Tag Archives: mental health

We are all mad here

My previous mental healthcare provider for a lack of better words was complete shit. I have wasted 2 years of my time with them. I recently became fed up with them and started to look for a new doctor. I came across this service called Cerebral. They basically offer virtual mental health services for a monthly fee * They do not deal with patients who have severe issues*. They have medication management, therapy and counseling. My anxiety has been pretty well managed; however, the depression not so much. I have felt for some time now that something still wasn’t right. The meds I was on were working to an extent but not 100%. After they fucked up my treatment plan and my medications, they basically stopped following up and fed me bullshit when I have had appts. After my first appointment with my new provider via Cerebral, it was determined during my extensive appointment and assessment that there was something else going on and not what they thought or guessed. My anxiety was confirmed. The OCD was confirmed. The PMDD was cancelled out and the MDD (depression) was basically a competency error of my previous provider’s part. Depression is sometimes confused with a few mental health disorders. One of them commonly being Bipolar disorder; which is sometimes hard to diagnose.

Hi, My name is Breyona and I am bipolar.

The crazy thing about all of this is I knew. I knew there was something else. I knew it was not just depression. It was not getting better, but it was not getting worse if that makes sense? It was more so semi managed by the wrong medication. I still had episodes of agitation etc. even on the main med. The reason I was failing so many drugs was because they kept giving me SSRI (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) medications and not medications meant for mood stabilization. So when I was in school obtaining my psychology degrees, I briefly touched on certain topics such as medications. I hadn’t gotten to that point in my education. SSRI’s are not the best thing to prescribe to someone who has bipolar disorder because it can induce mania. In my case it did. It has thrown me for a loop because hello! I have several degrees in psychology and a med education history (I dropped out). I basically diagnosed myself but then had several people tell me I was wrong lol. I was never in denial. I knew. At the end of the day it is called practicing medicine after all.

So here I am in 2021, writing yet another blog about my mental disorders only to completely change the narrative of this blog. I have always been a big mental health advocate but this is going to make me advocate harder for better mental health care. Since I have shared more about my journey with my mental issues, I have built rapport with a lot of my blog’s followers. There are a lot of people who can relate but in confidentiality. I hate that the topic of mental disorders (I do not like to use the words Mental illness) is still taboo especially in the minority community. I don’t care if people view me as being “crazy” or whatever, but in reality there are a lot of people who have a high level of intelligence that have a mental disorder. People get the misconception that when a person is diagnosed with a mental disorder, it means that they are not intelligent. Granted, there are some mental disorders that impact intelligence, not all of them do. Bipolar disorder is often called the dark side of creativity. A lot of “creative” individuals such as myself are commonly diagnosed with some form of bipolar disorder.

One of my favorite stories of all time is Alice in Wonderland. I have several tattoos with the theme. Even as a kid I loved this story. I was immediately drawn to the characters of the Mad hatter and the white rabbit who was always late. If you analyze the story, there are several things that stick out about the characters. Hence we are all mad here.

Alice was schizophrenic

The white rabbit had anxiety

The queen was a narcissist

The mad hatter had bipolar disorder or manic depression

The caterpiller had delusions of grandeur

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum had ADHD

So what happens now?

So what happens now is, I begin my new journey of figuring out what the fuck is wrong with me and making it right. I will start the new medication soon. We are leaving everything else the same dosage and schedule wise. The only thing that changes is the SSRI will be eliminated and the mood stabilizer will be in it’s place. I am told I should see a big difference and get more relief within the next few weeks. TBH, I have been waiting for this moment since I was 13. I am glad that I decided not to continue to be told that I was wrong about how I felt. It’s my fucking brain after all. I am proud of myself for not giving up on me. I am holding myself accountable for my wellbeing. I refuse to give up on me period. I will be utilizing my time this year to get ready for our next move into our brand new 2nd home, sticking with my treatment plan and utilizing therapy once again (even though I know my triggers and have basically eliminated a lot of them, in case I have missed something), continue to grow my successful businesses, and work more on my art to really push my paintings. You can either be here for the growth and the glow up or unsubscribe/unfollow now because I am just getting started.

