My Dream

Over the years my dream must have changed a million times. Thanks to US immigration a lot of the time. I didn’t have a choice in those matters for a long while. Now I do feel like I have a choice. The only thing is I am starting to feel differently. Which is completely foreign to me.

There are things I am sure of though, like living in limbo is just not something I want to do anymore. I feel like I have spent years waiting and chasing after things that were never going to come to light anyway.

With my involvement in my new group, I feel like we are really going to fight the stigma of Mental Health together, as I grow into this role and it develops who I am, I am starting to feel a contentment. I have never felt this way while living here in Canada, I always felt like a visitor, like an alien almost. Now I feel like I am becoming a part of this community and its opening its arms to me.

I never thought we were setting down roots here, but looking around now I know we did. We bought Trev’s parents house. Looking through pictures tonight I see the life long friendships we have made and that Maddie has made. This is what she knows, this is the house she was born into. This is her life, and its my life too.

I think I always worry that something is missing in Maddie’s life without having family around to spoil her, no grandparents like I had when I was young. She isn’t missing that though because thats not the reality for her. She loves her life, she tells me all the time. I left my comfort zone so long ago, and I am just realizing now that I have a new one. I don’t think I understood when that took place, but maybe when I became a wife and then a mother.

I always think we need bigger and better, like we need to make all this money to not have to live pay check to pay check. We are making it though, we have a good life, we own our own home, and we have a nice vehicle. I get to stay home so I am here when Maddie gets home from school.

I feel less and less these days like we are flying without a net. I feel like Trev and I are independent, responsible, and we grow together more and more everyday. We are doing this, we are living this wonderful life together, and we are blessed.

I guess this is to say I don’t feel like running away anymore. I don’t think I will ever like the winters, but I think I am going to try to embrace them a bit more. I will stop referring to California as my home, because it hasn’t been for a very long while now. In fact my home isn’t a place at all, my home is Trev and Maddie, and I want to work on reminding myself how important that is to remember.

I am changing as a person, it happens to everyone, I know. This time though I think it is going to stick.

I am ready to stop waiting, dreaming, chasing, I am ready to do and live.

Time to get my degree in Business Management and open the cafe I have been dreaming of. It is time to stop running from something that is beautiful and start building something that is lasting.

I am ready to let go of my past dreams, and chase my new dream.

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Mental Health Awareness Week

Being in a position where I have suffered and continue to live with mental illness gives me a unique perspective. It’s not the road that everyone has to travel, but it is one that many people are living and traveling!

Some of the strongest people I have ever met in my life have struggled with some form of a mental illness in their life.

I just want to be out, loud, and proud of how far I have come, I want others to know that are suffering that they are absolutely not doing it alone.

Some of my truths regarding my mental illness:

I was diagnosed with depression in October of 2008. I went to the Dr and told him I was just not happy with my life, I was snapping at my husband and my daughter. I was angry or sad with no middle ground. I felt run down and like I was crawling in my own skin.  I was put on Effexor and that helped me tremendously. I felt like my old self again, I was able to push forth.

In July of 2010 when my sister passed away, my world came crushing down. I started having my first panic attacks. I remember clearly one day driving down the road, a funeral procession was passing so I pulled over, and I was stuck. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see clearly, my throat felt like it was closing, my chest hurt. I was drowning in my grief.

Shortly after I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, and severe depression.

There were days I couldn’t get out of bed. I would cry and cry until my eyes were so swollen it was hard to even open them to see. Panic attacks came fast and steady. I would walk into Walmart and immediately start shaking and sweating profusely. I couldn’t drive for fear I was going to be in an accident. I didn’t want to see anyone or be near anyone because I didn’t want to bring them down. I thought I was a burden, I wanted to run away and yes in February of 2011 I made a plan for suicide and wrote letters to Maddie and Trev to say goodbye. I was put in the hospital at that time for a week, and started with the roulette of medications. While in the hospital I was also diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Which I probably have had for most of my life.

