Father Feelings

Having older parents can be really hard sometimes.

My father turned 73 yesterday.

Wow.

I have been watching my father battle his inner demons for the majority of my life.
Alongside his battle with addiction, I’ve seen him conquer 2 strokes, 1 major heart attack, acute pancreatitis, stage 3 withdrawal, and a diabetes diagnosis that he continues to manage every single day. Things have not been easy for him, or for me, as his daughter.

One year ago today, our relationship looked very different. I didn’t see him on his birthday and I didn’t even call him to wish him a happy birthday. I don’t think that I’m quite ready to publicly share those details yet, but to give you a sense of why things were the way that they were, I’ll say that I was setting boundaries. Boundaries that I have tried and failed to set my whole life. If you are a child of a parent who struggles with addiction, this concept will make perfect sense to you, no details necessary, and my heart goes out to you.

I remember isolating myself that day. I hopped into the bath with the intention to “self care” on a day that I knew would be hard to get through. I sat in the tub as the water poured in, picturing my dad waiting by the phone. I had my head in my knees and I sobbed.

I love my dad. I wanted to call him. I wanted to see him, to give him a card, a hug. I felt guilty, devastated, and terrified thinking that I may have to spend the rest of my days knowing that I didn’t call my dad on his very last birthday, thinking of the very real possibility that he may not be making it to 73.

One year later, Here he is, here we are, together, at 73. I called him and sang happy birthday to him through the phone with my sister. I gave him a card, and many hugs. We took him to his favourite restaurant and enjoyed a nice meal together.
He is healthy, he is sober, he is here. He made it.

I know deep in my soul that there is a reason that he has survived all that he has. There is a reason that he is still here. I know that there is something greater than all of us, working behind the scenes to ensure healing for my dad, for myself, and for our relationship, so that when the time does come, as it must, we can both be at peace.

While I’m extremely grateful that he is still around and was so happy to spend his special day with him, sometimes I can’t help but feel a lot of sadness. I can’t help but wish that things had been different. I can’t help but wish that I could just turn back time and have him be granted a “do over” so that I could experience life growing up with a father, and on that note, I also can’t help but ponder what that would’ve been like, what I would have been like now, had my father been more present. I can’t help but wish that the pain didn’t exist. I can’t help but compare my circumstances to that of my peers, who have been able to and continue to be able to have their dads in the ways I have longed to have my own, and I can’t help but be overcome by anger, sadness, and envy because of it.

I never got any of that, and now here we are, coming to the end. How did this happen? It doesn’t feel fair.

With the details of our relationship aside, I often ask: how much longer do I have with him? will he be able to walk me down the aisle some day? will he be meeting his grandchildren? Questions that I’m afraid to even have answered.

Maybe it’s a bit morbid, but I think that it’s natural for children of older parents to have these thoughts. I’m trying my best to practice mindfulness when it comes to my parents. Rather than looking back and wishing things were different, or looking forward and catastrophising what may be to come, I’m really trying to make the most of the time that we have together right now. I don’t want to look back and regret not being present in these moments.

Yesterday, I put my phone away and tried to soak up every second. Though the sadness came in waves, as it will forever more, I tried to amplify the happiness and gratitude that I felt in my heart as I hugged my dad on his 73rd birthday. I can’t rewrite the past, but we still have a shot at creating a beautiful end to our story together.

Happy birthday dad, we had a great day ♥️

 

daddy 3               daddy2.jpg

daddy5.jpg                daddy4

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8 tips for having a successful workout

I am happy to announce that I am finally starting to feel more myself again! #yay #depressionsucks. This means that I have FINALLY been able to muster up the motivation and energy needed to fuel the healthy lifestyle change that my body and mind have been tirelessly asking me for.  I am prioritizing healthy, wholesome, nutrient dense foods as well as daily physical activity in the pursuit of looking and feeling my absolute best 💖 To me, this change does not feel restrictive or punitive in any way, in fact, after neglecting myself for such an extended period of time, these changes feel rewarding, empowering, and more importantly, enjoyable. Life does need to be enjoyed, after all 🙂

Though I’m feeling better and excited about making these changes, I’ve noticed for myself, that one of the hardest aspects of this lifestyle is making sure to get that workout in. Some days I wake up and I’m ready to go, other days, I’m just putting it off until the next hour, and then the next, and then the next, and before you know it, the day is nearly gone! This leaves me no choice but to either skip my work out entirely or work out late at night, which is not ideal for me because 1.I find that my energy supply is depleted by then and 2. my mindset is just not fully ‘’in it’’ <– (1 + 2 = lousy workout).

