Friday, May 8, 2015

Truth From A Skewed View

If you follow my blog at all, then you have probably noticed that the last few months I have been somewhat mia.  Often it's because, as I sit down to write, I don't really want to share where my thoughts are at.

That's why my new instagram has taken off. It is very easy to post a picture of something versus writing a post. This is a space I want to always be honest in and so, lately, rather than being disingenuous, I have just stayed away. Not that what I post on instagram isn't reality, it's just the part I want you to see.

If you follow my infertility struggle at all, you know that for the past year I have been weaning off of my medication in order to become pregnant.

To say it has been more rough than not would be an understatement. I have an amazing team surrounding me and we knew this was more of a probability than not (thanks Ted Wells for basically making that a dirty word to me now) but I think I shrugged it off. 

For almost 20 years I railed against my parents, doctors and then my husband when they tried to get me to take the medications. The side effects that plagued my body wreaked havoc in unimaginable ways and I was basically a shaking zombie. That all changed almost four years ago after a two week in patient stay at a psychiatric unit, my doctors found a mix of medication that not only worked, but left with with minimally  invasive side effects. 

The problem lies within the fact that none of them are safe to be on while pregnant or trying to become pregnant. at all. And so, with much thought and a team of doctors and a plan if things derailed...I slowly weaned off.

I have never been more sure of my need for medications to regulate my mental health. It has been dreadful. Mania and depression had just become second nature to me and being relatively mentally healthy for over three years has led to the realization of how good it can be versus what it is. 

 I am also no closer to a baby than I was last year at this point  prior to my last surgery for endometrioses and eventually I have to come to terms with whether or not enough is enough. I have repeatedly said I want to be a mother but not at a risk to myself or my child. If you are one of my friends of faith, I covet your prayers...not necessarily that I will become pregnant but that no matter what happens, I am able to come to terms with it.

I have often wondered when I would  be back to share where I was at in my journey because, after speaking in front of the legislative branch of NC regarding how far I had come with my illness and working closely with our  local NAMI chapter...admitting where I am now feels  like I am a failure and almost a fraud.

But this illness doesn't care how well I did for a time, it comes back to visit when visiting hours are closed and it doesn't even bother to knock.

The hardest part of my illness is when people try to help by asking "what's wrong? Why are you depressed? and I have no answer for them.

This leads to me only feeling worse about the situation and almost guilty.

My life is great. Honestly, my past was pretty traumatic and horrific, but now? Yes, the infertility weighs heavily, but quite honestly...that's not it. My husband has a great job. I love what I do. We have a nice home. We love our families ( for goodness sake people, I hit the in law jackpot) We travel all the time. Our friends are awesome. The Lord has been more than good to me.

Still,  the answer to what is wrong with me is quite simple.  I have depression.  Depression doesn't give a damn about how good my life is. It's job is simply to be a wrecking ball. 

 It's kind of an ass-hole like that.

The decision to share my where I am at now was chosen for me today when I clicked on ESPN late last night and read the story of Madison Holleron. A 19 year old student athlete at Penn University. She was a beautiful girl who appeared to have it all. before she jumped off the side of a parking garage. 

The first thing I saw when I pulled the story up was the title "split image" and then, as I read and realized her name was also Madison, I knew the time was right to share where I am with my illness.

I owe it to her memory and anyone else that may be struggling to not hide again just because it's tough. I've been honest and very transparent about my illness since the blog began. 

I will just say it's much easier to talk about your illness when you are doing really well and another level when you are really struggling. 

I want to be very clear that I am NOT Suicidal right now, but I know how easily that can happen for people and I want to parlay how much help there is available.  I may be in the depths of it now, but I am so aware of the symptoms and know to reach out for help if it gets that bad.

 I spent 20 years pretending my past never happened before I embraced being a voice for mental illness. I cannot walk away now.

Before I was 19, I had spent almost a year total (over 4 years and between 13 different hospitals) as a in patient at psychiatric facilities.  I am struggling mightily right now but not to the desperation Madison was that day, but it was a feeling I knew well. My story could have easily ended 21 years ago if any of my suicide attempt's had been successful.

I survived because of my faith, a husband who stayed when most would have left, my family who have fought the battle right along side me for 20 plus years, my friends...and I (unabashedly) say medication and therapy. They may not be the answer for everyone, but they worked for me.

This is where my story differs from most. Of all my many weeks and months as a patient in the units, I had multiple visitors a day. The majority never had a single visitor the whole of their stay. This is one of the few illnesses that people find it easier to walk away from than stay and fight for you.

and that breaks my heart.

Mental Illness is the hardest hurdle I have ever faced.

I was molested from the age of 3 to 5.

I was brutally raped at 14.

After the rape I was severely anorexic and then bulimic to the point I almost ruptured my esophageal lining.

I was embroiled in an abusive relationship at 19.

