December 13, 2011

Tonight I heard some terrible news: a guy from my church who was serving with the Marines in Afghanistan was injured by a roadside IED. He lost both legs and a hand. He may not survive. I know this guy personally. We attended church together for years. When I heard the news, I felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me.

Right now, many of my friends on Facebook are circulating the story, asking for prayers for his recovery. They're saying nice things about him, like how he was a nice guy and a hero. I should probably be doing the same. But I can't. I certainly hope he can recover, or maybe find peace in death if that would be better for him. But I can't, in good conscience, say things I don't mean.

Certainly, with my husband serving in the military, I consider this man to be a brother in arms, and I respect his service and sacrifice greatly. But I never thought he was a nice guy. He's not someone I would normally look up to as a personal hero.

On a personal level, we couldn't be more different. I remember when we attended the same college cell group at church. At one of these meetings, we had an outdoor party where we played volleyball and other games. This guy (we'll call him Chris) was all over the place. He took the games far too seriously, getting angry and berating people when he thought others weren't playing their hardest. When we didn't keep score, he got frustrated and stormed off. He was also vain, always showing off his muscles, his car, and his gorgeous girlfriend of the week. Having to put up with him was highly irritating to me.

He also had a bit of a run-in with my brother a few years ago and more recently poked fun at my sister-in-law for marrying him. To be perfectly honest, Chris could be a real jerk to the people he didn't care about. He did try hard at times to be a good Christian, which I respect. But I never had a positive impression of him. I wish I could admit this openly to my friends, but I don't think it would be appreciated right now.

In truth, this is my grieving process. What happened to Chris is unimaginably horrible. No matter my personal feelings about him, he did not deserve to be injured or lose nearly half his body. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Not on anyone. It kills me to think that this young man who was once so athletic and passionate about sports will probably never walk again--if he even survives the next 48 hours. The news report said he also sustained injuries to his pelvis. That means he may never father children or even be able to have sex again. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry. Having a husband and family is the greatest joy of my life.  I can't imagine the pain of someone missing out on that opportunity.

I hate this war. I hate it with every fiber of my being. I hate what it's doing to my generation and my country. I hate that it turns healthy young men into paraplegics. I hate that it takes parents away from their children. I seethe every time I read another story of a young woman losing her husband or lover to this conflict. It needs to end now. Don't preach to me about military objectives or democracy in the Middle East. Don't talk about terrorism and the need for national security. No security is worth this price. There are other ways. We need to find them.

This is my message: Not everyone serving in the military is a wonderful, likable person. Some service members are jerks. Some are racists. Some are alcoholics, gamblers, misogynists and cold-hearted cynics. Not everyone in the military joined out of patriotism. Some of them would get out of the service tomorrow if they could. But what they sacrifice on the battlefield is still just as real and as painful as the noble ones who are in it for all the right reasons. In that way, Chris IS a hero and worthy of all the appreciation his country can bestow upon him. I just wish our country didn't make heroes in this manner.

A Lull in the Music

November 7, 2011

Hello, my dear readers. It's been a while since I've written. I've been extremely busy writing for my new client, who has put together a website on economics. I've been writing lots of articles on Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and economic theories of all kinds. I feel like I could publish my own textbook at this point.

Lots going on in the world, too. Occupy Wall Street. Wow. This is the kind of stuff I dreamed about years ago. I just wasn't sure if I'd ever see it. Oh, and in case there's any question, I absolutely 100% support these protests. If I didn't have a child and a husband to care for, I'd be right out in the streets with the protesters, sporting my own array of placards. The corruption in our government and financial institutions has simply reached a level beyond belief, and it needs to change.

Also, I just found out that a friend of mine from high school is in cult recovery. She joined a Christian discipleship program that everyone thought was legit, but it turns out the program indulges in a great deal of physical and spiritual abuse. I couldn't help but feel appalled at the situation. I get outraged when I hear of someone corrupting the gospel that I love so much. This friend of mine is a wonderful person, too, and did not at all deserve to go through that. Shame! Shame and fie!

At times like this, I feel like I should do something to get my voice out there and speak against the world's abuses. But what? I've thought of perhaps starting another blog or writing some articles, but I haven't really been focused enough to do it. On top of everything, I've been ill. A couple of weeks ago, I was having some tests done to investigate a medical problem I've been having. Then I had to go to the ER yesterday and found out I have an infection and early signs of pneumonia. So I've been sitting around for the past week watching my house deteriorate into a hazmat zone while hacking up a lung or two.

Better yet, in two weeks my entire family will be arriving at my house for Thanksgiving. Oh, joy!


September 10, 2011

Wow, what a month. My brother arrived, and life suddenly took on a whirlwind rush. Bedtime came after 11 p.m. almost every night, and then I got up early every morning to feed William breakfast. During all this, I started writing on another website for a client, and William started cutting his last four teeth--morphing from a happy, lovable little Jekyll to a monstrous, destructive Hyde. Good times, good times.

At least I have some comfort. I started reading a terrific book called The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. It's a book that investigates the validity of the biblical New Testament through interviews with top New Testament scholars and other experts. Some of the insights are simply profound and have encouraged my faith in a big way. I think all Christians and skeptics should read it.

I also have more inner peace than usual. Not long ago, I wrote a devotional that spoke of the Bible's description of the secular world. The Bible points out five basic characteristics of the world: (1) lust and pride, (2) immorality, (3) materialism, (4) division, envy and strife, and (5) a lack of compassion. That got me thinking about lust. Lust has been one of my biggest problems for years. Whenever I wanted to escape reality, I'd just fantasize about having an encounter with someone--who was not usually my husband. I felt guilty about it, but it was easy for a long time to just write it off as harmless imagination.

But it wasn't harmless. It was dishonoring my marriage. It was tempting me to cheat on my husband. It was making me feel anxious and on edge. However, after I wrote that devotional, something clicked inside of me. I suddenly didn't want to fantasize about other people anymore. Whenever my thoughts began to stray in the wrong direction, I stopped them. My love for my husband began to deepen further, and my anxiety vanished. I decided that my desire should be for my husband only. After all, isn't that what is marriage about?

There are other things I'm meditating on as well. Materialism. Lack of compassion. Is that really me? I spend a lot of time thinking about things I want or might eventually have when I already have so much and give very little of it away.

The Bible says, "Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Not transformed by a simple repeat-after-me prayer. Not transformed by a song and dance. Not transformed by wearing the "right" clothes, saying the "right" things or shouting "Amen!" every other breath. Transformed by thinking differently about the world. Wow. How often does that come up in church?    


