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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Continuing on this road....

So I feel like I've written this post 600 times. But yet I feel like maybe I haven't written it at all. I started this blog because I discovered I had what I would call severe hormonal imbalances. And in the process, I realized that these imbalances are probably misdiagnosed in millions of people every year.
As I've said before, I started having panic attacks all the time. Sudden rushes of accelerated heartrate, dizziness, chest pain, and more. Usually when I was on the road (which made it even scarier because I worried about possibly passing out, crashing, etc).
What I eventually learned was that these symptoms are not dangerous at all. In fact, they're just my body reacting. It's called the fight-or-flight response, and it's been embedded in man since the beginning of time. But why was my body having this response in the middle of my everyday activities?
What I learned was the answer to the question, and that was that I was stressed. I had let myself be so stressed for so long and it had worn on my body.
You see, what I never knew before all of these experiences was that there are these little things in your body called the adrenal glands. And they control your body's stress. And when you are so stressed for so long, your adrenal glands are taking a beating. And if they are not given some relief, they will eventually poop out. Just like a car battery that runs and runs and runs and will eventually run out of strength without a break or a re-charge. I always assumed I could run my body ragged and there would be no real physical consequenes. But what I learned was the opposite.
And because I was so stressed, my adrenals were worn out. And because of that, my body eventually got to a point where it thought every little thing (going to school, to work, to the store, and eventually just being at home) was a fight-or-flight sitation. So just as I would if I were standing in front of someone with a gun to my head, my heart raced, I feared for my life, and I began looking for the quickest way out of the situation. These are called panic or anxiety attacks.
Of course, after going through this everywhere I went, I began to fear just getting out of the house. And that's where the mental part of this whole thing comes in. While many psychiatrists might tell you that this fear of going places (called agoraphobia) needs to be treated with prescription drugs (that are hard to get off of and can be dangerous), I would say the exact oppposite. You see, it did take a mental toll on me after going through this for so many months. It STILL takes a toll on me. But it's a training process. Just as people have to train themselves to do millions of other things in life, I have had to train myself to ignore the symptoms that almost seem natural to me now. I have to remember that, yes, I had some scary experiences. And yes, these things seemed like they came out of nowhere. But really, it was just my body reacting to the accumulation of stress it was under. They didn't come out of nowhere; I just couldn't see what was wrong inside my body. And by recognizing all of that, I can recognize that these symptoms won't come back if I don't let them.
And while I might have been able to zonk myself out of some of my stress and anxieties with a few prescription medications, I chose to take the longer road. And if you've read other parts of my blog, you know that is through herbs and natural alternatives.
And it IS a longer road for me. I still have things I'm not totally comfortable with... like driving to places I don't know by myself. (So if you've ever invited me somewhere that's more than 20-30 minutes away from me and wondered why I haven't come, that's probably why). I still don't get on the interstate a lot and I don't go places I'm not familiar with by myself. And I think one day that will change... just like so many other things have changed. But I want to be honest in saying it IS a result of all of these health issues that I've had. But I wouldn't trade the life I'm leading and the choices I'm making for anything. Maybe I could have had a "quick fix" with medications. But that's not for me. I would much rather be doing it slowly and healing as I go than putting a bandaid on the problem. Because as we all know, bandaids have to be ripped off sometime.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