The past ten years I have dealt with miscarriages and infertility.

The struggle with my bipolar and depression have been a much steeper hill to overcome because while these incidents "happened" to me...

My illness is a part of me. The constant companion. A shadowy figure that never lets me from its grip.

The smiling face. The constant travel. The dinners and amazing food. They are the story of a good life, which I absolutely have and I am beyond grateful for it. 

It's only part of my story though.

When I capture a photo and share it...the view you see is skewed by the lens I choose.

May is Mental Health Awareness. If you or someone you know is struggling, there is help. There is a way. I do not promise it will be easy. I make no pledges that there is a "fix it" answer out there, but,  I do promise there are people who want you to succeed, who want to champion for you.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Champions Don't Do Bronze

This past weekend flew by, as is always the case when we travel. Friday night we did a whole bunch of not much. I ate the pizza I had been craving and called it a night pretty early. We got up on Saturday and drove to my parents house. Whenever we pass this abandoned store, I know I am almost in Virginia. 

After arriving we met up with my parents for lunch in downtown Lynchburg and then, since it was such a gorgeous day outside, walked around a bit. We thought the elevator to get back to the street we were parked on was working, it wasn't and 139 steps ,and no breath later, we made it to the top of Monument Terrace and my car. 

We then headed towards Bedford and Peaks of Otter to watch my brother and sister in law in a 5k at the winery. The peaks are just so gorgeous. When we pulled up, my brother had just crossed the finish line. He was laughing and said that as he was coming across the finish line, a guy was yelling "Batman doesn't walk, he runs" my brother completely forgot he was wearing a batman t shirt. 

Once my sis in law and another of our best friends finished, we tried some wine. They started calling out the runners who placed and then one of the funniest things I have witnessed in a while unfolded. And this is probably one of those stories that is way funnier in person, but just thinking about it now and I start cracking up. 

We are headed toward the winery to partake in the wine tasting before it gets really busy and we notice my brother is taking his time and listening to the winners announced. They say the first and second place winners and my sis in law says to my brother "oh, they have one more name, you could still place" 

my brother jokingly says "Third place? Champions don't do bronze" 

Meanwhile, he has barely finished this sentence when we hear over the loud speaker "and in 3rd place Landon B" and my brother proceeds to jump pretty high, getting serious lift, while pumping his arms and saying "yesssssssss" 

I don't think the 6 of us have ever laughed so hard. I almost peed my pants. 

and the moral of this story is Champions apparently most certainly do bronze. hahahaha

Then after trying 23 wines and each of us at one point or another proclaiming "how many more wines can there be?!" we headed out for dinner. My pomegranate peach martini was delicious. 

Yesterday we hit up church with my parents before a brunch downtown and then coming back home. There is nothing better than the carnival in your town in the Home Depot parking lot. Life in the south. I heart it.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thunderstorms In The Air

Let's just say that the old adage "April showers" is holding true this week! Thunderstorms have been wrecking our area the past few days and they are calling for more this afternoon. Little known fact about me...I am pretty much terrified of lightning. I cower in my bed and cover myself and cringe with each strike. It's a sight to see. 

Other than those hiccups, I have had a pretty good week and it goes back to last Friday when I was able to see Kerry on our trip to Boston. I always look forward to our visits and this was no different. We pretty much laugh entirely too much and we also eat our way through our get togethers;) Our cupcakes and burgers were no exception.

Then we celebrated Easter with food, faith and family. Mainly lots and lots of food. One of the hardest parts about being away from our families are all the gatherings we have to miss, therefore, any opportunity we have to be present for one...makes it that much more special. 

Boston was definitely not feeling springy and it snowed that day...only for about half an hour, but half an hour too much! 

We flew back into Richmond during the NCAA championship game...I tried to keep my composure but almost screamed a few times. After 13 years working in Duke athletics, this photo should say it all. 

Tuesday morning we walked around for a bit and had lunch at a cute little spot called the Luncheonette. I loved it! Reminded me of Parenthood! Richmond is just one of my absolute favorite places. It never gets old visiting!

The past few days we have just relaxed and gotten back into our schedule. Wedndesday was National Empanda Day and you best believe I indulged at my favorite empanada and tequila bar. They are hands down the best I have eaten...anywhere in the country! So good.

linking up with Amanda

Monday, March 30, 2015

Wine and Dine Me

This past weekend flew by and it was packed from noon on Friday! I kind of love busy weekends until Sunday night rolls around and I am remiss that I didn't take any time to relax. I did have fun though...

Friday afternoon one of my besties and I took her daughter to see Cinderella. I loved everything about this movie...I thought it  was great and the perfect start to our weekend. 

Then, that night, we met up with some friends at the brewery near our house and indulged in some food truck goodness. The lamb kebab bites were to die for. Thank goodness bc this whole being healthy kick is for the birds. 

