Monthly Archives: May 2013

Getting To Know You – 1st CDP Exchange Edition

Well! I am SO stinkin’ excited to be participating in Rachel‘s “Crappy Day Package Exchange” this time around. I’ve been looking forward to it and now that it’s here I just can’t freaking WAIT.  I answered the questions on her registry post, but here are a few more ‘getting to know you’ kind of questions. (Thanks for the questions, Oprah.)

Who was your favorite celebrity as a child?
I had a SERIOUS crush on Jonathan Brandis of “Side Kicks”,  “Ladybugs” and “Seaquest:DSV” fame. I read all the teeny bopper magazines and cut his photos out, watched his movies and shows religiously. It was a bit ridiculous. Unfortunately he had a rough go of it later in life and passed away. 

What type of pets do you have?
I have one cat. I had two up until a couple years ago, bless my little Obi Wan’s heart.  I grew up with both cats and dogs and have owned rats, guinea pigs and hamsters as well. Not really a fish gal. I think they make boring pets. Pretty, but boring.

What is your favorite color?
I honestly don’t have a favourite colour. I gravitate towards bright ones. Pink, purple and aqua always catch my eye. Navy and white stripes, bright yellows and corals. I really just love colour and combining colours! I’m a fan of bold combinations.

What is most memorable about your high school years?
Gosh, I don’t even know. I was active in every band and choir I could get into. I played three sports (field hockey, swimming, track & field) plus a club swim team. I was on academic competition teams, student council president, NHS…I was a bit overactive so there are many memories it is hard to choose.  I just loved being busy, being competitive and succeeding.

What word describes you best?
Empathic.

What drives you every day?
Wanting to be a better person and to experience all I can.

What is your favorite food?
Aaahahaha. Favourite food? I just love food in general.  Sushi. Quinoa. Cheese. Salted chocolate. Coconut.

Where do you like to vacation?
I have big dreams of a long,wind-y, backpacking kind of vacation to Southeast Asia where I sample all the foods, shop in all the markets and just explore the culture.. I have a fascination with Morocco and for some reason, recently, I really want to go to Hawaii.  I rarely think of hot tropical holidays though, I’m not much of a beach lounger. I go for interesting history, culture and FOOD.  I WOULD like to take a house boating type vacation!

Who do you admire?
My Nana. I am named after her. She graduated from University of Alabama in the 40’s, married a Yankee, moved away from her family in Alabama and is one of the strongest, most beautiful and classiest women I’ve ever met. I would be a blessed woman to grow up a fraction of the woman my grandmother is.

What is your mission?
To be kind, generous, compassionate, grateful and loving. To be passionate and well educated.  To see the best in everyone despite their flaws as we all have them. To make a difference somewhere, in someone. 

What traits in others are you attracted to?
Kindness. Sense of humour. Loyalty. Understanding.

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
Honestly? Listened to me, a near stranger, when I really needed an ear.

How do you want to be remembered?
I’d like to be remembered as someone that loved hard and cared about people.

What would you do with a million dollars?
Buy a home, settle debts, settle my family’s debts, donate to several charities.

If you were on an island, who would you want to be with? Why?
My Nana and Pe. I’d have all the time in the world to listen to their stories.

You have a 10 minute speech to give at a high school, what is it about?
Being passionate but flexible and goal oriented but gentle on yourself. 

What else would you like to know? 

Natural Help for Anxiety & Depression

I’ve been dealing with diagnosed, generalized anxiety and depression for over a decade now. I’ve been on several different types of medications, I’ve suffered absolutely HORRENDOUS withdrawals (Fuck you, Effexor) and I have tried a lot of more alternative solutions like chiropractic, acupuncture, herbs and homeopathy.  Some things have been duds, but others have worked so well that I find myself telling EVERYONE that I possibly can about them.  Since I keep yelling to the world about them on Twitter, Facebook and anywhere anyone at all will listen, I figured I could give a rundown here and maybe it would help someone out there.

