Accept it…

Accept it…and then challenge it! About 5 months ago I said enough is enough.   I was miserable.     How can you be miserable with a beautiful baby in your arms?  Well… part of it is you keep saying to yourself, “what the hell is wrong with me; I have everything I’ve ever dreamed […]

Shaking Ground

“Keep on climbing, though the ground might shake.”  Maddie & Tae “Fly”

I have been listening to this song for awhile now.  I found it during our last two week wait.  I was thankful for the words in the song during and after the two week wait.  The ground is still shaking.  My heart is still broken.  Maybe it always will be, but somehow, I need to find some peace from my grief.   Peace would feel so much better than the emotions I have been running through.  When I was taking Psychology classes, I learned that the stages of grief do not follow steps.  You can visit each stage in any order, at any time. I think I started in these stages when we found out that we would not be able to have children on our own.  That is a fact to grieve in itself.  There’s a lot of feeling of loss with not being able to conceive on your own.  After going through the two week wait and finding out our embryo did not survive was the beginning of a whole new grief cycle.

I tried to keep the mindset that this will happen when the time is right.  However, that is becoming more of a struggle for me, a constant struggle.  I believe Kevin and I are the definition of “all things happen for a reason.”  There is a reason Kevin survived what he did; there is a reason we found each other again.  I truly believe that.  However, I struggle with why we also have to experience this pain.  This pain is more than I would have ever imagined.  It really is a roller coaster of emotions.  You have no idea if you are going to be able to emotionally keep it together minute by minute. I can rarely verbalize how I feel because it often comes out as angry or tears. Neither emotion is something I feel like feeling.  However, writing about it gives me the release I need, while keeping it together.

One of the hardest things for me is that I cannot participate in the pregnancy world.  When someone brings up something about pregnancy, I cannot relate.  I have no idea what it feels like to have your child move inside of you.  I have no idea what it is like to see two pink lines. I have not the slightest idea of any of it. I feel like the outcast.  I feel like the 16 year old, who has no right to get pregnant.  When in all reality, I am 27 years old, successful, married and dying to be a Mother.   I get to be asked, “do you have children” frequently. I know those people mean absolutely no harm when asking.  It doesn’t really hurt me to be asked either.  However, I wish I could always tell our story.  I always just respond with a simple “no”.  But what I really want to say is, “no, but this is what we are going through to try and have our family”.  It is a part of our story and right now it is my life.  However, my journey makes a lot of people uncomfortable so it is better to just stick with “no”.

I am a Christian.  I believe that God exists and that he is watching over us.  However, I struggle when I think that it is in God’s hands and that He might be saying I am not to be a mother.  It is even harder when I watch others have babies over and over in less than favorable situations than I find myself in.  I struggle believing that God would say it is a “good” time for 16 year old or a drug addict to have a baby but not for a 27 year old, financially stable, happily married woman.  It really is a struggle… a struggle to accept, at times, God’s plan for us.  However, the why me” road is not one I want to go down..  “Why me,” is not beneficial to anyone.  I would never wish this one anyone else.  I know that saying, “why me,” is like saying “why not someone else.”  I would rather this be me than to ever watch someone I love go through it.  I will never know why Kevin and I have to face this, but we do.  I have to figure out, somehow, how to survive it.

I am a statistics person.  It was one of my favorite classes in college. I find comfort in facts, reason, and logic.  I like to control and understand why things happen.  I am comfortable in those situations.   I like to know my odds and then I can take what comes next.  I am most comfortable when I am prepared.  I had what we would say to everyone already prepared before we received our news from the beta testing.  Our positive post was waiting in my phone, along with the negative that I, unfortunately, had to use.  While it was difficult to have to use that, I was glad I was prepared.   I researched the odds of IVF working and it is no where near 100%, 90% or even 70% of a chance.  There is no guarantee that I will walk away from this journey with a baby in my arms.  However, IVF, when compared to our less than 1% chance of it happening on our own, is a much higher chance of success and worth pursuing.  I don’t understand God’s plan for us right now. But I am so thankful to God for bringing Kevin and I together. I know he has something amazing in store for us.  And I am thankful that He has made it possible for us to meet and work with these amazing professionals who have the intelligence and interest to help us on our path to parenthood.

