Anniversary of being mentally ill

It has been 10 years this week since I received the gift of mental illness…..

Last night I spent the evening and this morning reflecting on this milestone of mostly sadness and confusion.  And I still can’t make sense of it all but I do know the exact moment when I was given it.  I have shared my story of this incredible event before so won’t share it again but it is in the archives if anyone is interested.  But the hardest part of all of this confusion is that some of it makes sense and other parts are still very mysterious.  I believe in God and when necessary He touches down in my life to guide me into His will and other times he lets me coast and falter.  But I do know that He likes me blogging and encouraging others on their mental health journey.  I have made many friends on this blog and have been told by many that I am doing a good service by keeping this blog, sharing my story and helping to advocate for the mentally ill.  So I will continue to blog and share where I am at in the hopes of helping others.

Right now honestly I am not at my best.  I have many stresses in my life and it has been hard to exercise again but I know I will get back on track because it does help so much with everything.  Holidays can be hard for me because I tend to eat a lot and not exercise.  But I will not give up!  I am not suicidal just confused at how my life is ending up.  I am only 47 years young and wonder how long this will go on with taking care of my parents.

The good news is that my youngest son with mental health problems is doing very well off his medicine.  He might go in the army and had to go off his meds which weren’t really helping him and wow he is doing great.  Not sleeping as much, exercising and working!!!  So although I wish we would have tried this sooner, it is what it is like everything else.  Maybe he doesn’t suffer from mental illness like I had thought?  He did have depression as a kid but maybe it has passed and he will not need mental medicines.

So I will continue to blog my journey and love doing so.  I have an announcement coming up about a book I am a part of that I will be posting soon so stay tuned.  Until then take care and God bless and protect you all…

Pax

Victoria

Meeting one’s emotions

I have been touting the benefits of exercise so much but what to do when one can’t exercise due to weather, illness or busyness?  Take today for instance, I am home sick with a virus and binge watching Call the Midwife on Netflix and reading and unable to get in my usual miles of walking or my other exercises.  I feel absolutely helpless again…

I have been using exercise as a distraction from my emotions which still come just less often when I am exercising.  This is a tremendous realization and I am meeting my emotions with grace where before I ran from them through drugs and alcohol.  I don’t have to run anymore….

So I am watching Ted talks, reading uplifting stories about people who have struggled with mental illness and are doing well, blogging, eating a little, listening to Christina Perri and trying very hard to not feel sorry for myself.  LIfe is good, I am just sick at the moment and will be able to get back to my exercise again which helps so very much!

I still have Schizoaffective Disorder and even though the positive symptoms have subsided, the negative symptoms still affect me greatly especially at times like this when I don’t have the endorphins at my service when I exercise.  I have almost 3 months off of pot and alcohol which is great to be living life sober once again.

So much has happened in these three months.  I have had a lot of time to reflect on my feelings of inadequacy from having a very critical mother, being adopted, and growing up feeling unloved.  I am seeing a therapist again and it is very helpful to dig in to areas of my life which are untouched.

We all have them, times in our life when we felt disconnected and that occurred for me when I was abusing pot and alcohol.  Now that I am sober and in recovery I am meeting my emotions and accepting them for what they are and guess what?  It isn’t that bad.  Oh the feelings are very deep and there have been many tears, smiles and everything in between.  But it is all worth it on this journey of recovery which will never end.

Pax

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise, my dear dad and art oh my!

Now that exercise has become a daily habit it seems like I am not even disordered anymore.  New muscles seem to pop up as I vary my workouts daily to keep my body guessing.  Today I went on a 4 mile uphill downhill hike.  My feet are very tired but I feel good from the hike and know I will sleep good tonight like usual.

Thank you to all of you who shared what exercises you are doing to stay mentally fit.  I just love life these days, with each new day presenting a new opportunity to feel great through exercise.  I joined two hiking clubs, one is silent meditation hiking and the other one is more social and fast paced.  I like the silent hikes better.  I believe talking is overrated.  I would much rather pray and observe nature in silence…. That being said I did receive a thought while on one of the silent meditation hikes in thinking a lot about my father and when he will die.  The thought was that death is not a separation…  This gives me hope that after he passes I will still feel connected to him although his body will no longer be present.  But for now he is still with us and I enjoy every minute I get to spend with him.  Today as I was leaving he was making oogly faces when I told him I was going to bring him more ressus peanut butter cup ice cream.  He just loved it!  These small moments leave me so happy!

