Thank You, Anxiety

January 14, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Last night I woke up my husband, sleeping peacefully next to me, and said words I haven’t said in a long time:

“I need help. I’m feeling anxious.”

The anxiety was mild. But once you have known the horror of debilitating anxiety, even mild anxiety is terror-inducing and can quickly escalate, like a PTSD trigger, feeding itself.

N-Acetylcysteine for Trichotillomania (and more)

December 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Over the past several years, I have shared (or over-shared) the details of my journey with anxiety and depression. Lots of people have said to me, “I can’t believe how open you are.” For many, struggling with mental illness is a private battle. But it was never hard for me to tell my friends, family, and the Internet about the darkness and fear that were plaguing me. I wasn’t ashamed.

But.

For quite a while, but particularly the past couple of years, I have been battling another mental disorder that I have felt some shame about, and I haven’t felt comfortable publicly acknowledging it until now. I’m not sure exactly why this has been harder, but I think it’s partly because I didn’t really know for a long time that some of my strange habits were actually considered a disorder. And this particular disorder isn’t often talked about (at least not vocally or in public). It’s also, admittedly, really bizarre. Even the name is bizarre.

Coming Home Again

December 27, 2017 at 1:19 pm

I’ve given birth in a large teaching hospital, a small community hospital, at home, and at a birth center. There were pros and cons to each setting. You can read more about those HERE. When I found out I was pregnant with my sixth baby in September, I started pondering my options for the birth right away.

Last time, in order to keep my anxiety levels in check, I felt it was best to know I would be very close to a hospital. Blossom Birth Center, the location we chose, is across the street from Phoenix Children’s Hospital and five minutes down the street from St. Joseph’s Hospital. Another reason I chose Blossom is because I was already acquainted with Mary Langlois, co-owner of the birth center. I met her during my third pregnancy and attended a doula training she taught in 2009. I had a strong feeling that Mary was the midwife I needed to attend my 5th birth, and she proved to be just exactly the right person. I will be forever grateful for the nurturing and care she gave to me.

When I started thinking about the birth of my sixth baby, I realized that many of the fears and concerns I had during my fifth pregnancy were gone. My anxiety levels have been very low for the past couple of years, and I just didn’t have the same need to be across the street from a hospital. While I absolutely adore Mary Langlois and would have her attend all of my births if I could, we recently moved a lot further west from where we were.

Goodwill Dress: Frumpy to Fabulous

November 19, 2017 at 11:18 pm

So our local Goodwill stores are having a flip contest. When I first heard about it, I didn’t think I had time to submit anything, but with a little nudge from my husband who thought it was “right up my alley,” I decided to buy a dress on 50% sale Saturday. Of course the idea with these type of contests to to wow people with the transformation, so I tried to find something I would never actually buy on purpose. Here was my pick:

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Birthing without an Agenda

November 5, 2017 at 12:04 am

Who is to say that this moment is not a part of creation?
Or this one?
Or the one about to arrive, across the vast distance of time?

-David LaMotte

When I was pregnant for the first time, my primary goal with my birth was to get through labor without an epidural. Thanks to my husband’s support and an angelic doula-like nurse, I succeeded.

With my second, I wanted to have a midwife, and I wanted to have an easier recovery (no stitches). With my certified nurse midwife’s help, I was able to give birth unmedicated to a posterior baby with just a “skid mark” and some minor stitches.

For my third birth, I was desperate to give birth with an fully intact perineum. It was a magical home birth experience, and I didn’t tear at all!

After delivering my previous three babies on my bottom, I really hoped with my fourth baby to give birth in some other position. Following a near-painless labor, I delivered my fourth baby on my hands and knees.

My primary goal with my fifth baby was to give birth upright. After an emotional, but exceptionally supported labor, I delivered with my upper body cradled in a birth sling, standing with bent knees.

Will My Baby Have Down Syndrome?

October 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm

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I was lying in bed one morning with my eyes closed. It was a couple of months ago, but I can’t remember if I knew I was pregnant yet. Somewhere in that place between sleep and waking, I saw the face of a child with Down syndrome. When I fully awoke a few moments later, I felt a torrent of thoughts and questions about that image enter my mind. Was it a spiritual message? Would I be giving birth to a child with Down syndrome? Or was it just a random flash of a meaningless dream?

The Empty Swing

September 8, 2017 at 10:34 am

Sometimes you just need another witness. Another voice saying, “Yes, this is true. You’re not crazy.”

Today I’m deeply grateful to my friend Amber for giving me another witness.

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For six years I have known about a little boy who has communicated in a multitude of ways that he is a part of our family, though not yet in the flesh. Just to give you a little more background, let me share a few of the experiences I have had with him.

Thoughts on Unschooling

September 3, 2017 at 9:09 pm

I spent several days this weekend listening to speakers and chatting with other moms at the Free to Be Unschooling Conference here in Phoenix at a really beautiful hotel.

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I attended the conference because I got a discounted rate through being part of the Arizona Homeschool Theater Group and because I’ve been interested in learning more about unschooling ever since I started homeschooling a few years ago. My objective was to try to figure out if unschooling was something that would be a good fit for our family. I have loved reading a lot of John Holt’s writings, and he is the one who sort of started the unschooling movement. I attended with a friend and her sister, so we spent a lot of time talking and processing everything throughout the conference. Below you’ll find some of my thoughts about the conference and the things I learned about unschooling.