My ground is shaking.  I am not steady on my feet as I try to figure out my place in all of this.  I am trying to trust and have faith.  I am constantly battling my heart and my head.  God sent me the most amazing man to get through this journey with and I am so incredibly thankful for him.  We are partners in this process and that in itself has made this journey easier on us both.  We find strength in each other and help ourselves through the rough patches; always loving, always supportive. While God has always been a part of my life, I am working on finding more ways to invite him to all of my life.  Here’s to a stronger, more faithful us, during one of the most difficult journeys of our lives.

This cartoon has been stuck in my head lately.

This cartoon has been stuck in my head lately. “Why me” does not help anything. Figuring out how to survive, become stronger, and build your faith is a much better focus.

Listen to “Fly” by Maddie & Tae here!

“I’m so OCD”… no seriously

The definition of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is the presence of unwanted thoughts leading to excessive compulsions and it is pure hell!  I was diagnosed when I was 10 years with Anxiety/OCD.  I never understood why until probably just this year. I knew I was easily upset and that things would make me nervous and angry, but did not really realize that it was not typical.  That is 17 years of not understanding why my brain was torturing me.  I always thought having OCD meant you had to have everything neat and tidy.  I knew that wasn’t me because most of the time I feel like everything is a disaster. Growing up I never kept my room cleaned up perfectly. I think a lot of people have this misconception. Someone with true OCD does may want their things in a particular way, but not jut because it looks nice or fits nice there, they take it to another level. It tortures them until whatever needs to be changed, is changed. The behavior they demonstrate is a result of whatever they are obesessing about.
Mental illnesses are not well understood in our society and they often carry sigma.  People often fear sharing that they have a mental illness because of judgement and shame.  I like to see it more as a “quirk”, it is something I struggle with at times, but it does not define me.  What defines me is that, I am a Daughter, Sister, fiancée, Teacher, Friend and so much more. I am not OCD.

Here is some background information about when this all started for me:

On day in the summer of 1998, my sister and I were watching TV downstairs. I remember hearing thunder and running upstairs in a panic. My parents were getting used to my storm freak outs so they were trying to help me through it.  We turned on the TV to check the weather, the power went off.  Then we opened the blinds to look outside to prove it was just a regular storm-the tree in our front yard was bent so hard that it was touching the ground. That is when we realized this wasn’t your typical storm and went downstairs.  Later we found out it was a tornado. I think the tornado may have registered at a F1.  The damage was minor and mostly consisted of down trees and derby thrown around.  We were without power for several days.  It completely rattled me.  I started to not want to go outside anymore.  Anytime there was a storm I was a complete wreck.  I remember my Mom buying me those fuzzy posters to color during storms because it kept my mind busy and at ease, at least a little bit. One of my Dad’s co-workers had an old book about the weather and they gave it to me to read.  I read it and I learned about storms, it helped me significantly.

I also developed a terrible fear of dogs, to the point that leaving my parents front porch was not an option because a stray dog might get me.  I had grown up with a large German Shepard/Lab mix.  She was sweet and gentle.  I wasn’t afraid of her but she passed soon after my anxiety had ramped up.  I remember not wanting to go to family members and friend’s houses because their dog might “eat” me.  Then, my parents bought Amy (my Sister) and I a puppy for Christmas.  A puppy wasn’t scary to me because they were so small and helpless.  We raised her and I swear to
this day that a lot of fear was taken away by her.  If a storm was coming she would lay with me until it passed.  She helped me over my fear of dogs by showing me how gentle they really can be.  Immersion therapy at its best.

In 1998 I lost my Grandmother.  She was in her early 70’s and she was the only Grandparent I had left.  My Mom’s parents passed away by the time she was 5.  My Dad’s father passed when I was 2 years old.  My sister and I were her only Granddaughters at the time.  My Grandma came to our Ballet recitals,stayed with me when my sister was born, came to school to volunteer and read to my class.  She was an amazing woman and I wish I had more time with her.  My Grandma fought Pulmonary Fibrous.  Her lungs were hardening everyday. She found out she had the disease the day that her husband, my Grandpa, died.  She lived 8 years with it, which is longer than most people do.  The doctors said that had my Grandpa not died when he did, she would have died sooner.  My Grandpa smoked in the house and it impacted her health greatly.  The night before my Grandma died we went to visit her at my Aunt’s house.  She was in a medically induced coma.   She was just laying there in a hospital bed in a room in their house.  I remember sitting in the room with my family, my Dad talking to her, and be given some jewelry that she apparently said she wanted my sister and I to have, and I remember getting slippers for some reason.  When we were leaving my Aunt’s house I remember sitting in the car crying hysterically.  I knew that was it, I was only 10, but I knew.  The next morning we were supposed to go to school.  When I woke up I noticed it was late and my alarm hadn’t gone off.  I knew she had passed.  My parents had turned off our alarms to let us sleep… a few more minutes of some normality.  We packed up our stuff and headed to Pittsburgh, where we planned and attended her funeral. In about a week we were home and back to “normal”.  My Grandma was an amazing person who I love very much.  Although she had passed by the time I was 18, she had set aside a piece of jewelry for my Aunt to give me on my 18th birthday.  Nothing as ever meant so much to me.