E is for effort

Sometimes what we are most afraid of, we need the most to get better. The months seem to be speeding up yet going super slow. This shitty year is almost over. I found my mental health all over the place; but generally more good days than bad days. A lot of my recent issues are due to lack of effort.

effort

ef·​fort | \ ˈe-fərt  , -ˌfȯrt \

Some days it is hard to adult, mom, and wife all at the same time. The house was becoming a mess and so was I. I had to start putting in more effort to get my space out of chaos. I had to start putting in more effort into communicating when I am not ok and taking better care of me. I am not going to lie, when Covid start shutting things down it definitely triggered me. I had gotten back active, I had my body heading in the right direction, I was going to the gym 5 days per week and eating right. As months passed I gained a lot of the weight I worked hard to lose back. This made me unhappy and I fell into a pit of misery. I sulked and complained about my clothes no longer fitting and how much my back was giving me problems. I wasn’t eating right or doing shit in general to fix the issue. I tried working out at home but it was not fun or motivating. My beau bought me exercise equipment and I barely touched it. As time went on, I just stop giving a fuck. I stopped giving a fuck about a lot.

I really had to check myself when I gave a friend advice and soon after the conversation, I felt like a big ass hypocrite. How was it that I can motivate the hell out of other people, but here I am struggling with the shit myself?

My beau starting a new job was a big accomplishment this year. However, it came with a few lifestyle changes. We have had to get used to a lot. It seems like it was easier going from military to civilian versus going from the fire department to a “normal” career with a schedule that is less hectic. TBH, I kinda miss the chaos. Our new normal has a lot of good things about it which outweigh the shitty parts. We had to rearrange a few of our goals in the process. We found ourselves arguing and it got to the point were we stopped “dating”. We stopped spending quality time together, we started doing our own hobbies alone, we started to lose ourselves to our own devices.

For a while I had a fear of failure. I felt like I was failing as a wife and mom. My kids were having a terrible time with homeschooling at first and so was I. However, this is the best for them as individuals and for our family’s current schedule etc. My kids were not putting in the effort to complete their work without distractions, and I was not putting in enough effort to stay on top of everyone’s shit. I assumed they would hit the ground running. Sometimes as parents, we forget that children are not little adults. They are little humans who are learning. Just like adults hate major changes, kids do too. We had to take a break and figure things out collectively. I kept saying I am going to be more involved, I am going to do this and that. But the fear of failure and lack of effort made me my own worst enemy. The fear of failure is not always a bad thing though. Being afraid to fail keeps us from settling. It keeps us for settling for things that are just ok or good enough to get by. Not settling for shit plays a big part in being successful at things and putting your best foot forward. When something is good enough, the better thing is no longer an option because you settled.

Failing teaches important lessons. I know that I won’t succeed at parenting and other things all the time. However, I can try to control what I choose to do with the failure and decide if it truly was failure or a success. From my kids being home, I learned more about their individual learning styles. I found out more about things they are disinterested in and what they are more interested in and passionate about. I also learned how much alcohol and coffee fuels the day lol! I have readjusted my schedule, plans, and even several of my small businesses.

I have suffered a small number of personal embarrassments and a little bit of humiliation I handled myself in these moments ok, and used it as a wonderful lesson to strengthen my character, fuel my ambitions, and learned how to love harder. Everyone is going through something at the moment. When you really dig in and learn the truth about yourself, you will tap into how much integrity you possess or lack.

I have made more of an effort to listen to my children. Kids tell it like it is. Unfiltered truth about certain things and situations. Now my kids do say some off the wall shit from time to time that is hilarious, they also say things that hurt but have a well meaning message. My kids noticed that I had become inactive and that I wasn’t taking the best care of myself. That I wasn’t taking my anxiety and depression meds properly and that I seemed unhappy. This stung like hell. I took it as a big sign that I needed to get my shit together.

I was working on shit that didn’t inspire me anymore. I started cleaning up my friend’s list on social media and in real life. I had over 10k followers on IG and I ended up removing a lot of people who were following me or I was following them. Protect your peace. If someone does not add to your peace and happiness, if you feel a certain way when you see their post etc, delete them and move on. This may seem like a strange choice for a person like me who blogs and such and numbers mean a lot in that world. This started to mean less to me because it is always quality of quantity. I want people who want to genuinely follow me, follow along. I want those who truly want to support me support me. I have been working on defining my content, my Etsy shop, my body, my mind and my circle.

I start my days by reading an positive affirmation. I try not to begin my day on a negative note but it does happen from time to time. This can be due to not properly planning, rushing, procrastinating and not managing stress well. If you start your day off on a positive note and remember the good feelings, you will make a connection that you have set the tone and should try to maintain it for the rest of the day.

Make an effort to stop settling for less than you deserve. This can be relationships, friendships and careers. Use negative experiences as a way to define boundaries. If things always went our way, we would have no room to learn how to love and appreciate the things we have that are amazing while we have them.

Changes

Finally I have gotten my shit together with this blog again. I know people would rather watch Youtube, listen to podcasts and such; but to be honest, that is just not me. I do a lot of videos on Instagram so that is the best place to catch my rants and raves. I prefer the old fashion way of blogging. I see a lot of you have stuck with me since 2016 and I appreciate it so much. So of course things look a bit different. There will be a few more changes as time goes on as far as content, the blog layout and more. I am pretty damn excited y’all!