August 6, 2011

Two days ago, my husband and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. I use the term "celebrated" loosely because not only did we stay home, we also spent half the day cleaning the house. My brother's family is in the process of relocating to Ft. Meade, Maryland, so that means they're staying with us in Virginia until they can find an apartment up there. Since they arrived last night--about three days earlier than originally planned--that meant cleaning could not be put off. Plus, we were unable to find a babysitter for our son, and he's still several years too young to do certain things--like sit through a three-hour Harry Potter film at the theater.

But our anniversary was nice in another way. My husband had taken leave from work, so we got to spend the day together. And after we went to bed that night, we stayed up late just talking. It was then that I discovered just why I married my husband.

You see, when I was younger, I never thought I'd find someone like me. I was always the outsider--the kid who wanted to belong but never quite did. My childhood "friends" were often quick to turn on me, take advantage of me, talk behind my back, or leave me out of the juiciest discussions. They repulsed my intellect, calling me "goody two shoes" and "teacher's pet," often to my face. It didn't help that my mom actually taught at my school for a while. Looking back now, it's a wonder I didn't grow up to absolutely hate people.

My husband had an identical experience. If he was teased as much as I was, he hasn't said. But the similarities are striking: on the fringe of every group, only one or two close friends, related better to adults than his peer group, etc. When we found each other, we were lonely and looking for something different--someone who understood us. I was still painfully awkward then, but at least he was able to see past that, unlike so many others. Does he understand me completely? No, and he'll admit it anytime. However, I think what pulls us together is what we see in each other that's so similar to what we each see in ourselves. Call it a crutch. We'll happily hobble along together a little while longer.

Thanks for reading.

A Preoccupation with Death

July 25, 2011

So, it's been a while since I have posted anything on here. I've been extremely busy with my writing elsewhere, family visiting, and an unexpected job interview. That's right: in just a few weeks, I may be working full-time. Although that means shopping for a daycare center for my son, I'm really excited.

Unfortunately, I've been thinking often about death--my death, my husband's, and my son's. I still worry sometimes that my son will go to sleep and never wake up. I'm scared that an officer will show up at my door one day to say that my husband was involved in an accident and he's not coming home. And then I think that I'll discover I'm chronically ill and pass away at a young age. These scenarios play in my head at a rather disturbing rate sometimes.

Could it be I'm really afraid of death? I don't normally think I am. Sometimes I think death would be welcome: no worries, no tragedies, just peace. I'd no longer care about the world and its troubles. I wouldn't concern myself with my son growing up in a toxic, financially unstable world. My brain would finally be switched off. Finally.

But I know I don't want that yet, tempting as it is sometimes. I believe I have more to do--that my role to play in this world isn't finished. If anything, I'd like to make this world a better place for my son, if that is possible. Despite my morbid preoccupation, I have decided to let events run their course and not worry anymore. Whatever comes, I hope I will be prepared.

Tough Week

June 17, 2011

This week has not been easy for me emotionally. I've been thinking quite a bit lately about my past, specifically my childhood and my experiences with my family. What started me thinking is that my mom is coming visit me in VA. I love my mother dearly and am looking forward in a big way to seeing her, but being around her tends to make me anxious. My mom has a habit of asking direct and pointed questions, the answers to which lead her to make suggestions that she expects to be followed. I'm a relatively structured and disciplined person, but my mother is at an entirely different level, and she has trouble understanding why I can't think and function as she does. My shortcomings in that way result partly from personality and partly from my battle with depression. Going about things slowly and approaching life in a more laid-back fashion is how I manage my stress. Otherwise, my head might explode.

There's another reason I'm feeling irked: my dad's birthday and Father's Day are both approaching, and as I discovered today, my feelings toward my father are not favorable at the moment. You may remember, dear readers, that just before last Christmas, a family crisis arose involving my parents. Well, certain actions of my dad's caused that crisis, and as I stood in Target trying to pick out a Father's Day card, I realized I am still angry at him. The hurt is so deep that I almost can't think of him as my father. I know in the past I have talked on this blog about how much I love my dad and how he cared about me and protected me growing up, but I feel like some of that was a form of denial. I stood in Target today sorting through cards that said, "You're the greatest dad ever!" and "Because of you, my life is amazing!", and I wanted to scream and walk away. None of it was true, and I couldn't in good conscience even buy a card that read, "I love you very much." Don't get me wrong: I still love my dad. But I'm so twisted and frustrated inside that I can't even lie to him for my own sake.

I hate feeling this way. It's so damn awkward and infuriating. I love him, but I hate him. When I hug him, part of me means it and part of me doesn't. Part of me wants to forgive and forget, but part of me can't get past the pain. It's very possible our relationship will always be this way. So, once you accept that something may never be normal, how do you proceed with it? I need to figure that out.

More Nutritional/Dieting Information

I wrote an article today about sneaky calories--the kind people tend to forget to count when trying to maintain their weight. Read all about it here.

Thanks for reading!

A Woman's Worth (Bible Style)

June 14, 2011

*I originally wrote this as a note on my Facebook page. Thought I would share it here as well.

These days, it seems people are critical of religion in general and of the Bible in particular. Many argue that God, if He indeed exists, cannot possibly be a moral entity because of certain things that were or are permitted in Christianity. One of these things is the subjugation of women. In Biblical times, women were treated almost as property, only allowed to marry and travel with a man's permission. Women were also excluded from priesthood, barred from receiving a formal education from temple rabbis, and forbidden to speak publicly during religious meetings. Today, many religious fundamentalists use scripture as an excuse to degrade women, excluding them from ministry and relegating them only to certain roles in society. Therefore, some reason, it would be better for women if such religion disappeared altogether.

But is the way secular society views and treats women any better?

I recently watched a roast of a famous actor on Comedy Central. (For those of you over 50, a "roast" is a stand-up comedy act that mercilessly mocks the guest of honor.) One of the comedians on the roast panel was Pamela Anderson, an actress made famous by Playboy Magazine and the show Baywatch. It's no secret that Ms. Anderson's career has been entirely built on her sex appeal. She was cast in Baywatch not because of skillful acting, but because of her voluptuous body. And the other comedians on the roast panel were quick to point this out. Repeatedly. While the men leered at her hungrily and made numerous sexual innuendos, they insulted the quality of her character and decisions, portraying her as a loose woman with no standards and no value beyond her looks. What's sad is that even as some of these "jokes" obviously stung her, Ms. Anderson continued to play right along, keeping up the stereotype. After all, society has told her this is the only way women like her will be successful.

