Tag Archives: Mental Health

What To Expect When You’ll Never Be Expecting Again

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Welp, here’s another post about that delightful menopause for you.

I’ve written before about nursing my youngest through menopause, and that my milk supply had taken a substantial hit. It has finally recovered a small amount, and seems to have stabilized. The baby is still not happy, but the small return has definitely been welcome.

And now, a little biology lesson for you. Fat cells produce a small amount of estrogen. They also store small amounts. The larger the fat cells, the more estrogen they produce and store. It is common for nursing mothers’ bodies to “hang on” to a few stubborn pounds (anywhere from 5-15, occasionally as many as 20). This is in case of a starvation emergency, so that the mother can still nourish her child for a longer time. For many mothers, these few nursing pounds simply will not go until the baby weans, regardless of diet or exercise. For other mothers, the pounds may come off with a strict diet, but her milk supply takes a noticeable hit. Once her milk starts to go, those few extra pounds tend to just melt right off. For mothers who retained a larger number of stubborn pounds, a few may come off slowly as the milk begins to dry up, then the last 5 or so will come off quickly once milk production ceases entirely.

As my milk goes, I am losing a pound or two here and there. This releases some of that stored estrogen into my blood stream. You may remember I had to have my ovaries out due to a severe estrogen allergy, so this is unpleasant for me, to say the least. I break out in hives, experience joint pain and muscle aches, migraines, nausea, and loss of appetite. Of course, I experience worse menopausal symptoms as well: irritability, weakness, fatigue, brain fog, sleep disruptions. Thanks to that lovely brain fog, I don’t have a good way to end this post, but uh… here. Have a post. That feels so dorky, but I like to try and keep things real.

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Catastrophic Thinking

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This is related to anxiety, and I know many mothers deal with it to some extent. I have lived with it most of my life. Here’s an example of what an anxiety attack with catastrophic thinking looks like for me. 

I have a migraine. If I am stuck alone with the children, I sincerely do not know if I can keep them safe, change the baby, feed them when they’re hungry… I really don’t think I can take care of these kids today. But I can’t ask my husband to stay home from work because we need the money desperately, and he will think I’m just not trying hard enough because other people go to work with migraines, and he will leave me. He’ll take the children and the baby will be in day care. She’ll scream for me at night.

And that’s as vulnerable as I can manage right now. There you have it folks, and when this is happening in my brain it does not sound ridiculous, it sounds totally credible and awful. After an attack I regain perspective, but during it feels like drowning.

True Confessions

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On days like today, I feel like I’m just not cut out to be a mother. I know that’s not true, and tomorrow will be better, but today is one of those days in the trenches of motherhood for me. I know many mothers feel this way from time to time, especially with small children or teenagers. Do you? I could really use some honest mommy commiseration.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

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I have been struggling lately. Health problems seem unending. Money is tight. Familial relationships are strained. Menopause makes me feel like a weepy fool. There is a set point in the future when things should get better for our family, but it feels so far away. It’s easy to lose sight of, or to feel like it is out of reach. What-ifs wash over me and try to drag my hope with them. I am completely overwhelmed, but my God is not. He has met every need out of His great abundance, and I have faith He will continue to do so. Would you pray for me? For my family? And if I can do the same for you, please let me know.

I try to focus on enjoying making memories with the children, on moving forward to get our family into a better situation, when I am able. Which seems to never be enough of the time. But that is a thought I can’t focus on, because it becomes a cyclone of depression. No, better to just hold onto this train for dear life and try to keep my eyes on the pin dot of light ahead.

Weaning During Menopause

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For anyone else who may be facing this unpleasant (to say the least) combo.

One of my concerns when surgical menopause became necessary was, would my breastmilk supply be affected? My surgeon assured me that lactation is not controlled by estrogen; I might have a dip in supply, but should have no trouble nursing as long as baby and I desired. With my daughter’s second birthday coming only a few weeks after the surgery, a dip in supply didn’t worry me. I did not foresee the added pain and difficulty this minor side effect would bring.

