Anxiety, My Silent Enemy

My studies have suffered the past week, thanks to new developments in my parents’ story, which you can kind of read about here. If it were all my story to tell, I’d have out with it and just be done, but since it’s a whole group of stories within stories, I have to quietly contain them. Yes, it’s really helping my anxiety (please hear the sarcasm in my voice.)

A few things have emerged in myself that I can share, though. This situation has made me look very hard at myself and admit to a few things I didn’t want to think about. Mostly because I would never seek a professional diagnosis. Too scared of what it would be. So, I diagnose myself and deal with it myself.

I have suffered from bouts of depression since I was twelve-years-old. Maybe before that, but the first episode that I remember was on my twelfth birthday. My uncle died, and I was very angry at myself for being hurt that my birthday wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I spent the whole day beating myself up and feeling guilty. The. Whole. Day.

It was by no means constant, so I usually overlooked it, until I got married. I wanted a baby. Month after month, I thought it would happen, and it didn’t. Then it did, and I thought it was all better, but it came back in the form of anxiety. “Is my baby okay?” “Will I be a good parent?” I was convinced that everything I was doing was hurting my growing child. I would go off sugar for a couple of days, get anxious, binge on candy. It was a vicious cycle that didn’t end with that pregnancy, but continued into the next and the next.

My parents’ situation has forced me to realize that depression is a thing, and it’s a deep thing. And just because it’s not a constant cloud of doom, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in the back of my mind.

It’s not bad enough that I’m thinking of hurting myself or anyone else. It’s mostly the anxiety. Every time my toddlers tumble, every time they get a fever, every time they act out, I find myself crippled by anxiety. Afraid my discipline will be too severe, afraid it’s not enough, afraid that I’m disconnecting completely and avoiding dealing with the problem.

I watch every bite of cereal–because their dad has a love for cereal that they share–thinking, “I’m not doing this right. They shouldn’t be eating cereal.” “They shouldn’t be drinking that sugary drink. It has artificial colors.” “They should have vaccinations.” “They shouldn’t have vaccinations.” “Why am I even trying? Give me a soda.”

I’m stuck in the “What ifs?” So paranoid that I’m going to do something wrong that I don’t do anything. I smile, listening to the people around me fuss at my kids, then feel this terrified, “They think I need to do something about my kids jumping on the couch. My kids should probably not jump on the couch.”

I don’t demand that my kids eat vegetables. I don’t demand that they not eat candy. I don’t demand that they obey. I don’t demand anything, because I don’t feel worthy of being obeyed or overseeing anything they do. At least, I didn’t.

But… I’m dealing with it now. It’s got to stop. I’m tired of suffering heart palpitations when talking to people I should view as my peers. Tired of holding my hurt feelings in, because other people “might be” offended if I share them. Tired of avoiding the questions. Tired of questioning myself to this extent. (Not that I’ll ever stop questioning myself, but could I at least have the courage to believe in what I’m doing?) I’m tired of not sleeping, because my fears keep me awake.

I want to own who I am. To say what I think, hopefully in love, but without the crippling fear of the repercussions. I’m tired of worrying that other people will be offended by the way I parent, by the way I eat, by the way I do anything.

I’m so tired of the anxiety that I’ve shoved to the back of my mind for so long.

My obsession with nutrition, aromatherapy, and herbalism originally stemmed from wanting to be sure of myself. Wanting to be the right weight. Wanting to know that I’m making the right choices for my children. But, it can’t be like that. Because there are too many conflicting sources.

I’m a mom on a mission. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is the focus of my mission.

I’ve been obsessed with the idea that modern medicine and natural medicine both have the potential to harm. I’ve been obsessed with what other people thought about how I choose to act upon the research I’ve done. I’ve been obsessed with the idea that diets make or break us. I’ve been obsessed with the idea that there is a fine line between doing right and wrong, and I’ve forced myself to walk it for too long.

