside…I looked like I had EVERYTHING GOING FOR ME…I looked like I might just have a perfect life….but I was hiding a very painful secret….

Well…a lot of other things happened too………you can imagine what might happen over the years while we have a 7 acre farm, a pretty big international business that we own with lots of employees…..a life that HE managed before his accident, while he just let me do the fun and creative stuff….now we had lots of medical bills…lots of sorrow and lots of distractions……we also had LOTS of kids…..and no one competent managing the business…

Well…after a few years, I couldn’t hold it all together…our business was suffering for all of the reasons listed above and a few more reasons on top of that……..and we discovered that we were really SINKING. Well……one day when he was partly lucid….he was THERE…he was coherent….I told him the condition of our life.

He kind of panicked and he went straight to work figuring out what he could do. It was insanely heartbreaking when he would “wake up” after weeks or months and I had to tell him how much things were deteriorating financially, etc. It was very hard. But when he could, he did what he could….before his mental illness sucked him back into the prison it kept him in most of the time.

He called a sign place and had a huge sign brought out to our house…the kind that you can put letters on, and it was electric and lit up…….He put it by the road in one of our horse fields……then he drove our Suburban….both of our trucks….my classic Thunderbird that he got me for my birthday a few years earlier…..our tractor…all of our tractor implements…the boat that I worked 10 years to get for him (and that caused his brain injury, incidentally)……….and he lined everything up along the fence and he put a price tag on every single thing. Then, he put the letters on that big huge sign and plugged it in.

You have to understand that we had worked for MANY years for those things. We started a business in our twenties and we sacrificed everything we had for all of those years to make it work. We owned almost all of it outright…….but, when I told him that the business was struggling….this is what he did….

Sooooo…..there it was….all in a row……all of our stuff…..out in our field.

All of the neighbors driving by…our friends…the community…..people who knew us most of our lives and people who knew nothing about us…..we were just the young family who lived in that beautiful little farm house on Beacon Light road with the perfect lawn….or what USED to be.

You see, in addition…for months….our once beautifully manicured yard started to be filled with weeds that were now several feet high. I just couldn’t keep it up. The lawn was a nightmare. Everything was just falling apart all around me and my heart was broken over my husband, too. It was humiliating and exhausting and horrible, really.

Well, the sign was not up in the field for more than a few hours…….when my husband’s phone rang….it was someone who saw all the stuff and my husband’s phone number on the big huge sign. We were sitting out in the yard while he was still coherent and he was feeling devastated about the condition of our lawn…..I was apologizing that I just couldn’t do all of it………..he was so heartbroken at his limitations and that he had left me to try to handle our life alone……we were trying to make a plan…..

He answered his phone…I saw that he was just listening…I could hear that the person’s voice was getting louder and louder and louder……… husband just listened. He turned his back to me a little so I wouldn’t hear. But I could hear it….It seemed to go on and on and on……..

These were the things I could hear on the other end of the phonecall….

“You are bringing down the value of my property with that ugly sign!”

“What are you doing?”

“That is the most obnoxious sign, do you have a permit to have that out there?”

“Are you starting a used car lot?”

“You have got to get all of that moved and out of here or I am calling the authorities”

I sat there, mortified, embarrassed, humiliated, mad, sad, devastated. I was certain that this would snap my husband back into his dark hellish place.

But, when the man was done ranting, my husband waited a second and then very calmly said something that I will never, ever forget…….

“Sir,” he said, “There was a time in this country, in this community…when if you drove past your neighbor’s house and saw every single thing they own was for sale in front of their house…and that their lawn had not been mowed for weeks….that you would stop and say….WHAT IS GOING ON, SOMETHING MUST BE TERRIBLY WRONG, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP YOU?”

The man was silent…..and then my husband went on to tell him a few details about what was going on with our family….

The man waited a moment and then his tone changed…..he apologized….I mean, really apologized and then said…

“I am going to call all of my friends and see if any of them need any of this stuff….”


I wish with everything in me that we could have put a sign up on that big stupid lit up billboard in our field that said OUR LIFE IS FALLING APART…. but all that we really could put up is a sign with the price of everything that we owned that was worth any money…….

WHAT IF we could all wear a sign that said what WE REALLY MEANT? What if we could go straight past the small talk……..or the masks…….and we could actually go straight to the heart of the matter…….what if our friends and family wore signs like this?

…we would treat each other differently.

I think we should just try to imagine it………that when a friend is quiet…or not showing up to stuff she usually shows up to….or acting a little “off”….or a family member is wearing pajamas to the grocery store for weeks on end……or not answering the phone…..or the lawn is not mowed…..

whatever it is……….

