All in Mental Health

Baby Steps- Moving forward by the inch, Not the Mile

As it’s a new year, and we all have that “fresh start” kind of vibe (for at least a week or two) I thought it would be appropriate to ask you what one struggle are you going to conquer this year? I’m not asking for resolutions. I don’t even think making a year long goal is the best way to do things (Twelve weeks is actually a really good time frame. Check out this book for more info: 12 Week Year by Brian Moran or if you’re not a big reader, here’s a podcast about it.)

I’m focused on a few areas this year: Managing my money better, Managing my health better and Managing my mental health better. You know, just a few minor, inconsequential things ;) But seriously, since I’m a project kind of girl I keep thinking I’ll sit down one day, make a nice long list and a detailed plan, and fix Issue A with a focused effort. Problem is, if I do that, Issues B-Z are ignored for a week while I “project” my way through dealing with Issue A, and then when I come up for air, I’m overwhelmed and any progress I made on A is buried with me under my weighted blanket as I stress eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and take a nap—or three.

Goodbye Big Projects

So I’m done with the big projects. I’m going to focus on the small daily habits that will help me improve my finances, my physical well-being and my mental health. 

I’ve finally realized that although I love the payoff of conquering a huge challenge, the trade off of chaos that ensues while I’m otherwise occupied is not worth the accolades of the big reveal. Making small, consistent changes in my life that over time will produce big results is the unsexy, boring yet best way to make lasting change. After all, baby-steps are the building blocks for all of us to learn to walk, run, jump, dance...all of it. It all starts with baby steps. Have you ever met a toddler that goes from crawling straight to tap dancing? Me neither. 

Thankful

Yes, it’s cliché to write a post called Thankful at Thanksgiving time. I know. Don’t care. 😁

I am so full of gratitude as we head into this holiday season. It’s been a crazy upside-down year for me and some of my family members. At the start of the year I would never have guessed that it would end the way it has, but I couldn’t be more thankful.

My daughter, Jordanne (23), and I had a difficult relationship while she was growing up. She was strong-willed and therefore hard to raise. And my personality was probably very difficult for her to understand. We joke that I’m a “don’t rock the boat” kind of person while she’s a “toss a hand grenade in it and see what happens” kind of person. Both types have their merits and it’s likely the best course of action is somewhere in the middle, most of the time. But that combo made it hard on both mother and daughter through the formative years.

Someone once told me that she had the same kind of relationship with her daughter and they ended up being best friends when her daughter was in her 20s. I remember hearing that, while in the thick of it with 11 year old Jordanne, and hoping—but mostly not wanting to get my hopes up as things were so hard. I couldn’t picture it actually coming to fruition.

Anxiety, Panic Attacks & Things I Wish I'd Noticed Sooner (Mental Health Series Pt. 3)

For a time I was convinced my 5 year-old-son was allergic to The Home Depot. Not in an “Ew, I hate that store” way but in a “Mom, my throat is closing up” way. I can remember standing in an aisle looking for some random thing, baby Josh was in the cart along with a bunch of odds and ends and Jordanne and Jacob were standing beside me when suddenly Jacob grabbed my arm with panic in his eyes, saying, “MOM, I can’t breath. I can’t breath in here. I think it’s the sawdust!” And he was so scared and literally having so much trouble breathing that I handed the baby to Jordanne, picked Jacob up and we ran out of the store—full cart stranded in the middle of aisle ten.

Actually, Yes, I am Depressed (Mental Health Series Pt. 2.5)

So I started a series on mental health and my first topic was depression and about how it’s okay to ask for help. Ironically, about one week after I published the post on depression, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I had the strangest weekend. It was like I’d open my eyes in the morning and my first thought was, “I don’t want to do anything but close my eyes again.” And I felt angry that I had to get out of bed.

The temptation to shut the world out and sleep away my day was so strong. I got up but I wasn't happy about it. That was my first indication that maybe I wasn’t doing so well emotionally. I went through the motions of my day, all the while very cognizant of the fact that just barely under the surface of my thoughts was a black hole threatening to swallow me up. Everything just seemed shaded over in varied grays. Other than the fact that life is stressful in general, I couldn’t think of a single reason I would be depressed. It made no sense. The following meme's from instagram that weekend perfectly described my mood…

Am I Depressed? (Mental Health Series Pt. 2)

Sometimes, we have a blah day or two. Maybe a week, even. Perhaps we’ve gotten some bad news or work is really tough or financial woes are keeping us up at night. We might even say we’re depressed, but we can feel depressed without having clinical depression. So what’s the difference?

Often the distinction comes with how long we’ve been feeling low; blue; tired; unmotivated; numb; down or just plain miserable and how difficult it is to pull out of the fog. There are also some risk factors involved. A tendency toward depression can be hereditary, just like anxiety and other disorders.  

I had experienced rare "down times" before, but after I weaned my second child, the blue feeling just stuck with me. Like that old cartoon character with his own personal rain cloud. I couldn't seem to shake it. I tried—really hard. I prayed harder. I got more sleep. I drank more water. I read my Bible more. I did everything I could think of to make myself “get it together.” But nothing worked. (Okay, not EVERYTHING—I’d like to say I exercised but that would be taking hyperbole too far. Walking from my room to my couch doesn’t count, right?) But back to the depression…