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An update on that whole depression thing…

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Recently, I shared a blog post that I wrote over a year ago on the subject of depression. Both when I shared it when it was first written and when I just recently shared it, I got an outpouring of support, affection, and “me too’s” both publicly and privately that make me so, so glad I wrote it. (Maybe I just have really depressing friends?! Kidding.) So many people suffer silently, and deny what they are dealing with because it’s not completely debilitating. Because their life is pretty OK, so they surely can/should not be depressed. Because they aren’t sad *all* the time. But that’s the reality. Like I said in my previous post, just because you aren’t spending all day sobbing while dressed in your PJs and staring pensively outside your window at the rain does not mean you aren’t depressed. Just because it only happens some months or weeks or days, doesn’t mean it’s not real and deserving of attention and help.

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Looking back, I am pretty sure I suffered from some form of PPD after having Ainsley. I know I had depression issues in college and beyond because of birth control, but I had a *really* hard time when I stopped nursing. Part of it was probably that I was forced to stop sooner than I wanted to because of supply issues. But part of it was also probably some delayed PPD (it can happen anytime within the first 2 YEARS postpartum!!), in combination with hormones going crazy, trying to re-stabilize after nursing. But whether it was PPD, “baby blues” (hey, let’s make depression cute!), or just regular depression that happened at that time, it was real and it sucked. I was also going through some other things. Frustration with our housing situation (which still stands). And also a really really crappy work situation that I needed out of. Those all those things together meant that even though everything totally did not suck…to me, everything sucked.

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So where am I today? I still have the same damn too-small house. But it’s fine. We recently looked at trying to move, but we’ve found that we really are truly stuck. We are underwater simply because of when we bought this home, and we do not have the finances to be able to rent this one currently (since we would need to be able to carry two mortgages if we lost a renter, and that ain’t happening). So we allowed ourselves to dream for a couple weeks, then allowed our dreams to be crushed. It happens. We’re here for a while longer and we will make it work somehow. I’m not happy about it – at ALL – but it is what it is. We cannot work magic and change that. That’s why I’ve been uninspired to really do much with the blog lately. It’s hard to put much work into your home when you aren’t really happy there, don’t know for sure how much longer you’ll be there, and know the next people who live there will be renters (and not care about all the home and garden updates you put so much love into). I hope to be inspired to check in here and there, but it’s hard. I will when I feel like it, yaknow?

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My daughter and husband are both still wonderful and the causes of most of my moments of happiness. It’s hard to support someone dealing with this weird, mostly causeless emotional crap, and I thank my husband for doing that – most of the time with a ton of patience. I have a new job, which is OK. I don’t find it all that fulfilling or super interesting, but the workplace environment and my coworkers are both great. Again, it is what it is. My semi-daily babywearing dog walks are still my Happy Place.

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I am still not on meds. I maybe should be. I am happy with my life, and it is filled with wonderful moments. But on any given day, would I call myself happy in general? Meh. Not really. And I mean I’m happy….but not literally all the time happy or fine. Just sort of “meh”.  I have had some success taking St. John’s Wort daily, but whenever I finally make an appointment with a new general practitioner, I plan on discussing options for meds – maybe to take daily, or maybe to take during especially “meh” times only. With so much *happyhappyhappy* thrust at us every day from every direction, it’s hard to judge what level of UNhappiness you should accept in your life. Because of course things aren’t always sunshine and rainbows for anyone. Finding that balance is difficult. It’s hard to know if something really DOES suck, or if you only think it sucks because of the depression. If something is worth working through or sticking out, or if you should just move on to something else. And I have no advice on that, I’m just acknowledging that it’s difficult. It’s really hard.

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And I am sharing this not for sympathy (I really am “fine”…with scare quotes, but whatever (I’M FINE, MOM, FOR REAL)). But because I think it needs to be shared. From all the messages and words of encouragement I’ve gotten, I know that I am not alone and others need to know that they are not alone, either. That you can be depressed and still live a perfectly normal life and still have happy moments…but you still may be depressed, and that’s both OK (because it happens and you are not a freak or a terrible person) and not OK (because you don’t need to feel like crap about it and should try to remedy it). I know how it is to try and downplay this problem – both to yourself and others. We really are fine. But also, we’re not, dammit. And it sucks. And I feel ya. And if you ever need to talk, or vent, or just know someone else has been there (because I know these things are sometimes the hardest to share with those closest to you) – I’m here.

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Depression isn’t what you think it is.