The same is true for thousands of others. Models starve themselves to be on the covers of magazines, because normal-sized women aren't allowed in advertising. Actresses who gain more than a pound end up with their "shocking weight gain" photos plastered inside tabloids. Entire magazine issues are devoted to discussing who has the best bikini body and how every other woman can get one, too. Physical beauty is constantly praised in advertisement, while true intellect and integrity go almost completely unmentioned.

The only other option for gaining respect in a secular society is for women to have careers. It's no longer enough for women to raise successful families or to serve their husbands, or even to work as secretaries and librarians. These days, women are expected to make significant contributions to the workforce, even if that means delegating familial responsibilities to outsiders. Women who choose to be stay-at-home mothers or who work in "soft," "low-level" jobs are often seen as failing to reach their full potential.

So how is the Biblical view of women better?

Through the Bible, God shows us that woman are unique, possessing great power and influence, and having value far beyond looks or aspirations. The best example can be found in Proverbs 31, a chapter that celebrates the value of a good woman:

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

The Bible says a noble woman "works with eager hands," "provides food for her family," "watches over the affairs of her household," is strong, compassionate and generous, wise, and dignified. No voluptuous curves or pouty lips here. The woman described in Proverbs 31 is a skilled and efficient manager, a bold and confident decision-maker, an intelligent strategist, a shrewd businesswoman, and a great philanthropist.

What about the Biblical subjugation of women? Well, it's true that the Bible teaches women to "submit to your everything" (Ephesians 5:22-24). But in the same breath it commands men to "love your wives just as Christ loved the church" (verses 25-33). How much did Christ love the church?

1. He laid down his life to redeem it.

2. He provided healing, instruction, and guidance for it.

3. He became an advocate for it (1 John 2:1).

4. He promised to provide for it and reward it.

5. He promised to protect it (Matthew 16:18).

Women may have been forbidden to speak in church or receive formal education from rabbis, but husbands were expected to answer their wives' questions regarding religious matters at home (1 Corinthians 14:35). They were not to be kept in ignorance. Even Jesus taught women (Luke 10:38-42). The Bible also commands men to not be harsh with their wives (Colossians 3:19). And 1 Corinthians 13 provides further details on love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

So while women may be required to love, respect, and submit to their husbands, men are expected in turn to guide, protect, educate, heal, reward, forgive, provide for, sacrifice for and exercise patience toward their wives--hardly the one-way street many perceive it to be. Men who abuse their God-given leadership to oppress and mistreat women will no doubt face harsh judgment.

The Bible also illustrates the power that women possess. Sin entered the world through a woman. So did Christ. A noble woman brings honor to her husband and household, while a nagging one makes life unbearable (Proverbs 21:9, 19). Wealthy women financially supported the ministry of Christ. A woman prepared Jesus for his death and burial (Matthew 26:6-13). Women were the first to discover Jesus' resurrection and spread the word to his disciples. Many people became Christians through the testimony of women in the Bible (John 4:39). Two entire books in the Bible, Ruth and Esther, are dedicated to honoring the lives of noble, courageous women. Though it may seem that a few scriptures in the Bible seek to oppress or limit women, the truth is that the Bible recognizes and celebrates a woman's unique talents, contributions, and internal value far more than our secular society does today.

If you are a woman, know that you have significant value and awesome worth in the eyes of God far beyond physical beauty or a prestigious title. What you do matters greatly, even if it's cooking meals for your husband, raising children full-time, or volunteering at a local shelter. As women, we have many gifts to give.

Thanks for reading!

Health and Nutrition Alert

June 9, 2011

For my readers concerned about health and nutrition, there is a non-profit organization functioning as the front group for restaurants and food manufacturers that is feeding misleading health and nutrition information to consumers through numerous websites and expensive ad campaigns. You can read about it here in my latest article on Suite 101.

Thanks for reading!

Proud to be Woman

June 7, 2011

I've been living under a lot of pressure these past few weeks. It started with looking for a job. My husband is planning on quitting the Navy in a little over two years when his contract is up and starting college, so I need to be bringing in an income to help with the bills. However, the job pickings have been slim to say the least. The economy is still terrible, and wages are being suppressed like never before. I saw a full-time receptionist job advertised with a salary of $16,500 to $20,500. What a joke! Who can live on $16,500 a year?? My husband makes more than twice that amount. That's why I've been writing so much lately. At least I can do something I love and make a few inroads toward earning extra cash at home.

I called a friend of mine recently and told her about the situation. She's been there and done that. Her husband retired from the Navy, and most of her 5 children are in high school. She said, "The problem is, you don't want to be marginalized."

Yes, that's it exactly. I don't want to be pushed into a corner by an employer, doing essential but menial tasks with no appreciation. I've been there, trust me, and up until a few months ago, I was still having nightmares about the worst job I ever had--and I haven't worked there in over three years. That's how deeply my spirit was crushed back then. I certainly don't want to go back to that: dealing with gross incompetence all around, taking the blame for others' faults, picking up everyone's slack, and begging for raises that I deserved.

Talking to my friend made me realize more than ever before what it means to be a woman. We have so much to offer the world. We supply the world with children and nurture them into adults. We create healthy environments in which our families can grow. We care for our husbands so they can focus on their work. In our hands are health and healing if we allow them to come forth. Our words and moods change the tone of wherever we are. We can multi-task. In our hearts we feel a divine sense of justice. Some of history's strongest and most influential civil rights advocates have been women. Even the Bible acknowledges a woman's worth in Proverbs 31. With so much to offer the world, women shouldn't be marginalized.

If you are a woman, celebrate today. We may have so much riding on our shoulders, but we also keep the world spinning smoothly. Despite all the stress I feel, I'm proud to have been born a woman.

Latest Article

June 4, 2011

For those of you interested in food and nutrition, check out my latest article on sugar. It attempts to answer the common questions people have regarding the sweet stuff, including how much you should eat!

Thanks for reading. I promise I'll be back to write something meaningful soon!


May 27, 2011

Dear Readers,

As you may notice, I've made some small changes to the blog. You can now subscribe to the blog through email. There's also a feed to my most recent freelance articles on Suite101 and most popular blog posts if you'd like to check those out. For those of you on Twitter, I now have a Twitter account to promote my freelance writing. If you wish to follow, you may find me @April_Kelsey. I've been doing quite a bit of writing these days, including working on my novels, so I've been very busy! After all, I'm doing this while raising a toddler!!

Also, for those of you who blog about dealing with depression, life in general, or nutrition and eating disorders, I'd like to start a blog roll to feature your blogs (since I just can't follow everyone.) If you'd like to see your blog promoted on mine, leave a comment on this post with a link to your site. I don't know when I'll be able to get the blog roll up, but I'd like to do it within the next week or two.