Those days of my life were the hardest I have ever had to live. The pain was so immense and so big I couldn’t see around it. The light that was supposed to be at the end of the tunnel never seemed like it would get here. Trev would hold me while I sat on the edge of the bed and sobbed. He cooked, he cleaned, he took care of Maddie, and I did a whole lot of hiding from everything.

For 2 long years that was my life. Living in the depths of hell I was sure I wasn’t going to escape.

Slowly with the right combination of medications, I started to come out of it. I wanted to be around people again. I started to smile and laugh more. I went to therapy. I was able to be happy for the big and small things again. I could drive.

It was truly like being born again into the person I always wanted to be. I still have panic attacks, anxiety is a common thing in my daily life, I have horrible insomnia, and some days I do still get pretty low.

Now I am apart of this amazing Depression and Anxiety support group, that I get to be a part of and help grow. I feel truly blessed to be able to spread the word and help break the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I want to bring a face and voice to those that just don’t have it in them to stand up right now. Being involved in this group, and helping to expand it to help others has been such a blessing. Its absolutely my passion.

I don’t put these things out in the universe for people to feel sorry for me, you don’t need to, I am super blessed with an awesome husband, daughter, and 3 furry babies. I tell you this because if you are suffering, don’t do it silently, get any help you can get, reach out, kick and scream until the right people take notice.

Depression won’t always be a dirty word!

What Being Fat means to me

I have always been the chubby one, combine that with the fact that I am short and well it goes without saying I am FAT. It doesn’t come up a lot in my daily life, I know a lot of people are scratching their heads about that one.

By BMI standards I am super morbidly obese. Which sounds very scary, and sometimes it really is.

When I look in the mirror though I don’t see some big fat slob looking back at me, because that is not who I am.

I am this person that has struggled with weight all my life, I can remember being 10 years old and eating cottage cheese and yogurt for like a week straight to lose weight. 10 years old!

I am on 4 anti depressants and mood stabilizers so that I can leave the house, not burst into tears constantly, and not have a panic attack every 5 minutes. What this means to my weight is that, I can eat salad for a month straight with no dressing and the weight is still going to hang on with a vengeance.

Who wants to eat salad with no dressing for the rest of their life? Uh not me! haha

I am addicted to Chocolate, that is factual, I love Chocolate! I have no problem telling anyone, and I have an emergency stash of chocolate in my office.

What I wanted to get out by writing this post is things that others like to  assume about Fat people:

#1 People who are fat are slobs, lazy, and good for nothing.

I am not a slob thank you very much! I am not lazy either, when I get a chance to get out of my house I am all for it! I love to get out and moving ( I do have a bad back and one knee though). I do my best always though!

#2 People like being fat.

WHAT? seriously! I do not like paying 3 times more for a pair of pants. I don’t like having 1 store that I can shop at, and when you weigh a lot naturally you are 10 feet tall so no pants fit me anyway!

#3 If they tried they could lose the weight.

Oh my dear, I have tried it. Every diet known to man, I see my Dr regularly and he *gasp* knows that I am really fat and we are working on a strategy where I can stay mentally healthy and get physically in shape.

#4 All Fat people have high cholesterol and high blood pressure and are knocking on deaths door.

I don’t have high cholesterol (get it checked often), I don’t have diabetes (get that checked often too!), I had high blood pressure related to my anxiety disorder, cut out salt and do not have high blood pressure anymore. Heart is healthy.

I will tell you my truths though:

I don’t ever remember being picked on for my weight, not once. If people were doing it, they were doing it sly enough that I couldn’t hear. I always had tons of friends, and my weight was never an issue (not that I know of anyway, you would have to ask them!)

I have a husband that loves me no matter what, big, small, pimply faced or not. He tells me I am beautiful every day, and you know what? I believe him.

I do have bad days where I wish I would just wake up and have the magic cure to be at a healthier weight (notice I didn’t say skinny, I don’t NEED to be skinny)

My daughter doesn’t gawk at people who are different from her, because she knows that people come in all different shapes, sizes, colors and abilities and they all deserve to be loved. The world would be a lot better place if all parents could teach this to their children.

