5 steps to getting your anxiety and other mental health issues under control

Have you been dealing with a lot of anxiety lately?  I have.  Truthfully, I’ve been dealing with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder since I was a young child.  I didn’t always know that was what I was dealing with, but it has become obvious in the past few years that I’ve been dealing with mental health issues for a long time.  I mean, how many 4 year olds do you know that refuse to sit in Santa’s lap because he wasn’t wearing his gloves?  Yep.  That was me.  I was that 4 year old.  Even at 4, the obsessive compulsive disorder was there and it was gearing up for a long ride.  I am 31 and still suffer with crippling anxiety and OCD.  However, because I am 31 and have been working on it since I was 18 years old… I’ve developed quite a few strategies for making it. And yes, I said making it… because for a while you just have to make it.  Once you start making it… you work toward other goals like living a happy and fulfilling life.  Goals we’re all working at!

  1. Therapy.  I cannot stress the importance of therapy.  Therapy has saved me time and time again.   However, I also cannot stress enough that the important thing is finding a therapist that you mesh well with.   I’ve had several over the years and some were not a good fit.  I currently have a phenomenal therapist that has helped me through the hardest times and has helped me see my own worth.  She has been a true Godsend.  Find a therapist that is there for you and not because it is a job.  Find a therapist that you trust and are comfortable with.  You can start searching here.  (Make sure you read reviews and talk to them ahead of time about what insurance they accept!)
  2. Medication.  This one may get me a lot of backlash and that is fine.  I have tried over and over and over again to tackle my issues without medication.  I’ve told myself I didn’t need it.  I’ve told myself that I’m better off without it.  The truth is, I can’t really function.  I am a miserable wife and mother.  I am an obsessive ball of crazy that can’t see past my own eyeballs.  I only see everything inside of my head.  I’m not present.  I’m not well.  I started seeing a psychiatrist (which is important, I have issues with general practitioners prescribing these and then not adequately following up)  and started Prozac several years ago and the change it has made in my life is unbelievable.  I am more level, I have fewer obsessive and anxious spells and am able to see more clearly.  When I miss doses and really get off track, it is obvious.  This drug has helped me and I am thankful for it.   I think medication can be really helpful, especially with therapy.
  3. Self-Help Reading.  Mental health is something you need to work at like a subject in school.  For some people, they just “get it.”  They don’t have to work at it as much as some of us… but for me, mental health is like math.  I’m always having to really work at it to try to figure it out.  Thankfully there are excellent resources out there that really help.  I recommend the following books:  Self Esteem: How to Heal Addictive ThinkingFeeling GoodFull Catastrophe Living.  These books have helped me in the hardest of times.  I’ve read and re-read them and they are amazing resources.  Very beneficial.
  4. Mindfulness Meditation.  Meditation may feel silly at first but the results speak for themselves.  I’ve had random meditation apps on my phone that didn’t do much for me, but then my therapist recommended the Insight Timer app.  This app really changed the way I viewed meditation.  I could feel the changes in my body.  I remember the first time I really got lost in the meditation.  I suddenly had this awareness of every move– Every small move in my body.  I was so calm and in tune with myself.  Studies have even shown that meditation changes the brain after a period of weeks.  Seriously! Really about it here.
  5. Support System.  Finding a support system is very important in treating debilitating anxiety and other issues.  Explaining your feelings and thoughts to a trusted individual whether it be a spouse, friend, parent, etc. is very important.  They may not fully “get it” but they will know that it is something you’re working on.  Let them know how to help you.  It isn’t always easy or fun, but it is necessary.  My husband has learned so much about my issues and can even tell when they’re coming on.  He knows how to help me and reminds me to take my medication.

