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Going Sugar-Less 4 March 2015

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I am really unhealthy. I did not used to be this way. In high school, eleven+ years ago, I was very fit. It declined some in college, because I just did not have time, energy, or motivation to stay in shape. Now, I just seem to keep gaining weight. It is becoming a problem, and I feel like I will best be able to stick to trying to change it by being transparent. I’ve been hiding my struggles for too long, and some of them should be shared. I know that I have good friends who are supportive and not judgmental. Now I need to take advantage of that.

In the last two years, I have gained about twenty-five pounds. This is after having a baby, and then losing the baby weight. I went back to my pre-baby weight within a couple of months. But then I started gaining again. I had very severe post-partum depression, which turned into simply very severe depression. When you can barely handle getting out of bed and taking care of your baby, your own health tends to get neglected. I started eating junk, both eating lots of fast food at meals and stress-snacking in between. I got addicted to soda. Et cetera.

I really thought that moving here to Ellensburg would help, especially since we are eating most meals at my in-laws house, and my mother- and sisters-in-law are excellent cooks of very healthy food. But there are skirts that I bought a few months ago that don’t fit any more. The change in pace and scenery obviously isn’t enough.

A lot of the time I just feel helpless. It is frustrating because I know that I am small, and do not look overweight. I have friends who have struggled with weight their whole lives, or at least for a long time. I don’t want to seem like that skinny friend who complains about gaining a few pounds. Because that isn’t what this is. This is my health. This is about how I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without my legs hurting and getting a little winded. This is about a cyclical problem with depression and health and trying to cut it off before it spirals down any more.

I still don’t have it in me to do much in the way of exercise. I figure I’ll start with just a little. It’s almost embarrassing how little. Well, it is embarrassing, really. My current goal is five situps and five pushups a day. It makes me tear up even admitting that. I used to be able to do at least fifty of each without stopping. I’m scared to even try. But I don’t want to get any worse. I want to be healthy again.

The other thing I’m doing is cutting down on sugar. I don’t think I can go totally sugar-free, but I’m going sugar-less. That is, less sugar. Clever, right? I’m stopping soda and candy. I’m switching to honey for my tea (which, honestly, will also help me to drink up all the herbal teas I have had for so long because I don’t like honey in black tea very much). I am not going to eat the treats that get brought in to work. Seriously, I just decided this this morning, and then there were donuts at work. Talk about testing me right off the bat.

This is going to be really really really hard. I’m scared. I am scared that I will fail. I am scared that people will think I’m stupid. I am scared of everything. But I need this. And I need support. So please support me, okay?




New Year’s Resolutions 23 January 2015

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I had a bunch of stuff planned out in my head to write, as I was getting Cuddle Bear down to sleep tonight, and now my mind is a blank. I guess I’ll just have to try to type and see what comes back to me.

Lots of my friends make resolutions or choose themes for each new year. People talk about their resolutions; those who are serious tend to keep others in their circles updated on how they are doing.

I have always hated resolutions. They never stick, you know? How many times growing up did I swear that I was going to stop picking and biting my nails? And yet, here I am, twenty-eight and still failing miserably at growing them out. Eat better. Pray more. Read a certain number of books in different genres. I have always failed, and so I have come to hate them.

I get jealous of people who make and keep, or at least work hard at keeping, resolutions. I feel bad about myself, that I’m so terrible at it. I don’t wish anyone ill, or hope anyone will fail, I just…wish I could be better.

Most people who actually read/follow my inconsistently-updated blog here know that I struggle with severe depression and anxiety. These feelings that I get around January are linked to that pretty tightly, I know. I already fight against self-hatred and despair. Throw in goals that I can never seem to reach? Yeah, not sure what that is a recipe for, but I’d bet it doesn’t taste good.

I realized something tonight, that I think would be fair to call a breakthrough of sorts. It may seem silly, but here it is: I need to stop comparing myself to my friends. (You’re all “omg emily, right? we could have told you that!”) Easier said than done, though, of course.

