Self- Guided EMDR

Self- Guided EMDR

img_0063This afternoon I balanced my sick baby on my lap, and pounded my keyboard as words of frustration flooded my screen. Anna’s had a fever since Sunday night. We are all tired, physically and emotionally. Our insurance deductible reset for the New Year, so affording care has been frustrating. We broke down and brought her in to be seen last night, even though we dread the bill. The provider refused to do any testing – no strep test, flu, rsv- nothing. They observed Anna for 1 hour and sent us on our way. She’s been alternating between inconsolable and sleeping since. The crying is overwhelming. Being clung onto for days at a time is draining. We all just want her to feel better, and get things back on track.

 

All that being said, my frustrations will not take over an entire post. I’ve been actively trying to live a more positive life. Although those frustrating feelings are normal and totally allowed, I’m not giving them that kind of credit. I’m ready to leave them in the past. Entire post deleted, let’s start fresh.

 

When things were at their most overwhelming, I decided to put Anna in her crib. She cried, but I knew it was a safe place where I could leave her alone for a moment. I stepped into the next room, where I could still hear her or be there quickly if she needed me. I needed to do something for myself, something to recharge me to tackle this day.

 

When we close an EMDR session, we typically end in a visual of a “calm, safe place.” Many times my OCD does not let me leave a session at my therapist’s office. I continue to obsess and process throughout the week, so I have been taught how to direct EMDR on myself at home. I’ve only been able to maintain short burst on myself, and for that reason I have only brought myself to my safe place. I will not process trauma with EMDR on my own. I feel that level of EMDR requires intervention, supervision and guidance by a professional. I decided that I needed to take a break from our little home, filled with loud cries and sick kids. I went to my safe place instead.

 

There are quite a few different methods of doing EMDR on yourself. The first method taught to me was the ‘Butterfly Hug.’ You sit with your body squared off, then cross your arms like a mummy in a sarcophagus. Your right hand will touch your left shoulder, and your left hand will touch your right shoulder. Close your eyes and alternate tapping. Focus on your safe place. What does it look like, smell like, feel like?

 

The butterfly hug is my preferred method. I feel more in control, and I like being able to close my eyes to really focus. If I’m wound up to the next level, I use this GIF to do the work for me. Just follow the dot with your eyes (don’t move your head, just your eyes) and try to focus on the image.

 

 

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img_0087Where did I go in my safe calm place? I recently learned the word thalassophile. It’s a lover of the sea. That word in and of itself brings back visuals of the beaches in Bermuda. Having the word on my mind brought me right to those sandy shores.

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First, I see blue. Bright, virant blue. Then I notice the edge of the waves turning white as they crest tord the sand. The water isn’t like the water here in Massachusetts. It’s not murky and dark- you can see right through it. I see tropical fish swimming around my feet. I love the little white ones that remind me of mermaid angels. I smell salt in the air, and coconut sunscreen on my friends. I smell burgers grilling at the beach bar, and Rum in a tropical drink- it’s called a Swizzle, and it’s a specialty in Bermuda. My shoulders tinge from the bright sun, I know I’m burning, but I love the warmth. I can hear my friends laughing in the distance, steel drums being played at the bar, and the tide coming in and going back out.

 

 

img_4359I remember happy things. My friend Heidi’s gorgeous smile when she told me the sun brought out my freckles. Watching the girls face away from the shore, take their tops off, and hoot while they swung them over their heads. The sound of Dustin’s voice, and his little accent. Nik and Jean-Marie taking a kissy selfie- It is their honeymoon after all. These things make me smile.img_4177

I focus on remembering how the salt textured my hair, and how the sand felt on my feet. I remember finding comfort during my pregnancy by hollowing out a place in the sand for my bump. It was one of the rare times I could lay on my belly. Warmth. Warm sun, warm water, hot sand. Comfort and security in that warmth.

 

img_0084The last thing I remember is dragging my feet as we lazily made our way back to the ship. We walked slowly, took a bunch of pictures, and tried to make those last moments last forever. The sun had zapped our energy, and we were in a sleepy daze. I think we knew at the time that we would want to revisit this place in our mind again, and we all tried to soak in every last second, every last smell, every last memory. 