It has been one month since hubby quit the fire department and started his new job working in his degree field of engineering. It has taken some getting use to with him being home every night. Mainly it has been an issue schedule wise for me because instead of 48-hours to get stuff done I have a few hours to get most of the house stuff taken care of, on top of running my businesses. We haven’t been eating dinner on time and that is something I have to really work on, especially with school starting back soon. Other counties are already back in, but we were pushed out. We went from starting August 3rd to starting Sept 8th. We will be doing school completely online. Including Kali…for Pre-K. Y’all just get ready for plenty of rants and such. This is Cameron’s last year of elementary school. It feels kind of weird that I am about to have a middle schooler in my house. The boys didn’t really care about going back in person, but toots who is ms. popular cried. *so dramatic* I know the kids aren’t happy being shut in like this but I do try to make them get off the electronics and go tf outside.

Roxy and Remy are advancing nicely now. Roxy talks more than Remy, but Remy is the mean one and also the one who picks up on and uses bad words. Her favorite bad word is Shxt. I know at the start of this blog it was more mom and family centered, but I decided it is time to re-purpose this thing more into a personal/lifestyle blog. I am basically treating this as my digital journal. You won’t find long drawn out bullshxt before you get to the recipes and shxt like that. You will continue to find realness as usual and basically continue to follow me on my path to mental wellness and more! I am still having my daily battles but more good day than bad days. In case you are new here, this is my diagnosis: MDD-Major Depressive Disorder, PMDD-Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, OCD-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety (both general and social). I take 5 medications per day. 3 in the morning and 2 at bedtime. The panic attacks still happen here and there but are more manageable than they have ever been. That is always a plus. I was plagued by them at one point in time. My visits are every 3 months with my psychiatrist and are virtual. They have been virtual before Covid because well…anxiety.

I tried my hand at succulents and I had so many. But because of me learning how to care for them and Roxy the plant slayer, I am down to about 9 or 10. I never thought I would get into plants but there is something calming about gardening *indoors because fxck bugs*. I find it relaxing when I care for them. My favorite plant of all that I own so far is the Majesty Palm. I have admired this plant for some time now and never bought one because they look intimidating. Not to mention the one I wanted was $60…so yeah I am trying my best not to kill big daddy. IDK y’all I have managed to keep 7 human beings alive and haven’t seemed to fxck them up too badly so I think there is hope for me and the succulents.

Phoenix Series: Shake what your doctor gave you

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There are over 30 different antidepressants on the market. I take three different medications daily to control and alleviate my symptoms. It is very tedious finding the right combination of medications when you have anxiety and depression. It took 4 months before we found the right combination for me. I started off with Zoloft which worked amazingly; however, it killed my libido. The other medications we tried were Remeron, Lexapro, and Trazadone. Weight gain, low libido and not being able to achieve orgasm are common side effects of antidepressants; which is why a lot of people stop taking their medication. I was also prescribed a mood stabilizer to try to counteract this side effect as well as improve my mood and alertness. I failed 3 antidepressants before we tried the one that I am currently on. Most insurance companies have guidelines on the medications that need to be tried first in order to try other ones or they will not cover the cost of them. To fail a medication, it basically means it did not work for you or you experienced too many side effects to the point that it was deemed more harmful than helpful. During this process some of the weight I worked hard to lose came back. I gained 15 pounds back taking medications.

Currently, I take Wellbutrin and Trintellix in the morning and before bedtime I take Seroquel for my insomnia. Trintellix is fairly new, but it does not cause sexual side effects or significant weight gain like the others. The weight is starting to come off since I have been on this combination for a while now. Most antidepressants do not start working overnight. You usually don’t notice a difference until it has been about 2-4 weeks. Lexapro made me very aggressive and worsened my depression so I was quickly taken off of it. If you do not feel your meds are working for you let your doctor know. If you are experiencing a lot of side effects tell your doctor. A lot of people are embarrassed to mention the sexual side effects to their doctors, but don’t be. They need to know so they can fix the issues to keep you on your treatment plan.

