26 (finally) Going on 27.

When I was a kid, and honestly, up until I turned 24, my birthday was my favorite holiday. Ask anyone I know- especially my parents and siblings. They were annoyed by the time my birthday rolled around (and rightfully so) because I started reminding them of the upcoming “holiday” MONTHS in advance. “Hey mom, my birthday is in 5 months!” That would be the January 1st text, and so on, until the day finally arrived.

June 1st was my 27th birthday. It was also the one year anniversary of my miscarriage, which I just like to refer to it as Isaac’s birthday. That’s what we named our baby – Isaac Gabriel. The name wasn’t on our list of baby names, but when I heard the meanings, I knew that was his name.

Isaac – laughter; Gabriel – God is my strength. In my mind, I have this image of him running around, smiling and waiting for us in heaven. One day, our whole family will reunite and our sons will meet each other. Until then, we will enjoy this boy who is due in 6 weeks, and have the hope that Isaac is laughing with Jesus.

We technically didn’t have confirmation of gender, since I was only 10 weeks along, but I had dreams that he was a boy, and we stuck with mama’s instinct. With this current pregnancy, I also had dreams of having a boy, and at 20 weeks it was confirmed that I was right. So on that note, I am pretty trusting of my gut instinct.

Birthdays just seem like the perfect time to reflect over the past year. And to be honest, 26 was awful. I’m sure there were some good moments, but in between the miscarriage, being diagnosed with PTSD because of it, and throwing up for 21 weeks of this current pregnancy, it didn’t exactly measure up to the year I had imagined and hoped it would be.

What this year did do for me – it taught me to rely on people, and that being stubborn and suffering alone is worse than asking for help. I learned that my husband is actually the best. I learned that Gremlin, my dog, does not leave my side for one second when I am sad. I learned that Jesus really doesn’t give up on people, even when you beg him to just leave you alone. I learned that crying does not make you weak. I learned who the people are that truly care, and I learned about the people who don’t. I learned that sometimes it takes a whole lot of suffering to appreciate the good things, and that sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to suffering – sometimes crappy things just happen because they happen and there is nothing to blame other than the fact that we are humans.

 

This photo is why I keep getting out of bed in the morning, it’s why I continue to carry on even when I’m sad about our loss. We are due to have our boy in about 6 weeks, and lets be honest, at this point, I am hoping to go into labour tomorrow. I AM SO UNCOMFORTABLE. Really, people keep saying that I look “amazing” and, while my hair has been having some seriously good moments this pregnancy, I mostly just feel like a whale who can’t move without crying in pain or shuffling around like that old person who you have to walk behind at the mall when you’re in a hurry. I am now that person… Sorry. In any case, our world is about to be seriously rocked, and I could not be more excited and terrified.

KandC13

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My Standing Ovation.

I’ll start by saying this is going to be a mushy post. If that upsets your apple-cart in any way, I suggest you turn back now.

This is my toast to my husband. That person who chooses to stand by my side, no matter how upset or gross or panicky I may be. And let me be the first to tell you, I am no walk in the park! I am moody and defiant and difficult and emotional. But these things never scare my husband away, no, these are the things that bring him closer to me. Often when I find I’m pushing him away, that’s when he holds me a little tighter.

There are so many things about husband that annoy me- he leaves the cupboard doors open ALL THE TIME. He snores, so loudly. He is the messiest person I have ever met, and on top of that, he is so flipping oblivious to the mess he leaves. He is a tornado of mess, you can follow his every movement based on how the room looks.

But then, in the midst of his messy, “I lost my keys” again routine, he tells me that he loves me. And that is enough for me to look past the mess and the fact that this is LITERALLY the 27954024th time hes lost those keys. Often, I catch him staring at me, and when asked what the heck he is doing, he just tells me that I’m beautiful. Or when we watch a funny show (right now we are re-watching The Office), he will look at me when something funny happens, just to watch me laugh. He has told me it is his mission and joy everyday to make me laugh.

