Why WE Will Never Stop Going to Therapy

The first time my husband and I went to therapy was for pre-marital counseling with our pastor. A requirement for our pastor to marry us. We learned a lot about each other that we had been struggling with through our short relationship. Single ladies and gents… relationships are hard. They take work. A lot of work. If you go into a relationship not willing to give it 100% of your mental and physical energy, then you should probably stop now. Shit happens. Humans are just that, human. We make mistakes. We say things we don’t mean… or we say things we do mean that are mean. We say things in anger and in fear. We say things in the heat of the moment that we cannot take back. If everyone gave up in that moment, there would be no relationships ever.

Our first year of marriage we were lucky to be a part of our churches newly wed small group. We loved that group. Everyone argued over silly things like laundry and dishes. Do the forks face up or down? Yes we all got in serious arguments over ridiculous things. Especially that first year of figuring out how to live with each other. So many arguments about in-laws on all sides of the marriage. We were not so different after-all.

My husband and I have been in and out of therapy since that first year of marriage trying to find common ground in silly arguments… and those not so silly arguments.

Fertility problems triggered a big set of arguments for us. Our equal frustrations created a huge gap in communication as well as a loss of respect for each other. Blaming ourselves and each other for our lack of a child. We would go from therapist to therapist trying to find one that would fit my emotional needs and my husbands logical needs. It was a difficult process. In fact, we had one therapist suggest we get a divorce. She didn’t last very long. Another therapist suggested sex therapy. Nothing like discussing your (lacking) bedroom shinanigans with a total stranger. I’m sure there are good sex therapists but this was not one of them.

One therapist (ok she was a psychic) suggested we stop discussing divorce and start getting along like grown ass adults. Our marriage was not slotted to end in divorce. I don’t know if it was that she was a psychic or if that I really had not heard this statement before that got me to thinking. Either way, I started to see the hurt in my husbands heart and really tried to find that synergy we had when you first got married. When I opened my eyes and heart to his, he opened his to mine. Weird how that worked. A simple act of forgiveness can truly change the entire future of a marriage. Really, I was forgiving myself. My self-hate was coming out in anger toward my husband. He was just reacting to my crazy. It was a whole mess of crazy up in here. When I lessened the crazy, he lessened the reactions. We started to synergize again.

It was then we decided to adopt. Can you imagine any agency accepting a crazy couple like us? Every agency we asked regarding counseling and therapy congratulated us on our work on ourselves and our marriage and said it would have no affect on the adoption process. There were some international countries that wouldn’t accept families in counseling due to their out dated beliefs thinking therapy was for the seriously mentally ill.

We finally had a plan of action that almost guaranteed we would be a family of 3 sooner or later. Granted it didn’t make the waiting any easier. But we were finally in it TOGETHER in it. We were equally waiting. No blame. No guilt. Just waiting together.

We went through a hard failed adoption together and it made us stronger yet. Holding a child in your arms and then having her taken away makes you dig deep to just get up in the morning. But we endured it together.  Being fully TOGETHER is something we had never truly experienced.

When we were placed with our son we blossomed even more.

Even though our lives seemed put together we still had our moments. This past year we jumped back into therapy head first. We went in because we kept getting in arguments over the dishes… yes 10 years later… the dishes is what we fight about. Turns out dishes was actually my fear of becoming a dreaded ‘housewife’. Which I had some negative stereotypes against. I’ll discuss some of the changes I personally experienced in another post.

This new therapist is one we can both really connect with. My husband gets his logical needs met and I get my emotional needs met. We are both told to get our heads out of our asses and given homework to do. This therapist understands job security really well and keeps finding things we can work on as individuals and couples. The thing is, we are doing it! We are doing everything we are told to do. We are enjoying our sessions and looking forward to them each month. The dishes argument is still around… because seriously…. I hate the dishes. But we have other issues that come up… individually and as a couple. Sometimes our sessions are just a hooRAH session about how awesome we are doing as a couple…. because some days we totally kick ass at marriage. And some days… we argue about the dishes.

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The point of me telling the internet this is that I know SO MANY couples who refuse to go to counseling. They refuse to get help in any way. They think therapy is for sick people or they finally agree to go when its too late. They think their religion is their therapy… or their sister is their therapy. Your sister is ALWAYS going to side with you!!   If your religion is your therapy, see your pastor! You need a third party to come in and tell you the truth. You need a third party to help your decipher your SHIT!

We went to therapy over the freakin’ dishes people! It’s never about the dishes! It’s always something deeper.

