Being Med-Free: My 4 Year Anniversary

They told me I’d need medication the rest of my life.

4 years ago this week, I was weaned off my last medication, 10 milligrams of Celexa. I had vertigo for 3 weeks. Some days I felt like I was riding a roller coaster. After 18 years of being medicated, it wasn’t an easy transition for my body.

My doctor said I was ready. I was eating healthier, working out regularly, and sleeping consistently. I would never have done this without her support. This wasn’t the typical bipolar action of, “Hey, I’m going off all my meds!” It was something that took years in the making. It wasn’t a decision anyone took lightly.

It took time to adjust. I needed to actively monitor my stress levels. I needed to remember to slow down and rest. I took my supplements diligently. I ran. A year and a half later, I found yoga.

Today I feel better than I ever have.

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Continue reading “Being Med-Free: My 4 Year Anniversary”

Tis the Season… for Transition

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Guest Contributor: Myles Wren

We all go through various life seasons. Some are pleasant; some are not so pleasant. I asked my friend Myles to share about her experience with emotional wellness during those aching times of transition. Myles is one of my favorite people to “follow” on Instagram. She is so classy, fashion-wise and life-wise. Her style inspires me and her personality and drive motivate me! I knew she would drop some words of wisdom on this topic of transition, and she doesn’t disappoint. If your conviction button doesn’t go off on this one, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Kidding… Kinda. – Erin

2018 was full of transition. Quite frankly none of the transition that I experienced this year felt good and it wasn’t easy to go through; it was all very difficult for me. I started the year off in a very comfortable place, with people around me that made my life fun and exciting. By mid-year, all that changed and without any warning my perfectly comfortable you-don’t-need-to-put-any-effort-into-what-you’re-doing-because-it’s-a-too-easy-life, was no longer.

Talk about bubble busting!

So, here we are having just passed Thanksgiving and fast-tracking towards Christmas and the New Year! (I’m still in shock that we’re here already.) I want to share with you a few things that I learned about myself having gone through a bad season of transition. Continue reading “Tis the Season… for Transition”

Holding On To My Teen

Currently, there are one gazillion articles floating through cyberspace about holding your babies longer because “time passes so quickly and before you know it they’ll be grown.” And yes, those of us with littles need to be reminded of that ON THE DAILY. It is physically exhausting chasing little kids and constantly being puked on, pooped on, peed on. I have holes in my walls and stains in my carpet as battle scars from my two active little boys. I never go to the bathroom alone, and taking a shower alone (or at least without someone screaming at me) is a luxury as well.img_4756

As moms of littles, our mommy guilt usually involves thoughts of “Would I give them more quality time if I was working away from them?” or the opposite – “Am I missing out on too much because I work away from them?” Or maybe even the occasional, “Am I screwing them for life up by letting them have candy for breakfast because I don’t want to hear another tantrum?”

But there is something missing in this ongoing conversation topic. When the days of toddler tantrums are over, the years of elementary school performances and participation trophies are long gone, what is left? Does time speed up now that we’re done with those long, difficult days?

I wish.

They tell us “the days are long but the years are few.” I disagree.

The battle scars of the toddler years are nothing compared to the battle scars of the teen years.

Continue reading “Holding On To My Teen”

Top Tips for Immune Support

Fall is here, winter is coming, and with both – all sorts of viruses. Hand sanitizer and a flu shot that is estimated to be less than 20% effective this year is not enough for me. Managing cold and flu season for my family requires the same 4 steps as managing my mental illness:

  • Nutrition
  • Supplementation
  • Movement
  • Relaxation

1. Nutrition – let’s start with sugar. Sugar is public enemy number one when it comes to illness. It will wreck your immune system. Studies have shown that at a blood sugar level of 120 (easily obtained by drinking a soda or juice or a latte or eating candy or a cookie), the white blood cells’ ability to absorb and destroy viruses and bacteria reduce by 75%. It takes 4-6 hours to get back to normal. Don’t forget that refined carbs like processed white flour spike blood sugar even more than sugar itself (like that burger or sandwich you had for lunch AFTER you had a muffin or toast for breakfast). Think about that when you’re figuring out what to do with your kid’s Halloween stash. Continue reading “Top Tips for Immune Support”

Where My Political Loyalties Lie

I am conflicted. Political ads make my stomach hurt. The next election looms before me like a thick gray cloud, filled with double standards and broken systems and sanctimonious voices crying that their way is the best way. I can’t choose, because I see light and darkness on BOTH sides, and sadly, I see my Christian brothers and sisters contributing to the noise.

On one political side, we say black lives matter. The other side scrambles to save the unborn black lives (at the expense of voting a self-proclaimed womanizer into the highest office).

