Boston

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I’m recovering from some surgery and unable to write anything new, but I would like to repost my piece from a year ago as a way to remember.

April 16, 2013

By now you’ve seen the pictures and clips. You have read the posts, tweets and texts. You have seen how Bostonians immediately dropped everything to look after their city. Thousands of shocked and displaced runners were clothed, fed and housed as an incredible reply to the horrific bombings. I love Boston and her people, so this didn’t surprise me. In fact, there was only one thing about yesterday that did surprise me. Continue reading

Ahhh… spring has sprung!

For those of you who may not have understood my whinging about winter on the East Coast of Canada, here are some pictures from the last few days…

A few from downtown Halifax on Wednesday.

winter storm

Image: The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

Image: The Globe and Mail/Paul Darrow

Image: The Globe and Mail/Paul Darrow

Image: The Globe and Mail/Paul Darrow

Image: The Globe and Mail/Paul Darrow

Mid-storm in Charlottetown, PEI.

Image: Sally Pitt

Image: Sally Pitt

The aftermath on Thursday morning in Summerside, PEI.

Image: David Parker

Image: David Parker

You don’t believe that it was a serious storm? How about this shot from Ellerslie, PEI.

Image: @CBCPEI

Image: @CBCPEI

It’s driving us all a little looney. Just this evening, ET began digging a tunnel to nowhere.

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Now the temperature is rising and we’ll have a high of 10° C and rain for the next four days. Let the basement flooding begin!

Funny things my kids say #20

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The other day, I became disgusted while eating lunch with the 6-year-old. Like most kids his age, he still chews with his mouth open. Deciding it was a good moment to teach better table manners, I asked him to try chewing with his mouth closed.

He watched me demonstrate and then gave it a shot. After a couple of attempts, he sighed and rejected the new method.

“Nope. My teeth can’t open as much… it’s not very efficient.”

The kid is too smart for his own good!

Previous: Funny things my kids say #19

Everything is Awesome!

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t seen The Lego Movie? If so, here is the quick summary (no spoilers):

There once was an ordinary LEGO minifigure named Emmet.
Emmet

One day, Emmet was recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant, Lord Business.
Lord_Business1
That’s basically it.

There are some plot twists along the way but it is simple story that has a nice moralistic ending. I’ve heard a few people voicing negative opinions but I thought it was a great family movie.

It’s all about Lego, so the kids love it, but there is also lots of subtle and smart humour in there for the adults. Here’s one of my favourite lines…

But one of the things I like most about this movie is the title!

The Lego Movie

It is a brilliant marketing move in terms of brand consciousness. More importantly, I think it is hilarious because that’s what we all would be calling it anyway. Regardless of the title, the movie hype would still be…

“Have you seen the Lego movie yet?”

“I just saw the Lego movie. It’s great!”

“Man, I just can’t get that song from the Lego movie out of my head!”

Speaking of that song, that’s another thing I loved about the movie. Yes it is an incredibly tenacious ear-worm, but Tegan and Sara’s “Everything is Awesome” is just that… awesome. It’s upbeat and positive and my kids love to sing it. I honestly have yet to get sick of it.

So, from my head to yours…

Have you seen the movie? Did you like it?

11 reasons I’m sick of winter

Templeofcats.com

Templeofcats.com

Apparently spring is on its way, not that the official date of the vernal equinox has ever mattered here in Nova Scotia. Our winter has a serious attitude problem and will hang around as long as it damn well pleases… thank you very much.

Usually I don’t tire of the snow and cold until at least the end of March but I think that the trip to Florida might have tripped a switch in my brain a few weeks early. This is all to say that I’m tired of winter and just want it to go home.

11 reasons I’m sick of winter

1) Fighting with the kids over snow pants – I know I’ll have the same complaint in the summer with regard to sunscreen and hats, but a certain eye rolling eight-year-old is really getting on my nerves with his daily no-snow-pants campaign.

2) Trying to stuff liners back in boots – Why are those removable liners such a breeze to remove and such a bitch to get back in? My fight with them in the morning inevitably leads to a bent back nail and then my hands smell like sweaty kid feet.

3) Wet stuff drying on radiators – We have beautiful old hot water radiators throughout the house but all winter they are draped with hats, mitts, jackets and snow pants. Oh and those boot liners, of course.

4) Static electricity – I now live in fear of opening any door with a metal knob and folding clothes full of fleece sweatshirts just makes my skin crawl. I feel like the cat in the picture.

5) Hockey gear – Starting on Friday evening, The Husband and both boys spend the majority of the weekend on the ice. There is a pile of sticks in the corner beside the front door that never moves and all weekend there are huge hockey bags in the foyer that just get stepped over until they’re put away on Sunday night. Say nothing of the furnace room in the basement where the gear gets aired out through the week on “sports trees”.

