Let’s Talk

About sex, BABY! Or not… let’s talk about something less fun, but just as important.

Bell Let's Talk

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. For those of you who aren’t in Canada, that’s the day our large telecommunications company takes 5 cents from the money they have basically stolen from our pockets the other 364 days of the year and donates it to mental health programs every time someone uses #BellLetsTalk on Twitter, or uses special Bell Let’s Talk filters on other social media platforms. They also donate 5 cents for every text or phone call made using their network, and for every view of their Bell Let’s Talk video on Instagram or their website. The other 364 days aside, this is an important and much appreciated initiative.

As anyone struggling with their mental health knows, mental illness is not treated the same as other illnesses by our health care system. As misunderstood as mental health is by society at large, those struggling with any form of mental illness are often mistreated by the very healthcare system that one would think is equipped to support them, or Barriersexperience barriers to access of mental health support outside our provincial healthcare systems.  Perhaps they lack the funds, or perhaps they lack moral support and fear the stigma. Without a good support system it can be hard to even get away from the daily grind in order to attend appointments. I myself am waiting for a doctor’s appointment so that I can get a note stating that I would benefit from the services of a registered psychologist. The insurance company requires a note each year in order to issue any reimbursement and its very hard to get in to see my doctor quickly unless suffering from a major crisis. In October I called to book an appointment and was given a date in December. I was unable to attend due to illness and couldn’t get in again until the spring.

 

What Anxiety Feels Like

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with anxiety, though it has become more
pronounced and manifests in different ways now. For example, I didn’t even know that the irritability I often feel is a symptom of anxiety. Turns out I’m not an a-hole after all, sorry. I can’t help it. And I don’t mean to use that as an excuse to behave poorly. I actively try to overcome my anxiety every single day. Symptoms of anxiety include and are not limited to the following:

•Excessive, ongoing worry and tension

•An unrealistic view of problems

•Restlessness or a feeling of being “edgy”

•Irritability

•Muscle tension

Headaches

Sweating

•Difficulty concentrating

Nausea

•The need to go to the bathroom frequently

•Tiredness

•Trouble falling or staying asleep

•Trembling

•Being easily startled

(Source: WebMD)

illness does not define youThe Bell Let’s Talk initiative is important because while there are so many of us that know the struggle of living with mental illness, there are more people that don’t understand and unfortunately still others who don’t want to understand. I have all types of these people in my life and the latter make it hard to talk about. Even as I type this I know that they will judge me, but my younger self was a feel the fear and do it anyway type of person, so I’m channelling her strength at the moment.

Becoming a mother has been simultaneously the best and scariest thing that has ever happened to me. To quote Elizabeth Stone, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” For someone who feels excessive and ongoing worry at the best of times, this is a pretty scary prospect. At the time I became a mother I wasn’t ready, but that doesn’t mean I love my children any less. I remember my midwives going over a checklist of items with me that they use to measure the likelihood of developing postpartum depression. I believe I checked off 8 of the 10 boxes. I was told to be aware and watch for symptoms, but when you’re in the throes of it you often can’t see it. I felt very very alone, and there were times when I voiced this and was told ‘Well you wanted to have children’ or ‘You have so much to be grateful for. Why can’t you just be happy?’ or ‘At least the baby is healthy.’

What stands out to me most about these responses is that they are completely devoid of empathy. For anyone struggling with how to connect with someone suffering from anxiety and/or depression, I would recommend watching this little video clip by Dr. Brené Brown.

This is exactly what I needed from people but wasn’t getting, and the more I was met with a lack of empathy the more I closed off and the more anxious and depressed I felt. It got a lot worse before it got better.

During my last pregnancy I built myself a better support system, and although I would still say I suffer from Postpartum Anxiety and mild Postpartum Depression, I do have people that I can turn to for the empathetic response and it has made all the difference. I have also been able to be there for others going through the beautiful yet isolating journey into motherhood. No one can prepare you, but they can be there for you if they want to and if you let them. If you need someone to be there for you, let’s talk.

