Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Main floor makeover

Guys, I am SO happy to have our main floor (mostly) done. We started this project in January and have finally gotten to the point where it feels homey. We decided to move our furniture around so that we can have a toy storage shelf that is twice the height of what we had before (and still have) and the only wall it could go on was the wall we had our TV on. So we moved the TV and had to get a sectional in order to fit more than seating for 3 people in our living room. I wanted to lighten up the walls because I have noticed over the past few winters that the darkness of our north facing living room really gets to me and brings me down. I like to have LOTS of light and our dark accent wall was not helping. We ordered a small-ish sectional in a darker grey (hides more marks from the kids) and then chose a light grey for our walls. I had NO idea it would be SO light....but that's ok. It doesn't look very grey but it is called "Classic Grey" (Benjamin Moore) and it really brightens up our main floor. 


It was difficult to find a sectional that fits in our space (since we needed both sides to be the same length...typically sectionals have either a chaise or have a sofa side and a loveseat side...like an L shape. Ours is still kind of an L but both parts are the same length...sofa length). Anyway...the couch cost us more than we had budgeted for which meant we had to put off buying a taller toy storage shelf and a new area rug. I didn't like having the wall above the current toy shelf empty so I put up some prints that I won on Instagram. I won 24 prints of my own Instagram photos by Impressed and they came with washi tape. :) 

Once we had painted our walls I felt like our white door just blended right in to the wall. I went to Benjamin Moore and chose Covington Blue and I feel like it turned out really well!! Because we are in a townhouse we can not paint the outside of our door but it's fun to see this colour on the inside. We have a very tall entrance way and I didn't like having it all so flat in colour. The second picture is just to show the door colour better since it doesn't show well in the first picture due to the light coming in. 





The "before" photos were taken at 2 in the afternoon with the lights on in the room and the "after" photos were taken at 7:30pm with the lights on. Do you notice how dark it looked when the walls were brown and with that dark accent wall? Eeeekkkk!! So happy with how bright it is now! I feel happier just being in this lighter space. (IGNORE the area rug....it will be gone eventually but for now we need a rug for our kids to play on.)



We painted our fireplace white (the same white as the trim and mantle) with hopes that it would not blend into the wall like it did when it was dark brown just like the main wall...the white and grey are so close in colour that it doesn't "pop" like I had hoped but it's a big improvement from before!! 



The lighting is bad in both of these photos...sorry. The only change here is paint and photos on the right wall. I am dreaming of one day doing a built in bench so we would have more room in the area and of course, a new table!! One day. One day. 



This is the other side of our kitchen. Again..not much of a change other than paint and we brought our bar stools back up from our garage storage room. 

The rest of the photos are just little touches around our main floor. As you can see I LOVE photos in my home. People make me happy. I am more of a photo person than an art person. :)

Every January I cut the "merry christmas" part off of the photo christmas cards we receive and then put the photos on these Martha Stewart Cork boards that I bought at Staples a few years ago.

I order Chatbooks regularly. It's an app that connect with my Instagram account and each book has 60 photos in it (with captions) and only costs $6 with shipping!! It's a great deal and I just receive an email every time I have 60 new photos on Instagram and I can go through and choose if I want to keep all of them, some or none. Once I have 60 that I want they automatically print and send the book to me. I used Jacob's little Easter basket to store them and I love it so much!! It won't be long before I will need a different, bigger bin for these books. 

These are the Impressed print I talked about earlier. I had attempted to hang them with my own washi tape (grey and white stripes) but they kept falling off the wall. So I started again with the washi tape the Impressed provided and not a single one has fallen. Livia loves looking at them and she tries to say her versions of our names. It's the cutest!

I bought these mirrors at HomeSense. They came 3 in a box for $15. For $30 it fills a decent amount of space. They were gold so I used some of the leftover paint I have from painting our front door and painted these. It took forever but was worth it!

Steve wanted a place to store his keys and wallet that wasn't in the kitchen on top of the fridge. I was happy to come up with a solution! These frames hang at the top of the stairs leading up from our garage. I actually find the white too light against the grey walls so I am considering painting the frames...thoughts? I have some darker grey paint from Livia's room, I also have yellow and a mossy green spray paint. I dunno. Not sure yet what I will decide on. Feel free to make suggestions. :) I love the little chalkboard portion of the bottom frame.

Just a different perspective of our living room...photo was taken from beside the fireplace and you can see back to the kitchen table (well...not the table but you can see the chair that Livia's highchair is on at the table).

