Mental

Today was a doozy! It’s 9pm and I just said goodnight to the last child. It’s time for momma and daddy to enjoy some rest and relaxation.

My middle child has SPD and some behavioral issues, and today showed them off in full force. From around 9am until 8pm he was on a huge roller coaster of angry to silly to angry again. He broke his favorite night light and a keepsake from Austria after raging in his room. He kicked his sister when she did something he didn’t like. He screamed “I hate you” to me more times than I can count.

My 3 year old is potty training and had 4 clothing changes today because she didn’t make it to the bathroom in time. Hold me, sweet Jesus. I am so ready to be done with diapers in this house!

Saying today was rough is an understatement!

Days like today remind me that I’m still in the thick of it. Not just in the thick of parenting but in the thick of my mental illness.

My left eye begins to twitch. I wear my shoulders like earrings. I keep my mouth shut because I don’t want to bark instead of speak. I retreat to my room and escape my world with naps, novels, Netflix, social media, and chocolate.

I’m not saying any of that is inherently bad, but they become bad for me when I retreat for hours instead of interacting with my children, checking things off my to-do list, and living a normal, responsible life.

This is how my mental illness works: when life throws a strike, I completely fall apart. When life throws a perfect pitch and I get a base hit, I panic that I’ll trip before I get to base. I sink into a pit of despair because I panicked. Then I begin to fall apart. That’s when I feel the need to escape.

I’m learning how to combat it though – the anxiety, depression, and that need to escape. I’m learning to use my tools better. With every struggle, I learn more about myself. I learn new things that trigger my anxiety. I learn new things that help ease it. I learn that if I trust God and keep going, this moment will pass.

So now I am going to reward myself for continuing on today, for not escaping for too long, for starting those loads of laundry, for putting that frozen pizza in the oven (ha!), for not losing it on my children, for showing up and facing my issues. I truly can do hard things!

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Tattoo

I’ve wanted to get a tattoo for a while now, but I’ve been scared. Don’t laugh – tattoos hurt! But last year, when I heard of project semicolon, I knew I needed to gather the courage and get one.

I texted Robert at work the other day, and told him I was ready. I called Ink 180 and made an appointment with Chris. Robert and I walked in, chatted with Chris for a bit and then we headed to the back room. I sat in the chair and braced myself for the pain.

I’ve had 3 unmedicated child births, so when the needle started going in and out of my skin I thought, “This isn’t so bad. No big deal.” Robert quickly reminded me that I was only getting a teeny, tiny semicolon and not a huge tattoo that takes 8-9 hours to complete.

Yes, people sit/lay for 8-9 hours while an artist pokes them thousands of times with a tiny needle. OUCH!!! I don’t think I could do that voluntarily.

I found myself looking at my semicolon all night feeling so proud of myself. Not only for getting a tattoo, but for continuing on in my life. For what this semicolon symbolizes.

I have struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life, and during those times, the anxiety and depression would get worse. I’ve come to realize, though, they’re always with me.

They’ve become these constant companions of mine. Getting stronger or weaker with the rise and fall of my emotions. The older I get, the worse they become.

I am so grateful for my faith in God because it is the biggest tool I’ve got. He has blessed me with loving family and friends and counselors, mentors, and support groups who have helped me build a large toolbox filled with tools to help me keep these companions under control.

This semicolon tattoo is another tool. It’s a reminder that when anxiety or depression rear their ugly heads, I don’t have to give up; I can keep going.

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Feelings

Hi. My name is Cheyenne, and I’m feeling insecure and anxious but also excited and hopeful. I’ve learned the roots of these feelings are fear and joy. I’m joyful about writing and sharing my life with readers, but I’m scared of what you might think of me.

Five years ago, I learned how to identify my feelings while attending a support group. The facilitator would pass around a piece of paper with the Feelings Wheel printed on it. Each person would say her name and find which word(s) best described the feelings she was experiencing in that moment. The first time I looked at the wheel, I felt very overwhelmed. For me, it was easier to start on the outer ring and work my way in toward the center. I was surprised to find that “overwhelmed” and “embarrassed” led to “anxious” and “insecure,” which led to “scared.” But fear truly was the root of the situation I found myself in.

I was feeling scared. I was feeling embarrassed. I was very anxious and extremely insecure. My joy was gone, and I didn’t have much hope.

I chose to attend this particular support group after Robert’s and my marriage counselor recommended it. He said that being in a group of women who are facing similar struggles in their lives would be healing for me.

–side note– I highly recommend finding a counselor you trust whether you are in a peaceful place or at rock bottom. Listen carefully to what he/she says because they are very wise!

He was right. I found myself surrounded by broken souls who were picking up the pieces of their lives and laying them before the Lord. They were becoming strong, whole women.  Women who knew to trust God and themselves. Who took life’s challenges and conquered them.

I attended this particular group for 4 years. I prayed with these women. I cried with them, laughed with them, felt anger with them and felt peace with them. They taught me how grieve well. How to argue well. How to listen well. How to love well. I learned how to be honest with myself and others and how to set boundaries. These incredible women encouraged me and helped me grow into the woman God made me to be.

Recognizing what I was feeling each day – what caused those feelings and how I should respond to those feelings – was one of my first steps toward healing.

I am in a completely different place than I was 5 years ago, but I find that stating my feelings about writing and figuring out why I have these feelings will ultimately help me realize that there is nothing to be fearful of. Because I am a strong, whole woman who can share her story with others. Because this is my story not someone else’s. Because, hopefully, someone else can find healing from reading about how I found mine.