History was made tonight

History was made tonight. May 1st, 2011. After spending most of the day in the midst of church activities, I finally plopped down for a brief recap of the day's events before hitting the sack. I didn't expect to see anything actually newsworthy. Instead, I found numerous people reporting that the President of the United States would soon make an incredibly important announcement. Late at night. On a Sunday. My immediate reaction, like most people's, was anxiety.
But rumors, and then truth, soon began to swirl. And it was soon revealed that Osama Bin Laden was dead. Obama said more or less what anyone could expect:
Bin Laden is dead.
Obviously, this is a big deal because he masterminded 9/11.
However, there is still a threat. And given the nature of Al Qaeda, it'd be dumb to not expect retaliation.
We have and will continue to heighten security.
We will also still make it our goal to obliterate Al Qaeda.
Obviously, Al Quada and Islam the religion are completely seperate and we (Americans) understand that.
and God Bless America. :)
He gave more details about the death and capture, but that was the gist of it.
And as I watched the array of emotions and opinions that was sure to follow , I found myself kind of in the middle of the road... as I often do. You see, I don't get fired up about politics very much. Or too many other issues like this for that matter. And I feel like maybe sometimes that's taken as me being naive or not well-educated enough. But I see it differently.
Because Presidents will come and go. But my God is forever. And He will never leave office to be replaced by someone else. And He defintely has no political agenda. He'll never slander another to make a point and you'll never have to wonder about whether or not He really IS everything He says He is. You don't ever have to worry about buying into his campaign.
And yes, there are a lot of scary things and people in this world. But my God says He will never forsake me. And that I can do all things through Him. That He is my Rock, my Refuge, my Strength. He says that I should fear nothing. That I should not have worry or anxiety. That I shouldn't care what I eat, drink, or wear. That He will take care of me no matter what.
So why would I let worldly things affect me? Are they life-changing? Sure. Are they a big deal? Yes, some of them are. Tonight's events are history-making. But everyday with my God is history-making. And when the world is swarming with worldly worries and triumphs and opinions and politics, I don't worry about any of it. Because I don't have to wait for a press conference with my God. I don't have to make sure I have electricity and tune in and wait for over an hour to know of His grace and love. And I don't have to look at Facebook or CNN to know about His mercy and forgiveness.
So while our world changes, and people reflect on how it affects their lives, you won't find me in the middle of too many political, spiritual, or any other kind of debates. Because although I see it's importance, I relate it all to a much greater Importance.
Good night and God Bless!
Melissa

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Getting Relief From Insomnia/Night Terrors

I spend a good 7-10 days of each month having every part of my body and life affected by a demon called PMS. Yes, we've all heard about it.. whether we're women or men, we know the hell that is the week before a woman's monthly friend. But for me, it has always been pretty severe.
For starters, I'm pretty sure a Satanic minion crawls inside and takes over my mouth for a few of these days. Because I will snap, yell, and glare at you like it is nothing. I've got looks that will give you nightmares. Just ask my husband.
But on top of my constant mood swings, I have also been known to consume every piece of chocolate within a 40 mile radius. Heck, I ate my child's m&m's that she's been asking for while she was napping today. Yes... I know how bad that sounds. *Insert bag-over-my-head, holding up "Worst mom of the year" award image here*
Not to mention... I'm EX.HAUSTED. I can easily take a nap every day... I could probably take two sometimes. It's awful.
But an added perk? Ever since I started having all of these hormonal issues late last year, this time of the month has also brought on increased anxiety, night terrors, and insomnia. Yeah... fun.
Well, I finally mentioned to my uncle (Dr. Mark... the acupunturist/ dr. of Chinese medicine) that I was tired of dealing with these things on a monthly basis. And could we do something about it? Being the saint that he is, he gave me a new herb to help relax me when I need it. Has it made me a little groggy sometimes? Yes. Has it worked. Heck yeah. Instead of having night terrors, I'm sleeping through the night. And waking up RELAXED. And I'm not even taking them every night.
It's a process to get all the things that have gotten out-of-whack over the years back in whack... But I'm so glad to constantly be discovering new ways to do that. New ways that don't mean addictive medications.
So that was my point for the evening. I'm just glad to be where I'm at... discovering new tools to help me heal. :)

Good night! :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

You've got to FROG

You've got to FROG, Melissa. I tell myself that a lot lately. A LOT. You see, I've talked a lot about my journey with Chinese medicine, herbal supplements, and so much more. I've talked about health issues and other problems. But I haven't chatted so much about the OTHER part of this blog- The Faith part. Because this isn't just about vitamins and herbal concoctions. It's about becoming closer to my God and leaning more on him for understanding, peace, and well-being.
And that's what FROGing is all about. Abbie came home with a craft last summer. The three-year-olds had painted an adorable little 3-D frog and at the bottom it read "Fully Rely On God" F.R.O.G. You've got to FROG.
It seems silly almost to write down, but those words have amazing power.
Fully- totally, wholly, completely, every minute of every day
Rely- Lean on, trust, give your problems to
On- Against, Taking pressure off yourself
God- Not yourself, not your husband, not your family. Not this world. Not anything you can see, hear, or touch.
Fully Rely On God.
You're got to FROG if you're going to recover from anything, heal from anything, move forward from anything... or just get through life. You've got to FROG.

God Bless!
Melissa

Monday, January 31, 2011

Changing my diet to release stress...