I am rather obsessed with the art my friend Sarah made. She makes awesome stuff!! Check out her etsy shop or her Facebook page by searching for Home Love Designs. I had the larger frames already and purchased the smaller ones at Dollarama and Dollar Tree. I have way more pics of Jacob up right now. I tend to take photos mainly on my iPhone so the quality isn't good enough to blow up to 8x10. I will need to take some photos of her with our better camera (not that it works well at all) and then swap a picture or two of Jacob for ones of Livia. 

That's it folks!! Thanks for reading. :)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lifestyle change update

**wrote this yesterday evening but finally getting around to posting it.

For the last 2 months I have been working on a major lifestyle change...at least it's a major change for me. I have been trying to get my health in order. I have some health issues that really affect my day to day life. I have fibromyalgia (basically I have body pain all. the. time. including flare ups where eh pain stops me from using 1 or up to all 4 of my limbs). I also have anxiety and depression which affect me every day in a range of ways. Because of all of these things and having a busy mind that doesn't shut off easily I get very little sleep. My body doesn't seem to know how to rest. I take medication for my anxiety and it does help me fall asleep but I don't stay asleep. Last week I fell asleep on the couch watching a show and when Steve woke me to go to bed I went from a deep sleep to being wide awake and then unable to get back to sleep for hours.

Anyway....I am finally buckling down and taking matters into my own hands and working on getting healthy. I have been told so many times that exercise can help all of these things and yet I always have an excuse as to why now wasn't a good time to start working out. First I was pregnant, then I had a baby who never slept, then I was pregnant again and had a newborn who needed to be fed throughout the night and my oldest was still waking at night....I was exhausted all the time and felt like there was never a good time to start because I knew that my lfibromyalgia would get worse before it got any better.

2 months down, 3 workouts a week and so far there hasn't been much of an improvement in my overall health. I do feel less anxious (but I feel like I could easily slip back to my crazy anxious ways if e stomach flu hit our house again). I think I generally feel somewhat happier. I have less energy. My overall pain is much worse. I am not having flare ups more often but my general body pain that I feel on a daily basis has increased. Right now I am not experiencing a flare up bit as I sit here on the couch my right calf muscle and quad are aching, my mid back an chips ache, my shoulders and neck ache...it's lame to be in pain all day every day. Oh...and I have daily headaches now as well. I have lost 9 lbs and am happy about that but so far it's hard to see the reward and would be so easy to give up. Living off 2-4 hours of sleep a night is torturous.

I am now sleeping with earplugs every night so that I don't hear every little movement of the kids or steve or hear every car on the road or dog barking. It helps a bit with my sleep but my ears hurt so much in the morning.

My goal for May is to run 5kms. I registered for the Color Me Rad race and am determined to run the entire thing. Here is the issue....I have asthma and my lungs are not conditioning well. The longest I have run f or at once is 17 mins. When I run outside my lungs burn SO badly. The pain is awful. I feel like I will either pass out or throw up. I was running on the Fort to Fort Trail on Monday and I had forgotten to take my inhaler before starting my run. I felt awful pretty quickly and it took hours for my breathing and lungs to recover. I am getting so frustrated that I am not making the progress that I wanted to at the speed I wanted to. At this rate I will not be running 5kms without some walk breaks. I am doing the race with a bunch of very athletic people and I will feel like a fool if I have to walk some of it. I though 4.5 months was enough time to condition myself but my asthma is causing me problems.

I used to run well. I used to run fast. I remember in high school doing the 2400meter a few times a year in PE class and I was always one of the fastest girls. I used to run from my mom and dad's farm to murrayville and back or rollerblade there and back (they lived on 4th ave off 224 street at the time and murrayville is at 48 Ave...if you know Langley well you know that that is quite a ways....about 9 kms) Now there is no way I could do any of that. Pretty sure I will never be able to run like that again.

There is a guy who lives in our townhouse complex and he frequently goes for 50 km runs. FIFTY KILOMETRES!! People do that?!?! I was and still am in shock over that.

