Thursday, January 31, 2008

Albino Moose!

My dad sent me these pictures and I just had to share. Great camoflage for winter, but not so much for summer.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Post I've Been Putting Off

I've been putting off writing this post for a while.  A mixture of denial, shame and my ever constant companion, procrastination.

Here goes: a while back, a good friend forwarded this blog posting along to me and this is what I sent in response:

I too used to be on anti-depressants. I've taken Welbutrin, then went off my meds for three years, then took Zoloft, then went off for a year, then took Cymbalta, which I stopped taking this past May. I've chosen to go off my meds because I wanted to see if I was better -- I was certainly feeling so. And I chose to get back on them because I realized I could not control my condition by sheer willpower. I also went to therapy while on the meds. This time, so far, being off meds is going better. And really, it's day to day -- some days are wonderful, most days are fine and every once in a while, I think about calling a doctor and getting a new prescription. And I recently saw a counselor for a couple sessions to help point me in a healthier direction. I don't want to say I've beaten depression -- I think it will be something I deal with for the rest of my life. For me, I think it's a learned tendency. My mom suffered from depression while I was growing up, and I think I picked up a lot of her behavioral patterns, which I'm now learning to recognize, examine and change. But farther down the road, I may figure out that it's not just behavioral for me, but also brain chemistry, and I'll go gladly back on to meds.

I guess I wanted to share this, not to say that people can or should try to beat depression without medication -- that is not my message at all. I just wanted to share my story -- I think the more we can talk about our mental health issues, the easier it will be for everyone to get the treatment they need or stop treatments they feel they don't need.

After sending this e-mail, I began to wonder - am I just fooling myself? Could my life be better, less of a struggle, if I would just commit to staying on medication? If I could find a doctor willing to work with me to adjust dosage or try different meds? I know I do not want or feel I need to see a therapist full time - that part of the e-mail I am certain about it. But, I've been wondering if my habit of getting off meds is more because I feel weak to be on them. I certainly have the family history of mental illness. It's on both sides of my genetic chain and my step-dad's family had more than it's fair share.

I had an episode soon after that e-mail that told me I needed to reexamine taking medication.  I also read this blog posting here (in response to the linked posting above) and decided that I needed to do take positive measures to ensure that...I'm struggling with how to say this...that I do what I can to minimize my craziness that hurts the six beings I live with.  Essentially, I decided I need to get over myself so my life and the lives of those I live with are better.

So, I started seeing a psychiatrist.  Our first meeting was 2 hours long, and we've met two more times for an hour each.  He did a thorough intake, asking lots of questions and for clarification.  He pondered.  Which is exactly what I wanted.  I didn't want a quick fix.  I wanted to try to pinpoint what's going on and I was more than willing to be patient.  He gets it and is willing to work with me.  Also, he doesn't treat me like I don't know anything; his attitude is more that I am the expert on me and he is the expert on diagnosing and wants to match our two knowledges together.  

This week, he came to some conclusions.  He has diagnosed me as having moderate to severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and mild social phobia.  We're not certain, but we both suspect that my depression is brought on by my untreated OCD.  So, for not, we're not going to treat the depression (i.e., take meds specifically to treat it).  He has put me on Luvox, and, due to the side-effects, I'll start taking it next week after my big work event tomorrow and Monday. 

I'm relieved and excited - excited by the idea that some of my obsessive thoughts might go away (!!!) and that I have what seems like a better fitting diagnosis that depression.  I'm also a little scared because some of the side-effects of the medication are worrisome - headache, nausea, diarrhea, panic attacks (!), restless leg syndrome (!), suicidal thoughts (!!!).  My doctor has told me to call him if I find the side-effects worrisome.  And he and I are both open to trying a different medication if Luvox proves to not be so effective or some side-effects don't go away.

