Neglect

I’m so sorry, friends. I keep meaning to come back and write, share a review, anything, but the words just don’t come. At least they haven’t until now.

Things have been hard lately, folks. My depression is rearing it’s ugly head and is back in full force. At the moment, it’s not the heartbreaking constant sadness. Instead it’s the exhaustion, full body aches and pain, the lack of motivation to do anything at all and a total lack of fucks. For a bit there, I struggled to find the energy to dress myself, to shower and to brush my teeth.

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Part of it is the weather, and how difficult the holidays are when you have lost people. On top of that, there is our financial struggles and the stress of not being able to afford the holidays. I can’t really get into much more right now, but there are other things that have been hard for me and weighing on me.

Yesterday it occurred to me that I’ve been neglecting so much in my life. Yes, there are some crappy things going on, crappy things that have happened, but if I let myself fail and fall, what will they show my children? What will be left to care for them? So, I’m taking steps to get back on track. I’m walking as much as I can, at least 2km a day. I work out a couple days a week at home. I am trying to get back into bullet journalling and spending more quality time with my family. I’m making lists and getting back into work. It’s hard, but just like with my walks, the most important thing is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To just keep going.

 

Autumn Life Update

It’s been a long time now since I’ve written a personal post. 2016 has been kicking our asses. Between that and having two crazy kids, I don’t have much time to give sitting down and writing about real life stuff, if that makes any sense. I’m actually fighting a nasty cold at the moment, which means that I have a bit of time to sit and just write.

Mason is 9 months old, almost 10 months. Liam has started school. How is this possible? Where has time gone? It’s been a pretty good transition, thankfully. Liam loves school and it’s been giving me a bit of a breather during an otherwise stressful time.

We have a lot of personal financial and family stuff going on that I don’t feel comfortable sharing here, but it’s been playing one hell of a toll on my anxiety and depression. Thankfully, my husband’s work has a great EAP program and I’ve been able to get some help. On top of that, I’ve started keeping a bullet journal. It has been amazing at keeping me calm, organized and a place to share what’s going on in my head in a pretty and creative way.bulletjournal

Bullet Journaling is kind of a checklist mixed with a day planner, mixed with a journal. It can be as simple or as involved as you want. It’s very very easy to personalize.

Beyond bullet journaling, I’ve continued to play with and test makeup and other products. I’m toying with the idea of making a youtube channel to compliment this blog, but I’m nervous about the amount of work it would take. I’ve started job hunting again, ideally looking for something either from home or close to home so that we can save on daycare costs by me being with Mason during the day.

So, I know this isn’t a really great update, but I wanted to let you guys know that I’m alive and ok, but not great. We are working on things to improve our situation, but nothing is coming very easily. Happy Fall everyone xo

Dark Days of Spring

It’s very odd to have depression some days. Yesterday, I broke down in tears to my husband “I feel like I don’t exist, or that I’m fading away. I’m invisible”. In that moment, I was desperate for people to see me, really see me. This morning, I woke up and the last thing I wanted was to be around anyone. I didn’t want to leave the house.

Spring is usually when most people start coming out of their winter blahs. For me, I struggle with loving the season while simultaneously hating how it reminds me of my mother’s death and Liam’s traumatic birth. Add to that that we have been having an incredibly difficult time the last few months…well…I’m not coping. Our financial situation is pretty dire, and I’m not using that word lightly. We are doing what we can to get by, but I feel a huge amount of responsibility for our situation as I am the one currently on maternity leave. On top of that, my husband’s health hasn’t been great and we have no answers. For people who have been surrounded by illness and death, we are both very anxious about this. There is just so much going on, all at once. The kids can feel it and see it, and are acting out accordingly.

I am pushing myself through it. One step at a time, day by day. I am barely able to adult, but I am doing the best I can to pay the bills, make meals and make sure the kids are dressed and don’t stink too badly. We have also added a new member of our little clan. Pat’s dear friend, A, has moved in with us for a while while she deals with some of her own difficult times. So, I’m sorry for being so quiet here and on social media lately. I just don’t know what to say or what to share at the moment.