Needlesstosay, I am struggling with feeling like this is worth it. I am losing motivation because I feel like I am giving up a lot without gaining much. I lose out on I either dinner with my family or my down time in the evening to workout....that's no fun for me. I am in more pain. My sleep still sucks. I am having headaches regularly. Someone fell me this is worth it. Anyone out ere with similar health issues who actually find relief from working out? Will it ever come?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My Favourite Things Party

Steve and I were kinda stupid and we packed, and I mean PACKED, the last 2 weeks with way too much stuff. It was super daunting (and draining) and I had a constant count down in my head (only 10 more nights of craziness and then there will be an evening of nothing). Guys...last night was the last evening of planned stuff (well...until tomorrow evening) and I am SO happy that I had planned a fun little party. It was a great way to end the busyness. It was a good busy for me.

A while back my friend over at Lovely Little Days , Marnee, posted photos on her Instagram page (you all need to follow her, she makes beautiful things!!) of a party she hosted - a Favouite Things Party. I loved the idea so much and it has been kicking around in my brain ever since I saw her photos. I finally decided to throw my own. So glad I did as it will likely be one of my highlights of 2015. I am hoping to make it an annual event. :)

There are 2 ways this party can work (that I know of); one is with a big group and the other is with a small group. I opted for having a small get together so that I would be able to socialize more with every person (plus our living room is small so a large group would be super cramped). I invited 5 girls and all of them said yes right away! Each person was asked to bring 5 identical gifts (each costing between $7-8 and I asked that there not be any food items in the gifts) and their favourite appetizer or dessert. I provided some food and drinks (and some girls also brought their favourite wine). I decorated with the Sound of Music song in mind ("brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favourite things...") and I think it all turned out well. See for yourself :)

** If you do this party with a large group each girl brings 3 identical gifts and then everyone puts their name in a bowl 3 times. For each gift set 3 names are drawn and those 3 ladies take home that gift. Each person ends up leaving with 3 gifts (but they don't all leave with all the gifts).

I purchased a white plastic table cloth (from Dollar Tree) for the food table but it was SO thin that I could see my table colour and grain through it. I was not impressed. Steve suggested I use this burlap coloured Nate Berkus table cloth (that I completely forgot I had) and it was perfect! I tried to stick with all white dishes. I had my favourite alcoholic drink (rum and coke) available, bottles of water and pink lemonade from Trader Joes. 2 girls brought wine and one of them also brought lime Perrier. 

I added burlap ribbon and white ribbon to my vases of tulips (which is one of my favourite flowers). I tried to keep with the burlap and white colour theme. (both ribbons are by Stampin' Up!)

These tags were a free printable that I found on Pinterest. Quick to cut out and then I mounted them on some craft paper (colour is actually called crumb cake) and used some linen thread (both from Stampin' Up!) to attach the tags to my gifts. 

I made this banner (super quick and easy) with just 2 12x12 pieces of crumb cake cardstock (Stampin' Up! again) and I chose a fun font and made the letters in font size 200. I printed the letters on regular printer paper, cut them out and glued them on. I folded the top of each triangle over some burlap string and then used a strong double sided adhesive tape to hold it together. I attached it to my wall using painters tape (so that I wouldn't put holes in the walls or remove any paint when pulling masking tape off) and then covered the painters tape with the balloons.


The crew of lovely ladies that I have the priviledge of being friends with! These ladies were so great to have do this party with. 

After everyone chatted and got some food we sat down and did one game. I expected this to be a fast little ice breaker but it took us a long time to get through because we love to talk!! I really enjoyed hearing everyone sharing stories about themselves and learning things that they have in common. 

I found a little "Favourite Things" questionnaire on Pinterest and changed it a bit to fit our Canadian group (it had clearly been written by someone from the Southern United States). After we each filled in the questions we went around and shared our answers. This probably took us an hour to do and there were maybe 9 questions. Hehe!! 

Finally we did our gift exchange. Each lady explained what they purchased and why. :) I will list the gifts each girl brought and the food they brought under their pic. 

Lindsay: Lush face mask (it has to stay refrigerated and only lasts a few weeks because it is made out of FRESH ingredients! So fun! There are 3-4 masks in each container she gave us and we all got a mini bar of soap from Lush, each one was a different scent. I plan to try my mask tonight. My soap scent is Cupid's Love Soap. 
She made an AMAZING chicken buffalo dip. Oh. my. word! so good!! I don't usually like spicy food but it was amazing. Even the only vegetarian at the party ate some (by accident) and loved it. hehe. she brought Scoops Tostitos with the dip and it was perfect.
Lindsay and I met in 2007 when she started working at the same elementary school as me. We quickly bonded over our love for The Bachelor/ette and our deep fear of vomit. 