Here are different types of anti-depressants. These medications are also used to treat other disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): These are the most common medications prescribed to treat anxiety and depression. Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. Symbyax is approved for treating depression that is treatment resistant. Yes, treatment-resistant depression is real. Abilify, Seroquel (one of the meds I take), and Rexulti are considered add-on drugs. Viibryd and Trintellix (what I currently take) are used for treating MDD and anxiety. Trintellix is also sometimes used for people who have low libido not related to depression as it has been clinically proven to increase sex drive.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): These drugs are pretty new and they include Cymbalta, Effexor (one of the ones I failed), Fetzima, and Pristiq.
  • Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs): This is basically a mood stabilizer. Wellbutrin (what I currently take)
  • Tetracyclics are another form of antidepressants that doctors prescribe such as Asendin, Ludiomil, and Remeron (I was on this one for insomnia and it worked but made me feel groggy and irritable in the mornings). Remeron doesn’t stop the reuptake the same way as the other medications do. It stops neurotransmitters from sticking together with certain receptors on your nerves.
  • Serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARIs): These can help stabilize mood swings etc. Serzone and Trazodone (I was prescribed this one for insomnia but didn’t like it). jar-2338584_960_720

Just because a certain drug(s) didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else. We are all different. It is funny how these medications work. For example, some of my friends who were on Lexapro loved it. For me, I hated it and it didn’t work at all. It is best to familiarize yourself with any potential side effects that the medications may have and you and your doctor can weigh the pros and cons and see if certain risks outweigh the effectiveness of the treatment. I also like to encourage people to look into holistic remedies as well to use in conjunction with the medication.

Keep up with your prescriptions and pay attention to when you need refills. It is best to get your refills as early as you can to avoid running out of medication. However, if the person has a history of abusing medications, they will not be able to fill their prescriptions in large quantities, etc. I set reminders on my phone to take my medication. There were a few times I forgot to take them because I was not used to taking meds every day since it had been years without them. Now my husband asks if I have taken them, my oldest two know that I take medication and they know what my condition is. I explained it to them in an age-appropriate way and they have been very supportive and looking out for me and such. My bad days affected everyone. I would stay in bed, cry randomly, get angry or hostile, shut myself in, procrastinate a lot, and I lost interest in a lot of things I once enjoyed. When things got to the point where I could not function day to day and it started to impact my quality of life, it was time to seek help. I expressed my feelings to my beau and my friends and everyone encouraged me to go ahead and find a dr. I wasn’t embarrassed at all. Everyone knew something wasn’t right but didn’t know how to approach the situation. This is why stigma needs to be done with when it comes to mental health.

It is normal to feel embarrassed or defeated if you have to be put on medication. Just know that you are not alone. You will be surprised at how many people you may know who have at one point been on or currently take medication for anxiety and depression or other mental disorders. I refused to suffer in silence any longer. Do what is BEST for you. Take care of yourself and be well as a whole. I feel like I am a stronger person because I took the steps to get my shxt together instead of sulking in whatever misery my brain created. IMG_20190129_231440_080

 

Being depressed and anxious can be very lonely. It is important to have support if it’s having people around or people checking in on you. Pick someone you trust to open up to. I frequently discuss my condition with my friends and my beau. Everyone asks questions and I explain things the best I can and sometimes we try to think of solutions together. For me, having high functioning MDD and anxiety made it harder for people to acknowledge the severity of things. People like me who are high functioning can still get things done and such, be successful and interact with others by masking the symptoms. It becomes so mundane over time. Depression and anxiety doesn’t just impact the person who has it, it impacts everyone around them as well. Depression and anxiety will drain your energy, motivation, and outlook on things. If you know someone who has the condition be the support they may not know they need.

Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday

Until next time,Breyona

Phoenix Series: Snap Out Of It

“I never believed in mental illness until it happened to me.”

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This is something I have heard a few times from different people when they speak about their condition. This doesn’t apply to me, however. I always knew it was a real thing. I always knew there was something going on with me, but I was never really clear on what it was. Diagnosing mental illnesses is very tricky. It is not like diagnosing someone with the flu etc. It takes time and lots of documentation. Before I decided it was time to go back to the doctor last year, everyone had their advice on what I should do. Don’t tell people they need to exercise, use herbal remedies etc. Encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional. Being told it could be worse is very discouraging because you feel like you are being compared to someone else or that you are a weak individual. I am not ashamed of my story because it may inspire others to get the help they truly need and deserve. I used to find myself telling people I was sick when I was having a bad day because it was easier for my friends and associates to understand me having a cold versus me trying to explain depression & anxiety.

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The deepest pain I remember feeling before I started to open up about my condition was denying that I even had something wrong with me to make everyone else feel better and more comfortable around me. I didn’t want to be looked at as a charity case or as a Debbie Downer. I also learned that anxiety really sucks and happens sometimes for no reason. I can’t recover by staying calm or breathing. I actually need the assistance of medication to limit and avoid having panic attacks. I have social and general anxiety according to my doctor. Personally, I think it is more social. Recovering from depression is more than having positive vibes. If it was that simple then no one would suffer from it. People who have mental illnesses are not weak individuals. They are very strong people even if they handle emotions differently than you do. I fight to work, take care of my family, be there for my friends, act normal, etc when I am having an episode. It is dealing with invisible pain. It’s more exhausting acting like you don’t have a mental illness, than dealing with it and treating it. Don’t do that to yourself. Stop hiding.

