Learning to #lovelouder

Learning to love louder

“I don’t do classes, *eye roll*.” I said that so smugly before I learned to #lovelouder.

I remember saying that to my friend Mary. Admittedly, I was perfectly happy with the routines I’d been generously given and was happy moving from the elliptical to weighs to the rowing machine back to the weights. She’d talked me into trying Pound. I did it mostly because I wanted to support my friend, I won’t lie. And I went back because I felt like my presence told her I cared enough about her to do something that made me uncomfortable. I stood in the far right-hand corner. I occasionally brought a friend and then? Then I realized how much better I felt after 45 minutes of slamming sticks into the floor and when I began to fully concentrate on what I was getting from Pound, I fell in love.

I can squat like a boss but what I really got was mental peace. 45 minutes of slamming green sticks into the ground and forcing myself to do just one more T & A track. I got lost in it. It was the only time during the week I’d fully stop thinking about what had happened, what was going on and why I was so sad.

I’d started working out to get strong. I was scared for a long time. I still am, if I am completely real. Waiting for the moment that everything changes. I joined the gym to get strong, both emotionally and physically and because I’d read that I could help myself by working out.  And it worked. But it never fully took me out of the prison I’d been thrown into because of the fear. I’d ramp up my speed on the elliptical, hoping to drown out the noise but I never really stopped thinking about all of it. I didn’t until I found Pound.

It’s a game changer for me. I know, it sounds cliché. And maybe it is but it’s another of the things that saved my life. Therapy, medicine, inner strength, and Pound. I am that girl and I am proud of it.

I don’t know what came over me this winter but when Mary announced there would be a Pound Pro training, I wished I could come up with the money. She went out of her way to get me a discount and this month, I officially became a Pound Pro. It was scary and totally out of my normal character but I did it. I have my Ripstiks sitting here every day to remind me of how far I’ve come. A year ago, I’d never had even considered teaching a fitness class, let alone set foot in a gym but here I am, ready to help people, just like me.

The Pound Pro class was so awesome. We got this amazing teacher who just overflowed love. And the thing that stuck with me most was the hashtag she provided, #lovelouder. And so that is what I am doing. I am learning to love louder.  I am learning to take control of the mental illness that used to have control over me.

How can Pound help you?

  • It’s gonna make your ass amazing. Don’t quote me but I think that we do at least 200 squats a class. It’s amazing and challenging and transforming for a once flat hiney. And let’s be real, in the age of the legging, we want to have a phat ass! I know I do anyway.
  • Hitting things? Can I tell you how much I benefit from pounding the hell out of the floor? I take out all my angry and sad and frustration on a mat with those beautiful green sticks. I fully believe it’s what’s kept me from doing and saying things that I shouldn’t. It keeps me grounded, kind and mature.
  • I have met some AMAZING people. Of course, I knew Mary before. But I got to have dinner with area Pound Pros as well as making friends with a wonderful woman named, Katie. Also? Diane. Who stands next to me on purpose because I help her. It’s amazing for my self-confidence to know that me working out, helps Diane who is the kindest, most wonderful, lady.
  • It’s given me power and could you too! I tell everyone about Pound and what it’s done for my body and mind! It makes me brave and makes me want to help others, like you! Who is looking for a way to help your body and your mind.
  • Taken directly from the website: Numerous studies have proven the powerful brain-boosting, stress-relieving effects of drumming. The rhythm of drumming permeates the entire brain to improve focus, increase higher-level thinking and decision-making skills, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, decrease chronic pain, anxiety, and fatigue. Dude, POUND MAKES US SMARTER!!
  • I mean this hashtag speaks for itself, #lovelouder

I don’t know that I will ever teach. I’m not gonna lie, I haven’t even signed up for the label yet but I am a supporter. I love it. Every moment of it. From the classes to the Pound Pro training to just knowing I have this beautiful group of women supporting me. Because really, that’s what it is all about. Women supporting women and some men too! We’re a village. Let’s pound that into place.