 

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I opened my eyes in Jacen’s room to find my body relaxed. I was breathing normally. The tears in my eyes had turned from overwhelmed to nostalgic. In the few moments I had taken for myself, Anna had cried herself out to sleep. This break, as short as it would be, was so necessary. It was how I took control of my day, how I loved myself enough to realize I didn’t deserve to spend any more time in a frustrated state, and how I strengthened the bonds with my friends in Bermuda (and they didn’t even know it was happening!)

 

I encourage you to take back control of your feelings. Anger, sadness, frustration and being overwhelmed are all normal, common feelings. Being normal or common doesn’t stop them from sucking. You don’t have to carry those feelings, try EMDR and flip them around. Try meditation, journaling or mindfulness. Do something to make yourself happy.  Reach out to a friend. Don’t keep yourself in the darkness today.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

 

 

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(EMDR can be difficult to initiate on yourself if it’s new. If you’re having a hard time, just stop what you’re doing and focus on these waves for 20 seconds. Focus on your breathing, and feel better!)

 

 

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Forgive me, for I have sinned.

Forgive me, for I have sinned.

So, my wagon hit a little bump in the road today. It’s does not mean I’m completely off the wagon. I woke up this morning, and I began mindlessly binge eating. It started with a healthy breakfast, followed by crackers and candy. I looked down at all the crumbs and torn open wrappers on my lap, and just started to cry.

 

I had to take a second and HALT. In binge recovery, that stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. We use the acronym as a reminder to stop what we are doing, and figure out WHY we are over eating. Honestly, it’s almost never hunger for me.

 

I believe this morning was a combination of tired and anger. I was definitely in a “just woke up” haze, and the sick kiddos have cut into my sleep allotment. The anger I’m feeling is a very mild, subtle anger. I’m mad at myself. I’m mad at some of the financial issues my husband and I are facing, I’m mad that I’ve been at the same weight since June. I’m mad about some of the social decisions I’ve made recently, and (mostly) I’m mad at some things I’ve done in the past.

 

One of the worst times in my life was planning my sister’s wedding shower. I had just found out I was pregnant, and had to stop my psych meds cold turkey. The stress was too much, my social anxiety was out of control and I was so mean to the other girls in the wedding party. A few years have passed, and I’m in a much better place but it doesn’t stop that anger and embarrassment from surfacing.img_2596

 

My sister’s baby shower is this weekend. Everything is so parallel between her wedding and baby showers, I feel like I’ve been here before. Things have been smooth sailing thus far, and I’m so excited to celebrate my niece to be.. that was up until Friday. I realized this weekend that I’ll have to work with the same girls both in preparation and day of. The worst part for me is that I actually really love these girls, but I feel like my past behavior really ruined our relationships. It’s the dread, the embarrassment, the guilt that’s dragging me down. It’s hard to shake, and it’s tempting to fall back into my old coping habits.

 

But recovery and therapy has given me tools, and I need to use them.

 

The first step is just to stop. Put down the bag of candy. Pause. Do not dig the hole any deeper. Next, reflect. ‘Why am I doing this?’ Today, it’s because I wanted to heal my angry wounds from years past. Finally, How do I move forward?

 

The ongoing theme in my whole-body healing has been accountability. I have to take responsibility for the awful things I’ve done. By acknowledging that I was wrong I can take the steps to fix it. In this case, I have dual accountability. First, the reason my relationship with my sister’s friends is so horrible is because I treated them badly. My depression did not hurt them, my anxiety did not hurt them. Although they may have fueled my actions, I was the one who made things the way they are. The second is admitting that I made a mistake by over eating this morning. It happened, it’s over with, I can’t take it back. There is no moving forward until you can admit your own mistakes.

Making a plan of correction. For my social woes, I know that my friends deserve an apology. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do that, since it’s been about 2 years. I tried around Christmas time to get up the nerve to mend things, and ended up not seeing the girls during the holidays. I’m using EMDR and coping mechanisms to be kind, and trying my best to be honest about things that make me overwhelmed. Nipping those overwhelming feelings in the bud will hopefully avoid that angry word volcano.

 

In both problems, there is no changing the past. No time machine. It’s also important not to go too far in the other direction to over- compensate. Restricting my calories or skipping meals will only end up making me hungrier, and one emotional straw will break my back into another binging episode. I also don’t want to over-do it with my friends. Going too far will come off as fake or insincere, and that’s the last thing I want.

