Saturday, January 14, 2017

Day 60

So back in July of 2014, eighteen months before my fortieth birthday, I took to the blogshere and pronounced my plans to become FIT by FORTY. Well, it lasted for a a few months.  I lost some weight. And then, just like everything else I've ever tried, I failed.  And I continued to live life.  Continued to follow a few of the things I learned back in the summer of 2014, but continued to gain weight, little by little.  But now, on this last day that I am 40, as I sit in a coffee shop, drinking herbal tea (rather than a sweet latte and bakery case goodie), I figure it's time to update that 2.5 year-old self-challenge.

I could write pages and pages dedicated to My Weight Struggles.  But I'm choosing to focus on more recent events, as I share today.  Last summer, our family of five went on a glorious vacation to Maine.  It was cold and beautiful and rainy and SO MUCH FUN!  One day, we decided to hike up a mountain.  For the first time ever on such an endeavor, our three kids BOLTED up the mountain and I could BARELY keep up. No longer were our children little.  No longer did I have to lag behind with a tired and complaining little hiker. And I was struck with the reality that, if things continued the way they were, that this would be my reality. Eventually, I would spend future adventures, such as this, sitting on the park bench, waiting for my kids to finish their hike.  And I was devasted.  While things didn't change for me immediately, I regularly thought about this experience, wishing things were different.

Fast forward a few months.  I went to my quarterly check in with my psychiatrist.  I've been on a medication that treats my anxiety and depression for the better part of the last twenty years. My wonder drug, for which I am ever so grateful, has these two at the top of the list of side effects:


Because of those two side effects, my psychiatrist weighs me at EVERY appointment.  And EVERY three months, my weight stays the same or goes up.  For years, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was FAT and HAPPY.  And I was ok with that.  But at my appointment this past November, I mentioned my concern over my ever-increasing weight.  Over the previous four years, I had been told that both my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were too high; that if I didn't change the way I was living, medicines would be in my future.  Upon looking at the upward trend of my weight, my psychiatrist suggested that I switch medicines to something that didn't have these adverse side effects or that I could start taking an appetite suppresant. When I brought these ideas to Duncan, he balked, which reflected my feelings as well.  Back in 2007, when I was required to change medicine during my pregnancy with Linus, things had NOT gone well.  Actually, that is an understatement.  It was horrible.  And while the circumstances were different, neither Duncan nor I were interested in going through that again, at any level.  And the thought of adding another medicine in an appetite suppressant was also unappealing.  Providentailly, a few weeks prior, a friend had mentioned that she had been eating a version of a ketogenic diet and that it might help me in getting some weight off. Duncan brought this up again, as we were discussing my psychiatrist's suggestions.  We decided it was worth looking into. So, the next day, I scheduled a consultation with my friend's doctor for the following week.

Upon hearing of the program, it sounded hard.  I had no idea, really, how difficult it would be.  Yet, I was ready to take the plunge and so I signed on.  I'm not going to get into the details of the WHAT I've been doing exactly.  I'm happy to share that with whomever would like to hear, but I'll save the average reader those boring details.

It is significant that I decided to start this program eight days before Thanksgiving.  And a month before Christmas.  It was not atypical for me to gain about ten pounds during this time of year.  So, while it seemed like a terrible time to start such a process, it turned out to be the perfect time.  During the first five weeks of changing the way I was eating, I attended more than half a dozen special meals and events which, in the past, would have been ALL ABOUT THE FOOD for me. This time around, it couldn't be about the food.  Or at least the TASTE of the food.  Rather, it needed to be about the people I was seeing, talking to, visiting with. And it wasn't always easy.  Each event, as it came up, was handled differently.  For some events, I ate before going or brought a snack that I knew I could eat.  Other times, I spoke with the hosts ahead of time and was able to figure out something that would work for me.  At all of the events, there were copious amounts of foods and drinks in which I could not partake.  I had moments in which I felt sorry for myself.  I had moments where I spent time looking at the foods I couldn't eat and admiring how nice they looked.  I asked close friends if I could smell the red wine in their glass (mmmmmm).  I've worked hard to make my relationship with food be a more healthy one.  And I'm beginning to see the fruits of these efforts.

