Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As I sit here at my computer and reflect upon 2013, I realize that I am completely different than I was on this day in 2012. So many things have changed in my life, and I wouldn't trade it in for anything. All of the experiences I had throughout 2013 will make 2014 even better.

Here's a rundown of how crazy and awesome 2013 was:

  • January: Got married after five years of saying we wouldn't get married.
  • February: Started juicing and cleaning up our diets. Had my first panic attack.
  • March: More panic attacks. 
  • April: Even more panic attacks. Went on a cruise with my family. Went gluten free.
  • May: Got food poisoning from eating meat so I went full vegetarian. Went camping!
  • June: Quit college and my birth control pills. Editing picked up.
  • July: Went fully vegan. More panic attacks, hair loss, minor depression. Editing picked up more. Went even more part time at work than I already was. Started running.
  • August: Major depression. panic, anxiety. Saw a therapist. Had to stop running for hormones. Went to Vegas for a book event.
  • September: Turned 28. Got depression/panic/anxiety "under control." LOTS of editing. Visited family and friends back home.
  • October: EVEN more editing! Started running again. Josh turned 30. Decided to quit my job at Chase. Quit Chase. 
  • November: Made my dream come true by editing full time. Battled only one day of depression. Started writing a book. 
  • December: Still working super hard at editing 7 days a week and LOVING IT. Started going to yoga classes.
Holy whoa. So now I'm a plant-based/gluten-free vegan, full-time freelance editor (and nothing else), and aspiring writer/runner/yogi. Who is this girl?! LOL! It's me now. I can't even begin to explain how amazing this year has been, even in the worst of times. I hated the depression while I was going through it, but looking back now, even in the face of so many questions about life, I feel okay with it. It happened, and 2014 is full of mystery, but I can handle it. Here's to a great year!

Eat your fruits and veggies in the new year, kids. <3

Meatless Monday - Avocado Rice

Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy Meatless Monday! It's the last one of 2013, so I hope you're enjoying it! This is the perfect time to think about going meatless on Mondays for 2014. It does so much good for your body, the animals, and our planet. I don't want to be a Debbie Downer this close to NYE, so we'll talk about it later, but going meatless for just one day a week would be a huge step in the right direction for our world. <3

In any case, I want to leave you with a really simple recipe. It can be a side dish or it can be added to tacos or burritos, but we eat it as a meal in a huge bowl. Haha! It's easy, inexpensive, and delicious. YUM.

Avocado Rice

  • 2 cups uncooked white rice, steamed
  • 2 avocados, ripe, pitted, out of skin
  • Lemon (or lemon juice) - just a squeeze
  • Garlic powder to taste
  1. After you've steamed your rice, mash avocados into rice (or cut avocados into small chunks and mix into rice).
  2. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to the avocado rice.
  3. Sprinkle garlic powder on to taste.
  4. Mix well and enjoy.
Optional extras: Add a splash of gluten-free soy sauce and/or some lightly steamed peas and corn.

If you try this rice, let me know. We enjoy it a lot over here, and it all happened because I really wanted to try some rice and avocado together. Actually what is really good is rice and avocado with some mixed veggies (carrots, broccoli, green/red pepper, mushrooms, etc). Mmmm. :o) 

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

POPSUGAR Australia

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is having the exact day they want to have. Spend this time being happy and full of love. It's the Christmas gift you give yourself.

Don't forget about your health today. Celebrate your health along with your family, friends, and loved ones. Nourish your body and be will this holiday season.

Love, light, hugs, fruits, and veggies,

Meatless Monday: Green Bean Casserole Pasta

Monday, December 23, 2013

I know I've been horrible about Meatless Monday posts! I've been so busy with work, but I vow to take a little bit more time out of one day a week to get some Meatless Monday recipes up here for you. Today I want to talk about one Josh made for us last week. He found this blog called Plates for Plants, and it has some amazing recipes. I can't wait to try more, but this one caught Josh's eye and won my stomach over.

I, too, loved green bean casserole. It was the dish I always made for Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, cream of mushroom soup is now out of the question since I'm vegan. I'm also gluten free so the french fried onions are out. But this recipe is a seriously delicious replacement. And serving it over some brown rice pasta is a fab idea. YUM!

We didn't take any photos, but you can check the whole thing out on Plates for Plants and get the recipe there. It's super delicious and pretty easy. Not a lot of ingredients or time. Enjoy!!

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

What Worked For My Depression

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wow. I am so surprised and thankful for all of the amazing responses I received yesterday from my post about depression. Thank you. Seriously. Thank you all so, so much.

I haven't been shy about my issues on this blog, but I haven't written about them in a while. I'll try to do more of that kind of thing over here, but honestly, I've been doing pretty well. Just trying to work on the questions of mortality and life in general, but I may never find those answers.