But I’m too busy with the kids. I’m too busy with my job. We don’t have the money right now. It’s JUST NOT a priority right now.

What happens when you don’t make your marriage a priority? What if you took your marriage more seriously than your ego?

It doesn’t take too much thought to know the answer to that.

Look. Divorce happens. I’m not saying I’m against divorce. It has its place and in many instances it’s necessary. I’m just saying, unless your physically beating the crap out of each other, give it everything you got before it gets to the big ‘D’. Before it even starts to get to that point.

-Sheila

A note from my husband: 

I’ve been going to therapy for quite some time now, many times with my wife, sometimes by myself.  Is there anything “wrong” with my marriage?  Nope.  Is there anything “wrong” with me?  Nope.  But that doesn’t mean that my marriage can’t be stronger or that I can’t be a stronger pillar in my marriage; it doesn’t mean that I can’t be better at dealing with stressful situations; and it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a better father…and that is why I no longer have a problem discussing with folks that I go to therapy pretty regularly.  The stigma that therapy is only for those who are “broken” or for marriages that are on the verge of failure needs to go away – therapy is for anyone who wants to grow, anyone who wants additional tools to handle the stresses of life more effectively.  I enjoy therapy for that very reason – I enjoy the personal introspection that I must do to grow, and I think many more people can benefit from therapy if we remove the notion that “I’m not broken, therefore I don’t need to go to therapy.”  Try it…you’ll like it, or at the very least, you’ll learn something.

-Justin Chester, Physicist, 4x Ironman finisher, Triathlon coach, involved father, devoted husband, Mans Man.

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Maintaining My Zen Amongst the Crazy Inside My Head

So first I share all my crazy with you and now I share with you how I’m learning to deal with it. If you missed me sharing my lifelong battle with anxiety and depression, read here. It will help you understand this one.  My form of crazy is permanent. The mental illness I experience isn’t just for a season. I’ve spent years fighting this but have decided its OK to be with my crazy. So here is what I do to to attempt to maintain my zen.

As I stated in my previous post, I started taking prescription anti-depressants in 2010. It took about 3 months of trying different brands and doses of anti-depressants to find the right fit. I remember the moment I walked into the therapists office for the first time. In tears, I explained what I was feeling. She  gave me several ideas to help me deal RIGHT NOW but also suggested I contact my doctor to get on anti-depressants. I had explained that I had been on anti-anxiety pills and they didn’t seem to work. She then explained the difference between anti-anxiety and anti-depressant. Anti-anxiety medications are often times tranquilizers. They get you through the moment.

Oh sweet tranquilizers…. the memories.  I had a lovely relationship with Lorazapam (Ativan)for some time, but apparently taking that on a daily basis isn’t recommended. Something about increased tolerance and addiction come to mind.

I was showing signs of dependancy and my doctor could see it. It wasn’t the first time I came to her about anxiety and possibly depression.  She said if these feelings were consistently happening every day I needed an SSRI. My brain needed help.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) -These modern medications make more serotonin available to the brain by blocking neurons from taking up the extra serotonin after a nerve spike.

Side effects of SSRIs may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sexual dysfunction, headache, weight gain, anxiety, dizziness, dry mouth, and trouble sleeping.

Oh goody. This does not sound nearly as fun as those tranquilizers were. But would I rather be a slug for the rest of my life or a functioning adult? It’s a toss up.

No more ambien or lorazapam with these pills. There are too many risks combining all these medications. So sleepless nights and sad feelings will be my near future.

Here is the deal with anti-depressents. They are a bitch to prescribe. As in each of the options have pretty severe side effects and work differently with each person. They started me on Zoloft first.  I understood it took almost a month to start feeling the effects of the medications. Afterall it has to adjust your brain function and that takes time (unless you’re a tranquilizer… obviously). I drove straight to the pharmacy and picked up my prescription. I immediately took one of the pills and went home… waiting for it to kick in. An hour later the pharmacy called.

“Ummm, ma’am, have you taken the drug yet?”

Me:”Yes, Why?”

“well, the pharmacist gave you the incorrect dosage.”

Me: thinking this is probably not a big deal.

“You were prescribed 10mg and we gave you 50mg”

Me: Shit

Within 3 hours my head was pounding and my chest was aching. I called the pharmacy throughout the evening to make sure I didn’t need to go to the emergency room. They assured me I would be ok. I did not feel ok. The headache turned into a migraine which lasted 24 hours. I was dizzy, exhausted, in pain, and thought I was dying.  (I understand some people get regular migraines that could last for days. This was my experience and it sucks. I have sympathy for people who deal with this more often than once in a lifetime.)

