Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Power of Words

I was hanging out at my therapist's office yesterday (as I do every Tuesday), and she gave me some advice that I would like to share. As you all know, I have been in a battle against postpartum OCD for the past 7 months. Though I am far, far better than I once was, I still have intrusive thoughts. Sometimes it just becomes an almost comical game of <insert worst case scenario here>. My mind can come up with the most ridiculous scenarios that would never happen and I then must shut them down. My therapist then recommended a new way for me to deal with them that I believe can be helpful advice to parents everywhere.

She told me that every time I have a thought about Easton or Brayden  that is negative or untrue, I replace it  (out loud) with a loving, true compliment about them. When I began to think about it more, this is good advice for people who don't have intrusive thoughts like myself. For instance, if Brayden was driving me crazy and not being a good listener (this is completely hypothetical, he is perfect) instead of freaking out in my mind and thinking... "He's driving me nuts!" I could instead calmly speak to him while adding my true feelings about him. I could say "Brayden, mommy loves what a great listener you can be" or "Brayden, I love your enthusiasm, but could you please go to sleep." Maybe these examples are lame, but I hope I am getting my point across.

I guess that I should also say that I have decided to practice this even when my mind is clear. Today I was feeding Easton his lunch and I tried to come up with a compliment for every bite "Easton, mommy loves your smile", "Easton, mommy loves what a chunky monkey you are", "Easton, mommy loves that your bowl movements are regular"...as you can see, I was grasping at straws by the end, but you understand where I'm going with this. I'm sure I'm (hopefully) not the only momma out there who loses her cool sometimes and thinks negatively, but I hope this advice of changing thoughts through changing what is said is helpful to someone else out there!

Thanks for reading!



Chels

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

4 Things Only My Husband Can Teach My Boys

 Another day another blog post! I must say, I think that this blog may become almost as therapeutic to me as my crafts. With the cabinet project underway (but still far from finished), I will have a different craft post tomorrow. I had this idea to decorate my kitchen table in under $20 with stuff from HomeGoods (my mother-ship) and Goodwill (a close second). I'm excited to work on that tomorrow and report back tomorrow night! Today, however, I would like to talk about the importance of my husband in the lives of my children.


I have always been blessed to be surrounded by strong men. I am a self-professed daddy's girl (shout-out to Pat Suiter) who was lucky enough to marry a man similar to my dad. I believe having a strong father (or father figure) is such an important part of any child's life. In my own experience, my dad taught me kindness, selflessness, and the importance of hard work. Growing up, he was constantly telling me that "sweet words are like a honeycomb." Not only did he tell me that all of the time, but he lived it. My dad is always going out of his way to be kind to and help others. Kindness and a strong work ethic are just a couple of the many qualities that I see in both my dad and my husband.

There are just some things that I cannot teach my sons on my own. Luckily, they have a strong father who can teach them things I can't by:

1.  Teaching them how to respect women: I can tell my kids to be kind and respectful to women until I'm blue in the face, but how they decide to behave will largely rely on how they see their father treat me. I can tell them how to act, but he can show them. He can show them how to listen, trust, and respect. He can tell them the importance of being a good husband and partner. He can impart knowledge to them in a way that I simply cannot and I am grateful to have him as my partner in this parenting journey.

2. Showing them the importance of a good work ethic: Though I don't love having my husband travel all of the time on the railroad, I can never take away the importance of his hard work. He leaves us each week to provide for us. My children have a father who would do anything to give them what they want and need. His example will be so important in showing our sons how to support a family through any means necessary.

3. Having fun with them: Though I fancy myself a fun lady, I know that the fun that I have with my boys is different than the fun they have with their daddy. "Guy time" in our house usually consists of video games, Legos, and dance parties in their underwear. I love watching my boys have fun together. I love that my children have a dad who not only spends time with them, but engages with them and truly cares about every moment they spend together.

4. How to live with integrity. I'll never forget hearing what integrity meant for the first time, I was a child and my pastor told us that integrity is how you act when no one is looking. Children see things that we do without us even noticing. Luckily, my husband lives his life with integrity. I never have to worry about the choices he makes when the kids are around, because he always makes decisions with their best interests in mind.


Nothing is more important to me or Joel than our kids, I'm so grateful to have a husband who cares about being a good role-model for them as much as I do. I can't wait to see how these little humans turn out!

Thanks for reading!