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Having anxiety and depression comes as a package deal. Some people would consider this as baggage. It takes a very caring and patient person to care for a person who has a mental illness. I learned that when your body is sick you get all types of sympathy…except for when your brain isn’t working properly and you have depression. It was a very frustrating time in our marriage with me trying to explain how I felt and what was going on in my head to my beau. He thought he could fix me. Hell, we both thought we could fix me. I would be okay for a while but then I would get triggered and have a mental meltdown. This happened once a month and then it started to happen more frequently. The panic attacks became my normal whenever I needed to leave the house. I shopped at Target multiple times per week to avoid the busy times and crowds. Whenever lines are long I get anxious and want to bail out. I am impatient.

Whenever we go to a restaurant I must sit where I can clearly see the door. I don’t like my food to touch, I can’t stand hearing people smack and chew their food, I have a bad habit of cutting people off when they talk (I have gotten better about this), if I can’t get ahold of you or it’s been a while since I talked to you I start thinking the worst. I can’t help it. Even if I trust you with my soul I will still get anxious. The meds help with all of that including the little bit of OCD that I have. The meds help me chill out and not be in flight or fight mode 24-7. The meds help me not look at everything and everyone as a threat. I don’t worry so much to the point where it makes my tummy hurt anymore. I don’t get nervous when I have to go to crowded places to the point that I want to puke anymore. I avoided parties and other social gatherings for a while because mentally I just couldn’t handle it during my meltdown periods.

Once my beau educated himself on my condition, he was able to understand things better and how to approach the situation. I love him for wanting to understand and help me. I know my beau loves me very much and wants me to be happy. I am very lucky to have him by my side and have him fighting for me and with me. I am not in this alone. Support goes a long way. My close friends always check on me and ask about my appointments. They ask how am I feeling. They all know the cues of when something is wrong. For a while, everyone suspected something but didn’t want to ask. Once I put it out there I think we all felt more comfortable about it. When you have a mental illness you have to have people rooting for you. You need that village. When I have a panic attack, my heart races, I tremble, I feel like I am going to puke and I feel scared. I want to leave wherever I am at. People saying they were going to have a panic attack as a joke about inconveniences of life makes it harder for those of us who do truly experience them to be taken seriously.

Unfortunately, anxiety and depression are very misunderstood. Sadly, getting help for mental health issues is so inconvenient and hard in America. I have been through several doctors etc before finding a decent one. I am also my own worst enemy because I am very knowledgeable about psychology and medical stuff. When we were looking for me a new doctor so that I could get back on meds, it took a week of calling around to pinpoint the right doctors that fit our insurance coverage. Then the majority of those doctors were not accepting new patients…..hello!? I am being proactive trying to fix me and you won’t even see me!? Sure if it’s an emergency they will just check you into a mental institution. Anyway, after finding two doctors, my first choice staff was very rude and nobody would answer or call back. Finally a week later they called me back and said that I could be seen as a new patient in 3 weeks… 3 fxcking weeks. My second choice called me back within a week and I was able to be seen that following week. I am still under the care of my second choice. With this doctor, I have the option under my insurance coverage to do telehealth. Telehealth is when your doctor can see you remotely. You don’t go in person to your appointments. You are able to call or video chat. You must be deemed stable. This practice requires you to have 3 or 4 in-person visits or be deemed stable to qualify for telehealth.

I have been going in person since November of 2018. I am very close to being deemed stable so that I can do telehealth. The only reason I have not been able to sooner is that we had to figure out the right combination of medications (I will talk about that in another post).

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Here are some stats and faqs about mental illnesses in the United States

  • 1 in every 5 adults will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some point in their life.
  • 1 in every 24 adults will be diagnosed with a serious mental disorder.
  • 1 in every 12 adults has a substance abuse problem.
  • Most chronic mental disorders appear by the time a person turns 14.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages and is more common than murders.
  • People who have a mental disorder are not more likely to become violent than those who do not have a mental disorder. People with mental disorders are more likely to be victims of crimes and not the perpetrator.
  • Every 12.8 minutes someone dies by committing suicide in America.
  • 90 percent of those who commit suicide had a mental health issue that could be diagnosed.