I've considered adding Adsense to my blog to pull in some extra revenue; however, I started this blog as more of a way to express myself and reach out to others, not to capitalize on my writing. So for now, I will keep this blog ad-free. Let me know what you think. As always, I appreciate your readership!

Busy with the Keyboard

May 23, 2011

In the absence of an available job, I've decided to start writing freelance. My first article was published today, and I'm very excited. If you have time, please stop by and check it out.

Thanks for reading!

All About Food!

May 19, 2011

I follow other depression blogs, and one theme that has crept up in a couple of them lately is food. It amazes me just how unhealthy some people's relationships with food can be, yet it's totally understandable. We live in a society where being thin and healthy is celebrated, yet the most affordable, convenient and advertised food on the shelf is the stuff guaranteed to cause weight gain. It also doesn't help that the airwaves are overrun with conflicting information about food and nutrition--a good deal of it false and misleading. It's no wonder people have such love-hate relationships with food.

I, personally, love food. Most people don't think that when they see me. I'm tall and wear a size 8. Some think I must starve myself or exercise obsessively to have an ideal body weight. But I don't. I just eat and think about food differently.

Food is good. It is necessary to support life and provide energy. Eating food is pleasurable. The most exciting time of the day for me is dinner, because that's when I eat the best food and the most of it. While genetics does play a role in my weight, the main difference is in how I eat. I don't own a FryDaddy, and it's a rare day when a McDonald's bag enters my house or car. I cook nearly all of my meals from scratch using simple, pure ingredients. And between times, I limit my intake of caffeine and sweets. That's about it.

For those of you out there looking to lose weight or just eat better, I'm going to share a sample meal plan and some very simple tips. Here it goes:

1. The recommended calorie intake to maintain weight is 2,000. That's roughly the amount your body burns in chemical processes + physical activity a day. To lose weight, eat between 1,500 and 1,800 calories a day and increase activity if possible. Eating less than 1,200 sends the body into starvation mode, which makes burning fat harder.

2. Eat breakfast! This will get your metabolism started for the day.

3. Lean protein is your best friend. Protein helps keep you feeling fuller, longer. Sources of lean protein include soybeans, legumes (beans), fish and chicken. Eat lots of these with fresh fruits, grains and vegetables.

4. Avoid at all costs foods that contain corn syrup, especially high-fructose corn syrup. The body converts fructose directly into fat, and it can cause diabetes and poison the liver. Foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup include soda, ketchup, salad dressing, some cereals, cookies, and even yogurt, crackers, and ice cream. Before buying anything, read the food label!

5. Eat, don't drink, your calories. The body has trouble feeling full with liquids, and most calories in drinks come from sugar anyway. Drink mostly water, and stay away from soda! (Fun soda facts: soda contains 1,000 times the carbonic acid that carved Mammoth Cave, and drinking just one soda a day doubles your chance of developing diabetes.)

6. Avoid (as much as possible) prepared, packaged and processed food. Most of it just contains corn anyway--the same corn fed to cows to fatten them. Guess what? It's doing the same to you.

7. Limit fast food to just once every two weeks, less if possible. If you must eat fast food, buy the kid's meal. A McDonald's kid's meal contains 700 calories, which is about the right amount for a meal when you're eating 1,800 calories a day. Or just buy a sandwich and skip the fries and coke.

8. Avoid products labeled "diet." That does not make it better for you. Many "diet" products contain artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup. Instead, read the ingredients list and choose foods that are naturally low in sodium, sugar and saturated fat.

9. Buy organic foods whenever possible. Stay away from anything labeled "imitation," especially cheese. Real food is healthier and more satisfying, especially cheese!

10. Consider making weight-training a part of your exercise program. The stronger and more developed your muscles, the more calories you will burn at rest.

11. Limit alcohol and salad dressing intake. Both are loaded with calories.

12. Look for ways to limit and ease your stress. Stress increases appetite while causing the body to retain weight.

13. When eating out, some options are better than others. Instead of doing fast food, for instance, I get Chinese take-out or order from a deli. The drawback with Chinese food is that it can be high in sodium, but that's better than the high saturated fat you get at the burger joints, and Chinese food is usually loaded with veggies. The best deli in my opinion is Jason's Deli. Their food is phenomenal AND healthy (I love the Turkey Ruben and the Broccoli and Cheese Soup)!

Meal Plan

Breakfast Options: A nutritious smoothie (recipe at bottom) OR a protein shake OR oatmeal OR low-fat yogurt with granola OR a piece of fresh fruit with a side of cottage cheese.

Mid-Morning Snack Options: a piece of fruit OR a serving of raw fresh veggies with low-fat dip OR a serving of raisins.

Lunch Options: A very veggie salad (romaine lettuce and tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, cranberries, mushrooms, olives, etc.) with lean protein and a vinaigrette dressing OR a tuna sandwich OR a lean deli meat sandwich with cheese OR healthy leftovers. (The best deli meat in my opinion is Oscar Mayer Delifresh Rotisserie-Seasoned Chicken--50 calories per 6 slices and delicious. It comes pre-sliced.)

Afternoon Snack Options: raw fresh veggies with low-fat dip OR a serving of low-fat cottage cheese OR a serving of low-fat yogurt OR a 1/4 cup of nuts OR a slice of cheese OR a serving of low-sodium pretzels.

Dinner: No fried food. Cook from scratch if possible using lean protein and fresh vegetables. (I recommend Healthy Cooking Magazine for simple, fast and tasty recipes).

Dessert Options (2-3x a week): 2 pieces of individually-wrapped dark chocolate OR 2 oatmeal cookies OR a serving of low-fat Greek yogurt with fruit OR a serving of plain, low-fat frozen yogurt OR a serving of chocolate Jello pudding.

*Smoothie Recipe: 1/2 cup of non-fat milk, 1/2 cup of non-fat yogurt, 1/2 sliced frozen banana, 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries or berry mix, 1 tsp of honey, 1 tsp flaxseed oil, 2 tbls of vanilla-flavored protein powder. Pour all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth.

Who doesn't like surprises? Me!

May 12, 2011

Just the other day, it dawned on me: I don't like surprises. I was standing over the stove cooking dinner at the time, and the thought hit me like a bolt of lightning.

"What kind of person doesn't like surprises?" I thought to myself in shock. "And how could I have not known this about myself?"

What brought this realization on was that my mother had written to my husband to ask what I wanted for Mother's Day, hoping that he'd keep the request a secret so she could surprise me with a gift. The problem is, there's not much I want in the way of possessions, and I'm notoriously picky to boot. My husband knows this, so he doesn't waste time trying to read my mind. He asks for a list. And, usually, it takes me anywhere from 2 hours to 2 months to make that 4-item list (depending on the occasion). At my house, the word 'spontaneity' exists somewhere within the realm of little green men. And it's hard for me to accept that.

