Monday, December 17, 2012

Getting there...

I was just looking over my posts and I was surprised to see that I've been writing here for almost 3 years.  Where did the time go?  I feel like I'm starting to get my stuff together.  You'd think that 3 years was more than enough time to get fit, organized, and healthy, but it's been a journey for me.  Baby steps here and there, and some steps backwards a few times too.  The important thing is that I am moving forward bit by bit.

I think I've come a long way in 3 years.  I've reclaimed my basement from the stuff that was piled there, gotten rid of a lot of stuff by donating it or just throwing it out (or recycling when appropriate).  I've been following a mostly vegan diet for a little over 2 years and I've been antidepressant free for about 8 months now.  Without the medications, I actually don't feel as depressed as I used to.  Funny how that works, isn't it?

I still have a long way to go, but I'll get there!  Overall, I feel a lot better than I did 3 years ago.  I think I'm more fun to be around too.  People don't tend to enjoy spending a lot of time with people who are negative, and I know I was very negative before.  I'm working on reducing stress and being more positive.  It's a process, but I find that it's helping.

I find this quote to be true:

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.  ~Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints, 1966

I would add that the same applies to husbands, especially if they are nerds and tend to accumulate a lot of computer stuff.

So, that's me for now.  Moving forward, step by step.  And now it seems appropriate to add this video:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Aviva Community Fund, Round 2!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Aviva Community Fund for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Last month, I shared with you about the first round of voting for  Aviva Community Fund.  You can find that post here:  Now it's time for the second round.

Aviva 2

The Aviva Community Fund is an annual charitable activation funded and supported by Aviva Insurance.  The goal is to provide funding to create positive change in communities across Canada.   Anyone can submit an idea that they think would create positive change in their community and have people vote for their idea.  The top ideas from each round go on to the semi-finals.  I like ideas that sound small but can make a huge impact on a community like community gardens to bring people together and help to feed the community, or new playgrounds that allow children to play outdoors.  

Aviva 1

There are many wonderful ideas out there and you can help to choose those that will receive a share of the fund.  Anyone in Canada who registers on the page can vote and have their voice heard.  Now it's even easier to vote through Facebook Connect when you Like Aviva Community Fund.  You get 15 votes per round.  You can vote any time during the round, but you can only vote for each idea once per day.  Make your votes count!  You have the opportunity to support home-grown initiative that can bring positive changes to your community or communities like yours.  

Be sure to Follow @Aviva for the latest updates and more information. 

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Time for an Update

It's been awhile since I've shared with you. Life is starting to settle down a bit. I feel a lot better since I've been off of the anti-depressants. I was talking with my daughter about it today and told her that I'm still working hard to be better. She asked me if I had any brain zaps lately, and I was able to assure her that I hadn't. Since she's 10, she understands more of what is going on than my 6 year old does. It's not easy when you have to tell your child that you have depression and you don't mean to be snarky and feel lousy all the time. She told me that I yell a lot less than I used to. I think that is a good thing, right?

I have to say that most days, I don't feel depressed. I have my moments, of course, and I probably always will, but I don't feel miserable. I still get surprised by moments of happiness when I truly feel happy. They are becoming more frequent and less of a surprise than they were at first. Now that the depression seems better, I notice that my anxiety creeps up a little faster than it did when I was medicated. Sometimes I wake up with a feeling of dread about the day and when I'm able to realize that it is anxiety, I'm able to distance myself from it a bit and I've started to pray about it. That was something I had trouble doing when I was on the medication.

Something that has helped me recently is the Upwords Campaign from Thomas Nelson. They have been sharing inspirational scripture every day during the US election campaign and it's been a great blessing to me. I am not American, but I found all the election talk was stressful to me and I eventually tuned it out. This video shows some of the uplifting photos and scriptures that were sent out through this campaign. The one that really made an impression on me was on October 29.  You can see it below.


 I'm getting there, slowly but surely. I won't give up and I'm not going back.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Aviva Community Fund

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Aviva Community Fund for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Aviva 1

I'm so glad to have the opportunity to share with you about Aviva Community Fund again this year.  If you haven't heard about it before, the Aviva Community Fund is an annual charitable activation funded by and supported by Aviva Insurance.  There is a pool of one million dollars to be shared amongst the top ideas.  The focus of the Fund is to help influence positive change in the community.  I like that anyone can submit an idea.  We've all got ideas on what can make our communities better.  Some of the ideas are small and some are big, but they can all bring positive changes.

There are 3 qualifying rounds.  To enter, just submit your idea.  Once you submit an idea, get people on board to vote for you.  The first round is on and it's not too late to submit an idea.  Each round lasts approximately 2 weeks and the top 30 from each round will go to the semifinals.  There are special categories for broker sponsored ideas and for ideas that help with at-risk youth.  What are you waiting for?  Submit your idea on how to make your community a better place!  Be sure to check out all of the ideas and vote for your favourites.  You can vote for your favourite idea once a day.  Be sure to have your say!

