Tag Archives: Depression

3/30/17: Thankful Thursday

I find my mind in a strange domain today. Everything is a little foggy, and it’s kind of gray and misty. I am grieving for the family and friends of a person I never met. I am sad for the workers and volunteers who fight endlessly to prevent suicide. I’m confused and not-so-confused at the same time about Amy Bleuel’s death. And I ache for her, for the demons she fought so long.

Project Semicolon has held a special little place in my heart since I first heard of it. I’m a grammar/writing nerd, and I am an advocate for mental health. So when I heard there was a project based on the idea of a semicolon, you can imagine it captivated me.

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

I’ve never written out a detailed history of my mental health. Some people who are very close to me don’t even know the nitty gritty. They know I have depression. They know I have panic disorder and anxiety disorder. But the details are something I don’t talk about. For a long time, I felt it was shameful and that I was a weak person. My brain still feels that way sometimes, and it’s hard to convince myself otherwise.

Let me put this out there, though: I have experienced suicidal thoughts. I have thought those around me would be better off without me. In my teenage years, the peak of my hormones and mental health issues co-mingling, I had fantasies of nothingness. It wasn’t that I wanted to die. I just didn’t want to exist. I didn’t want to feel pain and cause pain anymore.

There’s a stigma surrounding suicide, but I can tell you the following: my thoughts were not selfish. I was not being dramatic. I was thinking about those around me. But my mind still had me convinced I didn’t deserve to exist anymore.

Some of these thoughts came back shortly after the birth of my daughter. In the throes of postpartum depression, I often thought I could never be the mother or wife or friend or family member that people deserved. I felt completely broken, and I wished I didn’t exist.

I am so glad I exist today. My semicolon means my life has gone on. I’ve had intentions for a couple of years to get a semicolon tattoo, and I finally found one I hope to base mine off of, if I get the courage to ask permission, of course. But I also suffer from a pretty severe needle phobia. I’ll get there someday.

So when I said above, “I’m confused and not-so-confused,” it meant that I know depression and anxiety and mental health disorders can strike anyone anytime. You can be okay one day and then have to fight like hell the next. Even when you know, you just know there are people out there who love you and that better days are coming and this, too, shall pass…there are times when you just can’t see the sun through the dark gray fog that has settled into each and every part of you. And you don’t know if/when you will see the sun again.

I am sure there are many, particularly from Project Semicolon and the suicide prevention community, who are taking this hard. To know that nobody is immune, even those who have come out as an inspiration to the community, those who have shared their stories…well, it stops you in your tracks.

We need to keep going, though. It gives me renewed perspective on fighting for something I’m passionate about. I want to do more, and I just need to find my platform or my project. Just like my tattoo: I’ll get there someday.

So today, I am thankful for one person: Amy. Thank you, Amy, for putting your story out there. This is not your ending, though. You will live on through thousands of tattoos and people who will continue fighting and holding each other up.

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Move forward. Keep writing your story. We owe it to Amy and to ourselves and to the survivors and to those who are gone too soon. We owe it to the families and friends, because suicide touches many lives.

If you, or anyone you know is dealing with feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of self-harm, I want you to know there IS help. Call 911.  Text “START” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Call the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. Get in contact with someone.

I came across these recommendations for reporting on suicide, but I also think they are good things for all people to review. Here are warning signs and risk factors. Here is information on treatment. Need to help someone else?

Please take care of yourself. And let’s take care of each other, too, especially when we need it most.

You matter. You are loved. You are valuable. 

Cassie

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3/7/17: Tasty Tuesday

It’s Tuesday! Which means it’s not Monday! It’s the 7th of March! Which means Jenny Lawson’s new book/coloring adventure is officially released.

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It arrived on my doorstep today, and the wait was worth it. (I pre-ordered that bad boy in September.) I’ve had a rough few days in my hurricane brain, and the first page I opened to said this:

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Lovelovelovelovelove

I can’t wait to get coloring and reading and thinking. And I’m hoping to have a review up in the next week or two.

