2020 Post-Holiday Check-In

I entirely forgot to do one of these before the holidays so here goes:

Physically: I spent a week in a flare that required steroids. That’s the first time I’ve had to get them, but have had a different kind for migraines. The steroids helped and I’m good.

I went in for labs- my liver and kidneys are good. Yay for my liver cooperating. I’m on Vitamin D now but otherwise my other meds stay the same.


I have three years as of 1/1/2020. This is and has not been easy. I struggled a lot with wanting a drink but it isn’t worth it. Plus, I gotta keep my liver in good shape so it can tolerate these meds.


Ugh. I’ve been a huge mess off and on for the last couple months. I’ve decided to go back to therapy, but this time with someone who can prescribe meds. I think it’s time.

I had a really hard time accepting that I need to go back to therapy. I felt like I failed at my promise to finish Jake’s work. As a friend told me, I did fulfill that promise, and it’s okay to need a bit of extra help.

She’s right.

I also struggled with telling Matthew and my close friends. I felt (and sometimes still do) feel like I should have myself together and that I’ve bothered everyone plenty over the last few years.

I did tell them and I cried for a while because they support me. Good thing I wear waterproof mascara because that day’s would have been ruined.

I’m not even sure what happened. I’ve tried to figure it out, but I can’t live my best life if I’m constantly anxious, sad and not wanting to get out of bed. I have been a lot happier so I know what it feels like.

My first session is on 1/8/2020.

What’s Next?

I couldn’t begin to tell you. I’m not sure about the job I’m at right now for numerous reasons. I got an email for an interview for a position that I’ve previously applied for twice and never got a response.

It starts with a phone interview, which I definitely prefer. Cross your fingers and toes.

Today is Matthew’s 37th birthday. Cameron will be 15 on 1/7/2020. Yuck. Where did the last 15 years go? My little 7 lb, 5 oz baby is now 5’7″ and weighs as much as I do.

There will be a book review this month.

Stay tuned to find out what comes next.

A Guide to the Holidays: Staying Emotionally Healthy

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people. Many deal with stress and/or depression, grief, or other issues like toxic family members. Some even go through the holidays alone. This can be especially hard. It’s important to know how to stay emotionally healthy during this time so that you can enjoy the holidays and possibly be able to help someone you know.


If You Are Alone

This situation is caused by different factors- distance, family issues, financial issues, and so on. There are ways that you can make this a positive time of the year:

  • Reach out. Many people will offer to extend an invitation to someone they know may be alone for the holidays. Let them know if you are available, offer to bring something. If you have friends who wouldn’t mind an extra person, ask if you can join them for a celebration.
  • Create alternative traditions. “Friendsgiving” potlucks have become popular in the last few years among those who aren’t able to see their families. I’ve gone to a couple, and it’s a lot of fun. Everyone brings a dish, decide on a fun activity, and let the fun begin.
  • Pamper yourself. Do something you enjoy- a day at the spa, nails, a new book, shirt, etc.
  • Help others. This can take many different directions- volunteering at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, etc. This can help remind you of how fortunate you are and it’s a good experience.
  • Travel. If you can afford it, go out of town for a couple of days. If you can’t, try a “staycation” and go places in your city that you haven’t been to.
  • Self- care. Check in with yourself daily- feelings, hygiene, etc. You don’t have to be cheerful 24/7 during this season, alone or not. If you realize you are having a hard time, reach out. Please see my Resources page for more information.


For Those That Are Grieving

Grief is a hard process any day of the year. The holidays can be harder on someone that is grieving than most people realize. If you are grieving or will be celebrating the holidays with someone that is, these tips may be helpful.

  • Take care of yourself. Grief can affect people differently. Depression can cause a person to not care for themselves as they did before the loss. Self-care is important, even the tiniest steps like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, etc.
  • Don’t rush the process. It may take years for a family to feel like holiday gatherings are “normal” again after a loss. Do not rush through your grieving process for others. Everyone grieves differently and this should be respected.
  • Plan ahead. Do you really want to host Thanksgiving this year? Can someone else do it? Think about where you are in the grieving process and how comfortable you feel hosting holiday events. It might not be for you this year, but in a year or so, it might be okay again.
  • Share stories. This might be hard, depending on the situation, but it can also be helpful. Sharing stories can be good, however, when they focus on the good times with the person, acknowledging that they are missed.

If you are going to a gathering with a family who has had a recent loss:

  • Offer help. Maybe the family needs help with shopping, cleaning, decorating, etc. This can be a huge relief to them. It’s one less worry in an already tough time.
  • Ask how everyone is doing before attending the gathering. It may be a somber or joyous gathering, but you will not know unless you ask beforehand.
  • Respect the right for everyone to grieve. This is very important.


Holiday Cheer or Holiday Stress?

There’s a lot of pressure to spend lots of money on presents, spend time with family that we may or may not get along with, get our kids everything they want and so on. How do we remain, or even get, cheerful about the holidays? How do we deal with the stress?

  • Tune out the noise. The holiday specials, songs, and movies can be a bit too much. If it becomes too much, turn it off. I can’t stand the radio stations that play nothing but Christmas music- starting before Thanksgiving.

Can we get through Thanksgiving first? It’s a bit much for me to hear this music for over a month, so I don’t even turn it on. I am stuck with it when Matthew and I are in the car together because he loves it- there’s a thing called compromise.