Here’s the thing I’ve decided. I have a New Year’s Resolution now. (They don’t have to be made on January first, right?) I’m going to work on accepting myself where I am. I am working hard in counseling – both individual and group – on the depression/anxiety thing. I really like my counselor and feel like I am making some progress. But it’s still pretty bad. And I need to be okay with that. I’m not at a place where I can make a big list of things or commit to doing something every day, or stopping doing something.

So my resolution, small though it may seem (and does seem, to me), is to be okay with the fact that I am not the same as my friends. Someday I hope I will be able to be at that place, but for now, I need the space to work on the internals, and that is okay.



Final Countdown 27 August 2014

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The final countdown to our move is on.

Three days.


Yeah, that’s what goes in my head every time I hear “Final Countdown.” Now it can be in yours, too. :)

Humor is a great deflection when you’re FREAKING OUT about moving. Too much to do, not enough time. My father-in-law will be here tomorrow night to help us load up and leave on Friday.




Imperfect Parenting 19 August 2014

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There is a lot online these days about imperfect parenting. Do the best you can, you are the best parent for your child, thoughts and sentiments like that. And those sentiments are important. In the age of pinterest, many parents, especially mothers, feel inadequate. I don’t do DIY projects to make my son’s bedroom look like a castle, I don’t arrange fruit and veggies into fun shapes and pictures, I don’t handmake clever little educational toys. You can find lots of validating blog posts for mothers who feel guilty for not being “pinterest-perfect.”

There aren’t a lot of posts for those of us who feel guilty for more valid reasons. Those of us who struggle with day-to-day life. Those of us for whom getting out of bed every day is a victory, forget about anything else. Moms with mental illness just aren’t talked about – or talked to – very much. 

Not only do I not do the things above, but I don’t read to my son (often). I put him in front of the TV for more than 3 half-hour shows a day. I have three resources (a friend, family, and another place) where I often take him and drop him off for the day, because I feel like I just can’t handle being a mother; I just can’t imagine dealing with a 2 year-old for another minute. And all of these things make me feel ashamed. They make me feel guilty.

I am an imperfect parent. But am I still a good parent? Does my severe depression and anxiety make me a bad mother? I am learning to answer those questions with “yes” and “no” respectively. But God knows I don’t usually believe myself when I answer that way. I know, looking at my Cuddle Bear, that he thinks I am a great mother. He is overflowing with love. He is amazingly attached. He wants to share every experience and excitement and discovery with me. But CB doesn’t have the background in childhood development that I have. He doesn’t know that research shows I should be reading to him at least an hour a day. That he shouldn’t have more than 30 minutes of screen time, if that. He doesn’t know how often I’m failing him.

I want to believe that I am not a bad mother, not even on my worst days. So I tell myself that I am not. I tell myself that I am doing the best I can, and that that makes me a good mother. I am getting help and improving, albeit slowly, and that that makes me a good mother. I love him more than life itself and would do anything for him, and that that makes me a good mother.

So, for the other mothers out there who struggle with mental illness, in whatever form – keep trying. The way I figure it, if we worry that we aren’t good enough, we’re probably doing an okay job. Yes, we can improve, but we’re doing okay.



Have I Mentioned that I Over-Worry? 17 August 2014

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I do. Over-worry, that is. I’ve always been like that, ever since I can remember. I can remember lying in bed awake at night in middle school, thinking about possible interactions and conversations and the way they might go. If I say this and she says this and I say this, how will she react? What about if I say this? I still do it, though not so much in the loner-girl-hoping-for-friends sort of way. More in the oh-my-god-i-have-to-tell-my-parents-we’re-moving-what-if-they-freak-out-what-if-they-yell-and-hate-me-and-try-to-manipulate-me-into-not-moving-and-what-will-i-do-oh-my-god-oh-my-god-oh-my-god sort of way.