I've talked a lot the last few weeks about how happy I am and how great I feel. Unfortunately, the last 7-10 days have not felt that way. My adrenal fatigue has really been getting the best of me for the last week or so. I've found myself beginning to get overwhelmed by everything again. Little things stress me out. Big things stress me out. I'm exhausted.
And I feel myself slipping back towards where I was a few months ago.
While reading up on adrenal fatigue diets last night, I realized I've been leaving out a lot of foods and nutrients that can really benefit my adrenals.
Fresh spinach.
Green drinks filled with barley and spirullina (like the ones I love, but have not bought recently, from Odwalla)
Organic foods.
Almond milk.
All of these are things I've left out of my diet for a few weeks, mostly b/c of budgetting issues with our grocery bill.
But after the way I've felt the last few days, I've realized something's gotta give. So I'm headed to the store, budget mostly aside, and putting my health needs first.
I'll be interested to see how quickly I feel better after adding these things back into my diet.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Modern Mommy

Tonight, I finally gathered the strength to do something productive. So after dinner, I came upstairs and cleaned the bathrooms. I scrubbed and wiped and took out trash. Not a huge feat, but defintely production.
When I was done, I put Abbie in her PJ's and brushed her teeth. I rubbed Vicks all over her chest and feet because she has a cold and her cough wakes her up at night.
I read her 2 stories, patted her back, and gave lots of hugs and kisses.
I ironed my husband's shirt because he got home at 8 tonight and has to be gone again by 5:45 a.m.
I put Abbie BACK to bed and cleaned up the kitchen some.
I felt like a real housewife... doing all my dutily housewife duties.

And that's okay. I love being available and helpful for my family. Some women would cringe at the thought of making an evening out of these activities, but I don't. At all. In a way, it's what my life is all about right now.
I've spent years having to rush through bedtime routines because I had to get an assignment turned in or a chapter read or a paper written. I've spent hours yelling at my husband because he doesn't get enough done around the house after working 50, 60, or 70 hour work weeks. And I've spent nearly the entire time I've had a family having to put that family on the back burner because I was working, going to school, and doing 18 other things that were pulling and tugging me in every direction. No, I don't feel like I've neglected them. But I do feel like I've neglected me. I wasn't the mother or wife or person I wanted to be and, right now in life, that's where I'm trying to get to.

Less than 3 months ago, I say in a counselor's office with one of my dearest friends and my husband. We were all there because we feared I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. And less than 3 months ago, that counselor suggested that I check myself into a mental hospital to recuperate from the damage that had been done by all the stress I'd been under.

To think that, in less than 90 days or so, I have completely transformed my life is so unreal to me. But it's true. It can only give me unbelievable hope for where I may be 90 days from now.

Melissa

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Hypothetical Pregnancy

I had a thought the other day. What if I were pregnant like so many women I know right now? What would that do for me? The thought process went something like this.

I would be so stressed out.
Would I have to quit taking a medication I take right now?
That would be a big adjustment. Would I be able to do that?
How would I handle labor?
I'm such a different person than I was last time I gave birth.
How would I find the peace? Would there BE peace?
I would need to take so many measures to avoid post partum depression. Gosh, that is so scary. I can't even imagine for one second being put in the position to have to deal with PPD. That's like the scariest thing ever...

And on and on it went. And these thoughts have occured to me on numerous occasions because my first and thus far only child is almost 4 and so many friends are having second and third and fourth and sixth babies. and it's just natural for me to imagine having another child that I DO want... one day.

But then I had a startling revelation... What if all of this happened? What if we became pregnant unexpectedly? And there were all of these decisions and added responsbilibities?
And What If... What IF... I gave it to God like I know I'm supposed to do? How CRAZY would THAT be?
And I use the hypothetical pregnancy example because I think it's a good one. It's a scenario where there are nine months of issues, followed by the greatest achievement of mankind (bringing a child into this world ;)) and tons of fun, beautiful, complicated things afterwards.
And to imagine giving not just one tiny thing, not just one medium-sized thing... but the entire weight of all that would come with another pregnancy at this upside-down point in out lives... to imagine giving ALL of that to God was a foreign and beautiful concept. It really gave the whole "idea" new meaning to me.
It was like "yeah! HEY! That's what you're SUPPOSED TO DO!" And maybe God smiled just a tiny little smile because maybe, just maybe, I am beginning to understand. Just a little.