So here are the results:
Today, I have been eating a variation of a ketogenic diet for 60 days.  Since Nobember 16, 2016, I have lost over 31 pounds and nearly 25 inches.  More importantly, I feel AMAZING!  I have so much more energy, I've been able to start wearing some old, smaller clothes that have been in storage for at least six years, I am not hot all of the time anymore and I have a healthier relationship with food.  Before these changes, Fridays meant looking forward to Pizza and Wine Night.  The very first Friday night (it was Day 3) was depressing and torturous.  Subsequent Fridays were difficult to get through, as well.  However, the last two, Fridays, Days 52 and 59, have been different!  No longer am I lamenting what I CAN'T do, but am genuinely excited about what I CAN do!  This is huge.

So, while "Fit By Forty" was a big bust, I can say that today, on the eve of turning forty-one, on my last day of being forty, I AM ON MY WAY TO BEING FITTER AND HEALTHIER!  And I couldn't be happier about it.  I have never been able to stick to something like this before and I honestly believed that I was unable to get a handle on being healthier.

I attribute a few things to my success.  Most importantly, I thank my Heavenly Father for giving me the ability to have self control and perseverence, which is beyond my ability as I rely on my own strength.  Secondly, my sweet husband, decided to "do this with me through Thanksgiving" so as to be a support, and has continued on indefinitely, subsequently losing almost 30 pounds himself!  Finally, several of my friends and loved ones have listened to and supported and cheered me on.  There are so many.  But two in particular have been invaluable... the one who sings songs to me (Your Body's a Wonderland) and the other who grinds salt to bring me when I have a headache.  These examples are silly, but these two ladies, in particular, have held me up when I didn't think I could keep going.  And have cheered me on all along the way.

By God's grace, I've changed the way I'm going to live the rest of the days He gives me here on Earth.
Anyone want to go on a hike?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It Hurts

I met Duncan 20 summers ago and immediately fell in love.  He was funny and fun and flirtatious. Our last night at camp, after a long summer of getting to know each other,  I shared with him that I really hoped we could stay in touch.  Stay friends. 1995 was still the time of pre-internet-for-everyone-except-the-nerds, so it was up to pens, paper, and the USPS to keep us connected.  So, I wrote him within a month or so of heading back to WVU.  And I never heard from him.  So a few weeks later, I wrote him again. 


It hurt.

And then as Thanksgiving neared, I decided to write him 
The one where I bared my soul, expressing my undying love for him.  I wrote it out, crossing off, rewording and cutting and making additions for a few days.  Maybe even as long as a week. When I was happy with what it said, after I'd even had a few friends read it over,  I copied it, neatly, on college ruled notebook paper.  I sealed the addressed envelope and dropped it in a mailbox.  
I waited to hear from him.  
A letter.  
Or better yet, a phone call.  
And I never did.
It hurt.
Three months later, I saw him at Jubilee.  He seemed excited to see me.  I kind of gave him the cold shoulder.  He could tell my shoulder was cold.  I asked if we could sit down and talk at some point during the weekend.  He agreed.
When we sat down, I talked about how I'd hoped we'd stay in touch.  How I'd tried but he hadn't.  I wondered at whether or not he'd received my letters.  He said he'd received both of them.  
I'd sent him three letters.  
But he claimed he'd not received the one in which I professed my undying love.
The one in which I'd poured out my undying love for this man I was certain would be my husband?  I'd spent so much time on it.  And he'd never even gotten it?  Honestly, I was incredulous.  
Was he lying to me?
After that weekend, we didn't end up together, like some sort of Hollywood fairy tale, much to my dismay.  I was still smitten.  In fact, it was nearly two years until we even spoke again.  And started talking.  Then long-distance dating.  And then local dating.  And then broken up.  And then ENGAGED!  And then, finally, five years after meeting the man of my dreams, I  got to marry him.
Not in my time frame, that's for sure.  Had it been up to me, we would have been married by the summer of 1996.  One year after we'd met.  But life doesn't happen in my time frame.

