A Heaping Dose of Medicine

So I thought I would end the weekend/start the week with a little lighthearted post about my favorite type of medicine. I take a dose of it everyday and when I miss a day I can totally tell! Total. Game. Changed.

A dog is a man’s best friend, right? Kind of a cliché phrase, but it is a cliché for a reason. A year and a half ago when I jumped on the crazy train (yes that is how I refer to my several week long breakdown that landed me in the ER… there are two reasons why I refer to it thusly. 1. I try to make light of the situation 2. It was hilarious to watch my parents squirm when I joked about it) I vowed I would do whatever I could to feel normal again. When I was starting to come around I was ready to try some new things. And much to my husband’s complete joy, I thought a dog might help. And so enters Melvin.

Besties

( I believe this was the day after we got Melvers. As you can tell it’s a match made in heaven)

A dog is often thought to be an incredible aid to those who may suffer with anxiety and depression for several reasons:

A dog is incredibly intuitive. I could go on and on about my dog Melvin and his intuition. There have been countless times when I’ve been sitting and crying and Melvin will just come and sit at my feet. Where he will look at me and put his face right about against mine. Even when I was in labor at home my pup came and licked my legs during the middle of a contraction. And if you are wondering, my husband and I are convinced that Melvin knew I was expecting before we knew. This dog knows what’s up.

A dog will keep you company. You are never alone! This has been very nice with me since there are many times when my husband is gone because of the Marine Corps. Especially since Melvin is basically my husband’s twin. Seriously. They both are willing to wrestle those who are twice their size and will most likely come out on top. Not only that but they both play hard and sleep hard. There has been more than one occasion where I’ve called Melvin by my husband’s name and vice versa. Because my pup is always with me he helps keep the darkness that can sometimes come with loneliness. And best of all, I know that both of them will do whatever it takes to protect me and our Baby Girl and keep us happy.  Although I’m pretty sure my Marine won’t run away and shake in the corner whenever I vacuum. But there’s a first time for everything.

Twins

(Yeah, they like to watch Mickey Mouse together… and no, he is not allowed on the furniture…)

A dog forces you to be active. When you have a dog you need to take him outside and go on walks. Sometimes when the darkness of depression sets in it’s hard to get out of the house or even out of bed. But a dog makes you go outside. And things can change when you go outside, soak in the sun, breathe fresh air, and become a little active. You can get a whole new perspective on the day. Seriously. Sounds like a total joke, trust me I would know, I always resist the idea of trying the cheesy “happy go lucky” remedies. But that’s a-whole-nother blog post.

I like to refer to Melvin as my little doggy dose of medicine. When speaking to a psychiatrist who asked me about what I am doing for my depression, my husband piped up before I could say anything and said “she has a dog who is basically an antidepressant”. He brought me so much joy when I was coming out of a joyless time in my life. What’s great now is that I get to watch my little Melvin adore my Baby Girl. And I can only hope that Melvin is for my Baby Girl what he is to me! However, I wouldn’t suggest running to the pound and picking the first dog you think is cute. Get to know the pup and make sure it’s a great fit! I was lucky in that Melvin and I bonded INSTANTLY.

Melvin Bow Tie

(He’s got style and he ain’t afraid to show it)

I’ve never really wanted a pet. But I can tell you this much: I am so happy that we got Melvin. He has been a blessing in bringing a little joy in my life. He also happens to be my husband’s best friend. Like legit besties. It’s amazing what God will bring into your life to help you. Even something like a little white puppers.

Pelvies

(Melveroni and Cheese. Enough said.)

I am not a doctor or physician, but I consulted both before starting my journey. If you need help consult the professionals immediately! I have no training. The professionals do and they are there to help!

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Food: A Love/Hate Relationship

I have to start off by saying thank you to all the positive feedback I’ve had with my first post! I can honestly say at one point there were tears in my eyes at all the support and prayers sent my way. This is somewhat of a terrifying experience, because like most humans, I fear failure and rejection in what I do… especially in the things that matter to me. And call me crazy, but my life and personal struggles kind of matter to me.

Disney Castle

(At first glance, this picture has nothing to do with what I am talking about, HOWEVER, I will make the connection. You see, this is a picture of my Marine and me in Disney World- the place where we are truly at our happiest, and I have to tell you, everyone’s feedback made me incredibly excited! An excitement that I thought I could perhaps portray with this happy picture… Did I make a good enough connection? To be honest I just love this pic and wanted to share it)

Hopefully I will be able to continue to give support to others out there dealing with their own battles! So I wanted to continue this blog by sharing the first step I took:

My diet. So, I’m no doctor but I decided to do a little research (looking at pinterest counts as research, right?). I have no idea if what I am doing will help me in the long run, but I know it definitely will not hurt me! So I figured it was worth giving it a try! I had a pretty healthy diet from the beginning, I understood the importance of having a diet primarily consisting of vegetables, fruits, good protein, and so on. But I wanted to cut the crap as much as I could. So I’m doing an experimental month to begin with. I’m cutting out all gluten, added sugars, meat, and most dairy besides butter (because let’s be honest, life without butter would probably make my depression worse).

I’m on my third week of this experimental month, and I gotta tell you, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I don’t know if it’s been the change in diet, or perhaps my determination of a natural route for my mental health, but I went from being an emotional wreck to having more productive and positive days. Not only that, but my little girl has become increasingly less fussy… I mean that could be because of several reasons: a. she is feeding off my less stressed moods b. she is also benefiting from this new diet or c. she is being a baby and going through different phases of crankiness and good natured-ness. I like to hope it’s not the third one and that next week she won’t go back to screaming, but I really shouldn’t get my hopes up, should I?

Babies: expect the worst so you can be surprised when things go well and you can take a shower. ~An Old Ancient Proverb written 30 seconds ago.

