When Anxiety and Depression Hits….again…

I hate to say that once you have a struggle you always will, but it has definitely been the truth in my case. I can feel when its coming. The tears come uncontrollably and often out of out no where. I start forgetting things, picking fights with my husband over nothing and wanting to lay in bed all day. Things like eating and taking a shower become optional. But after almost ten years of living with this struggle the signs are becoming more apparent to me, and I have the strength and gumption to identify them and own them. Owning your life, and all that comes along with it, are so important to living your life well. Whatever it may be, you have to take ownership of it. Being a victim of your depression and anxiety is no way to live and I won’t stand for it for myself anymore.

My recent experiences have shown me that I don’t have time for people that contribute to that depression and anxiety. And people who continually send you into a downward spiral…whether that be online or in person, deserve no place in your life. Holding on to them desperately because of the guilt you think you’ll have by cutting them out of your life is nothing in comparison to the anxiety you will keep inside you by keeping them there. And once you own and acknowledge that truth, and let go of all the sadness over having to make a tough decision, a literal weight is lifted.

My more sensitive, people please, non-confrontational personality can be a good or bad thing. But isn’t that true of most of our personality traits? I’ll avoid confrontation at my own peril. And its not good for the person that you are avoiding it with, or yourself. Pretending you have no issues instead of being upfront and honest with them (whatever your reasons are) isn’t fair to them or you. So what do you do?  Here’s what I do for myself…..

1) Talk immediately to my husband or a designated friend ~ find your person that can help keep you centered. Someone that lets you vent that anxiety out and won’t judge you. Whether it is depression caused by a medical issue, pregnancy, or triggered by a life event it doesn’t matter. You have to be able to safely talk about it.

2) Don’t wallow or cut yourself off ~ Usually when I’m sad I want to snuggle up and watch a movie and stay all snuggly. But when I’m going through something like this that is the very last thing I should be doing. Get up and get out! Take a walk, sit outside and read a book, go walk around somewhere.

3) Pray ~ When I’m struggling this is where I go. I usually take a deep breath and start praying wherever I am. Last time I felt it hit me and we were on our way someone. Hubby just started praying for me in the car.

4) Don’t be afraid to see a doctor – This is so attached to the stigma of depression and anxiety. Whatever is happening, don’t be afraid to go see a doctor, counselor, get some medication or whatever it is that you need. Sometimes you can’t handle it alone. This last time around, it was definitely an particular event that triggered it for me and I was able, with my hubby and friends, and my own strength put the breaks on it before it went out of control. However, three times in my life I have gone on medication and was able to eventually stop taking it. I’m a huge believer in medication. Sometimes your brain needs a reset to get over the hump. I have never had a struggle with becoming addicted or having a relapse the moment that I stopped taking it. And while I know everyone’s experience is different, and I am NOT a doctor, I want to be the voice that stands up and says “DON’T BE ASHAMED!!!”

Are you struggling? Don’t be ashamed of that and own it! 
I’m always here to hear your stories. If you want to be a voice for people suffering please email me or leave a comment. The more voices the less the stigma has a chance to grab hold and get louder.

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When You’re an Extrovert With Anxiety {Who May or May Not Be a MilSpouse}

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you I’m an extrovert. There’s no question about it. I love to laugh, and be loud. Hanging with a crowd, going out with a group of people – it’s where I love to be. But there’s another side to be an extrovert that I’ve only recently faced head on.

When you’re the extrovert you are almost always a couple of other things…

1) You are the initiator. You are frequently the planner, the organizer. The desire to go out and be around people drives you to pull others along with you. You value the time out and you recognize how important it can be to not only yourself, but to others as well.

2) You Reach Out. You typically make the phone calls, write the texts and send the emails. When you are feeling alone or miss people you text, call, poke, bug and annoy! Even though we do this naturally, and usually love it, it can be hard to keep this going.