Lousy workouts just don’t cut it for me. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE a good workout. I love to feel exhilarated, I love to be drenched in sweat, I love to feel accomplished and proud of myself when I’m finished, and even though that’s what I strive to replicate each time I work out, some days, things just don’t go according to plan. To expect ‘’perfection’’ in the form of an amazing workout each and every single time is slightly far fetched, BUT, I’ve come up with some helpful tips/strategies that can aid in enhancing the quality of your workouts, to ensure that at least most of your gym sessions are of the sweaty, invigorating, totally gratifying kind ☺

#1. Eat your Energy
So, I know that ‘’pre-workout’’ & caffeine supplementation seems to be all the rage these days in the fitness community, but my approach to fitness is more of a ‘’keep it simple’’ approach. So here’ my logic behind this first tip:  Calories = Energy, Calories = FOOD! It could not get any more simple than this, and that’s just the way I like it! ; easy, accessible, proven to be effective, and more importantly safe for our bodies. I’m no expert, but the idea of ingesting a concoction of chemical stimulants for an extra energy boost freaks me out! Don’t get me wrong, I love me a cup of coffee in the morning, but I prefer to fuel my workouts with energy acquired from food J Some people swear by supplements though, so to each their own J Do what works for you!

Personally, I find that a balanced combination of carbohydrates and protein prior to a workout generate the best results in enhancing my energy and endurance. Carbohydrates are an amazing source of direct energy that assist in energy levels, stamina and muscle recovery, so If you’re working out regularly you definitely should be having your carbs both pre and post gym sesh!

If you struggle to exercise on a full stomach, start with a snack:
-banana with peanut butter
-granola bar
-hummus and crackers with veggies
-yogurt and granola

or if you’re like me and you like to load up on that energy! :
-chicken, rice, veggies
-toast with peanut butter and fruit on the side
-sandwhich + salad

The general take away from this tip is to EAT BEFORE YOU EXERCISE lol! your body is a car and food is the fuel. Your workout quality will drastically decrease without an adequate power source. If you want to get the most out of your workouts, you’re going to need the energy to power through them.
#2. Stay Hydrated
This one’s a given, ESPECIALLY if you’re exercising a lot. You want make sure that you are hydrating before, after, and during your workouts. This will help to regulate your body temperature and transport the nutrients you consume so that your body can use them for energy. Adequate hydration will ensure that you are able to perform at your best capacity J

#3. Get into a good sleep routine
Have you ever slept in a few extra hours and woken up feeling SUPER tired and groggy? Even though you got more than enough sleep? It confuses me too, don’t worry. That initial lethargic state will linger with you all day, which can make surviving your work out pretty daunting.

My best advice here is to focus on sleep hygiene by getting back into a consistent routine. You’ll have to create this routine for yourself, so what I like to do, is to start off by selecting a time that I would like to see myself waking up at every day. For me recently, this time is 7:00am. Next, you want to input this time to your alarm for the next day, and when that alarm goes off, GET UP. It’s going to be hard, especially if you’re used to going to sleep at 2:00am, but this is the only way you’ll be able to make the change happen!

What helps me on the hard to open my eyes days is to pick up my phone and start scrolling through my social feeds, checking emails, playing games, reading through news etc. I’ll start with one eye, and I’ll gradually open the other (I actually swear by this LOL).
Your next task after getting out of bed, is to fight the nap for the remainder of your day. If you push through those first few days, you’ll notice your body’s sleep clock will begin to naturally shift and allow you to ease into your desired schedule, thus, optimizing your energy levels throughout the day J

#3. Plan your workouts
Make sure to have a solid idea of what you’re going to be doing before going to do it, especially if you have a busy schedule and require strict time management. This will help to keep you focussed on the task at hand, making it easier for you to power through and just get it done. I find that going into a workout blindly, often results in procrastination, so it helps to know which muscle group you intend to target, or how many minutes of cardio you want to complete, or how many reps of each exercise you would like to accomplish, etc. This will help to keep you on track and reduce breaks, thus keeping your heart rate going , resulting in an effective workout J

This can have the same effect as creating a to do list: you know how it feels so satisfying to put that little check mark next to each task once you’ve completed it? Well it will feel just as good once you’ve completed your planned workout session. Having a specific and structured plan will help in motivating you to get it done!

#4. Disconnect
Put your phone away or turn it off! Being on your phone during a workout can be THE WORST distraction. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up my phone during a water break and ended up standing there scrolling, reading, texting, etc. for enough time to dry my sweat and bring my heart rate back down. This does not make for a good workout! To avoid this, I like to put my phone on airplane mode for the duration of my workout to prevent potential disruptions. Make this your YOU time. Disconnect yourself for the hour that you need to focus on getting through your workout.