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So, as you may have gathered from my last post, I’ve been dealing with some mild depression lately. It’s something I’ve dealt with before, but it still sucks. So hey, let’s talk about it.

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I’ll skip over the long version of the story and just say I have depression issues when taking hormonal birth control (ie the pill). I REALLY wish this side effect was discussed more. I learned this years ago only after having been unknowingly Depressed most of college, and found a particular pill that seemed to not bother me. Only after being totally OFF the pill when trying to get pregnant for 2 years did I realize that pill was making me depressed, too, just less so. After having Ainsley, I went back on a low-dose version of the pill while breastfeeding, but I still had issues here and there. So when I recently ran out, I decided not to pick up my refill. I’m tracking my cycle like a Nazi now and crossing the heck out of my fingers because we don’t want another baby quite yet. But I feel better.

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So what IS depression, anyway? How was I depressed and didn’t know it? Well, it’s hard to know when you’re in it. It doesn’t look like it does on the commercials. Though in my darkest days I do think pretty damn sad thoughts, I have never actually really thought about suicide or anything like that. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still awful. For me, I tend to get more OCD than I normally am. Clutter almost literally drives me insane instead of just bothering me. If I’m jotting down notes and the pen flubs a line, it seriously bothers me. Like, seriously. If I lose something, I obsess over it even more than normal. If I screw up at work, I feel even more terrible than I should. Everything stresses me out. I retreat from my wonderful husband. I hate everything about our house that isn’t finished or fixed or perfect. I feel not so much sad as just…numb. Like I’m not a part of the word, but just drifting through it. And then eventually, I’ll have a moment of clarity somehow and realize: depressed.

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But I might not LOOK depressed. If you’re not spending a ton of time with me, you probably think I’m OK. Because here’s the thing: Depressed people still have to live life. It doesn’t look like the commercials. Some depressed people are even (gasp!) men. We don’t actually sit in our robes, looking pensively out the window all day. We’re not always crying. We have to get dressed, look presentable, interact with people, go to work, and drop our kids off at daycare. We have to. And some of our smiles and laughs may be genuine. But behind it, we still have that disconnected, sad feeling. You just don’t care. At least not about the right things.

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And it doesn’t make sense! You keep telling yourself that you don’t *really* have any reason to be feeling like this. If you’re feeling depressed (lower case d) because a family member died, or you lost your job, or something along those lines…well, then you’re sad for a pretty damn good reason, and you might just be OK in a bit. Depression (capital D) can seem totally insane because it’s not connected to anything. You’re not Depressed because X happened. You’re just…depressed. And then you get more depressed because why are you depressed about nothing? But the thing about depression is that you can’t reason yourself out of it. It’s not your fault or anything’s fault. It’s just…there.

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So anyway. I am lucky in that, thus far, I have been able to regulate my depression by NOT taking certain medicine. But if the time comes when I need medication to make me feel better, that’s something I’m open to. Because taking a pill to be happy every day is a whole lot less crappy than being sad every day and not taking a pill.

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One of the things that has brought me some happiness during this time is babywearing. I miss Ainsley terribly when I’m at work and cherish the time when I get to go home and take a walk around the block with her and Lucy. On the days when Will is home with her, it gives Will a chance to get dinner ready and have some quiet time. On the days when I pick her up from daycare, it allows me to keep her close and snuggle during her most grumpy time of the day when all she wants is to be held, and I can also make dinner and get things done around the house.

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So if you feel like you may be dealing with depression…well, if you THINK you’re depressed, you probably are. Talk to someone about it. A friend, a significant other, a relative, or a doctor. Maybe get off the pill if you’re on it and try another birth control method. Maybe just try and get out for a daily walk to get some sunshine. Maybe talk to your doctor and see if meds are right for you. But don’t just stay depressed. You and all your loved ones deserve the HAPPY you, the REAL you.

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So with that, I am still going to be taking a break for a while (you know, during the most apt season to be writing about my garden…but whatever). I’m fine, really, (or, getting better) but I’m going to focus on other things for a while. It will also give me time to work on a couple side projects I’ve been putting off. I will update the Ainsley weeklies when I get a chance – I have been taking them still, and you can see some previews in my Instagram feed on the sidebar.

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Taking it slow.

I’ve been not really in the mood for much of anything lately, hence my unfortunately negative recent blog posts and general viewpoint about the world. So I’m going to be taking it slow on the blog here for a while, and when I get around to it, I owe you a post about why my glass is very much half empty lately (hopefully written when it’s working on being half full).

In the meantime, happy Mother’s Day to you all you wonderful mamas out there!

