Poor But Not Impoverished

Lately, I’ve been writing about how financial struggles and mental illness can often go hand-in-hand. Mr. B and I are no exception.

I’ve got to say though.

I like being poor.

Having financial difficulties has really put money into perspective for both Mr. B and I. The absence of money has taught us the value of so much more. It has taught us about the riches at our disposal that money can’t buy. Such as the riches of…

  • Deep daily gratitude for life’s basics

  • Using what talents, abilities, and life skills we do have (like gardening, sewing, cooking, knitting, etc.)

  • Trusting God more and trusting money less

  • The connection with our community

  • Relishing what’s really important in life

Though Mr. B and I are very poor, we are not impoverished.

Over the next few weeks, I’m thinking I’ll write one post on each of the points above, talking about how being poor is a blessing to us. It’s a blessing I’m not sure if I would change.

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You might think I’m a little crazy, but I like being poor.

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Poor But Not Impoverished

Resignation

Yup. I resigned from my job.

As some of you may know, I had been off on medical leave since July. Mr. B had a bad spell with his bipolar 1 and I wanted to be home to support him. He’s feeling much better now, praise God!

We’ve learned a lot about our health during this stretch of medical leave. I myself in particular, by taking a break from work, experienced just how much my job was impacting my mental health.

In addition to being a caretaker sometimes, I have depression. It’s recurrent major depression, actually. It means that if I don’t take really good care of myself or if I push myself too hard, my brain and body gives out. Severe fatigue, muscle weakness, debilitating brain fog and memory issues, and muscle pain: my symptoms improved tremendously over the weeks I took medical leave. Experiencing this brought me to a really difficult crossroads.

My job was a great fit in a lot of ways. My boss was incredible, understanding and supportive of my needs to take care of Mr. B. The pay was great for a part time. I got along well with my co-workers. The downside was that this job demanded a lot of hours, nearly 30 a week. I worked customer service, an exhausting job for an introvert. With caring for a sometimes-ill hubby, caring for my own mental illness, and keeping up the basics of life (cooking, laundry, etc) for two, it was frankly more than I could do. It’s been more than I could do for a long time.

The positive rebound of my health during this medical leave was proof of that.

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Mr. B cares so much about me and my well-being, even when he doesn’t feel good. He couldn’t stop talking about how much more energy I had and I how much better I seemed to feel. He encouraged me a lot that this would be a good move for us, if I reduced my work hours. He was willing to even take a huge cut in our budget, if it meant I’d feel better.

So I resigned. Then, I had a good cry, because opening a new chapter of life like can be hard, sad, and scary. Overall though, I’m much happier and feeling way better!

When it comes down to quality of life, I keep thinking to myself….

Good health is far more valuable that money anyway.

Resignation

Bushels of Apples

Yesterday, Mr. B took me to an apple orchard! It’s so nice to have Mr. B feeling better. He’s an active, outgoing fellow, and you know he’s feeling more stable with his bipolar when he wants to get out and do things. On top of being outgoing and active, he’s also spontaneous, which add a lot of zest to my life. I never know what adventure he’s going to take me on next.

I’d always wanted to visit a U-Pick Apple orchard. On Thursday night, Mr. B announces. “Let’s go to an apple orchard and get some apples.” We decided, why not the very next morning?

We set off around 9:30am yesterday morning, heading north, to a U-Pick apple orchard found via Google search. The morning was fresh, cool, and cloudy. Since it’s so late in the season, we had the whole orchard nearly all to ourselves. Most of the apples had been picked as well, so we had a lovely walk through the trees to reach the remaining fruitful edges. Mr. B and I had a wonderful time together!

This particular orchard had a late season deal going: pick a bushel, get a bushel free! (A bushel is 40lb of apples, I found out.) It was a super deal for great quality produce. Mr. B and I couldn’t resist. We spent the morning picking nearly 80lbs worth of apples! We’re exhausted today, needless to say, but it was worth it.

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The apples, after being sorted by Mr. B. The lady at the orchard gave us the bushel baskets for free!
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Timely advice is lovely,
like golden apples in a silver basket. (Proverbs 25:11)

Apples fresh off the tree in autumn are the tastiest apples in the world! Such a treat.

Now, we’re going to be busy the next day or two putting up apples for the year as…

  • Applesauce
  • Apple pie filling
  • Dried apples
  • And anything else we can do!

Two bushels of apples is a lot of apples!

Bushels of Apples

Poverty and Mental Illness

Poverty and mental illness goes hand in hand. Sometimes experiencing prolonged poverty can cause depression and anxiety. Financial difficulties cause stress which aggravates the symptoms of mental illness. I’ve observed the more severe someone’s mental illness is the poorer they are financially.

Mr. B and I are no exceptions to this.

Lately, we’ve been living off of no income.