#5. Create a Killer playlist
This is my FAVOURITE tip because I find that it’s the most influential for me. Music has the power to instantly and drastically alter your mood, and with the right songs, you can become a bad ass body builder/ Olympic champion / Victoria secret angel / your ultimate’’ fitspo’’ for an hour of your day, and that’s just the type of energy you want to embody when going into your work out. This will guarantee a KILLER sweat session.

#6. Dress to Impress (yourself)
Cute workout clothes!!!! This is a universal recommendation that I haven’t actually agreed with until very recently. I was always THAT girl who would work it in a baggy tee and a pair of shorts (Yes, even to the gym) and for the longest time this idea just didn’t resonate with me. For the last few years I’ve been working out in my basement, so I honestly just felt that I had no reason to wear nice things because no one would ever see me. It wasn’t until recently that I started purchasing nice, good quality, workout gear and let me tell ya……..even though no one sees me in my basement except me……I feel wicked good in my matching sets, and feeling wicked good going into a work out sets you up for a wicked good workout. This is not about catering to other people this about catering to yourself. Wear a cute outfit that makes you feel good and confident for the sake of feeling good and confident. A positive mindset is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to working out ☺

#7. Switch things up
Don’t get stuck in a routine of doing the same thing every day or every week. The goal is to make this journey a fun one! And repetition will get boring real quick. Try incorporating different forms of exercise into your workout regime; walking, swimming, hiking, playing basketball, soccer, baseball, or dancing. Make it fun so that it doesn’t end up feeling like a chore.

#8. Find a Buddy
What better way to make working out fun and exciting than to have someone doing it with you? Grab your best friend, your co-worker, you brother, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, mom or dad and enjoy!!! Having a partner can also increase the effectiveness of your workout in the sense that you now have someone to hold you accountable and to push you through your workout when you may start feeling like you want to call it quits. It’s WAYYYY too easy when we’re by ourselves to justify our half assed efforts, but having a support system in place will help to keep us motivated and liable.

Happy Sweating Friends  ♡

 

Summertime Sadness

With summer (slowly, but surely) rollinnnn’ on in, alongside my own body insecurities, let’s talk about the dreaded d word : dieting.

Before I continue, I just want to affirm that I understand the desire to do it. I’m not about to go on some redundant rant about how we should just love and accept ourselves the way that we are instead, because I feel as though that would be ignorant and dismissive of me.

God knows, that I know, that we humans don’t always love ourselves as we are. It can be a huge struggle to find comfort and confidence within our own bodies, especially with added pressure from bathing suit season and society’s beauty standards. We’ve all succumbed to this pressure once or twice before (probably definitely more) and if I’m being honest, it‘s likely to happen again.

I want you to know that it is okay to struggle with this, and that it is also okay to want to better yourself by improving your physical appearance. We all want to look and feel our best and to that I say: kudos to us! xo

That being said, I want to clarify that I am in no way promoting or in favour of dieting. Yes, I understand the pressure to do it and yes I have also succumbed to that pressure on many occasions, however, to put this lightly, I am not an advocate for dieting. Diets are harmful and Diets do work. Period.

As I struggled with my mental health over the course of these last few months, my nutrition and exercise habits were heavily impacted. Sometimes when I’m struggling emotionally/mentally I cope by committing to a very strict exercise and eating regime (this will be a topic for another time) and other times I fall sedentary and binge for weeks at a time, which is what I’ve been doing for the last several weeks. Needless to say, I feel crappy, my skin has broken out, and I’ve put on a few extra pounds.

Overall, I am not feeling my best and the pressure to get “back on track” is definitely there. Part of me wants to dive in, go hard, and strive for fast results, and the other part of me knows that I need to prioritize my health before anything else.

If you’re in the same boat as me, I want you to know that though the feeling of being strongly dissatisfied with your appearance is in fact very normal, very human, this dissatisfaction can also act as a very menacing motivator, please proceed with caution before resorting to a drastic course of action.

^ What I’m alluding to here is that diet culture preys and relies on our insecurities; the worse that we feel in our bodies, the more extreme we are willing to go, thus, the more the industry benefits. This cycle breeds detrimental health risks, eating disorders, and perpetual low self esteem.

Having been down this road before, and having experienced first hand the consequences that come with fad diets, one of them being unsustainable success, I am at a place where I know that I need to try something different.

This topic has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late, and I’ve spent countless hours trying to orchestrate some sort of a plan. Through my brainstorming, I had an epiphany of sorts that I want to share with you. Let me try to break this down in simple terms (bare with me):

Feeling insecure in your body and dissatisfied with what you see in the mirror represents a struggle of self love. We attempt to combat this, to remedy this, to actually strengthen and acquire love for ourselves and our bodies, by dieting (usually with the intent to lose fat and gain muscle).