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I will also update Ainsley’s Weeklies soon – I have been taking them, I just need to get them up on here. You can always check or follow me in Instagram to see what’s going on lately.

And NOW, I will take a Mother’s Day shower, because I think the sick baby is definitely asleep :)

I love this house, but I hate it.

Allow me to complain for a bit.

So I’ve been thinking this post in my head for a while, and then something happened. A blog I follow, Young House Love, revealed that they’d bought a new house. Ever since they moved into their current one about 3 years ago, I’ve been following along, jealous at all the things they are doing to it to make it their own and awesome and wonderful. Jealous because Sherri doesn’t have to bug John about changing the wall color again, because changing the wall color is LITERALLY their job and what they get paid for. Jealous because they get to experiment every day, and doing stuff like thrift shopping is their job, AND they get to stay home with their baby. I was drawn to their blog because their first house was small like mine, and super happy for them when they upgraded. But somehow this news about the new house actually pissed me off.

Why? I guess because I’m invested. Because I knew they’d eventually move, but I HATE moving, so I imagined them loving the heck out if every improvement they made (they penny tile! the guest room I adore!) and picking it to live with for years to come. I imagined they doing improvements because they loved them and not just because.

I even posted a comment recently about struggling. Struggling because there are SO many things that we would love to do to this house to make US happier in it…but they don’t make sense financially since we won’t (hopefully?) be here for too much longer.

See, I love this house. Love it! I love the location so much. I love that it has a yard. I love that it is not a condo, which is what everyone tried to get us to buy. I love that it’s our first house and where we brought Ainsley home to. I love the gardens, and that those gardens bore this blog.

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(I can’t wait to paint that door yellow!) I do not love that we are currently ohhhhh a lot underwater in it. Despite living with Will’s parents for FREE for an entire year after getting married, this is still the best we could find. I won’t tell you how much we paid for it, but I will tell you we bought in 2007, after we THOUGHT the worst was over. I don’t know that we’d be in that much of a better situation had we rented someplace at that same point and just tossed that money away, but I do know that now we are stuck. Stuck stuck stuck. And we are stuck in a house that is small (960 square feet…I know I complain about that a lot – sorry). And this house is dictating our family decisions (there is nowhere for baby #2 until we move).

And we have put a lot of love into this house. We’ve renovated the kitchen, replaced all the flooring (twice in some places!), gutted and renovated the bathroom, added baseboards, removed old baseboard heating, upgraded the water heater, greatly improved the lawn and gardens, replaced all the doors, renovated the laundry room, and oh so much more. And we will get NONE of the money we put into that back whenever we sell. Obviously we didn’t make those improvements for sale value, we made them for us. But as we now look at moving (and maybe renting this house out?) in the next 2-3 years, there is a long list of things that we would love to do for us that probably don’t make sense financially:

  • add more blue chip to the driveway
  • stacking washer and dryer/make a pantry in the laundry room
  • new roof
  • new front stoop
  • new, larger deck
  • new siding
  • new shutters (I so want black shutters!)
  • addition to add true master bedroom with second bathroom
  • addition to add dining room (moving the table out of the kitchen so there could be an island there)
  • greenhouse attached to shed

…and on and on. And it’s so frustrating!

Also, lately, I’ve been really missing Miss A and lamenting today’s world’s need for a 2 income household. Like so many families, ours requires 2 to survive. And I like my new job, but A is in such a wonderful age right now and is really becoming a person. And I feel like I miss so much of it while I’m sitting at a desk for 9 hours a day.

I’ve even thought about what would happen if I did stay home. We are lucky that we only need a sitter 2 days a week because of Will’s schedule, so that helps financially. But still, our mortgage is more than 1 of our 4 monthly paychecks. It’s expensive to live here. We currently now only have 1 car payment (as long as my car will hold out for a couple more years). But it would still be touuuugh.

So anyway, I know I’m not alone. So if you need to complain about your annoying house/work situation, let me know!

Lucy’s Canine Addison’s Disease Crisis

(Forgive me for all the puppy and kitty pics in the post. Once you read, you’ll know why they’re there. Also, ugh I posted all these pics in the wrong size, but you can click each one for bigger until I go back and fix it.)

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We’ve had a rough few weeks here in the Jennah’s Garden household. A couple weeks back, a cold/sinus infection that I had been trying to ignore for quite some time turned into tonsilitis (probably Strep, but the ‘quick strep’ test was negative and the doc just gave me antibiotics for the obvious infection rather than wait for the longer test), complete with a fever, chills, puking, and 2 days off work (just when I was getting ahead with leave time!).

