Sunday, April 28, 2019

A post about overcoming challenges and Arches. Not sure if they go together but oh well.

Something I've been working hard at is to be emotionally and mentally strong enough to "handle" the challenges that come my way. Two 1/2 years ago when I started my online college degree the stress was too much for me. The pressure of getting deadlines finished, studying for tests, and writing papers while also caring for our four small children was more than I could take.

I started experiencing such a sudden overload of stress at the time that anytime even the simplest of things didn't work out would result in major depression and desperation. For instance my child spilling milk on the table would result in overwhelming tears, my car not starting was a complete catastrophe, my dog escaping the yard would have been the catalyst of the day to throw me into a deep, dark depression.....and so on. None of this was either healthy or helpful in my life so I quit college. It was a major disappointment for me, as I assumed it was college that was causing all my problems, not me that needed major help. However, as time went on I realized that it was me that needed major help. 

As I prayed for answers God led me to know that I could do all the things I wanted to do but I had to overcome some major mental obstacles that were blocking my mind from moving forward in my life the way I needed and wanted to. I realized that I couldn't live out the rest of my life hiding away from stress. 
When things get too stressful I have a tendency to  withdraw from my husband, withdraw from people around me, and focus solely on my negative,  ruminating thoughts. I become a solitary island, where nobody can bother me or hurt me because on my island I can hyper- focus on myself where nobody else's problems will affect me and where outside stressors can't come in. Here on my lonely island I can hyper-focus on my eating habits, I can hyper-focus on losing weight, I can hyper-focus on cleaning the house, organizing my stuff, getting rid of  junk,  a Netflix TV series, and especially I can hyper focus on all the things I wish were different in my life. 

However, none of this is healthy when you are part of a family system, especially as a pillar of strength for growing children that depend on your ability to show up for them each day-- to lead them, guide them, and direct them in how to overcome obstacles and stressors in their own lives. And none of this is healthy when you are in a married relationship that requires consistent love, nurturing, and  care to keep it growing and evolving into the part of the system that is the strongest and most reliable.  Families are hard, but they are a beautiful thing if they are nurtured and cared for. 
So, I realized that if I wanted my own little family to be the strong, unified group that we are (it's a work in progress), and if I wanted to strengthen my marriage (also a work in progress), and If I wanted to face the stressors that not only come with facing hard things but also with day-to-day living, I needed to figure out how to overcome my personal hangups in life.
And I'm so glad that I did. It'as been a long road to self discovery these past 2 1/2 years, and not to mention over $1000 dollars worth of therapy later, but it has been life-changing and necessary, and I believe God has blessed us with the means to receive this help, especially since our insurance really stinks. And God has blessed me to be open to receiving this help because He knew I could change and He knew I would need to be stronger in life so I could bless my family. 
I was led to doing EMDR therapy, a type of therapy for people with post-traumatic-stress-disorder. It changed the way my brain perceives hard challenges and stress. For instance say something like losing my phone at Wal mart, which in my old post-traumatic-stress brain would've suddenly triggered panic and I'd start to hyper focus on past traumas and bad experiences from my teenage years, now my brain just gives a nod to my lost phone. It acknowledges that my phone is lost, that it sucks that my phone is lost, and that's it. No self-battery or negative  thoughts about how I can't keep it together, or how I'm such a loser for losing my phone, or how my lost phone reflects every thing I'm failing at in life. No withdrawing into myself and pushing out the world. Now It's just a lost phone, and that's it. I can get another one and I'm still a good person.

This PTSD therapy I did has prepared me for, not only for lost phones, but for some really hard challenges that have come my way since then. I've always been under the impression that I can only handle so many hard things at once, but turns out I can handle a million hard things at once. Not because I want to but because that's just the way life is. Hard things seem to come all at once and really BIG, and if I hadn't been doing this therapy and trying to overcome my hangups I would be drowning right now. I mean, I am sorta drowning--it hasn't been easy, but I've noticed a HUGE change within myself that I am handling things way better than I did before, that I am still treading water and pushing myself whereas before I would've let myself sink by now.....into despair, depression, sadness, loneliness, and withdrawal. But I am here! And I am doing it. I am showing up for my family, showing up for my responsibilities, showing up for myself, and doing hard things I never thought possible. 