You can also Follow @Aviva on Twitter to keep up with the Contest.  Remember to Like Aviva Community Fund on Facebook.  For every like, Aviva will donate $1 to Learning for a Sustainable Future.  It's an easy way to be part of something that can have a positive impact on communities right across Canada.

Aviva 2


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Monday, September 24, 2012

Findings from the Neglected Driver Survey

This post brought to you by InsuranceHunter. All opinions are 100% mine.

As parents, we often put the needs of our kids first, yet the findings of the Insurance Hunter’s safety survey still surprised me.  The study was conducted online between June 19-23.  There were 1003 randomly selected Ontario parents with kids under 12 who were also members of Angus Reid Forum panel.   

The neglected driver is the parent who makes plans to make sure the kids have breaks and snacks, but ignores their own needs.  This can mean that the driver is driving tired.  In fact, 64% of men admitted to driving when tired. Thirty percent of men and 14% of women have nodded off while driving.  Often, parents don't want to stop driving because they don't want to disturb their children, even when they are too tired to drive safely.  That's scray!  Keeping our kids happy by driving when we need a break is not the answer.  It is just as important, if not more important, to make plans to insure that the driver is taken care of while road tripping.  We have good intentions, but we need to put them into practice in order to keep everyone safe.  

So, here's what I'm taking away from these survey results.  When planning a roadtrip, I'll do a little more planning to be sure that the driver is not neglected.  My husband prefers to drive on long trips, but I prefer to break it up and take turns driving so that we both get to rest for a bit.  I'll aslo talk with my husband so that we  are both aware of the possiblity of becoming a neglected driver.  If the driver is tired, we will take a break, no matter how well the kids are doing.  The kids always welcome a chance to get out of the car and stretch their legs, even if they are not cranky.  

If you'd like more information about the results of this survey be sure to visit Insurance Hunter's Web site.  Insurance Hunter is an online auto insurance comparison site that lets you compare rates and benefits of different insurers so that you can get the best available rate.


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Monday, September 10, 2012

Getting a Little More Organized

I haven't posted for awhile.  Before, if you hadn't heard from me for some time, it was likely related to my health or depression.  The truth is that lately, I've been busy doing stuff and that's why I haven't written!

My health continues to improve now that I am not taking anti-depressants.  It's been a slow process, but a good one.  I feel better able to cope with things now than I did a year ago.  Seven months medication free :)

Spring Break Is OverI'm trying to do more now. It's all baby steps, but even a small step forward is movement in the right direction! Things have crept up on me around the house and I'm trying to take care of things slowly but surely. With the kids back in school, it's a little easier for all of us to have a routine. So far, we're a week into the school year and we are making the kids' lunches after supper. The kids have to help to pack their lunches and help decide what they'll eat. I find that if they have input into what goes in their lunch bags, they are more likely to eat the food. It helps when they can't say, "I didn't like it."

My youngest started off the first week by picking out her clothes the night before as well, but this hasn't happened for the last couple of nights. I'll have to remember to remind her tomorrow night. It makes for a calmer morning when there's no decision making pressure.

I'm also trying to involve the kids more in keeping the house tidy and preparing meals. I ask them to do age-appropriate chores, but my little one is good at disappearing when asked to do something. Today, she flat-out refused to empty the cutlery from the dishwasher, so we had a chat about how everyone needs to do their part to take care of the house. It can be a bit of a battle. I think we'll do more choices in the future. You can empty the cutlery from the dishwasher, or you can pick up the recycling. Something to help her feel like she has some power.

My next goal is to do some menu planning. I'm not sure the best way to go about it, but I've been looking for some ideas. Someone was telling me about once-a-month cooking and it sounded interesting. I'm not ready to jump in with both feet, but I'll do some more research. I think if I knew what was for dinner every night, it would reduce some of my stress too. So, that's me right now. Feeling better, smiling more, and getting a little more organized. One day, I may actually have my stuff together.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Side Effects of Getting Healthier

I figured it was time for an update.  I've discovered that there are some side effects to getting healthier.  I've been anti-depressant free for about 4 months now and overall it's been great.  I find that I feel better and now that I feel better, I want to do more.  It took some time, but we got our house mostly organized.  Of course, with 2 kids and a nerd in the house, there is always a sense of chaos, but we're getting there.

I started gardening again.  Before, I didn't have the energy to even think about how to tackle our over-grown garden and allergies kept me from doing much outdoors.  I cleared a big patch out and we planted watermelons, carrots, cucumbers and zucchini  (all seeds we had purchased before with good intentions).   Well, the carrots and the cucumbers decided not to make an appearance, but the watermelons and zucchinis are growing.  Whether we actually get any fruits is another question entirely.