There’s another side to those things that I struggle with – trying to balance the ‘Extrovert’ in me with the realities of my struggles with depression and anxiety.

Anxiety and Depression are an Extroverts Battle too!

One of the biggest ways this manifests itself for me is the concern that my friends aren’t actually my real friends. It sounds crazy, but if you think about it it can make perfect sense. When you are the planner and the caller, the person that reaches out, it isn’t very often that someone needs to do that to you. Most likely you are beating them to the punch. But then there are days and weeks, or even months, that go by without hearing from someone because YOU haven’t been the one to call them. You think, “does this person even like me?” It’s a combination of factors that has led you to this point. When I’m anxious or overwhelmed I draw in to myself, I don’t talk about it, and I don’t ask for help. Thus the downward spiral begins. I stop calling, stop texting and therefore I become more isolated. No one is calling me, because I’m the caller! Or maybe its because they aren’t actually my friend and don’t really like me. Maybe not, but my brain can’t rationalize the difference. Sometimes I just don’t want to be the ‘caller’. But on the other hand I realize that it might not be fair to suddenly alter a relationship without telling the other person. I don’t know what its like to be an introvert, or someone that doesn’t like to talk on the phone.
If you are someone who is the ‘Reacher” you may have heard “well, I always think you’re too busy. You look like you’re so busy!” Don’t let those stop you from calling someone! I try to be the kind of person that will answer the phone quickly to acknowledge the call and say that I will return it quickly. Because you know what happens? A day turns into a week, which turns into a month. Pretty soon, its been six months and you’ve haven’t talked to that person. As an extrovert I will NEVER NEVER ever be too busy for contact…even phone or text contact. In fact I would guess that most of us literally light up and smile so big it hurts when my phone rings! The only exception came when I was suffering from some major depression. 
The realities of a Milspouse Extrovert with Anxiety….

This particular part of my life can really accentuate my anxiety. Moving away from the ones you love, from the ones you’ve built your life around and with changes things. Whether you are an extrovert or not. I’m here to tell you, this three hour time difference is pretty crappy and is the worst!!! This has been one the single hardest things of my life, keeping relationships strong and connected. I can’t do it with facebook and instagram alone! It might be my age showing here, but I just can’t. I need a voice to go with that relationship; and I refuse to let my busy life get in the way of what fills my love jar {have you read a Love Languages book?}. My depression that kicked in with my last move was all-consuming. Even I, the queen of the extroverts, didn’t pick up the phone. I knew it was a lot to ask to not have people not give up on me, after months of not picking up the phone. But I beg of you, if you find yourself in this situation, keep calling them. 
So, what can you do as an Extrovert in this situation? I don’t really know or have the answers. I’m going through this right now and this is the first time I’ve talked about it; navigating these waters for the first time.  But I will say this one thing…
Communicate. I think as women, whether we are moms or not, we know how to talk. We talk about our feelings and frustrations. But are we really communicating? I would argue we aren’t. As a self-proclaimed expert in emotions and sensitivity I am terrible at communicating. I never ask for help, I never tell someone that I’m struggling until its zero hour and I’ve forgotten two things for the meeting we are at and I’m bawling as I race home in my car for the SECOND time to get it. I walk back in and I’ve fixed my face having not expressed my feelings or how I’m struggling. It’s not good. Admitting your struggles doesn’t make you weak!
From the perspective of an extrovert, what can you do
 when your extrovert isn’t quite themselves?
1. Call them now!!! Something is probably up. If you haven’t had a major falling out, they aren’t sick or something along those lines, then something is right. When an extrovert isn’t being an extrovert something is not right.
2. Get out of your comfort zone.  You might not be extrovert and you rely on these extroverted friends of yours to get you out of the house. Well, you might have to step out of your comfort zone.
3. But what if I’m a mom and they’re a mom and the kids are running around crazy!!! I feel like these are the people that need someone calling them the most, and you need to talk the most! Our kids are our lives, and our husbands are important, but self-care is also important. As a military spouse I also rely on my legacy of friendship to get me through those times I feel isolated. When I’m in between friendships, or developing new ones, or just long for the “good old days.”  Those long time friends, despite how much you talk to them, end up being the most valuable things you have in your lives. Don’t forget about those people.
I hope this blog post touches someone, speaks to someone, or someone that is feeling this same way is validated by reading this. Are you struggling with this same feeling? How do you cope with them? If you are a military spouse feeling this way contact Military One Source. It was one of the best decisions I made. Please contact me as well, anytime!!

