A Little Bit of Hope

It’s Spring.  Winter is losing its hold on us and I feel this little thing budding up inside of me. Hope. This winter has been a struggle for me in my fight against depression. I feel like I fought well, kept picking myself back up and trying to find solutions again and again. Exercise. Try this diet. Write out my thoughts. Talk to people. Get involved. Get a Happy Light. But, no matter what I did, I kept finding myself in my chair, struggling to do the simplest chores.

Several weeks ago, in my Fat Fridays Post I said that if I could find a diet that would cure depression, I would go on it. Two days after posting that, I received two different emails from trusted sources telling me to watch an upcoming webinar by Jonathan Otto on Depression Anxiety and Dementia. It seemed like God was giving me a big nudge, so I went and watched some of it, read their free e-books. It talked about inflammation aggravating mental health issues. One of their first steps they recommended in their little book was to change your diet to fruit, vegetables and nuts. No grain, no animal products. I was desperate so I decided to give it a try. The first two weeks were really hard as my body was in shock from this drastic change. And then this Monday happened.

Monday morning, the first Monday back to school after Spring break, I woke up before my alarm went off, somewhere around 6 am. Wide awake. And happy. I got up with my little boy and fed him and dressed him and then went and got the other kids out of bed. Drove the kids to school, came home, and instead of collapsing on the couch, went and washed the dishes that had accumulated over the weekend. I then puttered around, getting the boys and I ready for our day at the homeschooling co-op where I’m teaching a couple piano lessons. Had a great day at Co-op, felt cheerful all day long. Then left co-op, went and picked up kids from school, came home and cleaned up the house, played games with my little girls, and read books to children until it was time to make supper. (Usually on Mondays co-op wears me out and by the time I get home I just want to hole up in my room with the door closed.) I felt almost giddy. Wow. This is what it feels like to have energy. hope

This morning I woke up with a pounding headache and was very tired. I’ve taken it easy today, but despite not feeling well, I haven’t felt dragged down in my mood. I’ve still managed to get chores done, spend time with my kids, and even practice the piano. And maybe this lightness of mood will become my new norm. hope

I’ve also stepped out in faith in a couple other areas. I’ve been lamenting lack of community, but at the same time not had the energy or drive to invite people over to my house. Well, we had some changes with our house church and Andy and I took the plunge and volunteered to host house church at our house, twice a month, Sundays after church. Bring enough food for your family and we’ll potluck lunch and then have a meeting. We’ve decided to take it a step further and tell everyone that our house is open every Sunday after church. Potluck and hang out. First steps to building community. I’m a little scared about making such a big commitment, but also feeling excited. hope “

My last big step of faith was to schedule a Musical Evening at my house, the beginning of May. Everyone is welcome. Just let me know you’re coming. The point of the evening is to make music accessible and fun for everyone, but especially children. I’m going to play a couple pieces, my kids are going to play music, maybe my husband will sing. Everyone who comes is invited to contribute to the music. We’ll all bring food to share too. Have a party. This is a step of faith for me, and a challenge because I’ve committed to playing music in front of people. Yikes. I haven’t done that in quite a while. I only have two children left who aren’t in school and I’ve started thinking about what I will do when all my kids are in school all day. My old dream of being a piano teacher with a bunch of students has slowly risen out of the ashes and I’ve started taking small steps towards that goal. For me, to be a serious piano teacher means I need to be getting back into music myself. So, this musical evening is a step towards my dream of teaching. hope

Aside from all these wonderful things, I have found my mind turning more and more to God. Being curious. Mindful. Wondering. Having Conversations. It feels like a hibernating part of my soul has woke up again. hope

It’s early spring yet. We still have cold mornings and plenty of drizzle-filled days in between the sunshine days. But, there is an unspoken promise in the air. The trees are putting out buds, the days are longer, there is a certain fresh smell of earth and plants when you step outside. We know that summer is just around the corner. And maybe good health, a sound mind, energy for life. Hope.