When we were first married, almost 4 years ago, we went to visit an older couple from our church, who had been married for (insert amazing amount of time here). Husband, who genuinely wanted the answer, asked them how they had stayed married for so long and still loved each other so dearly. The man’s answer was that anything they could do together, they did. Even if it was boring, every day things, they always did it together. Husband and I have taken this piece of advice so seriously. We spend a ridiculous amount of time together. Whether it is grocery shopping or getting the mail at the post office, or literally just driving around town drinking tea – we do it together. And what’s more, we want to! I spend so much time with him, and yet, I find myself craving his company even more now than when we were first dating, or married.

The most perfect example that I can think of to describe my husband’s unselfish love for me, happened yesterday. Turns out, he had food poisoning- and like, that bad, toilet-hugging, fever and achy joints kind. And because, life, I ended up with a migraine. The kind where you need to sit in the dark and beg for death because waiting it out is the only relief. Anyway, as we are both dying, husband is stumbling around the house bringing me water and running the bath for me, bringing me ice packs and just genuinely trying his best to take care of me. Whenever I tried to do anything for him, he told me to sit down and rest.

I am sure that I have met a lot of wonderful people over the years, but truly my husband takes the cake. The thought of living a life without him is void of any emotion and the saddest thought I can ever think. Please, if you appreciate someone in your life, whether it be your significant other, a child, a parent, whoever, LET THEM KNOW! IMG_3745

That One Thing.

Do you ever just have one of those days? You know, the ones where nothing seems to go right and you feel like perhaps you are going crazy? I always feel sad placing the blame on the entire day, it just doesn’t seem fair. Maybe one thousand things went wrong, and one thing went right. And maybe I have just actually gone to the crazy side, but I just don’t want that one right thing to go unnoticed.

This week has been a day. A lot of those days, all strung together. The kind that you have to squint through twelve pairs of glasses just to pick out the good thing. The glasses I was looking through are not the bright and happy rose-coloured glasses either; they are the dirty, yellowing sunglasses that for some reason never seem to be clean. Every little thing seems to set me off, into a whirlwind of stress that I can’t come out of. This would be less of a problem if my doctor hadn’t just told me I am a high risk pregnancy because of my blood pressure issues. So there is that too.

I think today alone I had about 3 panic attacks. The problem is, they never last long and I can never see them coming. I was reading my textbook, and BAM! panic. That seems to be giving my textbook a lot of credit for being scarier than it actually is. Sure, I have barely any motivation to read it, but it is certainly not panic-inducing.

Another attack happened when I caught my cat on the table. Because ever since getting pregnant, my once loyal, and ever-loving furbabies have turned on me. They are defiant and when I say the usual commands (that have worked for the past three years…) they stare at me like I am suddenly speaking some sort of language they have never heard before. But they listen to my husband, now more than ever. Anyway- that was a bit of a rabbit trail. The point is, my cat jumped onto the table and sent me into a stress-induced fury that ended with a full-blown panic attack. Shaking, unable to speak or stand, feelings that I am going to die, forgetting to breathe – the whole fun package

I wish there was a formula for a panic attack. I want to know when they’re coming, so I can prepare myself for it. Perhaps this is why I like to be in control of EVERYTHING else in my life. I hate waiting for things, I hate not knowing what is going on. Once, my mom and sister planned a surprise party for me and when they jumped out I literally punched someone in the face because reflexes kicked in. That poor sucker didn’t see it coming. I don’t think anyone has planned a surprise for me since. And can you blame them?

So this was my day, and my week- anxiety and panic taking over. Sometimes it wins, and sometimes it doesn’t. Today it definitely got the best of me. I used to feel ashamed, but I don’t anymore. This is literally who I am. I’ve stopped looking at it as an ailment and now see anxiety for what it is- an actual disease. My brain is just functioning differently than yours. The stigma is there for a reason; I am just trying to get people to see things from another perspective.

And there you have it. There were probably one thousand bad things that happened this week. But then that little nugget of happy, that is what you have to search for. I can’t just leave something like that out! It is so unfair to the happy things. Two days ago, I went into two stores in one day. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal- but with my anxiety these days- it is the hugest reason to celebrate. TWO STORES. So tonight that’s what I’m choosing to focus on, because it is worth focusing on.

Day One.