On one side, we say we want freedom for women to choose, to have control over their own bodies. But we still believe in one-size-fits-all medicine. We don’t want those women to have informed consent and choose what they believe to be necessary for their children based on genetic factors and previous medical history. The vaccine-injured fight to be heard, yet we want the sexually abused and misused to have freedom and safety to cry out “me too!”

We don’t want to serve a “gay wedding cake” and we want rights to be able to serve whom we choose for religious reasons, but only for OUR religion. Posting the Ten Commandments in a building is okay, but don’t mention anything about the Koran.

Both sides want to address mental health reforms, but neither side wants to acknowledge that maybe the corrupt food industry and big pharma with all its “side effects” play a part in making matters worse.

We want to honor those who give their lives for freedom to peacefully protest, but we don’t want to honor a peaceful protest for those who give their lives HERE, based on the color of their skin. Continue reading “Where My Political Loyalties Lie”

Active Monitoring

I taught public school for 11 years, and every spring we received a special training in “active monitoring.” Nobody looks forward to active monitoring. It is the  job teachers take on during the end of year state assessments. All certified teachers must stay on their feet during the majority of the test, walking up and down the aisles, making sure nobody is looking at another test, or marking in another section, or eating, or ANYTHING that would cause them to get marked up as a “state testing irregularity.” I dreaded these days every year, because I knew if I lost focus for one second, something could happen and I would get marked up and have my state teaching certificate questioned or revoked or torn up or SOMETHING horrible would happen.

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Living with a mental illness requires active monitoring. Much like how I used to roam the aisles of my classroom, eyes alert for any misconduct or twitch of movement, I constantly roam my brain and my body for signs of disorder.

Continue reading “Active Monitoring”

I’m That Girl

Last weekend I spent time with a group of girls who have known me longer than anyone else besides my own family. We talked for hours and hours, laughing and sharing stories, erasing years and distance. It was refreshing and healing.

The final morning I found our senior yearbook, from all the way back in 1999. Flipping through it, I noticed something. Page after page, a familiar face kept popping up at me. My own. Every activity, every party, every event. The more pictures I saw, the more I cringed. The inward narrative started.

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“Ugh, why did you have to do so much?”

“Why were you always a camera hog?”

“You must have been so annoying!”

“Why are you always That Girl?”

Insecurities surfaced with the old narrative. Yes, it was clear that I lived with a deep need to find my worth in my activity and my achievements. We went to a small private school, so plenty of opportunities for over-involvement existed. Still, it hurt to watch it unfold in this book, as I know I STILL so often act out of a craving for approval and acceptance. Continue reading “I’m That Girl”

Wine Not?

The day started like any other. Kids woke up, ate breakfast, fought a bit, then we headed to the gym (free childcare!) to get some energy out. It’s 500 degrees outside right now and I needed me time. I came home with a recharged battery, but that’s when it all hit the fan.

The soon-to-be-freshman talked back one too many times, so I took away her EVERYTHING. No phone, no technology, no (gasp) music. The 4 year old and 21 month old decided that was a great time to start terrorizing each other. One thing after another. All. Day. Long.

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My two littlest crazies

By the afternoon, I was done. My yoga breaths failed me, and my emotional capability to deal with ANY MORE nonsense plummeted. I needed a way to cope, to self-soothe. I could raid my pantry, I could tune everyone out and hop on my phone to scroll other people’s lives that looked so much more fulfilling, or… I could open up some wine. Continue reading “Wine Not?”

What’s In a Name?

I remember that day at the Social Security office when I went from Brandenburg to Kerry. I wrote my name in the blanks so carefully, the name that I chose to be my legal name for the REST OF MY LIFE. So permanent. To go from 11 letters to 5 was a relief, but to lose the name that connected me to my mom and dad and all my “German” people? It’s a famous gate in the fatherland! It’s a concerto! Not to mention, it’s how I identified myself for 28 years.

I played with the idea of making Brandenburg my middle name, but that’s a mouthful as a middle name even more so than it was as a last name. As hippy-ish as I am in some aspects, I’m traditional when it comes to names. And I chose to go all in and take on the name of Kerry. Continue reading “What’s In a Name?”

Living With a Stigma

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This little girl didn’t know that in 10 years she would wish for death. She loved her family, her new siblings, and Jesus, too. Much like the Tom Petty song, she was about to take a free fall – down the path of a broken brain.

She was a preacher’s daughter with a genetic disposition to mental illness. Add on to that various health issues like chronic ear infections, asthma, allergy shots, antibiotics and steroids… and a budding sugar addiction, due to poor gut health. She was all energy and filled with curiosity, wanting to know the how and why of everything. So one day, when the darkness closed in, she would questions why she couldn’t just pray it away.

Continue reading “Living With a Stigma”