Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Self Discovery ... a Diagnosis

Hello toes. Hello sunshine. Hello earth. 
Hello pink, and brown, and green. 
Hello breeze. Hello bird song. 
Hello gentle love.

My days have been a little up and down friends. So many beautiful moments that my heart is brimming with love and contentment and life. 
Then there are the other moments.
The ones I don't understand, the ones I don't want. 
But I breathe through them, sometimes I cry them away, sometime I drink and sometimes I eat. Sometimes I run and listen to loud music and try to shut out my thoughts. Sometimes I create.

What's important though ... is that I live them. I feel them. I'm learning to give myself grace and to know that this, this joy and grief and love and hate, is part of the human experience. 
In the end, I know that I am surrounded by Love even when I feel alone. 

Part of the living, is the telling. 
So here it is. 
In this place, my little teeny tiny cyberspace dwelling...
without all of the details because , honestly, my point isn't to convince anyone that this is true or not - 

Last week I was diagnosed with bi polar disorder and also PTSD. 
There...and now to just breathe for one second...
that was rough.

I'm not a person that goes after a diagnosis. I'm not a person that even goes to the doctor. But after the last 16 years or so, of being up and down and super high and super low ... and it not depending one bit on circumstances , my heart said "Alyssa, if this were your child, you would find the root of the problem so that you could understand them better, so that you could relate, so that you could meet them on their level.You would want to understand." 
I did - three times. Three autism spectrum diagnosis - yet never enough grace to search for myself. 
So I've grown, and I went after answers. 
I let myself be ... and be seen ... not in control. 

This is a new journey for me. I pride myself on my health - perhaps that has been wrong. I read books on whole living, I take care of my spirit and my body and my mind ... I have walked the road of forgiveness over and over, I have done a lot of self work ... so this is why I have been so puzzled basically my entire teen years and adult life that I feel so unstable. 
I do have all of the signs of PTSD. I feel dumb actually even typing that - I've never been to war or lost a child. I guess I always feel like maybe everyone everywhere has PTSD. I have all of the symptoms though - the pain in my body all of the time from stress, so many triggers I can't count them, now and then panic attacks. I have horrible social anxiety - after visiting with a person, the next three days, I feel tense and cry and replay our conversations over and over again. There is a week out of every month I can't go to the grocery store, I can't drive. 

I have different options of how I can treat these different "disorders." 
For now, my plan is, to continue to exercise and eat well. I'm going to be much more disciplined about getting sunshine and fresh air. I'm going to start trying to identify my triggers...I already have started. It's not a comfortable thing. It makes me feel ridiculous - just the word "trigger" makes me feel ridiculous. It feels like a label - I dislike labels. 
That is a pillar in my life that I created that I may need to take down.
The doctor asked me to give some examples of times that I have anxiety and I was telling her about a couple weeks ago where I got so nervous that my house was messy that I almost had a panic attack. I started running around the house picking stuff up, and wiping things off and almost crying. I was shaking and scratching my head and basically looking and acting in every sense of the word "loony." As soon as the house was orderly ... I could relax. I realized when talking to the doctor that the only thing that was going to be different that day was that a worker was coming in the evening to repair our drywall. I told her when people ring my doorbell I immediately tense up and almost feel scared. She asked me why I didn't just hang a sign that says "No Soliciting." 
"Well" I said "I wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings." She looked puzzled. "You know" I continued "like if someone is trying to sell something then that is their job and how they might feed their family and I would hate for their day to feel like a waste." She stopped me. "Okay" she says, peering out of her very thick glasses "you mean to tell me, that this is a trigger that will interrupt your mood for the rest of the day, almost cause you to have an anxiety attack, yet you won't hang a sign on your door to prevent it because you don't want to hurt a stranger's feelings?"
I just felt confused and then said "can I do that? Hang a sign." She says "of course you can, it's your house. You can do whatever you need to do to feel safe."
It sounded ridiculous. But it wasn't ridiculous and I'm not ridiculous. I just care about people and may have just a touch to much empathy. (please don't count my use of the word 'riciculous' in this post -it's the only word that will suffice the whole everything.)
The next day I made a sign ... I used the word "please" and tried to make it as pleasant looking as possible. I still feel pretty rude but I'm working through that. I guess I'm having to learn that it's okay to take care of Alyssa.

She told me that some people care a lot about other people . Some people care about themselves primarily and have to work to think about others. According to her, the latter is not my problem and I actually need to actively work on not carrying about other people so much. 
 That thought to me sounds painful and at the same time, like one of the best things I could ever imagine yet have never given myself the freedom to do. According to her there is no way I would become a callous human being - I would rather die then be a callous human. 

I don't feel sad about the diagnosis. 
I feel relieved.
I'm so desperately tired of always blaming myself on a hourly basis for my mood swings. Sometimes my head feels almost numb and my sight grey and I think it's because I've done something wrong. Other times, I'm so hyper and euphoric that I don't understand blandness and plain and I'm confused why other people act like I'm crazy. The truth is , I love that part of me. I like the color. I like the energy. But, what I've been learning is that what goes up...when it goes really really up...must come down. It's these "downs" that have left me so confused. It's the thoughts and the nightmares and the visions that I despise. They don't match me. It's hard to feel like you are only yourself about 25% of the time and the other 75% , well, you can't line anything up. Nothing goes. 
I feel relieved that now , when I'm down , I can tell myself "this is because you are experiencing a mood imbalance ... you aren't dumb or unloving or lacking self control." Then, hopefully I can learn some tools that will help calm me or help me ride the low. I already have in the last week ... one day I had to go for a long walk ... I felt so desperately grey and alone and it made no sense. I cried. I knew why this was happening though so I didn't go buy two self help books or blame my husband or my kids or think "well, if just this would happen it would make everything better." The only thing that made it better was to give myself that time....the cup of tea, that pretty song, that exercise, those tears. I moved past it and the rest of the day was "okay."