I’ve been losing myself in beauty videos on youtube. Let me know if you want me to share any links, faves or any of my own stuff. I don’t think I can do videos at the moment with everything that we have going on, but I can certainly try to post more. It’s just tough with a velcro baby and velcro preschooler, on top of an ill husband. Mason’s 4 Month post is coming up in the next couple of days, and I also have plans to post about the Eco Chic Movement baby line soon, so stay tuned.

Thanks for understanding, y’all. I really appreciate you being there through the fun and the hard times.

Fuck April

If you are a long time reader, you know that this is not my favourite month. If not, you may be confused. Why hate April? April is a time of flowers and the sun warming us up again! It’s so pretty and awesome! Well, not for this babe.

Consider this a warning that I may be bummed or absent this month. Why?  Well, 5 years ago, our place was pretty much ready to be sold and we were in the midst of moving in with my mother. I was her fulltime caregiver and was moving in to help her through her final months. I was set to move on April 1st, but circumstances resulted in some reno delays, so we rescheduled for April 10th. That first week of April, I was in and out of the house pretty much daily. I was bringing boxes, finishing up our room and getting feedback from Mom on what we needed to do to finish up my change to becoming her full time care (I would be the one taking care of finances, bills, getting her to appointments, getting results, etc…as her health declined).

Easter weekend arrived and the family descended upon the house. Mom wasn’t feeling great, so everyone cooked for her (in all of the years of family dinners, she never gave up cooking the main course. Never. This should have been a sign). I remember thinking she looked so small and tired. She basically hung out on the couch the entire visit. On April 7th or 8th, after a being away for a day, but in constant contact by phone, I arrived to find her best friends at the house. I was dropping off some more boxes and on my way to buy some more with a friend who had a pickup. Her best friends informed me she had declined (and was hiding it from me, because it was Mom. Ugh). I had no idea that this would be her last day at home. That she would pass away the next day. I had no idea that my Dad’s kids, people I considered siblings, would completely lose their minds and turn on me. That it would take 2 years for us to complete the estate and that I would end up with a diagnosis of PTSD, severe anxiety and depression.

That same time, 2 years later, when everything wrapped up with the estate, I had my beautiful baby boy. As my labour began, I had no idea that I would struggle through 32 hours of labour, that I would end up getting an emergency c-section, my kid in the NICU, a week long hospital stay, terrible recovery, a relapse of PTSD and severe PPA and PPD.

Here I am, 3 years since then, 5 years since my mother died, that I am going through a difficult time again. I don’t want to get into it. I’m not ready to. I have been missing my parents so terribly, hell, I miss my family. These horrible times have shaped me. I have been forged through flame. I forgive myself for my failings during my mother’s illness and the mess of the estate. I am finally ok with my birth story and that I couldn’t be more in love with my stunningly amazing baby boy (who is a freaking preschooler now). I have incredible people in my life who support and love me. Because of these hardships, I am ok, despite things being tough.

So, fuck April. I am so much stronger than you give me credit for.

Adjustments

Things have been rough lately. I’ve been feeling almost as low as when Liam was first born.

I’ve been struggling with what seems to be the deadly combo of a teething baby, going through his 6 month growth spurt, with his first cold of the season. He hasn’t slept more than 2 hours at a time in weeks. Normally, I get maybe 2 hours initially and then he drops to an hour and a half, then to an hour and then down to 45-30 minutes. The only thing that’ll calm him is nursing.

This past week, I started having trouble falling asleep. I sat awake from 1-4am, begging myself to sleep. At some point Pat noticed me struggling and he sat up with me and talked me through it.

I am getting through, mostly thanks to Pat, tea and sheer determination. I’m seeing a new therapist, which is good, but is still in the “dredge everything up” phase of introduction. It’s like seeing a chiropractor for the first time. After the first set of adjustments you feel awesome. Later that night you start to feel worse than you did initially and wonder why the hell you paid someone to do this to you, even though its just your body healing and getting used to being put together properly.

I have been trying hard to combat the isolation and loneliness by going out and meeting people, seeing friends, etc… It’s hard though. I feel like the broken toy, the wet blanket. I don’t feel like I bring anything to the table. I don’t know how to ask for support.

