Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Here We Go!

Today is the last day of 2013 and I feel as if I am slipping off the top of a slide, just off the safe plateau, and slipping down into a free fall!

Change comes whether we want it to or not, and even though I like the "idea" of change, actually falling into the process of change and working toward goals for 2014 is scaring me... I'm afraid of backsliding, I'm afraid of failing, I'm afraid of the disappointment.

I have come a long way in 2013 and I don't want to lose that ground, but at the same time I want more. It seems that reaching for more involves risking what you've already got! Life is a gamble.

And this year, 2014, I am rolling the dice!

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions-after all, I put pressure on myself all year 'round, what's so special about a resolution? But this year, the hubby and I (he's a fan of resolutions) have been talking a lot about a "year of change." So here's what we're working on this year.....

1) Health

Continuing health improvements of the mental AND physical variety. Contributing to this goal we have a newly acquired pedometer (neatly lashed to my wrist) and a pending diet to begin after the hubby's birthday Jan. 1st (come on, a man needs a fatty steak for his 28th birthday). Personally I am working on writing more and establishing a schedule to compliment my health goals. We also have a pending "Warrior Dash" on the books for July that we need to get in shape for in order to save face and have more fun.

2) Finances

We've been carrying a lot of revolving debt and this year we want to actually shoot down some credit cards and up the savings (like we've talked about and never really gotten around to before). We're also interested in saving up for a down payment on some sort of abode to stabilize our monthly housing costs and create our first permanent home.

In a somewhat direct way this all funnels toward starting a family and getting to a place where we feel healthy enough and financially stable enough to embark upon parenthood. That said, we're still in the planning stages. With my major depression issues of 2012 not so far behind us and a few major bumps in 2013 still shadowing my memory I see a lot of work to be done mothering myself before I leap toward mothering a new little being.

I guess that sums up our resolutions/goals.

It all seems pretty usual when I type it out, I'm sure lots of people share these goals, but it presents a challenge for us and for the first time in a very long time I feel like taking challenges on! And that's worth acknowledging, I do think.

So I'll raise a brew to a better year than the year before and an even better year to come, challenges and all.

Let's do this!

Happy New Year everyone! May it be a year of change and a year of wellness for all :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Joy and New Year's Fear

The hubby, pets and I have been enjoying family visits and holiday travels but have felt the inevitable weariness traveling brings setting in... I have also felt a creeping apprehension about going back home and being alone with the pets all day long again.

Without ornament work to keep me busy it's up to ME to keep me busy and I'm afraid of backsliding. The upcoming months are my traditional "danger zone" and my early warning beacon has begun to chime! January through March are the darkest, dreariest months for me...

Thankfully the hubster and I have been able to talk about my fears and reassure me that all is well and will be well, even if I hit a few bumps-we'll make it through. This year I am embarking on January with a firmer footing and more stable mental health, there is no reason I shouldn't be able to keep improving if only little by little-or maybe great bounds!

On a happier note, we have quite enjoyed our family time thus far and will be sad to leave them behind. But until then, we'll make this Christmas joy last a little bit longer!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Can't Worry About You

I can't worry about you.

I can't worry about you when I have myself to worry about, fret over, and care for.

I can't worry about you when I live my own life.

I can't worry about you when it keeps interrupting my days and my nights.

I can't worry about you when it hurts me so much.

My mind races with concerns, feelings, and extrapolations. Fantasies and frets and "what if?s" that wreak havoc on my peace of mind and tighten my muscles into aching knots.

I can't worry about you. I have to worry about me.

I have to worry about treating myself kindly and taking care of my body, mind, and spirit.

That is important. I am important.

I will worry about me and you can worry about you.

A few nights ago while the hubster and I  were cuddled on the couch with Fio, Millie, and Iroh I had a moment of realization. I was anxious, my shoulders aching, creeping toward my ears as the tension increased in my body as my thoughts raced. I wasn't present. I wasn't enjoying the family moment. What should have been relaxing time at home became an arena for worthless fretting.

I looked around the room and scoffed. All the people and things I worried over weren't there. The brother, sister, mothers, fathers, cousins, uncles, aunts, friends, and strangers occupying my thoughts were no where to be seen. I came to realize that I worry and fret over people that are barely present in my life. Their major presence is in my mind. My jurisdiction, but it's out of control.

So much time and energy is wasted rehashing past events and worrying about future possibilities. Not only wasted but detracted from positive use. I have so many better things to do than worry about people I see every couple months or once a year! But as it stands now, I use half my waking hours fretting.

Well, I'm sick of it.

Sure, I don't want to hurt people's feelings and I want to be well liked and I want to nurture positive relationships and build supportive networks in my life, but fretting and driving myself into the ground will not achieve this.

I can't control what other people think, how they feel, or how they react and I certainly can't change anything simply by worrying about it. I've logged countless hours as a worrier, and I know it will not be an easy task dismantling my mind's bad habits but that is one of my goals from here on out.

I can't worry about you (family, friends, strangers), I have to worry about me.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

An Achievement

Yesterday involved feeling bad. Feeling pretty bad.


I hate finances. I don't even know if I would like them if we had no debt and enough money!

Even though we were hashing through some uncomfortable, sad stuff reviewing the state our financial state and even though I got pretty low and felt pretty bad, I didn't sink as low as I would've a few months ago.

Okay, I felt pretty ashamed and disgusted with our debt load and slashing my wrists did cross my mind once, but only once and only very briefly. I shooed the darkness out my mind's door and went on wallowing in a more healthy fashion :)

And so I am deeming last night an achievement. No, I couldn't get through a financial conversation without freaking out, but I did get through a financial conversation without the need for medication and without crying my face off and slumping into a suicidal, sobbing heap! I will take what I can get and hope that next time is just a little better and so on, and so forth.

In other news, ornament personalizing is slowing down and preparations for holiday travel are gearing up. This year we are taking both cats and dog down to my parents'. Yes, I will try to take pictures of the madness as we all cram into the Fiesta!

Still anxious and tense, but feeling like I still have some firm ground and footing to navigate my way out of the "scary." I think I can, I think I can.....

Friday, December 13, 2013


Wednesday was a big baking day and thankfully my sister was able to come up and help me. We had a good time even though we were both exhausted by the end of the day.

Earlier in the week I had shopped for supplies and gathered my recipes. The day involved seven recipes: sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, fudge, almond roca, white chocolate peppermint covered Oreos, Fluffernutter cookies, and triple chocolate mocha cookies.

Preparations began Tuesday night when I mixed up dough for sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies to chill overnight and mashed up mini candy canes.

 I started baking the sugar and gingerbread cookies early Wednesday morning and had the counters cleaned and free of dough remnants by the time my sister showed up to help with the rest of the baking.

It was fun baking together and everything went smoothly. Having come home from college the day before my sister was pretty tired and I was pretty wore out from ornament personalizing but we were both relatively cheery and happy to be baking together.

I don't know quite how many cookies and sweets we ended up with but I do know there are still tons of gingerbread cats here and I already took a bunch in to work! We filled up a care package box for our brother, a family friend, my hubby's best friend, and my uncle with sweets to spare.

The two new recipes, Fluffternutters and mocha cookies, worked out well. I especially enjoyed toasting marshmallows onto the cookies for the Fluffernutters.

A couple of injuries sustained, I burnt my finger doing roca and my sister jarred her pinky finger during frosting somehow but no blood or blisters!

It meant a lot to me to have my sister come up and bake with me and it meant a lot to actually feel like baking for the first time in a long time. I haven't had super cheery Christmases the last few years, and having some of the cheery back feels really good.

Don't let me fool you, I was totally over-stressed and freaking about mailing out care packages and a little overwhelmed with all the masses of cookies but overall no complete breakdowns and good memories...

Hope to continue my happy streak even though my anxiety and shoulder tension is still bothersome. Seem to be sleeping better and taking my thyroid med regularly, but the holiday season has altered my habits and I'm starting to worry about my schedule after the holidays and continuing improvement in my mood without major backsliding.

We shall see :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Deep Freeze

Washington has been uber chilly lately but no snow for us just yet. But let me tell you, I've been scraping my share of iced windshields!

Ornament season has been in full swing with most of my days involving time personalizing. Today is an exception.

Last year was really intense for me during ornament season. I felt like I was the only personalizer and was under a lot of pressure to do EVERYTHING. I had some days that were over 12 hours long! I had some days where I didn't come home at night, I just came home in the morning!