When you’re living with anxiety/depression/OCD, etc… it can be hard to know where to begin when getting help.  Sometimes its hard to see beyond your own thoughts.  It is hard to get out of bed… it is hard to be a good parent or spouse.  It helps to know that others have been through it and you’re not alone.  If you’re struggling with what to do next or how to help yourself, please just take these few steps first.  One of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes comes to mind,

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”  

You don’t have to set any huge goals at first.  You don’t have to fault yourself or tell yourself you have to be cured immediately, just do what you can to get through each day and then each day will become easier.  You will get through this and things will start to fall into place.  But to get to where you want to be in life, you must help yourself first!

 

 

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Quick Tip Tuesday: Keep it real

My tip this (almost) Thursday… is to keep it real.  Weird right?  This isn’t really a tip is it?  Well, I’m not really in the mood for a tip.  Lately, I’ve been tired.  I’ve been really beaten down by life and things have just been hard.  I sat around tonight wondering what my tip could be this week and all I could really think about is how I’m feeling right now.  Specifically, how there is no tip that anyone can give me to make things easier necessarily.  So… I decided to just come to the blog with how I feel.  So… my tip is keeping it real.

If I’m being very real… rather than post a tip, I wanted to come here and tell you guys that I’m extra exhausted right now but I can’t do anything but obsessively clean my house.  (Wow! What a work in progress that is… I could work for a year and not be done most likely)  All I can think about is how I want to organize things or what needs to be cleaned next.  I don’t know why …but its the only thing I feel like I have control of at the moment.  I’m also sad for my husband… who is sad, obviously.  I’m sad when my son realizes each day that granddaddy is indeed still in heaven.  I’m stressed beyond belief… and I’m having trouble managing it.

Tonight, I texted my doctor to tell her that I couldn’t remember if I’d taken my medication, and feared I may have taken it twice.  Though I knew this would not be a problem, I compulsively had to text her.  And call the pharmacist.  And my mom.  And my husband.  This panic and paranoia landed me a 9 am trip to her office tomorrow morning.  When things feel out of control I start to spin out of control.  It is my reality.  I have dealt with it for many, many years.  Thankfully, I have amazing healthcare providers that can see it and know when to step in and check on things.

Overall, I think we’re doing a pretty damn good job of handling the absolute insanity that has come our way this year.  My kids are happy.  I get out of bed every morning.  We sometimes make it to story time.  We drive around… we talk, we play and we laugh.  So, even though I have very hard moments, I’m still happy and I’m still blessed.  And I’m not just writing that so that this happy mommy blog post has a happy little ending.  I mean it.  I’m lucky to have my kids, my husband, our home and so much love.

Maybe next week I’ll come at you with a new tip… a real one.  But for now, this is all I’ve got.  <3.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Video baby monitor


When I got pregnant with my first child I wouldn’t accept anything less than a video baby monitor! I know, I know… many people have been fine with audio monitors but I felt it necessary to have a video monitor.  Funds were tight… so I got a a Levana monitor from Groupon.  It worked pretty well for a while.  Eventually, we moved on to a Samsung.  The Samsung was okay but eventually quick working.  Finally, when pregnant with my second, my mother-in-law gifted me with a Motorola Video Baby Monitor with 2 Cameras.

The Motorola was my favorite camera of the ones I tried, but eventually it stopped rotating.  Being able to control the camera was one of my favorite features so this bummed me out!  Then, the cord broke.  I got a new one from ebay, but that one broke too.  I couldn’t find another, so I looked for a cheaper option.

My husband went to Amazon and found this gem!  Wansview Camera

It is $32.99!  Yes, you read that right- it has all the features of these other cameras (more than some) and it is $32.99! win!  So I was skeptical at first… but we got the camera, set it up and it works perfectly!

You set it up, download an app on your phone and there you go.  Your sleeping babies are right there in view.  You can listen in on them, talk to them, change the clarity of the image, etc.  It is amazing, especially for 32 dollars!  I *WISH* I’d had this from the start.  I wouldn’t have wasted hundreds on the other monitors.