Frankincense has helped clear my head these past few days. It’s what I’m giving partial credit to. I finally broke down and diffused it, even though it’s so expensive. Frankincense, Jesus, and two adults who can’t seem to understand that their behaviors toward each other also influences their relationships with their children.

I’m going to be open about my anxiety, because I finally feel like being heard. My silence wasn’t because I thought nobody wanted to hear it, but because I felt petty. Like I didn’t deserve to be heard, because other people have bigger problems.

Now, I research aromatherapy–not just because I love the idea of essential oils, but because it has helped me. I’ve used it to ease my physical pains. I’ve used it to calm my mind. I’ve used it to relieve that crippling tension that has had my stomach in a constant knot for the past month and a half. (I even discovered that Ylang Ylang eased my heart palpitations. That’s been an amazing helper.)

Now, I research food, because I love food. It’s delicious. It’s an integral part of my personality, because feeding people is my love language. I want all people to be drawn to my table, to feel nourished in my kitchen, to taste and see that the Lord is so good. Good food has been a real delight these past couple of days, as my husband worked his culinary magic on grilled chicken and a seafood gumbo that was so delicious I’ve shared a bite with everybody who would taste it.

IMG_7425God has worked this situation with my parents to my future good. Even when I couldn’t pray or focus on the Bible He’s been right there, shining a light in my darkness, bringing me back to the light. Reminding me of His love through friends and my mother-in-love, who has been a constant friend.

My anxiety will be back. It’s one of those mean friends that hangs around, jumping on you when you don’t expect it. But, for now, there’s peace.

 

 

P.S. I also got a really short haircut like I’ve wanted for years and never been brave enough to go through with. I actually love it. Should’ve done it a long time ago.

Real. Great. Mom. 

Today, I would like to present myself with a trophy…but it wouldn’t be for greatest mom ever. 

I left home this morning, headed to a birthday party, forgetting diapers, sippie cups, snacks, shoes… I had my wallet and keys. That’s about it. 

With two toddlers and a three month old, you’d think I’d be an old pro. But…I’m not. I sat looking around my car, which is messy, wondering how I could have towels, two blankets, four books, twelve stale French fries, three abandoned fast food cups from our last adventure out, and a pencil…but no diapers. I had wipes jammed into the overflowing glove box.  How did I not have diapers?

My children enjoyed the birthday party. I bummed a couple of diapers off my sister-in-law. And everything was going great! 

Until my two-year-old took a flying leap into the deep end of the pool with no floats. I got him out, which was a chore, since I don’t swim very well, and–as I spat water–he did it again. This time I was scrambling, but people were all around us, hauling him up. I felt like a real great mom…dripping…coughing…Real. Great. Mom. 
My two toddlers thought it was funny to climb down the ladders and run around the pool. Every time I reached for one, the other took off. I heard other moms gasping in fright, I couldn’t keep up with my kids, and they weren’t listening to me. Real. Great. Mom. 

On the way home, I realized that the two year old had eaten nothing substantial for lunch or snack. On top of that, somebody gave him a Dr Pepper. While I’m usually laid back about that, I couldn’t help thinking I was setting him up to be a junk food junkie…after all my research about the badness of junk food. Real. Great. Mom. 

Now I’m hiding in the bathroom while they play in their playroom. The three month old is hungry, it’s time to go feed him. I barely got the other two to eat any supper. Real. Great. Mom. 

Tomorrow, we’re going on a bug hunt. We’re going to read Bible stories. We’re going to swing. We’re going to eat something besides chips and cupcakes. 

We’re going to be fine, because I am a real great mom. I’m fun. I’m a pretty good cook. I’m happy. I’m a bad dancer, but good at beginning dance parties. 

The bad days don’t define me. And you shouldn’t let them define you either. Wherever you are, you’re the best you there will ever be. You’re special, created in the image of a loving God. You’re His workmanship, and He loves you. 

Have a beautiful life! 

A Gut Feeling

So, I attended Dr. Josh Axe’s Webinar on how to heal a leaky gut. Turns out that it was just a preview of his program, which I can’t afford, but I did learn a few things that tie into my studies from the past few days.