 

When I get in a rut, a binge eating mistake or a social problem, it’s easy to want to punish myself. I have a huge habit of beating myself up, or “trying to make up for it.” ..Pretty much anything to avoid taking accountability for my own actions. I can treat myself so harshly.  I am my own worst critic. I was once told that I needed to treat myself more like how I treat others. ‘How would I treat my child or my best friend if this was their problem and not mine?’

I would not tell my children to restrict eating to make up for indulging. I would not tell my best friend she was worthless or undeserving of friendship for a past mistake.  I might feel those things for myself, but I don’t truly believe them.

 

Just like with anything else, I’m taking my steps to get better.

 

I admit that I have emotional issues, and I’ve coped with them incorrectly in the past.

 

I believe that I can get help.

 

I accept help from my medical team, my family and my supporters.

 

I analyze myself- why I do things, what things I’ve done, what I need to stop doing and what I need to fix.

 

After analyzing, I admit that I have done wrong things, and I can not keep going the way things are.

 

I trust that the help I get from my doctors and supporters will assist me in my shortcomings.

 

I am willing to make amends for my past wrongdoings.

 

I would like to correct the relationships I have corrupted.

 

I continue to look into myself, and work on myself.  I admit when I am wrong.

 

I seek education and betterment on my conditions, with intent to use them to live a healthier life.

 

I intend to carry the message of these 12 steps to others in need, be it in person or via my blog.

 

These are the 12 steps associated with AA, but they have been incredibly helpful on my own journey with food addiction and mental health recovery.

 

Bad things happen. Mistakes happen. You can’t take them back. The only thing you can do is admit you were wrong, and do better going forward. It doesn’t matter what the mistake is- you “cheated” on your diet, fought with a friend, broke your New Year’s resolution- it doesn’t matter. Just admit you were wrong, and move forward. DON’T GIVE UP. There are bumps on every road, but you have to keep going. You’ll never reach your destination if you don’t keep pushing on.

 

Forgive, do better, but don’t forget.

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the kids.

Filling my Cup with Hygge

Filling my Cup with Hygge

I’ve been doing a lot of research on Hygge lately. Hygge doesn’t have a direct translation in English, but it encompasses feeling of happiness, coziness, acceptance and well- being. Our family has been dealt a bit of stress, and I’m finding the need for hygge even more important than usual.

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One of the most meaningful things I’ve heard as a mother is, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” It seriously needs to be printed out and handed to all expectant mothers with their positive pregnancy tests. The number of women who suffer from postpartum depression, the moms who are burning themselves out to keep their kids going, every woman everywhere- we all need to practice self love. We need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. It’s like when you fly on an airplane, and they tell you to secure your oxygen before assisting others. It’s seems counter-intuitive and selfish, but we can’t save others if we’re knocked out.

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With that in mind, I realized that I needed to challenge myself with a hygge activity amidst the sick kids in my house. I chose to fill my cup with yarn.

 

Crocheting for me keeps me mindful and calm. Counting stitches occupies the space in my mind that are sometimes filled with the dark thoughts and anxiety. The methodical, repetitive motions scratch the itch created by my OCD. On top of everything, the effort and time I spend with my projects produces a tangible, rewarding item in the end.

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Today Anna and Jacen are sick. Jacen is still feeling the effects of the medicine from his hospital visit on Friday, and Anna has a temp of 103. It’s been a rough day, but it’s also afforded us a lot of down time. Laundry and dishes took the back burner, snuggling and family became priority. I found myself able to crochet and comfort Anna at the same time. I had to keep my cup full before I could fill theirs.

 

I don’t think we’ve come out the other side of this illness quite yet, but I know I’ll be the best caretaker for them when I’m taken care of too. Love yourself today, find some time for hygge.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids,

Wicked Quick Keto Chicken Fingers

Wicked Quick Keto Chicken Fingers

Ingredients
2 pounds chicken tenderloins
3/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper to taste.

 

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400.

Arrange chicken into a 13x 9 baking dish.

Spoon and spread mayo mixture to coat the top of the chicken.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Calories 342

Protein 33g

Sugar 0

 

We hope you enjoy as much as we do!

With happy hearts,

Kate and the Kids

 

 

Support of Siblings

Support of Siblings

I write a lot about the support I’ve received on my journey. It always shocks me how many people have stepped up to help me when I felt undeserving and worthless. Sometimes I feel guilty, like I’m a burden or attention seeking. That’s the depression talking. I strongly believe that everyone deserves support- ESPECIALLY when they feel they don’t deserve it. When I assess my situation from the outside, I want to scream and shout “YOU ARE DESERVING! ACCEPT THE HELP!”