Diets are composed of restriction and deprivation. Diets act as a means of punishing ourselves for not living up to ideal standards. Diets leave us defeated, unmotivated, lonely, and hungry, which to me, doesn’t sound very ‘’loving’’.  To me, this is a manifestation of self hatred.

Ponder this: by denying our body, our organs, our muscles, our brain the energy and the nutrients that it needs to survive, are we loving ourselves? Are we sending the message to ourselves that we are worthy? Are we setting a solid foundation for self-love and acceptance to grow? Absolutely not.

Logically, it just doesn’t make sense. We want to love ourselves and our bodies and yet we’re hurting and hating them?

Let me ask you this: Would you refuse to feed your child if they were hungry? No. but if you did, it wouldn’t be empowering, it would be neglectful and abusive. So why are we okay with doing this to ourselves?

I can’t answer that, but I have come to the conclusion that self-love can never grow from self-hatred.

I’m owning up to not feeling comfortable in my own skin right now, but I’m ready to take a different approach to overcoming this. I want to love my body, and in order to develop this loving relationship, I’m going to have to treat it lovingly, which means no more extremities, restriction, deprivation, or dieting.

So, If you’re a seasoned diet vet, like me, whose ready to try something different, here are some tips to getting back on track in a healthy and loving way

1. Hydrate
I know, I know! You’ve heard this time and time again, and that’s because it works! Water helps to minimize water retention (ironic, I know), helps to dissolve minerals and nutrients to make them more accessible to the body, and it also helps to remove waste products.

If you are planning to exercise regularly, you will need to double your water intake, and if you are someone who struggles with bloating, this tip should be a priority for you.

Since I have started back on my ‘’health kick’’ and increased my water intake significantly, I’ve been watching the number on the scale that scared me so much just a few days ago drop, bit by bit, day by day. What this means is that the initial number that I saw on the scale (the one that told me I had gained nearly 10 pounds) was largely made up of water weight which was the result of my high sugar and sodium intake.

Which brings me to my next point…….

2. Screw the Scale
Toss it out, hide it, cover it up, I don’t care, just don’t look at it! At least for those first few days. That number on the scale is often instantly associated with fat. When I saw my number go up, that was my exact thought instantly and I felt so defeated. I later realized a lot of that was water weight, so this just goes to show that there are soooo many things that need to be factored into the number that we see on the scale. Are you building muscle? Are you bloated? Constipated? Are you a female and are you on your period? Allllll of these things can contribute to a higher number. Our weight can fluctuate day to day, hour to hour, meal to meal, and it does not mean that we are getting fat. Just do yourself a favor and don’t give the scale the opportunity to discourage you.

3. Beware of Burnout
This is a very real thing. Especially when you’re first starting out in making the transition to a healthier lifestyle. Please move at a slow pace. Don’t just dive right into hardcore workouts and a strict diet. This will be a shock to the system and I assure you that it will wear you out almost immediately.

I recently listened to an amazing podcast that touched on this topic. It was ”The Ground Up Show” Episode 090 ‘’Keeping Fitness Simple’’ where @fitmencook shared his story about struggling with weight loss. Through trial and error (repeated error), he realized that his problem was that he was doing too much too soon. He would fall off the wagon and then make an intense comeback, which always resulted in burnout. Taking the ”hardcore” approach only sets you up for long workout hiatuses and binging, and that’s exactly the pattern he fell into. He experienced this several times before deciding to   revamp his approach. He started out by just tackling one meal a day (he chose lunch). Every day he made sure to incorporate a healthy lunch, because this was often the meal that he was spending the most money on and consuming the most calories. He committed to this one meal everyday, and the rest of his day was free game.  This allowed him to ease in to a healthier lifestyle comfortably. Eventually, he would gradually start to focus on other meals such as breakfast, dinner, etc. until one day he was able to eat healthfully for each meal. This gradual approach resulted in his long term success.

Case in point, diets involve drastic measures that aim to produce fast results, but this is why they do not work. slow and steady will always win the race.

4. EAT
Contrary to popular weight loss guidelines, you never want to let yourself feel hungry. If your tummy’s grumbling, you don’t need black coffee or a lollipop suppressant, you need food. real food (crazy, right?)

Our bodies are so amazing in that they literally tell us what they need. We often overlook the fact that calories = energy and our bodies need that energy to:
A. KEEP US ALIVE and
B. to help us shed fat and build muscle.

Calories are not the enemy, they are our friends. Just be mindful of the calories you are consuming; opt for healthier options as often as you can.