In the garden, I tackled a giant rosebush this week.  This bush was here before we moved in 8 years ago and it has never flowered since we've been here.  There was a lot of dead undergrowth, so I cut it right back and hope that it will spring to life again.  It was a bit of a monster and I have the scratches to prove it.  Next step will be to cut back the lilac bushes that have been growing without being pruned.  Who knew that you needed to prune them?  Did I mention I don't really have much of a green thumb?

One thing that I have been learning is that I tend to forget that I have depression/anxiety.  I went through a really stressful time last month and it made me physically sick.  I was wondering why I couldn't handle the stress and I pretty much had to stop and think about it.  I had been feeling so good that it kind of slipped my mind.  Once I remembered and I cut myself some slack, I started to feel much better.  If it hadn't gotten better at that point, I was just about ready to visit my doctor and have a conversation again.  I'm glad that I didn't need to this time, and I'll be sure to monitor my stress levels a little more going forward.

Sunken Orchard [slide]
One day, I want something like this in my garden!
Overall, I'm feeling good and I feel like I'm getting somewhere now.  I'm not sure where exactly I'm going, but that is half the fun!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sponsored Post: Insurance Hunter

Post brought to you by Insurance Hunter. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you are like me, buying insurance is a necessary evil and a huge hassle.  It's time consuming and quite frankly, boring.  Who has time to waste getting quotes from different companies?  That's where Insurance Hunter comes in.  Insurance Hunter is an online broker for Ontario residents that gives free quotes for home insurance, Auto Insurance and health insurance.

Insurance Hunter is available any time of day, so you can look for insurance when it suits you.  No more rushing to get a call in before the office closes!  

My house insurance is up for renewal soon, so I checked out the site.  I filled out a short questionnaire and had  quotes for 3 different companies whose insurance plans would meet my needs.  It was really easy and showed me what each of the plans had to offer and what the price would be by month or annually.   

I was able to see at a quick glance what the benefits of each of the plans were and it was easy to make a change to the deductible to see if the rates changed (they did).  I liked that there was also telephone number provided that I could use to ask questions if I got stuck.  

Insurance Hunter is quick and efficient.  I was able to get quotes from 3 different insurance companies in just a couple of minutes.  I was able to look for insurance when it suited me, and didn't have to wait for office hours.  It was painless and I liked that a lot!1

So, what are you waiting for?  Give Insurance Hunters Car Insurance quoting tool a try right on their Web site!


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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Getting Organized Feels So Good!

I never thought I'd be able to post the above title, but it's true!  I had a friend visit from out of town and our house needed a major decluttering.  It wasn't something we could baby-step any more.  It was all out!  I lost count of the number of garbage bags and recycling bags that we racked up as we decluttered.  Since we live in a pilot area for waste collection, it made things interesting.  We can currently put out garbage every other week, maximum of 3 bags.  Recycling and composting have no limit and can be put out every week.  Needless to say, we had to make a trip to the dump this week.

The result is that we can eat at our dining room table again and have been doing so for the last week.  We were able to entertain and have friends and family drop in without feeling humiliated.  I had a great visit with my friend and was sad to see her go.

Our house isn't perfect, and there are lots of things I would change if I could as well as some changes I'm working on, but it's home and it feels so much better to be here now that it's more organized.  We still have a a way to go, but it's much more livable now and I can see us becoming more social again since we'll be able to invite people over.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Feeling Better, Getting Organized

I'm amazed by how much better I've been feeling lately.  A lot of it stems back to seeing the chiropractor.  I hadn't thought that it was possible to stop taking anti-depressants before I saw him.  In fact, I was asked to write a testimonial for him and I was surprised by what I had to say.

Before I went there, feeling lousy had crept up on me until it felt like it was normal.  I had no energy and I was pretty much a spectator in my own life.  Now I have more energy and hardly any pain.  I went from having headaches and migraines frequently to hardly any at all.  I don't remember when I last had a migraine.  I have a better range of motion and can now turn my head to look over my shoulder.  I couldn't do that before.  I'm not going to try to sell you on chiropractic, but I will say that it's made a huge difference in my quality of life.  The doctor I visit is part of Maximized Living.  Check their site for more information. I'm learning a lot about my body and health.


Since I'm feeling better, I'm finding that I'm getting more done around the house.  My best friend is coming for a visit in a few weeks, so I have a deadline for clearing up the clutter. I know that she won't care if my house is a mess, but I care and that's something that I didn't feel before.  I'm working in small batches, trying to clean up one small area at a time.  So far, I've gotten our dining room table 1/3 cleared off.  I hope to have it fully cleared off this week so that we can actually sit down and eat at the table as a family.  Somehow it became a dumping ground for everything paper related.  It's like a paper avalanche hit when I wasn't looking.  I may just have a dinner party when it's done!