Lauren: Lauren is a lover of baths and gave each lady a delicious smelling bar of soap from Chapters. It is called Cactus Verde. She said she loves the scent and because green is her favourite colour she couldn't pass up a "verde" soap. Now I want to take a bath. 
Lauren made some buns with sweet lemony cream cheese inside and then she sprinkled icing sugar on top!! Baker extrordinare.
Lauren and I met when she got stuck with me on her practicum at the elementary school I worked at. I was so happy to have someone as awesome as she is working side-by-side with me for her entire practicum. Not sure how it was decided that I should have someone shadow me but I am so thankful because Lauren is one of my dearest friends now! She was hired at the school the following school year (she actually took over with my students and I was moved to some new kids) and then after my maternity leave with Jacob ended I took her mat leave position as she had her first one almost exactly a year after I had mine.  

Megan: Her gift had some fun purple knee high socks with a chevron pattern near the top (I just got my first pair of high socks for Christmas so I was excited to add to my small collection). She also gave everyone a reusable scrub pad ("someone" threw out the pamphlet that came with it so I have no idea what the actual name for it is anymore but I do know she said they can be purchased at House of Knives) that can basically clean any surface AND you just throw it on the top rack of your dishwasher for cleaning. So convenient. We go through too many SOS pads in this house, now that can change. 
Megan brought her favourite candy - Reeses Pieces and Mini Eggs, and one of her favourite wines. :)
Megan and I are neighbours and we met one day outside when our kids were playing at our townhouse complex playground. I was pregnant with Livia (she had just had her 3rd child) and when I said I was having a girl she promptly went to her garage and brought back a few bags of baby clothes from when she had her twin girls (her 3rd is a boy). SO SWEET! How can you not be friends with someone who does that when you first meet them?!

Sam: She manages a fitness club and is covering the cost for each lady to do a drop-in session at her gym! I have been once before and it's awesome. So is Sam. She is an amazing personal trainer...she will kick your butt!
Sam and I met through my friend Amy (next picture). Amy invited me to go out for dinner with some of her friends one evening a few years ago and Sam was one of those girls! So happy to have met her and to have hung out many times sing then (and always over food or exercise). ;)

Amy: We shopped for our gifts together (it wasn't planned but we shop together a lot and when you find something you love on sale you don't pass up the opportunity to buy 5 of them!). She gave everyone an adorable brightly coloured loofah (each was a different colour) and then different scented hand sanitizers with a cute gold "happy" silicone case and chain so it can be hung in your purse, off a diaper bag or a backpack. 
She made one of my favourite desserts - chocolate covered strawberries (and she even had them on a white plate which went perfectly with my decor). Jacob requested that I save one for him so he had it with his breakfast (lucky kid!). She also brought her favourite wine (Apothic White) and the lime Perrier. 
Amy and I are also neighbours who met outside in our townhouse complex. I had heard about her a number of times from another neighbour (who was my massage therapist at the time and we became closer friends once I had Jacob) but finally put a face to the name just a few days after she gave birth to her second child, Grayson. When I saw her outside chatting with our mutual neighbour-friend with a baby carrier on I just HAD to go over and introduce myself and see that sweet boy. I gave birth to my boy just 6 weeks later. We spent our mat leaves hanging out often at each others' homes or at parks with the kids. Our children are great friends and Amy and I now spend lots of time together shopping (especially at Home Sense and Target) or going out for dinner withOUT the kids!

I gave everyone my favourite body wash from Bath & Body Works, a lead pencil (because I love all things stationary...plus they were in cute Kate Spade colours which I also love) and a set of magnets (another thing I seem to have an odd obsession with). I put the magnets in little polka dot paper bags and closed with with washi tape (again...I am really into stationary). 
For food I made some swedish meatballs with original Diana sauce (in my crock pot), some breaded mozzarella sticks and I threw out some raspberries, m&ms and some hazelnut wafer cookies (which I LOVE...and not a single one of the cookies were eaten...haha).

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Mental Illness Perspective

Yesterday our church started a new sermon series (3 week series) on Mental Illness. Every year our church tackles a topic that they call an “Elephant in the Church”. Each year the series has been one of my favourites! This year I am particularly excited about it because I am someone who struggles with mental illness. I was/am very interested in hearing what will be said on the topic. I am particularly interested in hearing about people in the church who are mentally ill and leaders in some capacity. I feel like a lot of people assume that because you are mentally ill you can’t work or lead others. This just isn’t the case. It isn’t my experience. In fact I feel like people who have experienced mental illness have a lot to offer. I have no idea if that will be addressed in the sermons but I am eager to listen and see if it is.