So, there you have it.  I feel better having shared and having it out in the open, in a way.  I truly believe that our society would be a lot better off if we'd stop stigmatizing mental health issues and talk about them more openly.  This is my small part.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Treasure Hunt

I stole this idea from the blog, Monitor Mix, written by former (on hiatus?) Sleater-Kinney guitarist, Carrie Brownstein - she's extra fancy because her blog is part of NPR.

Here's how it works: if you wish, please respond (via comments, cut and paste) if you fall into one or more of the following categories. If you do respond, please provide a brief explanation. Here we go!

You always tip 20 percent at a restaurant
You are addicted to caffeine
You have never dyed your hair
You dye your hair because you don't like your natural color
You dye your hair to cover the grey
You will be rooting for the New England Patriots during the Super Bowl
You will be rooting for an upset by the New York Giants during the Super Bowl
You read your local paper in the morning
You have a library card
You have entered a karaoke contest
You have sung an Eagles song at karaoke
You own your own bowling ball
You are left-handed
You met your current boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife online
You sneak your own snacks or drinks into a movie
You've never liked AC/DC
You will put a presidential candidate's sticker on your car
You already have a presidential candidate's sticker on your car
You have never been to Canada
You have a bumper sticker on your car expressing a political belief or opinion
You have a band's sticker on your car
You don't like The Beatles
You have one leg shorter than the other
You used to have your nose pierced
You have a treadmill at home
You don't know how to drive a car
You live in the city in which you were born
You don't own a television
You have a song as your cell phone greeting (as opposed to ringtone)
You have never voted
You call your mom or dad every day
You fall asleep to music

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Trip to the Vet's

Yesterday, I took Rachel to the vet for her annual check-up. For those of you who know Rachel, you know that this was a minor miracle. And for those of you who don't know, this is why - we've never picked up Rachel*, never trimmed her nails, never pet her when she didn't want to receive pets - she very much sets the terms of our relationship with her. In some ways, she's just a typical cat.

Anyway, I spent 20 minutes chasing her around the cat's room and was finally able to throw a blanket over her, pick her up and put her in the carrier. It's a good thing I did - she has some kind of eye infection, potential ear mites and a tooth that needs to come out.

But back to the point of this post - the vet. How I praise his name! He totally got our relationship with Rachel. We love her very much, but we don't push her to do things she doesn't want to because 1) it stresses her out, usually exacerbating whatever issue she's having; and 2) we don't like being scratched and bit. Past vets, when we've explained that we can't apply ointments or force feed pills to Rachel (and Paul, for that matter), have just given us the stink eye and said we had to, that there was no other treatment. And, then, we'd hang our heads in shame, purchase whatever treatment the vet suggested, attempt to apply it once, then throw it out months later - the cat no healthier and we out $50.

The vet yesterday, oh he got it. He started to suggest an ointment for Rachel's eye, then stopped himself and asked: "Are you even going to be able to apply an ointment?" After saying no, he said he could give her a shot of antibiotics which should clear it up, but if not, to bring her in for 2 to 3 days and they'd administer the treatment for us.

Hallelujah! He gets it and is willing to work with us. Yes, we'll pay for it, but it's so worth it to have a healthy, happy cat. I felt so relieved and grateful - grateful that Rachel was going to get the treatments she's been needing and that I didn't feel like a bad parent because I couldn't administer those treatments. And while I'm not looking forward to corralling her to take her back next week to get her teeth worked on, I am looking forward to another positive vet experience.

Just a side note - we are working with Hugo so that he is comfortable with us picking him up, trimming his nails, examining him, etc., so we at least have one cat we can easily take to the vet and treat on our own.

*Well, I did pick Rachel up this one time, got her to about waist height, and we were both so shocked that we froze for a moment and then she leapt (leaped?) away, giving me a good scratch.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sniff Train

Last night, because I had to work late, I missed a cat moment, potentially one of a lifetime, which may never occur again.