Suicidal ideation is usually a common symptom that a lot of people with mental health issues encounter at some point. I have been there personally. I found myself joking about it in a way to lessen the dark times I was experiencing. It was a valid expression of my emotions and felt right and the only option. Making jokes about it created the thoughts about it and the cycle continued. I scared the shxt out of myself at one point in time. I wrote a note and everything. Thought about how I was going to do it etc. I broke down in tears. I am not going into details about that but I was saved…hearing someone’s voice saved me…and I will forever be thankful for that split second that made me snap out of it because it saved my life. I found better ways to express myself. Part of the mental health stigma problem is words. Being more mindful of our language is a small step in erasing the stigma. Words hold a lot of power. Words can create stigma or save a life.

Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday

Until next time,Breyona

Live For The Moments You Can Not Put In Words

 I really LOATHE when people just assume that being a mom and all things momming are my entire life. I do have a life outside of (7) kids.  Life did not stop when I became a mom. But…at one point it kinda did and guess what? Anxiety, depression and motherhood don’t mesh well together. I can not stress enough to other mamas to take care of your mental health.

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It is a struggle being whole to everyone else when you are not whole for yourself. Recently the panic attacks have been happening a little more often than what I would like (hence the silence on the blog a little), this is partly from my whole experience of my babes being in the NICU and worrying about things. No one tells you that certain things related to the NICU don’t stop once the baby graduates out of it.  Did they burp enough? Are they getting too comfy while they eat? Can I switch from preemie nipples now? Are the bottles sterile enough? the list goes on and on. This time around a lot of things are purely baby led and it’s pretty cool just requires patience.

I have found a few things that seem to work great for managing my anxiety and depression. I have also been sharing these things with people who reach out for advice who have the same condition. I have taken pieces of advice from them as well. I have a set plan for management, but like with any routine such as hair care, skin care, diets, etc you have to switch it up after a while. You get immune to it. I have had to have a few mommy time outs when the kids are being complete turds behavior wise, the house is a mess, I am exhausted because of Twin A’s crazy sleep patterns and My Beau’s work schedule.  A mommy time out is where I remove myself from the parental atmosphere to clear my head and take a breather. I strap the twins in their rockers, put up the baby gates and tell the oldest two I am stepping outside for a sec and keep an eye on things. It is recharging and refocusing.

During one of my moments, I had what I affectionately call my “2007 Britney Spears moment” and I cut off my hair

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I did this last month (August). I wanted a new “identity” I wanted a fresh start so to speak. Okay so it wasn’t that drastic, but still you get the point.

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I usually sit on our back porch (until a spawn of Satan aka a bug) tries to be friends then it’s back in the house I go. If it is at night, I have the oldest watch the babies and I run a nice Epsom salt bath or take a shower. The times where I feel a panic attack coming on, I have to redirect my attention to something else. I grab a snack or play a word game on my phone. My Beau purchased me a Cricut Explore Air 2 for my birthday, so this has really been great for me so far. It gives me something else to do. I have found some of the craft making to be somewhat therapeutic.

I have been transforming my nervous energy into being productive instead of just sulking. However, I am not going to lie… sometimes I get frustrated and want to throw shxt.  I don’t know if you believe in zodiac related shxt, but I do. I am a Virgo. We tend to be perfectionist. It is a blessing and a curse. I really had to learn over time that perfect is not ideal. I like being okay and well. I guess the best way to describe my anxiety and depression is I am predictable in my own unpredictability. I like the direction I am headed and I am excited about all of the great things that are happening and this new journey I am on since I turned 30. If you love life, it will love you back.

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Taking time away from motherhood doesn’t make you a bad mom. Taking charge of your mental health is one of the most selfless selfish things I think a person can do. Growth doesn’t happen without provocations. Never forget that.

 

Until next time,Breyona

Fat Mama Part ii

 I am guilty of being obsessed with “snapping back” after my previous pregnancies. I share each postpartum journey to motivate other mommies and give them a realistic look at a true average postpartum body (Fat Mama). Not the body of a woman who was a fitness model or had a full on 12 pack before having babies.

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This mama has a keg after birth. My “snapback” comes from patience, hard work, dedication, a little neglect, and being realistic. I am one of those mamas who loves food. I usually gain the maximum amount of weight allowed during my pregnancies, so I always have work to do afterwards. Funny thing is, my first pregnancy I gained 70 pounds. This was devastating to me. However, I knew that I would never go back to my pre-pregnancy size for a few reasons. First off I was 21 when I had my first kid. Secondly, I had been misdiagnosed shortly after I had him when I went for a mental health check up (not postpartum depression); and the medication caused me to retain weight. Third, my husband return home from the army after being gone for 8 months and two weeks later I was preggo with baby number 2.

