But there is beauty in it

July 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Yesterday my mom, sister, and husband helped me with a project. It is a binder full of all of the cards, emails, and messages of encouragement I have received from my people in the past few months, some of whom I’ve known for years and some of whom I haven’t yet met in this life. It also has uplifting quotes, scriptures, and pictures from Pinterest. I plan to add more and more to it as I receive them.

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Stuck

July 9, 2014 at 3:42 pm

A few winters ago, I grew kale in my garden. In AZ, certain crops can be grown during the winter, and kale is one of them. Anyway, as the kale grew, it soon attracted aphids. By the time spring came around, there wasn’t a kale leaf without hundreds of aphids on its underside. If there’s one thing aphids know how to do well, it’s reproduce.

Last Sunday, I learned something new about aphids. A man I know had been in a class with a bug-expert. And this bug expert explained that aphids give birth to live young, but sometimes the babies get stuck on their way out, and when this happens, a group of other aphids will gather around and help the mother get the baby aphid out. I’m not terribly fond of aphids, but this little bit of information made me smile (which is rare these days).

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Waiting for Light

July 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I’m not sure where to begin.

Two years ago (2012), around this time of year, I first became acquainted with anxiety and depression like nothing I had ever experienced before. After a few months of enduring and trying a variety of natural remedies, I turned to medication. It was a couple of months of crawling through hell while I waited for the medication to help. But eventually it did. And I felt like myself again.

We thought the medication would only be a temporary thing. I slowly (slowly) weaned down over the course of last year. I took my last dose at the beginning of March of this year (2014). March I felt fine. I thought, “That was easy.” April I started slipping. May I plunged back into that dark and anxious hell I never wanted to crawl through ever again.

We made an emergency trip to my dad and stepmom’s house at the end of May so I could have extra support while I tried to get well again. All of May and for two weeks of June I tried more natural remedies (they could fill a whole other blogpost and probably will someday). I really wanted to believe I could get better without meds. When I started getting suicidal, we knew it was time. Miraculously, I was able to get an appointment with a well-respected psychiatrist on June 13. I started back on my meds the next day.

Mental Health Update

May 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I wish I could tell you that I feel better than ever. I wish I could be a lighthouse all the time, radiating joy and love and hope to everyone around me. But I’m not gonna lie… this past month was rough. And this past week was rougher.

It’s hard not to wonder if the reason it was rough is because I weaned off my medication. In moments of desperation, I find myself thinking I made a mistake… that I shouldn’t have stopped taking it.

But in moments of clarity, I think… Well, you still had hard times even when you were taking the medication. The past couple of months were stressful with the crazy job-hunt and all the illness. You weren’t getting enough sleep. You weren’t getting out much. You weren’t meditating. You weren’t eating enough. You got depleted. Just give yourself a break while you catch up.

So I’ve had anxiety (and some depression) off and on this week. It has fluctuated. Some days were horrendous (that day when I cried to a whole bunch of people on the phone). Some days were so-so, and some were good, hallelujah.

Mother-Daughter Book Recommendations

March 3, 2014 at 12:24 am

Last night I finished another book with my two older daughters (ages 8 and 10). My husband and I take turns reading to them at night (different books). After finishing the Chronicles of Narnia with them, my husband moved on to the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I married a fantasy fan. I, on the other hand, have been sharing books with strong, brave young females as their main characters. The last three we have read have been really different from each other, but all such wonderful books.

I thought I’d share a few thoughts about each of them here in case you’re looking for some mother-daughter reading material.

81b3VP92QjLRonia, the Robber’s Daughter, by Astrid Lindgren

I got this book for my second daughter for Christmas. We started reading it together Christmas night. When it began with a woman in labor on the very first page, I was sold. Especially when I saw these words:

“The fact was that Lovis liked to sing while she was having her baby. It made things easier, she insisted, and the baby would probably be all the jollier if it arrived on earth to the sound of a song.”

If I ever give birth again, I’m totally singing my baby out (see why HERE). This book is masterfully written. A beautiful coming-of-age story with strong themes of friendship, family, and forgiveness. It’s the kind of book where you feel like crying when it ends because you’ve grown to love the characters so much.

Gifts that Heal

December 12, 2013 at 6:10 am

A few weeks ago, a friend showed up at my door with a giant stalk of brussels sprouts from Trader Joe’s… like this…

brussels

It was a healing gift for a number of reasons… 1) Because there’s something very heart-warming about having another person “get you” well enough to know exactly what would make your day, and 2) Because brussels sprouts are healing in and of themselves.

I love gifts that heal. They’re the best kind.

Here are some more healing gift ideas…

Hope for Dark Times

December 6, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I haven’t wanted to talk openly about this. I’m supposed to be feeling better. I’m supposed to have overcome my battle with anxiety and depression. But the reality is that I still struggle. Most of the time I feel relatively stable. But I still struggle. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately, so those days of struggle seem to be outnumbering the days of peace. I’m supposed to be a “birth blogger,” not a “depression blogger,” right?

