I’ve turned down a lot of sponsored content lately because, well, it’s hard to tell you about stools to help you poop when I’m all mired down in (figurative) poop myself. But this one, this one struck me as important so bear with me.

miss vivi on a wednesday.

For the last several months I have had three bins full of clothes sitting in the corner of my bedroom. They mean too much to me to simply drop them off at Goodwill but I also haven’t exactly had the energy, dedication and drive to list them for sale online (Because if you’ve ever done this? Damn, it’s a lot of work.) There’s a local pregnancy resource center that lets new moms “shop” through donated baby clothes for free, I really like that idea so the tiny stuff goes there. But what about the rest?

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With back to school happening today (Yes. On a Thursday. In July.) I have had the opportunity to teach Addie even more about second hand shopping. She LOVES Justice (I deal with it) and I gave her a set amount she could spend at the Justice store in the mall. Whew boy was she ticked when her the amount I gave her resulted in a pair of pants and a shirt. (Justice is EXPENSIVE!) But it’s what she wanted and I decided not to fight her on it. We took a separate trip to a second-hand clothing store where she had the same set amount but walked out with three pairs of pants, four shirts, a jacket, and two dresses. (Not to mention several of the second hand items were from Justice.) The kid is now geeked about second hand shopping. Score: Mom.

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Addie is lucky enough to have both an art and music program in her school and she loves music class with all her little sequined heart. While I have a lot of complaints about public school (one recess a day?) I’m grateful a lack of arts funding isn’t one of them. Lately with all the crap I’ve been in, my camera has been a welcome break from everything that is broken in my brain. When I was younger dance was my escape and while I don’t have a single musical bone in my body — music has the most profound and instant calming effect on everyone I live with.

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So here’s how all this ties together. Schoola takes your outgrown kids clothes and sells them online, all you have to do is request a free donation bag, fill it up, and send it on its way. What’s even better is YOU get to choose what school 40% of the profits from your used clothing go to. You can choose your child’s school, the school you grew up attending, a school in your neighborhood, or you can pick one of Schoola’s suggested schools — like the KIPP academy in the Bronx.

Let’s say I send in a bag of clothes that would have just ended up at Goodwill, Schoola takes them and resells them for $100. $40 goes straight to KIPP academy (or any school I choose) and some kid somewhere gets to wear Addie’s super cool second hand clothes. It only takes three donation bags full of your donated clothes to buy a violin for a child at KIPP. It only takes one donation bag to fund a year’s worth of art programming for 5 kids at another school.

That one violin I could fund with the clothes in the corner of my room could be the difference between a kid finding a way to express themselves through music instead of violence or the one thing that keeps them going to school each day.

The clothes your kids no longer wear hold a lot of power.

Request your first donation bag now, maybe tell a friend, maybe tell your child’s whole school and see what outgrown clothing can do for a struggling program in your own neighborhood.

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This post is brought to you by Schoola, the best place to buy discounted kids clothes all while give back to schools in need. Click here to learn more about Schoola. Click here to see what people are saying. (My unique tracking links to the Schoola site are helping KIPP Academy with each click. VIOLINS FOR EVERYONE!)

 

Cody attempted to distract me several weeks ago with a camping trip.

Camping with Frogs

A few things we had going for us:

cody and me

2006. Aww.

- We were both raised on camping, nothing about it intimidates us and it’s one of the things we miss most about living in Utah.

- We own all appropriate camping gear because we were raised in Utah and camping gear is just something you own when you’re from Utah.

- The weather around here as been simply lovely. Polar vortex in Winter = Want to Die. Polar Vortex in Summer = Hey! My skin isn’t melting off!

However, we had a few things working against us as well:

- Vivi is still working on perfecting potty training.

- Indiana, while pleasant this summer, isn’t exactly where we’re used to camping. Where are all the mountains? Nowhere? Oh.

- Vivi is also terrified of bugs and camping = bugs.

So we decided to do a trial run at camping, meaning we rented a little (LITTLE) cabin in Brown County where we were close to flushing potties, had bunk beds and (sorry) air-conditioning. It took a few hours for the girls to realize all they had to play with was nature (city kids) but once they figured out nature doesn’t (normally) bite, things went quite well. There was firefly catching, s’mores and lots of frogs. We rented a boat the next day, Addie hated it, Vivi joined team boat and never looked back.

Camping with Frogs

First time on a boat. Big fan.

We all became very stinky very fast and by the time we packed up to leave Vivi just looked smelly (not that she cared.)

Our trial run went well, and we’ll be going “real” camping several more times this year before the world ends winter comes.