Either way, the support has been so encouraging. A lot of you understand that depression isn't as easily cured as some will have you think. Reaching out may not save anyone. Talking to someone may actually make things worse. It's very hard to get out of your head when you are supposed to be able to trust your body. If you can't trust yourself, what do you have?

So I just want to say thank you. The comments, tweets, and messages were all outstanding, and I'm so grateful to have you all in my life. Things haven't always been peaches and cream over here, so I try to take some time every day to remember all the good in hopes of keeping away the bad. Hopefully it works.

I'd like to talk today about some of the things that really helped me during my short bout with depression. I can't honestly say if they helped it go away, but they were a shining light through the bad times. I refused any and all medication, and I did end up seeing a therapist three times. Other than that, here's what helped:

  • Watching comedy.
    Shows like New Girl and Modern Family made me laugh even in the dark. It was fairly mindless, so I was able to disconnect and focus on something else. This wasn't all the time, but more often than not, the TV shows worked. I'm certain a funny movie I'd already seen might have helped too, but this kind of thing doesn't work for everyone. I can say that going to a live comedy show did not make me feel any better, but that was more because of the anxiety of being in a large group of people and possibly having a panic attack. 
  • Not fighting it.
    The less I tried to hate myself for going through the depression, the less it affected me. The less I focused on it, the less it took over. Not by huge amounts, but the more I sat with it and tried to accept it more than push it out of my mind, the more I felt a bit better. This is probably why the comedy worked. It also worked for the panic attacks. The more you fear a panic attack, the more they'll control you. Try to let go, as the panic attack will not, in fact, kill you. Your body can handle everything about a panic attack. Trust it even when you think you can't.
  • Exercise.
    I'm thinking more like some yoga here would have been good, but trying to get up for walks around the block helped. However, getting myself off the couch or out of bed for a walk wasn't exactly easy. It's not like you feel able to walk down the stairs, and it's not like you're eating enough to support a cardio workout. But movement, even if it's just walking to the bathroom, reminds you that you're alive, even if you don't feel that way or want to be. 
  • Good food.
    When I was able to eat, I was eating fruits and veggies for the most part. That's basically by diet anyway, plus some grains, starches, and beans, but the better the nutrition, the more likely you'll start seeing the darkness fade. Makes sense, right? Also, I'd highly consider a gluten-free diet if you're battling depression.
Notice what's not on the list:
  • Reaching out for help.
  • Talking with loved ones.
  • Calling the Suicide Hotline.
  • Medication.
These are just some of the things I tried to do while working through my depression. I really only had two mad months of it, and it wasn't the whole two  months. It came and went, which sometimes I think was worse in a way. Every time I thought I was through it, it would eventually seep back in for a time. Maybe it wasn't worse, but it was pretty bad. I wouldn't wish what I went through on my worst enemy. EVER. 

In either case, I hope these posts find people who can use them. I am always here for anyone who needs to talk about their depression, anxiety, panic, etc. 

On Ned Vizzini and Depression

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Before I start this post, I just want to clarify that I am not, in fact, suicidal (anymore). I don't think I ever truly was, but this post is just to show how gray the whole thing is. I do believe that there is a difference between depression and being depressed. This is about actual mental depression. And I'm not reaching out for help or screaming for attention. I just want to explain some things. I'm good right now. Cool? Cool.

Yesterday, we were shocked by the news of young adult author Ned Vizzini's death. It wasn't just his death that rocked us. He committed suicide after battling mental illness, depression, and anxiety.

Since then, I've seen a whole lot of posts on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs about how we should speak out when we have problems with depression, tell someone when we want to hurt ourselves, and never let mental illness lead to suicide. I've seen many people come together, posting the Suicide Hotline number and other great resources. I've seen lots of this kind of stuff, and all of it has been great, but I need to speak out on the other side. Having been through some seriously dark bouts of depression with thoughts you can't even imagine, I feel like I need to let you all in on something.

It's not as easy as speaking out to someone. It's not as easy as remembering you are loved. It's not as easy as thinking, "This life actually is worth living for." Because if you had the thoughts and feelings I've had... If you've been truly clinically depressed and not just sad about awful luck in life... Then you know it's not just as simple as telling someone you want to hurt yourself or end your life. Until you know what that is like, you have no idea what you're talking about.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's wonderful that we're all speaking out about this and making it known that help can be found. I can truly appreciate all of the support for a condition such as this. Many things are possible with technology these days. We can reach out to each other in so many ways. But the more plugged in we are, the less connected we are. The less we can actually understand what others are going through.

What I don't want people to think is that it's just as easy as reaching out for help. I did reach out for help. I went to many different kinds of doctors. I wanted to work through my depression. And you know what they did? Offered medication after medication after medication.

I walked away from the ordeal with four different prescription medications and a suggestion for two others. This was not the answer for me. I did not want to drug myself up with meds that may actually make the problem worse. I did not want to hide the issue through pharmaceuticals instead of curing it and actually overcoming it. So I chose not to.

