It Continues.

Still, somewhere amidst the chaos.

Seriously … we are experiencing a moment in our world that will be marked as a major event in history for the rest of all time. Generations will learn about this. Our children growing up in this era will have a different outlook on the future of this planet. These are not bad things, but they are different. Life is different. Life is unique. We have all been trapped in this going-through-the-motions for years when it takes something like COVID-19 to make the world stop turning. I’m not a fan of the “well only -x- many people are dying” compared to the 1918 flu pandemic. We do not get to decide that. Ethically, morally, whatever you want to call it – acknowledging that the 100,000 death count is better than a million … those 100,000+ deaths are lambs? Are you kidding me? Mr. POTUS is in an abusive relationship with the citizens of this country. Again, apologies on the political references and obvious loyalties of my own.

We are repeating history. This is what a cyclical world will do over time; this, we have proven. The CDC.gov has a timeline on the history of pandemics. Almost every single country in the world has had at least one case of the novel coronavirus. We are all at risk. Some at a higher risk, for sure. I am still trying to figure out of I am at a higher risk since I had asthma as a child, I have failed every lung test that I have ever taken and a few months ago, a CT scan revealed a spot on my lung. (A spot? I don’t even know what that means, but for someone who has never been a smoker, I’m not thrilled to know that’s in there and I don’t know what that spot even is.)

Sidebar, I have been having some balance and brain oddities this week. I am still working, but I did have to call out today. There was no way I could drive. I still battle Chiari, Hydrocephalus, VP Shunt & Intracranial Hypertension every single day, but some days are worse than others … today is one of those days. That being said, the brevity of the current state of our world, country and state, the importance of mental health for those who are finding themselves in new routines with new stress factors. This is real, no matter how hard we might want to try to blink this away, it is not going away anytime soon and it will likely get a little bit uglier before it does. Until then, support those around you with love and compassion at this time (and always, duh, but even more in this moment) as some may be suffering deeper than they realize.

Help is out there. Hold the ones that you love. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Do all that you can to help this earth. Nobody else needs to die. Nobody else should be dying. Shut the damn country down and fix this once and for all.

Read this.

References

CDC.gov & WHO.int

Somewhere Amidst the Chaos

So I fell off the wagon. In recent weeks, my intention as mentioned previously, was to blog once a week. But then life happened. My little man, who has what I like to refer to as Peter Pan syndrome, does not want to grow up. He is fully unprepared to accept that he will be ten next month. Anyway, there was a surprise “F” on a report card. A “surprise” F? Yes. None of us knew … there was no warning. Evenings became a lot more intense with supervision over homework and then, it got better! Enter in from stage right in Alex’s Comedy of Realities … some misinformation from the dude, i.e. lies … big, fat, intentional lies. Sigh. So, a lot changed in a short period of time. Benjamin is a curiosity. His heart is delicate; he’s stuck in that awkward transitional period between momma’s boy and ten-year-old dude that is halfway to twenty. (Do yourselves a favor and casually drop into a conversation with your child that they are halfway to their doubled age, shock.) This made Ben stop in his tracks. Tears in his eyes … immediate realization that his upcoming birthday is half of twenty. Little man was shook. Haha, it was cute in a sad way, since it signified that moment of temporary acknowledgement that he has to grow up. Valid excuse, I know, but what about the evenings after the kids are in bed? Hello, Chiari Malformation migraines.

I am not entirely sure if my headaches are back for good again or not, but I do know that being under fluorescent lights and in front of monitors 40 hours a week is adding to the weight. Valid excuse number two: I do not want to look at my laptop after my work day. I hate even having to type those sentences and question my level of pain and discomfort in comparison to life before the decompression surgery. If I decide I want to sing my heart out on the karaoke machine with the kids and my niece, but then I pay for it with a migraine on top of the regular pressure headache x1000 for the next week … I guess it is safe to say yes, at this point, that a lot of my symptoms are slowly reappearing in clusters again.

The most important valid excuse is the eventual acknowledgement that my depression has been dragging me through the ringer since August of last year. I increased my visits with the psychiatrist and we worked through a series of dosage modifications, which I think we have just successfully found this month. I am so fortunate to have such a supportive and loving husband by my side through this. He has been holding my hand and supporting my every season. In holding myself accountable, I needed to retrace why August was significant to me. Other than for a couple of obvious reasons, it was actually a follow up psychiatrist appointment where I was prepared to meet my new year, with infertility on the doorstep again … and this is where I found myself battling a deeper depression than I was expecting. I knew it was at its heaviest when I did not want to write. A writer not wanting to write? Done. Fix it now.

In the grand scheme of things, I needed to focus and find my footing. I kept my bubble small and had to shut out the world for a bit. This included some of those closest to me. I did what I needed to get through the hours, the days, the weeks … just until I felt like me again. So here I am. Working in hospitality and tourism, when we have a global coronavirus pandemic … I hate germs and I have anxiety … my down swing of depression has flipped into the anxiety up. Present day, Monday the 16th of March, 2020, is technically my Sunday. Tomorrow, I head into work with a lot of uncertainty. I like the idea of maintaining routine, but there are a lot of question marks at the head of this virus. How much longer will I have a job for? Will I have a job to go back to if we are put onto some kind of lock down? Central Florida is going to dry up. 2020 is a wash.

This is chaos, it really is like nothing any of us have been through before. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing Italians to choose whose life is more important? This is a serious threat. Anxiety is at a peak in the world. Wash your hands. Please … please, please, please.

Sammy and I have been putting together our business plan and new business models for two years, but never with more than a few hours at a time to dedicate to polish it off. This is kind of like, the breath of new life for entrepreneurs in this country. I ate Mesquite smoked ribs with Chef Sam housemade rub and Kansas City style housemade barbecue sauce last night … and it was the best barbecue I have ever had in my life. I am not just saying that because he is my husband, but because they were the best ribs I have ever had in my life. Period. He’s nailed it … and since the coronavirus shut down our town for two weeks … we get to make our future from ground zero. We aren’t 100% ready to unveil, but I imagine that will change soon.

I guess I could enter another valid excuse. Vote. In January 2019, I became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States of America. This is the first Presidential election that I have ever participated in. I’m nerding out over it big time. I am following campaigns, I am educating myself and find myself to be a political nerd at the moment. Sammy also introduced me to The Wire on HBO. Oh! Also, we watched the Trump docuseries on Netflix and the McMillions docuseries on HBO. Both pretty great, I do recommend. Back to the valid excuse … I am proud to be able to contribute my vote and voice to this country. Voting is not to be taken lightly, especially in this era and now with the impending financial crisis of our country … so I have been digging into that world in my spare time.

Kona, not Corona

Kona takes up a lot of time, but she is doing so well and she is still the perfect addition to our family. She fills that little void from the miscarriage too, so she’s a spoiled little puppy. We have been working on socializing Kona – she is still afraid but protective. We have had one successful and one unsuccessful trip to the dog park. Training a puppy requires dedication, which we have, but we are not sure what tools we need to teach her that other people are not a threat. She’s got a big bark for such a clumsy, lumpy pup. She’ll keep those coronavirus germs away, for sure.

Closing thoughts, I am always going to try to write … whether it’s once a day, once a week or once a month – I am not going anywhere. We are also not going to the James Arthur concert they just refunded our tickets for … in MAY. Waaaah. Anyway, I might have to blog once a day as we go through this pandemic together. Maybe I will do some sneak peak photos of some of our meats. Mmmm.

World Mental Health Day: 2019

It is no secret what day of the week it is anymore. Every day as a hashtag. Scroll through Instagram in the morning and have subtle #reminders that it’s, duh, #mcm – #mychefishotterthanyourchef it’s MONDAY. It’s not, actually. Today is October 11, 2019 – a Friday (which is actually my work-week-Thursday) – and yesterday was World Mental Health Day. If you ask me, this should be every single day, but I’ll take it for now. I remember taking a home economics class in 8th grade. There I learned how to cook a meal (it was pretty elementary compared to my skills at the time), watched that birthing video, and last but not least, I learned about health. Health, in this curriculum, was not just physical health. It was physical, mental and emotional.

There was a large drawing of a pyramid with three levels, almost like that terribly wrong daily food chart, and those three words written in each block: mental at the bottom, emotional in the middle and physical at the top. To this day, I recognize emotional and mental health as the foundations of physical health. Your mental state is a wonderful tool; it completes the jurisdiction of the mental health like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle fitting into place ever so effortlessly. For the most part, your physical health is under your control. Your emotional health is also, for the most part, under the control of your own will. Mental health, for what we can control, there is a hell of a lot of what we cannot control.

control

The brain is such a fascinating little lump of synapses, fluids, genes and algorithms. The stigma attached to anything less than pristine mental health is so yesterday. Today, there is a day that the world can celebrate together with a common core: accepting that mental health is also accepting the fundamental challenges of mental health conditions. “They say it’s inherited,” – said the naysayers. Not really, but you know. Can mental health conditions and disorders be genetic? Yes. I am not keeping statistical analysis on what would be a flawed demographic data of mental health conditional patients by number, but if I were to do that, I’d say 1 out of 2 has a mental health condition that is beyond their control. Just like any other possible genetic combination for your traits, it is possible (and probable? Sure!) that your mental condition is in full swing because of your pre-disposition with a diagnosed, direct family member.

STIGMA

World Mental Health day was pretty interesting to watch as an individual with diagnosed anxiety. Ed Sheeran and HRH Prince Harry looked like long lost brothers bonding over their commonality. Let’s back up for just a second here too. Prince Harry, a royal man, was quite brave for breaking the stigma in his own rights of sharing his mental health challenges with the world. Diana would have been proud. As I was born in England, I can attest to the odd and unique tailored approach to mental health. The idea that someone would speak out about their mental health was unheard of, so to have a member of the royal family … that was huge. HRH Prince Harry, along with Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, began a campaign in the United Kingdom by the name of Heads Together. Resources became available on how to live with, deal with and support others who were living and dealing with mental health challenges. If we were to rewind twenty years and take social media back in time with us, I would have needed this site. I still do, if I’m honest.

COPING

It is not easy living with anxiety, but I am finally managing it for the first time in my life. I recall anxiety from early elementary school days and deep into adulthood. We all have a precipice that takes us to the brink of awareness, I believe. I know what mine was. I went to therapy once a week and found a healthy combination of medicines that worked so that anxiety was not ruling my daily life. Nothing quite like being a working mom of two that has crippling anxiety so bad on some days that you can’t explain why you cannot get out of bed. It’s a beast. It does not help that I carried postpartum depression into clinical depression. I never asked for that. I thought I was happy. I thought everything was fine. But I had to learn and truly accept that I was not in control of these conditions. Thankfully, through a healthy routine of cognitive behavioral therapy with my psychiatrist and exercise, I was living with and coping (the most important word in this blog post) with anxiety and depression.

Even today I have triggers that cause ebbs and flows in these conditions. When my kids go to spend time with their father, I take a little dip in the valley of despair. Then I pick myself up (100% with the help of Sammy) and shift focus to the end of the week. In between then, I clean the house, do a thousand loads of laundry and save a shit ton of money on groceries until they are home again. At some point, I realized how normal I was … am. Coping with anxiety and depression was normal, acceptable and okay. There was no need to fight it any longer. I had to accept that it would be here to stay. I have seen the same psychiatrist for years. He still reminds me that I need to be at peace with my mental health and the treatment of both conditions. He’s having me back every 3 months again this year due to the complete and total spiral of depression after our miscarriages. Spoiler alert, I’m back into the infertile category again. Any way, that’ll be a different post. This makes me even more normal.

Make mental health a topic of conversation. When you ask someone, “how are you?” ask them like you mean it. You should want to know that they are mentally okay as much as they are physically okay.