Today marks 6 months since my son was born. It’s been such a roller coaster. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but we’re still adjusting.

Calm before

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In about an hour, my first therapy session for PPD will be starting. I’m nervous, scared and hopeful. I’ve had two cups of perfectly milky, sweet, and strong English Breakfast tea while snuggled up with Liam this morning. The house is cool with fall air.

I love this time of year. Despite the impending winter rest, it feels like an exciting time of beginnings. I feel inspired to write, to knit and even paint. I feel everything so much more strongly, like a fog has been lifted.

I hope this new beginning leads us down a path of balance and health. I hope it provides me with the tools to get through this. I’m feeling optimistic about it.

My Dark Cloud

I’ve talked about this before, and for those of you who have been reading me for a while are well aware that I’ve struggled with mental illness for most of my life. Depression and social anxiety are two big ones for me. When I was pregnant with Liam, I was warned to expect the hormone shift after birth. I was told to expect it to hit me about 3 days after birth, and that I would cry for about a week or so. I was told that it would most likely hit me harder because of my history with depression.

I was entirely unprepared for what would happen. It was right on time, about 3 days after Liam arrived. I found myself crying over nothing. Over everything. Then the darkness crept in. I was completely overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, isolation, terror, worthlessness and panic. I was having flashbacks to labour, I couldn’t sleep or eat. I was having panic attacks over naps and snacks. I felt so incredibly alone and considered running away and in my lowest moments, I thought that everyone would be better off without me.

Luckily, I was very vocal about what I was going through. I talked through it with Pat, my sister and Pat’s BFF, Jan. We pinpointed what was triggering me and I was able to avoid those triggers. They gave me unending support and love and eventually, I started to see the light again. The darkness started to fade, a little bit more each day.

As it happens, my triggers included social media (my forums, facebook, twitter. I was focusing on the negative in each of these groups), stressing myself out over “Sleep when baby sleeps”, and being overwhelmed by options for food. I coped by taking a break from the internet, by doing whatever i wanted when liam slept, and eating whatever was brought to me.

About a month and a half after Liam arrived, I was feeling really good. Things were like night and day. I felt way more confident in myself and my ability to handle being alone with our boy. Unfortunately, as these things go, it’s a rollercoaster. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed I was feeling low. A lot. I was having a hard time dealing with rough days. I was crying more and more often. This past week, I finally admitted to myself that I’m not ok. I can’t keep ignoring this. I cry almost daily. I feel anxious and overwhelmed. I avoid social situations (including medical appointments) due to anxiety and stress. I feel very isolated.

On the 18th, I told Pat that I needed to see my doctor about this. I booked myself an appointment for Monday. I feel that this is important to discuss. I have learned recently that several of my close friends went through PPD after they had kids and I had had no idea. I wasn’t there for them like i could have been. I want people to know that this happens, that if they are going through it, that they aren’t alone.

I’m still in the middle of it, but I can see it now. I’m doing something about it. I’m repeating The Bloggess’ words to myself over and over again. “Depression Lies”. This is a part of me, but not all of me.

I will work through this.

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Big Tuesday Post

Another freezing winter’s day. Yesterday was especially tough. Made it that much harder to get out of bed and return to work when the wind chill is around -34C (about -33F).  Add to that some more dead parent nightmares. Yeah, it was a fun morning. Despite my post the other day, my whole day had this downness to it. I discovered around lunch time that my iphone has a massive crack on the back from it falling out of my purse over the weekend. My new iphone. Sigh. Then, on the way home from workmy new purse had its strap break. Literally as I was walking off the bus into the freezing cold night.

So, I went home, sat in front of the television, and refused to do anything. I didn’t cook. I didn’t clean. I didn’t do anything more than lay my ass down with an afghan, two cats and the dog. The husband forced me to eat something when he got home from karate (which he cooked because I refused otherwise. Yes, really mature, I know. I know my limits, and I know that in the mood I was in, I was likely to hurt myself if I tried to make anything more complicated than open-and-microwave)

On the plus side, I had a great weekend. Friday night, the hubby and I went to my mother’s home/estate to work on things there. Afterwards, as a treat, we went to see The Rite. I have a strange love for demon related movies (Constantine, Devil’s Advocate, you get the idea) and really enjoyed it. I love Anthony Hopkins, and really enjoyed him in another creepy role.