It was not good for me, so this year I've been trying to work with my boss and taper my self-sacrificing work hours a bit. It feels odd for me to say no, and it feels odd for me to have a full day off without ornaments as I do today!

But here I am. Having time to blog some thoughts after sleeping in and sipping some hot coffee (it's Starbucks Christmas Blend, the hubster and I are really into it this year and we NEVER have Starbucks beans in the house, very odd). Today the hubby and I are going to a play down in Seattle and this morning I may get a pedicure or manicure, maybe even read a book for the first time in weeks! A day off. :)

In other news, the hubby and I have been reeling over news from my friend about her marital strife. It's not looking good. I can't believe how clueless I am sometimes! Although I must admit being naive feels so much better than being aware of the agony taking place not so far removed from my own life.

It's sad that we consider ourselves such close friends and yet I seem to know so little of her daily struggles... We've always been stoic, Mrs. Fix-it types. Both of us oldest children in families of five, both of us perfectionists, self-sacrificing, and avid minimizers when it comes to our personal hardships. We're always there for each other but we don't talk often enough, don't share often enough, don't trust often enough. I'm hoping that will improve and I will work toward that goal.

For now though, the hubster and I are trying not to get too involved. It is too stressful and we feel too helpless. All we can do is hope and send good vibes to them and their families while trying to stay neutral and supportive!

In other, other news I've had my first full-blown period since the IUD removal! Quite a change, I will say. Sent me right back to middle school when I was horrified to bleed over my pad and through my pants. Yes. Very emotionally scarring time in my life.... I am now armed with heavy duty tampons and the self-awareness to cope with the heavy flow but wouldn't ya know it, I bled over and made a mess anyway. It's been such a long time since a real period for me I just didn't know when to expect what. Next month I will be prepared!

Starting to realize how much hormonal birth control has affected my life, not just in tapering my flow for so many years but just how much it as altered my natural state!

Anyways, more on menstruation later-time for day-off breakfast with the hubby!

Happy Saturday fellow day-offers!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Recent Dreams

1) A card came into my possession. A folded card with a picture. The picture was of my ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend, their heads bowed over a tiny new baby. The month of May came to mind and somehow I was aware that another couple would have a baby that month as well. I was jealous, I was upset, I felt emotion well up in my throat and tears burn behind my eyes without falling. He never wanted children, I want children, why does he have a baby and not me? Such a childish reaction yet so overpowering. Why does everyone else seem to "oops" their way into parenthood while I patiently wait for the "right" time and try to better myself? I'm the one enforcing this higher standard and yet I resent it, I throw a tantrum and say "I want it NOW!" realizing it's up to me in the first place. Fear of failure haunts me. The long-standing belief that I'm sick, that I'm weak, that I'm incapable plagues my subconscious. I know that I have to believe in myself before I could fully accept such a blessing. I don't want to waste a bit of joy and gratitude on shame or guilt. I'm the only one holding myself back from the life I want....

2) Kate Middleton mounts a raised stage in a small museum. The historical display of jewelry, clothing, and housewares occupy a tall room with long windows in a large square somewhere in vague London. The building is old. Thick paint and heavy wooden molding age the room but shine with thorough upkeep. People cram into the room clogging the doorway and scrambling for cell phone cameras while she speaks into a microphone. Pointing to Diana's wedding dress displayed against the bright window to her right she proclaims, "I will marry him but I want to wear that dress and I want everyone to go to confession." Cameras click and people mutter excitedly, scurrying off to dispatch the news and the demands. London's Catholic churches scramble to accommodate the immense crowds of sinners coming to confession for the first time.

3) I become an immature version of my 18 year-old self at a college nestled in dry ponderosa hills somewhere in the Rockies. There is a party at an apartment on campus. Small rooms packed with students of all ages drinking, some underage and some just old enough. I'm uncomfortable. Shy and overwhelmed. A domineering acquaintance suggests we leave and I obediently follow her outside. We aren't supposed to be there, the cops show up or someone we don't like tries to follow us. Regardless we attempt to avoid our pursuers and take refuge alongside apartment and dorm buildings, darting between shrubs and tiptoeing through garden beds. She leads me into a dorm building, up three flights of outdoor stairs and says, "We can hide here." It is the dorm room of two boys she knows, but doesn't know well. It seems that everyone knows these boys except me. Never knowing them well, but knowing them by reputation or acquaintance. The landing is dark but light shines from under the middle door on the back wall. She knocks on the door and opens it, finding two young men chatting behind the bed, next to a desk. The darker skinned boy turns and exits the room, my female acquaintance following him to the adjacent bedroom. They enter the darkness and shut the door. The remaining boy, a buck-toothed, country looking fellow with full lips and thick blond hair comes out of the room walking up to me in the darkness. "Come on." We go into the bedroom and sit on the floor behind the bed where the two boys had been talking just minutes before. There is an old, medium sized Rubbermaid tub on the bed full of small toys. Different animals with various moving parts. He tries to kiss me and I turn away, shifting to sit on my knees and playing with the toys. He follows suit. "I love this one, the mother lion." He pushes the figure across the bottom of the tub, small wheels causing her lower jaw and front paws to waggle up and down. "You roll her around like this and she eats everything up. Nom nom nom." His hand leaves the lioness and goes to my shoulder. His mouth kissing my shoulder and neck. I shudder and wonder why the hell the girl I left the party with brought us here. Who were these boys and why did everyone else seem to know them?  He keeps kissing my neck, rubbing my back with his hand. I settle back on the floor, sinking my bottom back onto my heels and leaning into the side of the bed. His hand moves to my hip and he turns to face me, still kissing and nuzzling my neck. I am still. Frozen. Confused. My heart starts to race, tinged with fear but driven by curiosity and arousal. I'm not where I'm supposed to be. My mind launches an escape plan but before the impulses reach my legs to propel me out of the room the boy"s kisses reach my lips and I kiss him back. Light pecks deepen into breath-stealing kisses as his arms glide up my waist and draw me closer to him. Tears well in my eyes, not from fear but an overwhelming swelling of emotions. He has done this with many other girls. That is why everyone knows this place. Why the girl that led me here could just walk into the dorm without preamble. This is what he does. And yet I feel unique. I feel special. The nagging titter of my critical brain whispers that I'm being played, that I'm not in control but the heat in my cheeks and flood of attraction overrides the analysis and I allow myself to fall deeper into the boy's arms.

Our Tree

We named him Barney after Barney Fife with the plan of getting a skinny, lanky tree but we ended up with a fuller tree... Barney anyways!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Faltering and Recovering On The Road

Yikes! What a kick-off to the holiday road trip!

Everything was ahead of schedule and going smooth until lunch. Our "to-go" order at the bustling local burger joint took longer than expected and leaving the restaurant we drove into a toxic road rage situation.

Unfortunately the hubby responded in kind and the ensuing 60 seconds were horrendously uncomfortable, tense, and scary.

Over half-an-hour down the road I had finished my lunch and was cleaning up when I felt the stress of the road rage incident descend upon me. The hubby noticed my comfort measures and asked why I was tense, claiming that he was "over" the incident.

Once he convinced me to share my emotions we found ourselves in a rather intense discussion about his road rage (rare episodes a few times a year) and the origins or his anger.

Next thing you know I'm navigating his emotional arteries and digging out decades of emotional trauma to substantiate my claim that he has unresolved anger causing his road rage outbursts.

Long, complicated story short, I ended up breaking him down. Abandonement, betrayal, pain, hope, the whole shebang, oozing into the daylight. All this while speeding along the freeway in holiday traffic. Kinda dramatic but there it is.

(FYI not the best policy to incapacitate your driver mid-driving)

Around the holidays we love seeing our families and always look forward to Thanksgiving at his parents'. Unfortunately lack of family togetherness can be accented during the holidays and no matter how happy his parents are to see us or us them, we all think of those that aren't around.

Every family has different traditions and not all families can be together at the holidays, but the weight of so much left unsaid, pain and love, can make any day harder. Especially "family" days.

Be thankful for what you have and whomever you have to share it with! Always keep hope and love alive in your heart, practice acceptance, forgiveness, and charity. Never be afraid to care.

It doesn't matter how far apart your family is during the holidays as long as they are in your heart.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I've Cracked It!

Y'all know that I'm a pondersome sort and the other night I was pondering reincarnation.