I’ve been fascinated, learning how what we eat affects our health. My reading list has grown exponentially, as everything I’ve learned has led to more questions about nutrition and health.

“All disease begins in the gut.” Hippocrates said it centuries ago, but only now are we starting to believe it. Eighty percent of our immune system resides in the gut.(1) The state of your digestion influences the rest of your bodily systems. Gut dysbiosis (abnormal gut flora), leaky gut, and other digestive problems can cause a whole plethora of other symptoms, some of which I hear about from family members and friends on pretty much a daily basis. Some of the symptoms, I exhibit myself: fatigue, blood sugar highs and lows, carb and sugar cravings, anxiety, hormonal imbalances, etc., etc., etc.

While I realize that a lot of these things (hormonal imbalance, fatigue) are due to having a three month old baby, breastfeeding,  waking for night feedings, and sometimes staying up way too late, I’m interested to see if my dietary endeavors help with those complaints.

I’m trying not to get carried away in my lifestyle changes, because drastic change just doesn’t work for me, but I’ve gotten a few good ideas as to how to impact our health for good.

First of all, I’m slowly removing the majority of processed food from our diets–even the healthy ones. You’d think that’d be easy, since I’m the Mama and I do get some control over what we eat. However, we tend to eat out places more than I would care to admit, Ben brings home treats, and, now and again, I give in to my own cravings for chocolate and soda (I’m really working to kick that habit). And replacing processed foods means making them myself…I’m trying to decide if I really have time for all that.

With our changes, I want to be careful about not getting caught up in protein powders, bottled healthy drinks, granola bars, etc. I might buy these things when we’re out, because they’re better than a candy bar, but, at home, I want to work toward a whole foods diet. I want to see if it makes that big of a difference in flavor. If it doesn’t, well, I’ll implement something else.

Secondly, I want to boost our vegetable and fruit intake. Meat is good for you. I’m not going to deny that. But, I know that our family eats more meat than anything else. Ask my husband what he wants to eat, the first thing he says is a meat product, followed usually by a request for potatoes, rice, or pasta. While potatoes are vegetables, I want to see more colors on our plates.

Thirdly, I want to try making bone broth on a regular basis. I’m an “I did that one time!” type of person. I’ve made bone broth before. I’ve made venison bone broth and chicken bone broth. Both were delicious, and very satisfying, but I’ve never made it a habit to have homemade broths in the house, which is sad, because we do consume broth…just the kind in a carton.

As I’ve said before, I’m all about 180 degree turns. I get something on my mind and immediately move to make drastic changes, which fall by the wayside after a couple of days because my willpower is zip, even though I know that I’m influencing my health with those changes.

Drastic change doesn’t mean lasting change.

Our lives are a journey. Each day fluidly passes into the next. Each choice we make for a better future today, makes all the difference tomorrow. The goal is to make small changes that last.

I’ll leave you with a quote that I picked up from Michael Pollan’s book In Defense Of Food, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite reads for this year. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Our guts, our immunities, our lives, our children’s lives depend on it.

fresh-fruits-vegetables-2419-450x337Image borrowed from Paleoholic

Not A Salesman

I had a conference call for dōTERRA. The people above me, they call it an upline, wanted to make sure that I know how to host a class, how to get people interested, and all that fun stuff. They gave me a link to lots of videos, and were really helpful, because they really want me to succeed. They offered me brochures…offered to come help me teach classes…It was really nice, except I’m not really a salesman.

I look over dōTERRA’s products, and I love the ones I’ve used, but it’s impossible for me to go to people and ask them if they’d be interested. These products are expensive, and most of my interested family and friends just don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on essential oils. It’s BOGO week, and I’m feeling awkward about sending screenshots of the daily deals, even though I’m only sending them to people who are genuinely interested.

The truth is, I don’t want to do the regular classes, because I’ve been to those classes, and they don’t tell me what I want to know, which is, how is this going to help my life get better. How do I use all of this stuff? How do I know that this works for me? How do I justify spending this much money on this stuff?