Check it out 🙂  And if you have any other items you’ve saved a ton of money on share in the comments! I would love to hear about them.  <3.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Talking It Out 


Today has been exhausting.  I mean, every day for the past 2 years has been exhausting I think…but today I had to make a 9:30 am doctor’s appointment with my 4 year old and 1 year old.  They’re readjusting to our schedule after a month of craziness. I honestly had no idea if they’d wake up at 6 am or 10 am.  So- last night I set my alarm…I prepared my son for the doctor’s appointment (who is traumatized from a throat culture in March) and went to sleep. 

Of course, this morning I wake up to a text from my husband at 8:30 saying– shouldn’t you be awake?  Yep. I overslept. My very brilliant 4 year old got into my phone and turned the alarm off, and then sat there quietly while I snoozed.  (He’s clever).  I had 30 minutes to feed the kids, change diapers, get them dressed, etc.  After much stress, I did it. We made it by appointment time. 

And of course, as soon as the nurse called our name all hell broke loose. My son screamed. He grabbed onto the fish tank for dear life. He flopped around, fell backward, etc. I had to pick him up and carry him to the room. He kicked, screamed, cried, pushed, punched. It was pretty impressive.  He’s done this the past few times we’ve been to the doctor so I wasn’t surprised. I did, however, change my approach to the situation. 

First off- I said a prayer. I asked God to please help me and guide me.  Then, I talked to my son. I asked him if he was scared. I reassured him. I held him tight. I sympathized with him and I didn’t lose my cool. I didn’t become embarrassed by his outburst — I got down to his level and reasoned with him.  I was able to exclude everyone else and allow the conversation just to be between us.  So often I feel judged by others. Am I being too lenient? Am I being too harsh? What are they thinking?  For once, I didn’t care. The important thing was taking care of my baby. He was scared- that was all this outburst was about. Fear.  We talked and after a few minutes he calmed down. He got off the floor and he sat down and did everything he was supposed to do.  I was so proud of him.  

When everything was done I gathered our things and the doctor told my son he was a great little boy and did a wonderful job. The nurse took a moment to tell me that I did everything right. “You really handled that situation. He was upset and you diffused things- and he’s fine. You did everything right. Good job mom.”

Wow. When I stopped worrying about what others thought of my parenting…it was actually complimented.  When I took the time to talk to my kid instead of scoff, threaten, or voice my frustration I got better results than ever before. 

Communication is key. Whether it be between spouses, friends, or a mom and her very pissed off, scared 4 year old.  Talking it out is never a bad idea. ❤️

Quick Tip Tuesday: Target Red Perks & Cartwheel


I am addicted to Target.  There, I said it.  Admitting it is the first step right? hahaha.  My first job was at Target, so this has been a long obsession.  As for me, I didn’t need any reason to go there more often… but good o’l Target is always looking out for me and they developed a few really good reasons to shop there… for everything.

1- Red perks.
2- Cartwheel.

So if you’re a Target regular you may already know about these sweet treats… but if you’re only there every now and then, you may want to take advantage of these offers and visit more often.

My first obsession was Cartwheel.  Cartwheel is a money saving app at Target.  You get a certain number of “free spots” and you can add featured products for the week and save a certain percent off on these items when shopping.  You download the app to your phone and the cashier scans it at checkout.  Your discount is applied right there.  Now, you can even scan the items in your cart before you get to the checkout to see if anything you bought is featured on cartwheel.  I love it!  If you’re not brand specific in your purchases, it can show you similar items that are on cartwheel if your selected item isn’t featured.  I’ve had Cartwheel for a 2 years or so… and have saved over $400!  I’ll take it!