(Disclaimer – I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist or naturopath. I am just saying what has worked for me. Consult your doctor or naturopath if you are on meds because some are contraindicated.)

After dealing with the awful withdrawal from Effexor, I was doing pretty well mentally. A little anxiety here and there, some obsessive worry, but nothing huge. I worked at a multidisciplinary clinic so I started getting some treatment and whoa; It was awesome. I have basically continued on from there, tweaking things a bit. Hopefully something I’ve found will work for you too. Please do ask me questions in the comments, in email or twitter. I’m happy to discuss my personal situation or feelings on anything too!

Chiropractic – It makes sense that I found a difference (and still do!) in my anxiety and mood in general with Chiropractic. Chiropractic adjustments free the nervous system from interference. Vertebrae out of alignment can cause pinches in the nerves like a kink in a hose, so it completely makes sense that when the interference is removed, my brain can communicate and my anxiety lowers. I go once a week and have for years and continue to look forward to EVERY SINGLE adjustment. (If you need help finding a chiropractor – please! Let me know! I have LOTS of resources and information and am super happy to share!) I know not everyone is a fan, but I certainly am and it has dramatically changed my life for the better. Back pain or no – Chiropractic has helped my mood and my health immensely.

Acupuncture – I was lucky enough to get acupuncture treatment fairly regularly for a while and it was a wonderful thing. It gave me a peaceful space sometimes, where I drifted in and out of consciousness and I felt the calm extending past just the treatment time. I always slept like a LOG that night (I really mean Rip van Winkle sleep) and found I was a lot less jittery afterwards. Sometimes, I think it just helps to have that quiet space. Massage doesn’t really give it to me, but acupuncture surely did. I highly recommend it if you’re struggling and worn out.


L-Theanine

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A holistic allergist recommended L-Theanine to me when I spoke about anxiety attacks and it was such a great recommendation. The brand I found was chewable tablets similar in size, shape and taste to vitamin C. It is an amino acid that helps promote relaxation without drowsiness in the body and boy does it work. It works within 20 minutes of taking it and I found it was a great quick remedy for momentary panic. I kept a little container of the tablets in my purse for sudden onset. I didn’t take it regularly, just as needed. (The image above is the brand I took, I’m sure there are others but I can only vouch for this one)

B Complex Vitamins

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B vitamins are so important for stress and mood as they help support nervous function, energy production and even metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. (Hello? Ever tried to lose weight while stressed? Haha. Right.) There is lots of information on the role of B vitamins in stress relief and it is relatively inexpensive so I recommend doing a little research and giving it a shot. Nutritional yeast is a good source of B vitamins, as are eggs, tuna, kombucha, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, tempeh and beans.  I honestly have no opinion on liquid vs. solid supplementation, I just know they’re helpful. I take a sublingual liquid in the morning along with my vitamin D.

Rescue Remedy

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Honestly, the whole flower essence thing is a bit hokey for me, even though I’m all about homeopathy and herbs, flower essences are a bit of a stretch. HOWEVER! This stuff works. It really does.  It can be great to help you in moments of panic or distress and it is almost always the thing I reach for first when feeling like I’m spinning or panicking. You can use it on pets, they have multiple different forms of it from sprays and liquid to pastilles you can carry in your purse. I know it seems crazy, but it’s affordable so why not give it a shot? Sometimes, in those moments I’m really willing to try just about anything and everything, (not excluding liberal applications of gin).

Passionflower Extract

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This is very, very quickly becoming my go-to for panic and worry. You know those moments when you feel like your wheels are spinning and you just can’t get your mind to stop? Whether it is during the day or when you’re trying to go to sleep, this really is the stuff to try. Passionflower is classified as a ‘nervine relaxant herb’ and can be beneficial for anxiety, irritability, tension headaches and insomnia.