Slowly but surely, I'm getting rid of the clutter.  I cleared out our front hall closet one night this week.  There were so many shoes that we couldn't close the closet door and since this is the first thing you see when you come in our house, it was pretty awful.  I found several single shoes that didn't have mates as well as all of our winter boots (which are now stored in the basement) and some shoes that the kids had outgrown.  It was a relief to be able to toss some old shoes and donate some of the nicer ones that the kids are finished with.  Now I can close the closet door!  Someday I'll have to go through the coats that are hanging there and the stuff on the shelves, but I'll get there.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Getting Healthy & Organized

So, I've been antidepressant free for about 6 weeks now, give or take. Things are going well for the most part. I feel like I'm finally getting my act together. I'm finding that my emotions are still really close to the surface. I used to tear up over things like a sad story on television. Now I'm tearing up over happy stories, sad stories, you name it. Sometimes I can't finish a sentence because what I'm saying chokes me up. But hey, I've got emotions!

Roller Coaster - Coney Isl. (LOC)PMS drug free is a bit of a roller coaster ride. I guess that my emotions are still leveling out a bit. Still having a few brain zaps, but they are no where near as bad as they were. I'm still working out a more normal sleep schedule. I find that I'll sleep for a couple hours and then wake up. Going back to sleep takes a long time. I just keep trucking along, hoping that things will sort themselves out. I had thought of taking melatonin to help with sleep, but reading up on it, I found that it may exacerbate depression in some people, so I decided not to risk it.

I'm starting to get a little more organized. It's something I really have to work at, it just doesn't come naturally to me. I'm trying to get into more of a routine and it's helping a bit. If I notice something needs to be done, I try to do it quickly rather than let it sit there. Sometimes it takes less time to do the job than it does finding reasons why I can't do it now. I find the biggest thing to deal with is paper. I hate all the paper clutter that is kicking around my house! Between old fliers, bills, junk mail, school notices and the like, I'm drowning. One plus is that one of the kids' schools is now putting the newsletter online--thank you! Now if we can just get them to reduce the call blasts to once a week! Slowly but surely, things are getting better around here. I'm starting to feel more comfortable in my skin and that is helping a lot. So, I'm getting healthier and more organized...still need to work on getting fit. Baby steps!
Smiley detail

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Scotts Snap Spreader System: Sponsored Post

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scotts® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
This year, I'm planning on being more organized outside as well as inside.  I have big plans for my garden, but the first place I need help with is my lawn.  It's a mess.  It has spots with no grass, all sorts of strange plant life and it just looks bad.  We tried to fertilize and seed our lawn on our own last year and now it looks worse than before.
That's why I'm very interested in Scotts® Snap® Spreader System.  I even love their tagline, "the no mess, no guess spreader system".  Now that's what I'm talking about!  How much easier can it be than Snap, Lock, Go, Store.  The Snap-Pac snaps into place in the spreader, you lock it on, start spreading and then fold it up to store it.  There is no measuring or juggling different bags to load up the spreader.  Everything is ready to go.  The Snap-Pac sets the proper application rate so there is no guessing, everything is spread evenly in the right ratios. The coolest part?  When you're done, and remove the Snap-Pac, it self seals!   No more open bags of seed and fertilizer kicking around your shed or garage!  Genius!
Watch this video to see the Snap Spreader in action:

Be sure to like Snap perks on Facebook for a chance to win great prizes and to get tips on lawn care!

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies: Yummy!

Are you bored of me talking about getting off of my medications?  You must be because I sure am!  I was so focused on it for a time because I had to be, but things have changed for the better.  So let's change it up.

I am a bit of a chocoholic.  I love chocolate and chocolate chip cookies are one of my many chocolate weaknesses.  I found this great recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies that just happen to be vegan.  I've made them several times and they are quite easy and very quick to make.

I change up the ingredients from time to time.  I've made them with margarine and also with oil.  The oil was a little easier to mix, but that's about the only difference I noticed.  For baking, I use an oil that is part canola oil, part olive oil.  I don't like to bake with olive oil, even though it's healthy because who wants olive flavoured chocolate chip cookies?

The last time I made the cookies, I used agave instead of sugar.  I bought some agave on a whim the last time I was at the bulk food store.  I'd seen agave as an ingredient for vegan baking and I thought I'd give it a try.  Agave looks like honey in the bottle.  It's sweet without being too sweet.  Agave can be used in place of sugar. I went with less agave than sugar required and I didn't fiddle with the liquid measurements although the article I read said that you should. It didn't matter, the cookies came out just as good as ever. I think the secret to this recipe is the cinnamon. I made them without cinnamon the last time I baked because I'd run right out of it. Too bad, because the cookies are good without the cinnamon, but they are great with it!