The next day I switched to my prescribed 10mg dose but the chest pains didn’t go away. It was like severe anxiety – which is a side effect. That’s super helpful. Lets take some anti-depressants that cause anxiety. Genius. The chest pains lasted 10 days before my doc changed my prescription over to Prozac.

It took another week for the chest pains to subside. Within 3 weeks I started to feel the effects, but I wanted more. We upped the dose to 15mg and then 20mg. When I was on the 20mg, I was exhausted all the time. So back to 15mg. Then I found that some seasons were harder than other seasons.   I had to find the sweet spot.

Being on depression medication with the current negative social stigma is hard.  I battled feeling weak for having to be on them. In fact, I figured if I could just figure out what normal felt like then I could figure all my head stuff out and TADA … be able to deal on my own. Like a big girl.

So off I went. One year on, six months off, one year on, one year off, one year on, six months off…. how long am I going to do this to myself before I realize maybe I’m not one of those people that gets to go off of this medication. Insert sad face emoticon here. Last summer, I forgot to call to get my prescription resent (I mean I remembered every day I just forgot or was too lazy to actually make the call to get them shipped). I went 10 days without medication. That means, I didn’t wean off of them carefully like is required, I went cold turkey. I was a train wreck. Finally I called in the prescription and requested an emergency dose from my local pharmacy. Needless to say, that will not be happening again. I’m cool with being a lifer (as of this moment). I’ve experienced depression and anxiety long enough. I’m good with being a functioning human for my husband, my kids, and myself. That being said, I’m still fighting the stigma internally and externally.

I heard a woman in my moms group make a side comment about all the moms out there who just take meds to deal with life. I guess that’s me. The problem is, I wasn’t dealing before. I was curled up in my bed, trapped in my mind, and had a potential of physically endangering myself. So maybe she doesn’t need the meds, but I sure as hell do. I’m no longer going to defend my need for being on them, but embrace it. Hell yeah I’m on anti-depressants! THEY ARE FANTASTIC! I feel like a normal person. I’m not overly happy. I still can get sad or anxious in certain situations, but I’m not so hard on myself that I feel sitting in the dark closet by myself is the best plan of action. I can function in society with the best of them and that, my friends, is awesome. So if you are in a place of depression, give it a shot. Be patient, but give it a shot. Live your life as your BEST SELF! And realize, not everyone needs to be on anti-depressants permanently like I do.

I’m also realizing that I can’t just count on my medication to cure my depression. I also have to adjust my lifestyle. I have to take care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Body, brain, and spirit.

With that, I start with therapy. Working with someone to heal your brain and spirit. My therapist clears my brain from the clutter I have built up in my lifetime. She helps me bring in positive and helpful emotions that bring me peace and understanding. I have 2 therapists. One for my marriage and one for myself. Both end up helping with healing my entire self. My self worth has improved. My spirituality has grown exponentially. My patience has increased as a mom and a wife. I’ve become much more compassionate… considering before I proclaimed often my emotionally dead heart… kind of a big accomplishment here. I’m finally happy with where I am in life. As an anxious person, that is saying a lot. Before I was never enough, I was always playing catch-up with those around me. I am enough. And I’m not just saying that because it’s a cool phrase these days. I am enough. Fully. I 100% blame my therapists and the work they have forced me to do on myself for this revelation. I’ve started reading the bible more and building my relationship with Jesus. I feel like this is the first time I’m doing this, but I’ve known Him for so long… I just never let Him in. I should probably write more about that, but I’m not there yet.

Therapy has created the person I was always meant to be. But the work is not easy. It’s constant. I have to forcibly shut down the negative talk within my head. But I can finally do it. I can finally ignore the angry self deprecating thoughts that constantly pop up. Therapy is like a personal trainer for your brain and spirit.  I wish I would take as good of care of my body as I have been my mind, but I’m sure it will come. It is part of my goal every day to maintain physical strength in some capacity. Lately it’s just been carrying my baby around everywhere which hardly counts. It’s better than fudge and soda I guess.

Every day is a new challenge between mind, body, and spirit. I wrote in my journal (the one that is hidden under a pile of laundry I have yet to fold) all the things I wanted to accomplish in a day. It goes like this:

 

  • Wake up at 5am
  • Shower
  • Drink 24oz water with vitamins (Get 100/oz water each day)
  • Meditate 10 min with essential oils (frankincense usually… because WWJD?)
  • Visualize my day in a positive way accomplishing easily all of my tasks.
  • Exercise for 10-30 min
  • Listen to a motivational book for 10-30 min (during exercise)
  • Write or journal for 10-15 min.
  • Connect with 2 friends. Build relationships.