We’re still going somewhat strong in our house with the healthy eating and meal planning. Tonight’s fare was something a little different, though! I received a recommendation from my friend, Dana, about some stellar BBQ jackfruit sandwiches with avocado slaw. I had no idea what jackfruit was (pictures told me it was some sort of Kakuna-like creature that grew on trees) before this whole endeavor, but she kindly gave two cans to me so I could try out the recipe from Minimalist Baker.

The resemblance is uncanny, right? It’s like for real, real-life PokémonGo.

I am glad to say, though, it does not taste like Kakuna. Though, I have never actually tasted a Kakuna to do any sort of comparison. I’ve never tasted any Pokémon if you want to know the truth. I’m vegetarian. You’re welcome, Pikachu.

We had mixed results with the recipe, but that was nothing to do with the jackfruit itself. The BBQ sauce I chose for the recipe was much spicier than I expected, and that doesn’t jive with hubby or the 3-year-old. I did smear some plain Greek yogurt on her sandwich to mellow out the flavor a bit. She took three bites at my coaxing (and with the promise of a PB&J if she took a few bites). She isn’t a picky eater, so I no problems with her deciding she doesn’t want something, as long as she tries it. (She eats quality foods, but we have problems getting her to eat enough of a quantity to sustain the level of energy she exudes every minute of every day.)

I enjoyed the recipe! The spice was a little overwhelming and distracted from the jackfruit itself, but I was amazed at the similarity in texture to pulled pork. What a strange little fruit. I hadn’t ever made a slaw before, and I thought that was pretty tasty, too!

Hubby doesn’t like slaw. Or spicy things. But he ate his whole sandwich. I will consider this a victory.

When we try this again (notice I said “when,” not “if”), I’ll get a sweeter BBQ sauce. I’ll also use lime juice in the slaw recipe. The lemon juice competed hard with the jackfruit. I wanted it to complement it a bit more. I think lime is a bit more subtle, so maybe that’ll help.

Anyone else ever tried jackfruit before? Dana said it’s hard to find, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for it!

Have a fabulous rest of your day, folks! You’re almost halfway through the week!

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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2/7/17: Tasty Tuesday

Today’s Tasty Tuesday isn’t exactly what it has been in the past. Because this is what we ate tonight:

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I’m putting it “out there,” because I want this blog to reflect my reality, whether that’s the fluffy happy stuff or the down-in-the-dumps, order-pizza-because-I-don’t-know-how-to-move kind of stuff. I am human. This is something that happens to me. This is how my body wants to cope with stress, and some days, I can’t push through it.

In particular, this kind of thing happens when I’m just worn out. Restless sleep has been my normal these past couple of weeks. A constant weight on my shoulders and chest is the anxiety that plagues me at most all hours. Between illness and other various stressors, I went into today feeling like I was barely keeping it together. I slept all of 4 hours last night, but I still crawled out of bed to greet the day with a run.

It was hard. I feel I have reverted to square one. Between the ice and junky weather, loss of endurance, and various aches and pains (some related to my injury, some not), I’ve gone up almost 2 minutes per mile. It.Makes.Me.Feel.Crazy.

But I knew without my run, I’d just feel crazier. So I did it anyway.

I came home to a sick baby. AGAIN! I am so, so tired of having a sick kid. I feel awful for her, and I can’t fix it. I hate missing work, and I hate feeling behind. And all of it takes the wind out of my sails.

But this morning, I was able to pick up those droopy sails and get through the day. Once she started feeling better, we played and danced and made art and sang. We watched movies and read a zillion books and just enjoyed each other’s company. Rather than trying to fix her troubles, I just tried to enjoy this extra time together.

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When I grabbed my phone, she literally asked, “Mom, are you turning on Snapchat?” I don’t know how this makes me feel. Don’t care. Cute kitty picture.

I fully believe I was able to do this because I ran this morning. It takes an edge off the anxiety, and it gives me even a momentary feeling of peace.