See, it's not popular or socially acceptable to be a giant stick-in-the-mud (or, in my case, a tire iron in concrete). Most of society loves outgoing, spontaneous people--the kind who make surprising fun. It's a personality trait that's celebrated in nearly every lighthearted Hollywood film. The stuffy librarian with the granny glasses meets Mr. Popular and suddenly transforms into Miss Life O' Da Party. That's the woman every guy wants to date, every employer promote, and everybody envy. She has the most fun and lives life to the fullest--or so everybody thinks. I thought I was her.

Several years ago, I ditched the geeky glasses, cut my hair dangerously short, and bought a more form-fitting wardrobe. I'm very happy with those changes. I feel like a mature, attractive woman now--not the gawky teen I once was. But personality has not necessarily followed. I'm probably a little more spontaneous and fun-loving now than I was back then, but not much. Parties exhaust me, peppy people wear on my nerves, and most surprises leave me mumbling blankly into space. My favorite conversation topics at dinner are religion and politics. It doesn't help that I've been deeply disappointed by past surprises, mainly because people have a tough time understanding what I like. I have a tough time understanding what I like. Sometimes, I don't even like going outside. The life of the party? That's not me. Just give me the one book I want--the thick one with all the big words I can't pronounce correctly. That's all the surprise I crave.

Something's Wrong (and I'm not a hippie)

May 5, 2011

I noticed something was wrong a few years ago when my husband and I drove together to Colorado and witnessed hundreds of cattle crammed together in muddy feedlots, the smell so rancid that you could detect it for a mile.

I noticed something was wrong again when I bit into a fresh strawberry and it tasted like oil.

I noticed something was wrong when I walked into a six-grade classroom and discovered nearly half the children were on psychiatric medication.

I felt something was wrong when I began hearing more and more complaints from young women about infertility and menstrual problems.

Something is wrong. A couple of days ago, the news reported that the number of asthma cases has increased by 12 percent over the past year. Considering the millions of people who suffer with asthma, that is not a small increase. That is an epidemic.

We weren't meant to live this way. We weren't made to eat chemically processed food. Cows and chickens were not made to live in tiny, fetid enclosures. Our bodies were not designed to function on long-term medications. Farmland was not made to be repeatedly replanted without rest. Yet anyone in the past who has made such statements has been labeled an alarmist, a hippie, or a paranoid freak. Now, though, bad trends are becoming difficult to ignore. When you hear that your life expectancy will likely be shorter than your parents', or when you walk down the street and see that well over half of all the people on the sidewalk are significantly overweight, you can't ignore the feeling that something is amiss. This is what we call 'instinct.' Instinct works to keep us alive and thriving.

I've decided to listen to my instinct. I'm going to start investing in my health. I'm going to try natural ways to treat and manage my depression. I'm going to take vitamins and buy more organic foods (I've discovered that they taste better without the chemicals). I know it's more expensive, but I can't continue to buy into the illusion that everything is fine and another pill will make me feel better. I know people on pills. They aren't better.

For now, I'm just making small changes. I will probably never be a vegetarian; I like steak too much for that. I'm not going to ban potato chips from my house or start growing wheat grass in my backyard. I'm not going to demand that the local McDonald's be shut down. But what I am going to do is encourage a more natural way of living. Cows do not belong in feed lots, eating corn. Strawberries should not taste like oil. And women my age should not be struggling to get pregnant. Something is wrong, and no one should be afraid to say so.

Navy Wife

May 2, 2011

The Thursday before last, I had had it. William had whined and screamed all day--as well as the five days previous--and I couldn't endure another second. So when my husband finally came home from work on my assigned evening of freedom (we have an arrangement), I decided to take myself out to dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant. All my friends were either working or wrangling their own toddlers, so I went by myself.

I just about had the whole restaurant to myself, too. I had arrived before the evening dinner rush, so the place was empty except for a couple having drinks in the corner. It was so nice just to sit in the quiet and stare at the ceiling, sipping sweet tea and thinking about the huge plate of Gorgonzola pasta I was about to enjoy--artichoke hearts included. Mmm, my favorite!

A manager soon noticed me sitting alone and decided to check on me. He almost immediately asked if I was military. I suppose my eating alone must have clued him in. I said yes, and then explained that my husband is the one who serves--I just support him at home. He then thanked me for my service. "The wives have the tougher job," he explained. "The men only have to focus on the mission; the wives are responsible for dozens of other tasks to keep the household running."

I felt both humbled and grateful. It's not every day that someone recognizes the contribution you make to the happiness and security of others--even if those others are your own family. I have been on both sides of the fence (military and civilian), and I can say from experience...he's right.

Life within the military (as a soldier, sailor, etc.) is a different world. In the military, you are removed from civilian life and then kept almost too busy to think about it. While serving, you're concerned about how your uniform looks, how to master your training, whether your superiors are going to yell at you again, how to keep your buddies out of trouble, how to avoid falling asleep on duty...and that's only if your mind is actually rested enough to function properly. It's an all-consuming environment, and it's designed to be that way. Yes, you often feel lonely and miss loved ones. You wonder how they might be doing without you. But every day is just one mundane task and expectation after another, and responsibility for failure or laziness is shared among the group--specifically among those in the higher ranks.

Compare that to a spouse's role. There's no one standing by to direct the spouse, to help her in her tasks, or to take responsibility if she fails to do something right. She is both boss and laborer, father and mother. There is no one to relieve her from her duty of caring for her family except for what she can arrange. When raising children, each day presents her with new and complex challenges for which she often feels ill-equipped to handle. She desperately misses her husband, worries about his physical and mental health, and counts the seemingly endless days, hours, and minutes until she will see him again. She carries the entire weight of the household on her shoulders. She knows if her husband is disabled or killed in action, she will have to work in addition to all of her current responsibilities--and as of now, she can hardly find time to do all of the laundry. If there is an accident, she will be the one to explain to her children what happened to daddy. Her mind is often a whirl of what-ifs, trying to think of strategies to deal with potential setbacks and emergencies. She may have to move in one year, two, three or four, and then it's back to finding new doctors, schools, and a home for her family all over again. In the meantime, she watches her friends who are married to the same life come and go. The minutes or hours she spends collapsed in front of the TV or computer offer only a slight reprieve from the stress and utter loneliness of her world. Her every task and chore is at the mercy of her child(ren)'s needs and whims. If she succeeds in reaching a goal, no one is standing by to hand her a medal; if she fails, her family's happiness as well as her self-esteem is compromised.