Saturday involved first going out with our friends S&K to see The Green Hornet (which was better than I was expecting. It was lots of fun) followed by some hardcore knitting to finish up a project that I’ve been super excited about. My Super Sekrit Knitting Project? It was a gift a friend of mine who had a baby shower this weekend. Pat and I are good friends with her and her husband and often give each other gag gifts at birthdays and the like. For the baby, I wanted to do something that was functional, handmade and hilariously awesome.  So,  I made this:

Cole the unwilling Viking

Pattern: Bella Knitting’s Viking Boy Hat

Yarn: Lang Yarns Merino 120 Super Wash

My Rav Project Page

And, as you can see, I also made some matching booties. I altered a pretty straight forward pattern to match the hat details. I’m really happy with how it all turned out, and have since had a few requests for more from a few of my other friends. Woo!

Pattern:  Textured Cuff Bootees by Zoë Mellor (from 50 Baby Bootees to Knit)

Yarn: Lang Yarns Merino 120 Super Wash

My Rav Project Page

Yay for actual crafting content! Sunday was the shower, and the gifts were very well received. :D

Unfortunately, the weekend also held some really sad news. The father of one of our friends passed away on Friday night. He had been fighting cancer for a while, and had a very similar experience as Pat’s Dad (healthy guy, suddenly afflicted with a very aggressive cancer). This Imbolc I’ll be lighting a candle in his honour and for his family. It’s so hard when close friends are going through such a difficult time.  I may, if we can afford it and if I have the time, make them a meal or a snack. It’s not much, but I know when I lost my parents, not having to prepare a meal was a god send.

Speaking of Imbolc, the lovely Laura Marjorie Miller shared another one of her great posts. Definitely check it out. My plans are pretty basic, actually. I’ll probably have a cleansing bath, maybe do a reading. I’m debating doing some kind of fertility thing…any recommendations?  I’ve heard that it’s traditional to open all the doors and windows to welcome Bridget in. Are we supposed to do that tonight, or tomorrow? I may also make a list of things that I’d like to have gone from my life and then feed the list to a fire.

We have plans with friends to visit my favourite Irish pub in town, Patty’s. It happens to be the very same Pub that Charles de Lint, his wife, MaryAnn and their band play at occasionally. Afterwards, we’ll be visiting L & S as an after-funeral gathering. It’s going to be a busy today.

Anyway, to wrap up this post, here’s my Tuesday Day Book entry:

Outside my window… is the impending storm.  It’s not supposed to be as bad here in Ottawa as other places (I hear apocalypse is being thrown around as a descriptor in the states for the storm. Really? It’s going to be bad, but not that bad people.)

I am thinking…about my upcoming trip to New Orleans! I haven’t talked about this here yet, because it was still being planned. One of my closest friends in the world is this lovely gentleman by the name of Isaac.

Isaac and I, about 7 years ago. Neither of us look much like this anymore.

He is currently in a fantastic job that earns him an obscene number of aeroplan points. He has invited me on a 5 day trip to New Orleans with him! We’ve been talking about traveling there together for as long as we’ve been friends (going on 12 years now). It’s going to be EPIC. We’re leaving in March and will be there for about 5 nights. SO EXCITED.

I am thankful for… my husband. I know, I say that a lot, but he puts up with a whole bucket of crazy for me. He’s super sweet and very good at helping me through crap times.

From the kitchen… I’m super happy with how my first attempt at home made Beef Stroganoff went.  I’ve been eating it happily for days now.

I am wearing… Plaid pants with a dark blue top. I have my wedding flats on too. Woo

I am creating… Hopefully tonight, the Guiness Gingerbread. YUM. I love you, Nigella.

I am going… to be running around like mad tomorrow.

I am reading… First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher.  Last in the series, I think.

I am hoping… to have enough money for both of my trips in the coming months. New Orleans in March, Calgary in May. Busy busy

I am hearing… A lot of crazy people freaking out over the weather.

Around the house… I’m hoping to keep the house clean for longer than a day. yeah. Right.