Now I'm a little more laid back than the recipe's author when it comes to baking.  I pretty much throw the ingredients in the bowl, mix it up and bake.  Sampling almost always occurs before the dough makes it to the oven.  One tip:  if you scroll to the bottom of the the first part of the recipe, there's a button to show the next step, don't use that one, use the one that gives you all the steps on one screen.  It's much easier that way.

3 out of 4 in our house like these cookies.  The 4th is my youngest who has decided she doesn't like chocolate lately.  Not sure how I had a child who doesn't like chocolate!  I may try them without chocolate next as it sounds like they might be pretty tasty.

Cookie Jars

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting Healthy: Medication Free

It's been a couple of weeks now since I finally tapered right off of the antidepressant I was taking.  I'm still having some withdrawal symptoms, but they're becoming more infrequent as time goes on.  The "brain zaps" bother me most when I'm tired or trying to go to sleep.

So here's what I've found now that I'm drug free:

Happy Christmas - Selfridges, Birmingham - "Happy" 1).  I have emotions again.  Before I felt a little bit, but my feelings had no depth.  I've had a couple of moments where I've suddenly realized that I felt happy.  Weird, I know.  It's nice to feel things again.   This can also be a bit of a pain because I find myself tearing up over sappy things like commercials.  I don't outright cry, but my eyes get watery and I feel like I'm going to start weeping.

2).  I have more energy.  Maybe it's all the supplements I've been taking, but I'm feeling more energetic.  Rather than sit there wishing I felt well enough to clean something or get something done, I'm actually getting up and doing it.  I'm trying to be careful and not do too much at once because I don't want to overdo it.  Little by little, my house is getting more organized.   I'm also becoming more physically active and have been enjoying spending time outside with the girls.  I've been picking up some of the winter detritus from our garden.  I've got big plans for the garden this year.

3).  I'm still in recovery mode.  It might take awhile for the side effects of the antidepressants to be totally gone.  I have to remember to cut myself some slack.  I will get there, it will just take some time.

Now that I've gotten off of the antidepressants, I'm going to spend more time and energy on getting healthier by losing weight.  My weight has really gone out of control over the last while and I'm ready for it to come off.  I'm exercising again and trying to pay more attention to what I'm eating.  There is so much information out there on what is healthy and so many different plans around that I feel a little like I'm watching a tennis match.  Eat this, don't eat this, never ever eat that.  I believe that I can do this!  If I can get off of antidepressants after 9 years, losing the weight should be a walk in the park.  OK, so I know it won't be easy, but I know I can do it.  One day at a time, one baby step after another, I will get there.  I have to.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Antidepressant Free!

Freedom Fest It's true!  I took my last Effexor XR pill 7 days ago.  It has not been easy, especially since I couldn't just ignore the rest of my life.  Day 1 wasn't so bad. Day 2 was bad, enough that I considered going back on the medication.  Day 3 was hell.  I had to leave work early because I felt so sick.  Between brain zaps, nausea and stomach troubles, it was bad.  I wasn't sure I was going to make it.

I had to ask my parents to come over to help me with my kids because my husband had to work that night.  Our youngest is a challenge to handle when I'm feeling well.  I knew that if I didn't have help, she would find all of my buttons and push them all at once.  She was surprisingly good, especially when her nonna told her that she was not to get out of bed (again).

Before they left, Mom told me that the third day is always the worst and it turns out that in this case, she was right.

Day 4 was better and day 5 even better.  I'm on day 6 now and aside from the brain zaps, I'm doing quite well. My village has been a great help to me in getting through this.  My husband has encouraged me a whole lot.  And he's had to live with me as I've gone through the detox process.  If anyone tells you that there are no withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants, that person is lying.  You can call it "antidepressant discontinuation syndrome" all you want, but that does not change the fact that there are withdrawal symptoms from this drug.  Changing the name doesn't change the fact that people are addicted to the medication.  (stepping off soapbox).

My mom has been a great support as well and so has my sister (in-law).  It really helps to have people in your corner rooting for you.  I don't know where I'm going from here, but I'm happy to be medication free.  I'll continue to work my way through the withdrawal symptoms and once they've settled down, I'll be able to focus on other parts of my life and health.  One day at a time.

I don't talk a lot about spiritual stuff, but when I was at my lowest on day 3, I told God that I couldn't do it and a verse came to me.  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Philippians 4:13.  That verse became my prayer for the rest of the day.  Never underestemate the power of prayer.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Second Week on Second Taper from Antidepressants

Tightrope Walker The second taper has definitely been harder than the first was. It seemed like I'd be feeling better for a day or two and then discontinuation symptoms would crop up again. I've had a lot of buzzing in my brain, kind of a zapping, electrical type of feeling. It doesn't hurt so much, but it's annoying and leaves you feeling a little off balance. I did some reading online and this site, The Road Back was very helpful. I added an Omega 3 supplement to what I'm already taking and it seems to help a lot with the zapping. As I'm vegan, I was happy to find that flaxseed oil is high in Omega 3 because everyone tends to think Omegas are fish oils only.