Here’s the thing…I am working on a new ministry at our church. I don’t yet know if it will take off or not but it is a work in progress. Our church leaders need to see if this is something that they are passionate about, have time for and people for. A lot of work and planning goes into running a church of our size (not that I even know the half of what is involved) and figuring out how to use their “man-power” best is something that needs to be prayerfully considered. Most people are just really interested and excited to hear what myself and others are working on for this ministry but there have been a few who know my past with mental illness and have questioned me on whether or not I am capable of taking on something like this. Maybe you are nodding along thinking “Yeah….how can she do this?” or maybe you are sitting there and thinking “what? There is no reason why she can’t.” I get both sides. Of course it stings when someone questions my ability but all that shows me is that either their past experiences or lack of experiences with mental health is skewed. There have been 2 lows in my life (after each baby) where I wasn’t able to do much of anything. Caring for myself was too hard, let alone thinking much of others. I was chemically imbalanced. My body wasn’t adjusting well to hormones and I needed to get on meds to level off. It takes 6-8 weeks to see improvements when on anti-depressants and that is once you have found a medication and dosage that works for you. Each time I had 2-3 months of needing lots of extra support while I got onto meds and came out of (what I call) a dark pit. A really important part of my health and well-being is consistently being on meds. After having Jacob and needing to go on medication I stayed on those pills up until I was pregnant with Livia. I didn’t like the idea of being on my anxiety meds while pregnant so I went off them and decided I might as well be med free for the health of my baby and also went off my anti-depressant.  WRONG CALL….or at least I think I was the wrong call. I don’t know how the pills would have affected Livy but I wasn’t willing to risk it. Instead I risked my well-being and in turn could have potentially risked hers as well.

About half way into my pregnancy with Livia I started to cry a lot, feel really down about life and have little motivation to do anything. I would cry at every doctor appointment and my OB would suggest that I go back on my anti-depressants. I would always say “I will think about it.” One time she gave me a prescription and told me to at least fill it so I would have it on hand if I decide to take them. I never filled it. I just struggled through thinking that I was doing the best thing for my baby when, in actuality, I was potentially putting a lot of stress on her because of what my body was going through. Once she was born the “baby blues” wouldn’t lift. The anxiety crept in quickly. I spent a ton of time outside through the Spring and Summer. Lots of neighbours to hang out with and being social helps me a lot. As Fall hit I went downhill really quickly! I knew it was time to get back on my meds. I was no longer breastfeeding (knowing that I needed to go on meds played into my decision to switch to formula…stopping breastfeeding helped lift some of my anxiety so I thought I could cope without the pills but I was wrong) so I started back on the same meds I had been on before. In hind sight I wish I had at least stayed on my anti-depressant (Zoloft) throughout my pregnancy. The roller coaster of emotions and anxiety was so hard on me and my family. Now that I am on meds consistently I feel significantly better. I still have days where I feel more anxious or more down but I don’t stay down, I come out of it more quickly and I am able to see the signs more quickly and do some simple practical things to help my mood and lower my anxiety.  But doesn’t everyone have days like that? Don’t we all get overwhelmed at times and need a break. Can’t we all benefit from listening to our bodies and learning how to best care for ourselves? I believe so.
Am I mad that people have questioned my abilities based on the fact that I struggle with depression and anxiety? No. All I am trying to get across with this post is that we (society) have a long ways to go with understanding mental illness. I am so happy that our church is lifting the veil on this topic. It’s so nice to hear it being discussed and seeing people genuinely interested in learning how to care for and love someone who is mentally ill. No one needs to fix my “issues” for me. No one needs to protect me from myself or from circumstances that could lead to another dip. No one is responsible for me. Those are my jobs. I need to be on alert for my own well-being. I need to talk to professionals for help. I need to avoid (or carefully engage in) circumstances that could lead to a low. If you want to help someone, just listen. That’s it. It’s pretty simple. J

I just need to quickly add that in my lows people have rallied around me in a really positive way! I have had great friends and family members who have just listened, dropped off a little pick me up, sent me a sweet text or facebook message letting me know they were thinking of me or asked me the best question, “What can I do for you?”  However, I know that my tendency can be to try and fix what I perceive to be other peoples’ areas of need. I need to check myself when I am caring for others. I need to listen more and talk less. Keep it simple, cause it is simple. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Lifestyle change + a video