6) Noisy boys inside – How I long for the carefree days of summer when the boys and their friends would be outside until I called them in for bed. I would even feed them just by tossing food outside. These days, the weather is either too wet or too cold. After an hour, even I can’t force them to stay out any longer. I’m currently in the process of building a shrine to the real estate gods to thank them for our basement.

7) Salt stains – Who doesn’t hate the stiff white hems of pants that have soaked up the melted slush of the sidewalks and that horrible white crust that forms on your black leather boots? It also makes it harder to find your car in a parking lot because everyone’s paint now looks to be the same dirty shade of grey.

8) Dark and grey days – The days are finally getting longer, which is a good thing because months of waking up in the dark and coming home from work in the dark have caused my other senses to kick-in to overdrive. Have I mentioned the stinky boot liners?

9) Dry skin – My trademark black clothing, while slimming and easy to coordinate, only serves to highlight my seasonal full body flakiness. I’m also wearing away the door jambs around the house with all of the back scratching I’m doing.

10) Getting out of a warm bed – It is an internationally well-known fact that I’m not a morning person. Add frigid air and a cold floor into the mix and that snooze button is being hit at least three extra times before I will admit to being awake.

11) Talking about the weather – In warm weather climes, what do people talk about in elevators? Seriously, how do you break the silence with strangers if you don’t have the windchill to discuss?

Yes, I see the irony in my last point.

What do you hate about winter?

Life out of the closet

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Since going public with my dysthymia and depression, a few different people have asked me a variation of the same question,

“But _____ reads your blog, are you sure you want them to know?”

Sure, I could have just come out of my mental health closet to anonymous readers who I’ll never meet face to face. Perhaps my story might help a young reader who feels like they are currently going through something similar – that would be fantastic – but it wouldn’t serve to break down the barriers which I’ve spent so many years building.

Yes, people at work read my blog. (Hi peeps!)

Yes, parents of my children’s friends read my blog. (See ya tomorrow on the playground!)

Yes, my neighbours read my blog. (Can I borrow a cup of sugar?)

The honest admissions that I’ve made are about changing the perceptions that society holds about depressed people. I have an illness but that doesn’t define who I am.

I’m an involved and active mother.

I’m a wife in a loving and happy marriage.

I volunteer on committees and host playdates.

I’m a member of a book club and a writing group.

I’m a productive and sociable co-worker.

I’ve acted in plays and sung in musicals.

I’m a healthcare worker who loves to help others.

Sure, there may be times when I mope around in stained sweat clothes and eat chocolate… but who doesn’t? My depression doesn’t usually manifest itself outwardly because I have spent years and years building a life in spite of my illness.

Sometimes, when things get to be a little too much, I may falter. Perhaps I won’t return your phone call right away, or I’ll beg out of a social gathering that I promised to attend. Maybe I’ll look a little extra tired and run down because I’m having trouble sleeping. There are times when my depression gets the better of me, but that doesn’t change who I am.

So, to answer the question… Yes, I want the people who I know in real life to read about my depression.

That was the whole point.

After Freshly Pressed…

Image: Tim Krochak

Image: Tim Krochak

Hurricanes are usually downgraded to tropical storms by the time they reach Nova Scotia, but in 2003 a category 2 hurricane hit us square on. Hurricane Juan at was peak intensity for 24 hours and Halifax was heavily damaged. (Not Hurricane Katrina kind of damaged, more like Hurricane Sandy damage.)

The morning after, Haligonians crept out of their homes to find trees down, cars smashed, and silence…

An eerie quiet had settled over the city. There was no power, roads were closed and only the Tim Hortons at the hospital was open. People wandered the streets pointing out damage, whispering sympathy and discretely taking pictures.

It was the literal embodiment of the proverb, “There is always calm after a storm.”

I have received more hits in the last two days than I ever have in an entire month. My “likes” and “follows” have skyrocketed and my comments are spilling onto multiple pages.

I’m now a little worried about the calm that will settle on this blog after the Freshly Pressed storm has dissipated.

I’m not being negative.

I’m ecstatic to have been selected and honestly never dreamed it would happen. I’m especially thrilled that it was this post that made the grade. I have received a tidal wave of support and I hope that one or two people may even have read something that has helped them.

I’m just a little confused where things go from here.

I’d really like for some of you stick around. I know it was my depression that got you here but I really am so much more than that. I’m also weird lists of 11 things, sappy nostalgia, and snippets of my family’s lunacy.