Practicality is key for me with this business.

I’ve enjoyed creating blends of oils in roller bottles…there’s a really good one that I’ve appreciated during cold and flu season. But, I just don’t use roller bottles. I forget I have them. Maybe you use them all the time, in which case, God bless you…you smell great! But, if I’m going to use oils, they have to fit my particular needs.

I’m a busy mom of three children under three years old. My chores have to be streamlined, or they don’t get done. I run my dishwasher daily, sometimes twice a day, so I’ve been researching how to swap my dishwasher detergent for economical, nontoxic, homemade, good for the environment tablets. (I’ll let you know if it works.)

I’m interested in a nontoxic laundry detergent. I’m interested in a spray bottle of counter/surface disinfectant for cleaning away germs after cooking. I’m interested in hand soaps, dish detergents, and, most importantly, the most budget friendly option. (It’s just an added bonus that my counter spray might lift my mood and ease my anxiety.)

I’ve loved learning about aromatherapy, but I’m just not ready to say, “Here. Buy this. You’ll love it.” There are too many voices saying that already. (MLM is one of the reasons I left Facebook, but more on that later.)

You’re surrounded by people who tell you that they have a product to make you slimmer. They tell you that you’ll be healthier. You’ll experience renewed vitality. You’ll lose lots of weight and never want sugar again.

No. I’m not one of those people. The only reason–and I do mean the only reason–that dōTERRA Wellness Advocate link is up there is that if you just so happened to want to try something, it’d mean I have more funds to buy more of these books on my list and maybe swing a few specialty ingredients that we’d like to try. (Lamb anyone?)

It’s about more than money. I want to understand how oils work in our bodies. I want to know which oils support those with depression, which oils help to lower fever, which oils are reported to stop the stomach virus in its tracks.

I’m not a doctor. I don’t have any kind of certification, even though I’d like to have some kind of title someday.

I’m a mom on a mission to find the best remedies for her family. For me, that includes essential oils. So, I will continue to read voraciously, to take extensive notes of what I’ve learned, to use the oils and document whether or not they work for me, to study the energetics and ways that oils work within the body, and, hopefully, inspire others to a better lifestyle.

The reading list grows longer by the day, so if you happen to be interested in supporting my research, feel free to buy an oil or two. It makes me feel like less of a beggar than starting a gofundme, which was my other option.

 

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Jayna Gerhart calls herself a Mom on a Mission. She is always learning something new about nutrition, aromatherapy, herbalism, and any other random ideas that pop into her head. 

Eat The Whole Thing

Yesterday, I sat and scribbled a chart, tracing the effects of Gut Dysbiosis, using The Gut and Psychology Syndrome book by Natasha Campbell-McBride. The results were…well…messy, both visually, because I was in a hurry, and literally, because gut dysbiosis can be devastating.

My husband really hates it when I get on these trains of thought, because my first instinct is to throw away anything with sugar, white flour, artificial colors and flavors, corn syrup, etc., right out the door, while issuing a proclamation that we will never eat this type of food ever again. He turns into Gollum, protecting the snack cabinet as if it’s the one cabinet to rule them all, and he gives me a whole list of reasons why we can’t give up sugar.

And, he’s right to do so.

Hear me out.

My instincts throw out all the bad snacks, then sit, looking at the empty cabinet with satisfaction. Then, I get hungry. Prowling about the pantry, I see that there’s nothing in there except ingredients, but I want to eat NOW! My stomach makes friends with my backbone. I consider stuffing handfuls of flour in my mouth, until I see back behind everything a bag of Christmas chocolate that somehow survived the rampage.

Because I’m hungry, it is the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted, so I gobble every piece, lay across the floor with a sugar headache, and despair over ever getting healthy. (It’s not always been chocolate. But it’s always been about convenience for me.)

There you have it. It’s the cycle we’ve gone through for the four and a half years of our marriage, and he’s not about to start it all over again. So, being the levelheaded one, he tells me what we can do.