 

Support comes in so many ways, and the need for support comes from so many origins. Maybe it’s just a matter of showing up to a friend’s performance, or sharing their small business post. Maybe it’s checking up on someone during an especially stressful time in their lives- just a call, a text, being tagged in a meme that will make them smile.

 

This weekend Jacen is a little under the weather. He was seen at the Children’s Hospital yesterday for some ongoing GI issues related to his Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS.)

 

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Unfortunately the medicine he was given has made him very nauseous and bothers is stomach. Mike and I canceled date night because Jacen couldn’t be away from a bathroom long enough to get to a babysitter’s house.. Plus the mama bear in me needs to care for my sick baby. Mike ran out this morning for gatorade, and melted my heart when he surprise Jacen with a “get well soon” present. The pups have been extra snuggly, hoping to make him feel better. Even Anna has been dragging her toys and books over to Jacen to cheer him up.

 

What really hit me  was Arielle’s reaction.  Before we knew Jacen would be sick this weekend, we had plans to bring the kids to Auntie’s house so Mike and I could have date night. They were  excited to play Mario Kart with their uncle, and snuggle with their labradoodle cousins. Sometimes they even get to sneak some orange soda and pizza. It was definitely disappointing when we realized we would all be staying in for a lazy day.

 

Mike and I started planning and scheduling in our head. How could we save this day? We were thinking one parent could stay home with Jacen while the other did something fun with Arielle- especially since she’s been begging to go ice skating.

 

When I brought up going to the ice rink, her eyes lit up! Then I had to break the news that Jacen would not be able to come, and it would just be her and I. She spent a moment on the fence, time with just the two of us is always so appreciated. Instead she looked over at Jacen and said, “my brother isn’t feeling great today. I’m staying home with him.”

 

That is support. That is genuine love.

 

Today, Arielle is supporting Jacen by sitting on the couch with him in their pajamas, watching TV and playing quiet games. She’s even helping Jacen get his medicine down and his fluids in by being his little cheerleader. They played “drinking games” with gatorade, and had so much fun. Jacen is going through a rough patch, but you wouldn’t know it. He’s smiling, playing, and laughing – even during the worst of it. He wouldn’t be acting that way without Arielle’s time and friendship.

 

What Jacen is going through this weekend isn’t cute. It isn’t fun to watch. (It’s honestly pretty gross.) He gets bullied at school sometimes for similar issues, and it’s easy to make a joke out of it or be nasty. Arielle has not flinched, has not said a mean word at all. She’s had plenty of ammunition to make a malicious joke, and instead has turned her energy into cheering up her brother. She has only been kind and helpful. He is so lucky to have her. We are so lucky to have each other.

I love talking physiology, as you’ve probably noticed. Being on the receiving end of support increases hormones of love, acceptance and confidence building. Being on the GIVING end, has an astounding number of its own hormones! It promotes happiness, and reward endorphins. It’s a win/ win situation!

Support does not to be grande, expensive, or a big deal. It doesn’t require fixing anything, or to do anything in particular. Support is just an action that makes someone else feel that they are not alone. It doesn’t even have to be time consuming. It’s just a moment, a smile. It’s a kind word, a small action, a hug. Everyone needs support sometimes, and everyone can give support all the time.

 

Be kind. Be understanding. Be helpful. Be supportive.

 

With Happy Hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

Mental health and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Mental health and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day






I wish I could tell you life after starting treatment was all rainbows and butterflies, but it’s not. Being treated may help manage symptoms, but real world problems still pop up.  Mental health is a life long war, but there are daily battles. Minute by minute we have to make decisions to either cope, or give up completely.

When 2019 started, my psychiatrist left the practice, and my insurance deductible reset. I ran out of one of my medications last week, and it’s been absolute hell jumping through hoops to get it refilled.

Obviously being without a medication means the psych symptom will be affected- but withdrawing also has so many physical side effects. I’ve had the most painful, debilitating migraines. I’m constantly nauseous and dizzy, and I haven’t been able to sleep.

The nights have been long. I’m either awake or having terrible nightmares. My husband has woken me up several times for talking, crying or yelling in my sleep.