I cannot remember the exact timing of everything else but around this time my Mom got very sick.   The doctors could not figure out what was wrong for what felt like eternity.  She was in horrible pain all of the time and was just very sick.  I remember one night in particular that I thought I was going to lose my Mom because it seemed like her body was failing her.  I thought I was going to have to experience what she did with losing your parents at a young age.  It was terrifying. I specifically remember the terror, my sister was not much older than my mom was when my Mom’s parents died.  I was convinced in a way that it was our “fate”, and it was going to happen to us too.  Needless to say, the doctors eventually pin pointed the problem and were able to help.  During the time that she was sick, my Dad obviously was the one enforcing rules.  My Mom was always against us watching The Simpsons, but since she was sick and Dad was in charge so we got to watch it.  It ended up being something we watched as a family after she got better!  Thanks Dad! haha!

My worst fears have changed from storms and dogs to losing someone I love.   I worry at probably 10-15 times a day that something bad will happen to a loved one, each and everyday.  I imagine that I was probably born with anxiety.  However, the obsessive behaviors started around the same time as those events.   My life experiences have shaped my anxiety into what it has become.  Now, don’t get me wrong…I had an amazing childhood.  I was raised by two of the most loving parents. This just goes to show that no matter where you come from you do not get to escape mental illnesses.

My obsessions are always linked to fear of someone getting hurt.  My compulsions are always linked to an attempt to make sure nothing happens to that person.  It is like my mind is playing with me, trying to make me feel that I can control keeping them alive if I just do whatever is in my brain.  My compulsions are typically a random bunch of things.  I HATE odd numbers.  If I turn my radio volume up and it lands on an odd number I have to change it.  If I do not change it a family member may die in a car accident.  Sometimes it is that I must have the stupid dial on the dryer exactly lined up or I am screwed.  My compulsions sometimes consist of me seeing something on a fridge but not really reading it, but then I am forced to go back and read it in its entirety or someone has a heart attack today.   It is so frustrating, heart-breaking, and a waste of my time..  I don’t want to read what is on the fridge, I don’t care if the dial is lined up perfectly on the dryer, and numbers are just numbers.  However, my brain won’t let it go.  I know it is not rational to believe that I can keep someone alive by performing these dumb rituals, but I am terrified of what would happen if just by chance they did get in a car accident.  I would never be able to function again because I would always think, well maybe I should have done that, even though sensible me knows that it is completely irrational.  I’ve told my family over and over again that it is really exhausting to keep them alive all the time!  I can laugh about the thoughts that come in my head afterwards, because I know they are irrational and no where in the realm of possible, however in the moment I cannot laugh because all I feel is fear.  Who in the world wants to think about people they love getting hurt?  I know I don’t!  I wish I could just cross that bridge if it comes instead of obsessing about it all of the time, but I do not get that luxury.  One time my counselor said that I should focus on being with them and happy memories… so much easier said that done.  Instead I think, what if this is the last time I see them, what if, what if…

Fear tries to run my life, but I always try to fight back.  If you could hear inside of my head at an airport you would wonder how in the world I ever get on an airplane. I do because I can’t let it win, I fight like crazy.  I think airplanes are fascinating machines.  However, I am terrified of dying, not because I don’t want to die (which I don’t, life is pretty awesome and the unknown of death is scary) but I am afraid of what would happen to the people I love if I did.  Would my sister be able to function?  Who would call my Mom everyday at 4?  Would someone else love Kevin like he deserves?  And the thought of my Dad crying makes me want to cry typing this.  I don’t ever want them to feel pain.  I felt like a selfish jerk when I finally decided to reach out and get help for this because I felt like I saying I was putting myself before them. It felt like I had stopped their cancer treatment to keep them alive.  It is that crazy talk again going on in my head… I wasn’t controlling keeping them alive or safe by doing the things I was, I was just falling victim to the anxiety.