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(But none of the hardships of motherhood matter because look at their incredibly cute little feet!)

 Some of these things I’m cutting out after reading what they could do to my body and the connection to mental health they can have (aka gluten and sugar). This is a great article that gives great insight into the science of what sugar can do to your health, both mental and physical. Since gluten can turn into glucose in your body, it only makes sense to see if there is a difference when you cut it out of your diet. The reason I am cutting out meat and dairy is because I wanted to make sure that my diet was focusing solely on veggies, fruits, and some great undenatured protein that I can’t live without. After the month is up I’ll probably start bringing meat and dairy slowly back into my diet. I’m also trying to incorporate fermented veggies (like sauerkraut) to help regain the balance of bacteria in my gut, which some studies have shown to be linked to mental health. This article is for those of you who are really into the science behind the gut bacteria, while this experimental study is for those who like cold hard facts shown in numbers.

I love to cook, so trying to revamp my cooking to be primarily vegetable base has been a fun challenge for me, and a sort of mental trial for my husband who has always been an anti-veggie weirdo. This is one of the veggie based meals I made for my husband that he actually loved. (I do have to admit though, it was before I began my month long sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan diet so there is some parmesan cheese in it) It is a marinated grilled portabella mushroom “steak” with roasted sweet potatoes and bruschetta salad. I’d like to know if anyone would be interested in a recipe for this? I have a veggie-hating Marine who can vouch for it tasting good. So let me know in the comments if you are interested in a recipe and I will see what I can do!

photo

(I’m super proud of this picture… I sincerely feel like I pulled out my inner photographer/artist when I took it)

I am not a doctor or physician, but I consulted both before starting my journey. If you need help consult the professionals immediately! I have no training. The professionals do and they are there to help!

The “Why” to My Journey

Tattoos

Writing a blog has always been a rather off-putting idea, in my opinion. I enjoyed reading other people’s blogs, but I could not fathom why someone would want to read what I have to say. And who knows, maybe only 2 people will read this blog (not counting my husband as one but counting one of my sister’s- Hi Anna!) But I realized this could be an amazing opportunity for reflection, accountability, and maybe- just maybe- helping someone who might be in a similar position.

I have had anxiety since I was a child and issues with depression since I was in high school. However, I hid it and didn’t seek any sort of help until the summer before my freshman year of college. The next 5 ½ years would be a journey: seeking new doctors, trying new medications, working on coping skills, but nothing seemed to help. It was always a temporary fix. And it was frustrating. How are you supposed to live your life when you never know if a slump is coming or if you can never muster up the motivation needed to live day to day. Sure, things would get better for a short while, but never permanently but I could handle it. What I couldn’t handle was only to come.

A year and a half ago I took the biggest slump of my life. I had had panic and anxiety attacks before, but this is something that was in a league of its own. The kind that lands you in the ER. The kind that keeps you from eating for a couple weeks. The kind where living becomes the biggest burden in your life. So I got prescribed a new medication. Then my dose was doubled.  I started going to therapy more often and eventually I began to feel ok. But if you know what anxiety and depression can do, you know that there can come a point where leaving your home is terrifying: you never know what might trigger an attack. It was the worst chunk of my life. Ever. But with the help of my parents and my then fiancé (now husband) I was able to get through it alive. Which I thank God for every day.

engagement

(The night that my husband I got engaged. Why in the world did I ever think dying my hair that dark wouldn’t make me look like a corpse)

Fast forward a couple months and it was summer. I did a complete 180. I had never felt so content with my life. I married the man of my dreams. I was in great shape. I was working a job I loved outside soaking in the sun. And I was dutifully taking my medication every day (except for one week when I ran out and didn’t make it to the pharmacy and kind of lost it at work and went home raging and crying, whoops). I felt so blessed. It seemed like God had worked some sort of miracle on me. Things had never been better. A couple months into our marriage, the husband and I prayerfully decided that we would put our trust in God, which then lead to one of the biggest changes of my life. A baby.

Family Wedding

(I love my family)

When we decided we would put our trust in the Lord, I realized I needed to take a gander at my medication to make sure that it would be ok to get pregnant on. Well it wasn’t. It was a DO NOT GET PREGNANT WHILE TAKING THIS STUFF OR BAD THINGS COULD HAPPEN type of pill. So, I thought better now than later and weaned off my medication. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure what pregnancy could do to my hormonal balance. But God blessed me and I exceeded my own expectations and the pregnancy went very smoothly.

pregnancy

(Pregnancy does wonders for your figure, I promise)

I began to gear up for PPD (postpartum depression). But I knew one thing: I didn’t want to start up taking any medication. So when the PPD began to hit, I knew I had come to the point where I either needed antidepressants or I needed a plan. I asked my dr. if my antidepressants would affect my baby via nursing and I was told no. But this didn’t sit right with me. I was at a loss and I didn’t know what to do. I had already lived through my worst nightmare and was moving past that. But becoming a mother brought forth a whole new set of fears. What if I had a relapse like I did before? What if I became unable to care for my child the way she needed to be cared for? Would I forever become tied to a medication? Or worse yet, what if my child suffers from the same issues I do? It’s an unbearable thought. I don’t want to have to think about my baby having to experience what I went through and possibly having to rely on a pill to bring her balance.  Therefore I decided I was going to find a new route. A natural route that I can use to maintain my mental health and help my family through whatever may come their way. So now I’m going on a journey to see if I can use food, essential oils, and exercise to manage my mental health.

My Momma always tells me that I have to play the hand that I am dealt. And I’m going to, I’ve just decided I’m going to play it my way.

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 I am not a doctor or physician, but I consulted both before starting my journey. If you need help consult the professionals immediately! I have no training. The professionals do and they are there to help!