In the same app as cartwheel, is Red perks.  Previously, these were different apps but Target made it convenient by putting them together! Basically red perks is a way to earn points for every dollar spent.  10 points for every dollar.  Once you reach 5000 points you can choose from a list of freebies!  Let me tell you something about Red Perks.  I haven’t bought a package of baby wipes in months.  One of the freebies is any brand wipes up to $10.  (This used to be 20, so I was bummed when they bumped it down to $10, but hey, you can’t have it all I guess).  Anyway, I shop at Target so often that I get to the 5000 pts fairly quickly and always choose wipes!! Other examples of featured freebies are:  free pajamas, sunglasses, laundry detergent, movie/cds/books, coffee, pet item, etc.   At one point I know that this feature was only available in certain markets.  I’m not sure if this is still the case… but if so, come on Target!  Give it to everyone! Its awesome!  And if you’re listening, my store could really use a Starbucks– and a babysitter.

Okay, so …there you go.  My tip for today.  If you’re going to go to Target and spend money anyway, may as well find ways to save! Right?   Do you enjoy money saving perks at other stores?  Share your favorites in the comments!

Quick Tip Tuesday: Calm down app for kids


Today’s quick tip Tuesday is coming at you on Wednesday, again.  I’m sorry.  This week has not been what we expected.  A close family member is sick and in the hospital.  We’ve been hanging out there this week and I haven’t had much time for blogging.  I haven’t even thought about it really.  But, I’m here now and I’m excited to share this tip with you…& if you wouldn’t mind sparing a bit of time to say a prayer for our family that would be pretty amazing and greatly appreciated.

So! For the tip… it is an app download.  My son is very anxious.  He is also prone to tantrums or meltdowns.  I think he’s growing out of them, but when kids are young… it happens.  One thing I found to be really helpful is an app called “Settle Your Glitter”  Basically, it is a glitter jar… but in your phone– which is actually super convenient because sometimes you don’t have a glitter jar, but you usually always have your phone.  At least that is the case for me.

This app starts by asking how you’re feeling.  It has silly faces and choices and you can select the best description (mad, sad, silly, worried…).  My son is very responsive to this and seems to like that he can put a label on how he feels at the moment.   Once you select your feeling it asks how intense the feeling is.  (a little, very, extremely) …then you shake your phone (which is kind of awesome in itself… it puts the focus on something else and lets your child get rid of some of that built up anger and anxiety.)   You then see the “glitter” swirling around in the circle and a little character practices mindful breathing with you!  We’ve used this multiple times and it usually does the trick! 🙂

Anyone know of any other great mindfulness, calming apps for kids?  I would love to find more!  Leave suggestions in the comments– and check out the app!

Why I won’t spank my kids

[note:  this opinion is solely my own! it is what works for me and my family. everyone is doing their best to parent the best way they know how.  I can appreciate all parenting techniques. people I know and love discipline all sorts of ways and they are wonderful parents. This isn’t meant to offend– it is just something that has been weighing on me and I felt like writing about it. love you all! ]
Tonight I’m posting about something that has been on my mind and on my heart lately. I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to write about it, perhaps because my son is 4 and he lives to try my patience. At some point in each day I sit with my head in my hands and wonder how I can make him listen! It is so frustrating and so perplexing. I wonder what I can do to make him do what he is supposed to do.

When it comes to discipline I’ve tried just about everything. Time out, taking away privileges or toys, etc. I’ve even tried “spanking.” (In quotes because they weren’t the spankings I got as a kid.) I’ve heard it time and time again from older family members, etc…, “He wouldn’t act like that if you spanked him.” “What he needs is a good spanking.” In my most insecure parenting moments I’ve taken these comments to heart and felt that maybe I was being a bad parent by NOT spanking my son. So… a few times here and there I’ve popped him on the butt. A little pop here or there to get him to really pay attention to what I’m saying. NEVER anything more. Guess what? A little pop here or there, still feels terrible. It still sucks. and oh yeah, it doesn’t work in the long run (or even in the short sometimes).

So, spanking. Let me tell you all the reasons I won’t spank my child. First of all, it feels wrong. Nothing about striking my child feels okay. My children are precious and I don’t want anything to hurt them. Or anyone. Including their parents. Even if it is a socially acceptable form of discipline. It is not acceptable in my house.