Before we left Cody was stung by a wasp, then chased by the wasp, then held prisoner by the wasp.

The three of them stood outside our cabin as the wasp waited for Cody to come back so it could finish its job. Cody hollered at me when the wasp was still and I popped out with my flip flop and destroyed the nasty creature. As terrible as the wasp sting was for him, the visual of him trotting away, screaming and swinging a towel around his head as a wasp divebombed his face is one I won’t soon forget.

I guess that’s one of the hardest things about depression, you don’t enjoy anything — so you don’t really make any memories worth keeping. If you were to ask me about the last couple of weeks I could tell you about how Addie has simply stopped asking me to play with her because all I seem to do anymore is cry and yell. I know it has been sunny, and each day I follow the sun throughout my house as I wait for night to come so I can just sit and not have to say anything or have small hands touching me, screaming at me or demanding things from me. I’m making a conscious effort to enjoy my life, enjoy the little things, but right now it’s really hard work. The switch to my new medication has been successful so far — in regards to withdrawals from my previous medication and side-effects of the new one. Now it’s just wait-and-see.

I’ve always hated wait-and-see with new medications. I think most people do.

One thing Utah camping never had was frog catching. Addie and I spent a lot of time doing it, and I hope she always remembers the few days we spent catching tiny little frogs, and that memories like these overshadow the ones of me depressed.

Camping with Frogs
Camping with Frogs

Everyone has a vice for dealing with feelings.

Booze, shopping, eating, drugs, sex, sleeping — or more beneficial ones like gardening, reading or working out.

Mine has been sleeping for a long time — that is until last week when I began the switch to a new medication and sleep has become almost impossible.

I’ve never wanted to be one of those people who takes a handful of pills each day. I want to take the absolute minimum and go on with my life.

Lately it’s been half of my old medication plus half of my new medication plus birth control (because if my birth weren’t controlled right now I would become a derailed train headed straight into the depths of a rocky canyon from which there is no recovery) plus a sleeping pill chaser, because if I don’t I lie awake all night thinking about how much I hate myself. It’s really not the best way to spend the night. Sunday I was convinced that what I was experiencing is what the beginning stages of death must feel like. I hated every moment of Sunday.

With sleep gone and no other vices to fall back on I have drifted back into thoughts of self-harm. (But Casey! Just fall back on working out! NATURAL ENDORPHINS! To which I say I can barely get out of bed and you want me to go to the gym? You’re adorable. Believe me, I’m working towards that goal, but I’m not there yet. One day at a time and many of my most recent days have hurt.)

I can’t even describe to you how depression hurts, you either know the pain or you don’t. It’s like being choked and sat on by an elephant while a finger incessantly pokes at the tired and sore parts of your brain. This is why self-harm enters the mind of so many that suffer with depression, you just want to FEEL something that isn’t depression. I once used sandpaper on my wrist joint until I saw bone . I’ve never done much more than that, it’s not really my thing (I certainly don’t condone it either, I’m just saying I understand it.)

Both of my tattoos come from particularly rough patches in life, it’s such a unique physical pain that dulls out and symbolizes the emotional pain. On my back are lotus flowers, which grow from the muck and mud at the bottom of a pond to bloom unblemished on the surface. I’ve been thinking a lot about another tattoo, especially right now. It’s one of the few distractions I have right now that I enjoy.

If this is your first time here, or perhaps you haven’t been around all that much — this is not me. I mean, the honesty part is me, but the sad wallowing is not me.

I can’t just go outside, do yoga at sunrise and feel better.

There’s no quick fix and if I don’t fix it right this time I’ll be even worse off down the road.

Depression is a disease, and there’s no other disease that is fixed overnight and forever with something as simple as a good night’s sleep and lots of prayer — so why should depression be any different?

So. There’s an update.

I’m trying. I’m fighting, but damn if I’m not real tired.

My best leaves the best ****ing cards.

Thank you for sticking with me through all of this.

oneSOTP 2014twothreeSOTP 2014fourSOTP 2014fivesixeightnineSOTP 2014tenelevenSOTP 2014

Let’s just get this out of the way.

Yesterday I was lying in bed as I thought how much easier it would be if I just took all the pills in my medicine cabinet and ceased to exist.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had those thoughts.

So long in fact I thought it was a joke. Surely I can’t be back here? I’ve been good for over five years. Sure, I had a slip up here and there, but I’m good! See! Functioning! SO GOOD.

Cody sat by my last week and said “You haven’t been well since November.”

When I asked those closest to me what they thought, they agreed. And not just one person, but many.

This caused me to give up me resolve to keep faking it.

I fell apart yesterday.

