Pain, Coping and Recovery

Today is a special day. Five years ago today, my sweet Xandra decided to make a change in her life.

She told us that she wanted to talk to us. We knew she’d been struggling for years with depression and anxiety.

It’s hard not to when your sister was diagnosed with cancer, your baby brother was born, your brothers have autism and you’re unsure how to deal with it all. You don’t know if you should bear the weight of everything because your mom and dad are overwhelmed. You don’t want to burden them any more, but you still have needs.

Xani told us that she’d been cutting for a year. That she’d been using this self-harm as a way to cope and alleviate the emotional/mental stress that she had been feeling. She showed us her arms and her legs. She wanted help to stop cutting and knew she couldn’t do it alone.

I was in shock.

She was so badly wounded. Her physical body was a outward representation of how wounded and how much pain she felt internally.

As a mom, it’s a horrible place to be in. To try to hold it together and be loving and compassionate and understanding.

To offer unconditional love and acceptance to the hurting person in front of you, while at the same time feeling absolute helplessness to know how to move forward.

Wondering how to get your child help, to give your child help.

Feeling terrifying rage at the person who mutilated and hurt your child, all the while knowing that it was YOUR child who did this to themselves. Knowing that they must have felt unimaginable emotional and mental pain to have even considered this as an option.

The dichotomy of emotions was huge.

I’d love to say that we had a well thought out game plan. That we rocked her recovery. But the the truth is……this was Xani’s journey.

She determined that she didn’t like where she at and that something needed to change. She reached out for help. She was open about the pain she had been and was currently experiencing. She recognized and identified the harmful things she was doing to cope with and escape her pain. She chose to walk away from those harmful coping mechanisms. Did she struggle on her road to recovery. Absolutely! But she reached out for relationship and community when she felt tempted to cut. When she felt the pain and stress rising up internally – instead of hiding and coping on her own, she reached out. She brought her feelings out into the open and allowed us to walk with her.

We……..we were there. We were available….to love, to accept, to champion, to talk, to just BE there.

Today, I’m SO VERY thankful.

I’m thankful for so many things. I’m thankful for this incredible woman that I have the honour to call my daughter. I’m thankful for courage and her strength and her vulnerability. I’m thankful to be on this side of this journey. I’m thankful for the perspective that this journey gave me. I’m thankful for the opportunity to love and accept. I’m thankful for the knowledge that we as people experience pain and look for ways to treat the pain and cope; often how we “cope” is in unhealthy ways….but that doesn’t make us bad or unloveable or unworthy; it just makes us human.

We are all worthy of love and acceptance; not in spite of who we are, but because of who we are.

ps. I have Xani’s permission to share about her journey. But I’ve also shared my perspective of it because this is my life, my journey and my perspective.

Knitting

I love knitting.

There’s something so rhythmic and therapeutic about knitting. When you hit a groove and it’s just stitch after stitch, creating something. When you see the project grow and take shape. It’s an incredible feeling.

My grandma taught me how to knit when I was 9,10,11……somewhere in there. I remember watching her knit and thinking it seemed so complicated and then she taught me how to knit and helped me knit my very own Condo Sweater. It looked similar to this….and was the perfect pink/peach shade.


I was SO proud to knit my own sweater, especially because it was a popular style back then.

I knit off and on over the years but really started to pick it back up about 10 years ago.

It’s definitely a therapeutic experience for me, now.

So today, I’m so thankful that my grandma taught me to knit so many years ago and I’m thankful that I have ways to de-stress and relax.

What are you thankful for today?

Gardening

I’m so excited to be thinking about this years garden.

starting seeds

We live in the city and don’t have a huge backyard. On top of that, we have a 14 ft. trampoline and a 16 ft. pool. Once we get both of those crammed in, there isn’t a huge amount of space, but there’s enough for some container gardening.

new boxes for this year

In past summers, I’ve been able to grow and harvest over 200 lbs of veggies from my small backyard. I think that’s pretty impressive considering the size of our yard. I do a lot of “growing up” as opposed to sprawling.

I love eating what we grow, but I think I love the whole process, even more. I love growing food and flowers from seeds. I love growing plants together to enhance their yield. I love going out each morning and watering the plants while sipping my coffee. I love watching the bees come buzzing about to fertilize my plants. I love the smell of the dirt. I love watching my garden start out so barren and stark, become a huge green fertile space, overflowing with flowers and greens and veggies.

Our yard looks pretty rough right now, but I can’t wait for summer. The planning and prep that we put in now is so worth it.

It’s like life. If you put in the effort and energy to plan good things, to dig out the harmful things that choke out life, to plant good seeds. Nurture them and you will see a harvest. Do nothing and the weeds take over and don’t allow for good things to be produced.

I’m so very thankful to be starting work on our garden and to be able to continue to work on my own life. So I can reap and harvest good things.

What are you thankful for?

Half Way

It’s hard to believe that we are almost half way through Spring Break.

Over the years, we’ve had some AMAZING Spring Breaks and some incredibly challenging Spring Breaks.

Having 5 kids is incredible. I love each and every one of them. But it’s also got its challenges. The way I look at it, that’s life. Life comes with good and bad and we don’t always get to choose which part of life we encounter. What we get to choose is how we act and react to the different things that we come up against.

My two big girls have moved out. My 18 year old son is working full time and so this Spring Break is just me and the two little boys.

It’s odd. Odd to only have 2 in the house but awesome at the same time.

So far, our first week has just been about chilling, relaxing, and making it through each day. We talked today about what we would like to do next week and the boys have a few ideas. We’ll see how much I actually have energy for when we get there.