The talk with my parents went fine. They are super understanding and supportive, and optimistic for the move and a new chapter for our family. Obviously they are very sad that we won’t be living three miles down the road, and that they won’t get to see CB at least once a week anymore. But overall? Very supportive and loving. The conversation went way better than any scenario I imagined, even the most positive one. (They didn’t even un-invite us to Dad’s birthday dinner! How did I even think that would be a possibility? Geez, Emily, get a hold of yourself.)

So the countdown has really begun, now. Less than two weeks. My father-in-law will be driving over on August 28th with their truck and trailer, and then on the 29th we will finish loading up and go. We will be staying for two weeks with Fr. Paul and Kh. Thekla, until the house we are moving into is available. I’m so full of crazy, messed-up emotions. I’m excited and terrified and overwhelmed. Mostly I just want to fast-forward through the next two weeks, to where all the packing is done and we are there. At least now everything feels a little bit better, now that people know. Updates will be coming more frequently, I hope, if just to keep me sane.



Anxious and Sleepless 17 August 2014

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This post was written about a week ago. I will be posting an update on how things went shortly.


I can’t seem to fall asleep tonight. I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I managed a nap this morning while my HH, bless him, took CB for an hour-and-a-half hike. Usually I have no idea what the reason may be for my insomnia. Not so this time.

We are moving. We are moving to Ellensburg at the end of August. We gave notice at our apartment complex today. Simeon is giving notice at work tomorrow. I will publish this post sometime in the next few days (right now it is Sunday night), after I personally tell a few people whom i don’t want finding out through the internet (mostly my sister and a few local friends).

I hate leaving Spokane. i have really come to love it here since returning from college. There are so many fun things to do with Cuddle Bear, for one thing. Plus, I have finally, in the five years since moving back, made some solid friendships. I do not make friendships easily, and it tears me apart to be leaving those dear friends. I am so scared to be going to a place where I don’t know anyone, somewhere that I will have to start all over again.

I am terrified out of my mind. But I also know that it is the right decision for our family right now. My in-laws live there, and they will be able to give us a better support system than we have here. This is what we need right now to save our marriage, our family. Because we are falling apart. But we will make it.

Last night I couldn’t sleep at all because I was so anxious. We were still deciding if we were going to move this month or wait until September. It is so sudden. Now, we have made the decision and planned out the next two-and-a-half weeks. Now I can’t sleep because my mind is racing with all the things I have to do. So much to pack, so many people to talk to and say goodbye to, so many places to visit one last time. (I know I’m talking like we’ll never be back. I can be melodramatic that way, sometimes. It’s only 2-1/2 hours away. But we won’t be able to regularly go to our favorite parks, or the carousel, or the children’s museum.)
Mostly I’m scared of telling my parents. They don’t know yet. We will be telling them this coming weekend, after everything is set and arranged, once they can’t try to meddle and change our minds and affect our decisions. Perhaps that seems cold or unfair, but my parents and I don’t have the best track record of seeing eye-to-eye on what is best for me. And they tend to push pretty hard for what they think is best.
It feels good just to get this all down in writing, even if I can’t publish it yet. Hopefully getting these thoughts out will help me sleep, some, now.

Depression is real 12 August 2014

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It is one of the reasons I am starting up my blog again. I was planning on the beginning of September, but it seems like a good moment to do it. With news of the suicide of Robin Williams, everyone seems to have an opinion. As with most opinions on the internet, the stances are fairly polarized.

On one side, we have those who believe and argue that depression is an issue of mindset and spirituality, and that suicide is pure choice. That there is no excuse, it is always selfish, and never understandable. On the other side, there are those who declare that depression is entirely chemical. That those with depression can only battle it through medication, and that suicide is a “known possible side effect” of the disorder/disease. That people who take their own life fall prey to an illness, just as someone who dies of liver failure or a stroke.