It's one of those subjects I wander back to think on every so often like death or the origin of the universe. Subjects I'll probably never have a straight answer for and don't expect to, the things that make up individual faith.

Well, I don't recall ever deciding to believe in reincarnation. I've just always accepted it as a probability. I do remember my mom talking about ghosts and my dad philosophizing about death and souls and reincarnation, so I probably got indoctrinated from a young age without realizing it. People talk about being a romantic and I suppose believing that love transcends life, death, and time, reincarnation seems to go hand-in-hand with that too.

Anyways, I used to think that every person on earth had to receive a soul from someone that had died before them, one for one. I pondered that for a while and tried to figure out where the extra souls came from. I decided that the most tormented people and the most evil people on earth were miserable like that because they were being torn apart to make more souls. It was a destructive, painful process to create more souls as our populations increased.

This conclusion worked for me for a while, until the other night when reincarnation came up for me again and I pondered away on it in bed before sleep.

This is what I came up with.

We've never had a soul deficiency and we never will. Souls aren't created from a negative, painful, or angry source, they're made out of love. What packs the most loving power? Creation. And by creation, I mean conception. Where am I going with this? You guessed it, OVUM!

Women are born with all the eggs they'll ever have and the majority of those eggs go unfertilized. Thus, reserve souls. We've been exponentially creating souls without even realizing it! It totally solves my supply issue!

It's an miracle whenever a baby is conceived and all that cosmic energy pouring in to those rapidly replicating cells whips up new souls for the next generation. Sure, every soul gets recycled when someone dies but the reserve souls keep the system running.

Call me crazy, but it works for me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Not Bad, Not Bad At All

Tomorrow is Friday and the end of my work week, sort of. I might be going in Sunday night depending on the pace of business and how much the other personalizers can get done.

I was able to eat something for breakfast most days and was able to meet my lunch goal of three days! Didn't exactly pack a lunch each time but making food when I got home at midday was an achievement just the same.

In other eating habit news I've been on a sugar binge which I believe is related to the elevated stress of working and soaking up the emotions around me.

Tuesday I had a therapy appointment and my therapist, J, made a good point about how my being more sensitive and emotionally porous makes me vulnerable to sponging up other people's stress and emotions. Sometime I may be emotional without realizing that I'm channeling someone else's frustrations and not my own. It sounds a little kooky but it resonated with me and makes sense.

This week and last week I've been feeling remarkably cheery, goofy, and even lovey dovey. Without any major issues percolating in my mind I've been able to enjoy the hubster's company and the pets much more freely than in the recent past. Navigating trouble spots and flexing my positive emotional muscles along the way with a dash of faith and calm.

But it hasn't been all roses. Stress that isn't my own has been dogging me, causing anxiety and trouble getting to sleep. At first I tried to figure out what was bothering ME about these issues, but after talking with my therapist and thinking on it, I believe I was internalizing the struggles around me.

At first I believed I was playing my old "Mrs. Fix-it" role and attempting to solve other peoples' problems. "Mrs. Fix-it" is my first reaction to most external emotional trouble, but I had dropped that role and tried to leave behind the stress when these pesky, sticky, bad feelings kept grabbing me. Not being able to move on or reason myself away from the angst I began to realize these emotions weren't mine.

When people I care about are hurting I'm bound to listen and try to help, but even when they're not opening up about their problems or trying to "talk it out," my emotional energy field is still receiving their stress beacons. The challenge is ejecting those feelings before they cause me too much heartache or complicate my life. All the while understanding the source of the stress may go unresolved for some time, and that there is nothing I can do about it except cope as best I can and take care of me.

Thankfully the hubby has been helpful talking through the emotions with me, going on walks, and even shaking and yelling out some anger (he's a great in-house therapist). I also employ some deep breathing and visualization to help shoo those nasty, dwelling emotions from my mind. My favorite is launching the feelings into storm clouds and letting them float away while blue skies and nice cumulus clouds take over my mental atmosphere.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Change Of Pace

Tis the season for ornament work and I am feeling the adjustment period. I can't believe it's already been a year and that I was personalizing ornaments for over ten hours straight without losing my mind last season! This year I'm more aware of the breaking in period and feeling my tolerance grow while remaining aware of my self-care.
Yes, those snowmen are making

That said this past week wasn't a stellar example of personal responsibility. I was able to eat breakfast most days but failed to pack a lunch all week. I remembered a snack a couple of times and have been drinking water while I work, even calling it a day when I start feeling burnt out but before I go nuclear. I know things will only get busier, especially after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so getting into a lunch habit now will help me prepare for the extra pressure.

Goal set! Lunch everyday at least three times this next week.

Resuming a regular work schedule isn't the only change of pace, I've been adjusting to post-IUD life and tracking my waking temperature for a new type of birth control.  So far I really enjoy it. 

That's an odd thing to say about waking up around 5:00 am everyday to take your temperature, but I have a special affection for "mystery prizes" like quarter machine toys or concealed design mystery items, so having a different temperature every morning satisfies a weird gambling/surprise/mystery urge for me.

The whole "natural birth control" thing is really Fertility Awareness Method, a similar type of birth control to Natural Family Planning although unlike devout Catholics, we're allowed to use barrier methods in addition to tracking fertility. The basic gist involves tracking my waking temperature to monitor ovulation habits and my general menstrual cycle habits as well as tracking cervical fluid to calculate potential fertility and in turn likelihood of pregnancy. 

My DO didn't have a lot of positive things to say about the practice, which I can understand. Every type of birth control has its limitations. For FAM to be effective users have to utilize sympto-thermal tracking and practice discipline when planning unprotected sex. Adding condoms to the mix improves effectiveness. 

As it is, we're on a condom regimen until we've had a few successful months of tracking and gained confidence in the FAM rules and methods. We just have to wait and see if this technique will work for us and if the non-hormonal birth control really improves my mood.

So far I've felt great! I don't think that can be wholly attributed to the IUD removal, but I don't think it hurts. Time will tell.

And I don't necessarily think my crying episode after sex earlier this week was a negative thing... Just out of the ordinary. We think it was hormones. 

Yikes! It was not pretty crying either, totally out of my control and my face contorted into a half-laughing, half-sobbing look that was pretty confusing for my poor husband. Not that I had a total grasp of the situation either.

I think part of it was me feeling guilty about changing up our birth control situation and placing more responsibility on the hubby. An IUD is pretty carefree as far as birth control goes! The hubster reassured me that he was supportive and that we are working together to manage our fertility. He even mentioned some positive changes in my mood since the removal. I felt better, I felt encouraged, and hopefully next time I won't end up sobbing!

As I said, time will tell.

In other news, the battle of the flea-splosion continues and we aren't exactly happy with the effectiveness of our flea treatments so far. Topical ointment and flea baths for the animals and still flea hitchhikers are being dropped all over the apartment. Looks like a second round of baths is coming our way and I'm not looking forward to it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Feeling Changes

Today I was at my ornament gig personalizing ornaments and realized something wonderful.

I was sitting next to a scalpel and NOT concerned with it at all. Not a glimmer of self-harm on my horizon.

In past ornament seasons I've felt myself tempted by potentially harmful objects, my mind drawn to the possibility of self-harm. Sometimes I would wonder, "Do they have any idea how bad off I am right now? How can they trust me with this?" But today I recognized a change in this behavior, and I'm so happy.

I may not be totally out of the woods, but it's important to recognize positive changes. I know that the next couple months will be trying for me, exhausting and stressful, but I seem to be at a better starting place this year. I've even said "No" to personalizing beyond my personal wellness already, and hope to continue the practice! That's not to say I won't stay at work until 2:00 am again this year, but I'll try to take better care of myself and set limits.

In other news, the temperature tracking for FAM has been going well. I'm not sure if I'm experiencing a true period or if it's just a withdrawal from the progesterone, but so far that's going well too. Although I have been really focused on mac 'n cheese lately... and chocolate. Hmm. ;)

Iroh, Millie, and Fio are all recovering from flea treatment baths and we've been vacuuming the house trying to eradicate the last few visitors. So far we've avoided a major breakout but boy, this warmer fall weather really snuck those flea-bastards up on us. Thanks Mother Nature.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Roller Coaster

Today was my IUD removal and while the procedure itself wasn't noteworthy, the experience and my reaction is worth mentioning.

