Depression, OCD, & My Deepest Fear. Oh My!

[long post][about][self-care] Hi, my name is Andrea. I'm 31 years young, a wife to a career U.S. soldier, and a stay-at-home mom to three girls.
We moved to Tacoma, Washington in 2017, and we home school.

Here's my condensed life story:
I was born in North Carolina and lived in South Korea, Washington, Colorado, and Wyoming before joining the Army in 2004.
I did my military training in South Carolina and Texas.

I met my husband while we were both stationed in South Korea in 2006, and we got married in 2007. We were stationed in Hawaii together when I became pregnant with our first child. We decided I would get out to take care of the baby and he would stay in. So, in 2008, I went from working full-time to being a stay-at-home mom and wife.

In 2009, my husband deployed to Afghanistan and I stayed with my parents in Wyoming. We reunited in Hawaii in 2010. In 2011, I completed my Associate's degree and we had another daughter. In 2012 (3 weeks after our second daughter was born), my husband deployed to Afghanistan again. I stayed with my parents again.

In 2013, we reunited in Hawaii again, and then moved to Texas and bought a house there. My oldest daughter did one year of public school, then we started homeschooling in 2014. I graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor's degree and had our third daughter in 2016. Later that year, my husband went to Korea for a one-year unaccompanied tour. I stayed in Texas.

In 2017, we reunited in Washington and I started this blog while we were staying at Candlewood Suites and looking for a place to rent out here.

I've wanted to blog ever since I found out it was a thing. I have started many failed blogs. I think the biggest reason was because I never found my niche. I rarely created compelling content because I didn't really know myself that well.

The long version:

As a kid, I was pretty happy and a huge attention hog. I wasn't a teacher's pet because I was smart; rather, I became good at school so that I could be teacher's pet. I loved the attention. I did band, drama, sports, flag corps, and student leadership. I loved being social too. I had a pretty easy-going childhood. My mom and dad always made sure my brother and I had everything we needed. I grew up in small towns and was innocent, naive, and not very independent. So, the Army was a great place for me.

I spent four years in the Army. There were tons of things I didn't like about being in the Army, but now I can look back and realize it did me a lot of good. I gained a lot of work and real world experience. I got educational benefits. I made money and had fun. I met my husband.

So, ever since I was 12 I had this intense fear of being a bad person. This intense fear made a lot of bad things happen for me. It intensified when I became a wife and mom. After that, I also had an intense fear of being a bad wife and a bad mom! It caused and intensified so many problems. My husband and I didn't understand what was happening at the time, but we went to marriage counseling and we stayed together.

In 2010, I hit my first rock-bottom. I shocked myself when I was cleaning behind the control panel of the stove. I was cleaning it because guests were coming over and I didn't want them to see the grime that built up back there or they'd know I was a bad wife and mom. It wasn't even something that anyone would ever notice except me. Anyway, I knew something was wrong. I set up an appointment with a cognitive behavioral therapist and had about eight sessions. I didn't feel any better than before but it was my first experience in the world of psychology.

In 2011, I decided to major in psychology. I had taken an intro to psychology course and really enjoyed it; I was about to graduate from community college, so I figured I'd just pick that since it was fun to learn about. When my husband deployed in 2012, right after I had our second child, I fell into the deepest depression I've ever experienced. My civilian primary care physician diagnosed me with postpartum depression.

When I went back to Hawaii (2013), I told the military doctor about the diagnosis so he referred me to a psychologist. After a couple of appointments, the psychologist informed me that I had obsessive-compulsive disorder (aka OCD). I was in denial. There's no way I had that. If I had OCD, I'd definitely be a bad person/wife/mom.

Once I was done being in denial, I decided I was going to do whatever I had to to control the OCD instead of letting it control me. I took lots of meds and saw lots of psychologists and eventually a psychiatrist. I read a lot of books, I talked to my favorite professor at UTSA about it, I talked to my family and friends about it, I journaled about it, I did OCD workbooks. Eventually, both my psychiatrist and the psychologist said I didn't have OCD anymore. I was in shock. I knew the statistics; most people never recover. But I did. My journey wasn't over though, and I still didn't know that my deepest fear was one of being a bad person/wife/mom. It should have been obvious to me, but it just didn't click for me at the time. And I still had a lot more crazy in me because of it - stuff I'm not really ready to talk about yet.