The next time I see my pdoc in April I am going to discuss with him how to check if I still need the anti-anxiety meds  and what is the best way to try going without, to taper down or just skip a dosage.  I always check with my pdoc before changing any medication.

Can’t remember if I shared on here about taking an art class working with pewter but my art class is fun too and is very social.  I am so picky when it comes to people but I really enjoy this small community of artists.  I have made one good friend within the group, which I find as I get older is more rare than common.  My “creation” piece is almost outlined and then I will start embossing certain areas.  I will post a pic of it when it is done.  I will still need to mount the pewter to wood and add finishing touches.  I don’t work on it every day but only when I am in the mood and then it is therapeutic.  If I work on it when I am not in the mood it feels forced and isn’t enjoyable but more of a chore.

As I continue to branch out and get involved in the community I have more hope.  I still may work again but that remains to be seen so I am not worried about it right now.  Still waiting on my permanent disability hearing.  It has been a year but my lawyers say it may take 18 months now:(

Pax

Victoria

 

The Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

38 days free from marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol and happy to report the cravings are practically gone  The best way they say to lose a bad habit is to replace it with a good one.  Well for me that replacement has been regular exercise.  And it has really made a difference in my mental and physical well-being.  I have never felt better and never exercised so much since I was playing sports as a kid and teenager.

Prior to 38 days ago, I was smoking cigarettes and pot on a throughout the day basis.  I had a medical marijuana card so it was legal and I used it for my anxiety which had been off the hinges after my last attempt at working.  But the problem was that the high didn’t last so I kept doing it to feel better.  And then when I smoked I couldn’t drive so I stayed at home way too much and didn’t want to hang out with my friends or family as much due to the cycle

But the great news is that the benefits of exercise last much longer than any high and it is so cheap in comparison to buying weed and cigarettes.

I even started going to the gym again and they have this awesome total body massage chair and table which helps my muscles to feel better after my workouts!  I have even started to get a workout in  the morning so my day starts off on the right foot.

So here are the many benefits but I am sure there are more~

  • A boost of endorphins after a good workout
  • Mental clarity
  • motivation to keep my house, life and myself in good shape and order
  • weight loss although it is slow
  • a fitter body
  • an excuse to get outside and also get the benefit of fresh air and sunshine when the weather is good
  • helps with memory
  • helps me to fall asleep faster and get better sleep so I don’t need as much (before I was getting 9-11 hours of sleep a night, now I get 7-8 and feel fine and ready to go)
  • adds variety to life as a new hobby I see myself doing the rest of my life
  • helps with stress
  • puts me in a good mood and helps me to stay there
  • my good moods are contagious so the people around me seem happier too!

I still have the occasional bad day but it is usually due to taking my rest day when you exercise a lot.  I used to have 1 out of 3 or 4 bad days but recently I actually had my longest streak of 9 days of feeling great and being motivated since being diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder in 2008

I vary my workouts to avoid boredom.  Lately I have been walking a lot, 9-12 miles a day actually because I compete on fitbit with people from around the country and my home town and I am very competitive ha ha.  But I will get tired of that after a while and get back to my sparkpeople videos for Latin spice dance workouts, cardio boogie, upper and lower body strengthening and intense power workouts to upbeat music.

One of the disadvantages of working out is that injury is common and it happened to me.  I strained my shoulder so have had to avoid upper body workouts until it heals.  I also stretch most days for ten minutes to help prevent injury and just bought a stability ball to work on my core muscles while I am sitting at my computer!

If you don’t exercise I urge you to try it for two weeks and see how your feel.  Start with a ten minute walk and go up from there but try to give it your all if you can and you’ll feel better if you do!  If you experience the benefits already as a regular exerciser, post in the comments your favorite workout routine.  I  love to get new ideas all the time and surely my readers would be interested too.

Good night!

Pax

Victoria

A very therapeutic visit…

It had been a year and a half since my last visit with my therapist and it was time…

Was able to process my dad’s stroke and for the first time since July 2, 2016 was able to cry with someone else.  Usually crying only occurs for me when I am alone, usually laying in bed thinking about my dad and how my life has changed since receiving that awful phone call that he had a stroke and might not make it.  But he did!  He is alive and even though he is paralyzed on his left side, he is still with me but in a different way than before July 2.