Big heaving ugly cries into the bedspread and an emergency trip to my doctor.

Today I have an emotional hangover and one of the worst cry headaches I’ve had in over three years.

Once I stopped listening for the other shoe to drop I began to believe there wasn’t another shoe, that I would be okay as long as I kept taking my little white pill every night before bed.

While there are a lot of people who continue to advocate and talk about depression and mental health even when they are well, I was so tired of suffering and fearing the betrayal my brain was capable of I fell into denial. “Depression? Sure, it’s something I’ve dealt with but I’m not dealing with it now! Let’s talk about cake and shoes!” I desperately wanted to believe I had found a cure. A fix. The end. Let’s talk about happy stuff, okay?

Here’s the truth I posted on Instagram this morning when I couldn’t sleep because depression is a bitch that wakes you up at 3 am and says “Sleep? Pfft. You should think about how worthless you are instead.”

I find myself wishing I had some sort of disease or disorder that would show up on an x-ray or in a blood test. Something that could be casted, cauterized or cut out of me. Some outward sign that although I look whole, I’m dying inside. My depression is the worst it’s been in years and it has been a slow and painful build to this moment where everything hurts and nothing is making it better.

Here’s the thing.

I’m ticked.

I hate that this is my trial. I hate that I’m dealing with it again despite doing everything I’m supposed to be doing. I hate that there is still a stigma around depression that it isn’t real. I hate that my brain betrayed me and tried to convince me I’d be better off dead. I hate that I listened to it. I’m pissed off.

Unlike my battles with depression  before, I refuse to let it win this time. I honestly don’t remember what happy feels like at this moment, but I know it’s out there, I know it’s worth pursuing. Maybe my anger will make it worse this time, or maybe my refusal to give in will work in my favor. “Oh, you think you want to kill yourself? LET ME SHOW YOU HOW IT’S DONE, SON.”

I don’t know.

I want to hit things. I want to smash things. I want to punch the people who have hurt me and hug the people who are just starting out on this painful journey.

I am not me right now, but enough of who I really am learned how to fight for herself over the last five years and is doing everything she can to come back.

There are things I hate right now, I don’t hate much — but the hate is actually helping me fight harder. The things I hate won’t win this time.

I’m done pretending. I’m done faking it.

I am wrecked and there’s only one way out of wrecked – up.

Camping with Frogs

Kissing frogs really have nothing to do with any of this, but they’re adorable so they get to bookend this entry.

It kind of changes things when you tell someone you’re close with that you’re leaving your husband. Maybe it doesn’t change things, but it certainly shows you how invested and in what ways a person is invested in you when you tell them a bit about what’s going on.

To be fair, no one really knew. It wasn’t supposed to be a big to-do or anything, keep things as normal as possible. Which means in the aftermath a lot of people around me were probably left going “But wait, what?” You see, I’ve made a very conscious effort to not write or speak ill of Cody or air our grievances for the world to see. It’s just how I operate and it works well, except when things go wrong — because that’s when people come back and say “But everything is going so well! You two seem like such a happy couple!” to which I say “HA HA! It worked then! I had you all fooled!”

Kidding. But in all honesty it is hard to come clean on something that is deep and ugly — be it marital struggles, an addiction, depression or some other foible.

What’s cool is there will be some people who will be all “Care to talk about it over burritos?” while other people will say some pretty stupid garbage that will show their true character more than it will say anything about your own.

It’s those people who don’t bat an eye (and then don’t betray your trust) that are worth holding onto. The ones with the judgmental opinions? Keep those guys at arms length, it’s not that they necessarily think you’re a bad person — they just maybe have a very narrow range of experience and opinions in life. (I’m learning this to be quite polarizing when it comes to church related relationships. The “clearly you’re not praying hard enough” people are just as active in regards to marital issues as they are with infertility and mental illness. Huzzah!)

I’ve learned I’m much more willing to take marital and relationship advice from friends and strangers alike because unlike parenting issues, there aren’t really “MARRIAGE WARS!” broadcast across the Internet in the same way the gag-inducing mommy wars are. I’ve learned most everyone takes their marriage, and it’s subsequent shortfalls and misgivings, much more personal than almost all parenting issues — which is why I’m more open to marital advice, there seems to be more hushed solidarity and strength when someone suggests a book or therapy rather than the demanding “THIS IS HOW I DID IT AND MY WAY WAS RIGHT AND I’M RIGHT AND WOE BE UNTO THOSE WHO DO NOT DO THINGS MY WAY” attitude some people can have with parenting.