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Sleeping Beauty was an Ungrateful Biatch

I started blogging again with the best of intentions – after 5 plus years of devoting my time to the tiny humans we created I wanted to do something for myself. I have always enjoyed writing as a creative outlet, even thinking I wanted to be a journalist some day. My twelfth grade English teacher destroyed my confidence in my ability to write, as did my anxiety. The fear of putting myself out there and competing became too much and even though I was offered a pretty hefty scholarship to study journalism I went in another direction. I now have a MA in Geography which comes in very handy in my career of wiping butts and snotty noses, but I digress. My point is, I just wanted to write again, maybe once a week.

JENNA MARBLES

Well, that hasn’t happened. I haven’t slept since the night I wrote my first blog post. Honestly, I  haven’t slept through the night since mid-2012, but this is something else. Charlotte, my beautiful little unicorn baby who slept through the night from 2 weeks old has decided that sleep is optional and not a lot of fun. Around the same time she stopped sleeping well, Hunter developed some sort of night time induced anxiety, so the two of them keep me pretty busy all night long. On the night I wrote my first blog post, not only did Hunter wake up at 1am crying for me, he woke up at 1am crying, vomiting and TONIGHT YOU GET NO SLEEPaccusing me of not keeping to his vaccination schedule which had obviously led him to contract The Black Death (long story short – perhaps I’ll tell the long version one day). OBVIOUSLY.

That was the beginning of the end. Charlotte’s sleep had been deteriorating throughout
the month of December and I didn’t think it could get any worse. Spoiler alert: I was wrong. I’m completely exhausted and can’t seem to find my sense of humour or sense of direction or any concept of time. It’s all a blur.

OPTIMIZE GIFYou may ask, where is my husband in all this? Why is he not helping? He has offered… but I can’t do it. I want to let him help very badly, but the one time I let him help with a night feed when Hunter was a baby he fell asleep holding the baby and the bottle. I woke up to the baby crying and found him still in Joe’s arms, thankfully, but Joe was just blissfully sleeping through. Like how? I would have to be dead to not hear that. Anyway, needless to say I wouldn’t get any sleep for worry that it would happen again. I did ask him to stop falling asleep on the couch, though. I know it’s nothing personal, but right now it feels like he’s sleeping AT me, if that makes sense. He said he would try, but if he does I have his permission to take embarrassing photos and post them here to shame him. I have already started my collection, which you can find here. Seriously. Click there. It’s worth it.

At this point in time I would give almost anything for some sleep, but since the anxiety of leaving the baby in someone else’s care keeps me awake anyway, I would literally have to be knocked out. Sleeping Beauty was an ungrateful biatch. I would take 100 years of sleep over a handsome prince any day. There would be another prince when I woke up well rested, no doubt.

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I’m going to have to sleep train again before I go cuckoo bananas (there is a reason that sleep deprivation is a form of torture – moms know it all too well) and I am dreading it. If you got this far, thank you. I know it’s dry. I’ll leave you with a link to my Shan’s Shenanigans post on sleep training Hunter because it’s one of my favourites. CLICK HERE FOR A MAGICAL TIME.

First blog post – Venison Stew

Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 7.59.10 PMI have been sitting here for 2 days staring at WordPress’ nice little ‘First Blog Post’ suggestive text wondering what the best introduction to My Mumdane Life might be. I see this as a continuation of Shan’s Shenanigans, which I worked on when I was pregnant with my son but it fell to the wayside after I returned to work when he was 1.5. So much has happened since then and not all of it has been shenanigany (totally not a word), so it doesn’t feel right to revive it.

I now spend the majority of my time catering to two little people who I affectionally refer to as Mr. Mac & Cheese and Boobie Biter 2.0 (okay, I never actually call them this, but both names are accurate descriptions and serve my purposes so lets roll with it), so what better to open this blog with than a recipe.