Mr. B has been pretty sick since July. I’ve been off work since then to help him with taking care of himself. Since I only have enough health to work part-time, I don’t receive any benefits. I’m on Non-FMLA Leave right now. Otherwise known as Medical Leave without Pay.

Food stamps give us about $50 dollars a month for groceries. I’m very thankful for that. The last health crash Mr. B had we didn’t even have food stamps!

Our life group (which is our little church bible study group) took a freewill offering for us. 5 young families, all with tight budgets and babies on the way, managed to raise several hundred dollars for us just amongst themselves.  I spent the night on my knees sobbing out my thanks to God for them and their generosity.

For us, several hundred dollars is about a month and a half of financial support. We’ve been living off that freewill offering since July. The end of October is when my Medical Leave will end; and I’ll return to work if Mr. B feels well enough to function.

Another anonymous friend paid our September rent.

If it wasn’t for our support network, I don’t know what we would do. I feel like I have a 101 friends and relatives waiting in the wings, who know about our situation, who’ve told me they’d be happy to help with anything. Just ask.

I’m tearing up a little just writing this. It’s God’s tremendous, extravagant kindness to us that He gave us the support network we have. Not many people with mental illness do. I am so grateful.

 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. (1 John 4:12)

Poverty and Mental Illness

The Admirable Mr. B!

Last night, Mr. B and I lay in bed with our usual nightly routine of relaxing and getting our brains ready to sleep. (A very important step when you have mental illness!) I’d snuggled down under my fuzzy blankets, and Mr. B sat against the wall.

We’d been having fun with a new game at night — taking turns asking each other random questions.

  • What book would you read if you had only one day to live?
  • What’s your top 5 favorite restaurants to go on a date too?
  • What’s your favorite memory of us?
  • What’s the top ten favorite things that I do for you?

Our questions followed these veins. Then I asked Mr. B:

“What’s something you admire the most about yourself?”

Mr. B looked at the ceiling for a moment. “Um… All of it!” He grinned.

I burst out laughing. He laughed and shrugged and said, “It’s true!”

I’d have to agree with Mr. B, because I feel the same way about him.

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It’s a shame because I don’t seem to hear what’s good about the people who suffer from mental illness. Those with mental illness are incredible, amazing, gifted people! They are tough as nails. They are sensitive, passionate, and deep thinkers. Mr. B inspires me everyday just by being alive, just by living each day despite what he’s up against. I am privileged to be his wife and his friend. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way about Mr. B. I wish the world could see what I see when I look at him.


What’s something you admire about yourself if you have mental illness? Or something you admire about a friend who does? 

 

 

The Admirable Mr. B!

What We Do: Our Mental Illness and Work

Dear Reader,

When you have a mental illness, working the typical 8-5 job can be out of reach.

Mr. B has a rather severe form of Bipolar 1. Despite his best efforts and years of attempts, we’ve both come to a place of acceptance. Typical work isn’t going to work for us.

My depression and anxiety isn’t as debilitating as what Mr. B. experiences. It’s still limiting though. I have serious doubts about my abilities to keep up with a 40 hour work week. 20 hours a week already feels like 60!

Nonetheless, Mr. B and I both love to work when our health allows. We’re both passionate and care a lot about our work. We’re both have our own unique set of skills and talents. Our mental illness has been an opportunity to get creative.

Since our health doesn’t permit us to pursue traditional routes to provide for ourselves…

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We do this instead!

We homestead. Homesteading is a loose term. For us, it looks like gardening for food, cooking from scratch, making what we need or finding ways to do without. In general, we work to be as self-sufficient and independent as we can. It works well for us. Mr. B is a brilliant gardener! So I’m never short of wonderful produce. I enjoy all things homemaking. I’m glad for the chance to try making what we need instead of buying it. Our particular skills and passions make this a very nice lifestyle for us. It’s well suited, not just to our skills, but to our health as well.

Just because a 9-5 job is out of reach doesn’t mean their aren’t other ways to work for yourself and others.


Even if you have limitations, what skills do you have and what ways would you like to use them?

 

 

What We Do: Our Mental Illness and Work

From Scratch PB&J and Depression

When you have mental illness, what you eat can sometimes make a huge difference in how you feel, too. This is especially true for me and my depression. I’ve taken to making everything I can from scratch to help myself feel as well as a can. As an added bonus, I’m realizing how much different (and better!) homemade food tastes!

Over the weekend, Mr. B. and I had headcolds. So I made us this for an easy dinner…

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English Muffin Bread – Raspberry, Blueberry and Apple Butter – Homemade Peanut Butter

Peanut butter and jelly, when it’s all made from scratch, is incredible! I wouldn’t have any problems eating from scratch PB&J for any snack or meal. It’s SO GOOD! I don’t even like the typical, processed PB&J that much. It’s rather the last thing I’d choose to eat.

The bonus is, I felt great afterwards too! Who knew?

From Scratch PB&J and Depression