In my experience, the truth generally lies in a middle ground. The world is not nearly as black-and-white as we would like it to be, and the subject and reality of depression and suicide is no exception. I will be talking more about this in the coming months – both here, and on my new vlog that I will be starting soon.

But for now I wanted to say this:

Depression is real. It is scary and lonely. Many people struggle with it, whatever the cause, and it has been observed that suicide rates go up when a celebrity takes their own life. Instead of binge-watching Robin Williams films, or sulking about how much you will miss his great talent and humor, consider donating your time and/or money to a suicide prevention hotline. They are priceless resources for those going through the darkness. You can call, no matter the time of day or night, and talk to someone who will not judge you or condemn you. If you have training in mental health, they are always looking for volunteers to man the phones. They probably could also use volunteers in other areas – most non-profits can. If you can’t volunteer your time, consider donating to help with their administration costs; even a dollar can help to save someone’s life.

I guess what it boils down to is instead of judging and arguing, let’s help people.



My Word for 2014: Appreciate 1 January 2014

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I have several friends that instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, choose a theme word every year. I’ve never been big on resolutions, myself. But after thinking about it, I’ve decided to choose a word for myself for this year. Appreciation.

I have trouble appreciating things. It isn’t that I’m ungrateful. I am so grateful for everything I have. But I have a lot of trouble acknowledging and expressing my gratitude. I have lots of issues, and one of them is that I have this insane fear that if I acknowledge something good, it will go away, or that if I plan for a future event, it will go wrong or be taken from me.

I struggled a lot with this during my pregnancy and John’s first year. I hardly took maternity photos, I had a horrible panic attack when we went to register, I even delayed establishing care with an OBGYN. Because if I planned or admitted excitement or joy, then something might go wrong. I hardly have any pictures from John’s first year. Because if I celebrated his safe arrival, then he might have been taken away.

It’s entirely illogical, and I know that. But it is still a part of my psychology. I am learning to deal with it. To not be so afraid of living and experiencing joy – and loss.

So I’m going to try to consciously appreciate things this year. Not so much material things, though that too, I suppose. But express appreciation for my family, for my situation, for myself.

One of the things I’m going to try to do to this end is post a picture of John every day to an album on Facebook. I want to stop fearing that sharing my inner joy/appreciating my blessings will somehow jinx them.


I know this post has been less than eloquent. Oh well. My thoughts are still so scattered on the subject, and I have trouble finding words to express my feelings on this. But there it is.

Happy New Year.

Monies 26 September 2013

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I’ve started making money from home. Don’t worry, I’m not going to start trying to convince people to buy stuff from me or become one of those people you want to block from your Facebook newsfeed because the only thing they post about anymore is their business. (I have nothing against people who post about their work from home businesses, by the way. I have lots of Tupperware and pampered chef friends. But that’s not all they post.)

I have a very high respect for people who can sell. I managed to work retail for two years before it drained me. And some time before that, I managed three months at a call center doing inbound sales for a cell phone company. I hate selling. Even when I believe in the product. It’s great that some people can do it and enjoy it. I’m just not one of them.

Because of my aversion to sales, and public interaction in general, I’ve always viewed extra income as something that would be nice, but that wasn’t really attainable for me. Then I got linked to Swagbucks.

I think a lot of people have heard of them by now. Their hook is “get rewarded for doing stuff you already do online.” Essentially, what it is is you earn points for doing stuff. You can get them from searching the web through their search engine, or watching their videos, or playing their games, or shopping online from certain retailers, or completing tasks. Or some other things. You get the idea. So once you rack up enough points, you can cash them in for prizes. In theory, it’s a lot like an arcade: save your tickets until you have a lot, and you can get a cooler prize.

Except that you don’t have to save up. Because you can get an amazon $5 gift card for 450 points (“swagbucks”). And if you’re going for a different prize that you can buy through amazon, it probably takes fewer points to buy it with gift cards than from swagbucks with points.