So, for supplements, I'm taking flaxseed, Vitamin D, Vitamin B and Vitamin C. Yes, I'm pretty sure I rattle when I walk by. The flaxseed really helped to get over the brain zaps. I think if I can go a few days with no zaps, I'll be ready for my final taper. It's exciting and a little scary all at once. Overall, I'm feeling pretty good, aside from having trouble sleeping. It is strange to feel things that I haven't felt for awhile, but I'm starting to feel more like me again.

On the days when I feel really good, I'm getting more things done. I'm exercising and I'm doing crazy things like washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. Before, after dinner, I didn't do much at all. Now, I'm finding little jobs to do because I don't want to just be sitting around. I look at it and I wonder how I stayed on this medication for so long and I'm really grateful that my husband encouraged me to start looking at getting off of it. I truly didn't realize that the antidepressants were having such an effect on me. I thought that the way I felt was normal. How sad is that? I'm not saying that I don't have depression any more. I am still prone to depression and will probably always have to be aware of it and keep an eye on it. Depression is a mental illness and it needs to be treated, but for me, taking the antidepressants was having too many negative side effects and was seriously impairing my quality of life.

So, this is me getting healthy. I think that as I continue to feel better, I'll get fitter too because I'll actually have the energy to exercise and hopefully I'll get a little more organized because I'll be able to focus on a task and get it done. Slowly but surely, I'm getting there, one baby step at a time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Second Antidepressant Taper Day 8

Had to come by and leave a quick note.  What a difference a day makes!  Day 8 was great!  I actually found that I felt good.  It's hard to explain, but I haven't felt happy and just good for a long time.  Yes, my kids still fought with each other and I yelled at them, but it didn't spoil my whole day or even bring me down.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

I made sure to take my vitamins today and I also had a chiropractic adjustment.  Not sure if either or both of these made a difference, but I don't really care.  I'm feeling good!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Second Antidepressant Taper Days 5-7

So, almost done my first full week at the second adjustment to my medications.  It's been funny how different this taper is.  First taper, symptoms came, got worse, then lessened and disappeared over 14 days.  This time, they've been coming and going and they range in intensity.

I experienced my first "brain zap" on day 5 along with a lot of dizziness.  Day 6 was a lot better with just a little dizziness.  I even felt well enough to visit with some family.  Day 7 not so great.  Headache for most of the day and just generally feeling run down.  Now that I think of it, I skipped my vitamin B and C supplements today.  I did take the vitamin D.  It's much easier to take D because it's just a few drops rather than taking a huge pill for the other two.  Why do vitamins have to be so big and so stinky?

So, I guess I'll take my vitamins now and see if it helps how I feel in the morning.  I wish I could rush this and get off the medication quicker, but I know that I would feel a lot worse.  Perhaps I rushed the second taper, but I was following my doctor's intstructions.  I think I'll go in and see him before the next taper.  He left it pretty much as "come in if you want to".  Funny, to put me on the meds in the first place, I had to go in after the first week, then every 2 weeks after that to make sure everything was going well.  To taper the medication, they don't seem as concerned.

Tomorrow is my day at the chiropractor.  I'm looking forward to having my adjustment to see if it helps me with the symptoms a bit.  I usally feel much better afterwards.

They say that to make a change in your life, you need to have a big "Why".  It's taken some time to figure out what my why is.  My why is that I want to live my life and be involved in my life and stop watching from the sidelines.  I want to feel again and be a part of something.  I want to be more involved with my family and not go through the motions.  I want to be healthy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Second Antidepressant Taper Days 1-4

So, I survived 2 weeks at my first taper and decided to go with my doctor's advice to do the second taper 2 weeks after the first.  I'm now taking 1/3 of the medication I was taking before.  It seems a little steep to cut by so much, but the medication comes in wacky doses, so to go down, you go down by a lot.

Anyway, day 2 was the worst I've experienced so far.  I don't know how I managed to work with a raging headache, but after work, I pretty much went to bed and tried to sleep it off.  I was very tempted to go back up to my previous dose because it was so bad.  When you can't participate in your own life because the medication messes you up so bad, it can be hard to take.  What got me through that night besides a lot of acetaminophen was my husband.  He reminded me that tomorrow would be better and I'd be another step closer to getting off of my medication all together.  I also though a lot about my girls.  I'm looking forward to being able to participate more in their lives.  I think I'm going to have a party when I finally detox from this horrible medication.  I'm going to celebrate the fact that I've survived and that I'll finally be free of this crap.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely needed to be on antidepressants when I had postpartum depression, but I don't think I've needed to be on them this long.  I think that these pharmaceutical companies make it difficult to get off these medications by lying to us and telling us that they are not habit forming and you can't get addicted to them.  Bullshit.  But that is a story for another day.