IT IS A SIGN. It is not a sign that can be read in words and letters, but it is a sign that someone needs to be treated gently…that they need help….most of all, that they need love, understanding…and that they DEFINITELY DO NOT need to be judged.

Every time I think of this story….I want to be better…I want to do better, I don’t want any silent signs to go unread before my eyes or my heart…..I don’t want to make up my own answers to what must be going on…I don’t want to assume………..

Let’s be gentle with each other.

Let’s read each other’s signs."


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Endure it Well

Yesterday morning I awoke with the familiar butterflies in my stomach and the anxiety levels rising. I could feel it getting worse even though I was trying to breathe deeply. I started to get really frustrated. I was tired of feeling sick. I was feeling guilty and annoyed that I was still feeling anxious. I started to worry that things wouldn't get better.

But if I think about it, I have been rushing this whole process. I keep expecting to feel better and then when I don't I am immediately put into a bad mood.

So my mantra yesterday was "You don't have to be all better today."

I really think this lesson is learning to love myself WITH my anxiety. I don't have to be all better in order to be worthy of love and respect from myself.

So last night I was reading in the Bible and came across a story that was an answer to my prayers.

It is about a father that brings his son who has a demon inside him to Jesus to be healed.

Mark 9: 22-24 (bold and italics added)

22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have acompassion on us, and help us.
 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are apossible to him that bbelieveth.
 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine aunbelief.

This story was another reminder to me that I need to have faith that things will get better. And that I need to pray for help with my doubts and frustration. 

So my goal is to try to stay positive and patient even though things are really crappy. I don't want to fall into the victim trap where I revel in the sympathy that others may give me when they hear of my situation. I want to be strong even when I feel so weak. I don't just want to endure this, I want to "endure it well".

D&C 121:8-
"8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes."

So this morning I woke up with panic. Not worst case panic but pretty severe. I had burning in my arms and breathing wasn't helping. So I told myself its ok if still need to take Clonazepam to help me through the day. So I took one and although it made me tired for awhile, I am now feeling much better. 

I'll get to where I want to be someday, but it doesn't have to be today. I just have to remember that.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Staying in the Present

I have often heard about anxiety a lot of times being about the future or the past but not usually about the present. I saw this quote today:

and I like it because its a reminder to try to stay in the present. Sure it's not that easy to read that and say "Ok I will stop worrying now!" but its still something to think about. My good friend told me when he feels panic coming on he gets out a jar of lemons and smells them because he is trying to associate the smell as something comforting and it helps bring him back to the present. Not sure if that would work for everyone, I've never tried it, but it sounds like an interesting idea. What are some ways you try to stay in the present instead of worrying about your past or the future?


Friday, August 12, 2011

Having the Faith to Endure the Hard Times

Faith- [feyth] -strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence.

I do a lot of thinking when I am in the shower. Its the only place where I can really be alone and let any emotion out that I want without worrying about my kids seeing me so upset. So the other day I was taking a shower and I just sat and cried. I did a lot of praying in that shower. I found myself pleading to Heavenly Father to take away my anxiety and I suddenly heard in my mind,

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

My thoughts turned toward my Savior and how he cried those words which were my same thoughts to his Father in Heaven when he was suffering in Gethsemane. If anyone understood how I was feeling at that moment it was Him. He was certainly in much more pain and fear than I was in and he was all alone.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie was a member of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He knew he was to die shortly, and this talk was his last testimony. He said the following:

"We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. We know he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death. We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name. We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup. We know that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal. As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours."

But He suffered for a purpose and so am I. I do not mean to compare myself to Him by any means. I do hope to someday be like Him. And in doing so I want to learn from His example. There are still lessons that I need to learn and to share. I felt very strongly that I need to endure this pain and have faith that things will get better. It may not be today or tomorrow, things may be rough for a little while, but if I continue to work and not give into the despair than things will get better.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Join My Online Anxiety Support Group!


Risking Medicinal Side Effects is Like Licking the Hand of Someone With the Flu

Would you willingly lick the hand of someone who has the flu? I feel like I just did.