IMG_1119I broke down in tears to a friend who called me a few minutes ago. She asked, “Do you have any friends there who know what’s going on with you?” But I haven’t wanted to talk to any local friends about it. I haven’t wanted to be a downer. Everyone has their own struggles and stresses. They’re facing their own hard battles right now. I don’t want to burden them with mine. Plus the holidays are a busy time. But my friend on the phone encouraged me to open up.

So here I am again. Broadcasting to the world: hey, I’m struggling. I’m not radiant or glowing or anything resembling those things right now. I’m going through a hard time. 

Back in mid-October I was asked to speak to our church congregation. The topic was hope. I have to chuckle to myself now. If only I could always practice what I preach. I typed out my remarks word-for-word. Partly because I’m a writer, not a public speaker. Partly because I wanted to choose my words very carefully. I knew that there would probably be at least one or two people in that congregation who desperately needed something to hold onto, and I knew that I would have to offer them that hope packaged in a way they could receive it. When you’re in despair, not everyone can reach you.

I’d like to share what I spoke that day. Maybe you need some extra hope? I know I do. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if the only reason I was asked to speak was because God knew I was going to need to re-read my own words often over the next few months.

The Many Faces of Travail

October 11, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I’ve asked myself more than once over the years: “Why do I get to have it so easy?” I’ve never had to “try” for long to become pregnant. I’ve never experienced more than mild morning sickness, never “prayed to the porcelain gods.”  I’ve had four uncomplicated, fairly easy pregnancies. I’ve given birth vaginally four times after three smooth, uncomplicated labors, never pushing for more than 25 minutes (and that was with one posterior baby). I’ve never had a truly colicky infant. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Especially when I think of my sister-in-law who waited desperately for four-and-a-half years of infertility before finally adopting her son. Especially when I think of another friend who waited even longer and now waits yet again to adopt a second child. Especially when I think of a friend who has experienced debilitating morning sickness through six pregnancies. And when I think of my cousin who gave birth after pushing a posterior baby for five hours (he finally turned and was born quickly afterward). And especially when I think of a friend who gave birth a few years ago… desperately wanting a VBAC after three prior cesareans (and one prior VBAC attempt), finally with a wonderful midwife who supported her wishes and believed in her, only to get to nine centimeters and discover that she really did need a fourth cesarean after all.

How can it possibly be fair that I get to have it so easy?  That question has been rolling around in my head eliciting a variety of answers. And the only one that gives me peace is this: Every mother must experience travail to bring forth her children, but that travail is experienced in a variety of ways. 

Seers of Beauty

August 26, 2013 at 8:16 pm

A couple of nights ago, my 10-year-old daughter asked me at bedtime:

“Do you think you’re beautiful?”

Now that was a tough question to answer. Yesterday, I talked with a friend on the phone about it. She said, “Why would you even hesitate?” Maybe I was making the moment a bigger-deal than it needed to be, but it really felt like such a complex question that required a thoughtful answer. I’m not the only one who thinks that’s a tough question to answer, right? It was like this magical teaching moment, and I didn’t want to get it wrong and teach her the wrong thing, but I also wanted to be honest.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that question since.

Retreat

July 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm

My youngest woke me up at around 4:00 a.m. this morning. As I lay there after getting her back to sleep, unable to drift back to sleep myself, there was a near-constant nudging telling me to get out of bed and write. I kept asking, “What should I write about?” I got out of bed, still not really sure what it was I was going to write.

A couple of weekends ago, I attended a yoga/meditation retreat taught by my soul sister, Felice Austin. It was a life-changing weekend. It’s hard for me to even describe or comprehend everything that happened inside of me over the course of those three days. But I feel nudged to share a bit about three of the powerful experiences I had that weekend.

The Re-birth

On Saturday, Felice guided us in a rebirthing meditation. Knowing that I was conceived as the sixth child in an unhappy, stressful marriage and baked for nine months in that negative environment, I went into this meditation with some trepidation. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but I knew I didn’t want to relive my original gestation experience or find out just how painful it might have been. As it turns out, this rebirthing meditation had very little to do with how we were actually born and everything to do with transformation.

This experience really was transformational for me. I was reborn. I was healed. It was perhaps the closest I’ve ever come to pure ecstasy.  It’s hard for me to describe what happened in a way that truly conveys its power. What happened was within the realm of my subconscious, but it was also more real than many of the physical experiences I’ve participated in. I experienced a new gestation. I was birthed and attended by women who love me, embraced in tenderness, re-took my first breath in euphoria.

Afterward, Felice told us that part of the meditation was to get up and talk to each other. I turned to Wendy who was the closest person to where I was and said, “Can I hug you?” We didn’t talk. We just held each other, and I sobbed. Then Sheridan came over to us and wrapped her arms around us. She doula-ed me in her gentle, perfect way… coaxing the wailing out of me in a massive release. And I sobbed and sobbed with these two beautiful women holding space for me and filling me with their love and light. I will never forget it.