Do I believe women that are not Fat struggle too? Absolutely! There is always a high beauty standard we are trying to obtain as women. Society has made it so that we will never be skinny enough, tan enough, light enough, tall enough.

I LOVE healthy food. Seriously, I love food. Good quality, well prepared food is a passion of mine.

I do eat when I am sad, grouchy, and having a bad day. I know its a bad habit, its something I would love to change about myself and I (LIKE EVERYONE IN THE WORLD) am a work in progress.

I don’t need you to tell me I have a pretty face, I know I do 🙂 I don’t need you to tell me that I need to lose weight, I know that too.

When its hot outside I don’t cover my fat with long sleeves and long pants, because ITS HOT! If I go to the beach I wear my bathing suit, hey its the beach!

People assume a lot about fat people. People assume a lot about others actually all the time.

I challenge you that is reading this though, to step out of those assumptions. Don’t look at people and scrutinize them, you don’t know their life, you don’t know their struggles, you don’t know anything about a stranger you have never talked to so don’t assume they are something when they likely are not.

If you want to talk to me about being fat, I am fine with that. I don’t need to be beautiful to everyone, I am beautiful to the people that count though 🙂

ALSO! for the love of all things holy fat brothers and sisters, TAKE PICTURES OF YOURSELF! Leaving yourself out of pictures because you aren’t your ideal weight means that when other people look back on fun times and use pictures to spark their memories you won’t come to mind. Don’t write yourself out of your own life story, its ok to be fat and get your picture taken, you don’t burn up the camera I promise!

Love yourself, you are important!

Seeing Life as a gift

When you are a young teenage girl trying to find your way in the world, trying to separate from your parents and become your own person, life seems almost like a chore. You aren’t sure which road to take because you are still being lead down the path your parents want for you. Most times you just sit in the middle spinning and spinning, and hope you don’t throw up on someone like you are on the tilt a whirl after eating 10 corn dogs. At that point you just want to put your life into over drive, you want to get there, you want to be done, you want to know where you are going to end up, and you want everything to slow down. This I believe is why teenage girls appear melancholy, discontent and always searching. At this point in your life every decision feels like its going to be the BIG one. Who you date, who you don’t date, who your friends are, and who your friends aren’t. It feels like every step is on shaky ground and you become acutely aware of that.

or maybe that was just me…

I think I suffered from depression long before I was diagnosed. I worried about things far to young that I shouldn’t have been worrying about. I piled and piled and piled the work on myself. I was always trying to be the best.

I smiled through it all, everyone always commented on on my smile. I always giggled and I always looked for joy. I filled my time with a job, friends, homework and chatting online with Trev until the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t have time to be lonely, to really sit and think. I know now I was guarding myself, if I had too much time to think, my depression would have gotten the better of me sooner.

Then you hit your 20’s. You are carefree. I had a job, I paid bills, and I liked to go out. I didn’t think much about the future, only was in the now because I had my whole life ahead of me. In your 20’s you never think about mortality (well I didn’t) you just know that you are having fun and living it up. My 20’s were a weird time in my life, I dated a lot of guys in the span of a year and half. (at this time I had not determined that Trev was the one for me, which is probably why I didn’t date any one guy for very long.)

I hit 22, I started having these weird dreams. They were dreams that I would walk by Trev and he wouldn’t acknowledge me, and it was like he didn’t recognize me. I was scared to death. I booked a plan ticket to come to Canada to convince Trev that I was ready for all of this to be my happily ever after.

I think this is when I started to realize that life is a gift, you can be happy, not every moment has to be filled with something. I did have a hard time here at first because I couldn’t work, I was so far away from my family, my comfort zone, my friends. It was very overwhelming, my depression did take hold at that time. I was mostly able to control it then, with great help from Trev.

Then life felt like it hopped on the express train. We were married, we had Maddie, we bought a house, and then BAM my sister passed away. It is hard to describe what that does to someone that has suffered from depression for a long time.