One of my favorite things… Planning and plotting for trips! I have a list of things we should do/see/eat while in NO. :D

A few plans for the rest of the week: Wednesday holds Imbolc, a pub trip and comforting friends. Friday is work on the estate, with Sunday holding the return of Family Dinners with Jan and co.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…


Coming Out

Happy Monday everyone!

It’s extremely cold in Ottawa today. We broke a record, in fact. Unfortunately, as a result, our car wouldn’t start this morning, forcing Pat and I to face the cold head-on. Thank the gods for efficient public transportation! Thanks to this cold snap, the office is a little strange today. Not a lot of people in, so its both very quiet and very busy.

A lot of people in the blog world have been talking about The Bloggess’ recent post about mental health. I am definitely going to join in. So, first, go  here and read her entry. When you’re done, come on back.

All done? Thanks for taking the time to read that. Just like the lady asked, I’m joining in.

This is something that I feel very strongly about. I’ve posted about it before. Too often I hear about men and women suffering in silence, unwilling to “burden” their loved ones with their problems. Mental illness is a disease, not a weakness of character. It requires treatment from the medical community and support from your loved ones.

At the age of 10, I saw my first psychologist. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder which was manifesting in OCD behaviours. I was taking all my stress and any external issues (fight with my parents, troubles at school) and taking it all upon myself. I had a massive guilt complex that would spiral completely out of control. I would end up physical ill due to all of this anxiety.  My treatment involved therapy sessions, meditation techniques and journal writing.

In my teens, my whole immediate family attended family counseling sessions. My sister and I were fighting with my parents a lot. We weren’t doing well in school and our teachers were concerned about us. We were both diagnosed with depression and as a family, we attended counselling sessions to work through our differences.

In university, I attended free therapy sessions with the on-campus counselor to assist me with my anxiety and issues surrounding the illnesses in my family. It was also then that I first started taking medication for my sleep issues and my depression.

Two years ago, after my father passed away, I started having terrible nightmares and as a result, had a really hard time sleeping. I had run out of my sleep aid, so I booked an appointment with my GP. He told told me he wouldn’t write me another prescription unless I went to see a psychologist regularly. So, I did. She turned out to be one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, and I’ve been going regularly ever since. I am no longer on medication for sleep, and I have many coping strategies that I use to manage my post-traumatic stress disorder, my anxiety and my depression. It’s still a battle, but I have had incredible support from my friends, Pat and my in-laws.

I can say, with absolutely certainty, that I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t taken a moment to tell my parents, my doctor or my husband how I felt.  Mental illness is something that is common in my family. My father struggled with depression and alcoholism for most of his life. I have a nephew who is schizophrenic, and both my sister and I have depression and anxiety. My parents created an atmosphere in which we were able to come to them when we were going through a hard time.

It’s so important to be there for our loved ones, to let them know that we are there to support them, and that we love them the way that they are. As someone who may be facing a difficult time, it is important to know that the first step is to speak to someone about what you’re going through. There is help out there, but you need to be willing to talk to someone you trust. Trust me when I say that they want you in their lives, no matter how broken or fucked up you feel.

Please, take a breath, reflect on the people you love and speak up. You’re not alone.

EDIT: I wanted to take a moment to add to this post. I’ve had a day to ponder more on the subject and I want to make sure I’m not misunderstood. Sometimes we go through hard times, and we need support and care from our loved ones. This isn’t necessarily mental illness, however I think it’s still important to ask for that help and support when you need it. Stress and hard times can be hell, without mental illness entering into the picture. Please don’t take from this that I think you are “sick” if you need support. That isn’t the point at all, but rather that everyone needs help sometimes. If you do have depression/anxiety/etc… or if you just need some understanding and support, know that there isn’t anything wrong with you, as an individual, and that it isn’t your fault.

Also, I think North American society has a tendency to diagnose and medicate every issue that comes up. I am not in support of medicating our problems away, however I am aware that some mental illnesses require medication for treatment. That is up to the individual and their caregivers. Whether you seek support from the medical community or from your loved ones, know that if you are going through a hard time that you are not alone and that there is help out there.

Thanks :)