Was that the best choice? For me, it sure was. I'm not completely cured, but my head is much clearer, and I know my thoughts are at least my own. So when I have a strange thought run through my head, I'm able to somewhat think it through before it takes over.

Am I presuming Ned Vizzini was on medication? No. I have no idea what his situation was. I won't pretend to know. This post really doesn't have much to actually do with him and his life and death. But I do know that he had a wife and a two-year-old child, so his head had to be in a very bad place for him to kill himself. And it's possible even with all the love and success in the world. I promise you.

I suppose I am assuming that this had nothing to do with his environment. Depression doesn't have to come from an outside source. Our brains are very good at painting a very horrible, bleak picture of the world we live in, even if it is actually amazing and very blessed. Anxiety and panic attacks on top of depression make things spiral out of control very quickly. VERY quickly. And the feelings are so beyond uncomfortable... You have no idea if you haven't been there.

I've literally wanted to crawl out of my skin. I've thought about taking one of the many guns my husband owns and just shooting myself in the head to end the horrible feelings running through my body and awful thoughts bouncing around my head nonstop. Every day I'm faced with wondering why I don't have control over my life, why things are the way they are, and why I am even HERE. Why do we have life on this planet in the middle of a universe so large I can't even comprehend its size? And why was I lucky enough to receive it? Or am I actually horribly unlucky? Is life not the gift we think it is? Is life actually punishment for something? Or will my death be the worst punishment of all? I could have control of my fate and just find out if I...

Suicide not so unreasonable when my brain thinks about it sometimes. As scary as that sounds, it's just not. Living life may be more courageous, but death sometimes sounds like the only answer there is.

The why questions kill. And I can't stop them. The more I talk them through, the more I think of new questions to ask. And I still have zero answers. Will I ever get answers? I have no idea. I honestly try not to think of them, but my brain has its own agenda. And it usually sets off a panic attack.

I'm not sure if Ned Vizzini had panic attacks as well, but let me tell you about those. They are scary as hell, because even if your brain has said, "Eh, maybe we should just kill ourselves to be over this already," the panic attack makes you think you are dying and you realize you just aren't ready yet. And you start pleading internally for your life. You're sorry. You won't think about killing yourself again because you want to be here and you don't want your life to end. But when the panic attack finally settles (after ten minutes or even two hours) you start to think that going through that again could be the worst thing ever. And killing yourself would make that go away.

But will it? I don't think we know that. I have no idea what happens when we die. But the brain really does some tricky things, and from having been there, from being able to understand that kind of thought process, I can't possibly blame them for thinking that suicide might make it better.

I realize that saying that probably sounds awful. I'm not at ALL an advocate of suicide. I would never tell someone that they should just kill themselves to get it all over with. I'm just saying that I can relate to those thoughts, emotions, and feelings. And everyone saying that it'll get better and that nothing is worth killing themselves over probably hasn't been in my shoes. Certainly it can get better, and I'd agree that nothing is worth killing myself overright now.

In the midst of depression (especially with anxiety and panic on top of it), nothing seems like it's ever going to get better. Nothing seems worth living for. Nothing. Just nothing. Things that once made you happy sound like torture. People you once cherished don't even seem to matter. All that matters is ending the suffering.

I know why I ended up in my position. I don't know if it's so clear cut for other people. I just want people to understand that the thought process depression creates makes suicide a completely reasonable solution to the situation. Taking your own life actually feels like the right choice when depression is at its worst. Please understand that.

To Ned Vizzini's wife and child, this had nothing to do with you. I fully believe that you couldn't have loved him more. This situation probably would have happened with or without your love and support. So please try to not feel guilty or like you could have done something different.

To everyone else, thank you for your support of this mental illness. I don't think I know a cure, as mine was a different situation, and it luckily didn't last long enough to do too much damage. I was able to work through it, but obviously some people aren't. It's not because they didn't have enough support, and it's not because they didn't reach out. Sometimes the depression just skews things so badly that things just have to end. I truly think that people suffering from depression feel like nothing can be done. It's so uncomfortable and horrible that death is the only answer to make it end.

My life has been completely changed from my short bout with depression. I am perhaps one of the lucky ones, but I still am not sure. I think about death (specifically my own) several times a day, but now it's more curiosity instead of desire. I try to celebrate life when I can instead of wonder why I am here. If this truly is a gift, then I want to make the most out of it. Staying positive, getting off the computer, and reminding myself of things like this help a lot. But it's not a cure, and it won't work for everyone.

I just know that my thoughts on life have been flipped upside down and twisted so far that I'm not at all the same person I used to be. I understand what going through true clinical depression is like. Or maybe I don't. Maybe I only touched the surface. And if that's true, then I can only wish those who have committed suicide over it have found their peace.

I hope you can understand this post and why I wrote it. I love you all.

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