Skipping meals will slow your metabolism, strip you of your energy supply (thus, impacting your workouts), and cause your body to start working against you. If your body is constantly left to wonder when the next meal is coming, it’s going to lose trust in you. It’s going to resort to taking preventative measures to protect itself against the deprivation you are putting it through, by holding onto every inch of fat that it can. Your brain, your muscles, and your organs are priority #1, so If you’re food intake is very low, your body is going right into panic mode, hoarding all the fat that it can in order to survive the ‘’famine’’. There’s no way your body is going to let you shed that weight or build muscle if it’s not getting enough calories and nutrients.

Work on building this trusting relationship with your body. If it asks for food, feed it. Assure your body that the coast is clear, that it can relax, that more food is coming therefore it is safe for it to stop storing.

5. Food Quality 
I recommend increasing your fruit and vegetable intake (duh). Add some to every meal or use these as snacks to tie you over until the next meal (pair it with a protein such as nut butter or yogurt to make sure that you are adequately satiated).

Fruit and veggies are full of fiber which help to keep you regular and are largely made up of H2O thus, helping you reach your hydration goals.
(and No. the sugar in fruit is not bad. Eat the fruit).

Also, NO CUTTING FOOD GROUPS. I’m mostly alluding to the ‘’low carb/no carb’’ diets that EVERYONE is suggesting now a days. All I have to say to that is NO x1000. Did you know that your brain and your muscles SOLELY rely on carbohydrates for energy? You need carbs. Carbs are good. And if you plan on exercising regularly you definitely need to be eating your carbs. Remember, you want to build a trusting relationship with your body which means giving it the fuel that it needs so that in return, it can give you the results that you are looking for.

6. Balance, Balance, Balance
This relates to tip #1 beware of burnout and is so important. Too much of anything is never a good thing. Don’t become so consumed in trying to change your body that you forget to take care of yourself and enjoy your life along the way.

You don’t have to deprive yourself of foods that you enjoy, you don’t have to kill yourself in the gym everyday, you don’t have to skip out on social events in order to avoid temptation, you just have to find a balance. If you want to order pizza with your boyfriend or grab drinks with the girls, go for it, if you want to have some chocolate every day, do it, if you’re not feeling the gym one day, don’t go, none of these things will sabotage your progress. Your goal will come into fruition, but your happiness and well must come first.

To wrap this up, I want to share a piece from one of my favourite articles, ”The Real Reason Your New Year’s Resolution Will Fail” by Martha Beck:

How much did Florence Nightingale weigh when she founded modern nursing? How much did Rosa Parks weigh when she took her seat on that Alabama bus? How much did Malala Yousafzai weigh when she started writing about the lives of girls in Pakistan under Taliban rule? You don’t know? That’s the right answer! Because it doesn’t matter. 

For so many people, January 2 is D day—diet day, that is. Losing weight can be a laudable goal, but this year I’m going to think about weightier matters—weighty s in “of great importance,” a definition that does not apply to dress size. I have found that I feel instantly lighter when I stop asking “Why are my thighs so squidgy?” and start asking “What would really make me happy right now?” Whenever body shame creeps up on me, I resolve to refocus on adding meaning to my life. 

What a beautiful reminder that we are so much more than our weight, than our appearance, than our bodies. I know that it is not always easy to love ourselves and to feel beautiful, but I hope you find the same comfort from this article that I did, even if for just a fleeting moment. Read it again if you find that you need that reminder.

If you’re struggling right now, know that I’m right there with you! I feel your pain and I am cheering you on from a distance (big hugs) being a human is hard.

Best of luck and lots of love, we got this!!! ♡ ♡

cjk

 

 

A mother’s love

Munchkin did so good today and is in recovery from her surgery 💙🌼
My little girl reached the 6 month mark which means: time to get spayed 😱😱😱
I tossed and turned all night anticipating the “big day” (which was today) knowing that my poor baby, Ruby, who likes to sleeeeeep in 💤 will be woken up bright and early by a loud alarm, will be denied drinking water and a treat for her morning “pee pees”, will then be taken to the car and dropped off at the vet office, and left all alone by mommy and daddy to undergo a painful surgery.

This. was. so. hard. for. me. I felt guilty, and sad, and scared, and sick to my stomach.

She had been so innocently clueless all morning, staring at me with her big beautiful bug eyes, as if to say: “Momma, where’s my treat?”, ”Where are you taking me?”, “What is happening?”

I know that this is a very routine surgery and I may sound slightly over dramatic in my reaction, but I am just SO attached to my precious girl. Just the thought of her being in pain or experiencing any form of suffering at all puts a giant knot in the pit of my stomach.