I haven't blogged much since Livia arrived (almost 10 months ago....GAH! Where has the time gone?!?!). I have been feeling like I don't really have much to share. I am a stay-at-home mom without many hobbies or much of a life outside raising my kids, so what do I possibly have to offer? A blogger friend  told me the other day that I have plenty to share. I started thinking about it more and more and realized that even if I have nothing interesting for others to read, I write for me. I write because it is an outlet. I am also an OVERLY open person and enjoying sharing my life with others. So if people keep reading, I will try and keep writing. If people don't read, I will still try and keep writing. :)

I have been battling mental illness for a few years now (actually much longer but was diagnosed a few years ago). I struggle with anxiety and depression. Those are both forms of mental illness and even though there tends to be a pretty big stigma around the term "mental illness" I am not ashamed. Most days. Some days I do feel embarrassed that I struggle with this stuff and can't seem to shake it. I don't like needing to take meds every day. I don't like that I can quickly feel if I have missed a dose. I don't like the roller coaster that I have been on for many years. However, this is my life. It is what it is and there are things I can change and things I can't change. Since I can't get rid of my anxiety and depression completely, I choose to get rid of my own stigma. Maybe I will even change a few peoples' stigma's along the way too. ;)

One of the biggest hurtles in my life is sleep. Ohhhhh sleep. I almost hate talking about. I have actually asked Steve to stop asking me every morning, "How was your night?" because I hate my answer every morning. I don't sleep much. I can usually fall asleep quickly but I wake up often and after 2-4 hours I tend to have such a busy mind that I can't sleep any more. I also have a lot of pain (due to having fibromyalgia) which just adds to me sleep issues. I function pretty well on 4 hours of sleep but anything less is really hard on me. Steve does an amazing job of giving me opportunities to nap or sleep in (if I can) when he is home and I am so thankful that I have a husband who understands how important sleep is to me.

Due to my depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia and insomnia I am working on some lifestyle changes in hopes of seeing some improvement in at least one area. But wouldn't it be great if all FOUR improved?!?!

I have 2 awesome friends who work in the fitness industry and have helped me so much with figuring out a good workout routine. They are both super encouraging and check in with me regularly asking how my fitness stuff is going. I am doing 30mins of cardio 3x/week and then weights 3-5x/week. Because I have asthma I need to take the cardio slow until my lungs get used to it (I have also had a setback the last week with my asthma...I must remember to take my inhaler before doing my cardio).

I plan to run a 5km race in May so my main goal is to work up to that- should be totally obtainable. My other goal is to make exercise part of my lifestyle and weekly routine. I can't commit to going to the gym more than 3x a week or I know I won't go. I also know that I can't majorly work on changing my food right now because it's too much too soon. Baby steps. I need my lifestyle to change and that can't happen overnight. I turn 30 in June and I want my 30s to be my best years yet! I want to feel healthier. I want more energy. I want less pain. I want more restful sleep. I want to be happy and less anxious. Notice how I am not saying I want to lose weight or inches. I am not saying I want to look more beautiful. I am trying to care more about my overall health then my appearances. I am refusing to make a certain weight my goal. I know I will be discouraged if I don't see the pounds coming off quickly. Instead of seeing the difference I want to FEEL the difference.

I need accountability because I have always sucked at staying on a fitness routine. Please don't hesitate to check in with me once in a while and ask if I am keeping up with my workouts. (Oh, and I will totally be someone who posts workout photos on instagram. I am proud of myself for even starting this and making this healthy change so I am TOTALLY going to post about it...in fact I already have a few times.)

Also....totally off topic. My amazing brother, Robbie, made a video for me (with the help of my other brother Brad, an amazing editor/photographer, Michelle, and many of my friends and family members) for Christmas. I was completely surprised. I cried. I watched it many more times and cried again and again. It's so special. I believe Robbie made this because of my most recent battle with a low season of depression in the Fall. I will watch this every time I feel like I am alone or feel worthless. Thank you Robbie and everyone else who contributed!!

If you have 13 mins feel free to watch it. :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Depression: Where my heart is at

The last few weeks have been very hard. This struggle with depression and anxiety feels like more than I can handle most days. I have a lot of help during the day with the kids when Steve is at work but I still feel unable to manage. I have a tenseness in my chest constantly. I have no energy, no appetite, I am barely sleeping. I feel like I am in a fog. I can't keep things straight. Steve keeps having to remind me who is coming over to help me each day. I usually have a good memory but right now I need everything to be written down. This just doesn't feel like me.