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Top Posts of 2015

I really can’t believe that January is half-way done. Why must time fly so fast? I feel like when I was kid..even when we were first married without kids, that time went by much slower. And now that I want it to slow down it feels faster than ever. What is that about?! I was looking through some of my past posts and was noticing all the love and I wanted to look back over the last year and some of my favorite posts, and the ones that have been really popular. Getting sappy a little bit here, but I just want to thank all of you for reading my words and making it what it is. It is something that I really enjoy doing and its just such a blessing.

So lets look back at some of my favorite posts!!

1. Halloween Care Package with kids – having just completed a deployment, we of course had to work on a care package or two. This one was really fun for the kids, and we wanted to also bless the mates of my hubby and threw in a couple fun things for them. We included treats and Halloween decorations.
I loved writing this post because I was able to share with you all what books have really blessed
my life as a Military Spouse. Its not always easy, but gaining comfort from the stories of others is 
really what gets you through the rough times. This list will only continue to grow; and if you have books to add I’d love to hear about them!!
This was part of a sponsored post series I did, and I loved doing it because finding ways to thank Veterans is so important to our family. I loved sharing ways that we have taken time out to thank them, and ways that we have been blessed by others thanking us! This was my most popular post of the year!!!
A guest post from milspouse and bloggy pal, Rebecca, from What Rebecca Thinks!
You guys loved this post, and so did I! Sometimes you just need a little dose of real, and Rebecca gives it us here. Make sure to take the time to check out her blog. You won’t be sorry.
This was a little trip I took with the kiddos once while Mr. Air Force was off doing his thing.
It was such a beautiful little town and I really really want to go back!
I was really excited about partnering with Lifelock last year to talk about identity theft. 
It was really great and I learned a couple things. This was a really popular post packed with great stuff so share this!!!!!!
Thanks for giving so much love to these posts, making them some of my favorites of last year!

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What the New Year Brings…..

As I walk through the aisles of Target, binge buying planner accessories, I realized that it was actually a new year. I mean, I already knew it was a new year…but I realized what that actually means. Or, to be more precise what social media wants that mean. I need goals and word that defines what I want my year to mean. But listen guys, my Christmas decorations are still up….so, you know, there goes that.

It’s the pressure you know? And I’ve always been the kind of person that puts pressure on myself, I want people to like me, be happy, not hurt their feelings, make them proud and all those things that really have nothing to do with me. I’m not sure if I’m the only one that does this but I shove those feelings down while trying to be everything to everyone and end up cracking like a glass sitting next to an Opera singer. So I’m putting all this pressure on myself and now what?!! I think time management is going to crucial for me this year, that and knowing and accepting my limits. I want to help and I really feel called to, but I definitely thing that putting all my time into things like that isn’t good. It’s only a quick jaunt till you reach the road to resentment, where you feel like you have no time to recharge. When things like my writing, reading for fun, working out and crafting get taken out of my life because I’ve filled it up with other things I start to feel that crabbiness. It is this feeling of being out sorts and not knowing why. It wasn’t until recently that I realized what that was. I stopped and looking around and realized that  There has to be balance…so maybe I do have word!!