Thanks beau

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After I had baby number 2, I was determined to lose weight since I had gained baby weight on top of baby weight. I tried Slim Fast and it was more so like Slim Slow and yucky. I did some research and found something more ideal for me. I did the 17 day diet and lost all of my baby weight without even exercising AT ALL. This was when I learned the true importance of nutrition.  It made me make a permanent lifestyle change.  If you aren’t willing to make a lifestyle change, you can not expect to keep the extra weight away.

 

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When I got pregnant with baby number 3, I basically did what I didn’t do in the past. I ate the way you are “supposed” to while pregnant. I didn’t take in unnecessary calories, I was active, and I ate pretty balanced on top of drinking a ton of water. Guess what? I still gained 50 pounds. Do you see what I am getting at here?

My 4th pregnancy I gained 40 pounds, afterwards I lost all but 5 pounds or so of it. I stopped caring…because well, I knew I would possibly have another baby since we were on the fence about it. My 5th baby I gained 45 pounds and I lost all but 5 pounds of the weight again. I had the same thoughts, why do all of this extra work if I am going to have just one more? Well that one more turned into two more (twins) and here I am….one month postpartum. I gained 60 pounds during the twin’s pregnancy and it would have been more if the babies didn’t come early.

Here I am 2 weeks after my c-section in my granny panties bathroom selfie glory

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Having a c-section is def a game changer when it comes to losing baby weight. For one, you feel like pure shxt afterwards. The swelling is crazy, and your down time is longer. Granny panties are your new lingerie until the incision heals. Trust me, you don’t want any damn thing touching that incision. It might not look glamorous but this is childbirth and postpartum life and comfort is key!

This is the top I wore the day before I had my twins

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This is 10 days after my c-section supported

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I really hate the weird stage during postpartum weight loss when maternity clothes are huge and your pre-baby clothes are entirely too small. For me, my maternity clothes are huge because I had to size up so frequently to accommodate the twin bump. At one point I was buying 3x. Now pre-baby at most I am a XL. So naturally right after having them the 3x stuff made me look like I was wearing a trash bag. With the use of my girdle for support during the first week, I was able to fit a few pieces of my post baby clothes but was beyond uncomfortable.

(I no longer wear the girdle for support and my incision is healed for the most part)

 

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This journey is different because I have to really pace myself and take my time. There won’t be any hardcore dieting or exercising, even when I am cleared in 2 weeks. I plan to jump back in once I hit 8 weeks postpartum. I really want to enjoy my time with my twins once they are home. Losing weight can and will wait. It will happen over time. It took me almost 9 months to push my body to extreme limits by carrying two babies at once. I am still amazed and proud of myself for even surviving the entire pregnancy and then enduring a c-section.

 

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This time around I am being kind to myself. I am not ashamed of my F.U.P.A aka my kangaroo pouch and I am no longer going to hide it while it shrinks back down. Losing weight can be a mind game and apart of my self care routine is keeping my mental health in check. I am not about to drive myself crazy trying to fit into what our society has created to be perfect, or this notion that you have to immediately be pre-baby size right after coming close to death from having a baby. Embrace yourself and your body, one pound at a time. This body made me a mother and I love it. I am not ashamed and you shouldn’t be either.

The best part about my twin postpartum journey (Remy’s middle name “Journee”)… I don’t have to worry about losing all the weight and gaining my confidence back, all for my beau to knock me up again

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NICU Life: Lessons

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It’s been almost 4 weeks and the girls are still in the NICU. I have been trying to stay busy to make the time go by faster and to not be idle. If I become idle, then I will start feeling under the weather. I need to be in a good mood for the other bundles of mayhem. School is finally out for the summer so I can get some relief schedule wise but now I have the demand of entertaining them around the clock and juggling making runs to the NICU to see the girls and drop off milk. These four weeks have taught me a few things and shown me a few things about myself that I never really paid attention to. It has also made me very in tune (more than ever) with my anxiety and I am tired of shaking hands with it. I actually had a panic attack the other day randomly. I haven’t had one of those in a long time, but I was able to handle it and it passed smoothly.

This is a time where I need support more than I ever have. The bond you instantly have with your children during pregnancy and after is indescribable. That bond is threatened when you have to spend time apart. You have to make up for the time lost and do the best you can. Seeing the girls frequently is challenging due to having other children to care for, and the distance of the hospital. Some parents make multiple daily trips to the NICU and some can’t go as often. Some can’t go at all due to different reasons. The hospital has a lot of resources for helping parents cope with the time apart and the guilt. The guilt of not being there. I get daily phone calls, and I can call whenever I want to check in on the girls. There are no visiting hours, but they usually like for you to be cautious about visiting during the times when the shifts change. When we visit, it is full of lots of snuggles and feedings. The girl’s feedings are an hour apart.