My appointment was at 10:00 am and I really didn't want to get out of bed. Mostly because I slept better those few hours after the hubby left than I have all week! While I didn't eat a good breakfast (munched a piece of dry toast) I did feed and pill the cats, feed and poop the dog, and remember to down a few ibuprofen before the appointment-just in case.

The wait was usual, about ten minutes past my appointment time. Of course, they had me wait nearly another ten minutes after I had undressed from the waist down. So nice how they request you get indecent and then make you wait around, awkwardly bare-ass on the paper lined exam table with a perfectly proportioned-to-be-useless scrap of drape.

I was happy to see the same nurse I had last time. She was cheerful and witty and generally pleasant. My DO on the other hand seemed skeptical with a veneer of supportive doctor. Not exactly the type of supportive provider I'm used to having.

Before the procedure the DO chatted a bit, made sure I was ready to go type of thing. She mentioned some of her colleagues had seen positive changes for their patients after removing hormonal birth control from their systems, that even the low doses of progesterone had affected their moods. But the main gist of her spiel was Natural Family Planning, Fertility Awareness Method or any other sympto-thermal birth control is basically playing with a loaded gun.

I suppose if I said we were planning to augment our natural birth control with barrier methods she would've been appeased, but I just didn't feel like saying the word "condoms." She on the other hand kept coming back to it and I felt like a teenager being scared off sex by the threat of unplanned pregnancies.

While she said some supportive things, the overall feeling I got was she expected me back with an unplanned pregnancy very soon. Not exactly what I would call supportive.

Anyways, the procedure was seamless. No signs that my device was embedded at all. All I felt was the usual speculum ratcheting and a little crampy traction as she pulled the IUD out by it's strings with forceps. Nothing worse than an annual exam when they tickle your cervix with the fuzzy tipped tools and spatulas.

I remember her parting words tinged with warning, almost like a schoolmarm shaking her finger at the kiddies playing rough at recess, "You are fertile as of today."

I don't doubt that I made the right decision. I feel better already knowing that my uterus is unoccupied and while I'm a little nervous about the increased risk of unplanned pregnancy I'm excited to be hormone free. But the doctor's words and attitude, intended or not, greatly affected me and my mood, sending me on an emotional roller coaster after my appointment.

At first I was simply befuddled. I was happy, already feeling better noticing my nearly daily cramps subsiding but also angry and frustrated, hurt by my doctor's words and confused at my reaction. I felt insulted, I felt scared, I felt doubt and doubted.

Poor hubby, he walked in home from work and became a lightning rod for all my turbulent emotions. He played his cards right and got me out on a walk, historically a tried and true method for rooting out problems and getting me talking. By the time we showered I had ranted and raged to a point when I began to get a grip on my thoughts.

Unfortunately part of my process involved snapping at the hubster like a handful of Snap-n-Pops and eventually I burrowed into a pile of blankets to finish reflecting on my own and eased into a lovely afternoon nap.

Here's what I came up with.

I think I'm in the midst of a big "growing up" phase and still learning to make my own decisions and take responsibility for my own actions. I first started taking oral contraceptives at my mother's bidding (from what I remember I was 15 1/2 or 16) in order to rein in my heavy flow. I don't regret taking those pills or hold it against my mom for putting me on them, but I don't think it was really my decision. I don't think I was mature or educated enough to make that decision at 16.

Without me knowing it, decided to have my IUD removed and having the procedure done brought back those teenage memories. The doctor's skeptical words triggered my insecurities and I fell into an eddy of self-doubt and anxiety. Years of following Mom's orders (spoken and implied) has insulated me from consequences and ownership. Today marked the beginning of a new era.

I'm going against my indoctrination, society's message that smart, modern women use birth control and have careers while babies are a secondary goal relegated to your thirties, after you've polished a cookie cutter home to Better Homes and Gardens standards. That message has been floating around in my psyche for years and the birth control pills I started taking as a teenager just reinforced the programming.

NYMag.com article photo. Sure, I'm pro gender
equality, but I hate the pressure I feel to "wear
the pants" to do right by women's lib instead
of doing what's right for me, whatever
gender role my dreams may fit!
Brene Brown's books are a good resource when hashing out these internal schemas. She mentions something along the lines that once our minds form certain beliefs, they begin interpreting the world in a way to support those beliefs, good or bad. Well, getting this IUD removed and going "granola" AKA hormone-free goes against what I've lived towards for many years.

I'm on the cusp of releasing those old beliefs and creating my own world. Without trust, faith, and confidence in myself it sure makes for a rough transition! The doctor's doubts spoke to my own insecurities and set my panic center into overdrive. I'm the only one who knows what's best for me and it's my responsibility to myself to do what's in my best interest and advocate for my rights to do so.

But boy, this path comes with some tall hurdles! I have to process the anger and betrayal I feel toward myself, my family, and my society. I need to cultivate and protect my self-trust, self-respect, self-confidence, and self-esteem. I need to develop coping techniques to process judgement and doubt, from internal and external sources.

A lot of changes on the horizon, and I'm not just talking about my uterus. ;)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Begone BlogHer!

I have officially given up on BlogHer and deleted that account. After the tech-guy (aka the hubby) couldn't figure out how to make it work better for me, I asked an admin to delete my account.

It was quite stressful for me. Feeling like a failure, having to ask for help, having to ask for help again. But now that it's over, I'm relieved.

It seems like a great service and platform for many women bloggers, but it didn't feel right to me. The main issue was not being able to link my blog with that service and then having to copy and paste to repost in BlogHer. It was a pain and their blogging service was cruddy. So I will stick with Blogger! The hubby is a fan of WordPress, but I don't think I could handle that change right now, especially considering all the changes I have just made...

The blog has been repainted and I started up a Twitter to match! The whole process is just about complete and I think it'll stick for a good while. It did get me thinking about exposure though, which is a tricky thing for me.

Yes, I started this blog just for myself without expecting many visitors or readers but now that I've been blogging for a couple years and have racked up a few comments and followers I have been thinking more about my public face. It's kind of funny, as much as I think and speak out about stigma and mental illness, I'm afraid to walk the walk! I'm afraid of my real-world Hannah and my Hannah Bananaface realm colliding.

As far as my personal life, I don't really care. I don't have much of a personal life outside this apartment and those friends that I do have are supportive. My family... I don't know. There is a big tradition of shame in my family and while I'm pretty sure my siblings couldn't care less I'm afraid my parents would be concerned. Embarrassed and concerned about my job prospects down the line if a potential employer were to discover the blog.

Which boils everything down to why I started blogging the first place, mental health. It's the poison in the water, the content that makes the blog "touchy." Mental health is the reason I'm afraid to step out of my shell for fear of my clients and potential clients thinking less of me.

The hubster did a good job of reassuring me. Letting me know that I'm not "that crazy." I'm not a danger to myself or others, so what should anyone care? But I have to consider the fact that clients might not want to work with someone who has anxiety issues or depression. It has never conflicted with my work as a doula and I'm remarkably good at stowing my private issues away to jump into doula action when needed, but that might not matter to certain people. Certain people don't want to be around anybody "mental" at all.

Well, I guess if they don't want to be around me, I won't be around them! I'll have to have faith that things will work out and most people won't ever link me to this blog or read Hannah Bananaface. Let's face it, I'm a small fish in a big, big pond! Maybe I'm not perfectly anonymous, but I'll run the risk of ripples in my personal life to preserve my blogging life. After all, I see HBF more than I see most of my friends and family ;)

So here I come world, a-Twittering and a-blogging to my heart's content!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wellness Update

Had a check-up with DO last Friday and had to do some lab work for my thyroid. She lowered my dose a little bit and recommended I get back to taking my Vitamin D daily to help with my eye twitch.

Yeah, I got an eye twitch. It seemed to back off when I neglected to take my thyroid pill daily, so I was kind of self-medicating by not medicating, if that makes sense. Now I'm going to try and get back on top of taking pills and supplements and vitamins AND tracking my waking temperature and other stuff for a new form of au naturale birth control.

Yep. Big changes on the horizon. I'm freaking out now that we're starting to initiate birth control change procedures, but also excited for the change.

Changing up birth control is a big deal, especially when you're in a relationship. It's not just about my uterus! I have to consider the hubster's feelings and while he's apprehensive he's also hoping for some positive changes in my mood. When we first got together I was on OCPs and he had no idea when my cycle hit, nowadays he sees it coming before I realize I'm PMSing-so I guess the IUD has affected my period whether I knew it or not!