Our Sister’s Keepers

May 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm

“That one-third of the world’s women are deprived of their right to bear girls is the biggest women’s rights abuse on earth. This is the true War on Women, and it deserves a passionate response.”

-Reggie Littlejohn

The three deadliest words in the world: “It’s a girl.” 100 million babies have been aborted, killed, or abandoned simply because they were girls. In China, India, and other regions, women are pressured and even forced to undergo gender-based abortions because of cultural, economic, and/or political reasons. Some women also suffer forced sterilizations in these regions. The boy-girl ratios in these countries are extremely unbalanced after decades of boy-preference. And those girls who are left are at extreme risk of abduction, abuse, sexual assault/exploitation, and other horrors.

“We can tip the bowls of Heaven. When interceding tears meet with God’s, they have the power to alter society and generations to come, to change governments and deliver people and nations caught in unbelievable situations. This is justice and this is how women fight!”

                                                                             -Evangeline Johnson

Brought Back to Life

May 16, 2013 at 10:59 pm

An online friend of mine is working on a book about suicide. Last month she asked me if I would write something for their book. I told her I’d be honored. Most of you have probably already read/heard versions of this story, but I thought I’d share a modified version of my essay here anyway. Perhaps one of you needs a glimmer of hope. I hope my story can be a light in someone else’s darkness.

After my parents’ divorce when I was a toddler, my grandmother had raised me, called me her “baby,” saved my life. As a young woman I often said, “When Grandma dies, I’m going to fall apart.” I was mostly joking. I had no idea just how prophetic those words would prove to be, and living that reality was no joke.

The first panic attack hit me a month before she died. I had never experienced anything like it before. For a week, I was in an agonizing anxiety, my heart racing, my mind a whirl of fears, my body throbbing in “fight or flight” mode. Strange as it sounds, I think some part of my soul could feel that Grandma would soon be dying, and so I started “dying” inside myself.

I had a brief respite from the agony. I thought it was over. I thought it was a weird fluke. When I spoke to Grandma on the phone for the last time before her death, I was at peace as I told her, “It’s OK, Grandma. You can go.” And for the month afterward, I am certain I was being held up by angels. But then, when we returned home a few weeks after the funeral, I started to crack, and the panic came back with a vengeance.

Morgan’s Miscarriage

May 6, 2013 at 4:46 am

I was talking with my friend, Morgan, at the park this past week. We got on the subject of miscarriage, and she told me about her miscarriage experience. Then I asked her if she’d be willing to share it here. I learned some things from her story. Maybe you will too.

Morgan has “five wonderful, crazy, adorable children and a perfect match of a husband.” She dabbles in a little bit of everything, and she spent a little bit of time as a midwifery apprentice until she moved away from her mentor. Morgan loves to sew baby stuff like baby carriers and cloth diapers. Her main pursuits lately are mothering her brood, building her business, and learning energy healing.

Plus, I’d love to add, she is one of the most genuine, kind, radiant people I know. Love her.

Here’s her story…

Panic

May 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Last night I felt something unwelcomely (is that a word?) familiar.

Panic.

And the fact that I was feeling panic made me panic even more. Ack.

People tell me, “Everyone has ups and downs,” but this is different. Once you’ve felt it, you’ll never mistake it for “normal.”

Coincidentally, I received a copy of a book in the mail yesterday called Pros of Prozac by Beca Mark. About the book:

Beca Mark wished she could have found this book when hopelessly struggling with depression and anxiety after having her first child.

She takes you on a heartfelt journey and shares how healing only came when combining a daily Prozac prescription with a commitment to be her best self.

By sharing faith-based, personal details about her life, she hopes to soften the cultural stigma surrounding mental illness, shedding a more positive light on these issues. 

Becoming Whole Again

April 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm

As some of you are aware, I started taking medication for my anxiety/depression last August. I’m excited to report that I have now successfully cut my drug dose down to 1/4 of my prescribed amount. So I’m down to 12.5 milligrams a day instead of the 50 milligrams I was taking. This process was very, very gradual over the past month or so. There are a variety of reasons why I’m doing this:

  1. I feel ready, and I feel divine encouragement about it.
  2. God has promised me I will be able to be happy without medication.
  3. My body chemistry is getting out of whack, and I think the drugs are contributing to that.
  4. I believe I’m being prepared to open myself to more children, and I would like to clear the drugs out of my system first.
  5. I’m gaining more weight than I’m comfortable with. I believe this is related to the medication since my siblings have experiences similar side-effects while taking SSRIs.

When I tell friends and family about my weaning down, their first question is usually, “Is your doctor OK with that?” I’m sure they’re just wanting to be sure I’m not jumping into this too soon. Nobody wants to see me sick again, of course. So although a part of me wishes they would just say, “That’s great,” without any hint of doubt, I completely understand their concern.

My doctor told me back in October that I could start weaning down whenever I wanted to. He felt all along that my situation was temporary and the pharmaceutical assistance would not be a life-long need. However, I told him I wanted to wait until the spring before I tried to cut back. I wanted to get our house sold, get us moved and settled, and do some more healing before trying to “walk on my own” again.

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