The slick pavement covered in shadows and black ice? That is my refuge. The crisp morning air that burns my lungs and leaves me wheezing a bit when I get back indoors? The burn is a reminder of what I can accomplish when I push through. The ache in my legs detracts from that weight on my shoulders.

Certainly, there have been darker days. I have dealt with them. I will continue to deal with them. There will be better days. I know this to be true, because I have lived it time and time again.

Just.Keep.Running.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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P.S. I wanted to lighten the mood a little. So here’s the face you make when you’re supposed to be sleeping but get caught reading instead. Mama is actually pretty proud.

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11/21/16: Manic Monday

Anyone else feeling a little edgy today? Since this week kicks off the official holiday season, I guess I’m feeling a little stressed. I just ate my feelings in the form of half a cookie, and then I stopped myself. Gotta nip that behavior in the bud and deal with my feelings in less destructive ways.

Speaking of emotions and such, lots of studies/discussion over the effect running and exercise can have on stress and depression. I’ve known for a long time that running in particular is incredibly helpful for me when it comes to keeping the demons at bay, but it’s nice to see that this idea is being put into the mainstream.

See: New York Times and Women’s Running.

First week of AMR Stride into the Holidays was pretty fun! I love the sense of community that goes with this. I did have to delay my long run from Saturday (20+ MPH winds plus really dark when I would have had to go) to Sunday (1 MPH winds plus sunlight when I was able to go). SO happy I did. Did 8 miles in the crisp near-winter air, but it was lovely. I’m so lucky I have time and support when it comes to running. And that my own two legs can carry me further than I ever believed.

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I’ve also been cruising through books recently, and I figure I should start getting some more reviews/updates on what I’m reading. I think I have that on the back burner right now and ready to move it to the forefront of my writing soon.

Alright, buckle up, party people. The holiday season is just getting in gear, and it’s gonna be a quick ride.

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Random November puddle-jumping picture for good measure.

See you in the next day or two!

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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11/4/16: Friday Favorites

Sometimes, you’re on top of the world (or at least at a good vantage point to see far across the land). You are pumped and proud and happy and things are better than okay.

Sometimes, you are stuck in bed with the covers pulled up over you head (or at least the metaphorical version: in a bleak and desolate corner of your mind where you can’t even see two feet in front of the haze that has formed around you). You are a mixture of numb and sad and blah that leaves you confused and feeling not-so-okay.

Sometimes, you experience these things within days or hours of each other, and it leaves you drained and wondering what is wrong with you. How can someone who has things going well for them possibly feel this way? Then guilt settles right in, too. It’s a vicious cycle.

I feel like I apologize often for lapses in blogging. And I can pile on the excuses, but those make me feel guilty, too. From now on, I’m just going to assume any blips in my writing are part of life. I’ll be here when I’m here. I’ll make myself accountable to this writing/running thing when I’m able. And all the other times, well…I’ll try to sneak in an Instagram post or two to feel a little more connected.

So on a day when I just don’t feel like I have any updates or anything good to say about my current running regimen (which has been, y’know, nonexistent this week), I’ll tell you something you already know.

My girl is my ultimate Friday Favorite. And making holidays, like Halloween, special for her is one of my ultimate joys in life. She is growing up so fast, and I want her to remember that her mom tried really hard for her. I want her to know it wasn’t always perfect, and Mom worked full-time and couldn’t spend time with her nearly as often as they both wanted. And Mom sometimes needed a half hour of playing Yahtzee on her phone after work.

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Halloween night at dance class

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BB-8 and R2-D2

But I want her to be able to say, “My mom loved me and did what she could to make things special in her own way.”

So I’ll ultimately focus on that goal each and every day.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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10/20/16: Thankful Thursday

It seems rather appropriate this week that I choose three things I’m thankful for each week. Because…as of this week, I have a three-year-old. My darling daughter turned three, and I am caught between wishing time would slow down and wondering how there was ever a time she wasn’t by my side.

So I guess I’m gonna harp on this, and I’m going to list three things related to Dino-Toddler that make me deeply gracious for her coming into my life.