It was like a dam that I had been patching before with bubble gum, and other small pebbles, burst. I was holding it back with a little help, but her death was like an explosion that tore down my dam in the 2 seconds it took for my mom to say “honey she didn’t make it”. My grandfather passed away when I was 12, I knew what grief was. This however was something that was like nothing else I had experienced. It took the wind out of my sails, it stopped my boat, and for a time it stopped my life.

Life was a chore for me again, most of those days I couldn’t find my smile no matter how hard I tried, I cut everyone out of my life and tried to hide. My depression caught up to me and the years of flooding I had held back came all at once. I know a lot of people think that I was just deep in grief. I was, but I was also drowning in years of backed up depression. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think, sitting alone and thinking about life was the most difficult thing in the world. I wanted to run away, I wanted to hide, and yes I wanted to get out of my life.

It took 2 years of building my dam back up with nice sturdy bricks and mortar to get back to seeing life as a gift. Sometimes I think that if I could see the part of my brain where my emotions come from it would be held together with twine, duct tape, bubble gum, and paper clips.

These things had to happen though, was it difficult? probably the most difficult thing I will ever have to do in my life, and thats even after having to say goodbye to my sister for the rest of my life. It was like everything I had ever known was foreign and didn’t fit who I was. I was down in the trenches, and trying to get myself back. I didn’t do it alone though, never once. Trev was there every step of the way, some days he even had to help me put pants on. When my sister died, my husband lost the person he had known too. Together though we figured out who I was supposed to be. I am past those terrible times now.

I will never forget though, the friends that stood by me, my amazing daughter that learned far to young what its like to watch your mother fall apart, and my amazing husband.

I wont ever be able to stop fighting, I will always have to take these medications to keep myself on the straight and narrow, but…my life is a gift. Its a bright shiny red bow on a big box filled with everything that makes me who I am. Everyday I picture in my mind opening that gift to see what it will hold today. Sometimes it is one foot in front of the other, and sometimes its skipping and giggling.

My life is a miracle of true love, laughter from the soul, and living with everything I have in me.

A letter to 18 year old me

Dear 18 year old me,

Well you are 33 now, an adult, with adult responsibilities and a complicated messy love filled life. There are things I wish you would have known before we reached this point, things that knowing at 18 would have been a god send. Not knowing though has left you with battle scars, but you have learned from them. I have a list of things I want you to know.

Finding the love of your life at 13 is possible, you don’t need to run from it because you are scared of repeating your parents’ marriage. You don’t do that, you marry the love of your life and he is everything he always was and more. Being best friends for 10 years before you got married built a solid foundation of happiness, communication and true strong love.

You get to become a mommy to the best little girl in the world. She will charm you, amaze you, and complete you in ways you never knew you were missing. She will look like you, and have the best laugh. She is compassionate, fun loving, and a little nerd just like your husband. You are madly deeply in love with her and everything about her brings light to your life.

You don’t get to have Tiff on earth for much longer, so forgive her, love her, don’t fight over petty things. Embrace her, love her, reminder her a million times how awesome she is, and don’t expect to hear it back. Steal hugs when you can, and memorize that smile and laugh you are going to miss it.

You move 3000 miles away from your family, and you survive. You buy a house, you own a car, you pay bills like an adult.

There will be days where you doubt that you will make an impact on the world, there will be years of making wrong decisions and not knowing if you can handle the consequences.

You will be diagnosed with Depression, PTSD, social anxiety disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. You will get up every morning and take pills to relieve these things for a bit. Some days are going to be better then others. You will talk about it, you will understand others that suffer too, and you will work your hardest to overcome.

You will worry constantly about your family, but they to grow up. Your baby brother works at a restaurant, lives on his own, drives a big truck, and loves to fish. You won’t talk to him much, but you will know the love is there. Kassie will have 2 babies (both boys!) and Tiff will leave behind a little bit of herself in a beautiful girl named Nevaeh. Grandpa and Grandma move to Arkansas (don’t worry you don’t cry too much about missing the house, only a little bit!) and Dad lives with them after being married to an evil woman. You won’t get to see them as much as you like, I wish I could say that didn’t hurt, but it does.