The main reason I'm getting the IUD removed and opting for non-hormonal, non-invasive birth control is my mood and overall health. But there is no guarantee what this will do if anything. No providers have offered up much commentary on my correlation between my depression and hormonal birth control (they both started up about the same time for me). Sure, it might not be related, but I can't drop it until I find out for sure. Enter, Fertility Awareness Method a la non-hormonal birth control.

Since I've become more interested in natural remedies and Eastern Medicine I've also become more interested in my natural cycle. From what I remember it isn't pleasant. Let's just say some women's Aunt Flos are skinny, whispers of womanhood while others are super obese. Unfortunately, mine is the latter. Oh the memories of traumatic teenage embarrassment!

But in the interest of holistic wellness and a more natural attempt at healthy living rather than psychoactive, I will bear whatever aunt comes a-knockin. With the assistance of Costco and my favorite feminine hygiene products, I'm sure. You would not believe the drastic effects of an IUD on a woman's flow, I'm talking next to nothing. They're probably come out with self-unwrapping pads by now and I wouldn't know it! Haven't had to bother shopping for 'em!

Also had some developing news regarding the insurance debacle earlier this summer. I had gone cold turkey not seeing any providers this summer and just the past couple weeks have heard back from those providers about becoming covered under the current insurance. Well, it's going to change again in January. Seriously.

I've been doing pretty well and won't be resuming my weekly check-ups by any means but I did feel good about making an appointment with my therapist for November. It will mean a complete restart but I think I'm in a different place, so starting over won't be a bad thing. Definitely need to work on anxiety crapola though! Me after a meet 'n greet is such a downer, even when I get hired! Crazy!

In other news, the household (well the furry members) are enduring a late-fall flea outbreak caused by the warmer weather here in the PNW. We've medicated and are in the process of extra cleaning and bed washes. The cats have oily treatment slicks between their shoulders and Fio is getting Benadryl to ward off the obnoxious itching fits. Yay family fun. Not.

I also started a Twitter account. We'll see how that goes! I got one of them fancy "buttons" added to the blog sidebar if anyone wants to follow and see what comes up day-to-day in Hannahland.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Klamath Falls Anniversary Trip

For our first anniversary we knew we wanted to take a little trip and it didn't take long for us to decide we'd like to go to Klamath Falls, OR again. Returning to our wedding site at Copper Creek Inn as a backup plan.

We left Fio with my parents and the cats had the apartment to themselves, which they seemed to enjoy quite well! Fio had a good time with his pitbull cousin too, at the very least a great workout!

The drive south went pretty smoothly and we made our traditional pit stop at the Woodburn Outlets before the longer haul through the mountains to Klamath Falls. Yeah, I still got cranky and a little crazy being in the car for that long, but we made it!

It was beautiful and the fall colors were brilliant. There was a chill in the air but most days were quite sunny and we even got a little burnt one afternoon hiking in the Lava Beds.

For our anniversary we had brunch at a local restaurant, WaffleHut, where they specialize in a special type of waffle called leige waffles (lee-age, with a soft 'g') which are delicious! We also opened cards and enjoyed a bottle of our wedding wine and then had tritip, mac 'n cheese, and roasted peppers like we had our last visit to Klamath Falls. We had our wedding cake lady make us one of her delicious blueberry-lemon creme pies.

Yum yum yum. Funny how celebrations the world over all involve FOOD.

Funny how they are all bird cards and two cards
are penguins like the sticker I put on the calendar!
During our stay we relaxed at the sauna, hot tub, and pool and we explored the Lava Beds and Crater Lake and we also vegged out in front of the TV.

We were also drawn in by our audiobook, although listening to a story about murders in National Parks kinda made the caves a little more creepy than usual! Little did we know it was part of a larger series, which lead to a few loose ends or unexplained references, but it worked out all right.

Crater Lake and the Lava Beds. We attempted the watchtower hike at Crate Lake but it was too icy and I said "hell no!" so we explored around Discovery Point trail and the visitor centers and earned some altitude-rasped, cooled throats even without a decent hike. At the Lava Beds we enjoyed totally different caves from our last visit including Valentine, Merrill, Blue Grotto, Ovis, Paradise Alley, and a hike out to Black Crater and a Modoc wars battle site. We saw deer, a rabbit, and even a bat (which we quietly left alone to his slumber).

In the end, we had a relaxing anniversary excursion with some successful outlet shopping and outdoor exploration. The trip home was a long one, but starting the day with WaffleHut, a pit stop and sammies along I-5, and dinner, card game, and coffee at my folks before the last leg of our journey home helped break up the day and prevent any decapitations (we all know I'd be the one to snap, let's face it). Kev wasn't immune to the car-cabin fever and travel weariness, but he was an endurance driving champ and an angel, as usual!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My 1st Anniversary Trip

The hubster and I celebrated our first anniversary this past week with a trip to Klamath Falls, OR. We went there earlier this year and really enjoyed the area and it was even more fun this trip.

We stayed at the same resort/condo, brought along another audio book, and visited the Lava Beds National Monument again but explored new caves and visited Crater Lake. We stopped by the Woodburn Outlets and the local art gallery and Klamath Basin Brewery again, walked Main Street and tried a new restaurant, WaffleHut. This trip we copied our menu from the last visit with Chicago mix popcorn, mac 'n cheese, peppers, steak, croissants, turkey and mustard and then added some special anniversary treats like our wedding wine and a lemon creme blueberry pie from the same baker that did our wedding cake.

While we did a lot of the same things as our last trip this trip was different in some good ways. 

The hubbo helped me realize that I've come a long way and that we're doing better now than we were in February. My mood has improved quite a bit and I'm off of all anti-depressants! I did have some anxiety over the trip recalling how sour my mood was last time we traveled to Klamath Falls-yes, we had a great time, but I was so cranky!

A good trip, a good year. I"m happy with where we are heading and how far we've come! More soon :)

Friday, October 11, 2013


Literally, we got our unity painting framed just in time for our anniversary :)

Tossing and Turning

Hardly slept last night after blogging. Just couldn't stop tossing and turning!

I feel betrayed, yet I feel judgmental. Maybe things will settle after a while, but for now it's pretty messy in my mind.

 I guess I can only deal with one emotion at a time. First up, the hurt and betrayal then maybe I'll try to explore the pity and compassion followed by a chaser of fear and confusion.



No, not the Halloween kind! This week I dug up an old family skeleton, as in family secret.

Earlier this year I learned how to look up case records on the state website but for whatever reason I didn't research my cousin's case (the one that disappeared for nearly a decade without anyone telling me why). Well this week I did that and even more!

After finding the case number on the website I looked up the phone number and address for the county clerks' office. It took me a couple days to get up the courage to call, even though the hubby assured me that court clerks are the nicest and best clerks, which they were when I finally called. I found out that I didn't have to order copies, I could go in to one of two locations and look at the files on their computers for free.

Well that's what I did Tuesday afternoon! The hubster and I planned it out so that I would catch the 1:01 pm bus south and he would meet me at the Seattle office after work.

I have to say, I almost always enjoy riding public buses, even with the odd smells. The leaves were delightful shades and I had lovely cup of coffee to sip on the way down from one of our local cafes. I enjoyed people watching and it felt nice being part of a pack. The bus driver was nice too (even if she talked to herself a little) and I was able to get off the bus within a block of the court building. It did take me a few minutes and a few unnecessary trips across cross walks before I figured out where I was going, but once I got in the building it was pretty dang easy to navigate my way to the clerks office.

All this cheerful build-up is pretty out of place when I consider the details of my cousin's case. Somehow, even with this disgusting nature of his crime I had a good day (he was convicted of child rape and attempted possession of child pornography-how the 'attempted' part works I'm not really sure, to me you either have it or you don't).

I already knew that he had gone away for some sort of child molestation, I just didn't know the details. I'm glad I found out for myself because I'm not sure I would have ever gotten the story from my family or even felt comfortable talking about it. It certainly didn't bring everything to a magical conclusion in my mind though, not nearly.

Reviewing the materials and seeing the dates made me think back through the years when I was around my cousin and after he disappeared, and then all the years my family lied and to the more recent months where I've heard about my cousin or seen him. It's so hard for me to hold in my mind, trying to reconcile familial love with morality.

My husband never wants to see him, never wants him near our future children, and sees no reason to have him in our lives, period. I can understand that point of view I just have guilt pangs. It's not really a feeling of commitment to my cousin, I don't really know him. It's a commitment and guilt factor from my aunt and mom.