Today, I’m thankful that this first half of Spring Break has been pretty chill and that we aren’t overwhelmed with chaos and stress.

Are you on Spring Break?

How’s it gone for you, so far?

What are you thankful for today?

Health

I’m so very thankful for the continued opportunity to work towards my health goals.

I’ve spent a lot of years focused on losing weight. Not that I don’t need to lose weight, because I do. But over the past year my focus has shifted from wanting to lose weight so I could be a below certain number; to wanting to be healthier so I can live my best life.

I’m not out training for a marathon, or taking all the exercise classes but I have made a shift towards more movement, better eating and balance.

I have a tendency to be an all or nothing kind of person and trying to find the balance is often difficult for me.

In looking at goals, for myself, this year…..I came across a very wise woman who shared her goal of wanting to exercise more days in a month than she didn’t. That was something that just seemed to click with me.

So that’s been a goal and for the most part it’s been working. If nothing else, I’m trying to get a walk in daily.

So today, I’m thankful that I have a new opportunity every day to work towards my personal health goals. I’m definitely a “work in progress” but I’m so thankful that I’m progressing.

What are you thankful for today?

Mason Jars and Flavored Water

Today I’m thankful for Mason Jars to use as cups and Flavored Water Drops.

Super Deep stuff, right?!?

It doesn’t have to be super deep and mind blowing. It can be as simple as Jars and flavouring.

I drink lots of water and typically use the giant jars but they happen to be dirty and in the dishwasher…..so this cute little 500ml guy is my go-to for today. I LOVE carbonated water and really love my sodastream. But I love that the Flavored water drops mean I can have variety.

What are you thankful for today?

No Shame

It’s been over 5 years since I started taking meds and my life radically changed for the better.

I grew up with anxiety but I thought that everyone felt like me, thought like me, lived and struggled like me. I had no idea that it wasn’t typical to overthink everything and worry about everything and wonder what everyone thought of you and if they thought you were weird or stupid. I thought it was normal to try to do everything 100% perfectly and then after an event or meeting or get together, to go over everything you said and did and muse about how someone might have interrupted or taken what you said in a negative way; and to totally beat yourself up for just not being good enough.

I thought everyone was really good at life and that I just needed to try harder. I thought I just needed to be more confident or work harder to be perfect so people wouldn’t think I was weird or strange.

I sort of coped. I’d probably say that I survived my childhood and teen years…..even into my married life. And then we had some financial struggles, work issues, church issues, a stillbirth, secondary infertility, more work and financial issues, parenting issues and then we added in a few years of childhood cancer and special needs.

By that point, I had zero reserves left to even survive. I hadn’t slept more than a few broken hours in over 3 years. I was exhausted and SO lonely. I was broken. So very broken.

In the past, I’d had health care professionals ask if I felt I was depressed. Depression never seemed to fit, especially when I looked into it and read up on symptoms. I didn’t feel depressed….but something wasn’t right. I felt like it took every ounce of effort I had to just survive and even then, I was doing a lousy job of it.

In 2012, I was looking into what anxiety was, for someone else, I came across an article and checklist and I could check every single box. I booked an appointment with my Dr, took the list in and said, “I have anxiety. I’ve struggled with this my entire life and had no idea it was an actual thing. I check every box on this list. And this is the first time, “I” understand why I have struggled and what I have struggled with.

I asked for meds and I truly feel that was the beginning of me “actually living” instead of just surviving.

I spent the next year, feeling more and more calm and still within myself. It was unreal to me to feel my thoughts settle and for the anxiety to quiet. I finally felt like I wasn’t “fighting” myself all of time. I had the opportunity to breathe and to replenish and to recover.

Taking meds, understanding anxiety, getting counselling and talking about it have been life changing for me.

I have (with my Dr.) tweaked my doses over the years, sometimes increasing, sometimes decreasing; and sometimes switching things up. Always with the goal of having me be my best self and living my best life.

If you are thriving without meds, awesome; but if you are struggling, don’t ever be ashamed or feel like you are a failure for needing and accepting help.

I still struggle. I still have anxiety. Sometimes it’s brutal; but most of time, I’m doing well.

I may need meds for the rest of my life and I’m okay with that. If it means the difference between enjoying life or barely surviving, I’ll choose enjoying life every time.

I will never be ashamed of needing help, asking for help and accepting help. I hope you won’t be either.

Today, I am so very thankful for this handful of meds. They have changed my life.

What are you thankful for?

Spring Break

I’m counting today as the first official day of Spring Break.

I was so grateful to not have to make lunches, or to prep outfits or to find lost glasses or shoes, or to make sure that backpacks were hung at the front door. I was so thankful to not have to rush children out of the house, nor to bag at them to eat breakfast.

It was lovely to just get up slowly, drink my coffee in my pyjamas and listen to the comforting morning sounds of Minecraft on the X-Box.

I’ve kicked the boys out to the backyard and they are enjoying the trampoline. I’ve got to get a few things done but I’m just gonna enjoy today and take it easy. We have no set plans for Springs Break which is nice. I enjoy the down time.

Do you have plans for Spring Break?

What are you grateful for today?

Look for the Light

Today I’m thankful for lighting, angles and filters.

Good morning! This is a fabulous, still in bed photo that I just took. The lighting in my bedroom is amazing. Diffused but bright and as long as you look towards the light (oh I love that) it creates beauty from an otherwise harsh reality.

And the harsh reality……..is also a fabulous, still in bed shot. But with unflattering angles, no awareness of lighting and no filter.

The take away……look for the light, it makes everything better.

But also, know your angles; and filters are nice too.

Ha!

What are you grateful for today?