 

To anyone interested in my new diet, here’s the link:

 

www.depressionanxietyseries.com

Fat Fridays: Week 9 Diary of a Sugar Detox

Last week I wrote that I was going to fast sugar for a week. But not until I had finished eating my Valentine’s chocolate. Well, Sunday night I had one more chocolate left. I toyed around with the idea of hanging on to that last chocolate for an indefinite amount of time so I wouldn’t have to start my fast, but finally decided to stop dragging my feet. Besides, I had developed a tooth ache and sugar wasn’t sounding very good anyway. I gave my last chocolate to my husband and decided to start Monday morning. My end goal is to break the sugar addiction so that sugar becomes an occasional treat instead of a daily necessity. I ended up keeping an informal diary…

Day 1: First day without sugar. I don’t think this is going to be a problem. My teeth are hurting so badly that I don’t want to eat anything except lukewarm soup. Maybe some soft bread. I reached for a grape in the fridge and then thought about biting into the cold fruit and how my teeth wouldn’t like that and I immediately returned the grape to the fridge.

Day 2: I’m proud of my breakfast. A bowl of chicken vegetable soup, some toast and an orange. Breakfast is always the hardest time of day for me to avoid sugar. How do I live without cereal, or oatmeal with brown sugar, or pastries, or sweetened yogurts, or muffins? I’m starting to feel a headache coming on which always happens to me when I cut sugar out of my diet. I’m going to exercise and drink tea and lots of water and hope it doesn’t get too bad. I keep finding myself thinking, maybe I’ll have a granola bar..wait no sugar.. Maybe I’ll make some caramel popcorn for the kids…wait no sugar…Maybe I’ll put some strawberry jam on my toast..wait no sugar.. I think it’s going to get harder before it gets easier.

Day 3: Today has been my grumpy day. I woke up with a mild headache and felt a bit queasy. Either I was coming down with something or my body was struggling to adjust to the lack of sugar in my system. All day I gravitated towards sugary food only to have to remind myself, NO SUGAR! This evening I had to go to Walmart. It was 9:30 at night and I was tired. I pulled into the parking lot and I thought, hmm, I should get a nice donut. Wait. No sugar. Then I wondered why I wanted a donut..and that would be because I’m tired. I needed a boost to get me through this last push of grocery shopping and getting home and putting groceries away before I could finally collapse into bed. I’ve never been big on caffeine, but instead I think I use sugar to give me that jolt of energy I need. I tried to think of what I could buy that would do the same thing, but didn’t have sugar. I saw a bag of fresh, crisp, green grapes and that looked good so I put them in the cart. Then I was walking past the cookie aisle and I saw the sugar-free cookie section. Yes! Cookies! Without sugar! Perfect! Of course, I had an inner voice lecturing me about chemicals and additives and fake stuff that wasn’t going to be any better for my body, but who cares, cookies sounded good. I finally got out to the car, put the groceries in the back of the van and pulled out both the sugar-free cookies and the grapes and brought them to the front of the van with me. I decided to experiment. I ate a grape, savored it for a minute. Then I pulled out a cookie, tried to savor it. It was a bit gross. Just a bit. It was definitely sweet, but did not deliver that oomph that real sugar does. It was actually pretty unexciting. I put the cookies away and continued to munch on the grapes. Maybe this counts as a small victory.

Day 4: For some reason, this has been the hardest day so far. Isn’t this supposed to be getting easier? I woke up with a headache (about the only time I get headaches is when I make major changes to my diet). I’ve felt tired and listless and just want to stay in bed. I’m feeling disappointed because it seems like I should be getting more energy. I’ve been exercising from 30 minutes to an hour every day for several weeks now and I still feel sore and achy at night. I was hoping that getting off sugar would give me more energy, but apparently I’m not at that stage yet. Right now my body seems to be in shock and can barely drag through the day. Three nights in a row now I have laid in bed exhausted and wide awake, my dear friend Insomnia paying a visit. It kind of makes you pause and think, what on earth have I been doing to myself? What is this drug that I’ve been drowning myself in? And yes, you might think, well maybe this has nothing to do with sugar, maybe you’re just fighting a virus. I might be tempted to think that, except that this has happened every single time I have taken sugar out of my diet ( I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve done that, and yet I still always go back to eating sugar). I’m thinking I’m going to have to extend this fast for another week just so I can get it fully out of my system and start reaping some of the benefits.