I use a brand called “Pascoflair” by Pascoe but I believe that’s a Canadian company. (If you’re in Canada, I could not recommend this product more.)  I have used it successfully before bed to relax and in the middle of the day when I’m wound up and can’t seem to stop the obsessive thoughts. It feels gentle and it works quickly. I feel so attached to this particular remedy and really hope you’ll give it a shot.

Super Sleep

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This is another ‘wonder drug’, without being a drug. When you are restless and can’t seem to settle to get to sleep – this is another go to. Super Sleep is a combination of L-Theanine, 5-HTP and Melatonin. I find that it works quickly, gently and just soon you’re sleepy and relaxed. These tablets are similar to the L-theanine as they are chewable and taste like a vitamin C tab.  I buy it at Costco in bulk but I’m sure you can find it elsewhere with a little effort. It’s not a bad thing to have in your medicine cabinet.  Bonus! 5-HTP can help with mood stabilization as well!

And now…for the best and most loved supplement/product that I’ve been using for mood.

SAMe

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Seriously guys. I just cannot sing the praises of this supplement more.  I had some moments a few months ago (Some of you Twitter friends may remember my desperation – thank you for hanging with me!) and I was starting to wonder if I needed to get back on anti-depressants. Of course, I was intensely resistant to the idea but I really was desperate and crying daily. I did a lot of research on this one and learned that doctors have been using this in Europe for years. SAMe works in 1-2 weeks, whereas pharmaceuticals can take up to 6 weeks to get into your system. Often in Europe they will prescribe them together, so the patient will get more immediate relief.

Well, I found some relief within a week and I have been taking 400 milligrams of it for almost three months now. Honestly? It has been a life saver.  I do not feel ill if I forget it one day, and did not find symptoms until about 3-4 days without it. I don’t have a drugged up feeling with it, or any other side effects I just simply feel more stable. More grounded. I feel like I can wake up in the morning and get up without as much effort as it was taking.  If you feel a little blue or a lot blue, I HIGHLY reccommend this supplement. If you’re already taking anti-depressants however, you have to check with your doctor first as it does affect serotonin as well.  There is a wide range of doses from 200mg up to 1600mg per day depending on the source, but I have found the effort put into research and the cost have been well worth it.

So there you have it. My arsenal for combating anxiety and depression naturally.  I’ve also recently found some situational luck with aromatherapy and think it could be a nice addition to just help you along in your day. Sweet orange helps me feel refreshed and bright, while rose and sandalwood seem to make me feel warm and comforted.

If you have any questions about where I’ve found something, what I think about it or my experiences with anti-depressants both pharmaceutical and natural, PLEASE contact me. Email. Twitter. Comments. Smoke signals.  If I can help you, I’ll do my best.  I certainly hope that this information and experience helps someone out there.

Strawberries & Hummus

**Note: This post was written a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post it or not. I think it’s important to share all parts of me, so…here you go.  Thanks for reading. **

“Someone else is happy with less than you have.”

Someone I follow on Pinterest posted this quote, as something to remember. They posted it, I believe, with the idea that we should be ever so grateful for all that we have. There are others who have it worse, etc, etc, etc.

However my brain is JUST fucked up enough that I looked at that quote and got upset. I got immediately frustrated, that I wanted strawberries, hummus and eggs yesterday – but it didn’t fit in my (tight) grocery budget for this week.  I got upset, that I had a meltdown over this $10 worth of items that were things I simply WANTED. Things that FELT good to me. Tasted good. Snacks I didn’t NEED, but desired.  I immediately felt guilty, for being frustrated that my wants are so very, very rarely unreasonable.  That quote single handedly sent me into an emotional spin at warp speed. That’s right, Sarah. Someone ELSE COULD be happy, with less than you have.

What did I hear? Sarah, you should be doing better with what you have. Perhaps you could be happier. Clearly, other people could be. What’s wrong with you?

I’ll be the first to admit that I am very grateful for what I DO have. I have clothing on my body that fits and makes me feel good. I have an apartment that is clean and safe.  I eat healthy, nutritious food and splurge on some organic items and other health foods that I love. I have family that help in times of need for the most part, as they are able. I have a husband that works hard, while going to school, to support us. I have a lot of things to be amazingly grateful for. Yes, things are tight at times, and super skinny jeggings tight at other times, but…we make do.