  • Set limits for presents. This can be a number of presents, price, or even both. We have four birthdays within 2 weeks after Christmas, so we really try to watch how much we spend. (Those birthdays are mine, Matthew, my father in law, and Cameron.) Plus, there’s the battle of making sure each kid has the same number of presents. Kids need to know that money doesn’t come easily and that they may not be able to always get what they want.
  • Toxic people need to be shown the door. Not everyone in your life is meant to be there, and that includes family. Your time is valuable- why spend it with people who don’t value you? Be realistic about what you can handle.
  • Be grateful. The main message behind the holidays is counting our blessings and being grateful for what we have. It may be a good idea to make a list of the things you are grateful for, no matter how small they are. This can be a bit of a lift, especially on the harder days.
  • Have fun in moderation. You will feel a lot better if you don’t overeat, drink too much or overdo other activities. Everyone has their limits- don’t go past them or you may disappoint yourself.
  • Take care of yourself. This can be a very hectic time of the year, and self- care can slide to the bottom of your to-do list.

Example: If you’re a perfectionist, it’s okay to let things go a bit. You can find the perfect gift for everyone, but if you’re so stressed out finding it, you’ve lost the fun part. It becomes a drag. Try loosening up a bit- don’t spend hours online looking. If you need to, take a break after an hour and come back to it the next day. Start shopping earlier to relieve some of the stress.

  • Say no. This is okay. It’s possible to become overburdened with parties, work, and other activities. Saying no lessens that burden. It’s important to remember your needs.
  • Nourish yourself- physically and emotionally. Don’t entirely skip the good foods, because there are plenty out there. Try a smaller portion. Treat yourself. Try taking a bit of “quiet time” each day to read, write, draw, anything that helps you rest your mind a bit. You will feel much less smothered by the demands of the season.

Do you have any tips for a stress-free holiday season?

All pics are from Unsplash

Information from Psychology Today

Five Ways to Handle Psychiatric Medication Side Effects

Medications aren’t always a breeze to take. I’ve been on various ones for RA, migraines and permanently taking thyroid medication.

I took medication for Post-Partum Depression in 2006, after Julian’s birth. I have no shame in saying that.

Psychiatric medications are a necessity for many people. Without them, they may or may not be able to function in daily life.

Medication hearts

The Side Effects Gamble

When you have prescribed pretty much anything, the doctor has decided that it’s better for you to take it than not.

Nobody can predict all the side effects you may face when taking psychiatric medication. There’s a list that comes with the medication that warns you, but sometimes others can occur.

Withdrawal symptoms are real. I’m currently taking Effexor for migraines and if I miss two or more days, I feel terrible. I’ll spare you the details but let’s say I am not pleasant to be near.

Some of the heavier medications have dangerous side effects and should be looked at carefully. They can also wreak havoc on your organs- lithium (prescribed for bipolar disorder) can cause liver damage. Regular blood work can help monitor this.


What do I do if I experience negative side effects?

*Please remember that I am not a doctor, so I highly recommend staying in touch with your prescribing doctor.*

1. Monitor the length and intensity of side effects. Obviously, if you go into anaphylaxis, call 911 immediately. Skip the rest of this post.

Otherwise, I recommend monitoring for a few days, because our bodies need a few days, if not weeks, to adjust to the new medication. Call your doctor to let them know what is going on.

2. Watch for symptoms of tardive dyskinesia. If you are taking an older anti-psychotic and some other medications, you may be at risk of this permanent side effect.

Tardive dyskinesia affects the facial muscles, mainly causing involuntary movements of the mouth, lip, and tongue. If you notice this, contact your doctor immediately.

3. Lifestyle changes. Some of the lighter side effects, like weight gain, sleep, and sexual issues, can be helped by changing habits, exercise, and discussion with your partner.

4. Change the dosage and/or timing of taking the medication. Changes to the time you take your medication can be a huge help. You may feel better after this and/or changing the dosage.

5. Ask for a new medication. Not all medications are for everyone. Everyone’s bodies and brains are different. It’s okay to ask for a new medication if the one you have isn’t working.

Living on Meds

Some medications do interact with other medications/food. For example, those on lithium aren’t supposed to take ibuprofen. It can cause brain damage.

People who took MAOI inhibitors years ago couldn’t eat certain kinds of cheese, soy sauce and a long list of other things. It was deadly. It’s not as dangerous now, but your food and drink intake have to be watched carefully to avoid a potentially deadly rise in blood pressure.

If the prescribing doctor informs you of these things, definitely stick by them. Your life may depend on it.

As with all other meds, please take your psychiatric meds as prescribed and try not to miss a dose. These medications are meant to help along with therapy if needed, or if not, lots of self care.

Meditation for mental illness does not equal shame.

Information courtesy of:

MAOI food information

Dealing with Psych Meds side effects

For further reading:

“72 Hour Hold” book review

Men and Mental Health

Silly Saturday

Yoga cat

I laughed so hard at this pic when I found it.

I attend a Y12SR (Yoga 12 Steps for Recovery) class most Sundays. It’s a class for those in recovery or who are dealing with the addictive behaviors of others.

I love it. I don’t miss unless I have a good reason.

There’s only two of these classes in Louisville, so in smaller locations, there might not be any. I happened to find this class randomly on Facebook. I’m glad I did.

The instructor for this class has this face on every week. She does not play with us.

This is good, because as she always tells us, we can do hard things.

I’ll remind myself of this when I have a hip replacement because I spent too much time in the half pigeon pose. I hate the half pigeon. If you’ve never seen it, please look on Google and you will understand why I don’t enjoy it or its easier version.

I’m on that mat fully aware she’s ready to push us to our physical limits. This is a hard workout for me but I truly enjoy it. It’s 45 minutes of not thinking about anything but the next pose and breathing.

I probably look like hell in the process but I didn’t go to this class to be pretty. I leave class more relaxed and ready to face the week.

Pic courtesy of Pinterest