The summer we got married, we were unpacking boxes, combining lives, learning how two could become one.  
On one of those summer days, as I was going through a box, I noticed a book that had something stuck in between its pages.  I flipped to the place in the book where this bulky thing was nestled.  
I remember looking at it, realizing what it was and feeling as if I was dreaming.
I found THE LETTER of November 1995.  Unopened.  Stuck in this old book.  
My sweet husband stuck this letter in a book...
feeling guilty about not responding to the first two he'd gotten from me?
not wanting to deal with it at that moment?
wanting to wait to read it in private?
Knowing my husband of nearly 15 years, I believe any of the these are possibilities as to why this letter, this most important letter, ended up stuck in a book and never opened.

Upon finding it, I was a mix of emotions.

ME: "Should I open it?"
HIM: "No."
ME: "Why not?"
HIM: "Because it represents a time in which I hurt you.  My lack of action hurt you."

So I threw it out.  
In the trash.
I have vague memories of what the letter contained.  But, I don't remember it, word for word.  If I had opened it.  And saved it, and read and reread it, I would likely be able to recall what it said now.  
But I didn't.  
And I can't.  
And I'm thankful.

I think about the letter, from time to time, marveling at how I could both spend hours pouring over its every pen stroke and yet be able to add it, unopened, to a trash can full of kitchen scraps.

I was able to do that, because the letter no longer represented reality.  Its reality was a pining college girl, infatuated with a boy.

The reality of that summer day in 2000, when I found the letter,  was a married woman who had promised "until we are parted by death."

I had already forgiven Duncan of those past hurts.  There was no need to bring it all up again.

Along these lines, I'm continually asking myself if there's anything I'm holding onto, that I should dump in the trash.  Any feelings of resentment or hurts that are stuck in that tucked-away book, stashed in that box full of junk.

It wouldn't be something I wrote unless I included a passage from the Bible.  
This one is from the fifth chapter of Paul's 2nd letter to the Corinthians:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

What beautiful truth.  In Christ, I have been forgiven and I am able to forgive.  I am able to let go, toss away the hurts and pains experienced in this life.  Only because of Christ, His incarnation, His sinless life, the Perfect Sacrifice of His brutal death on my behalf, His resurrection, His ascension, and the fact that He is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father, at this very moment, is any of this a possiblity.
To Him be ALL of the glory!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

18 Months and Counting Down...

It's started.  I often feel crummy.  I get winded when walking up the stairs.  I lack energy.  Getting off of the floor can be difficult.  And this girl isn't getting any younger.  
So, I was thinking...

Today is July 15, 2014.  That means it is exactly 18 months, or a year and a half, until my 40th birthday. About three years ago, I resolved to get "Fit by Forty."  Well, it ain't happened yet.  Therefore, as this date approached (my half birthday, if you will), I have a renewed resolve.  

I hearby resolve to "Get Fit" and will spend the next 18 months (and the God-given months to follow), getting and striving to remain "fit."  

So if you see me, in person (or by email, text or FB message) please ask me about my resolve.  Ask me how my plans are going.  I've tried (and failed) at just about everything you've heard of and more.  And I think I may have just encountered the BEST PLAN YET.  (And no, it doesn't involve buying supplements or special products AT ALL.  In involves FOOD and EXERCISE.  Imagine that?!?!)  

So, here goes, I guess.....
(cringes as she pushes "publish")

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Longest Year

I don't believe in coincidences.  Ever.  God is purposeful in the most minute of details.  So as I sat at my desk working this afternoon, just like I did one year ago today, and this song came on, I knew it wasn't by chance.  Nor was it an accident.  I recognized the voice as Nick Drake's but I can't say I'd ever really paid attention to it before.  But today, it resonated with me.  So I looked into the lyrics.

A day once dawned from the ground
Then the night she fell
And the air was beautiful
The night she fell all around.
So look see the days
The endless coloured ways
And go play the game that you learnt
From the morning.
And now we rise
And we are everywhere
And now we rise from the ground
And see she flies 
And she is everywhere 
See she flies all around 
So look see the sights 
The endless summer nights 
And go play the game that you learnt 
From the morning.


Here it is if you'd like to take a listen. 

And then I wondered about Nick Drake.  
There are two of his songs with which I have more familiarity.
There's this one, that is on the Garden State soundtrack.
Love that movie.  

And there's this one from the Volkswagen commercial from many years ago.  Truth be told, this is where I first heard Drake's sumptuous voice.  His voice made me want to hear more.  So about the time this ad was out, we bought the album which contains this title track:  Pink Moon.
It takes my breath away.