Studies over the past 30 years have shown time and time again that spanking is ineffective long term. It is a quick fix. It is lazy parenting. (Don’t take offense to this, we’re all lazy parents at some point in some way). I don’t want to be lazy in this VERY important part of my life. I want to be a good mother that understands my children. I want to see behind the reasons they act out. I want to listen to them, understand them and react accordingly. Spanking is dangerous because it is lashing out from our own frustrations. I think that sometimes spanking can be more of a release of frustration from ourselves instead of an appropriate discipline technique for our children. How is that okay? We tell our children not to hit. Keep their hands to themselves. Don’t act out… and through spanking we contradict every bit of what we’re saying.

Spanking is confusing for a child. Personally, I was spanked, and yes, it worked. (In that I was terrified to do anything wrong). I feared it to the point of feeling sick at the threat of it. My parents didn’t take joy in it. They hated it, I know. They even said it. As a child all I could think was, “if you hate it, why are you doing it?” 30 years later I still feel the same way. If it feels wrong, why do it? It was scary, caused a lot of worry, and it was very confusing.

A parent’s job is to guide us. They’re supposed to show us how to live in this world. Spanking a child because they do something wrong is not showing us how to live. We do not hit the first person that wrongs us in a day. Every situation is a learning experience. We should take these punishable situations and learn from them. We should teach our children how to think, react appropriately and make a better decision in the future.

In very stressful moments when my son is at his peak of rip-my-hair-out behavior, I can usually take a moment to find out what is really going on. He is 4. He doesn’t know all the perfect words. He doesn’t understand all of his feelings. Little children are so complex. Sometimes they act out because they don’t know any better. Often, my son acts out because he is tired, he is scared, he is frustrated, etc. LISTENING to my child can guide my own actions. I can prevent meltdowns by making sure he gets enough sleep, stays on a schedule, etc. I can listen to him when he tries his best to explain his own insecurities and fears. Even if he does them loudly, in the floor with giant tears. Our children don’t want to make our lives hard. They don’t WANT to meltdown or be upset. If we took the time to see this rather than get frustrated by the external behavior we could approach situations with compassion.

The times I’ve felt like spanking my child I’ve known that taking that way out is the lazy way. I don’t want to be lazy. I want to be an active parent that listens, engages, redirects and teaches my babies. I want to show them how to handle difficult situations in a positive way. Studies have shown that children who are spanked are more likely to have emotional problems in the future. They can be more aggressive, depressed, etc. (Please see this wonderful article for more facts and citations http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/should-I-spank-my-child ) I fear these things with my family history of depression/OCD/anxiety. The very LAST thing I want to do is contribute to the possibility of these outcomes.

I’ve seen the effects of being lazy on a child. My son was in a preschool last year that punished him for everything. If he didn’t want to stand in line he was sent to time out. If he ran from the teacher he was sent to time out. His first time out was at 2 years old. He was sent to the director’s office for the remainder of the day. Rather than try to understand the reasons for my son’s behavior, he was disciplined. They saw him as defiant. They grew frustrated with him and angry. They isolated him from his friends and activities. Eventually he stopped making art, his behavior got worse, he voiced troubling things to me and he was removed from the school. At his new school he is approached with love and compassion. He is appreciated for being the bright, beautiful child that he is. He is redirected when necessary. He is listened to and valued and he hasn’t been in trouble once.

I know I’ve rambled on a bit in this post but the most important thing I hope to express is that there is a better way to discipline our children.   Finding our own individual ways to discipline is our own journey unique to our children and our circumstances.   I think we’re all figuring it out as we go.  I’m also not judging generations before us. My parents were really good parents. Most parents are trying REALLY hard. We want to do a great job at this whole parenting thing. I think it is important to be willing to grow and change though. I saw on a friend’s facebook a quote that said, “When you know better, you do better.”  In 2017, we know better. I plan to do better.