Never Settle

August 18, 2017 at 11:06 pm

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A few months ago, we made an offer on a house we really liked in a neighborhood we really liked. It was right around the corner from some of our friends, and it had a swimming pool and a swing set and beautiful saltillo tile in the kitchen, dining room, and hallways. However, after the home inspection, we decided to pull out of the deal. There were just too many expensive repairs that would be needed, and the sellers weren’t willing to help with any of them. Part of me was relieved, but another part of me was devastated. For the following month, I continued looking for a home, but everywhere there only seemed to be dead ends and homes that just didn’t have the things I really wanted.

Three Years Since the Breakdown

July 27, 2017 at 9:01 am

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On July 31, 2014, I wrote these words:

Since coming home, I have felt considerably worse. . . . I’ve really regressed. The anxiety is worse, the depression is deep. I really don’t know how much more I can take. I feel like I’ve gone so far backward. Everyone keeps telling me I will get through this, that things will get better, and they seem so confident about it. But I feel so done. I feel so exhausted. I feel like it will never end.

Splitting the Sky

June 4, 2017 at 10:18 pm

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Two summers ago, my wonderful friend Amber asked if she could interview me for a project she was working on. At the time I was on vacation, visiting my family for the summer, and I was newly pregnant with my 5th baby. Amber and Camlyn came to my dad’s house and set up their cameras and sound equipment. They asked me excellent questions, and I did a lot of crying in front of the camera. Ha.

For the Days You Want to Quit

April 6, 2017 at 1:14 am

My third child and only son celebrated his 8th birthday this past weekend. I will never forget the first hours of his life. He was born late in the evening, so it was “bedtime,” but I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was stare at him, absolutely, totally, and madly in love. I was on that birth high for nearly a year, totally smitten by this baby boy I called Mister Bubbagoo.

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That chubby face still makes my heart melt.

Book Review: The Serotonin Power Diet

March 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Last week I was doing some reading about weight loss while breastfeeding. There is a common misconception that breastfeeding promotes weight loss. It turns out this isn’t the case, at least for many women. Prolactin, one of the primary breastfeeding hormones, actually slows the metabolism of fat (Source). I’ve gained weight myself since giving birth nearly 15 months ago. My particular weight gain situation is compounded by a medication as well. The SSRI I take for my anxiety and depression has a side-effect of weight gain for many people. All of my family members have gained weight from taking anti-depressants, so it isn’t a surprise that I would as well.

When I attempted to wean off my medication three years ago, I dropped the weight quickly, but I also descended into a dark, suicidal hell. Those who love me agree that my will to live is much more important than being thin. Initially my medication-induced weight gain translated to being approximately 20-30 lbs heavier than I was pre-SSRI. With my added weight gain from pregnancy and breastfeeding, I am now approximately 60 lbs heavier than I was for most of my life.

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With my 2nd baby in 2007 and then 2016

4 Questions to Ask about Our Children’s Futures

February 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm

A friend of mine has been dealing with some intense challenges with her son’s school. Her sweet but very active 5-year-old son has been suspended three times in the past three weeks. I’m tempted to say he was suspended for rule infractions that could fit under the umbrella of “being a 5-year-old.” Most American kindergarteners are expected to sit still, stand still, be quiet, stay in line, and generally avoid typical 5-year-old behavior at all times. So sad.

While American kindergarteners are denied their one short recess for small infractions, kindergarteners in Finland are given as many as four free-play breaks between classes because “educators and parents here believe that these breaks are a powerful engine of learning that improves . . . executive function, concentration and cognitive focus, behavior, well-being, attendance, physical health, and yes, test scores, too” (Source). Professor Howard Gardner, from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, gave this advice for improving American schools: “Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States” (Source).

All of this has me thinking a lot about what really matters and what will really prepare my children for the actual future they will be living in. My research and my gut agree that what is being taught in most American schools is insufficient for and even opposed to what our children will actually need in the future. For what it’s worth, here are some questions I feel we should be thinking about.

4 questions to ask

4 Tips for Improving Life on an SSRI

January 25, 2017 at 3:48 am

Taking an SSRI for depression and anxiety can be life-saving, but anti-depressants aren’t always as helpful as we would hope. Some people don’t find any relief at all, or try multiple types of drugs before finding one that works for them. Science Daily recently reported:

More than half of the 41 million Americans who take antidepressants do not fully respond. Add-on therapies are often prescribed to enhance the effects of the drugs in these patients, but they typically offer limited additional benefits and come with side effects (Source).

I first began taking the anti-depressant Sertraline (Zoloft) in August of 2012. My journey managing life with this drug over the past few years has taught me a thing or two. One of my favorite things to do is to write about and share the things I learn. My hope is always that reading one of my posts will change someone’s life for the better. Here are four tips for improving life on an SSRI.

**As always, none of this should be considered medical advice. These are things that have helped me, but none of them should replace the advice or care of a qualified mental health professional.**

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