Mostly though, I want to tell you this. There will be days you want to give up, there will be days that seem like they are never going to end. You will say wrong things, you will do wrong things. BUT..You are happy. You don’t have the same dreams that you once did, but you realize that dreams are meant to be changed as life ebbs and flows. You will count your riches in smiles, and crayon drawings plastered all over your fridge. There will be 3 furry animals to look after that bring you much joy. There will be holding hands with Trev until you fall asleep at night, there will be cuddling with Maddie and having midnight cereal. There will be hardships, mountains to climb, and rivers to cross, you can do it though.

I can’t wait to see what 50 year old us has to say, I hope we have wrinkles that show where we smiled the years away!

Love Always

Me

The “norm”

I never really know what direction a day is going to take. Whether I will be able to make it through with the smile and laughter I want to feel all the time, or if it will go downhill and end in tears. 

Not that I find a day ending in tears out of the norm for me, I am an emotional person, I have always felt things really deeply. 

These last couple of weeks have been difficult for me. When struggles come around, I start to shut down and zone out. 

Its not a very good coping mechanism and something I am working hard on changing. I want to change how I think about things, I want to change the negatives to positives. I want to truly be ok with who I am, and love myself enough to let past hurt go. 

Things weighing on my mind today: 

-Maddie goes back to school Thursday, we have none of her school supplies, no new shoes for her, no nothing. 

-Our financial situation is getting worse and not better.

– We have 3 boxes of Kraft Dinner in the cupboard, nothing in the freezer, and sauces in the fridge. 

-I need to find a job, but I am scouring the job bank every day and there is nothing but a call center about 20 minutes away that i could probably get work at, but we only have one car, the hours I could work because we don’t have anyone to watch Maddie after 3 are minimal, and I am not supposed to work at call centers.

-Feeling like an outsider from my family, and having Maddie feel like that too. She has Trev and I, but is that enough?

-Feeling old, beaten, tired, sore, un worthy, depressed

I went in for a consultation for a psychiatrist (haven’t been to one in 2 years because of the way the system is set up here), she sent me home saying I was not able to concentrate and was too tired. I have insomnia  its not likely going to be better when I go to see her in 2 weeks. 

The good news is we get paid tomorrow, so that will knock a few of the things I am worried about today off the list. I, however, still need to find a job, and its probably going to have to be an over night work job of some sort. With insomnia that wouldn’t be too bad I suppose. 

The more tough life gets, the more I want to shut down. This is my reality. I don’t handle stress very well. 

This really turned into a poor me post, and I didn’t set out for it to be that way. I am going to sign off to reflect and hopefully come back with a better message. 

Wishing you all peace and love, 

Steph

Crazy Wife is on the Job Hunt

For the last 2 years I have been able to make a decent living selling online through different channels. Due to some very weird happenings, one of those channels is not available to me any longer. It was the biggest chunk of revenue. So now I am on the job hunt. 

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We have things to consider when looking for a job for myself: 

1) Crazy Daughter

2) my Anxiety

3) only one Crazy Car

4) my skills

 

The above things were why selling online was so great for us, I was able to set my own hours and work around all these things. Previous to selling online I worked in the call center industry for over 11 years. So my skill set is that of someone that can rock the customer service, and some basic technical troubleshooting. 

 

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I have been applying for work at home positions. Doing customer service from my home would be the most ideal position. I can request hours when Crazy Husband is home, I don’t have to leave my comfy home. On the weekends if I have to work, Crazy Daughter is very good at entertaining herself, or goes with friends. 

So I am crossing my fingers and toes that this position that is perfect comes through for me.

If not, its really slim pickin’s here in the job force. This is a very economically challenged area of Canada with a high unemployment rate. I don’t think I can stand on my feet for 8 hours doing fast food, or cooking pizza. Of course if it comes down to that, I will. 

My Crazy Mother and Father raised all of my siblings and I to have a very strong work ethic. We always strive to be the very best at anything we do. We don’t give up, and we are generally very hard workers. 

Sometimes being on the job hunt though is very depressing? It is definitely something that can drive you crazy! Anyone have any job hints for me?