It wasn’t until recently that I have felt ready to share my story with people. DISCLAIMER: I need you to know that I do not want sympathy, in fact, I hate sympathy more than anything. I have just found that in the past couple years, I have burning desire to tell people who are silently suffering with mental health issues that they are not alone! The tricky part about mental health issues is that ten people could be suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and all have different symptoms. I think this is why it is so difficult to diagnose these disorders.

I am very certain that I have had issues with anxiety for my entire life, or at least, as long as I can remember. But the problem was that I always just thought it was normal. Why wouldn’t I? The earliest panic attack I remember having is when I was 6. I was so excited to have my own big girl room in the basement of the house that we had just moved into. I woke up in the night shaking and not being able to breathe, and then I looked across the room and saw my most favorite dog figurine sitting on the dresser, and I grabbed a bat that was hanging up and I smashed that dog to pieces. I don’t know why, I just remember being so scared when its big black eyes stared at me. Looking back, I had obviously been woken up by a night terror and then proceeded to have a panic attack.

The problem is, when you’re in the middle of that place and you’re panicking, about seemingly nothing, nothing makes sense. Does it make sense that I smashed that dog? No, of course not. But my six-year-old brain decided it was what needed to happen.

This became my “normal”. Panicking in the night, not being able to breathe. Shaking. I never questioned it, I just got pretty good at coping.  I thought everyone felt like this. I began to find ways to avoid things that made me feel this way, being “sick”, or “tired” usually worked. And oh, did I become angry. Anger is a much easier emotion to pinpoint than panic and fear. It hurts less, it’s easier to explain, and easier for people to understand, even if they don’t love being on the receiving end of it. At least there is something to blame -Keshia is just angry again.

When I was 6, people didn’t even talk about mental health, let alone look for signs or symptoms that people around you could be experiencing.  Thankfully, this has changed in many places and ways over the last twenty years, and things seem to continue in the right direction.  But we’re not there yet.  There is still a lot of stigma, embarrassment, misinformation, shame, and ignorance surrounding mental health problems today.

That is why, perhaps more than any other reason, I have started writing about my experiences with anxiety for the world to see.  Because as long as people are afraid, or embarrassed, or ashamed to talk about what they go through with mental health problems, ignorance and misinformation will continue to circulate.  This is why I started this blog, and this is why I will continue to write, even when it’s hard.

I Hate Titles.

The Gremlin and me… and I? The only person who will care about this horrible grammatical error will be my mother, but maybe she won’t say anything. Maybe she will. In either case, I chose this title because of two reasons; The first, of course, is that my dog is Gremlin. I have three dogs (because I am a sucker for punishment), but Gremlin is my baby. She came to us the summer before my husband I are were married, about 4 years ago. She was starving, with most of her bones sticking up through her skin, a bad hernia from being kicked, and pregnant. It took so long for us to bond. She didn’t necessarily love that I was trying to tame her wild and free spirit, I didn’t love that she fought me about everything. It took us about a month of fighting for her to walk on a leash. After that month though, we were hooked on each other.

She was living with my in-laws for a couple of months before our wedding, because heck no was she allowed to live with me at my parent’s house in the city. Oftentimes I came back just to visit her, and seeing my fiance was just a perk. One night, I was back visiting my baby, and she went into labor – of course the next morning I had a wedding dress fitting FOUR HOURS AWAY, but I sat on the floor and she delivered those puppies right between my legs. Then I drove home in the wee hours of the morning, bloated and trying to look somewhat presentable for my fitting.

We named her Gremlin because she looked like, you guessed it! – A Gremlin. A yellow lab, pitbull cross. Green eyes, white/yellow fur.. and bags under her eyes. She was a sight to behold! My baby has since become much better looking! It just took a few years and lots of love, but we have made it.

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Secondly, a Gremlin is a type of monster. The monster that I live with everyday is anxiety. I really should have called this blog “Anxiety Girl” because that is much closer to my reality, but it seemed too obvious. This blog is really about my life and how I deal with this monster. Everyday, and I mean EVERYDAY, is challenge to get out of bed and do something with my life. Fighting with yourself is exhausting. But I will save that bit for later, you know, so you have something to look forward to. Mental health issues are so real, and I love to be an advocate for something that I am so passionate about.