I finally got better, and then we noticed that Lucydog seemed to have a bladder infection. I took her to the doctor on my Friday off (after Ainsley’s well checkup – busy day!). It was confirmed that she had a UTI and also an ear infection. They drew blood, but waited to send it at my request since that would be another $200. They were concerned that she hadn’t been eating, but figured it may have been because she just didn’t feel good.

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She got antibiotics and seemed a bit better, but still wasn’t eating. She was having tremors/shaking, but she tends to do that a lot when sick or stressed. I started to get concerned when she wouldn’t even eat a marrow bone, though. Thankfully, Will was off with her Monday and Tuesday, so he kept an eye on her.

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Then we were both at work Wednesday. When I got home, I went in to let her out of her kennel to go potty…and she couldn’t stand up. Couldn’t even get her paws to cooperate to get them flat on the ground. I freaked and immediately went and got the phone, called Will and said “Lucy can’t walk.” I then called the vet, which thankfully had not closed yet (they would in 15 minutes) and they told me to bring her ASAP. In the meantime, I had put Ainsley in the living room and closed the gate – she was of course screaming because she wanted me. Poor Lucy, still with her UTI, had dragged herself out of her cage and peed on the floor (and herself).

Panicked, I put my stuff and a screaming Ainsley in the truck…then realized I had to somehow get a pee-covered 65lb dog who couldn’t walk outside, down the deck steps, and into the truck. Yeah. I considered asking the neighbors, who were outside mulching, for help. I called Will and luckily he was close by and able to leave work early. I brought A back inside into the living room and went and sat with Lucydog and tried to clean her up as best I could. I was shaking. I knew it was not good. When Will finally got home (longest 5 minutes ever). I hoped I would see Lucydog again alive, and that me and Ainsley would be taking our babywearing walks with her soon, but I wasn’t sure. Finally I went and got A and we got some snuggles in as I waited for news.

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Will got home an hour and a half later or so, and they had been able to stabilize her. They thought it might be Addison’s disease, which was thankfully treatable. It presents in young dogs, is more common in females, and had lots of symptoms in common. Will still thought it may have just been severe dehydration. After 2 scary nights with her in doggie hospital because she still was not strong enough to walk, the blood test results confirmed Addison’s Disease. The UTI and ear infection pushed her body into crisis and she was probably close to death (what if I had been stuck at work for 45 minutes longer that day? omg). Thankfully, it is treatable with a monthly injection, one she will need for the rest of her life. But that life will be long and happy.

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Just like when Ainsley is away and I’m home, I kept looking for Lucydog during the 2 days she was away. It’s crazy how much these pets become part of your family. Crazy, too, because Lucydog was snuck into the family by Will when I was away one weekend (true story). But Lucy, our first baby Alicecat, and the mischevuous Mr. Hank are as much a part of this family as Ainsley. I routinely freak out when I can’t find a cat, thinking they for sure have gotten out somehow and we’ll never see that little kittyface again. So I missed Lucydog when she was away. Even my mom, who is not the hugest fan of Lucy (only because she’s a little leery of dogs in general and Lucy lovestobeinyourfacebecauseshelovesyou), cried when she came over to drop Ainsley off the day Lucy came home from the vet. Pets’ll do that to you.

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As soon as Ainsley saw her doggie buddy, she came over and petted her and snuggled her.

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So, we still have a Lucy-lifetime to regulate her disease. But I am happy to report that as I type this, Lucy is loudly chomping a rawhide bone that I bought her in her cage right behind me. And other than a shaved paw where she had an IV and super-frequent peeing because of her recovery meds, she’s pretty much back to the same ol’ Lucydog. And we love it. I am very thankful that our vet gave her a quick and correct diagnosis and got her back on her feet (literally) quickly.

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I will be ordering Lucy another collartag (she already has one with her name and our contact info, so she’ll now have 2 tags) with her medical information (“MEDICAL ALERT / Addison’s Disease / Medication Needed / vet info”) so that, should (pleaseno) she ever be lost, she would not be in danger because of lack of medication. I love, love, love Boomerang tags. Both of the cats have regular hang tags. Lucy used to have a hanging tag until it somehow got stuck in the TV stand doorknob and she ripped the door of the hinge – since then we have moved to collartags and it stays on her collar and is also very nice and quiet. Lucy wear the 1 inch one for an adjustable nylon collar. (They are not a sponsor, I just love their products and customer service!)

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We also DID get some gardening done last week during all the craziness, so once I get myself together I should have some gardening posts coming up.