It's hard to put a military spouse's life into words for those who aren't inclined to understand it. All some people see is that most of us don't have to work at a regular job; we get to stay home with our kids, watching TV and playing with blocks or Play-Dough, not having to answer to anyone with a title. That's true, but there's a mental and emotional side to it that most people don't see. When a man with a civilian job goes out to work, he remains part of the civilian world. It's easy for him to come home afterward and find common ground with his family. But when a service member goes out to work, he becomes part of another world with a different culture and different rules. For those hours, days or months, he is cut off from the civilian world--sometimes, even from sunlight. His homecoming often means everyone in the family must adjust and readjust. Roles are renegotiated, relationships restructured, a year's worth of memories crammed into a bedtime story. So, yeah, I can appreciate a thank-you from a stranger. I don't expect it; after all, this is what I chose to do. But at least the rare acknowledgement lifts my spirits and lets me know that, yes, even without a title and a paycheck, I am doing something that matters to someone.

It's a Complicated Life

April 14, 2011

Sorry I've left all my dear readers hanging for so long. I'd have written sooner except my laptop died, and now my only computer access is limited to the room off of the kitchen--a place that is currently unfit for my child to play while I write.

Depression? Well, it's sometimes still bad. I've cried in bed a couple of nights thinking about the relationship between past hurts and current problems. Life has also been very stressful. My husband is not at all enjoying his job. He hates it and complains about it greatly. Yesterday, he was kept at work after 7 p.m. He's supposed to leave at 3 p.m. And he has duty today, which means he won't be coming home until tomorrow evening.

Even though my husband could potentially receive a bonus of $75,000 for reenlisting with the Navy, he's decided not to do it. That was tough to accept at first because he had been trying to reenlist for months and we had planned to pay off some bills with the money. A friend of ours in the same division reenlisted and received half of the money last week. Now I listen as his wife talks about her various shopping sprees, thinking, "We could have paid off my car! Put $10,000 in savings! Replaced all the ancient, broken windows in our house!" And then I want to shake her because she's talking about having bought a third set of dishes and now doesn't know what to do with the first two sets. But reenlisting even for that kind of security just isn't worth having a husband who is stressed, unhappy, and often absent from our son's life.

Now that I know money will be somewhat tight for a while, I've decided that I probably can't afford to go back to school for my Master's degree and teaching license. It's not that affording tuition is a problem--because I can get good financial aid--it's the childcare. My last sitter charged $9 an hour. That was fine when the hubby and I needed only a couple of hours to go on a date, but that adds up quickly when you're talking about attending classes full-time. So I've decided to put off school and look for work until we've paid off some of our bills. But even then, my husband and I aren't fully comfortable with leaving William in someone else's care all the time, and the situation is further complicated by my husband's wacky work schedule. Should I just be content that we're getting by for the moment and wait until William is in school to pursue my career? These are the questions that plague me. And it's tough because I'm used to working and finding fulfillment in achieving concrete goals.

Meanwhile, I picked up my Bible a couple of weeks ago and read Romans 8:5-6: "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." Peace. That's what I need. Peace for this mind that is so troubled by pain, fear, and uncertainty. I have been meditating on this scripture at times, studying what it means to desire what the Spirit of God desires...and in doing so, I have found myself less focused on past wounds. Even though churches, pastors, and many Christian friends have failed me, nothing they have done has negated the power and truth I find in scripture. This is how my faith has survived even when others have given up theirs. Perhaps, if you are interested, I shall share my insights with you sometime, dear readers. Until then, enjoy this glorious spring.


March 22, 2011

Last night, something interesting happened. I posted an invitation in my Facebook status asking people to tell me anything they wanted to say to me. A childhood friend that I haven't seen face-to-face in years (since I was 13) sent me a message apologizing for being mean to me in school. The crazy thing is, I don't remember her ever being mean to me.

However, I do remember several other people being mean to me in school. I attended a private church school for several years in a very small town, and most of the people I went to school with were also my neighbors, family, and playmates. (The school had about 30 students ranging across several grades, so we're talking very small.) For some reason, my "friends" often chose me last for games, left me out of their group conversations, or whispered behind my back. Maybe it was that my parents taught at the school and my dad pastored the church, which made me the "teacher's pet". Maybe it was that I wore thick glasses and had unruly hair. Maybe it was that I didn't have nice things or a lick of fashion sense. Maybe it was that I made exceptional grades despite staring out the nearest window half the time. Maybe it was that I was socially awkward from being raised in a home where I was expected to act like an adult all the time and didn't know how to interact properly with my peer group. But the meanness still hurt, and I didn't realize how much it hurt until my friend apologized. What hurts the most is that the people I remember being mean will probably never apologize.

I realize now that this is a bigger issue with me than I previously thought. Now that I'm an adult with my own family and measure of success, I feel relatively accepted and respected by others. However, for years I felt angry at my extended family for their lack of concern and support. Just before my study abroad trip to Japan, a particular aunt asked my father why he was letting me go abroad. I was 22 at the time--hardly a child needing my parents' permission--and I had earned two scholarships that covered all but $1,000 of the $16,000 trip. There was never an offer of congratulations from anyone in my extended family: no phone calls, no cards, nothing. It was pretty much the same story when I graduated from college and when I got married. I once sent $200 to help two children in my family; their mother was in jail and being prosecuted for fraud, and their father (a good man) was ill in the hospital. No one even passed along a thanks. I'm sorry, but I just can't understand how people can act that way. It's unconscionable.

Since all of that, I put it out of my mind and determined to get on with my life. But some pain is still there. Will it ever go away?


March 15, 2011

I remember...trees
Trees a century old, on an ancient hill.

I remember other trees in bloom
And worshipers that lay gazing at the crowded boughs.

I remember city lights and tea bowls
And women in lovely cotton robes...

Mounds of sweet dough rising in the sun,
Gilded temples to honor imagined gods.

I remember people everywhere,
Each one a world unto themselves, yet kind.

I remember all that I left,
And grieve at all that has been lost.

(Final image taken from the Web at

*From September 2004 to July 2005, I lived in Japan as an exchange student. My time there was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The photos that I have posted here today (with the exception of the last) are from my personal collection, and are some of my favorites. Since the recent earthquake and tsunami there, I feel as if I have lost a dear friend. The news makes me weep. My thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people and the friends and teachers I left behind when my visit ended. Thank you for reading.

Grappling with Uncertainty

March 3, 2011

My depression has been bad recently. It has nearly turned me into a person I don't like. I wrote a letter to my friends on Facebook recently, and I made this statement: "I often feel crippled by the uncertainty that comes with meaningful action." It's true.