I came home to make breakfast and go about my day after dropping her off, only to realize how truly special she is to me. The house was empty, she wasn’t watching me make my smoothie from the bottom step of the staircase, she wasn’t there to share my banana and frozen strawberries, her warm little body wasn’t laying in my lap while I drank my morning coffee, and the list goes on. She fills my heart and my life as a whole, day by day, hour by hour, in the smallest of moments, and her impact was magnified by her absence.

I watched the clock all day, growing more anxious as the hours approached her discharge time. I finally received the call saying that she was ready to be picked up and my stomach instantly dropped. A combination of excitement and nerves.

When we got there, the technician gave us the run down (how the surgery went, next steps, what to expect etc.etc.) and then she brought her out…..🙈……

I will sum it up in saying this: thinking about her being in pain was one thing, seeing it was another. It was horrible. To be honest, when we got home, I bawled my eyes out (LOL). Her little baby belly was all stitched up and bloody, she was shivering, whimpering, and falling over. Call me crazy, but I am a super emotional human being to begin with, so seeing her this way really hurt my heart. My rambunctious, mischievous, always hungry, rebel of a baby was now drowsy, limp, and refusing to eat. I watched her  in silence and just sobbed.

In that moment, I felt as though I completely understood a mother’s love for her child; An immense connection, sense of protection, an indescribable abundance of pure, unconditional love, and ultimately, the experience of pain in the presence of their pain.

These last few weeks have been particularly challenging for me and she has definitely played a very important role in my surviving them. I take one look at her and I am overcome by an enormous sense of purpose. This little creature depends on me to take care of her. She needs me. There is something very healing about being needed, about being loved. If you have something, or someone in your life who makes you feel as though your existence is important, consider yourself lucky. I know that I am.

Even though this day was very hard for me, I felt absolutely grateful and blessed knowing that she had survived the surgery without complications. My baby is home safe, and now, once she’s recovered, we have a long, beautiful life together to look forward to

 

My melancholy

If you happened to read my very first blog post titled, “wholly, unapologetically” you’d know that I have essentially set out to “tweak” my image on social media. To spare you some reading, what I mean by this is that I would like to start presenting myself more honestly, more candidly, more authentically, less influenced by / concerned with what others may be thinking of me. If you read that very first blog post, or any other post for that matter, you’ve also probably caught on to the fact that I’ve been in a bit of a “funk” as of lately. By lately I mean months, by funk I mean depressed.

There, I said it.

I attempted to conceal this from not only the world, but from myself, hence, labeling it a funk for weeks at a time, telling myself that I just needed to think more positively, that I needed to be more useful and driven like others, telling myself that “it’s just seasonal”, “it’s the weather”, that I need to be more grateful, less sensitive, more productive, eat better, exercise, meditate, read a book, DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING.

While some of those things are perfectly good supplements to self caring, my response to what I have been feeling (which is actually a very common response for those confronted with depressive symptoms) completely dismisses and contradicts what it means to be depressed.

Depression is not a funk. Depression is not a few down days, low mood days, low energy days, low motivation days; depression is debilitating.

Depression limits a person’s ability to function, to thrive, to regulate emotions, to problem solve and process information, to socialize, to perform complex as well as simple tasks, to sustain relationships, and ultimately, to care for oneself.

Every day, I would fight my “funk” with a long list of things that I kept telling myself that I should be doing in order to feel better, but the reality for me was that I could not bring myself to do those things. The reality for me, was that I struggled to get out of bed, I struggled to stay awake throughout the day, I struggled to eat enough/ to stop eating, I struggled to feel positive emotions such as excitement, motivation, etc. and I struggled to regulate my emotions which resulted in frequent and unwarranted crying outbursts (this is one of my personal red flags).

None of this could have been remedied by positive thoughts, exercise, productivity, healthy eating habits, or any of these go-to “solutions” (believe me, I tried). In fact, hanging these so-called ”solutions” over my head was only causing me harm. Again, all of these things can be extremely effective in combating low mood and increasing an over all sense of well being, however, these will not adequately sustain someone who is depressed.

I spent months telling myself that I should be doing all of these things, and when I couldn’t bring myself to actually doing them, my negative thoughts and feelings were only magnified. When I’d struggle to perform even the simplest of tasks such as getting out of bed, you can only imagine how I felt about myself.

I think one of the main reasons that I refused to call it depression and treat it as such was because I couldn’t justify it for myself. I couldn’t be depressed because things were fine. Everything was okay, I told myself. There were no major life events or stressors presented to me at the time that could have been causing me to feel THIS bad, so I convinced myself that it wasn’t this bad. But the truth is, depression doesn’t always need a reason. It does not always come with a definite trigger or cause. Depression can be the unexpected/unwanted visitor who shows up to your doorstep unannounced; it doesn’t always need an invitation to show up, sometimes, it just does.