This is not the first child I have allowed to dry nurse for comfort as my supply dwindled, so I knew it would hurt. But my son was generally satisfied with dry nursing for comfort. He fussed a little the first week or two that it started to happen, but he adjusted quickly and, shortly after my milk dried up completely, he lost interest. This poor child is NOT happy. She pulls away and tells me, “Mommy, I sad! Nurse empty!” And cries. She’s breaking my heart. I just have to tell her “I know, baby,” as I choke back my own tears. This just feels like one more area where I am falling short as a mother. My kids are generally happy and healthy. They are smart and polite. There are a lot of things I’ve done right by them, but oh how the devil likes to throw my shortcomings in my face. Especially those of my body, the ones that are beyond my control. Oh, he just loves to make me feel like dirt when I cannot meet my own June Cleaver standards. But you know what, you ol devil? Christ’s grace is sufficient. I am sufficient. This is not going to ruin my child and I certainly won’t let it ruin me.

The Mood Swings of Menopause

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First, a praise for the glory of God: I have only needed one pain pill in the past two days. Feeling SO much better. I really turned a corner yesterday morning. And now, the subject of this post: Mood Swings. I’ve had to laugh at myself a little bit. I kind of feel like a teenager again, but this time at least I understand why I am having these strange feelings. In the past day alone, I have gotten irrationally angry and weepy over  something that happened over a decade ago, and over my underwear not being put away right. Seriously, brain?! These things are not the end of the world! I know, rationally, it doesn’t really matter how my underwear is put away as long as I can find a clean pair, right? So why did I feel like stomping around, breaking things and yelling like a crazy person? Because I am now a crazy person. Welcome to life without estrogen, brain, it’s going to be a long, interesting ride.

I have completely lost it.

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This is the song of my heart today. It’s times like these you learn who your true friends and allies are. That has always been a very, very short list for me, at times consisting only of God. I am not proud to say that at times, there has been no list. In one particular dark pit, I found myself pulling away from the only One who could help me, the only One who knew the depth of the valley in which I found myself. I asked Him some hard questions, and when I didn’t like the answers, I pulled deep into myself, letting the darkness wash over me and under me and through me. And there I sat, wallowing in my hurt, slapping God’s hand away from my shoulder each time He reached in. But this time, I am fighting. I cling to the One who has never left my side. I am forcing myself to pry the lies and chains of hurt, mistrust, cynicism, and loneliness from my heart and give them over to the Author of Truth and Lover of My Soul. I am forcing myself to trust my husband, to be real with him and let him into my hurts, despite the strong desire to simply fold into myself again and close the heavy doors. I am reaching, and it’s hard, so hard, to the few who are left on my very short trusted list, a list that seems to shrink with each passing day. And I am sharing my struggle with you. Because no matter what seeds of lies the darkness sows, we are never alone. We are made to love, to connect with one another, imperfect beings sharing in our imperfection. We have to forgive, have to. We have to try again and again and keep reaching, keep giving broken relationships over to the Healer and letting Him restore, trusting that He can and wants to, if both parties will let Him. But right now, today, I just don’t have the strength. I’m trying, Lord knows I’m trying. But today, all I have in me is enough fight to cry out to God and to let my husband in. And for today, that will have to be enough. Looking forward to the end of this trial and a period of healing in my body and soul.

No PTSD is NOT demon possession and crap like this, does not help!

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This causes me such deep pain, anger, frustration, and sorrow. Christians, before you go throwing the P-word around read your Bible.

John 9: “9 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.”

Matt 5:45 “so that you may [a]be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
And there are more. Instead of crying demons, how about we all just love those who are suffering, whether we think it’s their own fault or not? A little compassion goes a long way.

Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

This is an exert from the link…

“Evangelist groups have had a checkered history of dealing with PTSD, including prominent evangelists who have recently gone on record as saying that “good Christians can’t get PTSD.” For many religious groups, prayer alone is the only valid way of treating mental illness. A 2008 survey by Baylor university Matthew Stanford showed that 36 percent of mentally ill churchgoers are told that their illness is caused by sin while 34 percent are told that it is caused by demonic possession.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201401/fighting-the-inner-demon

As a result, many churchgoers with psychiatric symptoms find themselves “shunned” by their fellow churchgoers and even their pastors. It has also led to the rise of evangelical camps offering a very different approach for dealing with mental illness.”