The other day when we visited, We saw a man carrying a baby car seat. He had the baby carrier and the base attached. We thought this was odd because most people just take in the carrier when they are getting ready to take their baby home, when the delivery is normal. We got onto different elevators. We joked that he must be a new dad since he had the entire car seat and base toting it around, and maybe he didn’t know that the base is supposed to stay in the car. When we headed back to see the girls, we saw the base dude beaming with excitement and looking nervous at the same time. He was a NICU parent just like us. The baby boy in the first pod, who we passed by on the way to the girl’s twin room each time, was going home. He was always swaddled in the cutest blankets. I heard the male nurse giving them instructions on proper car seat use as they were getting ready to do his car seat test as apart of the discharge process. I teared up a little. I teared up for two reasons: that baby was going home and who knows how long he had been there, and my girls weren’t going home yet.  Seeing and hearing that baby get discharged from the NICU was bittersweet. We will know that feeling one day soon.

Lesson number 1: Appreciating where we are in our NICU journey and how unique it is. Even though it’s not where we thought we would be or want to be, every day spent there serves a purpose.

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When you have a baby in the NICU, certain things are a BIG deal. Such as being in a open crib and finishing a bottle during feeding time. Preemies have to learn how to eat. The girls have feeding tubes until their desire and reflex to naturally suck to either nurse or drink from a bottle using a nipple is developed.

Lesson number 2: Celebrate things other people take for granted. Little milestones are just as important as big ones.

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The device that delivers my breast milk into the girl’s bellies is done via feeding tube using a device they call “the pump”. They basically insert a large syringe that contains my milk into the machine and set a timer. The machine slowly pushes the milk through the baby’s feeding tube to complete the feeding.

Lesson Number 3: Biomedical engineering is such a underappreciated field of engineering. Without it many nurses would be extremely exhausted.

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Speaking of breast-milk, I never thought that I would be able to produce enough for both of my babies. I am a mama who hasn’t always been hip to breast feeding and had a low supply whenever I tried. I exclusively breastfeed my 4th child for 6 months. My 5th, we didn’t have much luck and I had thrown in the towel after repeated latching issues, no desire to pump and a milk supply that dropped so low there was nothing that could be done to bring it back up. Once I was feeling up to it in the hospital, a lactation consultant came to visit with a breast pump and a full on tutorial about exclusively pumping. I had a very good & strong start and I have been doing pretty good so far. Exclusively pumping is very time consuming, frustrating at times, and exhausting. The nurses and my friends have been very supportive and encouraging. This has helped me stay motivated and not throw in the towel.

Lesson number 4: I am more than capable of feeding my babies as long as I continue to trust the process and my body.

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My beau stepped right in when I was not able to bond with the girls after the surgery. He has changed a lot of tiny diapers and even dealt with a big blow out from Remy. Remy’s big blowout during one of our visits was a total life bleachable moment. Breastfed babies tend to projectile poop. He was in the middle of a diaper change when he lifted her up to put the clean diaper on and the shxt (literally) got real. It was EVERYWHERE. the cords, phone on the wall, the crib, her clothes, his hand… you name it!  You would think that out of all the diapers we have changed, we would’ve been quicker. We had to work as a team to tackle the mess.

Lesson number 5: The best way to prepare for tomorrow is doing your very best in the moments of today.

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The million dollar question is when are they coming home? Y’all we truly have no timeline of this. This question actually makes me sad. It is beginning to get a little mundane constantly answering this question. A lot of NICU parents all agree that this is a question a lot of us don’t really like being asked. We aren’t trying to be rude or secretive, we just don’t know. Some people ask in a way that is very insensitive. Actually some people are just insensitive period in a lot of the things they say and ask. Sometimes it is just best to be quiet or say let me know if you need anything. It’s not always what you say but how you say it.

Lesson number 6: Don’t let the way others behave destroy your sense of inner peace.

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We are really hoping that our stay in the NICU is almost done. However, at the same time I would rather them be 100% cleared to come home instead of 80% to rush things along. They are working on their feedings and it is hit or miss…which is expected at this point considering how early they were born. Some days they finish multiple bottles, and some days they don’t finish any at all and are tube fed all day. We are remaining patient because regardless fed is best.

Lesson number 7: Find something positive in each day, even when on some days you have to look a bit harder for it.

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We are so happy and thankful that our girls are progressing very well and have had little to no complications that most 33 weekers experience when they are born prematurely. They are plumping up each day and are super cute! They are well on their way to coming home…when the time is right.

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