We’re going to pretend that Google did not help me with this recipe, and that it is all my own. I will secretly link to the actual recipe somewhere along the way (although I don’t see why I have to. I recently purchased a cookbook where one of the recipes was for hardboiled eggs, so seriously you can put a spin on anything and call it your own). So fun!

INSTANT POT VENISON STEW

You will need the following hardware:

1 Instant Pot or other pressure cooker (I have a 6 quart 7-in-1 Instant Pot Duo)

1 Circle of Neglect

1 Soft Blanket

A copious amount of toys

An endless supply of ridiculous noises and silly faces

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs venison, cubed

1 tbsp olive oil

2 celery stalks, sliced

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, sliced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups of whatever red wine you happened to grab because you know nothing about wine, divided

1 cup beef broth

3 potatoes, diced

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp butter

Directions:

Marry a guy that drives a pick-up truck and lives in the country. If he isn’t the hunting type make sure his friends are. Send him (or a friend) into the woods to shoot and butcher a deer. Make sure Boobe Biter 2.0 is occupied on her soft blankie with a copious amount of toys. Cube your freshly killed venison, trimming it of all fat.

Press the ‘Sauté’ button on the Instant Pot. Add the olive oil. When the screen reads ‘Hot’ add the meat and brown on all sides. Remove and put aside as high up as possible so as to prevent your dog from scarfing down the piping hot meat and promptly vomiting it up at your feet. Don’t miss this step. You will regret it if you do.

Listen to your baby whimpering from the blanket. Perhaps have a peek across the room if you’re a helicopter parent, but if not just assume she’s ok and hope she will switch focus to a different toy and become happy and/or quiet again.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, onion powder and salt and sautée for 3-5 mins. At Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 9.59.01 PMthe 2-3 minute mark take note that your baby’s whimpering has turned into full out sobbing. Rush over to her. You have 2-3 mins to soothe her and figure out if she will settle into the Circle of Neglect so you can return to the task at hand before your onions have burnt to a crisp. It’s like a race against time AND yourself! Did you make it?

Measure out 1 cup of red wine and use it to deglaze the Instant Pot. Once all the yummy brown bits have been scraped off the bottom of the pot into the wine allow the mixture to simmer for as long as it takes to substantially reduce the amount of liquid (evaporation!). Your baby will start to cry again while this is happening because it takes forever and you are never really sure if you’ve allowed it to evaporate enough so you just keep staring into the pot. Snap out of it. The baby is crying louder. Shout her name across the room in a ridiculously high pitched tone and bust out your best silly face when she looks toward you. She will stop crying and possibly even giggle. You’ve bought yourself some time and you’re so close to sealing that pot, so take advantage.

Did you forget to dice the potatoes? Of course you did, so do it now, quickly, but not so quickly that you slice off a thumb or two. You need those. Return the venison to the pot and add the beef broth. Stir it up! Place the potatoes on top of the mixture and toss on that lid, making sure the vent is sealed. Press the Meat/Stew button and set the time to 20 mins.

Retrieve your baby from the Circle of Neglect and offer a boob. After all, she needs to eat

Circle of Neglect
Circle of Neglect. Boob not pictured.

too. If you aren’t lactating you can skip this step. Please, skip this step.

Once the cook time is up allow the pressure to come down naturally. If the valve hasn’t dropped by the 10 minute mark you can release the rest of the pressure manually. While the pressure is releasing place the baby in a high chair so she can watch your son reject the meal you so lovingly prepared. Who better to teach her to be ungrateful than her big brother? On the stove top melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and mix until it forms a paste. Add this to the Instant Pot to thicken the stew and serve hot with a side of homemade bread if you’re feeling ambitious.

Argue with your son for 30 minutes about this meal. Reassure him several times that he is not eating Bambi’s mother. Wipe away his tears. Relive the pain of seeing Bambi for the first time through his eyes. Wipe away your own tears. Throw out the stew. Make Mac & Cheese.

Drink the remaining cup of wine.

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Cheers!