My husband commented tonight that I was smiling.  You know why?  Because smiling is something that I don't do a lot of because of this nasty drug.  The drug takes the lows that you feel and flattens them, but it also flattens every other emotion and leaves you feeling basically numb.  I'm looking forward to actually feeling things again.

So, I'm up to day four at 1/3 of my original dose.  I'm feeling pretty good.  A little bit of dizziness today, but no headache and no mood swings.  Things are looking up
. Looking up CN Tower

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reducing Antidepressants, First reduction, days 7-9

Grumpy Bear vs. Grumpy (261/365)So, here's what I'm figuring out.  It can be hard to tell if the withdrawal symptom you're experiencing is an actual symptom of the withdrawal from the medication or just a regular part of life.  Mood swings are a normal thing for me at certain times of the month in particular.  How am I supposed to know if I'm angry because I have PMS or because the dose of my medication has changed?  I guess the obvious thing is to check the calendar, right?   But what about those times when I'm just irritated because someone is annoying?  I mean, come on, you can't blame everything on the meds.  Sometimes, irritability just happens.
Mood swing
A Mood Swing!  I need one of these!

I was reading down the list of possible symptoms today as I was looking to mark "Irritability" on my chart.  I wasn't too surprised to see suicidal thoughts on the list, but then I saw homicidal thoughts and urges right below that.  Well, what do you know?  I guess that means that I need to be more aware of when people annoy me so that I don't get those urges or try to act on them.

The other day, while I was working, I had a really bad mood come on.  Since I work from home and my husband is self employed, we spend a lot of time in close quarters.  I felt it was only fair to warn him that I was having a mood, so I sent him  a text.  He wrote back something that made me laugh, and I let him know that the mood swing had passed, but the next one was scheduled for 20 minutes from now.  He commented that it was a good thing I could laugh about it.  My next remark?  That I could laugh now, but in 20 minutes, I wouldn't be laughing.

I think it's true though, you do need to be able to laugh about things like mood swings and other withdrawal symptoms as they happen.  Laughter goes a long way toward keeping you from getting to serious about things. You know what, being in a bad mood is not the worst thing that can happen to me in the grand scheme of things.  So what if my mood comes and goes?  Being able to laugh about it makes it easier to bear.  Laughing with someone else makes the laughter even sweeter.

My husband has been my partner in this from the start.  He was the one who encouraged me to look into getting off the medication.  I think he was able to have a clearer picture of how the drug was affecting me.  Being on the medication, sometimes it's hard to see how it has been negatively affecting me.  I saw the negative effects, but didn't necessarily attribute them to the long term use of the medication.

Overall, it's been an OK week.  It hasn't all been sunshine and roses, but I really believe that getting off these drugs will make a huge difference.  It's not easy, but it hasn't been torturous either.  One more week at this level according to the plan my doctor set out.  We shall see how it goes.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Getting Healthy: Antidepressant Taper Days 1-5

Ruth St. Denis at Yosemite Valley. It's a kind of new day for me. After doing some serious research, I decided that I was ready to start tapering off of my antidepressant medication. I talked with my doctor and he agreed that I was in a good place to make the change.

I began my taper on Wednesday. I'm glad that I did the research, because my doctor really didn't give me a lot of information. His plan is for me to taper by reducing my medication by 1/3 every 2 weeks and finishing up with taking the lowest dose every other day. I'm not saying it won't work, but he didn't talk at all about what "antidepressant discontinuation" effects (aka withdrawal symptoms) I might expect.

Back in December, I mentioned the book that I was reading, The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Overcoming Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence, and "Addiction" This book has been a huge help to me. Dr Glenmullen really knows what he is talking about and he makes it very easy to understand what to expect when tapering off of antidepressants. I've been using the symptoms log from his website. Scroll to the bottom of the page under the Anti-Depressant Solution and you can print the pdf there.

So, I've been on a decreased dose for 5 days. Last time my medication was this low was when I was pregnant with my youngest. The first couple of days were rough. I felt like I had a cold, stuffy head, couldn't concentrate, couldn't sleep, that kind of thing. Day 4 was actually the best I've felt for awhile, aside from a little dizziness. Day 5 I had a headache, but since I regularly get headaches, it's hard to know whether it was caused by the change in dose or not. The dizziness was there as well. I'll try to share what I'm going through, but it's taking a lot of my energy to deal with the symptoms as they happen.