We can order from Azure Standard, which we learned about from his mother. We can attempt some new recipes. (I’m really excited to try whole wheat sourdough bread. I found…well…I’ll talk more about that later.) We can stop buying sodas and sugary drinks.

My Mother-in-Law was telling me about someone who refused to eat anything that had an ingredient list. I thought of that again, as I listened to Dr. Josh Axe talk about sugar substitutes yesterday. He was saying how the fructose in a blueberry isn’t bad in the blueberry; it’s only bad if you isolate the fructose without eating the blueberry.

We’re so busy taking parts of things. We eat refined flour, without the bran and germ of wheat. Our flavors are “extracts” of the real thing if we’re lucky or just a chemical soup that somehow resembles the real thing. Anything we buy in a box or a can has thickeners and additives to make it appetizing…and it’s no wonder we’re never satiated. We never have the real deal, whole thing.

Like homemade wheat bread. Ever had it?

I have. It’s the best ever. Satisfying. Your soul feels it too, in that first big sigh of contentment as you savor the saltiness of the butter spread across it. Add some homemade strawberry jelly, and the angels start singing.

In the Old Testament, God talks about His children eating the good of the land if they obey His Laws. (Isaiah 1:25) Then in Psalms, it says, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8a)

It is His design that we eat food…and that we enjoy food. For us, we’re trying to move toward more whole foods and away from my vice of needing everything neatly packaged and ready to eat.

That snack cabinet doesn’t hold as many junky snacks, because we’ve had cantaloupe, fresh watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Hard to reach for a bag of chips, when you have the option to eat that good stuff.

Someday, we might be that weird family that grows a huge garden. At this time, I have a brown thumb and kill every plant I attempt to grow, so we gratefully receive the abundance that my grandfather and Ben’s family gives us. We’re enjoying the good of the land. And, it’s so very satisfying, nourishing, and healing.

Eat food. Please eat real food. And eat the whole thing. Not just the juice…not just the flavor…the whole thing.

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Pursuing My Interests

I have no college education. None. I was going to do some master herbal classes, and the school closed down right after I bought my books. Yay…right?

It was always a problem to pick a specific major. I’m interested in many subjects. I love literature, particularly Dickens, and writing is a passion of mine, so English? Literature?

But then, I’m fascinated with nutrition and how carbs, fats, and proteins work in our bodies, so how about becoming a dietician? There’s the many hours I’ve spent studying herbs, their energetics and how they work with our bodies to bring about healing. And don’t get me started on aromatherapy.

History is another favorite subject…I’m particularly interested in the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans. I’m pretty well read in American history too, having devoured many many books about the Civil War, the Oregon Trail, The Wild West.

I’ve pored over videos on YouTube, learning acrylic painting techniques, how to wire wrap jewelry, etc., etc., and so on. Art?

How is one to choose a particular interest?

In this chaotic blend of subjects, I’ve learned that research is at the forefront of things I like to do and that my research centers mostly around nutrition, herbalism, and aromatherapy.

While I don’t have the time or the money for classes or college, because I’m a stay-at-home-mom with three children under three years old, I’ve thrown myself headfirst into studying the body, how it works, how to nourish it, how to heal it.

I bought a subscription with Scribd. (My only complaint is that I can’t read them on my Kindle Voyage, but I can get over that.) I also started borrowing books that friends recommended. I got some tea samples from different places. And, I signed up to sell dōTERRA oils, because if you sign up to sell them/join a membership, you can earn free oils.

This past week, my interest has been more focused on nutrition. I realized that aromatherapy and herbalism are great! But, if your diet is full of bad stuff, then any form of alternative therapy you use has to fight you and your disease.

Next week, I might change to aromatherapy or herbalism. Letting my interest dictate which I pursue keeps me from getting overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge there is to gain about my three pet subjects.

Nutrition: I’m reading Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride, Trim Healthy Mama by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett, and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Oddly enough, I can remember where I am in each of these books and bounce back and forth depending on where I happen to sit down during my few quiet moments throughout the day. (They’re kind of scattered through my house.)