I am setting a goal for myself to learn a routine in 6 months and then gauge if I am ready enough to teach it. I can do it, right? My Pound sisters (and brothers) will tell me yes. You? Be my support and hopefully someday, I will be teaching you!

For more information about Pound fit or about becoming a Pound Pro like me, visit their website. You won’t be sorry. I mean a mash-up of Missy Elliott and The Black Keys. You can’t go wrong. I’ll teach you, someday.. to Pound your way to awesome. Okay, that’s a stretch. You’re likely already there. I just want to show you that you are. #Lovelouder

The lies anxiety tells me

I was lucky when my oldest was born. Somehow I managed to not fall victim to the postpartum depression my brain is wired to get. Maybe I did have it, I don’t really know because I was too busy trying to figure out how to be a mama and how to figure out how to be a wife and all these new things that were happening in my life.  I was good at it through with her. I fell into it all fairly easy and even survived a brutal fight with colic which I now realize was likely reflux. Poor baby vomited on everything. But I only remember feeling sad a couple of times. Once when I couldn’t figure out the breast pump and then, as I sat on the floor and watched as everyone passed her around. I hurt, felt overlooked and that was probably the first time anxiety lied to me. I didn’t complain I had to sit on the floor because anxiety told me it was selfish to want a seat and that was rude to expect someone to help me, instead of the fragile baby I was supposed to be taking care.

Yeah, I am pretty sure that was when anxiety and I met for real.

I mean, growing up I struggled with all the what ifs. But what teen doesn’t? And it wasn’t till adulthood that he really came at me. And with a vengeance.

By the time I was pregnant with baby number two, I was fully saturated with motherhood. And I was thrilled he was coming. My big girl would be welcoming a brother and I could not wait. But as the due date approached I would cry, often, in the red bathroom of our tiny, two bedroom condo afraid of what I’d done to her and wondering how I’d ever have enough love or time or energy for two. I’d wake up most mornings around 3 am, run the bathtub and cry. His labor started in the night. I called the midwife who sort of ignored my, “I think this is it” and told me to rest and eat. I took my little girl to breakfast and for a yoga ball and waited, scared I wasn’t really in labor. And I waited too long and sobbed in the hall when I couldn’t walk to the door myself. Never have I been so happy to see my husband walk through the door. I almost had Davis in the hospital hall. The midwife who delivered him had food in her teeth and didn’t know my name. I waited to push till everyone got there, anxious I’d hurt someone’s feelings if I didn’t wait, let people in the room before I was ready and I didn’t keep my little girl with me because my anxiety told me my gut was wrong. They gave him a bottle without my permission and he didn’t latch correctly for weeks but my anxiety told me to be quiet. The doctor knows best. I walked the length of SUPER Target with a three-day old, nipple shields in hand, convinced someone was going to take them away from me because I wasn’t a good enough mother to nurse a baby or stand up for a baby or raise a baby. The day after I brought him home,  I sat on my porch and cried on the phone wishing my mom would get their faster. I was afraid to sleep. Anxiety told me he might die… anxiety told me I might too.

These last two years have been a tough go. If you’ve followed this blog at all you know that there has been this series of events. If I was honest with you all, it’s been more than the two years I have written about it. Moving to Pennsylvania ignited the liar anxiety like nothing I’ve ever seen. Things were supposed to be different here for me. Another lie I told myself thanks to anxiety. I felt like I’d check into our new place and that everything would be different. I neglected to realize that I too would have to change. Anxiety lied though and told me while I was “fine”  nobody would ever like me. Ever. I listened. Especially when my newly found church friendships dissolved over something as ridiculous as who led a mother’s group.

As I added two more children, to the three children I’d moved across the country, anxiety grew and grew. Telling me I shouldn’t have a big family. I didn’t tell anyone about Dexter, my fourth till 12 weeks pregnant and Dixon, baby number five, I waited till almost 22 weeks. And if it were up to me, I would have delivered him before I told a single person about him at all. Lucky for me I was overweight and people mostly ignored me so my pregnancy was easy to hide. I hid that little boy like he was wrong because anxiety told me 5 kids was too many. Anxiety was wrong. He was not wrong. And no one should judge how many children I have. Even when it’s with the best intentions.