That said, sometimes I just want to get upset. I just want to cry. I just want to have a moment where I can simply be frustrated over things.  My wants and desires are, I think to most, completely reasonable. They aren’t designer purses or shoes or diamond bracelets every day (though let’s just be honest for a moment…I’d love those things too).  They aren’t huge vacations to far away places or big things.  They’re a $10 bunch of cut flowers that make me smile. They’re a new pair of training sneakers. They’re a sushi lunch out while shopping or an extra thing not on the grocery list and possibly out of the budget. Strawberries that are out of season and not a good buy.  Masala hummus that I love so much from one specific store. This…is why I get frustrated.

It isn’t that I couldn’t have these things most of the time, and still be okay and make ends meet. But, it’s the fact that I WILL NOT ALLOW MYSELF these things. I will not ‘stress the family out’ for my WANTS. I have a fear that, the $4 in strawberries I want, will somehow make us short for rent in the end.  No one, no how, can stop that spin in me. No one can assure me that it will be okay in the end. That my selfish want, isn’t going to RUIN EVERYTHING AAAAHHHH. Why the hell do I do this to myself?

It just ends up with me crying as we drive out of the grocery store parking lot, and weeping until I get an iced tea at my favourite shop. Like a child, all it took was a little, tiny something that I just WANTED, to quiet me for that moment and soothe my heart.

It is a constant feeling of someone else having it worse than me, that doesn’t even allow myself to be sad, frustrated or upset for even a MOMENT.  I do acknowledge that that was engrained in me from a young age by my Mom, that’s for sure. But 32 years later? Really? I have some sort of supernatural guilt complex going on here that’s killing my joy. It’s killing the childlike spirit that I feel bursting inside of me sometimes.

The fact of the matter is folks, yes, there are always people in worse situations, but…that doesn’t mean yours doesn’t suck! (folks = Listen the eff up Sarah). Other people’s suffering does not make your own invalid. It is not a judgement call. It is not some comparison by the universe and a valuation of your emotions.

I often find myself getting super crabby at people on social media that are ALWAYS SO EFFING HAPPY.  Not that people can’t be cheerful and wonderful, because they can be and that’s wonderful! However, I often wonder if that’s really the whole truth. I wonder if that’s the snippet that they are choosing to show, just as I do sometimes. Okay, often. People who wax poetic about being grateful and so blessed with life, I want to ask them what else is going on inside them.  I feel like, the recent trend to push yourself to be grateful and to just be positive can backfire. It can force us to feel like we SHOULD be putting on a smile when really inside? We’re hurting. Struggling or just…not wanting to smile. It makes it so that it feels unacceptable, or somehow less, that we’re not happy and grateful in every moment of every day. It makes it not okay to break down and just, lose your shit.

Thinking positively doesn’t always make things okay. It doesn’t always help you feel better. Being grateful, doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t okay to be sad or upset about something too. It seems like such a simple concept but damn if it isn’t hard to apply to yourself. It feels like once I try and apply it to myself, I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around it. Sometimes people? I just don’t want to flood myself with gratitude  I want to cry, break down and just be a shit head. Then? I’ll pick myself up and remind myself why I should be grateful.  Maybe I’m missing some huge spiritual epiphany here. It’s okay, I haven’t quite gotten there yet. What I do know, is that often, letting all this bullshit out of my head means sometimes, others will speak up and say, “Hey, me too.” and that.  THAT helps.

I know that our finances are not by far the worst, and that they won’t always be like that. We have made choices that bring us here for a reason, and the path will continue as we’ve lined it up. I know it’s not permanent. But jesus, sometimes? Sometimes I just want to cry, and NOT beat the shit out of myself because someone else is starving in Africa.

Sometimes, I just want it to be okay that I want strawberries.