I can fake happiness. I have done it too much lately. I feel like hey, I am feeling like me , FINALLY only to realize that no, I am just not being real. I don't know what to say to most people when they ask how I am. I don't want to turn into a blubbering mess but I also want to be real with people. I can't seem to figure out when to do and say what.

My thought life is bad. I think SO often (especially in the night when I can't sleep) that my kids don't need me. That I am ruining them. That what I am going through will affect them long term and I want to protect them from me. I have gone into Jacob's room in the middle of the night and just laid in his bed with him holding him while he slept thinking that that would be the last time I would do that. I wanted to run away. I don't want to kill myself but I want my kids' lives to be better than they are right now. I then remember that the trauma of losing their mom would be worse than having a mom who is sick right now. I have to keep reminding myself how much worse it would be for them if I just up and left. I have a friend whose husband took his own life a year and a half ago. I have seen how it has destroyed her and how it has affected her young children. I can't do that to my kids or to Steve. I think about my friend SO often because I need to remind myself to stick it out. To keep being patient with myself while I get better.

Some days I feel like if I was just REALLY injured then it would be easier to accept help with my kids. Because no one can see my sickness it feels so weird to have help. Especially when I act fake and act like everything is ok when I am dying on the inside and crash when Steve gets home. It's SO hard right now to get myself out of bed each day. On Saturday I didn't leave my bed until noon and I only got up because I had a counselling session to go to. I was promptly back in my bed when I got home.

I am having awful tension headaches which make me want to stay in bed even more. I feel so alone but I am not really reaching out to anyone. When I do go out it's to escape. I go for dinner, or go shopping with a friend and try not to think too much about it or say that I am ok because I don't want to break down in public, or be a burden to anyone to make anyone uncomfortable. I don't know what anyone can do for me right now so I feel silly even talking about it because no one can actually help me. I just need time. I wish I knew how much time. I wish I knew if I will ever get through a day without being overwhelmed. Without thinking "I can't do this." Will I feel joy? I am not sure I have felt real lasting joy in years. There are moments of joy, like when Livia learned to sit up last week. But it's so short lived. Will I feel joyful for an hour, half a day....dare I even suggest a whole day? I feel like there isn't a light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like I have been depressed for years and just tried to cope but felt pretty awful and empty the whole time. I am in this pit right now and I am not sure I will get out of it. It's pretty dark and lonely down here.

I have to take it day by day right now. Tomorrow is the beginning of a new week in our home (Steve has Sunday and Monday off so Tuesday is the beginning on his work week). I am feeling pretty stressed about tomorrow. I have a great babysitter who will be here with me for the morning and then Jacob will be in preschool in the afternoon and then if I need to I can go to a friend's place after I pick up Jacob until Steve gets home. I want to start trying to do some small sections of time alone with my kids and see how I handle it. So there is a plan in place and that helps but it's not as ideal as having Steve here. He knows everything to do with the kids so I don't even need to think. But of course he needs to work. Life can't stop because I am in a crisis. I am having to rely on SO many people right now and I HATE it!

I am reading a book right now called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and these two sentences have been running through my head a lot lately:
"Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgement to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgement to giving help."

I love to help people. Always have, always will. But receiving is hard for me. It's time that I change how I feel about it. I need to just accept that this is where I am at right now and I need to let people help me.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mental Illness: My own stigma

"Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all."
-Bill Clinton

Anxiety and depression. Something so may people don't understand. I am someone who suffers from chronic anxiety and that anxiety unfortunately claws at me until I am depressed. I don't really understand what I am going through or how to get out of it. It feels like trial and error. Last time I was deeply depressed I hid away in my bed for months after admitting myself to the psych ward. I was too anxious to actually stay in the psych ward for help because it was new to me and I don't do new well. This time I am trying to go about my day to day life while I cry, crumble and panic. Some days I feel like I can get through and other days I don't know how to even get the strength to get myself out of my bed. It's more than exhaustion. It's a lack of happiness. I feel horrible even saying that because I have 2 beautiful and amazing children and a wonderfully loving and supportive husband and yet I am not happy. Nothing makes me happy. Everything is clouded by this overwhelming sense of hate for myself and feeling like an utter failure. 