Nowadays my mom is somewhat estranged from my Aunt S and cousin M but back when all this drama was fresh she was involved. She was on the court records as a defense witness with my cousin and she revealed that she had lied about a Vegas or Reno trip when I was younger because it was a trip with Aunt S to go visit my cousin after he was transferred to a jail out of state. I suppose I'm still susceptible to these kind of subliminal messages from my family instead of thinking like an independent adult, because those actions and behaviors have sent the message that family trumps rapist but it just doesn't feel right.

I tried to mull over different hypotheticals, as if one of my siblings or aunts or uncles had committed such a crime, but it's inconceivable. I believe in forgiveness and unconditional love but I also can't ignore the question of safety and reasonable judgement.

I'm not really sure where this leaves me but it was somewhat helpful and grounding getting some cold, hard facts and perspective. It's amazing to learn about something after the fact that affected my life over a decade ago. It's like reading a history book about myself with details I never noticed at the time. It's not exactly pretty but it really gives some depth to my family relations and some of the tension I sensed as a child but could not understand. I can only imagine the other dramas that flew over my head!

All in all I find myself with more questions than answers after my fact-finding journey. Was Mom that close to her nephew or did she go on those jail visits through obligation to her sister? What did Mom and Dad think about my cousin committing that type of crime and having been around me and my brother and sister? Why weren't me and my siblings debriefed when that cousin was released from prison?

When I was younger, I didn't feel comfortable around this cousin and now that I've reviewed the case record for myself I believe my juvenile gut reaction was spot on. My aunt may not agree, but my husband and I think my cousin is guilty and that will certainly affect the family dynamic. Unfortunately it seems like there has been a "choosing of sides" on this matter but hopefully a new norm will settle upon us soon.

And for the record, I have decided I will not be a mediator between my aunt and my mother. If they want to start talking/seeing each other again, it's on them. And I will not become some family mediator with this cousin drama either. I did my own research, I'm coming to my own conclusions, and I will make my own decisions and whatever path that takes me toward, here I come.

Jeesh. The whole thing leaves me feeling dirty!

In other news, Fio is doing somewhat better with his allergies but still itchy. Plans are in the works for our anniversary and I'm getting excited for the holidays. Ornament season has officially begun but is still picking up speed (no 2:00 am nights just yet). I've been trying to get back on top of my supplements and vitamins, but haven't had much luck. Tomorrow is a new day! On a similar note, I've been getting the jogging urge again, but it will be a long road back to where I was, that's for certain.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Little Steps

It caused me some anxiety but I was able to call two numbers I've been meaning to call for weeks now.

I followed up about doula certification evaluation forms and I made an appointment for a doctor's visit.

Lots of deep breathing and a Xanax later I'm glad I made the calls even though it certainly rattled me!

Little steps in the right direction, I do think.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Taking Off Old Band-Aids

Over a month ago I received a F'book message from my cousin, M. I'm not sure quite how long it had been since we last saw each other but we guesstimated a year and a half. I think it had been nearly as long since I'd spoken to him or my aunt or vice versa, so definitely a bit of growing apart that so often happens in life.

I've written about my family dynamic a few times but it bears repeating or rehashing as I'm still in the midst of figuring all my feelings out and it's part of what is happening in my life lately.

Remembering my childhood I recall a lot of discussion about family. Mostly about how my immediate family wasn't very close to my relatives (usually as a response to me and my siblings' jealousy of other family units).

We saw my dad's side of the family a few times a year, and after my grandparents died usually only once a year at the family gift exchange and maybe at our family's 4th of July BBQ. We saw my mom's side of the family more often and the only relatives I recall ever "being close" to were my Aunt S and cousin M.

Aunt S and cousin M were the relatives I remember coming to graduations, seeing around the holidays, going to fairs with during the fall and summer, or just getting together with for games or a dinner party. M was the only cousin I remember really getting to know, being excited to see, or feel that knew me at all.

In addition to my blood family there are some close family friends that I consider family. My childhood neighbors R & I, and their daughter D and her husband P. My mother's best friend from college K and her children were like an extra aunt and cousins to me as well. My mother's teacher friend S and her family are also important to me and have been a great source of support for our family. For the most part I saw these people more often than relatives growing up.

I would say the status quo for my family involved seeing my Aunt S and cousin M several times a year, my other relatives a couple times a year, and my extra family friends often throughout the year. I remember being about 16 or 17 when I felt things beginning to change.

I don't know what the overarching story for my family was during this time, but for me I was growing up and getting new perspective (not accurate or good or bad, just new) and whether related or not, feeling and dealing with my depression for the first time.

From the middle of high school through college and even today I felt immense sadness for my Aunt S and for my family. With my depression and anxiety it quickly became overwhelming to see my Aunt S. I could not stand the sadness and despair I felt around her. Why so sad? Because my aunt is a chain smoker and killing herself. It sounds cliche but she has multiple surgeries under her belt, a cancer scare, difficulties walking and has never (to my knowledge) stopped smoking. Slowly I began to see less and less of Aunt S until we no longer knew how to talk to each other. It hurts me very much and I'm crying typing this, but that's what has happened. In turn, I saw much much less of my cousin M as well.

To complicate an already complicated transition period from childhood relationship to adult relationship, my other cousin J reappeared after nearly a decade absence. Where was he? Well, I had been led to assume he was in Bali but he was in prison. There was never a sit down discussion about this just secrecy, lying, and withholding information. In the end I found out from a friend of my aunt's, afterward that friend told my aunt what she had told me and Aunt S started talking about J like I knew the whole story, but she never told me herself. Eventually my mom apologized for not figuring out a way to tell me after I grew up (he initially went away when I was in grade school) but it's still a taboo and most of what she told me felt like a therapy session for her not a dialogue. So yeah.

I understand not telling the whole truth to a child, but withholding that information through high school and college, never discussing it... It really stung me. I suppose all the years I had been so close to my mom and aunt made it sting all the worse. Especially when the close relationship I had with my mom was a confusing codependency where I was sometimes made to feel like a companion or co-parent instead of a daughter, but that's a whole 'nother crazy story!

Basically, the relationship with my aunt and cousin started a downhill slide years ago was further complicated by my sense of betrayal over my invisible cousin J and then (from what I gather) further hindered by arguments and grudges between my mom, aunt, and their brother. What's all that amount to? A whole lot of distance, words unsaid, closeted feelings, and awkwardness.

So where does that put me today? Well, today I saw my cousin for the first time in over a year, maybe closer to two years. We walked Green Lake and caught up on each other's lives (he's moving out of the state soon and engaged to be married which kinda helped spur contacting me outta the blue) and while I tried to keep my cool, I cried a bit.

Things are still as confusing as ever. Our mothers aren't talking and he doesn't know what happened between them just as I have no clue. But solving our family's issues wasn't what I took from the visit. What struck me were the parallels between me and my cousin.

Both of us are in that marrying stage of life, he's engaged and I'm a newlywed. Both of us are working on ourselves, our emotional issues, our baggage, our relationships and thinking about kids. Both of us carry specific struggles with our moms, more precisely issues being typecast as "primary support person" instead of simply daughter or son. And both of us seem to desire that family we never had, or at least the family we miss having.

I wouldn't say there was any resolution to anything this afternoon, it certainly left me in an emotional tizzy! But I think it was important and valuable to see my cousin and have him tell me he loves me and tell him I love him too. I don't know where things go from here. All I know is I'm sad, I'm glad, I'm worried, I'm anxious, but I'm trying to simply be and remember that I can't help anyone until I help myself and I can't help anyone that won't help themselves first. M and I reiterated that numerous times today, "It's not our jobs to fix everything!" Ha!

Right now, I'm still reeling. I haven't had a therapist for a couple months now so sorting through my family issues had taken a back burner before being thrown in the fire today! But I've felt the sadness, worried about the relationship between my brother and sister and myself, wondered what type of support system my children will have, or I would have as a mother. I've felt lonely and today brought that back to the surface for me. Sure, it hurts and it makes me cry but I don't think it's a bad thing.

As an adult I've come to realize that families are always changing even though we like to think of them as stationary, reliable things they may actually be more like living, breathing entities. I can't say I know what a "functional" family looks like (then again, who does?) but I'm starting to see that a healthy family requires nourishment, exercise, and care just like any other living thing.