The kitties were waiting around to be fed by Jason. And Rachel took advantage of the situation to start smelling Hugo's butt. Paul, ever the jealous one, decided to get in on the butt smelling action, in an attempt to get Rachel to stop paying attention to Hugo. (Note: Rachel loves smelling butt but not having her own butt smelled.) So, for about ten seconds, they formed a Sniff Train.

Curses!!! A moment like that would make up for some, if not all, of their early weekend morning wake-up calls.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What a Difference

Jason and I spent this weekend putting together our new book shelves and finally unpacking and putting out our books, knick knacks and art work. And what a difference it has made, let me tell ya! I just can't get over how great our place - and our stuff - looks. It feels like a real home and a fashionable one at that, something I thought not possible with all of our hand-me-down furniture. We still have more rearranging to do, but we're definitely on our way to settling in. This place just might stick after all.

When Heather visited us back in early November, she took a bunch of photos, which you can see here (photos 1-43): Since we all know how notoriously bad Jason and I are about taking pictures, much less posting them, you'll have to make due with these, though not really making due since she takes great pictures. Thanks, Heather!

After viewing the photos, you might be wondering about the picture of the frog dressed as a bank robber/sheriff. Frogs are the mascot of Milton-Freewater (aka Muddy-Frogwater). We have frogs all over town and any self-respecting (and I use that term lightly) business in town has one. They are carved by chainsaw at the annual Muddy-Frogwater festival. Hopefully, Heather will visit this year's festival so you all can see photos of this wacky small town fun.

And you might be wondering about the photos of the grape collecting and me with my foot in a bucket. Yes, Jason had the crazy idea to make wine out of the grapes growing in our back yard - no idea if they were actually wine grapes, but we went for it anyway. We have actually bottled the wine but have yet to taste it. Something went wrong, very wrong, during the fermenting phase, for the wine is a murky salmon pink instead of deep burgundy. Hence, we are a bit fearful of tasting it. I'll keep you posted.

And that's about all the news from M-F. Though, I did fall down this morning while taking Bella for her walk. We were experiencing this lovely weather phenomenon called "freezing fog" and the ground was slick. I fell, tore my work pants (my only clean pair!) and scraped my knee. Thankfully, Jason was with us and he helped me up and dusted me off. He then proceeded to tell me that he was afraid I had fallen on Bella and squished her. Thanks, hon!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Closing 2007

I had an enjoyable New Year's Eve (which included a nap around 11 pm), spent with friends and lots of wine.  I was the first one to bed - even before the 4 year old - and the last adult up the next morning.  I haven't made any "official" New Year's Resolutions, and by official, I mean things I'm calling NYR.  Back in November, I started keeping track of some changes I wanted to make, things like flossing, taking my vitamins, drinking 2 cups of green tea, etc., daily and weekly.  I'm just going to stick with that and call it good.

I was reading the blog, Superhero Journal, and she had a great post about closing 2007 (see here), and I thought I would do the exercise she suggested and share it with y'all.  Here goes:

1. What do you want to acknowledge yourself for in regard to 2007? 
Making another leap of faith and moving to a new town and starting all over again with work, home and friends.  Buying another house so soon after the heartache that came from selling our first place.  For taking on the challenges of my job.  Adopting Bella and Hugo and Alfie.  Keeping up with this blog and trying to be open and honest about who I am.  Doing a radio show.  Driving Jason all the months he could not.  Giving up dairy and eggs.

2. What is there to grieve about 2007?
Losing the friendships I had in Portland (the people are still my friends but the friendships aren't the same).  Selling Carl, our first house.  The pain I have caused those closest to me and love the most.  The end of my friend's marriage.  The debt we accumulated making our move.  Ice cream.  Scrambled eggs.

3. What else do you need to say about the year to declare it complete?
Thank you, 2007.  You were a hard year, but you brought rewards and insight, and ultimately delivered me to 2008 with hope and happiness in my heart.

4. What is your primary intention or theme for 2008?
Patience and acceptance.

Happy 2008.