First off is the Five Love Languages, we received it as a wedding gift and I read it immediately. I suggested that Cody read it early on in our marriage but being Cody, he didn’t. This is one book that both partners need to read for it to really make sense. And I’m sorry, but you also have to do the silly quiz towards the back. It can make a huge difference in your relationship if used correctly. Cody read it last month and it’s as though the sky parted and the angels sang for both of us.

Second is Hold Me Tight, a book that was suggested by several people, and people? THANK YOU. You know the attachment parenting theory that some parents are so willing to heap upon others? This book argues that attachment bonds, much like those between parent and child, are just as important (if not more important) in an adult relationship as they are to children. But what are we told? “You’re an adult, grow up and deal with your own problems.”  If you yell at your spouse because yelling has become the only way to get their attention — or  have taken to not talking to them because not talking is so much easier than feeling emotions? THIS BOOK.

In summary, going through marital issues has been SO. MUCH. HARDER. emotionally and mentally than anything I’ve had to deal with in regards to parenting, from infertility to present day. BUT, it seems easier to map out and stick to a long term course of healing because we are two grown adults who ultimately want the same thing. (If one or the other of us was one foot out the door? I would be in an entirely different head space than I am right now.)

One of the first mistakes I made was turning my heart and mind off to Cody when what I should have done was turn to him and say “Hey, I’m not happy.” The second (and very important part) of this is that I needed to trust that he would listen to me (which was hard for me because five years ago he didn’t listen until I threatened to leave.)

This afternoon dreams were reignited over chicken salad wraps and spinach salad.

Trust, vitally important yet wickedly scary stuff.

I wish I could say that after two weeks of feelings and emotions my marriage is suddenly A-OK and that everyone can just move right along because there’s nothing to see here! Just a little blip on the radar of life! But I can’t say that because everything is not A-OK although we are very good at maintaining a sense of normalcy and pretending everything is good.

IMG_20140603_203645

Well, maybe pretending is a terrible word to use. Because we’re not pretending, we very much love each other and have a great vested interest in the well being of one another. Neither of us want to be done, but sometimes things are so hard for me that giving up seems so much easier.

The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you’ll see their flaws. That’s just the way it is. This is why marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships don’t last. You might think you love someone until you see the way they act when they’re out of money or under pressure or hungry, for goodness’ sake. Love is something different. Love is choosing to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their filthy heart. Love is patient and kind, love is deliberate. Love is hard. Love is pain and sacrifice, it’s seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship.*

Cody has seen me at my lowest more than I care to admit, and yet he’s still here. He has known me at my worst yet he is also the reason I am capable of a best.

I planted a whole lot of flowers the other day. It’s very gratifying to see my sad, tired garden turned into something that is quite lovely and welcoming. One day of sweat, dirt and more bugs than I could handle and I turned something ugly into something beautiful.

IMG_20140603_203828

But it won’t stay that way for long unless I make the choice to actively care for it. I planted the flowers, it’s my job to take care of them.

If I neglect them, they will whither away and die. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.

I expect to lose some, I never said I was working with two green thumbs here.

It’s going to be a slow process, just like Cody’s and my recovery.

I will probably want to give up at some point because maybe I took on too much.

But day by day everything will grow bigger and stronger, and eventually with proper care and patience there will be great rewards — hopefully in the form of heirloom tomatoes, red peppers and strawberries — but also in the form of love that doesn’t know how to give up.

There are lot of marriages ending on the Internet right now and hopefully that won’t happen here. No, here there will be a whole lot of fighting for marriage, ours in particular — because in the end I believe in it. I have always wanted to grow old with Cody — even when things have been hard.

It looks easy, but it can be (and is) so, so hard.

And I think that says a lot more about the love I have for this man than anything else.

*****

*This quote is credited online to The Great Kamryn, but I’m not so sure the Internet really knows who Kamryn is? She seems to be a myth on UD. Regardless, Lu sent it to me and it’s perfect.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with Victoria’s Secret. Her stuff is lovely, but overpriced and in all honestly, non-functional. Not to mention it’s all packaged and sold to us from the bodies of the most gorgeous and unrealistic teenagers Brazil has to offer. But still, every once in awhile a girl wants something a little frilly and impractical to flounce around in. I learned back in April that Victoria now has something close enough to my size, 32F, which she calls 32DDD and which I call “just small enough to give me a backache and cleavage of champions.”

Out of curiosity I meandered through a local store to see what lace and rhinestone encrusted beauties Victoria had for me. This is what I found:

selection

black and beige

options

not you

Nevermind, Victoria. You clearly didn’t need or want my money anyway.

Somewhat related, here’s a photo of Vivi with one of my big boring bras on her head:

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