I went to my new doctor today. Turns out I have lost about ten pounds in the last few weeks from all this stress. (Not the kind of diet I would recommend to anyone) I gave him my history of anxiety. He was really great about what my interests were concerning my well being and how he could help me. He made me aware of other alternatives besides medication such as counseling but also informed me all about the different kinds of medications I could take. We decided to stick with the Zoloft and the Clonazepam because it has worked well for me in the past. My only concern with Zoloft a.k.a. Sertraline is the side effects. So to help reduce the chance of getting the them we decided I would take only half a pill a day for the first week to better ease it into my system.I do think I will take another look at counseling, as long as the therapist specializes in anxiety and as long as we a.k.a. insurance can afford it.

So, I just took my first half pill of Zoloft a few minutes ago, and I am so worried about the side effects of (just to name a few)
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • diarhea
  • upset stomach
  • trouble sleeping
happening to me like some of them did last time. Knowing that I could spend the next week more sick than I already am, I still took that pill. L-I-C-K!

I did it because I am hopeful that it will really help me in the long run when it finally kicks in.

----------------------------------------Middle of the Night------------------------------------------------------

Woke up with a panic attack around 3 am. Very unusual for me. So I took a clonazepam and didn't really feel any better so I took another one an hour later (they are only .25mg each) I finally fell back asleep but woke up around 7 still panicking so I took another one. Hard to function this morning but its my daughter's first day of preschool so I had to get up and at'em. I am hoping as the afternoon wears on I will start to feel more normal but last night/early morning is really rough. Cant hold anything down to eat so I feel really weak and tired and lightheaded. I am going to go to the store to pick up some Ensures because they always help me in times like this.

I just keep telling myself just endure it a little bit longer and things will get better soon. I appreciate all of your warm thoughts, prayers, and well wishes my way. I can't count the number of times I have prayed for all of you to find some peace in your lives.

Take Care of Yourselves,


Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Hard Pill to Swallow, Is Medication Right for You?

A few weeks ago when my anxiety flared up after two years of silence, I was able to get it to calm down after a few days. However since then it has been popping up again and again. A panic attack while out at lunch with my sisters, and now I have the morning anxiety again the last two days in a row.

Although I don't usually post horrible pictures of myself up for viewing, I thought this was an exception because even though I am smiling for the camera, I am sick as a dog and feeling like I am going to lose it any second. The anxiety just hit me super hard and it took leaving the restaurant for it to finally go away.

This has me contemplating going back on medication. Are you trying to decide if medication is right for you?

According to the book The 10 Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques by Margaret Wehrengerg, "if you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you may be helped by medication.
  • Are you having panic attacks a few times a week or more? My experience with people who have panic disorder leads me to think that if people are having attacks that frequently, they might benefit from medication. Their brains may be so agitated that it will take some time to calm the panic. It may thus be too discouraging to get their thoughts and behavior in control without the help of medication.
  • Are you able to push aside ruminating worry when you have something important to concentrate on but find yourself worrying again the minute you have nothing to focus on? You may do okay without medication, but if it is a huge effort or you cannot draw your attention away from worry even for short times, medications are in order.
  • Do you feel sick to your stomach with dread much of the time and find it interferes with eating and sleeping? If so, you will probably respond better to anxiety management techniques with the help of medication, because this level of distress should be interrupted as quickly as possible. Having an agitated brain without relief is not good for your emotional or physical self.
  • Do you immediately flush, have shaky legs, a quivering voice, and a palpitating heart even at the thought that someone might watch you leave a theater, watch you speak up at a business meeting, or observe you ordering food or eating in a restaurant? You might benefit from using medication on an as-needed basis while trying techniques to get over those signs of social anxiety.
  • Do you feel so terrified of attending a party or being in a busy public place like a shopping mall, airport, or school that you refuse to go? You will probably benefit the most from a combination of medication and treatment methods, because this is about the most difficult situation in which to calm yourself. Medication will allow you to focus on using new anxiety controlling skills and social skills that will help you in your interactions with others."

Because I am answering yes to almost every single one of these, I have decided that I am going to go back on Zoloft. I know some of you may think that's a mistake, but I know my body and my mind and now that I am no longer nursing I think I need the additional help to make my days feel more normal. I am tired of feeling sick and scared all the time. Because of the side effects I felt the last time I got on Zoloft, I am not sure when I should actually start taking it. I have the weekend to figure it out since it won't be until Monday before I can even see the doctor. I hope this helps you to figure out what is best for you in your situation. As always, your doctor can probably give you the best advice.


Friday, August 5, 2011


Oh this song couldn't describe anxiety any better, it just hit home today...

Here is the same song including a dance that I had seen before when it first came out. The dance is about addiction, but I think the mean guy representing addiction can still be representing anxiety. When I watched it thinking of it that way it brought me to tears. I love Mia Michaels coreography.

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