Post 10: Betrayal

13 days.

That’s how long I’ve gone without taking one of my little gray and white pills.

That’s how long I’ve suffered with disorienting nausea, knock-me-off-my-feet dizziness from my inner ear, muscle and joint aches and pains, dry mouth and dry eyes, upset stomach, tremors, brain zaps, chest pressure and trouble breathing, swollen/tight neck, irritability, severe fluid retention of my whole body, and depressive thoughts.

13 days.

It’s the longest stint I’ve gone without Effexor XR in my system in the past four years and I’m regretting ever having started it in the first place. I started it after my son was born, because life was crashing down around me and I needed wanted a quick solution. I’ve always been a sucker for instant gratification and was never much for waiting. If I had waited I might have found a feasible holistic and/or cognitive treatment methods. Now I’m paying the real price for my impatience.

13 days.

This withdrawal phase is supposed to last 2-4 weeks and is comparable to detoxing from heroin. I couldn’t know that for sure as heroin isn’t my drug of choice, but I can tell you that if it weren’t for the scopolamine patch currently glued behind my ear I wouldn’t even be functioning at the half-life level I am now. I believe the Internet comps when I read how terrible it is to come off of Effexor XR, even when it’s a controlled, doctor-supervised method of lowering dosages. I’m currently on the lowest dose and still suffering.

13 days.

Right now I feel completely betrayed by my body, and frankly I hate her. I tried to be good to her, treated her kindly, dressed her up and presented her healthy self to the world.

In 2013, I got pregnant. I thought it was her repaying my kindness for all the good health I’d worked hard to give her over the years. But it wasn’t that. First, she dealt me a miscarriage at a vulnerable and lonely time. Second, while she gave me a healthy baby boy for which I am so grateful, she tried to kill me in the process and I haven’t been the same since.

I tried to help her out of her confusion and pain with medication to quickly treat the anxiety. At first we were good again. Like nothing had ever come between us. But then the stomach problems started. And then the depression came on fast, going dark quickly. And then the endometriosis grew and required surgery and synthetic hormones. And then the weight gain that’s been never-ending for the past four years ultimately reached a rock bottom number. Despite working out several times a week for nearly a year and eating health-conscious foods, I’m officially heavier now than when I was 9 1/2 months pregnant and I hate my body for it. I can’t stand the sight of her.

13 days.

I am now 13 days off that horrible medication in the hopes that one day I’ll be totally free and ready to find a holistic solution to manage my anxiety. I’m having to fight a big fight to get there. My body is so angry at me and throwing every symptom in the book my way. I feel half alive after two weeks down. Hopefully not more than a couple weeks left.

And I keep thinking … all I have to do to make all of this go away is take one pill.

But I won’t.

Because … 13 days.

Post 9: Appreciating the Journey

I fell off the wagon, and I’m pretty sure the back wheel ran over me as it continued on its way, leaving me face down in the dirt.

And that’s completely fine. In fact, I waved as I watched that wagon disappear on the horizon.

After meeting with my therapist last week I realized that the prize of this process for me isn’t actually in achieving my goals, but rather is the appreciation for and focus on the journey. It is in my being mindful of my actions, how I manage my time, and what I’m choosing to prioritize.

For example, in recognizing that I have an incredibly hard time waking up in the morning, exhausted and tired even after more than 8 hours of sleep, I have since started taking vitamins. Iron, vitamin C, vitamin D and b-complex are now part of my morning routine. When I don’t take them, I figure it out about 2pm when my body is begging me to nap, even after many hours of sleep the night before. Serotonin levels, gut health, anxiety … all of these contribute negatively to energy levels and weight gain. Bad!

To help with this, my therapist and I discussed Successive Approximation and how putting it into practice could reshape my responses to specific situations. For instance, instead of setting my alarm for 6am when I’m used to waking up at 8am (this is too drastic of a gap for me), this method would have me setting my alarm for 7:45am and not allowing the snooze button to be pushed. Once I am doing that easily, next I would set the alarm for 7:30am and so on. Small steps with rewards for when I head in the right direction.

Successive Approximation is acting in a way that gets you closer and closer to the desired behavior. For people like me, I visualize a desired result and then overwhelm myself by assuming there’s no other way to get over the mountain except in one leap. Of course this isn’t the only way, but my brain tends toward the extreme options. Making small, accessible changes that increase gradually also increases the likelihood you’ll get over that mountain. I’ve always been an “I want it now” person, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to look back on these posts one day and see a drastic change that was so gradual I never even realized it was happening.

In addition to all of this, my son started seeing a child psychologist a few weeks ago and she is working with him through play therapy. He’s learning to realize his anxiety, label it, talk about it, and bring himself down from it. He colors, he plays, he listens to soft music, he learns to belly breathe and meditate, etc. It’s only been a few sessions and I’ve noticed a difference already in his confidence. As I know full well, sometimes just having the knowledge you aren’t alone with your frustration gives you enough fortitude to stare down any uncertainty.

In order to continue his practices in the home environment I’ve picked up these books recommended to me by friends. Learning to be still, quiet and mindful are possibly the most powerful skills one can possess. I will post updates as we work through the books together.

The fourth book, Start Balancing by Kristy Dickerson, was given to me by a friend and mentor who’s also a fellow mom/entrepreneur. It’s a guided journal to self discovery and defining success. In the opening quote to this journal I underlined the sentence that reads “I believe I was intended to fail, to struggle, and to face defeat in order to learn how to succeed.”

These might be the most self-reflective words that I’ve identified with in some time. When it comes to goal-setting, I continue to fail because I have not learned enough about myself to set them successfully from the beginning.

And that, my friends, is what this journey is all about.

Day 8 – Staying Positive

  • Post daily for 365 days.
  • Grow out hair for 365 days.
  • Post daily gratitude for 365 days.
  • Lose 40-lbs in one year.
  • Gluten-free. