Archive | October 2015

Just a few photos today

I’m not feeling very wordy today and I’ve got a lot to do, so today’s post will be mostly photos.

Location of this morning's newspaper. Yep, that's the street.

Location of this morning’s newspaper. Yep, that’s the street.

Grace's new favorite thing is lounging in the greenery to watch the street.

Grace’s new favorite thing is lounging in the greenery to watch the street.

Tubs are packed with inventory and props for today's craft show set-up.

Tubs are packed with inventory and props for today’s craft show set-up.

Included are these 4 new Royal blue hats to celebrate my KC Royals in the post-season!

Included are these 4 new Royal blue hats to celebrate my KC Royals in the post-season!

I managed to make not one but TWO super bulky striped hats yesterday! That was fun. Don’t know that I’ll get much knitting time today, what with setting up my booth, stopping at Costco for dog food, and the boy’s choir concert tonight. But I’ll be sure to post photos of the craft show once it’s all done!

Yesterday Was (not so) Awesome

It started off pretty well with morning tea and knitting, but after lunch I went shopping for a few new clothes. Unfortunately, I needed a bigger size and only had one pair of jeans and maybe half a dozen long-sleeve shirts that fit well. The up side was that I found a few good things, but I wasn’t thrilled about the size I had to get. So I wasn’t feeling too great about myself after that, but I was trying.

Then last night I got in trouble. I got in trouble for letting my son order a shirt in a size that ended up too big, then for getting upset when he snapped at me about it. I got in trouble for running down the hill that morning to take him the frosting he needed for a class project (“Someone was THERE, mom”) and then found out that he was letting me walk with him to school not because he liked the time, but because he didn’t know how to say he didn’t want me to. I trust him to get to school safely, but it was one of the few times I got to spend with him alone, and I liked our little chats. Guess I was the only one. Then I got in trouble for not knowing where the rubbing alcohol was (“We have all these beauty products and nothing USEFUL”) and then in trouble for getting upset by being snapped at unexpectedly.

So yeah. Yesterday was SUPER. Maybe it was just a bad day for everybody. Sigh. Today I let him walk alone, I will email the band director about ordering a smaller size, and I’ll find the darn rubbing alcohol. AND I’m going to knit! That was about the only good thing about yesterday. I now have two finished Royal blue hats to take to the craft show, and I think I can get one more done today. It’ll be a beanie in super bulky yarn so it should go quickly. IMG_3569The brim on this one came out a little bigger than I wanted, but it should work well for those with slightly bigger heads, or with lots of hair. And if it doesn’t sell at this craft show, I might see about adding a bit of elastic to snug it up some. IMG_3575And I love how this one turned out! The gray and blue is a little less common for a KC Royals hat, but I love it. And I showed the side with the joining seam because I was pleased with myself. It’s still noticeable if you look for it, but overall it came out really clean and smooth. I just have to decide whether to add a blue pom pom. Personally, I’ll always vote for a pom pom. How about you?

Craft Show Madness

It’s setting in, the frenzy of an upcoming craft show. I feel the urge to MAKE ALL THE THINGS that I think will sell because I’m convinced the stuff I’ve already made is not good enough. I know I won’t be able to put up an attractive display by myself so I’m crossing my fingers that my knitting SIL will help me out. I’m fretting about how to take essential breaks when I’m working my table by myself. So yeah, normal pre-craft show jitters.

All the broken-rib hats have buttons attached and yesterday I cast on for a new hat. It’s a simple slouch hat in stockinette but I’m doing red and white, a candy cane look for early holiday shoppers. I like it so far, and it’s going quickly. IMG_3523But this morning it hit me: WHY am I not doing blue and white?? My Kansas City Royals are heading into postseason baseball, and KC is baseball crazy this year. I’d be silly to not have some blue in my inventory this weekend, so I’m setting aside the red and white for now. Good thing I have extra circular needles!

The most exciting progress from the weekend comes from the husband. IMG_3507He got 36 of 41 fence posts installed! I am SO excited to see this taking shape. It’s going to look fantastic. Plus we’re all ready to retire these stupid chains for the dogs. The lack of running-around time is making Grace crazy, so that when I take them for a walk in the evening, she’s uncontrollable with energy. It makes walks miserable for both me and Jack, who gets tired of being pulled around when they’re on the double leash. So if the rain holds off, I’m going to see if I can handle taking both pups to the dog park to run off some of the crazy. Wish me luck!

Back to the Fun Yarny Stuff

I am so humbled by the responses I’ve gotten to my last post about my fight with depression. So many people have thanked me and shared similar experiences, and though it saddens me to know that it affects so so many people, I’m encouraged that the more we talk about it, the more we heal and the stigma grows weaker. Thank you to all who liked and commented. You made my heart a little fuller and stronger.

But now I want to go back to a happier topic. I have lots of little knitty things to share. First of all, I’ve got FIVE new hats for my craft show! IMG_3502I’ve decided to add buttons to all of them. I was undecided at first, thinking they might discourage someone from buying one. But as my wise daughter pointed out, there might be someone who would be more inclined to buy it with buttons. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t looked at it that way, but it seems so true to me. The buttons make them stand out, make them more unusual. Sure, my button choice might not be what they would pick, but that’s okay. I only need one person who likes my choice. So now I have lots of buttons to sew on before Friday. Yikes! Friday. I’m a little nervous about this craft show. It’s a bigger two-day show at a popular venue. It should be well-attended, which is great…as long as I can put up an attractive display and a few people like what I’ve made.

Yesterday I got to have breakfast with my sister and nephew, which was delightful, and then we hit the thrift store to see what treasures we could find. I did well: I found a big stash of circular needles for only $2 each. I resisted the urge to BUY ALL THE NEEDLES and just came home with 5 sets. Sadly, in my frenzy I picked up two of the same, so I’ll probably just pass the extra on to my Knitting SIL. No, I probably didn’t NEED any of these, but they’re different lengths and it’s always handy to have a good variety of circs.IMG_3503I also found this gorgeous tote bag that looks kind of like silk. I have a serious tote bag addiction. I tried to resist but my sister encouraged me. “But it’s so pretty!” Yes, yes it is.IMG_3504
See, look at that hot pink lining! How could I resist? Definitely worth the $5.IMG_3505Later, the husband took the afternoon off so we hit a really cool vintage store downtown. I found another big stash of needles, both circs and straights, but this time I was strong and resisted. It helped that they were $4.50. Not a bad price, just not as cheap as $2. The only one I couldn’t resist was a fantastic set of bone knitting needles, hand carved in Nepal.IMG_3506It’s a more unusual size but seriously, how cool are they? They even have their own fabric zip-up pouch. The needles are a bit heavy but I’ll still be on the lookout for a project I can make with them soon.

So there you go, all the knitting stuff that’s made me happy the last couple of days! Now I need the time to actually KNIT.

Better Living Through Drugs

“I tried so hard to do it without medication.” “Don’t let them put you on those crazy pills!” “Antidepressants are just the easy way out.” And just today, “Antidepressants are causing an epidemic of violence.”

I’ve seen or heard all of those, and today I want to call Bullsh*t.

Antidepressants are NOT the enemy. Antidepressants are nothing to be scared of or ashamed of. There is a hashtag going around right now, #MedicatedandMighty, that was started to combat the shame associated with treating mental health issues with medication. If you want to read how it started, click here.

But at the same time, there are articles like this one that claim antidepressants cause violence, despite counterarguments like this one. Are crimes committed by people struggling with mental illness? Hell yes! The fact that some of them are on or have been on meds does not mean the antidepressants are causing the violence. It’s more likely that the mental illness is causing the violence. It’s more likely that either the meds weren’t the right ones for them, and thus weren’t working properly, or that they stopped taking the meds against medical advice.

ALL drugs can have side effects, and that’s why they should all be taken under the supervision of a medical professional.

Medication is not the right avenue for everyone. But it does help a vast majority of people, help they couldn’t get otherwise. And that’s why it’s dangerous to proclaim that “antidepressants are bad, they’re the enemy”, shaming people into thinking they’re not an acceptable solution.

Does proper diet and exercise help your mental health? Absolutely. Do people suffering through clinical depression have the ability to fight the depression enough to eat the right foods and force themselves onto the treadmill? In my experience, nope, not at all. Sure, that’s the easy answer: “Oh, just exercise more, then you’ll feel better!” I confess, I have been guilty of that thought in that past. But then I went through it myself and it made me realize how stupid that can be. Now, I can’t help but wonder if anyone who says that has any idea what kind of hold clinical depression can have on your motivation, your self-esteem, your ability to do ANYTHING. I certainly didn’t, until I was smack-dab in the middle of it. I had to find a way to get through that dark cloud before I could even see the benefit of exercise.

I have been on an anti-depressant for two years, and should have been on it for longer. I was a mother working full-time in a stressful job (is there any other kind, really?), I’d recently switched locations at work so I’d left all my friends and was working with new people. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, my FIL was diagnosed with congestive heart disease. My FIL died suddenly. I decided to quit my job to spend more time with my family, but before I could even give notice, my father died. Three weeks later, I left my job and became a stay-at-home mom. And for the summer, it was great. My kids kept me busy, taking care of my dad’s dog kept me busy, doing all the “running a home” stuff kept me busy.

Then the kids went back to school. Suddenly I was alone all day, with nothing to distract my brain from the stress and grief. I cried. A lot. I was short-tempered and snappish with my kids and husband. I had no desire to do ANYTHING. For quite a while, I thought it was normal, and it probably was. I’d been through a lot, was still dealing with the losses as well as being a part-time caregiver for my non-driving mom. And then there was the big question of “What now? Who am I now that I’m not a full-time retail manager?” And I didn’t have an answer.

Time didn’t heal me. It didn’t get any better. I spent many months on the couch endlessly watching Grey’s Anatomy, pretending I was crying because the story lines were sad or moving. They were, they are, but not to that extent. I cried at everything, at the drop of the hat. I was constantly on the verge of tears. And I was defensive about it, arguing with my husband when he started suggesting I go see a therapist. I fought hard to put up a good front around other people, but it was exhausting. I slept hard and long, and still felt tired all day long. I ate like crap because I wanted *something* that brought me pleasure, and I love junk food. Exercise was hard, too hard. I couldn’t get my brain to take the thought that “exercise might help”–which I totally knew–and force my body to take action. And something new for me: social anxiety. I’m an introvert, always have been, but I had always enjoyed going out with friends. Until I didn’t. I obsessed about it ahead of time, wishing I could just stay home where it was quiet and safe. It made my stomach hurt to think about having to socialize and talk to people and pretend to be happy.

That was the breaking point actually. I had dinner plans with a couple of old friends, and all day I was literally sobbing at the thought of it. I cried ALL DAY LONG. I was a knot of anxiety. I texted my friend, explained the situation and apologized but said I couldn’t go. I just couldn’t do it. She was great, very understanding and supportive. Then, still sitting on the stairs, hunched over, I texted my husband and said I was ready, I needed help. I called the therapist the same day and made an appointment. Those few small steps were a huge release for me. For the first time in many months, I felt the tiniest sliver of hope.

At my first appointment, I cried through my whole story, answering all her questions about my feelings and behavior. And at the end, she said, “I really think you’re suffering from clinical depression, my friend. I want to keep seeing you. But how do you feel about maybe trying some medication?”

Yes, please. I needed help, and I knew it. I knew people who had been on meds, had seen how it helped them, and I was more than willing to try. Something had to help because I couldn’t do it alone. And as loving and supportive as my husband had been, that wasn’t fixing it either.

I started a low dose and it helped almost immediately. Like my therapist said, the meds ideally should still let you feel the emotions without letting them cripple you, and that’s what they did for me. I was still grieving, but I could feel joy again too. I felt so much better, it was astounding. I wish I’d done it ages ago.

And guess what? I started exercising and eating better. And yep, that felt good. But would it be enough to keep me going?

Winter came. My husband’s grandfather, who we all loved dearly, passed away. Then my dad’s dog died. And for some reason, that was the thing that knocked my feet out from under me again. I was devastated. And I knew it wasn’t about the dog as much as it was about him being a link to my dad, but I just couldn’t seem to get past it. My days were dark again. It was horrible, especially since I had so recently been reminded of what happy was like, and I couldn’t find my way back there. I was back to crying, sad TV, and skipping my workouts.

I went back to my therapist for several more sessions. They helped some, but not enough. She suggesting upping my dose, which meant an appointment with my doctor for approval. My crying, my fatigue, my helplessness, all of those things were preventing me from living a full life. It could be better. *I* could be better, and with the increased dose, I started to get there.

A few months later, at a checkup, my doctor ordered bloodwork. It revealed hypothyroidism, or low thyroid levels. I would need medication to even that out, and here’s the kicker: hypothyroidism can cause depression and fatigue. Now, does that mean this was my problem all along? There’s no way to know for sure, but I doubt it. Certainly not that first bout with depression that hit me like a ton of bricks, when bad things were happening left and right. My brain had struggled to cope for so long that finally it was like, “Dude. Stop. I can’t even.” But the second round, after my dog died and I was still struggling months later? I think it’s possible, because once we got the dose adjusted and my thyroid levels were normal again, I felt like a new person.

I FEEL like a new person. My brain isn’t foggy anymore. The world is clear and bright again. I find joy in little things. I am content in my small, quiet everyday life. I still don’t have an answer to the question of “Who am I, and what will I do with my life?” but it doesn’t cripple me anymore. It’s a big question mark that I get to explore and discover.

I am still on my antidepressants. At my last therapy session, my therapist recommended I try going off the meds in the spring. Knowing that winter months are hard for me (as they are for most people), she didn’t want me to stop then. But come next spring, I’ll be cutting back. It’s scary, because I don’t want to go back to how I felt before. But I also don’t want to keep taking them just because of fear. My meds did their job: they helped me, held me up while I was healing.

So here’s the bottom line, what I hope you take from my story: antidepressants were a tool for me, one tool in my fight against depression. They weren’t the only thing, but they were absolutely a key ingredient. I was lucky that the first med we tried worked for me. Sometimes you have to try several to get the right med at the right dose. And yes, absolutely talk to your primary care physician. Get yourself checked out, do that bloodwork if s/he orders it, because there might be something else going on.

But if that’s all clear and meds are recommended, don’t be afraid of them. And PLEASE, don’t be ashamed of them. It is so hard to ask for help; believe me, I know. I suffered for many long months because I wouldn’t ask for help. But I am living a new life since I did. I suffered no adverse side effects from my med, and I know many people with the same experience. You want your life to be happy, right? Why would you deny yourself something that might help? If it doesn’t work, fine, quit them. If you want to try diet and exercise, go for it, and if it works, wonderful! That’s the goal. But don’t assume that there is one answer for everyone, and don’t judge someone for taking a different road than you. Antidepressants have helped many, many people live a happy life. And there is nothing shameful in that.