A dismissive response like the one that I had, is so deeply embedded among society when symptoms of depression arise, and this is so harmful to individuals, like myself, who are genuinely suffering from depression. Such responses send the message, “you are lazy, be better” when in reality they should say something more along the lines of “you are not well, let’s get you some help”.

I’d been here before, so I know my telltale signs. I’ve also studied mental health so I understand the ins and outs of depression from a medical perspective. Presumably, I should have known. I should have addressed this early on with my doctor, nipped it in the bud, but I didn’t.

I didn’t because the sad truth is, is that there is still so much shame & stigma surrounding mental illness. There are still so many negative ideations associated with depression; it’s laziness, it’s an excuse, it’s everything except an illness that deserves proper attention and treatment.

This is why people don’t even attempt to reach out for help.

This is why people suffer in silence.

I was always that person who rejected the pharmaceutical approach to treating my own depression. I was afraid of medication. I was afraid that it would harm me in some way, change me in some way, make things worse, turn me into a zombie (as if depression hadn’t already done that to me). There must be at least 20 prescriptions for antidepressants laying around my house right now that I’ve accumulated over the years. I would never fill them, but I’d always find myself back at my doctors office in tears.

I tried everything. I tried the exercise, the positive affirmations, meditation, eating healthy, reading self help books, therapy, I really tried.

I reached a breaking point during the summer of 2017. My world was crumbling. living was hard. I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t manage my emotions, my relationships, I was having multiple panic attacks a day, I was scared to leave the house, I was scared to go to sleep; my life felt like a nightmare.

At that point I was ready to surrender, and to acknowledge that by denying myself medication (proper treatment) I was essentially denying the reality of what it means to struggle with mental illness.

I had exhausted my options, and I was ready to try anything, even the one thing that I said I would never do. I agreed to try an antidepressant and I was lucky enough to find one that worked well with me. I felt like I got my life back.

It wasn’t a quick fix and it did not serve as a “happy pill”. I still felt sadness, I still cried, I still endured hard times, but I was able to live my life despite tribulations. The best way that I can describe it’s effect on me, is that it took the edge off, slowed things down, allowed me to think more clearly.

I was able to thrive on a very low dose for nearly 2 years, which I am extremely grateful for. But what often happens is that eventually the body develops a tolerance to the medication as it adapts to it’s frequency and dosage. What this means is that over time, you may stop responding to the medication as your body gets used to it, thus, requiring an increase in dosage to attain initial results.

I know myself. I know when things are off. I can identify my personal red flags/warning signs, and they were definitely there, I just wanted to look the other way.

I have tried to battle this “organically”, but my reality is that I struggle with depression and anxiety. My reality demands adequate treatment, and for me, this means taking medication. My reality is that I function better when I take my medication. This may not be my reality forever, but it is my reality right now. And I’m okay with it.

I made the decision in collaboration with my doctor to increase the dose of my medication. In all honesty, this was a very hard decision for me to make. I’m not sure why. I think that maybe there’s just a lot of sadness associated with the fact that my depression “came back”. I wish this wasn’t something that I had to battle. I wish I could just be okay on my own. But I have to accept that this is something that I struggle with. That it’s normal. That it’s okay. That I deserve to live a happy and fulfilling life and more importantly, that I am capable of living a happy and fulfilling life, despite my depression and anxiety.

It’s been a bit of a struggle to experience my body’s adjustment to the medication, but I am finally starting to feel a bit better. I feel as though my zest for life is slowly but surely being reignited.

It is a process. It is a matter of finding what works for you. Sufficient treatment for mental illness will always have to be case by case, person by person, brain by brain. A successful method for one person, may not be so for the next. Remember this before making comparisons or placing judgment on others based on the ways in which they choose to manage their symptoms.

While I strongly encourage trying the alternatives to treating depression before turning to medication, I also encourage you to be completely honest with yourself. If exercising or meditating isn’t working for you, if weeks go by and there are no improvements, please book an appointment with your doctor. Open up the dialogue so that you can receive more information about/consider the other options that are available to you.

If things like meditation, healthy eating, exercise, or therapy generate positive results for you, Amazing. If you need to take medication and medication works for you, Amazing. Do what works for you. There is no ”right” way, only the way that helps you successfully manage your symptoms. It is a road that may be engulfed by trials and failures, of discouragements and defeat, a time where you may experience shame, confusion, frustration, but know that you are worth fighting for, we all are.