I recently applied to a community college so I can start taking the prerequisite classes I need for my teaching degree, and the details are killing me. What will I do with William? What if we don't have enough money? What if I end up with no time to write or study? Meanwhile, I'm grappling with feelings of inadequacy when it comes to raising my son, worrying about money, and trying to deal with the constant craziness that is a normal part of my husband's job. It seems so much easier to just spend my days losing myself in pointless political debates and conversations, or to zone out in front of the TV. Meanwhile, my emotional constipation has grown to the point where I'm nearly sobbing at every sad commercial that comes on. I finally realized that all the debating was probably contributing to my anxious state, so, about two days ago, I cut it out of my daily life. I hope the change helps.

This past Sunday, I visited a church for the first time in months. My mom has been talking to me about getting back into church, and I know she's right. Faith has always been a big part of my life. The problem has been finding a church that's right for both me and my family. The way I think about God and church is so different now from what my parents believe. I don't think I would be comfortable going to the types of churches I attended as a child. The church I went to on Sunday had some of the most welcoming people I had ever met, and I want to go back. The service itself is a bit too structured for my taste, but I love the friendly atmosphere. That's most important to me. My mom wasn't thrilled to hear about their particular doctrine, but I loved that, too. I'm hoping I've finally found a place to call home.

An Interesting Self-Analysis

February 16, 2011

So, my mother finally seems to have accepted that I have depression and not just a "happiness problem" or a spiritual shortfall. The last few times I have talked to her on the phone, she has asked me how I am feeling and has asked if I need counseling or medication. (In the great scheme of things, I probably need both, but I digress...) A few days ago, she sent me an email that intrigued me. It's the Duke University study on “peace of mind.” I read it and then compared it to my experience.

Factors found to contribute 
greatly to emotional and mental stability are:

1. The absence of suspicion and resentment. Nursing a grudge was a major factor in unhappiness.

I try not to hold grudges. I know they're dangerous. But sometimes I find myself getting angry over the way people have treated me in the past. Even when I think I'm over things, the bad feelings often come back to bite me when I least expect them.

2. Not living in the past. An unwholesome preoccupation with old mistakes and failures leads to depression.

It's not the past that has me up in arms; it's the present. I've enjoyed pretty good success in the past, so I feel like I should be accomplishing more now.

3. Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change. Cooperate with life, instead of trying to run away from it.

I think this describes me. I'm rarely shocked when life goes south. However, I do spend a lot of time expressing my opinion on political matters. I get upset when people supposedly smarter than me cannot solve obvious problems. Constantly spewing about it, though, probably isn't good.

4. Force yourself to stay involved with the living world. Resist the temptation to withdraw and become reclusive during periods of emotional stress.

My husband and I just had a conversation about this. I DO need time to interact with other adults. Withdrawing only makes things worse in the long run. I'm going to start going out on Thursday nights to my favorite bead store and make jewelry with other women.

5. Refuse to indulge in self-pity when life hands you a raw deal. Accept the fact that nobody gets through life without some sorrow and misfortune.

I try. I swear I do. I know I have it good compared to others. Very good.

6. Cultivate the old-fashioned virtues—love, humor, compassion and loyalty.

This is where I believe I excel. The old-fashioned virtues enable self respect.

7. Do not expect too much of yourself. When there is too wide a gap between self-expectation and your ability to meet the goals you have set, feelings of inadequacy are inevitable.

Ouch. This is definitely a sticking point for me. If I had a list of all the things I think I should accomplish everyday, I'd have to move to Mongolia and live in a yurt with the Dali Lama. I often wish I could be the kind of super-productive, disciplined person who, at any time, has a spotless house, a pampered child, an exciting marriage, a multi-million dollar career, and three awards on my shelf. And then I have to remind myself that no one probably has all of those things at one time. It isn't easy.

8. Find something bigger than yourself to believe in. Self-centered egotistical people score lowest in any test for measuring happiness.

Those Duke people might as well cut me off at the knees with a chainsaw. Deep down, I'm an arrogant wench. The people closest to me know this, and I know my ego affects the way I perceive myself, my accomplishments, and my environment. I'm not sure if I should just accept this about myself or really strive to change it. Trust me, I've been knocked off my own pedestal a few times in the past, and I doubt those will be the only instances. I'm thankful, in part, for my failures, because they help keep my head in reality.

How do you measure up on the "peace of mind" scale?

Navy Blues

February 7, 2011

This week, I'm hating the Navy. Normally, I'm fine with military life. It's been pretty good to us. When my husband and I married over three years ago, we pretty much had nothing to our names. Now we have a house, two new cars (one paid in full), a high-def television and furniture. But the Navy has been ticking me off lately and adding to my stress.

First of all, they can't handle a simple task like filing paperwork unless a generous amount of kissing up is involved. Back in early November, my husband applied for reenlistment, which comes with a pretty hefty bonus that will pay off our other car and rebuild our savings account. Well, the reenlistment office lost his paperwork. Twice. And then when my husband went to request his medical records to submit with his reenlistment package, he was told the records were lost. It took a week to find them. In the middle of all that, the guy in charge of reenlistment went on vacation for two weeks. Then when the paperwork finally went through, the office lost the approval notice and had to file a request for another one to be rushed in. When my husband asked about his reenlistment status last week, he was told that it should go through IN APRIL! Other sailors on the same ship have reenlisted and received their bonuses, start to finish, within a month.

So now that the holidays are over and we won't be seeing the bonus money for a while, we're managing our finances pretty tightly so we can pay off some bills and save some money. Except my husband's coworkers have some very sticky fingers and keep taking my husband's stuff, which has to be replaced. At first it was little things, like pens and thermoses. But last month it was my husband's virtually brand-new Navy parka that he had bought to keep from freezing to death on his mile-long walk from the parking lot to the ship. (As far as military clothing goes, it's about the most expensive item on the rack.) This week, it was the nice pair of boots he bought six months ago that should have lasted for another year. He actually had to get off of duty yesterday to go buy another pair. My husband receives a $300 clothing allowance about twice a year--which hardly begins to cover everything he's required to have--and the two items recently stolen from him are already in excess of that. You'd think that with morale being a concern on his ship right now that the people in charge would do more to discourage and punish theft, but it seems they couldn't care less. In fact, they recently had all the sailors in my husband's division give up half their assigned lockers so the lockers could be available for another use. So now these sailors don't have a secure place to store even half their stuff.