  1. She made me stronger.

    I’ve struggled with my mental health for a long time. However, after DT was born, it was like my brain and heart exploded and melted. I barely crawled through some of the darkest days I’ve ever experienced.
    I lost some of the joy that I felt I should have experienced. I was an incredibly sad human, and I’d cry whenever hubby left to go to work. I couldn’t imagine spending another 8+ hours alone with this small creature who cried and cried while I cried and cried.
    Although I wish I could have that time back, I know I am stronger because of it. I got the help I so desperately needed, and I learned how to take care of myself and my brain so much better.
    I am stronger because of her. I am stronger, because I want her to see what strength looks like. It doesn’t mean every day is great. It means you keep going and you take care of yourself so you can be there to take care of others.

  2. She is a bright ball of fiery sunshine.

    This girl makes me laugh every day. And she makes me want to scream every day. That’s part of her job being a toddler…err…preschooler now. She is so very bright and caring and strong-willed. She never stops talking and observing. The wheels of her brain are constantly in motion, and she astounds me with the things she says. She remembers events from a year ago, and she can vividly tell stories about them. She can hear a song just a few times and memorize many of the words and tunes. All of this can be overwhelming for her, and it can make her emotional. I can’t imagine having that much of a fire in my mind and heart all the time. She feels things so very deeply, and she knows what she wants.
    She is so different from me, and that is beautiful.

  3. She makes me want to be a better person.
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    Even though I was at the beginning achy, stuffy stages of a head cold on her birthday morning, I ran three miles. I did it because I want to be a better person for her. I run for many reasons, but one of the top reasons is her. I want to keep up with her as she grows, and I want her to see what healthy looks like.

There are a million reasons I’m thankful for her and I know others are, too. She inspires this journey often, and that’s why I talk about her so darn much here. I just hope I can provide some inspiration to her, too.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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9/14/16: Whatever Wednesday

On Monday, I posted to my Instagram account to let people know I’m actually still a live human being. And that I took a week off running. There were quite a few things that factored into it, not the least of which was my mental health. I’ve alluded in the past to some of my struggles with anxiety and depression. It’s something I’ve been dealing with since I was about 12 years old. Although, looking back, I’ve probably had anxiety issues my whole life.

Most of the time now, I manage it fairly well. I have a combination of things that works for me: medication, writing, techniques for taming the panic beast, and running. If I have a little blip in the road of any sort, though, the whole train can go off the tracks.

That’s where I found myself last week. Off the tracks and unsure of what to do about it. I kept telling myself, “There’s tomorrow! Tomorrow will be better.” And then I’d wake to my 5:00 AM alarm, shut it off, and roll over to pull the covers over my head. All of those today’s didn’t feel better.

There were quite a few extenuating circumstances going into all this anxiety, and I can’t get into them here. They’d probably bore you or confuse you anyway.

What I can tell you is that I had a really good run on Monday morning. And another fairly good one this morning. Rather than channeling the “yuck” in my life into more time spent sleeping and feeling miserable, I channeled it into energy for running.

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I also channeled my energy with my AMR t-shirt. Makes me feel like a BAMR every time.

And I ran consistently for 9 minutes at a time with 2 minute breaks. Normally when I bump up my total run time, I can do one or two segments at the most before feeling like I can’t do another full segment. I take more breaks than I want to, and I end up feeling disappointed. That didn’t happen this time.

I know I’ll fall off the tracks again and again. It happens, and I need to be gentler on myself when it does. But I also need to keep in mind that running is therapeutic in many ways for me. It doesn’t take the place of the right medication or talk therapy or mantras for your anxious moments. And you shouldn’t expect to rely solely on it. However, for me, running is a way to take the edge off of a bad day. It’s time for me to heal and keep moving forward, literally and figuratively. It’s time to take care of me.

If you have your own black dog or anxiety or some sort of negativity in your life, I hope you find time to take care of you. I hope you find “running” or whatever your version is of it. I hope you find something that makes you, too, feel better when you don’t know how to keep moving forward.

There will be a better tomorrow soon.

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Not to mention, this smile always makes the day feel at least a little brighter.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

 

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