Category Archives: Mental Health

Coping with Sundecks

Everyone has different coping mechanisms. For me, when I’m taking a break from the curled up in a ball crying phase, I cope (probably more effectively) by blogging. It is not uncommon for me to stop mid cry and ask my husband something like, “would you prefer a settee or chairs for the balcony?” Because that is where my obsessive compulsive brain has been going lately when not walking in rounds of negative self talk.

Currently we live next door to a construction site and we spent last summer with our balcony door closed, trying to escape the clouds of dust caused by the combination of drought and the copious amount of sand loading going on next door. This summer I’m determined to pretty up the space and not have it just be my children’s dirty out door “playpen”. I want an adult space where Steve and I can go to relax and enjoy the sun set and the frog’s song once we’ve put the kids down.

I get annoyed by all the large and luxurious patios and backyards shown in design magazines around this time of year. If you live in Vancouver or anywhere within spitting distance you are lucky to have a square of grass much less a sprawling backyard. Thank goodness for the internet! I set to searching online for inspiring small space outdoor decorating, focusing mostly on small sundecks since that is what I am personally looking to decorate. Here are some of the fantastic spaces I found.

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Sophisticated Monochromatic

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Parisian Petite

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Outdoor office

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Zen Spa Space

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Global comfort

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Country chic

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Cozy cocoon

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Modern Bohemian

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A colourful retreat

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A classic look

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Garden retreat

Colour me inspired! I hope you are inspired too! I’m planning on choosing a few of the pictures over the next few weeks and doing some blogs on “how to get the look”. If I had a larger, more interactive reading pool for my blog I would ask you to pick your favorites so I can search out the product for you but alas, I am a small fry. However, if you do see a look you really fancy give me a shout and I’ll make sure to include it in one of my blog posts.

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Filed under At home, Decorating Projects, Eye Candy, From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, General, Mental Health, Therapy

A love letter from the pit

Are you familiar with the Bernstein Bears stories? Each story has a little “proverb” at the beginning. If this were a Bernstein Bears story, the proverb would say this, “when life, depression, and hormones collide, mommy takes daddy on a rough ride”.

This post is a love letter to my husband. To help him understand. Because he doesn’t, and he feels frustrated. He wants me to speak words, to help him understand. But I can’t speak just now. Maybe you have a loved one who goes through periods of depression. Maybe my words can help you understand too.

Dearest husband,

You are a light in my life. I may not have survived previous episodes of such darkness if it were not for your strength and commitment to God and family. Right now my mind is in a dark place. You have a beautiful unclouded mind, seldom touched by waves of depression and you provide a solid foundation for our family. I am thankful that God gave you to me because, especially in times like this, I need your strength. I need it but I struggle to ask for it. You ask me to use words, to ask for help, to tell you what I need you to do, but words almost feel impossible right now. I don’t want to need help. I want to be strong. It is hard to admit weakness even when it blatantly obvious to anyone looking.

I am quiet and I hide because my mind is loud. With every request my mouth speaks and every task my inactivity leads you to do, my mind beats me down. I want to help, to do normal life stuff, but my whole body feels weighed down. It looks like laziness. It even feels like laziness. But I can’t get out. My mind is merciless in its accusations in regards to how I am letting you and our children down.

The children scream and bounce around and I feel unable to cope with it because it merges with the noise in my mind and overwhelms me. I love you all so much but I feel unable to be the wife and mother I want to be and this feeling only ads to the accusations in my head. You ask me to make simple decisions and to do simple things. The fact that I feel so incapable to do these things makes me feel like crumbling.

My mind it clutched by fear about how you perceive me. Do you find me lazy, selfish, infantile? Does this present state of being cause you to dislike me? To be angry with me? These are the questions that attack my brain and cause me to avoid your eyes. I feel ashamed of myself in your presence because I so love you and admire your strength. I don’t want to cause you trouble or inconvenience. I only want to love you and our family well and bring richness into your life, but right now I can’t be that person.

They say depression is an illness, so consider me sick right now. In need. I need you. I can’t speak the words. I don’t know how to ask for the help I need. I’m sorry my silence frustrates you. I do love you. This time will pass, please be patient. You will get your wife back soon.

Love, Your Heather

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Filed under From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, Mental Health

To the Courageous

Most people realize how prevalent depression is. Myself, I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of people I know who struggle with it to some degree. These same people have been treated with therapy and medications with varying degrees of success. Some like myself have, through medication and other treatment, come to cope well. Others have not found any effective treatment. It makes me thankful that I am one of the “lucky ones” who seem to respond to medicine.

Recently, I have been thinking more about what it would be like to not have medications that help. My brain was a very dark, stormy, and volatile place before I sought treatment. There were long periods of time when I would live without experiencing feelings of hope, joy or peace. The reason that I finally sought help is because my mind was gravitating towards thoughts of suicide and I was scared. It was a long road out of that pit but I am in a good place now.

What would it be like if medication hadn’t been effective? I know people who have tried every conceivable avenue to find their way out of depression to no avail. I don’t think that I could do it. If I hadn’t found treatment which worked for me, I don’t know if I would have the courage to keep on living. And that is what I recently realized. How profoundly courageous it can be to simply keep living. Suicide is an easy way out. Consider how much bravery it takes to continue living from day to day without the benefit of feeling happiness or hope. And for those who are Christians, what immense faith it takes to continue pursuing their faith despite what must feel like a greatly unmet need.

I want to take this moment to say to those I know who suffer from depression, as well as to those I don’t know, that you are amazing. You may not be able to fully embrace these facts, I know it is hard to acknowledge anything positive when your mind is in a dark place, but hear what I have to say. You are strong. You are courageous. You are a warrior. Your battle may not be against flesh and blood, but you fight on none-the-less. I love you for living on.

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Filed under Mental Health

By Falling Down

Those who know me might be surprised to know that my husband and I practised martial arts for a while. If you lived next door to us during our first year of marriage you may have caught site of us in full combat gear, throwing punches and kicks at one another in the backyard, or walking down the street to the dojang carrying our bags of weaponry.

Why do I bring this up? Because my martial arts teacher had a saying, one which I can never remember correctly, but one which I think back to time and time again. It was something along the lines of “by falling down, we learn to get back up again”. I have thought about this saying during various trials in my life, both great and small. By falling (or failing) I learn to get back up again (rise above challenges) and each time I fall, it gets a bit easier to get up. Rising above does not necessarily mean I eventually succeed, though sometimes a new approach can lead to success. For me, rising above most often means letting go of the negative thoughts which failure so easily leads me to. I struggle with this. When I fail I tend to be a nasty wretch to myself. I say “you suck”, “you can’t do anything right”, “you should just give up” etc.

This is the trap I am in right now. I am writing this post as a tool to help me get back on my feet mentally. I took part in another Artisan Market and the honest truth is that in five hours I did not sell a single pillow. Right away my mind turns ugly on itself. I feel discouraged. I feel like I wasted my time and that I didn’t sell anything because my pillows are terrible. Let me claim some truth now. It was not a waste of time. I bought some gorgeous presents from other vendors. I met some really nice people and had enjoyable conversations. I got to treat myself to delicious meals that I didn’t have to lift a finger to make. I got to show off my beautiful pillows. This is the truth.

See for yourself. Here are some of my favourites that I recently made for the fair. They should be up on my etsy shop by the end of the month.

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The silk floral fabric is Armani

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This pillow is made out of left over fabric from a shower curtain I made.

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This pillow is reversible (see other side below)

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I love how unique and beautiful the “wrong” side of a fabric can be.

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Filed under DIY Projects, From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, In the Royal City, Mental Health