As I continue on my personal journey to self acceptance, I have to keep reminding myself that this part of me is okay, that this is not my fault, that this does not define who I am as a person nor does it make me any less valuable as a human being, and I am sharing my story to remind YOU, whoever you are, that the parts of you that struggle are okay, that your mental illness is not your fault, that it does not define who you are as a person, nor does it make you any less valuable as a human being. Read that over again and know that we, among millions, are in this together.

You are not alone.

With this, I hope that you find a sense of comfort that will enable you to tune into yourself, and to acknowledge and accept that you are struggling, if you find that this is the case. I hope that you are able to be compassionate with yourself while you navigate ways to cope and to overcome. I hope that you find the strength to share your struggles with a loved one or a trusted professional, should your personal efforts fail to soothe you and I hope that you never lose sight of the fact that there are brighter days to come.

with so much love,

𝒸𝒿𝓀

Unconditional

Being sick sucks. On top of feeling physically horrendous, I feel even worse having to put my life on hold.
I want to exercise, I want to go for long walks with the dog, I want to feel energized, and excited but I can’t and I don’t.

This probably feels worse than it should because I’ve already spent so many weeks living in a “funk”, feeling sluggish and unproductive. Of course as soon as I start to feel ready and motivated to get things back on track, life has other plans for me. *sigh* 😔

I’ve run out of inspiration, motivation, and Kleenex (hence the TP roll photographed) but there is one thing that’s been keeping me going: my precious baby girl, Ruby. She has been by my side, morning and night, comforting me and lifting my spirits. Just one look at that sweet, squishy, innocent face soothes the soul. If you’re a dog owner, you get it.

I can’t even begin to describe the joy that she brings to my life. On my worst days, she is my reason to smile, even if I want nothing more than to cry, and when I cry, she’s there to lick my face and share some snuggles. 🐻

Animals are so intuitive. I truly believe that they can sense human emotion and respond accordingly, a gift belonging to each and everyone of these Earth angels, with their presence alone.
Recently, Ruby has been glued to me….I mean, quite literally hugging me as we nap (see photo) 😭😭 How lucky am I?

I have been feeling so guilty for not being well enough to play with her and take her outside for walks, but I think that her constant sweet kisses, snuggles, and bug eyed gazes are her way of assuring me that, ”mama, it’s okay”.

My sweet little bug, you are truly a light in my life. #dogappreciationpost

𝒸𝒿𝓀

lemons, lozenges & love

JUST when I think I’ve got things all figured out…..life hands me a fresh load of lemons 🍋 🙃

It was my boyfriends birthday this past weekend. We had been planning his special day for a few weeks now, and I had been so looking forward to finally getting to spend some quality time together (he’s been crazy busy and our schedules often clash) and kicking off the celebrations. I took 2 days off of work, I was finally starting get back into the swing of things, finally starting to feel more myself, then BAM!! 🤒

It all started with a sore throat.
We ended up having to spend his special day/weekend curled up in bed with a box of tissues in one hand and a bottle of Benylin in the other (wild time, I know). 💃🏼🕺🏻
To be completely honest, I was crushed. I felt so disappointed, as if I had failed him in some way. He’s been working so hard recently, putting in endless hours to sustain and thrive in his day job as well as to get our new home move in ready on the side. I wanted to show him how much he is appreciated by making this birthday extra special. Sadly, we had to cancel all our plans and surrender to the flu.
The control freak in me was dying to push through and force things, despite how crappy we were both feeling, but he insisted that we take the time we need to rest and recover (he is the voice of reason in this relationship, one of the many reasons that I love him.)

So the thing is, even though we were both pretty darn miserable, we were together. We blew our noses together, laughed together, napped with our puppy together, watched copious amounts of television together (shout out to Santa Clarita Diet), ordered food and had our meals together, woke up at 4:00am, on the dot, each night, in agony, together, suffered; but together. ♥️ and that’s what it’s all about.

It took me a while to realize the fact that this was happiness. That this was love, in action. That this was family. That this was special enough, dare I say even more special than what I had initially planned.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, this situation included. I think that the universe sometimes steps in and slows you down on purpose. This was life’s way of saying stop, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and enjoy. Things didn’t go as planned, but these circumstances granted us some much needed time together, and I would do it over again in a heart beat.

Cherish the small moments with loved ones; the ”boring”, the in between, the mundane stuff. The time, shared together. 
There is nothing more important, more meaningful, more fleeting than time. 

Please,

Make sure you’re not watching it pass you by.  Be present. Be so engulfed in moments shared with love ones, no matter how simple. You will never get these moments back; no making them up, no re-do’s. This is your life, these are your relationships, and they’re happening, right now. hold tight ♥️

 

𝒸𝒿𝓀