I’ve heard of the phenomenon where good blogs have shrivelled and died after the Freshly Pressed dust has settled. That the pressure of follow-up was just too much and bloggers have fled in panic.

While I admit I have no idea what to post next, this is really no different from my usual process. Hopefully one of the boys will crap his pants in a funny way and I’ll write about that.

See you then!

My fish are dead*

WARNING: If you are my mother, you may want to skip this post.

March is next week and I’ve just uncovered a pile of unopened Christmas cards in the kitchen drawer. I had a rough winter and things that I couldn’t face were pushed aside. If I open those cards, I’ll have to acknowledge the relationships they hold. Concede that there are people who care, have to care for them in return.

Life isn’t as easy to shove away as those colourful envelopes.

There have been too many lies in my life. I lie to cover-up my feelings and I lie to make people go away. Eventually the lies become too many; too many to keep track of and too many to care about. The lies are my shield, but they make me tired.

When I get too tired, I just want it all to end.

I now realize I’ve been depressed since my teen years. There were so many days that I pretended to be sick because I couldn’t go to school and face my small group of friends. Only now do I see I wasn’t pretending… I really was sick.

Everything came to a head in university. That’s when the people became too many, the exposure constant and the expectations too great.

It takes a tremendous amount of energy to act happy everyday when you aren’t. This energy gets sucked away and there is no way to recharge it, no way to rebuild the facade that gets you through the day. The only coping mechanism in my arsenal was avoidance.

Like the Christmas cards in my kitchen drawer, I started pushing the things I couldn’t deal with out of sight. I broke up with my boyfriend and cut off my friends. I was getting A’s but I stopped attending classes. I withdrew from daily life and spent my days hiding in a distant corner of an obscure building. I told myself that nobody missed me.

At home I lied that classes were great. All was fine, I was okay. I lied with every breath and I got tired.

When I got too tired, I tried to make it all end.

I lied to my doctor to get pills. I lied to my family so I could stay home that day. I lied to myself and was convinced it was best for everyone.

My family came home early and found me. No one can lie well enough to pretend that hasn’t left a scar.

Now that I’m older, I’m not as good an actor as I once was and my loved ones can better sense my lies. They feel me withdrawing and they pull me back in… I’m still depressed.

Recently there have been days when I’ve told myself that it would be better for everyone if I was gone. But now I have kids and that lie is too big to be convincing. Even I can see the truth, how it would fuck them up forever.

I’ve only just come out of the dark tunnel that I was in over the winter. New drugs, a new therapist and a trip in the sun have helped. I seek support and talk easier now than I did when I was younger… I have a hell of a lot more to lose.

Maybe tonight I’ll open those Christmas cards.

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Notes:
This post is a follow-up to a previous post about stigma and suicide. Stigma and disgrace have no place in a discussion about mental health, yet depression is still commonly viewed as a personal weakness. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have a mental illness called dysthymia.

Dysthymia is a long-term chronic depression that lasts years and typically characterizes itself as low energy and drive, low self-esteem, and a low capacity for pleasure in everyday life. Dysthymia may result in people withdrawing from stress and avoiding opportunities for failure. In more severe cases of dysthymia, people may even withdraw from daily activities.[1]

Dysthymia often goes hand in hand with other mental illnesses. In my case, I also have periodic major depressive episodes that are thought to be triggered by extremely low serotonin levels in the winter.

*If you want to read about how the “detached, meaningless fog” of depression feels like owning dead fish, please read Hyperbole and a Half’s “Depression Part Two”. Allie Brosh has truly captured what living with depression can feel like. I’ve never read anything better.

[1] “Proposed Endophenotypes of Dysthymia: Evolutionary, Clinical, and Pharmacogenomic Considerations.” Niculescu, A.B. and Akiskal, H.S. (2001). Molecular Psychiatry 6 (4): 363–366.

Funny things my kids say #19

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Since watching some Star Wars with the boys this weekend, there has been a lot of Yoda speak in the house. Tonight, after he was supposed to be asleep, we heard ET up out of bed. When we asked him why he was up, the 6-year-old said…

“Sense pee in the penis I do.”

Sigh…

Previous: Funny things my kids say #18

Friday Flashback – Skiing

Today I took CJ and ET skiing. It was our first time out this year but they were zipping around like the pros they are.

Skiing has always been a part of my life (I started when I was three) and every year we would take a ski vacation with the same family friends. Some years other families would join in but the nine of us were the core group. The memories from these family trip are some of my most vivid and are absolutely among my favourites.

This is a picture of our gang (minus Dad who was taking the picture.) I’m in the green pants in front of Mom and The Sister is on the far right.

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Continue reading