And that’s not the first time anxiety was wrong. Two years ago my gut told me something was off and I didn’t listen… it will probably be the biggest regret of my life. Not standing up for myself, because anxiety told me I was overreacting. I wasn’t, and it changed everything.

But now, now I am fighting back.

A little over 18% of the adult population suffers from an anxiety disorder. That’s 40 million adults. FORTY MILLION. Statics shows that while anxiety disorders are very, very treatable only about 36.9% of people are getting treatment. That number is even larger for teens. Only 1 in 5 teenagers that suffer are being treated. And should you suffer from an anxiety disorder you’re also likely to suffer from depression and vice versa. That’s a lot for a brain. A lot.

Women are more commonly affected than men. And anxiety often presents as a debilitating fear. For me, it often came in the shape of losing my children. So much so, I was afraid to seek help because I was so afraid someone would take my kids from me for being “crazy”. And when I finally hit rock bottom, I didn’t seek help until the suicidal ideations got so bad, I wasn’t sure I could stop them anymore. Yet anxiety still told me therapy was wrong and meds would steal my creativity again. I listened because anxiety was right about the creativity once. Only it just wasn’t the right med or meds… I wasn’t patient enough to ride it out and find the right medication for my mental health. Anxiety won, again. But only briefly. I eventually sat, filled with shame, in a chair, waiting to meet my therapist. The shame lifted when her blue hair peaked out through her beanie cap and the tattoos showed through tattered sleeves. It took a couple of sessions to raise my head but eventually, anxiety got its eviction notice.

I will have an anxiety disorder for the rest of my life. Every single day will be a battle to win against it and the abusive bipolar/depression/disorders I fight every single minute of every day. And there will still be moments that the disorders win minutes back in my life. But those minutes are getting fewer and farther apart. I can look at last spring and know someone else’s mental health issues were winning and it wasn’t me but themselves, that they were really talking to.

You probably wonder how you can help someone with an anxiety disorder. I can’t answer for everyone. Honestly, it’s hard to answer for me. But here goes:

  • Remind me that I am okay. There have been days I wasn’t sure and sat and wondered if these things actually were happening or if it was the anxiety telling me they did. So, when I ask you for the 90th time if this is really happening or if it really happened, please tell me it is. And if it isn’t or didn’t, please tell me what actually happened. I want to live in the truth and not what my mental illness painted as the truth. I’ve seen first hand what that looks like and it’s not pretty.
  • Don’t ask me if my period is coming. This isn’t about female hormones. I get weepy all times of the month and not just because my period might be coming. Sometimes I just get slammed with an anniversary or a memory. For example, this Monday, I watched a video of my brother, and I cried all day. It was a deep throat cry I couldn’t explain. He’s been gone over a year but it was as if he’d died that day. That wasn’t my period…. it was my sad.
  • Don’t tell me to choose happy. I don’t have a switch in my brain that goes, “oh you’re right. I am being crazy.” Sometimes I am irrationally sad or anxious and I don’t know why. Come into it with me. You don’t have to fix it. I just need you to make sure the anxiety doesn’t win. Don’t let the sadness take me too.
  • If I am being irrational, be gentle in telling me. There is nothing more embarrassing and hurtful than when someone reacts to me as if I am dumb or well, irrational. Sometimes I don’t know. So tell me, without making me feel stupid. If I react badly, forgive me; help me learn to react better next time. And please, don’t ghost me. Tell me, so I don’t wonder forever what I did wrong. We sometimes have friends for seasons. The truth is easier for me than the what ifs.

I know this is a lot for people. I know *I* am a lot for people but I don’t want to be and I am doing the work. Lots of us are.