My husband has been very supportive, and encourages me to sleep when I can as I've found I've been up at all hours lately. I've upped my vitamin D3 intake and I'm trying to keep eating healthy through the transition. Lots of water to help flush the medication from my system too. I'm basically trying to take it one day at a time. I'm taking my life back.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Upping My Water Intake

As part of my goal to keep getting healthier, I decided to make it a point to drink more water.  Being dehydrated can cause a lot of physical problems, like headaches.  I know this, but it's not always top of my mind.  I had looked at Fly Lady's water bottle which looked really good because it had a straw.  It's supposed to be something you're more likely to use.  I would have bought Fly Lady's but not having a credit card on hand made it impossible to order.  So, when I found this cup on Amazon, on sale, even, I jumped at the chance to buy it.  I've been saving up my gift cards until I had enough to redeem, so I ordered my water bottle and a couple of other things.

My kids have already tried to use my bottle, but I've nipped that in the bud the first day when I found food particles in the straw (ew!).  I'll have to keep an eye for other colours to go on sale so that I can buy the kids their own bottles in their own colours so we can keep them straight.

It's a great bottle.  The straw pops up and folds down easily.  It's got a double bottle design, so it keeps the water cold and it doesn't get condensation on the bottle.  That's a nice thing because I get sick of having water rings on my desk.  I keep it filled up on my desk while I'm working.  It also travels well because it doesn't leak. I just toss it in my bag and away I go.

Only a couple of downsides to this one: the straw whistles when you drink sometimes, usually when you're drinking less water and it's not dishwasher safe.  Neither are big problems, but just little annoyances. All in all, I'm happy with my purchase.

Anyway, here is the bottle I bought:

I also like the purple and red bottles, but this one had the best price, so it's the one I bought. So the pluses of drinking more water? I'm feel like I'm sloshing around a bit. I am definitely running to the facilities more often. I figure it means my system is being flushed for sure. I'm not as hungry either. Sometimes I think that I mix up my body's signals and eat when I really need to drink some water. My jeans are fitting now too. Not sure if the water has something to do with it, but it's the only thing I've been doing consistently that is different.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Either Have Too Much on My Plate or I've Bitten off More than I Can Chew

felt-biscuits-plate I had the absolute best of intentions, but I've taken on way more than I can deliver on this month.  I signed up for the Vegan Body Building Challenge on top of everything else I'm doing to get healthier.  It wasn't meant to be.  I started out getting some exercise in a few days on the first week and suddenly realized that it was too much.  Starting from nothing and working out 5 days a week was too much for me to do.  I'm not upset about the fact that I can't do it, but I'm a little frustrated that I didn't recognize beforehand that I can't do it all.

I'm still trying to get more exercise than I was before (considering that it was next to nothing, this hasn't been hard to do).  I'm drinking more water and I'm still researching about getting off of my medication.  It's a lot, and I've come to terms with the fact that I have to pace myself.  Making such a drastic change to my medication is going to take a lot of work and a lot of energy, but I really think it's going to have a huge positive impact on my health and my state of mind.  I need to give myself time to work through this change before taking on too many more changes.  If I try to do everything at once, I will fail, and I'll fail big time.

So, I'm going to work on small changes, a little at a time.  Slow and steady wins the race and all that.
Young woman riding on the back of a turtle at Mon Repos Beach

On a positive note, I put on my jeans this weekend and was able to do them up.  I wore them all day and they were not cutting off my circulation!  This is huge for me because the last time I tried to wear them, I couldn't get them done up!  Small changes are having a positive impact.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Walgreens Prescription Savings Club

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Getting Fitter: Vegan Body Builder Challenge

Olga Spessiva in Swan Lake costume, 1934 / photographer Sydney Fox Studio, 3rd Floor, 88 King St, Sydney I don't normally make new year's resolutions because they are usually made to be broken, but this year, I kind of did. I signed up for the Vegan BodyBuilder Challenge. Crazy, right? I'm not going to start trying to bodybuild or anything just yet. First, I've got to lose some weight. 

Anyway, the challenge is to update your training journal five times a week for the entire month. I started my journal updates today. We got our oldest daughter Just Dance 1 & 2 for Christmas for the Wii. She uses them at school for part of their Daily Physical Activity and she loves them, so we thought we'd get them for home. She's been kicking my butt so far. My ulterior motive was to use it myself. I started tonight with Just Dance 2 because it was in the Wii. I set up a profile for myself under "Just Sweat". I was going to do the Mild version, but it was just one song, so I went with the Tough Routine. It was not easy, but I did all three songs. It certainly got my heart rate up! My top score was on "It's Raining Men"

It was fun to do this without the kids underfoot and falling over laughing at me. I have a way to go, but it feels good to have gotten some exercise in. Hopefully keeping up with this challenge will provide me with the motivation I need to keep exercising.