She is just so wonderful!  I have to drive 45 minutes to see her and she asked me at the end of our session if a referral to another closer therapist was what I wanted.  I emphatically shook my head no.  When you find someone you trust and feel safe with it is worth the drive and extra effort.  Will see her again in 3 weeks and maybe my mom will come too!

My psychiatrist will be happy that seeing a therapist again is part of my routine although not sure how long it will last.  Time will tell.  Not worried about it at all!

Happy Monday to all!  Have a great week ahead filled with happiness and peace!

Pax

Victoria

Seeing my therapist tomorrow for a tune up!

Well I decided to go for it and see my old therapist who is just wonderful!  I am looking forward to process several things with her mainly my loss of my father as he used to be, my worries for my frail mom and teenage son.

My psychiatrist will be happy for sure!

I feel I am doing pretty good with everything but know I can be doing even better!

I also have 30 days clean and sober today so that is a very good thing.  I have been getting a lot more exercise to combat cravings and it is helping and also getting out more, seeing people and taking care of business so that’s another benefit of not smoking pot any more.

The exercise really helps my moods to be more even.  Today I even got up early and got some exercise in although small it is hard for me to exercise in the mornings because I am groggy from the meds I take at night.  But today I pushed past the excuses and did some lunges and a walk around my house because the weather is rainy which I am grateful for here in California.

Don’t know if I mentioned but I have joined an art class which has a great community feel.  I love the art although I am not very artistic and having a new hobby gives me something to look forward to between hospital visits and helping my mom and son.  Having something for me is awesome!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Pax

Victoria

The ups and downs of Schizoaffective Disorder

Life is like a roller coaster some days and other days I have tremendous peace.  Today I was in between, neither cold or hot.  I felt unorganized when I tried to bake some banana nut muffins but they came out good and I got the kitchen cleaned up.

I do feel quite a bit unorganized lately but am in the middle of many projects, taxes (blech!), a refinance for one of our rentals that I have to do so much for to save some serious money every month so I suppose it is worth it but the broker keeps asking for things, it is like a scavenger hunt each time I get an email from her!

Keeping up healthy eating takes time too and exercise has again become my daily friend for three weeks now!  Today I did a core challenge and my abs are sore in a good way:)  I am more motivated now than ever before to get rid of these last 25 pounds that I put on because of this disorder.  I have lost 30 so far so that is great and I am managing to keep it off but it takes a lot of work!!!!

I joined an art class too; although I am not much of an artist but needed a fun hobby in between hospital visits for my dad, helping my mom and worrying about my youngest son which I will get to in a minute.  We are actually working with pewter and although it is a bit tedious I am finding it relaxing and enjoyable when I am in the mood to work on it.  The sketches are hard for me though because I am a perfectionist and no matter how hard I try I can’t get what is in my mind out on paper.  But I am proud of myself for venturing out and taking a class and at least trying to be more creative.

As for my son- he just turned 18 and has mental health issues but not psychotic, more severe depression.  He can’t get and keep a job yet, couldn’t finish high school (recently got his GED), his car died so he uses mine or walks or bikes it, missed the registration for college so isn’t in school now.  He is saying he wants to go to a 4 year out of state but can’t even manage his life living with his parents. Oh my!  How much I pray for him every day and worry way too much about him.  I try to help him out but he just has a mind of his own.

The good news though is that now that he is an adult he is seeing my amazing psychiatrist who prescribed Wellbutrin and is keeping him on Prozac which he has taken for years.  I have hope that it will work and help his motivation.  Every day he sleeps in till 1 or 2 pm and just isn’t motivated to do the things he needs to do as an adult.  My other two children don’t have mental disorders like him and are supporting themselves so I guess two out of three children aren’t bad.  I just see his future and he is so bright and smart that I hope he can find his niche in life and not have to be supported by his parents the rest of his life.  He even talked about the army but they won’t take him because of the psych meds so yet another blow.  Thank goodness he isn’t suicidal…

So back to me,  I need to blog more it really helps me to vent about this disorder.  I do so much for others and managing a house is a full time job.  The work is never done.  I do feel stressed at times and other times it is smooth sailing.  I probably need to see a therapist again but don’t have the money but may just decide to do it anyway.  My mental health is very important to me and lately I wonder how well I am really dealing with everything.  I just don’t think about it most of the time and that’s probably not a good thing.

Thanks if you read this far.  I hope my readers are all doing well, staying positive despite this dastard disorder that robs us of our joy so much of the time.

Pax

Victoria