I have to give a shout out to unschooling, Sandra DoddAmy Childs, and Pam Larrichia here. When I decided to homeschool my daughter in 2014, I heard about unschooling and thought it sounded cool but it wasn't how I wanted to homeschool. I tried to homeschool the way I thought it should be done which resulted in a lot of yelling from me and tears from both me and my daughter - plus a lot of time and effort wasted. It took a few months for me to come to the conclusion that I might have to try the unschooling thing or put my daughter back in public school. So, I tried the unschooling thing. I figured I could do it for the rest of the school year, and if it was a flop, I could put my daughter back in public school the following fall and hopefully she wouldn't be too far behind the other kids. Well, once I decided to dive into unschooling - all or nothing - my relationship with my daughter and my paradigms about education, the world, even my existence, started to shift. I have to say (if I'm being honest here, which I always strive to be) unschooling changed my life. It's not just an alternative form of education to me. It has been and continues to be a reframing (or perhaps a deframing??) of how I see my children and myself in this world.

Then when my husband went to Korea in 2016, I had no idea what I was in for. Being in Texas with our three daughters without him was way harder than I thought it was going to be. You see, like I mentioned before, I didn't know myself. I didn't know my strengths and weaknesses - at least not fully. My brother came down from Wyoming and stayed with me in Texas to keep me company. I'm sorry to say ... he became my emotional punching bag. I got annoyed and angry with him for any little thing. He was a good brother though; he stuck around. (I have to remember to thank him again for that.) I'm really embarrassed, but I'm also grateful that he spared my kids from being targets for me to take my distress out on. That would have sucked even more. Then, my husband came back to Texas for a month for training. We thought we would be able to spend time together on the weekends and evenings, but the training ended up being a lot more intensive than either of us could have imagined. If being across the world from each other was tough, being in the same town but not able to be together was even tougher. We both did and said lots of stupid stuff to each other while he was in Texas and after he went back to South Korea for another six months.

Then ... we had a big argument. And another one and another one. We're not normally the arguing type so this was a big deal for us. I was scared our relationship was over. My marriage felt like it was falling apart, my emotional health was in the dumps, this was the worst I had ever felt in my life. I flashed back and forth between deep agonizing despair (aka locking myself in my room and ugly crying) and frantically trying to claw my way out of the emotional pit I was in (begging my friends and family for help or solutions). No one knew what to do. But then I remembered this program I heard of called Mom Mastery University. I had done this thing called the Rockin' Routine challenge with one of my Facebook friends that I had not actually seen in person for a couple of years. The challenge was actually a free program offered by Hannah Keeley, the creator of Mom Mastery University. Of course, the free program ended with a pitch to buy a membership. At the time I was like, thanks but no thanks. But at the point that I thought my marriage was hanging by a thread, I was willing to try ANYTHING! I figured my marriage was worth a million times more than the membership cost. But I missed the open enrollment period. I knew my Rockin' Routine friend was in MMU, so I reached out and asked her when they'd be opening up enrollment. She told me not for months! BUT! She said if I did Hannah Keeley's Mom Boot Camp, I'd be able to enroll within a few days of completing the free three-day program.

So ... I did it. I did the Mom Boot Camp, and I joined MMU. Within less than a week, I started turning my life around. Then I completed my first 90-day challenge. Then another. Then another. I started learning skills I never had before. I learned about marriage, finances, parenting, homeschooling, health, faith, and personal success. My marriage was no longer an issue. I started improving in areas I didn't even know I could improve! I was astonished at what some audio classes and a community of like-minded women could do for my life. I started telling people about it and then found out I could be a part of Hannah's team. I signed up to be a MAMA Mentor. While gaining my mentor certification, I was finally able to face my fear. I was finally at a place where I could acknowledge that this fear of being a bad person was something that followed me around since childhood. Once I acknowledged that fear, I was able to see how almost all of my problems were created by this fear. This fear was holding me back in almost all areas of my life. But not anymore.

I joined MMU to save my marriage but I got so much more. All of these events led to the creation of this blog. Even when I was bogged down by my fear, I craved truth, honesty, authenticity. Deep down, I wished I could be brave enough to be myself and not worry whether I was good or not. I was scared to make mistakes, I was scared to be stupid, I beat myself up for any small infraction I could imagine, I rarely let myself enjoy my victories, I selfishly put my own fear before my husband and kids, my fear was the underlying motivation for every action and decision I made. But not anymore.

I never had a successful blog because I didn't know myself. Now I do: I am a child of The Most High God. I was made good in His sight. I am open to all the blessings He's been trying to give me this whole time. I didn't see it before because I was blocking it all out. I wasn't ready to Allow the Light. I finally feel free to live my life how it was meant to be lived.

I hope you enjoy my blog. Even though it might seem like a little blog about homemaking and unschooling to some, this is where I share my truth. This blog is a shadow of evidence of the power that God shares with me.

P.S. As always, if you have any questions about MMU, you know who to ask! And if you want help Allowing the Light, please contact this amazing soul guide. She helped me open up to the God that is in me and all around us.

1 comment:

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