I'm so grateful for my husband and how gentle he is with me. It is a hard road for him too and has been ever since he has been with me. It's not easy to every day be wondering what space your partner is going to be in when they wake up. I don't take him for granted and I'm always trying to remind myself that he deserves gentleness too. He has three autistic kids and a bi polar wife and is a firefighter. He is a champion - but I want him to not always feel like he has to be one. 

My faith is incredibly helpful. It doesn't solve the problem, but it brings me hope and it fills my heart and that is something to be grateful for.

Thank you for listening. I hope you all have a wonderful evening ...
we took a lovely walk this morning and I collected some pretty stones and then came home to make lunch and organize. It's been a really good day and I hope it has been for you. If it hasn't , please be gentle with yourself and know that Heavenly Father treasures you.

 "If your compassion does not include yourself, then it is incomplete." - Jack Kornfiel


  1. Sending you love and hugs, my friend. I love that you are already making note of the things that help you, and I hope you continue to find the strength to take care of yourself. You deserve it.

    Thinking of you, and sending strength from far away.

  2. Good job, Daughter-in-love, all way round! Good job explaining, good job learning and good job writing! Bless you!!

  3. Alyssa-- what heavy news, but also a relief that you have something that helps you make sense of things. Thanks for being brave and sharing your story here. And please let me know if there is any way that I can help. Sending love your way!

  4. Thank you for your honesty!!! I understand a little of what you are struggling with. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety/social anxiety a few months ago. I was relieved to get a diagnosis after struggling for years. After a lot of hesitation, I started taking the lowest dose of Zoloft, an antidepressant that helps with anxiety. It has changed my life! I'm so glad I finally decided to do something to help myself. I have been much less on edge and not nearly as overwhelmed with things. I know I have been a better mom too because I can relax now and not get stressed out about stuff as much. I know you are into holistic medicine but know too that you wouldn't be failing somehow if you do decide to try the med route. That's how I felt about it- that I was somehow failing if I took the Zoloft. But its not true! It was my anxiety talking! I wish you well Alyssa! Your blog continues to encourage and inspire! Also, I love your new house. It looks to be what I call a rustic contemporary? My favorite kind of house! Love what you did with the kitchen too BTW!!
    Catherine in KS

  5. Alyssa, that was a brave and beautiful thing you did. Never be afraid to talk/write through the feeling and confusion. There is so much love in the world and you are loved too.

    Please take good care of yourself and take one day at a time.

  6. Hi Alyssa. So much of what you wrote resonated with me. There is so much I want to write right now and don't even know where to begin. You have so much on your plate with three kids on the spectrum. And you home school to boot. Oh my goodness!! It's no wonder you have so much anxiety!! That is quite an undertaking and I commend you for that. The older I get (I just turned 49 in January) the less stress I am able to deal with. I too have three sons and one daughter. After the birth of my third son, I had what I think was delayed post-partum. I would cry suddenly and for no reason sometimes. Even the simplest of things made me feel overwhelmed. I ended up going on medication that helped me tremendously and was on it for a number of years. It was very difficult to go off of it but I did. About two and a half years ago, I noticed that my thoughts were starting to go back to how I was when I first went on medication. I started to feel overwhelmed by little things again and to get that "hopeless and helpless" feeling again. This time, I went the holistic route and started to see a homeopath. She had me taking a couple of different things but I never felt like they were working and things were starting to get worse for me. One day I woke up with a toothache and was told I had to have a root canal. I had never had a problem with seeing a dentist before but when they laid me down in the chair to do the root canal, I had a fight or flight response and my first ever anxiety/panic attack and it was all down hill from there. I lived in a constant state of anxiety and on the verge of a panic attack at the strangest times. I remember being in the grocery store and looking around at every body and wanting to lay on the floor in the fetal position because picking out bread was just too overwhelming for me. I remember driving halfway to a clothing store and wanting to turn around and go back home because the thought of walking into the store and being around other people gave me so much anxiety that I almost couldn't deal with it. That was when I went back to a new doctor and went back on medication. My reality today is that I have some kind of anxiety or panic disorder that can only be helped with medication. When you wrote that there is a week out of the month when you can't grocery shop or drive, is it the week before you get your period? Even with the medication, the week before my period is not good for me mentally but I do now recognize that my thoughts are not my reality and I can talk myself down when I acknowledge this. Mental illness is real and it is more common than most of us realize.

    There is so much more that I want to write but I'll stop here for now. Thank you for being so brave and sharing your diagnosis with us. You are not alone!!! XOXO

    ~ Wendy

    1. yes ... usually it is. Sometimes when I ovulate to. really bad anxiety and a lot more ups and downs minute to minute. Thanks for sharing your story too and i'm really happy that you have found something that works for you!