And then it gets worse: some first class petty officer thinks he should get special treatment because of his rank, so he demands the best duty shifts, which gets my husband (a second class) assigned to the worst shifts. The chiefs in charge often don't assign work until after lunch, making everyone stay late to get the work done, then scream at the sailors for being lazy and incompetent. The insanity just goes on and on, and I'm getting pretty sick of it. My poor husband comes home discouraged, exhausted, and depressed. Some days I feel like I can hardly take care of myself, and then I spend all day taking care of our son and all night soothing my husband. Sometimes, it's just too much. FTN

Gimme Three Steps

February 2, 2011

So I've been battling it out the past few weeks with a pretty bad bout of depression, and I think I'm finally starting to come around. The relief I felt after my floor-mopping therapy lasted a good full day, and then I was back to wanting to put my head through a window. Thank God for my best friend who helped me through it, despite being a thousand miles away in Chicago. What saved me after that was a cold I caught from my husband. Sounds silly, I know, but finally getting several full nights of sleep (thanks to NyQuil) did wonders for my state of mind. After that, I decided to let family problems work themselves out.

Now I'm back to working my way out of the fog. Except I get about three steps forward before I'm ready to take a couple of steps back. When did life become so scary? Why is it so hard to make decisions these days? Case in point: I'm right back to square one when it comes to my career. Again. This is quite literally the umpteenth time. I have a choice: I can find a good day-to-day job with the qualifications I have now, or go back to school for two years and try for a teaching position. Choice one means my best skills will probably be underutilized. Choice two means adding the expense of college tuition to babysitting fees for William's care, plus risking that a teaching career will be less fulfilling than I expect due to state budget cuts to education and the stress of teaching to standardized tests. This may be one of the most agonizing decisions I've ever made, and it's made even more agonizing by the thought that it should be an easy one. I just want to work and be happy.

Meanwhile, William is learning to walk. So far, he's managing about one step at a time, but two nights ago he struck out with three whole steps. I know he'll be off any day now, and it's so exciting. Just gimme three steps, baby!


January 18, 2011

Today was almost a total waste. I spent most of the day lying on the floor and watching TV while my son played around me. I didn't even have the presence of mind to actually look for a show that would spark my interest, so I zoned out to The Cat in the Hat. I struggled to do anything. By the time my husband came home at 5:30, I had managed to wash one load of clothes--pitiful for someone who stays home all day.

So I decided not to let the evening go to waste, too. After cooking dinner and washing the dishes, I decided to mop the kitchen floor. And then I realized I hadn't mopped the kitchen floor since we moved into our house. In October. And, boy, did it show. There were sticky bits of food everywhere. I had to scrape most of it up by hand. I was embarrassed to realize I had let it get so bad. I am normally a clean person.

And then, right as I finished, I magically felt better. Looking at the gleaming floor filled me with an amazing sense of accomplishment--not that I had earned a Ph.D. or a Pulitzer, but that I had finally stopped procrastinating and done something that directly benefited myself and my family. I could walk across the floor without crumbs sticking to my socks or feeling lumps under my feet. I could let William crawl on it. The kitchen looked brighter, smelled fresher. I felt more energized than I had in weeks.

It seems odd that something so small and insignificant could make such a difference, but it does. Looking around and seeing things dirty and disorganized takes a toll on a person's psyche. A clean, beautiful space soothes and inspires. I've learned that depression often operates on a negative feedback cycle: a person feels depressed and procrastinates, tasks are left undone, person feels bad about undone tasks, depression worsens, person procrastinates further, and so on. After a while, a person becomes a prisoner in her own mind, crippled, hardly able to function. At that point, breaking the cycle can seem overwhelming and impossible. But once a person takes the first step, the weight can lift quickly.

So if anyone out there can relate, mop a dirty floor and see how you feel afterward. It might just be the simplest thing you can do to help yourself.

Thanks, dear readers, for all of the wonderful comments and support you have given me in the past two weeks. It is appreciated.

10 Things I Hate about Depression

January 10, 2011

10. Nothing's happening.

At least, it feels like nothing's happening, because I don't want to do anything. Even when I manage to accomplish something, like washing the dishes or straightening the house, all I seem to see are the dozen other tasks that are left undone.

9. You suck.

I can't handle other people's problems or grouchiness. I just don't have the empathy.

8. I don't understand.

I don't understand how I can be on the verge of manic one minute, and practically crying in my soup the next. I don't understand how screwing up a simple meatball dinner can nearly send me over the edge. I don't understand how feeling sad can make me obnoxious and vengeful.

7. These walls are getting old.

I've almost forgotten what outside looks like. I'd love to go somewhere on my own, but I can't muster the effort.

6. Sleep is for the sane.

Even when I do get a full night's sleep, I still crave more.

5. Every song is a sad song.

I just want to listen to the radio without wanting to put my fist through a window. Is that too much to ask?

4. Here we go again.

It's always the same crap: same issues, same thoughts, same emotions--the ones I always think I have dealt with weeks/months/years before.

3. Emotional constipation.

I feel like crying at all the wrong times, and then don't. I've spent entire days feeling weepy and getting nowhere.

2. Everybody suffers.

You, me, my son. His first birthday is in three days, and I haven't done anything to plan a party. I feel like a terrible mother.

1. Entire years of my life have possibly drained away at this point.

I'm 28 and feel like I have little to show for it. Sometimes I think I've spent my entire life this way. I have to get help.

An Eve of Mourning

January 1, 2011

It is a new year. Normally, I would be celebrating. I like new things, including years. It's a chance to leave the past behind and make a fresh start. It's a time to make new goals and look forward to exciting possibilities.

I sorely wish that were true this year.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, the past came back to bite my family. The fallout has been devastating, and the situation continues to unravel, even if slowly. At times when I think it couldn't possibly get any worse, it does. Right now, I honestly don't know if I could be any more frustrated. Grief has me in a vise. All I want to do is sleep and stare at the walls. I'm lost in an anxious fog. I'm powerless, and I don't know how to cope. If it seems I have been remiss in my writerly duties, this is why. My mind can hardly form a thought.

The only bright spot has been my son, who knows no grief. He is getting close to his first birthday now, and he is rapidly transitioning from babyhood to boyhood. About a month ago, he came off the bottle completely and started taking liquids through a straw. He feeds himself with amazing dexterity, and will eat just about anything. He can play peek-a-boo with me by raising and lowering a blanket in front of his face. We can spend the day playing games, and he loves every minute. He is here, in this form, for such a time as this. I don't know how I'd stay sane any other way.

He simply embodies happiness.

Eventually, I will have to make a decision about my family as far as what my relationship with them will be. That decision will depend on what happens in the next few weeks and months--and what I work out in counseling. As of now, though, it is not a new year for me. It is just the turn of the calendar, a strike of the clock. The sense of newness has been tarnished. Forgive me.