I am so many things before I am bipolar

Today is World Bipolar Day. All I ask is that you help stop the stigma of mental illness. This illness is real. I can’t just snap out of it. I can’t sleep it off. I can’t cure it with a cupcake (although cupcakes do help a little).

There are challenges every day. But there are also break throughs. Beautiful, beautiful break throughs.

And they make life worth living. Yes, I live with Bipolar Disorder. But I am so many things before I am bipolar.

Please remember that.

Today is World Bipolar Day. Help Break the Stigma of Mental Illness! | adayinmollywood.com

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My Struggle with Chronic Pain

My mom put me in my first dance class when I was three-years-old and being the stage-loving performer that I am, I absolutely flourished. I took tap, jazz and ballet classes until I left for college at the age of 18. I was active and in shape, spending hours a day stretching and strengthening my muscles. Aside from the occasional muscle soreness caused by pushing my body to its limits, I never suffered any real injuries during my dancing years.

But at the age of 26, ten years ago this week, I was in a car accident that would change my life forever. I stopped to yield to oncoming traffic and then heard a loud noise. At first I thought my car had been struck by lightning. That’s how loud it was. As I was trying to figure out what the noise was, I suddenly realized my car was in the middle of the street!

Then I felt it – one of the worst pains I’ve ever felt in my life. It was like a wave of warmth climbing my spinal cord that rose to the top of my skull. I quickly grabbed my head with both my arms and sat there begging for the pain to go away. At the time I didn’t even know what had happened yet. But I would soon find out.

A woman rear-ended me so hard that my car was pushed into the roadway. I heard a knock on my car window. It was the woman who hit me, although I didn’t know that at the time. She opened the door and asked if I was okay. I remember screaming, “No!” I don’t remember anything else until I was waking up in the emergency room of the hospital. After a couple hours they sent me home with some painkillers and I foolishly thought my body would heal after a couple weeks. But after a month of barely being able to roll out of bed without excruciating pain I knew my life and my health was forever changed.

My car was totaled and so was my upper body.

For the last ten years I have had pain in my neck and right shoulder. Sometimes the pain can be debilitating. I have missed work, important events and life in general. I have taken every single pain medication and muscle relaxer available. I have had painful epidurals in my neck because I literally couldn’t get out of bed without them. I have gone to chiropractors and physical therapists searching for even the tiniest bit of relief. But eventually, I just learned to live with the pain.

My struggle with chronic pain and how I'm trying to manage it with MELT method | adayinmollywood.com

I never realized how much chronic pain can negatively affect your life. Although my injuries were not life-threatening, I must manage chronic pain every day. Sometimes I feel angry and upset about it all. I used to exercise daily. I cared about my body and my health. But it feels like that part of me fell apart after the car accident. For a long time, I gave up on exercise because every time I got active again I had more pain in my neck and shoulder.

But I realize that I can’t give up. I’ve got too much to live for and too many things I want to accomplish. That’s why I am on a recent quest to live a more natural, healthy lifestyle! With that, comes the desire to find a solution for long-term neck pain relief.

The MELT Method is helping me accomplish this goal. In just ten minutes a day I am working to get out and stay out of chronic pain. I like this hands-off approach. There are certainly times that will require me to see a professional but I like the feeling that I am in control of my own pain relief – and not having to rely on heavy, sedating medications is also quite helpful since I am a busy working mom!

MELT is just one thing I am adding to my new daily health regimen to positively impact my overall well-being. If you struggle with chronic pain I highly recommend you check it out.

I am hopeful that using this technique will decrease my pain and increase my ability to live a full life again. Even after ten years I refuse to give up hope that my body can heal!

I was compensated for sharing my personal story of managing chronic pain and trying The MELT Method. However, my words and thoughts are my own. Thank you for reading and allowing me to support this blog through thoughtful sponsored content!

The Little Spoons

Slish, slosh. Slish, slosh.