That’s how I first got into it. I wanted an iPod touch. I figured I would earn it, get it free. I did the math, and using my points for gift cards rather than for the iPod itself would have taken something like 5,000 fewer points. That’s significant, since most stuff doesn’t pay out in big chunks.

I ended up getting an iPod as a gift before I saved enough points, so I didn’t follow that through all the way. But you can buy pretty much anything on amazon.

Maybe it doesn’t pay as well or as quickly as other work from home stuff. But I don’t have to sell anything or interact with anyone. In fact, with a bare minimum of effort, I can get five bucks every nine days. If you have a smartphone (or iPod touch), you can download the swagbucks tv app. You get two points for every five videos watched, with a maximum of 50 points per day. But here’s the great part – they play on an automatic playlist. So I set up my app to play sometime after midnight (nursing baby, remember?), and then just leave it. By morning I have an automatic 50 points. It’s pretty sweet. Five bucks a week isn’t much, but that’s for doing nothing. Not shabby in my book.

If this sounds awesome to you, you can sign up at http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/itsybitsyemu. (Or just swagbucks.com. But if you click that link to sign up, I get extra referral points.) If you don’t want to, that’s fine too. I mostly just wanted to share my happy. :)

Sometimes Babies Just Need to Cry 26 September 2013

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I can’t count the number of times I was told that during my first year of motherhood. The first time was by my father, when Cuddle Bear was only about three weeks old. We went over to their house for dinner. He got hungry and started crying. I went to pick him up and take him to nurse, and my dad said it – sometimes babies just need to cry. Let him wait until you’re done eating.

All I could think was…But he’s hungry. He should be hungry, he hasn’t nursed in two hours. It’s time for him to eat. He won’t understand my making him wait if I do that.

I took him and nursed him, then returned and finished my dinner. It didn’t hurt me at all.

You know why babies just need to cry sometimes? Because they need to communicate. It’s how they get mama’s and daddy’s attention. They need to cry to say, I’m uncomfortable! I’m hungry! You aren’t paying attention to my less annoying cues, so here: I’ll get louder! They need to cry so that we can take care of them.

Toddlers, on the other hand. Oi.

Cuddle Bear is a toddler now. He is willful and determined and fully lives the saying, “I don’t know what I want, but I’m going to scream until I get it.”

I didn’t ever let CB cry it out when he was an infant. I don’t believe in that, no matter how many people told me I should. But now, it’s changed. It isn’t that sometimes toddlers just need to cry. It’s that sometimes mamas just need to let toddlers cry. He woke up early this morning. He bonked his head and so he nursed extra. He was fullish from nursing, so he wouldn’t eat breakfast. He wanted to be held and carried by mama while grandma was here (who came over so I could work on a project). He still wouldn’t eat after grandma left. He would scream for oatmeal (ME-OH! ME-OH!), then when I tried to give him some, scream NOOOO like I was attempting to force it down his throat. Not that I didn’t consider it, I just know from experience that it doesn’t work.

Finally, I decided that I just needed to let him cry. Even just for a little while, so that I wouldn’t go insane. I knew he was tired and needed more sleep. I put him in his crib, told him (over the shrieks) that I loved him and that I would be back after he took a nap, and closed the door. I made myself some tea. In about three minutes, the screams subsided to silence punctuated by half-hearted cries. In another minute, he was asleep.

Toddlers don’t work like babies do. If I treated him like I did when he was tiny, it wouldn’t work. He won’t go to sleep while he’s being held anymore. He won’t calm down without being spoiled or catered to constantly when he’s like that. He just needed to take a nap. When he wakes up, I’m betting that he will be hungry and willing to eat, after which he will be a whole lot happier.

Or at least, I’m hoping that he will be. He might still be terror child, but at least I’ll have had a bit of a break. Because sometimes, I just need that. I need to let him cry for four minutes, so that I don’t go crazy.