 

Well, three more days to go before I’m officially done with the fast. It’s funny, I always flippantly think, Oh, I’ll just stop eating sugar, or white bread, or junk food. I forget how hard it is to change your course, your path, the normal way you do things. I’m glad I’m doing this whole healthy thing slowly. I don’t think I can handle more than one change at a time. Hopefully by next week I’ll be sugar free and boasting about how much energy I have. We’ll see. See y’all next week.

Morning People

Morning People. Ugh. I am not a Morning People. My husband is a Morning People. Ugh. My alarm goes off at 6:45. That gives me 15 minutes to get out of bed, get dressed and lay out breakfast for the kids. My husband is usually leaving the house about the time I get up. He walks up to me, all chirpy. His eyes are wide open, he’s grinning. He gives me a big enthusiastic hug. I passively stand there. Raising my arms feels like a bit too much work at this time of day. My eyes are barely squinted open. He laughs and makes some comment about opening my eyes up. I grunt. Barely murmur the words..Love you..and send him on his joyful way.

I used to think that I was a Morning People. When I was a young teen I would habitually wake up early to exercise or practice piano before going to school. I would read my bible and eat my breakfast and have a leisurely morning. Then college came and this thing called sleep deprivation. I remember coming home for Christmas break when I was in college. I would sleep in till noon every day. Of course it helped that we were in Alaska and the sun wasn’t getting up till after 11 am. I think that is some of the best sleep I ever got. I still remember it fondly.

Sleep deprivation has become a way of life. For the past 18 plus years, I have been pregnant or nursing a baby or had toddlers climbing into my bed. I can honestly say that I haven’t had a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep in 18 years. Of course, my husband really hasn’t either, but he still manages to be chirpy in the morning. So maybe I can’t use that as an excuse. Hmm.

Every morning I wake my kids up at 7, they get dressed, brush hair, put on shoes, come down and eat a quick breakfast and then we’re out the door at 7:15. Five kids going to school and often the baby and toddler ride along with us if they’re awake. I go to the elementary school and then the middle school. The middleschooler always rides up front. This suits me fine. The middleschooler has the same opinion of mornings that I do. We go over our Bible memory verses in the car, I pray for my kids, and the rest of the car ride is silent. Ok, my two little girls can be chirpy in the morning, but they sit further back in the van and I don’t have to hear them. My highschoolers walk to school. One time though I had to give my oldest son a ride to school. I can’t remember why, sprained ankle? Broken bone? I just remember that for a short time I had him sitting up in the front seat when we drove to school. He takes after his father. He likes to talk in the morning. Loud, enthusiastic talking. Telling me all about some show or movie that he really likes. And I’m just sitting there driving thinking…Stop, stop. Be quiet. Please stop talking. It is too early to be talking. Stop. Why???

I am fortunate that I am a stay at home mom. There is no pressure to be fully functional by 7am or 8am, or even 9am if it was a particularly rough night. I come home after dropping the kids off and sit on the couch with my two little ones. I zone out. I don’t do caffeine. I’ve never liked the thought of being addicted to any type of substance and so I’ve never developed a hot beverage habit. So, I just wait till my body finally says, Ok, we’re awake now. Let’s get on with the day.

Little kids, in general, are Morning People. Saturday morning they come bouncing into my room at 7am. What’s for breakfast Mom?? Me: hmmph? They climb up on the bed, hit me in the head with a book..Will you read this to me Mom??? Me: (barely whispering) Go away. Mom! Mom! Watch this! They do a somersault on the bed, landing on my legs. Me: AAAGHH!!! GO PLAY SOMEWHERE ELSE!! They finally run off to make noise in a different room. My husband climbs out of bed, says in a loud cheery voice, Well, I think I’m going to go work on some projects right now. Me: (thinking to myself, IT’S SATURDAY!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!) covers head with pillow and groans.

I am hopeful that one day my children will all sleep through the night and then maybe I’ll start sleeping through the night, and then maybe, I’ll just wake up early because I’m well-rested. And I’ll be cheerful and have lots of energy. We’ll see. I’m not holding my breath.