The dish water splashes back and forth in the sink as I hurriedly place dirty bowls and plates and silverware in the dishwasher. After a few days of ignoring the growing pile, it was the strange stench that finally convinced me to do them.

Dear God. How long has this been in here!? I say to myself as I open a sippy cup to find spoiled milk. Ahhh, yes. This must be the source.

Life is so busy. I’m here, I’m there. I’m three places at once and although I hate to do the dishes as it is, quite possibly, my most unfavorite chore of them all, I stand there completely still for a moment.

The window is cracked open for the first time in who knows how long. The green curtain blows in the warmth. Could it be – spring is finally asking me to dance after a rough winter?

I am aching, for what I’m not exactly sure, and the sun is begging me to come outside. But the baby will wake soon and the boys’ quiet time will turn into yells of “Mooooom, is quiet time over yet?”

I want to scream, “Not yet!” but I usually give in because despite how much I need thirty minutes to myself, the calm between the storm, I always miss them when they’re not around.

I miss their noise, their excitement at everything around them. I am in awe of their happiness. And I wonder – was I ever that happy as a child? I think I was but I can’t remember anymore. It’s not clear – kinda like how my hands look under the dirty dish water.

Hurry, HURRY – I interrupt myself. Just get it done and then you can have a few minutes to sit by yourself.

I finally spot the bottom of the sink and breathe relief because I know I’m almost to the finish line of at least one thing on my to-do list. I’m closer to that first sip of afternoon coffee, a treat I sometimes allow myself even though I know there’ll be hell to pay when it’s time to fall asleep.

My husband will fall asleep within ten seconds of his head hitting the pillow. But I will lay there, definitely not sleeping, listening all around me. The pops and cracks of our house settling down for the night. Oh, if these walls could talk – they would probably tell us all to be quiet.

I press the start button on the dishwasher and hear it begin to hummmm. I flip the switch to the garbage disposal and immediately realize there is something caught down there making it grind, grind, grind to a halt. Grrrr, I hate reaching my hand down in there. No telling what it is this time. One time it was what looked like a month-old piece of broccoli.

I put my hand down in and feel something smooth and hard. I pull out a tiny baby spoon.

I’ll sure be glad when we’re finally done with these things. Always getting caught in . . .

But I stop myself mid-thought. Because I realize when we’re finally done with them, it means we’re really done.

My husband had a vasectomy in December. Truthfully, I haven’t even been that emotional about it. I know I’m done having babies. I know this is our complete family. There are no missing pieces. I’m at peace with our decision to be done with the baby-making phase. I’m so ready to enjoy the here and now and anticipate what comes next.

But on this day, as the wind continues to dance with the curtain and my 14-month-old naps upstairs, the weight of time and memories hits me hard. Like the hot water hits the dishes ridding them of all the leftover food.

I open the drawer and toss the little spoon into the pile with the rest of them. I stand there, staring at them, all the colorful baby spoons.

Baby Spoons | adayinmollywood.com

I can’t get over it – how fast it all goes. I can’t comprehend that a year ago I was holding a newborn and today she’s miss independent, exploring this big world one milestone at a time.

In a few years the little spoons will all be gone. No miniature silverware to curse while I’m doing the dishes. One by one, everything little will be replaced with something bigger. Something for growing hands. It’s strange how you can feel so sad and so grateful all at the same time.

Tears fall fast as I wipe splattered water off the counters.

“Mooooom, is quiet time over yet?” my oldest yells.

“Yes,” I call back rubbing my eyes dry.

And I close the drawer and head upstairs.

Easy Sloppy Joe Bowls

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Manwich. All opinions are 100% mine.

Mondays can be a bit bumpy for families, am I right? It’s tough getting back into the weekly routine after a slower-paced weekend. I’ll be honest – one of the things I really dislike is coming up with ideas for dinner. For a long time it was stressing me out! It took me awhile to realize that family meals don’t have to be complicated. I have found if I keep it simple everyone is happier!