When I was diagnosed at age 10, I was placed on medication. I saw a counselor and a psychologist.  As I got older and with little understand of what was going on in my head I stopped the medication and therapy.  I managed for a long time.  I had the obsessive thoughts of people getting hurt and I tried to control it and sometimes I could.  I basically just gave into the compulsions because they didn’t completely interfere with my life, they were just annoying and confusing.  Then I got married.  I was under “fight or flight” all of the time. I had stomach ulcers and bleeding and all kinds of issues.  I ended up on anxiety medications during this time.  When I left my ex-husband I stopped the medication and I was doing pretty well for about a year.  Then anxiety let me know that it never left, I just suppressed some of it, but it showed it’s stupid ugly face again.  I was crying a lot at night because I was so frustrated with myself for feeling anxious all of the time. I experienced many more funerals and watched people grieve loved ones.  I have a very bad habit of putting myself in someone else shoes and then I get in extreme distress.  If someone loses their Mom then I think of how hard it must be for them and then I think what if I lose my Mom?  Then it spirals out of control. I started to get angry with myself because I am very aware of how irrational my anxiety can be.  I was tired of feeling “crazy” for being worried all of the time.

I still struggle but I am aware of now. Sometimes I do not respond to people talking the first time they say something because my anxiety in my head was all I could focus on, it consumes me.  I sometimes get frustrated if someone talks to me while I was stressing out about something because it is interrupting my obsession/anxiety and I was trying to work through it.  I’ve snapped at people I love when this happens.  I struggle with noise, I hate anything loud, it just makes me feel nervous.  I hide from people in my room or in the bathroom sometimes, just because I need quiet for just a few minutes.  I have found my own ways to cope with the anxiety at times.  Sometimes I give myself a “timeout” if I feel like I am going over the top.  I research things that make me anxious such as airplanes, weather, etc.  This has helped me tremendously.  The more I understand something, the less I am afraid of it.  I have not conquered my fear of losing people I love, it still haunts me everyday but that is okay… I win more than I lose to anxiety! I 1,2,3 things when I am scared (read 1,2,3 go blog to understand this).  However, I think the biggest thing that has helped me is talking about it and accepting it.  I hid from this for a long time… 17 years! I was shameful, embarrassed, mad, frustrated, and basically any other emotion you could think of.  It is not fair that I have to take medication to keep my anxiety levels lower.  However, it is not fair for me to live in a state of panic 24/7 so I thank God for science to give me this relief so I can enjoy this beautiful life.  No one has a perfect brain and we all fight our own demons.  Be honest about them, most importantly to yourself, because with that comes the opportunity to live the life you deserve.

My Grandma & I

My Grandma & I

The beginnings of Turbulent Sunshine

I cannot even begin to tell  you how many weeks it took me to choose the blog name, Turbulent Sunshine.  I knew what I wanted to write about for a long time, but I could not think of a name that would encompass everything.  After several list of ideas, hours of looking at different word combinations online, and consulting with family members I chose Turbulent Sunshine.  The definition of Turbulent is characterized by conflict, disorder, or confusion; not controlled or calm.  This is my life.  There is always some type of conflict, whether with myself fighting Anxiety or other stresses in life.  Just because there is chaos, it does not mean that life is necessarily negative, which is why I chose Sunshine as my second word. The definition of sunshine (other than obvious sun shine) is cheerful or happiness.  Everything that I have been through has challenged me and made me grow.  With every heart breaking moment, I have found happiness in times to follow.  In an airplane you feel turbulence, and if you are like me you are convinced you are going to die, but you don’t.  You survive, you move on with your life when you get off the plane, and usually you find happiness, whether it be in the arms of a loved one or an amazing vacation.   This is the story of my life.  Just when I think I cannot take another second, I find a reason, a purpose, and there has always been happiness after each storm.

Please understand that this is my first time writing a blog.   I plan to write about my experiences, recipes, and anything else that comes to mind. My hope is that by sharing my stories I can give someone else hope despite life’s turbulent storms, there will be sunshine; there will be happiness.

I hope you enjoy!

There is sunshine with every storm.

There is sunshine with every storm.