There is help out there for everyone who needs it. The self-improvement industry is huge right now and for a good reason! People have realized that they can be happier, more resilient, have more joy and and peace in their lives, and do very difficult hard things by following the footsteps of those who have gone before them or learning from experts who study the human mind or both. There are so many resources out there to improve and I'm not afraid to use them. 
However, I do believe in praying and being directed to the resources that will work for YOU and help you improve the best in your own life. Over years of self-discovery I've found that I do really well with the RIGHT therapist, not just any therapist. When I found Andrea, I knew she was the one to help me change my life.  
I've also found that when I listen to life-coach podcasts like Jody Moore, I take what applies to my life and leave the rest. Not everything she says is gospel. It's okay to pick and choose what you need to apply to your life,  even in small doses. 
I've also found that there are some really good self-help books out there, and some lousy ones. Choose wisely.
 I've found that listening to my inner gut is the most powerful. If my friend kindly invites me to a yoga class but I feel that sprinting up a mountain would be better for me that morning, I'm going to say no thanks and sprint up that mountain. Knowing what my mind and body needs when I need it is crucial. 
How I use my time is crucial. It's ok to say no to people and things that don't serve you. No I don't want to play volleyball once a week, no I don't want to join the PTA, no I don't want to run a 5k right now, no I'm not interested in attending your jewelry-selling party, no I can't help with YW camp this year, no I can't babysit your kids...and so on. You're not saying no because you are selfish, you are saying no because you simply can't.do.everything and you need to leave time, energy, and space for the things that matter most in your life. There will be other times when I will say yes to many of those things, but not right now. Not when I am finding the balance to show up each day as a mother, wife, student, scout leader, gym daycare worker, friend, ministering sister, and all the other hats I wear throughout my week .  
I've also found that medical intervention has blessed my life. I never wanted to be on medication but the mental stability and emotional clarity I've experienced would argue otherwise. Medication is a modern miracle and a blessing to those who need it. Anyone who says otherwise has not experienced clinical depression.
My faith also helps me immensely. Christ is my rock and foundation and I turn to Him for answers constantly. And He constantly answers them, which is a beautiful thing to have. 

I'd say for anyone who needs to change their habits or their hangups or their mental health or the way their brain interprets the world, or whatever it is that is holding you back from living life to the fullest, pray to find the resources that will work for you. Pray to find the answers you need through the people and things that can help you the most. I am living proof right now, as I am working towards my college degree, raising my four beautiful children, being married to my amazing husband, and wearing many other hats, that I can do hard things (even things I never wanted to do like college algebra and raising a child with social anxiety and clinical depression). I have to remember to stop and remind myself how far I've come because I am doing pretty awesome.

We went to Arches National Park for Spring break. It was magical. I'm just going to post what I posted from my Instagram account:
"To say we had a wonderful time would be a massive understatement! Family camping for us Is a special time, a sacred time, a time to bond, create forever memories, and love each other even more. ♥️ I also had a pretty huge and powerful spiritual AWAKENING while I was there, as I received some answers to my prayers that I've been needing to hear. The native Americans revered arches as sacred portals to the past and future. I really felt the spiritual nature of this place as contributing to my inner desires for answers at this time, however I don't think I need to drive back here to receive the spiritual awakening that I received, I just think God was waiting for me to ask the right questions at the right time. 😀 This time was at 3 a.m. while I was restlessly walking around staring up at the bright moon, looking out over this amazing landscape from God. I couldn't have asked for a better moment to awaken to new understanding."

We really did have a magical time at Arches! I was able to hike up to Delicate Arch twice, once with my family and once the following day by myself. It blew me away both times, mostly because you don't realize how massive it is. It looks so tiny on the Utah license plate, then when you get up there it's this towering, 60 foot tall giant, but the most beautiful giant. I was impressed...again and again, and this wasn't even my first time seeing it!


Here's a bunch of other photos I took! Already can't wait to go back!
 Hiking on the Landscape Arch trail
 Landscape Arch:


 More Arches

 We're Utahns now-the hat proves it.
 Four boys in their element:
 Z loved to play on this "lizard rock" when he was four. We had to go back and climb on it and pretend to be lizards. 


 The Arch behind our camp sight near the amphitheater
 Campsight #22 aka our home for 4 days:
 
Hiking with Mally. He was hilarious. He kept needing lots of breaks. He kept holding his shorts up to cool down his legs. He took off his shoes at one point and went barefoot. He liked having a hand to hold or a shoulder ride. 
Water break: 

 Sand dunes:
 I promise they were having fun....


Til next time, Arches!

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