Chels


Monday, February 23, 2015

When You Can't Wish it Away...Pray

I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from my post yesterday. It means the world to me to be able to share my story without being judged. As I look toward the huge cabinet project ahead of me (that I plan on starting during The Bachelor tonight) I would like to share some more of my postpartum experience. I have become very self-aware in the past few months. I scan and evaluate every thought and many times wish that my entire thought process was different. I cannot tell  you how many times I have sat in therapy crying, telling my therapist that I wish I had an "easier" kind of OCD. If only I had the OCD where I wanted to clean or if only my OCD mind was scared of other people hurting the kids instead of fearing myself. I have wished and wished that my disorder was different. But it isn't.

Postpartum OCD is now part of my life experience. I can never undo it, but I can decide what to do with what I know now. What I know is I love my kids. What I know is that I am stronger than my disease. What I know is that I will get through it, and hopefully help others get through it too. I cannot wish it away, but I can pray.

One of the changes I have made since having OCD is I have begun going to church again. A couple of weeks ago one of the pastor's spoke of how to pray when you don't know what to say. He said that you can simply say "God, please help." I have said some very simple prayers since then. Sometimes I cannot explain what is wrong or how I feel, but I can still pray.

Though many of you have not nor ever will experience OCD the way that I have, I know that I'm not alone in wishing I was different in some way. I think it is a universal human experience to wish on some level that things were different. From wishing your work situation was different to wanting to lose weight more quickly, everyone has wishes. Though I believe in setting goals and achieving them, I also believe in acceptance. I have accepted OCD as part of my story, but also look forward to easier days and am grateful that I will now be able to use my experience to help others like me.

Thanks for reading!



Chels

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Postpartum OCD Story

I hope that this blog becomes a forum for people to come to who need creative ideas for crafts or want to try out new projects. I'm sure many of my posts will be full of witty one-liners and tales of why my children are driving me crazy, but this first post is about my OCD. I'm at a point in my journey where I want to be transparent about my problem. First, I want to explain what postpartum OCD is. It is a perinatal mood disorder that is characterized by obsessive intrusive thoughts and accompanied by compulsions to ease anxiety caused by the thoughts. Postpartum OCD is not postpartum psychosis where mothers hurt their children, it is the exact opposite. It is the intense need to keep children safe.

I remember each part of my OCD clearly. It began one night as I was nursing Easton. I was home alone with the kids because my husband travels for work. I was looking at him and this random thought popped into my head "what if I smothered him?" I was instantly crippled by what I now know was intense anxiety caused by the fact that that is something that is not part of my character. From that moment on my OCD began. I was constantly on guard, needing to check and recheck my thoughts to make sure that I was not dangerous. It consumed me. I couldn't eat, I had no appetite. I couldn't sleep, my thoughts were constantly racing. Then one morning, a new thought came "what if I hurt the kids and no one was around to save them?" From that moment on, I wouldn't stay at my house alone with them. I stayed on my dad's couch for two weeks. I stared at the kids all night to make sure they were still safe. I felt like I had to constantly check myself to make sure I didn't go crazy. In my mind, I had to stay alert at all times, otherwise I would lose my sanity and those most important to me.

It was all-consuming. My friends and neighbors noticed something was wrong. I couldn't go to social gatherings because all I wanted to do was cry. I cried all the time. Every day. I endlessly went through different "what if" scenarios in my head, terrorizing myself to no end. Suddenly, it was like I remembered every Dateline on I.D. episode I had ever seen and I was scared of becoming each of those evil people. I couldn't sleep, I would try to calm myself by watching Joyce Meyer on YouTube. It would usually take at least two sermons for me to kind of fall asleep. By this time I had a therapist, but that wasn't enough. I ended up going to an outpatient program for new mothers with perinatal mood disorders and got on medication.

The medication caused my anxiety to lower, which in turn eased the thoughts. In therapy, I learned that anxiety takes what you care about most and puts it in the worst case scenario. What I care about most in the world is my boys and them getting hurt in any way is my worst case scenario. This is by far the most crippling thing that has ever happened to me and it is nearly impossible for me accurately describe how hard it was. It is a special kind of hell to not be able to stop your racing thoughts that completely contradict who you fundamentally believe yourself to be.

Once I began to feel better, I began to do crafts. I started by painting a table and chairs. Every new project meant something to me. If I could make it through just one more craft, we would be okay. I have since painted more furniture, created a collage wall, stenciled a wall, and pretty much completely redecorated my entire house. To my husband it is annoying, but to me it is therapy. I'm able to use my mind and creativeness to create beautiful projects instead of using my mind to scare myself. The first project I will be chronicling in my blog will be the painting of my cabinets, which will be followed by new counter tops and a back-splash. I cannot wait to begin this journey as a blogger and continue to better myself every day.

Thanks for reading!



Chels