God Bless,
Melissa

Monday, January 17, 2011

:Is Grateful for feeling healthy

I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I have friends and family from all walks of life and I enjoy being able to connect with people I may see three times a week as well as people with whom I don't have a reason to meet up with once or twice a year. Just because we live 1000 miles apart or because our lives have gone seperate ways doesn't lessen the relationship we once had or still have. And so all 300 of my FB friends are there for a very distinct reason. And, as addictive and counterproductive as it can be, I enjoy it for the nurturing of these relationships.
If I could talk about where I'm at and how I'm feeling today, my FB statuses might look something like this
Melissa: Feels great.
Melissa: Is so happy.
Melissa: Is findng a new inner peace.
Melissa: Feels closer to God than ever before.
Melissa: is so grateful.
Because I do. As I lay in the bath just now, I thought about a line from a book I read tonight. The author talked about how the same water has been here on our earth for mllions of years and how amazing that is. And as I lay there in what I would typically deem as subpar water, I didn't worry about whether some of my hair was floating around in it. I didn't wonder if I was cleaning it regularly enough. I didn't check for any miniscule sign of soap scum around the edges or anything like thta. I just closed my eyes and basked in the beauty of it. I was allowing something that was literally millions of years old melt away my tension in the best and most natural way possible. No fancy bath salts. No special scents or fluffy candles. Just me and water. Water that God made long before my mother's great-great-great-great grandmother was a spec in her great-great-great grandmother's eye. Water that has been Lord knows where and seen God knows what. How amazing is that????
And while I am not sitting at home, basking in the beauty of God's creations in my bathtub every day;.. I realized in the same bath that the last couple of months really have been healing for me.
Yes, I've healed physically. I've diagnosed health problems and have been tackling them.
But that's not what I mean. Just being HOME, with my daughter, away from my degree, my career, and anyone telling me what to do, has been healing.
Yes, I've spent many days on the couch. I've felt like a sloth. I've stayed in my pajamas, as has my 3 year old, for countless hours.
But I NEEDED that.
For years, I have thought that mental health days were just a fun way of saying you wanted to be lazy for the day. And all that time, my body was trying to tell me it NEEDED those mental health days. It NEEDED to recuperate. It NEEDED to sit still for a day or two.
And yet I never did. My idea of taking it easy was to run errands for my extended family before taking my daughter to the park, making 5 business phone calls, making a game plan for the rest of the week/month, paying bills, and inviting guests over so that I could clean and cook for them. And at the end of the day, I'd sit back and go "Ah, today was nice and relaxing" Insanity, I tell ya!
So the last few weeks I have laid on the couch, caught up on HGTV and Lifetime, and eaten way too many cookies.
But I have also started new food choices and learned more about what I need to be doing for my body.
I have been able to see the specialists I need to see and have the tests done that I need.
I have been able to take care of my family and do our laundry and read more than 1 book to my daughter at a time because I'm not too exhausted to do all of it.
And the last few days, I have READ A BOOK. I couldn't even tell you the last time I READ. It's amazing and liberating and so overdue.
I have put on a few pounds. But I can't wait to get back into a routine to get them off. I haven't been to a gym in almost 3 years. I haven't needed to. Between running myself ragged and already having a nutrion-depleted body, who needs cardio?
I am focusing and organizing and doing all of the things that I've known for the last 4 years that I've WANTED to do... but have never found the time or energy for.
And so when people ask me when I'm going to pick my degree and my career back up, finish them, and run with it... I just shrug. And yes, my mother doesn't get it. I feel her heart sink every time I tell her that the master planner she knows as her daughter doesn't have a plan.
But she doesn't realize how amazing and healthy it is not to have a plan right now.

God Bless!
Melissa

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Feeling better and better...

As I carried my daughter from my bed to hers tonight, I was overcome with happiness and peace. Looking at her sweet face and listening to the little noises she made, I thought "THIS is what I want to do with my life!"
And I can't tell you how amazing it is to have that joy back. Because just a couple of months ago, I was terrified. I was terrified because I felt like I was outside of my body, watching my joy and passion in life sepe out of myself. The day I hit the lowest of the low, I remember looking at my daughter-focusing on her face- and just waiting for those sweet, innocent eyes to pull me out of the funk I was in. And when they didn't, I felt even more helpless.

Because of all the health issues I was in the midst of, because of all of the stress and the toll it had taken on me... I was literally a shell of myself. I knew how much I loved my daughter, my life, my Lord, and so many other things. But I couldn't FEEL it. It was as if there was something else taking over me and holding me hostage outside of myself... holding me hostage against everything that brought me happiness in life. It was a terrible feeling, one that made me wonder if I needed to seek out a psychiatric hospital.