When I think about telling people that I am struggling right now with anxiety and depression I worry about the stigma around it in their mind. But even more than that I get caught up with the stigma in my own mind. 

My doctor has told me over and over again that I need to stop thinking about this as something that will just go away or something that is just a case of mind-over-matter. I am sick. Taking medication for mental illness is no different than someone taking medication for diabetes. And yet it feels like it is different. With diabetes you can have a blood test done that shows if your numbers are not within the range of "normal' and therefore justify medication. You can't take a blood test for depression or anxiety. I feel like everything is based on what I tell my doctor I am feeling and thinking. So what if I don't give an accurate description of how things really are? What if I am given a prescription for meds because I have a bad day and just happen to have an appointment that day? Well I will tell you what happens. 

About 3 weeks ago I took my daughter in her for 6 month check up and made an appointment for myself for something completely unrelated (or so I thought) to anxiety and depression. Well my sweet, calm baby girl screamed for the entire 20 min appointment. My 3 year old son laid on the ground holding my leg begging to leave because there was a poster of a skeleton on the wall and he was scared of it. I stood there doing whatever I could to hold it together. Trying to talk to the doctor about my symptoms, console and distract my son (I was trying to give him snacks and the iPad with ZERO luck) and rock my baby. I made her a bottle and tried to feed her. I put her clothes back on (she was undressed to be weighed) in case she was just cold, I gave her her soother, I gave her toys, I rocked her, I bounced her and she continued to scream. I did what I do in these moments. I started crying. I said "I can't do this. I don't know what to do." I then continued with "I hate my life. I don't want to be a mom anymore." I cried and I cried and I cried. The doctor typed as I spoke. He left the room and came back with prescriptions for the same meds I was on for anxiety and depression almost 2 years ago and told me to come back in a week. I packed up my kids and left. I cried the whole way home and continued to cry for a long time at home. The next day I decided that he just caught me at a bad time and I didn't need the meds. I went to my appointment the following week and told him that I hadn't started the medication. I was quick to cry when he asked me questions about my anxiety and overall happiness. He told me that I need to get rid of the stigma that I have about mental illness and it's treatment. I had never thought that I had a stigma about it but clearly I do because I wasn't willing to take medication because I felt like I should just be able to feel better and be happier on my own. 

I started the medication. It takes about 6 weeks before knowing how the meds will work for me. I have been on these pills before but hormone levels change over time so getting the right dose and medication is still a process that needs to be monitored by my doctor. I haven't spoken to many people about what I have been going through for months now (dare I say even years....?) because frankly, I am embarrassed. I feel like I shouldn't be this way. I compare my life to other people's lives and think that I have no excuse to be falling apart. Other people have more kids. Other people don't have such supportive husbands. Other people have less money. Other people are single parents. Other people have children who are handicapped. Other people have real visible illness themselves. So if they can do this parenting thing, if they can handle life then why can't I? 

I don't know. I just know I can't. I just know that regardless of their realities, this is mine. This is where I am at. I am struggling. I get very overwhelmed by my kids. I get very lonely and feel isolated. I am starting to have social anxiety (which is really lame when you are an extrovert and need to be around people). I don't really want to leave my house and yet I hate being here all the time. I feel exhausted all the time. I have low energy. Nothing really excites me....at all. I have no hobbies or interests. I feel overwhelmed by my thought life because it is constantly in overdrive and yet my body is in slow motion. I never feel like I am doing anything well enough when it comes to being a wife, mom or friend. 

I have such high expectations of myself. Expectations of perfection. I can't quantify what is "enough" so I overachieve and always fall short. How do I know that I spend enough one-on-one time with each of my kids? Do I show them enough love and affection? Do I balance praise and discipline well? Is the home environment I am creating one that will help my children to grow and feel happy, loved and safe? Am I spending enough time engaging Jacob's mind? Does Livia have enough floor time? Is she on the floor too much? Should I be working more on her sleep? Should I be working out or spending my evenings resting and with my husband? Should I be working or continue to stay at home? Do I spend enough time praying an reading my Bible?....it never ends. I never have answers to these questions and always worry that I am not doing a good job. 

Will pills fix all of this? Heck no! But they should level out my anxiety a bit and take the edge off the sadness so I am not in a state of tears at any given moment. I am in counselling and I have a lot of work to do to get to a place where I can just be at peace with me. I want to be real. Be honest and vulnerable. I don't want to be ashamed. So here I am. 

When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to The Rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:2