But today, as I thought about the man attached to such beautiful talent, I remembered a tiny bit of information about him. I knew that he was no longer alive, that he had died during the 70s. I also knew that he didn't have a huge body of work, since he was rather young when his life came to an end. And that was the sum total of what I knew. So I looked into his life on Wikipedia. Where else, right? And I was so moved by what I read. 

Here's an excerpt:

Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician, known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. He failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime...
By 1972, he had recorded two more albums...neither sold more than 5,000 copies on initial release.
Drake's reluctance to perform live, or be interviewed, contributed to his lack of commercial success. There is no known footage of the adult Drake; he was only ever captured in still photographs and in home footage from his childhood.
Drake suffered from depression, particularly during the latter part of his young life. This was often reflected in his lyrics. On completion of his third album, 1972's Pink Moon, he withdrew from both live performance and recording, retreating to his parents' home in rural Warwickshire. On 25 November 1974, Drake died from an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescribed antidepressant; he was 26 years old. Whether his death was an accident or suicide has never been resolved.

How tragic. How sad. And here I am, nearly forty years later, mourning a man whose entire life on Earth existed before I was even a glimmer in my mother's eye. And his music, his life's work, is ministering to my soul. 

Since I've made the decision to speak loudly about my struggles with mental illness, and to advocate for the much-needed conversation on this topic, I've been contacted by numerous people, both in person and online:

"Thanks for sharing your story." 

"I've struggled for the last 10 years." 

"I have two family members who struggle and won't get help."

"I'm afraid to tell my family about my struggles."

If anything, these words, and others like them, have strengthened my resolve to keep talking. 

One year ago, today, was the last full day my nephew, Derek, lived on earth. He died in a car accident sometime in the early morning hours of last December 19th. As this first anniversary of his death comes, and goes, I've chosen a Nick Drake song that I found today in Derek's memory.

And I don't believe it was a coincidence that I found it. 

'Cello Song

Strange face, with your eyes
So pale and sincere.
Underneath you know well
You have nothing to fear.
For the dreams that came to you when so young
Told of a life
Where spring is sprung.

You would seem so frail
In the cold of the night
When the armies of emotion
Go out to fight.
But while the earth sinks to its grave
You sail to the sky
On the crest of a wave.

So forget this cruel world
Where I belong
I'll just sit and wait
And sing my song.
And if one day you should see me in the crowd
Lend a hand and lift me
To your place in the cloud.

I'll see you when it's time, Beautiful Boy.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

On Living With Mental Illness

Edited to change some of the time-related details.  Upon thinking, I realized I had gotten some of the details wrong.  The incorrect information is crossed out and correct information follows in purple text. 

Mental and Illness.
Dirty words?
When someone struggles with what goes on in their head--irrational, obsessive, continuous, delusional--they might be called "crazy."  I prefer to avoid that term.  Mental and Illness.  NOT dirty words. Rather, a painful reality for so many.

Looking back, I can see that I've always struggled with irrational thought patterns, (perhaps that ulcer in second grade provides a clue?) an obsessive and continuous cycle of the anxiety-producing element du jour.  For me, the what doesn't really matter, since it has changed over the years--morphed into something apropos for the time.  But the obsessive cycle is there.  As well as the lows.  And the depression.

And now, it is all dulled by paroxetine hydrochloride.

My wonder drug.

It causes "increased appetite and decreased energy," which means a 40 pound weight gain over the last four five and a half years, since I've been taking it.  Again. (Which is another tale for another time.)  But it gives new and beautiful meaning, to the phrase "fat and happy." The dimming of the cycle of lies is a blessing. The quieting of my mind allows me to focus on the here and now, rather than the constant, exhausting cycle of what-ifs.

I've always been open about my struggles, since they came to the surface back in 1997 1996.  
My breaking point. 
That's when, while I was never suicidal, I paraphrased Paul's words as my own mantra: for to me to live is Jesus Christ, but to die would be SO much better. I fortunately didn't get to the point where I was ready to take my own life, but I did wonder how I would live life the way I felt. That I couldn't imagine a life full of what I was feeling and thinking.  That life ending, just being over, would be far better. Yeah, I get it.  It was a rather hopeless outlook. 