My weeknight meals usually meet the following requirements:

  • Easy and Fast
  • Five or less ingredients (nothing I can’t pronounce!)
  • A win with the kiddos

I grew up eating sloppy joes and decided to try it with the boys. They were an instant hit so I started looking for other ways I could use this tasty sauce.

One night I had a can of Manwich and a bag of frozen dinner rolls and voila! My sloppy joe bowls were born! What can I say? Sometimes I’m a genius.

What You’ll Need:

1 lb ground turkey or beef

1 can Manwich

1 bag frozen dinner rolls

1 cup shredded cheese (I use Italian style)

What You’ll Do:

Brown your meat, drain and mix in your sauce until it’s heated through. Put your dinner rolls on a baking sheet covered with foil and hollow out the insides (hint: it helps to thaw your rolls a bit before starting). Spoon the sloppy joe mix into the rolls and top with shredded cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes depending on how brown you want the rolls.

Seriously, guys – these are DELICIOUS! I usually serve with a side of broccoli and fresh fruit! Dinner is ready in a flash and the kids are happy and satisfied (and usually want seconds!). I really do love the idea of starting a tradition and doing #ManwichMondays – what about you?

National Sloppy Joe Day is on March 18th so it would be the perfect time to try out this recipe!

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Check out more Manwich Mondays Recipes. So many creative ideas! And if you’re ready to solve the “what’s for dinner” dilemma check out the ReadySetEat enewsletter!

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Sawyer’s ENT Appointment

Sawyer has been struggling with ear infections and respiratory illness since the beginning of January. It has been rough for her, to say the least. She has already been through three round of antibiotics and they did nothing to resolve the problem.

I was desperate to help her feel better. So on the recommendation of a friend I took her to a pediatric chiropractor. She did a few things to her while I listened to Sawyer scream at the top of her lungs. It was awful, as I’m sure you can imagine.

We were told it would make a big difference. But there was no change.

The last time we took her to urgent care they sent a referral for her to be seen by an ENT at Children’s Mercy. The appointment was for a month later and I was hoping by that time she would be well and we wouldn’t need the appointment. I was wrong.

Yesterday we took her to the ENT appointment because she is still tugging on her ears, coughing, sneezing and dripping snot like it’s her job. She also seems uncomfortable when laying down.

They asked a ton of questions, of course. When they checked her ears she did not have a current infection, which surprised me. But said she most likely has fluid built up in her inner ears. So they told us she needed a hearing test.

I always get really nervous when my kids have hearing tests because I am deaf in my right ear. We don’t know for certain the cause of my hearing loss. It’s very possible I was born deaf and the problem is hereditary. I would white-knuckle the chair during my baby’s newborn hearing screening in the hospital, holding my breath, hoping that they passed. And then breathe a sigh of relief when they did.

I did the same yesterday but unfortunately, Sawyer failed both the auditory and behavioral hearing tests. I’m trying not to get too down about it as they told me it’s probably the fluid in her inner ears left over from multiple infections. Logically I know they are right. But they want her to come back in a month to be tested again since they cannot rule out an underlying issue due to family history of hearing loss.

She will be 14-months-old in a couple weeks and she doesn’t have any words yet. She isn’t really walking either, which they said could be part of the inner ear issues throwing off her equilibrium. Tube surgery is most likely in her future but we are giving it a couple more weeks to see if the fluid will dry up on its own since we’re at the tail end of cold and flu season. I don’t want her to have surgery but we are ready to do that since this is such a vital time for language development.

Like I said I’m trying not to get too terribly worried although worry is kind of like, this thing I’m really good at! But it won’t do anyone any good for me to sit here and stew over the what-ifs. I am living proof that hearing loss won’t stop you from living a full life.

But I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t break my heart that she can’t hear her mama and daddy or her brothers, or herself! My poor baby girl. We need to get her well so she can learn to walk and talk!

If you could spare good thoughts or prayers for our girl we would so appreciate it. She is such a sweetheart! This month will be very telling of how we decide to move forward.

Sawyer Valentine's Day Photo