Afterwards we headed to downtown Raleigh to meet a few more friends at C Grace. (one of whom better be moving here soon!!!)

Saturday we slept late and then headed out for brunch and I got the most delicious salmon ever. Then he got me some "brewed" chocolate drink. There are not enough words in my vernacular to parlay just how disgusting this thing was. Give me either tea or chocolate, not some nasty mixture of the two. 


That nigtt a bunch of us ladies from Raleigh Blog Society met up for some Wining and Designing. We painted the Raleigh skyline and basically, I will start the bidding for my masterpiece at...priceless. 

It was great to see everyone and have lots o laughs. and wine. Obviously. I really do just adore this group of ladies. 

Yesterday I was in a cooking contest at a brewery in Durham. They gave you a full growler of beer last week and in turn you had to cook a dish with at least one cup. I ended up making my bacon wrapped pretzels. I didn't win but I also ran out of mine before about 25/30 people came through the line. Who knows, I may have won had I had enough to feed all the voters. Lesson learned. 

I didn't really care because it was so much fun!

Afterwards we popped across the street to Motorco for a few bites and to watch the Duke game. Final Four bound! Woo hoo. Can't wait for next weekend and the games. 

How was your weekend? What all did you do?

Linking up with Meghan

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hello, Who's There?

Just your future, no big deal. 

Today I am participating in the Link Up Andrea is doing about how you met your spouse.  And well, I've mentioned it before, but never done a full post on it. So here goes.

14 years ago I had just moved to North Carolina and was the asst gm of a minor league baseball team. I was single and the past two relationships I had been in involved professional athletes and I wanted nothing to do with anything of the sort going forward. 

One of the guys who worked for the team kept trying to set me up with anyone and everyone. This was in the winter before the season began so we had more time on our hands. I never accepted the offer and kept laughing him off until one night with bad weather and a few glasses of wine, I went along with it. As a prank. 

He told me that one of his good friends had gone on a date the previous week and to call and pretend to be her and mess with him ( This was in the whole pre cell phone era, or you know...ancient times) I found out he was a former football player...but now worked as an engineer. 

Anywasys...I call and he answers. We chit chat going back and forth for about ten minutes. I have her name and where they went out and such so just flying by the seat of my pants...for about ten minutes and he lays this diddly on me. 

"This has been fun and all but seriously who is this? I know you're not her. She is from England and you sound like you're from Alabama or somewhere"

Me...Crickets and death stare of all death stares to my friend. 

He starts laughing and I finally sputter out that it was a prank from his friend and I am sorry. He laughs and asks to speak to his friend. We get off and I go about my business. 

Til about a week later and I started thinking about him again. I decided to call him for some reason I am not even sure about.I (actually, to be was his voice. He has a crazy sexy one. and even now, everywhere we go, people comment on it and call him "the voice") I remember that it was a little after 9 at night when I called. He answered and I asked if he remembered me and he jokingly replied "How could I forget" 

We began talking and somehow talked and talked...and talked and the next thing I remember is him exclaiming "Holy Sh*t, it's 5 am and I have to leave for work in an hour" 

I had no idea what he looked like at this point but over the next few days we talked more and more and set up a plan for him to come hang out with his friend that introduced us. And 

The second I saw him, I breathed deep as his looks matched his voice. Sexy. Small favors in this game of life.
First year we dated

He was living in Boston still and over the next ten months we did long distance and split time visiting each other. Then the opportunity came that he was able to transfer to a project at Duke...

A year and a half later, I was working in the SID office at Duke ( I still do part time!) and one October day, he set the whole thing up and after a basketball practice, when Cameron Indoor was completely empty...popped the question. 

The people I work with tricked me and said I needed to be in there for team photos. I went in and the lights were dim and there was no one around. All of the sudden a banner fell from the stand that read

"Will you marry me, Madison?"

 I was like "oh my gosh, how sweet, some one is getting engaged"

And then it hit me..." Wait...I am Madison" (yea, yea. I know) and a side door opened and I heard footsteps clicking on the hardwood of the court and when I looked it was him with a rose and the ring. 

We got hitched the next summer at a 200 year old Bed and Breakfast on a plantation. In front of 350 of our friends and family. And a wedding party of 32 people. This is what happens when you marry someone who is half Italian half Lebanese.

We still live in Raleigh. I work part time in sports still. He is a project manager for a construction management firm. Duke is still his client and he was able to get his masters at Duke while working full time. 

This year will be 12 years of being hitched. We are on year 10 of infertility and have dealt with my PTSD and depression and still kicking it.  and so, I guess I'd say the prank call worked. Maybe you should answer when love call;)

And funny enough...that phone call happened the day after Presidents Day in 2001. So...14 years ago today, on the money. And whaddya know, our once a year bad weather is paying us a visit. I am having a few glasses of wine again, but this time I just call upstairs for love. I mean, how cheezy was that.

Linking up with Andrea.