But I talked to others, my parents and close friends, and was advised to see a psychiatrist. I will forever be grateful to Dr. Morgan.  He was the one who first put me on Paxil in December of 1997 1996.  And within a month I felt relief. It was amazing.  The loop of lies running through my head?  Constantly?  It was dimmed.  It offered sweet relief that allowed me to enjoy life and those I love once more.

Today isn't just a random day in which I've chosen to share my struggles so publicly. Rather I am sharing them exactly one year after someone I love very much attempted to take his own life.  I know he struggled, for years, with what went on inside of his head.  But, I won't pretend to know what he went through leading up to and in the late night hours of October 31, 2012 and the early morning hours of November 1, 2012.  I do know that, for whatever reason, he changed his mind and sought help.  He didn't succeed in taking his own life, one year ago. And for that, I'll always be grateful.

In the week or so after, I obeyed a gnawing feeling I had to share with him a bit about my own struggles. And in Whom I find comfort. And to let him know how I loved him and was so proud of who he was. I'll always be thankful for heeding the prompting I felt to share with him,  since he only lived on Earth for another six weeks after November 1st.

So, I become vulnerable in his memory.  I choose to shout it from the roof tops, on this day, (or, at least, from my corner of the interwebs) that: 


I refuse to be silent, or even quiet, any longer. If we pay attention to the seeming-epidemic status of "active shooter" situations in our nation, we will see that this is NOT a gun issue. It is a mental health issue. Or if we took some time to build relationships with the homeless community in our areas, we would see that all too often, their reality is not laziness, but rather some variety of mental illness. 

The stigma must be lifted.  We must talk about it.  People must feel free to seek treatment, and must be open to hearing that they need treatment.  If someone has cancer, is there a stigma attached to chemotherapy?  If someone has a strep infection, is there a stigma attached to taking antibiotics?

Mental illness: illness of the mind. Yes, it is different than cancer or strep, but it is an illness, all the same.  It requires work to "cure" it.  Ok, so curing is unlikely.  But I'm proof that life can become better, good even, with work and time.  And, yes, for some, even medication.  Doctors, therapists, and medications.  These are NOT additional dirty words.  These are the tools that can be used to re-fashion the brains of the ill.  And I'm grateful that they exist.  Because even though I still long for the hope of heaven, where there is no more suffering or sickness, I am able to find joy and hope in THIS world.  In HIS creation.  If it weren't for these tools, I'm not sure I could get to such a place.  

May I challenge you to live gently with those in your life?  We never know what battles someone may be fighting inside of themselves.  And if you, or someone you love, struggles with mental illness, TALK about it.  Do your part to add to our society's conversation.  And perhaps, little by little, we can erase the stigma.

Gonna go take my medicine now.  Just like I do every night before I go to bed.  With gratitude.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Two Years and Change

It's hard to believe that it's been more than two years since I've posted anything on this blog.  While I'm sad that this has dropped down on the list of priorities, I'm delighted at the record we have of the years when our three were little bitties.  
Life now is full and good and.....did I already mention full?  Just thought I'd blow the dust off the old blog, for just a few minutes.  And share the earlier years with new friends.  And old ones too.  
Who knows?  Maybe I'll try to post now and again, again.  
Stranger things have happened, I'm sure.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Linus Victory Turns Four

It's hard to believe, that four years ago, on this day, I experienced the most terrifying day of my life thus far.  It wasn't tragic and the outcome has been wonderful.  But I must say that I am honestly not "over" that day.  Hence, unless the Lord wills otherwise, Linus is our number LAST child.  

And we are so thankful that the Lord has blessed us beyond measure, with a boy who is
...and handsome...
...and strong...
...and daring, even when he's scared.
Did I mention silly?
Or handsome?  And growing!

I know many of you that are reading this, walked and prayed through that experience with us.  And for that I am so grateful.  I know even more of you know and love our little boy nearly as much as his momma and daddy.  For those who'd like, I've included the links to the story of my pregnancy with and delivery of our sweet, sweet Linus Victory.

Happy Fourth Birthday, sweet boy!  We love you SO much and look forward to watching you grow and learn and develop into the man that God wants you to be!