Tis is worse http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-right-wing-evangelicals-claim-good-christians-cant-get-ptsd

Some ‘Christians’ just need to SHUT UP!!!!!

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God knows exactly what we need

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even when we don’t.

I live with a physical disability. When my husband proposed, he knew about my assorted medical issues, but he saw I still lived a relatively normal life. He fell in love with this intelligent, resourceful, strong, tenacious, charismatic woman of God who overcame great obstacles. He watched me beat the odds, and when I failed, he held me while I sobbed and then watched me use my failures to accomplish something different. He knew that living with me would present some unusual challenges because of my health. And he proposed anyway, because I was so much more than my challenges. He promised my tearful mother that he would take good care of me, making the multiple yearly ER visits and the various assorted doctors appointments. We loved each other, we were young and optimistic and together, we could conquer anything. But neither of us could have predicted my future inability to function adequately in society.

As my health declined over the past few years, he struggled to accept the severity. And yesterday, he finally did. It nearly killed him. He lost hope in the long, dark night. Then today went just a little bit better. And tonight, while searching through my computer bag, I found something very dear to him that’s been missing since our move. Something he’d lost hope that he would ever see again. I’ve dug through that bag several times since we’ve been here, but it’s a small item and the same color as the lining of my bag. Still, I don’t know how I missed it before. But it was like a tiny love note from God, telling him “See? Anything is possible. I can restore all that is lost. I love you, here’s a small gift. Don’t give up hope.” That may seem silly to some of you, but for my husband it was a win he desperately needed. Some might call it luck; personally I don’t believe in that.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10

We feel like God spoke this verse into my husband’s soul tonight in a way that he could understand. And he let me be a part of it. Little ole me. What a privilege.

And from the cocoon emerged a moth.

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I still wore make-up off and on. Still restricted, but not as severely. The eating disorder still lived in me, but no longer controlled me. I stopped trying to win the unobtainable prize.

A few months after I graduated the outpatient program, I went off of the antidepressant. I got a job that I enjoyed, started dating, and regained most of my privileges. I generally liked my life. A while later I got an internship in my dream career with my target company and took off across the country. Finally, I moved on with My Life, whatever that was.

The internship required a lot of hard physical labor, so naturally my appetite matched my activity level. So I ate. And ate, and ate, and ate. I savored every bite without giving my figure much thought. Food was fuel, and I needed lots of it to work. It was the healthiest time of my life, physically and spiritually. I found a local church and attended regularly. I joined prayer groups, faithfully did devotions, and served the poor. And God began to touch me, teach me, heal me. When the internship ended, I returned home a new woman. Though I still experienced unhealthy thought processes, I lived out a healthy relationship with food and exercise for the first time in my life. Since then I have had a couple of relapses, but nothing close to a full-blown disorder. Right now I’m in a pretty good place and have been for about a decade. I try to eat a reasonably healthy diet, but I allow myself treats sometimes and don’t feel bad about them. I still have an occasional slip-up. Eating disorders are kind of like alcoholism; I will always be “recovering” and will have to remain vigilant for the rest of my life.

The greatest healing came only a few years ago when I got pregnant. For the first time, I loved my body. I felt like I looked “normal” for the first time. I had a perfect little bump, and all the wonders of pregnancy gave me a whole new perspective on my body. I had already landed a husband, and while he found me attractive he certainly didn’t marry me for my looks. I had a beautiful birthing experience and my self-worth, self-respect, and respect for my body skyrocketed. I felt like a rock star. Now, I have saggy, stretch-marked breasts; a saggy, stretch-marked stomach; and stretch marks in places I never even knew one could have them. After subsequent pregnancies, even my stretch marks have stretch marks! And I love them. I love my body. It made the most amazing little people, and it STILL turns my husband on. Through my wonderful husband and the way I see my own children, God gives me glimpses of how He sees me. How He loves me. Through counseling, adulthood, my marriage and motherhood, I have begun to learn about real emotions. My children are allowed to feel whatever they feel and to express those emotions appropriately (ie, in non-violent ways). I still have great difficulty expressing my own needs and emotions, but parenting my children is helping me to learn.