Feelings will be hurt, contact waxes and wanes, but love remains. A lot of families are out of practice, a lot of families don't quite have a language with which to conduct repairs and improvements, but the simple act of thinking, caring, and trying is worth the while. I may fail, I may be rebuked, I may be hurt, but the close family I want and miss isn't going to fall out of the sky. It's only as close as I'm willing to reach.

So I'll try. It may mean baby steps, it may mean popping a Xanax and charging into unknown territory, but I owe it to myself and the ones I love to try.

In other news, I saw Dave Matthews today without realizing it. Kind of a creepy moment while waiting for drinks at Starbucks. My initial reaction was, "Eek!" and thinking he was a hobo with a Dave Matthews complex wanting me to say he looked like Dave Matthews (had some grey-faced gauntness happening) but after the excited titters once he left I realized that was no hobo! That was Dave Matthews!

Fio goes to the groomer Friday bright and early (good grief I hope he kicks these "allergies" soon!) and Iroh has something funny stuck to his ear that I've yet to wash off (and the parenting award goes to...) and Millie came out of the catbox with litter on her nose recently. That pleased me, in a "ha, that's what you get!" sort of way. :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What A Day

What a day, in a bad way! I think?

This Saturday I went to a meeting for my local doula organization, PALS. The phone message invitation I received was pretty vague and foreboding so I drove the half-hour south into downtown Seattle and tried not to let my mind run away with worst case scenarios.

The worst case scenario I envisioned? PALS was going under, my money and time commitment to certify through them would be wasted and I'd become even more isolated as a single practice doula in Snohomish County.

That I could've dealt with. Walking into a brain storm about how to save PALS and become "anti-racist" was not.

Three hours of group discussions about an issue I wasn't even aware of! Apparently a couple years back a new doula attended a meeting and was the only "doula of color" and subsequently made comments about PALS being racist and "white."

As it stands now the organization has 4 volunteer board members in over their heads and a couple of committees with 2-5 members, one of which is focused on eradicating racism. The few doula community events they host are subject to last minute day-of cancellations and overall the members just don't have the support they need and desire. They aren't a sustainable organization with only member fees for revenue and now they're reevaluating the entire organization.

A handful of volunteers for an organization supposed to be about supporting hundreds of doulas in the Puget Sound.

It's a mess.

The entire meeting I tried to wrap my head around anti-racism and how PALS became embroiled in a race overhaul in the midst of struggling to remain in existence, period. I struggled to rein myself in from breaking into "Fix-It" mode and found myself in a mental tailspin for the rest of the afternoon.

Thankfully another doula I knew at the meeting reassured me after I expressed my confusion and shock. She said, "We can only do what we can, when we can." The perfect comment for an overwhelmed Hannah.

As it stands, I can't entangle myself in the PALS debacle anytime soon. I haven't found them to be a source of support (especially since I already gave up driving to Seattle for therapy, driving there for a could-be meeting ain't on my to do list) and I've decided to look for other doula groups in Snohomish County. Not to mention ornament season is gearing up and I'm about to become very preoccupied.

I  still don't know what I think about the whole mess. I still don't know what I think about "anti-racism." Apparently my certification reading list is racist and white. I had no clue! I feel a sting from the whole thing, like I'm not good enough and just because I don't spend hours contemplating race relations I am racist.

Not sure if I will ever experience resolution, this may just be a lifelong confusion for me. It sure seems like that for a lot of people.

In other news, the hubster and I have taken to removing Fio's collar at night so his licking and scratching won't be so annoying. Need to pump more Benadryl into that mutt (holy cow, hubby just got up to give Fio meds as I typed that)! Millie gave the hubster front row seats to a puking, which he was fascinated by, and Iroh has been adorable napping on the couch at all hours. Although sometimes we have to evict him since he steals the hubby's favorite spot.

I've been practicing drawing and while I still have major confidence issues I have really been enjoying the practice, even if it means covering my hands in slick graphite dust and sprinkling eraser shavings all over my desk and lap!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Obsessive Thoughts

I never really identified with the symptom "obsessive thoughts" until the past few weeks.

I am not sure what clicked for me but I'm pretty sure things fell into place while I was tossing and turning in bed one night.

Many, many years I have struggled to fall asleep. I can usually sleep through the night but since grade school I've taken at least 45 minutes to upwards of 4 hours just to get to sleep.

It sucks.

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning was a horrendous example of my shitty sleeping. The hub and I were in bed before 9:45 pm but by 12:45 am I had not fallen asleep. I decided to grab my blanket and pillow and hit the couch but that didn't exactly solve the problem. I was able to doze for a few hours all together before the hubby coached me back to bed and left for work. I laid in bed for a couple hours but couldn't get back to sleep.

So what about those obsessive thoughts, right?

It's not just when I'm trying to sleep but that is when I first recognized my thoughts being especially problematic. When I'm trying to sleep I usually whip up a fun dream to occupy my mind until I drift off. Lately I've been noticing my thoughts interrupting my dream sequences and I cannot distract myself from the rehashing, worrying, and wondering. It seems to go right along with my shoulder tension. All those recurring thoughts get me tense, my shoulders start creeping toward my ears and I can forget about sleep.

The same thing happens during the day. I'll be going along hunky dory and then SWOOP my mind is off on an all too familiar track analyzing, fretting, and basically hijacking my day.

What are these thoughts about, you wonder? Well, there is quite a variety but the usual mix involves some variety of social/relationship anxiety with a dash of rehashing past events and a large portion of predicting the future with a sprinkling of paranoia all awash in skewed perspective.

What gets me is how sticky these thoughts are! Whether it's keeping me up all night or following me around all day they cause problems. The hubster is sick of hearing me sigh and vocalize or hum as I'm trying to get these thoughts out of my head and no matter how we work things through or chat it out, the thoughts persist.

These thoughts take up my head space, my air time, and prevent me from living my life. My brain is so overactive I can be opening the dishwasher, preparing to do dishes and then worry myself back to the couch in a few seconds on a completely unrelated matter. I get overwhelmed, panicked, and damn near delirious. Forget about leaving the apartment, too overwhelming. Forget about making plans, I can't make myself lunch.

My thoughts are dysfunctional. My thoughts are recurring. My thoughts are obsessive and my brain's brake pedal isn't working!

Calming techniques and reassuring myself seems to help. Many of the thoughts seem based in fear so I can sometimes calm myself down and sort of coddle myself back into doing something. It may take three tries to do the dishes, but maybe tomorrow it will only take two!

It's like quicksand, get caught up in the moment and you're trapped but take a few seconds to collect yourself and be calm and you just might get out.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Like A Slug

Like a slug, I am cruising. And by cruising, I mean slugging.

My life has jumped the rails recently, but not in a fiery obvious way, in a very discrete didn't-quite-catch-it way. Think of an action movie where the hero is on the ground but you didn't see the punch that landed him there. That's life right now. Startling change that kinda snuck up on me.

Thinking back on the last few months I can see where things went wrong. At the time I just denied the impact of my actions, or in this case inactions.

In July I was doing pretty well. I had been seeing a variety of care providers and was actually starting to care for myself. It's a difficult thing for me to care for myself, whether that be emotionally/mentally or through my actions, but I was nearly into a new pattern.

The problem came in the mail or over the phone, I can't remember which, but it was insurance related. Again. In the end it all worked out, but it shut me down.

I went to my last appointments in July then cancelled my planned acupuncture and ND appointments based upon my insurance anxieties. That in itself wasn't terrible but neglecting to hassle the insurance company and reschedule those appointments has landed me here, halfway through September without any support, not taking supplements, sleeping in excess of 10 hours a day and in danger of backsliding even further.

Things weren't perfect in August. I stopped taking my supplements and took less walks with the hub and Fio but I was busy with doula work and distracted from my dysfunction. This month, it's all about me and looking at what I've lost.

I know it's my responsibility, but I feel abandoned by my care providers. They've contacted me and say they are trying to work through the insurance crap but I feel sick about it all. Deep down I know I've betrayed myself, again. I'm punishing myself. Withholding help, trying to tell myself "buck up and improve or just curl up and die."

And even with these realizations I do not take action. I am stuck in a mental molasses, waiting for a white knight's grasp to haul me out and affirm that I matter enough to be saved.

I still don't have the capacity to save myself. This is a sad thing. Yet even with my grim thoughts I see these words as a good thing, a step in the right direction.

Maybe tomorrow I'll be my own white knight.