On top of being sleep deprived, I’ve been dreading Jacen’s doctor appointment all week. As part of his Ehlers-Danlos treatment he is followed by a laundry list of specialists at the Boston Children’s Hospital. It’s top of the line care, and I’m so thankful to have such an amazing medical team, but driving into the city absolutely sucks.

I have a huge issue with driving. I avoid it as much as I can, and work on it with EMDR weekly. If you add New England weather, highways, the confusion of the city and my POS car it’s totally a recipe for disaster.

Enough back story, let’s talk about our day:


While merging onto the freeway in my overtired and anxious state, I received a text message. The text was in regards to my sister’s baby shower next weekend. It was a small detail, but threatened to shake up my preparations.

Living with OCD and Bipolar disorder doesn’t leave much room for surprises. The OCD in me obsessed about details and planning. I’ve been making lists, organizing and budgeting since I found out my sister was pregnant. My mind is already super structured. Add to that all of the emotions that come up when plans change. Emotions that run so high in Bipolar patients. I was immediately consumed by my anxiety.


My therapist likes to use the analogy of anxieties being like beach balls in a swimming pool. One or two is manageable, but if the pool is packed wall to wall, there’s no room to swim. They’ll even start overflowing the side. I had to pop some balls in my pool before I could breathe again.

 

The biggest ball in my pool was getting Jacen to the hospital. I had to get rid of the smaller ones so I could focus. I pulled off at the next rest stop. I was afraid by not engaging, they would proceed without me and undo the work I’d already put in. I was also in tune with my feelings enough to know I was not in a good mental place to vocalize my thoughts without projecting the feelings of ALL my other beachballs.I responded to the text message by answering her question the best I could, and saying “I have to revisit this conversation when my feelings settle down. I’ll text you later.”

 

Text sent, one ball out of the pool. I let Jacen and Anna sit in the car for a minute. I needed to calm down before I drove again. I got some air, and stretched my legs. I tried to clear my mind a bit, but still ended up vomiting.

 

Anxiety sucks.

When I got back to the car Jacen was playing baby shark on his tablet for Anna. I watched through the rear windshield for a moment, just to take it all in. From where I stood behind the trunk, I could see Jacen looking at the tablet and singing. Anna wasn’t looking at the tablet. She was looking at Jacen’s face, beaming ear to ear and trying to master the mama shark hand movements. There it is. There’s the calm and the happy.

 

As we pulled out of the rest stop, I made a conscious decision to keep my pool the way I wanted it. I asked questions about Jacen’s ‘cocoa & movie’ day at school. We laughed about Anna’s new hairstyle- this spunky little ponytail that makes her look like a unicorn. (It’s silly, but functions to keep the hair out of her eyes.) I just kept asking open ended questions when the conversation started to calm down, and it would pick right up. Before I knew it, we were pulling into the parking garage.

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When we finally got checked in and seated in the waiting room, I gave the kids their snacks and tried to regroup. I knew at some point I would have to process those crazy beach balls and coherently make arrangements for the shower. I also still had to make the two hour drive back home. Better to sort myself out before getting back behind the wheel.

 

So the beach ball analogy belongs to my therapist. I visualize things completely differently.

Step into my mind:

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ouch

 

For me, anxious thoughts and mental lists are always running through my mind. They pop up like comedic subtitles, similar to the old school house rock movies. 

The problem is that they pop up quickly and multiply, but they don’t go anywhere. I end up with this overwhelming cloud of words that grows and grows in my chest, until I can’t breathe.

 

 

word cloud

 

So now I have a choice: book or volcano?

 

That word cloud will eventually hit the walls, build up pressure, and need to escape. Before treatment that cloud would create an angry volcano. Mean words, things I never meant, insults and anger would fester like magma in my heart until I finally blew. Hot lava would run out, slow and viscous but deathly hot. It would smother those close to me. Fiery spatter would project fast, and bystanders would catch blistering droplets of my spiteful outburst. Even those far away would be caught in a cloud of ash, as the darkness of my hate and anger spread. Finally, all that hot lava would cool into hard rock. They rocks would pile high, creating walls that would never completely fall back down. Word volcanoes kill relationships.