Anxiety lies. If you’re listening to it right now, it’s lying. Trust me I know.

To learn more about anxiety disorders, click here.

Also, I feel passionate about education. And really passionate about AFSP. Please take a moment to check out their site. Do it for me and do it for Kevin.

The lies anxiety tells me

How to find your very best friend

When my oldest son was in kindergarten he would come home, almost daily with Gabriel on his mind. His family lived in a castle house and apparently was the coolest kid ever.  He was and is the definition of “best friend” material to any 5-year-old boy. Gabe was the coolest friend ever to my little five-year-old.

He wasn’t wrong. Gabe is a cool kid. He’s smart, funny and kind and well, good-looking and if it were my choice, he and my oldest daughter would marry. You know, in ten years.

They’re now 13. Almost 14. That means they’ve been friends for almost 9 years. The rule says if your friends for 8 years, you’ll be friends for life. I’m hoping that’s true because with Gabriel came Chase and Steve and Jill. And they’re my family too.

The first time Gabe’s mom, Jill and I hung out was over some Cricut cutting I believe. I want to say she’d stupidly signed up for some school shenanigans and I had the Cricut to cut all the crap. Her two boys and mine played most of the night. Well past bedtime and we’ve been friends ever since.

She’s my best friend. And I don’t use that lightly. A long time ago someone told me that telling someone they’re your best puts pressure on them. But this isn’t a pressure thing. She’s the best. And she’s mine.

We’ve had a rough few years collectively. There has been an uncountable number of texts that have probably been backed in hidden tears. There has been the announcements of babies and nieces and nephews and raises but also lots of bad news too and never once has there been an ignored text or judgment or anything like that. It’s just been us. Together. Even with weeks of silence. When I got pregnant with my now three-year-old, Dixon, she was the first to throw me a shower. Knowing that I didn’t need or want one but knowing that at that very moment, I really needed someone to be happy for me and not upset I’d gotten pregnant “again” or that it was just another “boy”. And when I got home from that surprise shower and stared at the pile of diapers, I saw nothing but love. It was the first time I didn’t feel embarrassed for getting pregnant again. I am not sure she knows how much I appreciated it. I am not sure I ever thanked her enough.

This last spring she was the lucky recipient of my “worst text ever”. It was so bad I am almost positive she thought I was joking. It was bad. I couldn’t breathe and there was no reason to hide my tears. She showed up hours later with pizza and knew, I just needed her to look at me, right in the eye so that I knew I’d eventually be okay. It was the first breath I took since the text and made the seconds, the minutes, the hours easier. She and the friend who drove hundreds of miles are the reason I am still alive. That’s no lie.

As the bad news came and the temper and sad and emotions flared, she was there and then Steve was there. They were the first people I called when I thought I might need real, professional help and in the moment, she was the only person I wanted to sit by me (not touching of course) when I navigated my first adult call to the area police.

This may be the year I get that text. We’re not there yet. But I will be here, pizza in hand.

She’s my best friend. Davis found her for me.

Thank you, Davis. And Gabe. You found me my “other” family.

I’m lucky though. I have a handful of women in my life who I can call my closest friends. Friends I’ve had for what feels like an eternity and whom I’ve never actually touched but still are the threads of my heart. I have others who haven’t been there as long but who I knew wouldn’t judge my worst thoughts and laughed when I made collages of cartoon characters. I have friends who are low when I am low and high when I am high. Who helped me start my doula training. Who doesn’t tell me I am crazy when I am having the craziest thoughts. My friends who will load their children into their cars from forever away under the guise of a “vacation” but it’s really to keep me alive. I am so lucky.  I will never ever be alone.

And thanks to Davis and Gabe? I have the recipe to find a very best friend.

Two really great kids (or four, but the mediums were forced into it ha ha ha)

I had to add this though. Davis and Gabe made a bet that if there Eagles made it to the Super Bowl, Davis would wear an Eagles jersey. AND THEY DID AND SO DID HE! We are raising them right.