 

 

 

So far, I have completed all of these things in one day… never.

That journal entry was dated a year ago. So I’m not some sort of amazing human that takes care of every aspect of her body, but the point is I try. I probably get MAYBE one of those things on my list done every day.

So that is how I keep the sanity in my day… I try things … every single day.  I’m not perfect at it, but at least I try.

Giving myself every possible opportunity to be authentically me in the most peaceful and inspiring way I can, is the greatest gift I can give my body, my husband, and my children.

-SC

Breastfeeding my adopted baby: That was unexpected!

I am currently at 15 weeks starting this breastfeeding journey and a lot has happened. Baby girl is 25 weeks this week.

Major Happenings:

 

  1. Baby girl gets a majority of her diet (75%) from me directly.

  2. My boobs have grown more lopsided than ever. (C’MON right side!! Pick up some slack!)

  3. I haven’t gained “too much” weight from the medication. (common side effect)

  4. I’m getting much better about nursing in public.

  5. I thought I was pregnant for a fleeting moment!

 

Did you know that the hormones involved with breastfeeding could stop your period? Well I seemed to have forgotten that simple fact and blew through a pack of pregnancy tests in a weekend. I couldn’t decide if I was excited or terrified that I FINALLY got pregnant. But alas, the universe is an asshole that likes to play dirty tricks on people.

BONUS: NO PERIOD UNTIL I DECIDE TO HAVE ONE!!! AKA, better than that birth control that stops your period forever but turns you into the HULK.

Seriously though, my left boob is twice the size of my right boob! Is this normal!?!?! Dear Righty McHooters, pull it together, this is a freakin’ team effort. I’m gonna need one of those chicken cutlet boobinators to level the playing field. My baby even looks at limpy right side like … are you seriously going to make me attempt to get milk out of this side even though WE ALL KNOW it produces jack? (I’m paraphrasing)

In all reality, I’m making progress. Quite a bit in fact. The only thing stopping me from hitting 100% is my sheer hatred for taking pills and my lack of following a schedule.

I’ve basically hit a full supply, but I absolutely have to be taking my Domperidone 4x a day. I upped my dose to 120mg per day. So I take three 10mg pills 4x a day. Sometimes I forget a dose and only hit 90mg for the day. One day two weeks ago I only remembered to take the Dom once for the day and my supply ran out by her bedtime so I had to hook up to my long lost supplementer that I didn’t miss. It’s worth it to remember to take the pills.

Last week I did really well, I took my 4 doses a day each day and didn’t even need to pump. When I do pump, I can get 4-5 ounces in a sitting (total with double pumping). She still got a bottle from grandma once a day because grandmas love to feed their grandbabies … so I let it slide.

Speaking of pumping, we had my cousin and his wife and son move in with us for a month so my lazy pumping came to a halt. No more pumping during morning cartoons or the Ellen show. But that is ok, I love having them here and helps me plan a little better. TAKE YOUR MEDICATION ALL READY! Really, I only pump at night now or if I become super uncomfortable and baby won’t eat … which rarely happens. The girl loves to eat! And for that, I am grateful.

On average I am feeding baby at 3 a.m., 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. Generally, the 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. feeding is a bottle, but the rest are from the breast without supplementation. Plus now she is getting solid foods twice a day. I know I could feed her from me every feeding, but I would absolutely have to be regimented on my medications. I would have never made a very good military soldier. I don’t think they do “ish” very well in the military. “ISH” is what I live on. I’ll be there around 10-ish. Or I take my vitamins everyday (ish). Does oh-five-hundred mean 5 a.m. or p.m. (ish)? It would not have gone well at all.

My goal currently is to continue this process (ish) for the next 3 months. I’ve fed her with my milk for 3 months now and would like to do it another 3. I wish I could be one of those moms that just loves it so much that I want to feed her till she is in kindergarten, but I don’t really want to be taking this medicine for that long. Plus we have some big plans this summer that would force me to stop the medication anyway.

THE PLOT THICKENS!

 

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Thanks for following along, if this is the first article of my series you have seen, here are the links for the others: 

Part 1: When God Shouts… I listen

When God Shouts

Part 4: Week 2


Part 2: The Hospital


Part 5: The Protocol

Part 5

Part 3: One More Time


Part 6: Holy Boobs Batman!