 

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This is where blogging has really accelerated my progress. I have chosen to force my word volcano into a dormant state. Goodbye volcano, hello book. I know let my word clouds out, one sentence at a time. I just get them out of my chest and into writing. My cloud now comes out like beautiful apparition of ink. I see calligraphically ornate images dance out of my mind and settle onto a page, where they stick. When all the words are out, the weight is lifted. I can turn the page, close the book, even put it on a shelf. Those thoughts are out of my chest and put away. That’s what blogging does for me. All my lists, all my worries, clouds and thoughts- having them here means they aren’t my ball and chain anymore.

 

Join me again in the waiting room of the hospital.

 

I sat and wrote, I got my thoughts out. The cloud cleared, the beach balls were out my pool. You see, the old me would have just accepted this as a bad day. I’d let myself get depressed and angry. I’d take it out on my sister or husband when they asked me about my day, and I’d reply with a volatile snap back. Not anymore. Now I know these things were just speed bumps on a day that still had potential.


I’m so glad I was able to get myself together before meeting with the doctor. My list making was zoned in on Jacen. I was able to discuss his progress, problem, symptoms, and even a plan of action for the future. I wrote things down, asked questions and felt organized. It was the most productive appointment we’ve had thus far, and I can’t help but wonder if they’d all have been as successful if I’d gotten myself together sooner.

 

Before we left the hospital, we headed down to the food court for lunch. It was packed. “Crowd anxiety” goes into the word cloud, along with “child abduction” “pickpocket” and “nowhere to sit.”
Jacen asks for pizza. Add “mother’s responsibility” “pediatric nutrition” “messy” and “greasy.” .. Follow quickly with “childhood” “treat” “special occasion” and “moderation.” We negotiated to a slice of pizza and an apple.

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We grabbed our lunches and miraculously found seats. I was actually feeling better. I let my word cloud out by telling Jacen “I’m relieved we found seats, it was so crowded. I’m proud of you for staying close, I’m always afraid of losing you when it’s busy like this. Your pizza smells great! Isn’t this a nice treat?” That ornate calligraphy leaves my chest again. Instead of sticking to a page, it sinks into Jacen, and again find ourselves in a happy conversation. It’s at this point that I realize Anna has found her way into my peanut butter. “Mess,” “embarrassment,” “mom fail” and “peanut allergies.” Oh dear Lord.

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We got cleaned up, and bounced back.

 

Traffic.

2 hours home.

$40 for Jacen’s treatment for the weekend.

45 minute drive to pick up Arielle.

1 hour drive back home.

 

I just wanted to be home, but we had to stop at the grocery store. I tried so hard to stay in the positive. All three kids were full of energy. They were loud, and in the way of other shoppers. Anna tried to wriggle out from her seatbelt and escape the cart. The lines were so long. I think we were in that market for roughly 84 years.

 

When we finished up, it was 20 degrees and windy. I could barely work the straps on the carseat while my fingers were numb. Shivering, I popped the trunk and almost cried. This is the moment I realized my trunk was full with our stroller, and our backseat was full with the three kids. Where the hell was I going to put all these groceries? I was so cold I thought I’d throw up again. I jammed bags in where I could, and Arielle tried to help me play trunk- tetris. On the short ride back the only thing I could think was, “…and it will still be 20 degrees and windy when I have to UNload all these bags.”

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Frozen, hungry and tired we finally got everything (and everyone) in the house. I worked quickly to throw together healthy dinners- veggie pasta, chicken, cheese, fruit, vegetables- the whole darn pyramid. Not just the whole pyramid, the perfect arrangement of ‘this one likes barbecue sauce’ and ‘ I don’t eat chicken’ and three different fruits for three different children. I even had the meals served on the correct colored plates!  I placed them on the table and turned my attention to the baby.

 

Boom.

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Both perfect plates of food pyramid splattered across my kitchen floor. I’m not going to lie, my kids watched me cry on the floor in front of the stove.

 

I bet you’re thinking “page 5! We must almost be done. Surely this poor girl has been through enough today!” No. Sit down and buckle up, cause shit’s about to go sideways.

 

I mom’d up, got off the floor and stopped crying. I was starting on meal #2 when the older kids shrieked that the dogs were eating off Anna’s highchair table. I shooed them outside so the baby could eat in peace, but quickly realized the dogs were faster than she was. I’d be re-making dinner for the entire family. That’s when Dorothy, our youngest lab, decided to show off her Olympic long jump skills. First, over the wall of the puppy pen. I chased her around the yard, and tried to get her back in the enclosure. Nope. I swear, she stopped to make eye contact and smirk at me before she ran and hopped our fence too.