But by the grace of God and natural "medicine", here I am just a few months later. And I know that all of these blogs seem to be telling the same story. And I wish I could find a way to make this more interesting. But the truth is my healing is coming in so many ways.
For years, I thought I would always just be chronically tired. I thought I would always need a nap every day and that I would always struggle to feel normal or healthy. And then my physical health issues turned into so much more and the fear of what my life would be like were so much worse. I wondered if I could ever handle the stresses of being an adult again.
And now I can physically feel my body changing. I feel healthier, look healthier. And I'm not afraid.
And the only thing I've done differently is to take Chinese herbal supplements and to start on a diet that's more condusive to my health issues (for me that means more greens, which I've never eaten).

I'm off to bed now. But I just wanted to share (again!) how great I'm feeling.

God bless!
Melissa

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Still Learning....

Well, we made it through the holidays. Praise God for that! ;) :D
And as I catch up on my blogging a little, I feel the need to once again kind of "explain" about all this jibberish I'm blogging about. I feel like I've explained quite a few times about what is "going on" with me. But the truth is, I'm still LEARNING what is going on with me.
And I feel it's important to share because there are many women out there who are going through the same thing or close variations of what I'm going through.
So in a nutshell, this is it:
I have panic attacks (physical symptoms that make me feel like I am having a heart attack/ dying/etc)
The panic attacks are due to a few things, namely Traumatic events in my life and stress (emotional things)
The stress and traumatic events have thrown off one of my hormones (if not more) called my ADRENAL
My *adrenal* is linked to my *kidneys* and my *heart*.
Having low or fatigued adrenals makes me tired and it makes my metabolism and other things work in overdrive. It can cause (and I'm sure probably IS causing) my body to be depleted of nutrients. This causes me to have to eat more often, eat healthier, etc. I also, of course, take herbal supplements to even out my adrenals. They help tremendously. And I am starting a new "diet" so to speak that is geared more towards adrenal fatigue :)
On a daily basis, I might exhibit the following symptoms as a result of these intertwined issues:
Extreme fatigue
Getting winded easily (like after going up or down my stairs)
Racing heart if I exert myself (like maybe from going up the stairs)
Anxiety
Panic attacks (which are all but gone, thank goodness)

The panic attacks have caused me to suffer from *agoraphobia* This is a totally mental thing that I have to cope with and heal from. Agoraphobia, as I may have said before, is the fear of going places (for fear of having panic attacks). You see, I had so many in such a quick period of time (from everything being so off with my body) that now my body and brain is scared to basically get in my car and go somewhere. There is no actual danger that my brain is fearing, just the fear of having god-awful panic attacks.

Here is a "quick" explanation for another reason why I have anxiety and panic attacks :) I haven't had panic attacks for weeks, thank the Lord, but just 6-8 weeks ago, they were almost every day.

Thankfully, I have an abundance of resources at my disposal. And one of them are my uncles. The uncle I've never discussed before had a good explanation for me as to what's going on with my brain.
He explained that, when a person is put through traumatic events (see previous posts for all my trauma stories ;) :-P) there is a place in their brain that houses those memories.
Those memories are SUPPOSED to disperse through the brain so that that portion of your brain can in turn handle future stressful events. But sometimes they literally get stuck. And then that part of the brain gets overwhelmed and can't handle anymore. Thus, the reason I felt like I couldn't even handle the "stress" of getting my daughter to preschool on time a couple of months ago. Through specific therapies that have to do with rapid eye movement, these thoughts/memories/ etc can literally be dispersed where they're supposed to be and the person won't feel so overwhelmed by the every day stresses of life.

Is that enough boring, medical jargon for you? I totally understand that this is not a blog everyone can appreciate, much less enjoy, but I want to put it out there in (hopefully) the most entertaining and understandable way possible. Because I KNOW there are other women out there going through similar experiences. And if I can help just one of you, then this blog has served it's purpose! :)
God Bless!
Melissa

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years Resolutions

I've been thinking a lot the last few days about resolutions. I feel inclined to make one, but yet I can't seem to settle on one. Or maybe I can't seem to commit to anything else right now. :-P
You see, I've already resolved to do so much over the last few months.
I became a stay-at-home-mom.
With that, I am trying to be a better and more interactive mother.
I am trying to spend less time on the computer (this, by the way, has taken first place in my head if I WERE to choose a resolution).
I am eating healthier.
I am taking minerals.
I am trying to be a "better" Christian and to spend time in the Word every day.
I am trying to get control of my physical and mental health as well as improve it.
And when I find time, I'm blogging about it.
Do I really need to ADD to that list? My answer is a firm "no". You wanna know my New Year's resolution? Read this blog. See what it's about. Listen to what I'm doing in my life. There's my resolution. ;)
Happy 2011 everyone! I know it's going to be an amazing year!