In other news, the cats are the easy ones lately as Fio has been scratching and licking himself to baldness with "summer allergies." The vet said Benadryl as he needs it but that isn't exactly gonna regrow the hair on his little tail nub. Very attractive. Blegh!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nope, Still Here!

Had a couple births over the last few weeks and kinda got distracted from the blog.

Okay, that's not the only reason I haven't blogged but it's a big part of it. After a birth I'm usually out of things for a few days and August had two births crammed into it but I've also been hiding.

When I'm on top of taking my pills and supplements I use a weekly pill planner (two actually) and fill them weekly as I run out. Well after the first birth I didn't refill them and stopped taking most everything. After the second birth, I didn't refill them and still wasn't taking anything. I've popped a thyroid medication intermittently maybe twice a week but I've pretty much ceased all other supplements.

I kept it from hubster because I knew he wouldn't be pleased. I'm not very pleased with myself either!

The pills are one thing, but another down-on-my-health bother is my right hip. It's been bugging me for weeks now, usually only when I've been sitting on a hard surface for too long but occasionally after driving or even sitting on the couch.

I think it's because I've been so inactive and haven't been doing yoga for months now. At least that makes sense to me and I don't recall any injuries. Either way, it makes me hobble like an old crone until things unlock and start working again, thankfully it usually goes away with a few minutes of walking.

I seem to have aggravated my already annoying shoulder knot, but shoulder tension is a pretty regular part of my life so just a teensy more bothered by that lately! Need to suck it up and do some dang yoga already!

Otherwise, I've had a few down days but overall haven't taken a huge dip (thankfully). I know I'm walking the line and need to get my butt back in gear though, no need to tempt fate and the suicide gremlin (why yes, that's what I call it).

In other news, I went to British Columbia with my sister for a couple days this week and had a really good time. I sweated like a pig and stunk up the place but still enjoyed the trip and even the rain and thunderstorms (dang humidity I could've done without!).

Fio went to the vet and she deemed his recent scratching and skin irritation to be summer allergies that shouldn't need medication just the occasional Benadryl based on symptoms. Also said he should get a professional teeth cleaning next year and have his anal glands done soon. Lovely. That conversation led the hubby and I to this video:

We laughed and cringed. What mature pet owners we be!

Friday, August 23, 2013

This Is What Happens....

This is what happens when crazy hormonal Hannah goes beserk when he brings home the wrong chocolate.... He brings home the right chocolate and rubs it in your face! Chocolate coma-here we come!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Funny Stuff

Some funny things goin' on lately....

1) I was crampy and assumed it was gastrointestinal, so I rubbed my tummy and moaned on the couch while the hubster asked, "Did you take any Advil? That's what you normally do for bad menstrual cramps, right?" To which I snapped, "I didn't say they were menstrual!" Within a few minutes however, I went to go pee and discovered there were indeed menstrual cramps. Wifey-0 Hubby-1

2) We hosted a going away dinner for my brother and had my family over. The dinner went swimmingly, as I had made two desserts the day before, put the lasagna together the evening prior, and made the manicotti that morning. But the best part of the day wasn't the food, it was the funny:

A) My dad saying, "I queefed."
B) The hubster accidentally repeating answers other players had provided while maintaining an air of confidence and remaining completely clueless as to his cluelessness.
C) My family pushing the Toyota Matrix around the parking lot trying to jump start/charge the battery.
D) Did I mention the family pushing the car around like in "Little Miss Sunshine?"

3) Funny feelings after reading some F'book posts about my high school sweetheart getting married this weekend. My stomach flipped and twirled and I felt a sense of grief, almost like we'd broken up again-even though it's been around 8 years! Not to mention 3 years since I've even seen the man! So odd how love leaves residue...

4) I spilled an entire cup of coffee on the couch.

5) The hubster's Double Gulp tipped over and dripped over the other side of the couch and carpet.

6) I complained about the router tripping out again and the hubster came home with a brand spanking new router and replaced it immediately. Funny how you adapt to a crappy situation and go on living with it even with a simple solution waiting right in front of you.

In other news, no Millie-piss incidents, snipped a small snag/mat out of Fio's hair, and Iroh has been helping himself to my desk fountain at his leisure, even stepping over my typing hands to do so!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tired and Loopy

I have been on call for two clients and now I'm down to one!

This birth wasn't quite as long as the 4-day induction I attended at the beginning of the year, but I'm tired all the same and chuggin along a little slower, and a little off-center (well,  more so than usual).

There was a moment when I was tired and wondering if I should be a doula but those doubts faded fast with the miracle of birth and a couple of ego-boosting compliments from my client and one of the birth center staff.

The hubster was out of town the past couple days and I really missed him. As annoyed as I get sometimes sharing a bed I really don't like sleeping alone anymore!

In pet news, Millie hasn't pissed on anything for weeks! *knocksonwood* Iroh has some stunning bald patches and Fio seems to be following his lead and over-grooming above his tail as well. Oh the neurotic pets never let up, do they?!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bad Days Start The Night Before

This is usually the case for me-a bad day put in motion by a bad night.

Last night I couldn't sleep. It wasn't my usual tossing and turning, I was nearly convulsing with pent up energy and frustration, anger and grief. My head hurt and my mind was racing. I must've sat straight up or on the edge of the bed with my head in my hands half-a-dozen times before the hubster got me Xanax and water.

Eventually I calmed down and fell asleep.

Then this morning he tried to get me out of bed to go take a walk with the dog.

It didn't go well.

I don't remember all the ins and outs but he ended up pulling me out of bed onto the floor and I ended up curling into a defensive fetal position as he grappled with me trying to get me up.

It hurt. I felt bullied. It reminded me of my mom forcing me to exercise or telling me over and over again what I already know and just can't seem to do for myself.

Wasn't long before I broke. Sobbing and tucking myself into as tight a blob I could manage pressed into the corner between mattress and carpet.

"It's true." I mumbled, thinking that it was finally for certain that I was worthless, that I wasn't enough and I never would be. "I knew it." My feeling of loneliness and isolation was finally complete with his betrayal. He'd given up on me, I'd finally broken his resolve, tapped out his reserve of patience and love. I was officially the lost cause I'd felt like for the last 9 months.

The next few hours I didn't make any eye contact and hardly spoke. Hobbled around as my body ached and lurched following my mental/physical break at my bedside.

He tried to apologize. I hardly acknowledged. I drank some water and watched Iroh eat kibble. Laid on the floor while he took the dog out for a potty break.

At some point he drew a bath for me and I made it into the hot water, hardly soothed but eventually I laid back and even fell asleep (only to wake up to a horrible crick in my neck).

The rest of the day was slow and dysfunctional. I stressed about a dinner date with my parents but it ended up being the highlight of my day.

It was nice to get out and chat, but I can't help wondering how aware they are of my problems. If tomorrow I lost it completely and offed myself how shocked those around me would be, if they would see it coming at all, understand how I've struggled lately, or if they assume I have a normal functional life like I assume everyone else around me has.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Got Me Thinking....

Today I've been into watching "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" back-to-back-to-back and I was surprised to find myself getting to like some people I never thought I would: Alec Baldwin and Sarah Silverman. I guess a part of me always kinda liked them but resisted admitting to it because they come off as "bad" or "dirty."

Oh we are such complex mental creatures.

So after my binge I Googled around and found myself looking into Sarah Silverman and discovered she has been open about her own depression and I ended up reading an article like no article I'd ever seen before.

This article.

I don't agree with all of it, but the topic is one I can relate to and haven't yet looked into myself, outside personal conversations and consideration. Should depressed people (or those with other mental disorders or health conditions) have children? Not only for the risk of passing on the pain but also the risk of exposing that child to the parent's pain.

I've thought about this and talked to my husband about it too, should someone like me have children? Should I risk bestowing this struggle to another generation? Deep inside I still waver. The louder voice says, "Have kids, you want to, you've planned to for as long as you can remember. Follow your heart. Just do it." Then another voice *ahems* into the conversation with wibbly wobbly objection and fear.

I guess there will always be the chance my kids have issues with depression. There will always be a chance that they see this part of me, that I relapse and they experience my episodes and it impacts their lives for better or worse.

There's always the chance that the world will end in a fiery (howinthehelldidIspellthatrightthefirstime?) ball of meteoric fury and my children will be burned into piles of ash within seconds at any moment.

There's always a chance.

For better or worse.

Do I live in fear or embrace love and live in hope?