 

20 degrees and windy.

 

Without a coat or shoes I chased that damn dog into the street, and down three blocks. I still can’t believe I got her back home with no leash, no collar, and numb fingers.. Oh, and still no shoes.

 

I STILL would not accept today as a bad day. All the dogs were inside, the kids were sitting nicely. I went back to preparing a second meal for all THREE children. It was a partial pyramid. A dilapidated, partial, microwaved pyramid. Honestly, I would have ordered pizza if we weren’t coming up on 9PM.

 

Dinner attempt number two barely hit the table before all three dogs swarmed the highchair. I have no idea who did it, I have no idea if it was tooth or nail. Anna was screaming, and bleeding. The cut wasn’t bad, she was more so startled by all the activity. The tears rolled out with no effort to hold them back.. My tears, not Anna’s.

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I got the dogs in kennels, and the big kids fed. I took care of Anna’s foot, dinner, and pajamas. I was so happy when I realized that I was the only one downstairs, and the night was finally coming to an end.

 

I sat down to start blogging. Bad things happened today, but it wasn’t a bad day. There was plenty to be happy about, plenty to be proud of. I responded to an overwhelming text very responsibly. I had some great  conversations with Jacen. We have a plan on making him feel better. Word cloud to blog. This very long day was finally coming to an end.

 

Over the quiet taps of the keyboard clicking, what did I hear? Jacen violently vomiting from the other room.

 

May your night be better than ours.

With happy (even on the bad days) hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

This is your Brain on Friendship.

This is your Brain on Friendship.

 

For the New Year, I did something pretty non-traditional. I cancelled my gym membership. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s cancelled. The gym I was using didn’t work for me, it didn’t work for my family. It was outrageously expensive and I was stuck in a rut, doing the same workout daily. I made the plunge, and have been successfully working out in my home gym. I have no excuses anymore.

 

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I do have a lingering fear that my success will derail without my gym membership. I try to stay motivated, but I no longer have classes, trainers, or exercise groups. Because of this, I was especially interested when an old trainer of mine reached out on social media. He had noticed my 150 pound weight loss, and congratulated me. He asked what I was doing for training these days, and offered to meet up with me for a refresher.

 

I put if off for a few weeks. I’m still super self conscious and high anxiety. I hate going new places, so I knew I’d be out of my element at his gym (where I’ve never been before.) I finally gave in this week, and decided to be a gym buddy this morning.

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First of all, reconnecting with an old friend is a great feeling! Depression is an isolating disease, and being isolated makes depression worse. It’s terrible cycle where you’re stuck in a hole and digging deeper. Spending time with friends releases the hormone oxytocin, which in turn doses you with dopamine and serotonin. Combining socialization with physical activity will up the ante. Exercise releases similar brain chemicals that lift your mood. For the socially awkward, like me, it also relieves the pressure of a face to face conversation. There are things to do, activities to focus on, and natural ice breakers.

 

After I got over the hurdle of anticipation, I had a really great morning. 700 calories and 90 minutes later, I physically feel great. It was a nice boost of self confidence to have someone see the change I’ve made, and get excited about my journey. I was definitely happy exchanging stories about our kids, what we’ve been up to and how much we’ve changed. Driving home I felt the best I have in weeks.

 

As I drove, I started to think about my “highs” lately, and they all center around my relationships. Most excitedly is my niece to be. Even just seeing her on the ultrasound screen made my heart skip a beat, so feeling her kick made me cry. It was the smallest bit of affection, but the contact made me feel so connected with her! Her mama is always sending me positive texts. She tells me about the baby kicking, or her thoughts about my blog posts. When I get to see her in person, her hugs work some kind of hormonal magic. She makes me feel so loved, so safe, so warm. My husband is constantly pulling me out of a funk. He’s learning so many tips and tricks. He’s really trying to understand mental illness and help me. Even just planning our February vacation with my mom sets off little burst of happiness. I’m looking forward to spending time with her, and I know the kids are too.

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Socialization is such an important part of health- mental and physical. It’s not easy when the depression pulls you under, but the right friends will always throw you a life preserver. It’s amazing what the human body can do, and how it can provide us with natural antidepressants. We just have to stimulate our brains the right way! Call a friend today. Lift your mood. Make today a great day!

 

With happy hearts (and great friends,)

Kate and the Kids.