From studying GAPS, I’ve learned that my digestive system influences my overall health, which I found quite interesting. I’ve heard the term “gut feeling,” but y’all it’s a literal thing! The diet can either destroy the gut or heal it, raising some serious questions about the food that I choose to eat.

I’ve learned that fats aren’t bad, but neither are carbs. My body digests them differently, and, if I respect that, I’m working with my body for optimum fueling. If I eat them both together, the carbs are digested first. Fats are stored until my body has broken down the carbs. Trim Healthy Mama concludes that I should focus on protein choosing to consume only carbs or only fats at each meal, so the body gets a chance to work with both. (I also like that Trim Healthy Mama focuses on stabilizing the blood sugar, because mine stays in a constant yo-yo as I’m working to clean up my diet.)

From Michael Pollan, I’ve learned that, as a society, we’ve become so caught up in the diet battle that we’ve forgotten how to eat food. Our great-grandparents ate soul food, we eat convenience food. Even our “healthy” food is convenient these days. That was an eye-opener, as I tend to read labels, instead of gathering the raw ingredients and making yummy meals myself.

Learning is my passion. I’m not just a student soaking up knowledge, but a Mom on a mission. God gave me a beautiful family, and I want to be a good steward and take care of them in the best way I know how. If I can help their digestions with what they eat, cool hot tempers with aromatherapy, or ease a cough with a tea, I want to be able to do that.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our bodies are God’s temple. A friend suggested that diet is a form of worship, which gave me pause.

Knowing which herbs are good for which things, and eating only organic food doesn’t mean we will be free of disease, because we live in a fallen world. But, it might mean we’re healthy and strong to take on the missions that He has for us. It might mean we actually have the energy to take the Light to the darkness.

As long as it means I don’t have to give up coffee, I’m ready to try anything. Like I said, I do have three children under three-years-old.

IMG_7466Ignore the coloring on the wall… My eldest got a paint marker, and it won’t come off!

Come And See My Jesus

We used to have Bible study on Sunday mornings with my parents, but, as they’re working to reconcile with each other and dealing with their own spiritual chaos, we’ve all been pretty much having to do our own thing. We considered joining a church, but as we’ve never really identified with any denomination in particular, it became a matter of “Well, where would we go?” In our small town, there are no less than ten options.

In the end, we decided that watching Venture Church’s sermons online would be our church. So, for the past three Sundays, my husband and I have gotten our favorite drinks (Last Sunday it was hot tea for me and a Yoohoo for him.), and sat down at the table to listen to Pastor Jeff Clark. We listened to his “Gospel Frontier” series and scrolled through the archives back to his series called “Who Is Jesus?

Today, as I read through John 1, I was reminded of Pastor Jeff’s sermon about coming to see who Jesus is. He referenced the story of Philip going to Nathanael and saying, “We’ve found the Messiah! He’s Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael asked, “How can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip’s response was “Come and see.”

As Christians, we form our own idea of who He is. We decide that He’s a Grandfather in the sky making everything fine and dandy, or a vending machine that–if we push the right buttons and say the right prayers–will give us whatever we desire. Or, we go with God is waiting in the clouds with a baseball bat to knock us over the head the minute we step out of line.

It’s no wonder we have a hard time bringing anybody to Jesus. Because life is ugly. And when you’re lost in your own despair, you need the real Jesus, who comes down to your level, because He knows there’s no way you’re getting to His. The real Jesus who hears the very cry of your heart, when you no longer have any words to speak. The real Jesus who crossed time and space, and the gulf of our sins that separated us from Him, to breathe life into our dying selves.

That’s my Jesus. My Jesus, who looking beyond the shattered, depraved soul that gasped for Life, died for me. Who saw me shrinking in the darkness, to hide my shame at my sin, and ran into the darkness, bringing Light. Who daily, gently molds me into His likeness. That’s my Jesus. My breath. My life. My hope. That’s my Jesus.

Come and see my Jesus.