Its the never-ending struggle of life – whether you are a mom, not a mom, staying at home or working full time. I really want to strive for that and I think the crucial part of that is not filling your life with too much stuff. Not saying yes to everything, prioritizing my family, recognizing my limitations, and taking time out for me. As a military spouse I have to realize the limitations that can impose on my life. I have to say no to things that I really don’t want to say no too, and it kills me. But its a season. A season in my life and I know God is blessing me and using me right where I am at. He can help with those feelings of anger and resentment if I just let him. That is why one of the first steps I took for structure and planning the new year was a scripture-writing challenge. Finding quiet time has always been difficult for me and this really struck me as an amazing opportunity. You should check it out on the Sweet Blessings blog. The next was organizing a reading list for the year. And finally I purchased my new planner and got all sorts of goodies to use for decorating and writing in it.

They are small steps, but are profound for me. Getting centered and prioritizing my quiet time in a way that fits me, and also prioritizing and organizing something that is just for me ( my reading challenge). It’s a good start and I’m feeling refreshed and excited about the possibilities for this new year.

what about you? are you overwhelmed with the new year and that means for you? how do you fight that feeling?

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The 2:30 AM Phone Call {Do You Know What SCAD Is?}

Its not something that you ever want to experience, and its been years since I remember purposefully keeping my phone on and up load through the night. Its something that I did because I wanted to be the person that people could call in the middle of the night if they ever needed anything. And, I was. With my husband gone frequently I wanted to always be available to him. Who knew when he’d be able to call. Inevitably it would ring again, and last week it did. I flung myself out of bed and checked the caller id. It was one of my girlfriends, so my first thought was something had happened to her husband. But, when I answered it wasn’t her….it was her husband. My friend had suffered a heart attack, mere weeks after having a baby.

 I totally agree. I could say that about my friendship with my cousins.

After those words came out of his mouth I could feel myself shifting into “milspouse survival mode”. Its something I’m familiar with, that feeling. Its like an out of body of experience and you start moving about checking off things from an invisible check-list that floats around in your brain. There was no time to processing anything other than getting through. The baby was coming here and I had to take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand. I called one of our other close friends, because I knew her phone would also be on. She was also in survival mode and we made a plan. The next day my two other close friends, and their husbands also swooped in – brought me coffee (because of all the days to only have decaf in your house!!) and breakfast for all my kids and their own kids, and then proceeded to spend the day with me until my husband could get home. It was exactly what I needed, but didn’t fully realize.

During events like these you realize the amazingness of humanity, but also realize the crappy side. The crappy side isn’t what is important but its worth mentioning. People are human and it it what it is, but its not what we should hold onto. Its the people that care for each other that matters most. I don’t know how one would go through life without their faith. Despite everything there was this sense of peace that had enveloped me and going through experiences like this without it may very well be the worst thing ever. I was in this mode of silent prayer and thought all day, as I was trying to fumble through the day, keeping it together. Going over verses in my head that have always given me comfort. Jeremiah 29:11-14 is my life motto. Its what I break out in times of good and bad. It was our wedding verse and just always seems to apply no matter what the situation is. Boy, was it in my head over the weekend.

The point though of this post isn’t really to talk about what happened, but to educate. If I have even the slightest opportunity to share something that could save someone else I will do it. One of the amazing blessings about this blog is having the platform to talk about things that matter to me. Even if it only reaches one person, that is one more person that knows about whatever it is that I’m sharing. What I want to share with you is this short video about SCAD from the Mayo Clinic. SCAD, stands for Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. This is something that occurs mostly in woman, typically with no other health issues at all, with 20% of cases happening to woman who have recently given birth. Please take the time to watch this video, read about SCAD in the link above and share this with at least one other person. It is incredibly important that we use what experiences we have in life to do good and this is what I’m doing. I’m doing this for my friend, who I could have lost. I’m doing this for myself and for anything that I might come in contact with during my life. Take a moment and do the same.

Have you ever experienced, or know someone who has experienced SCAD?
Share your stories! 

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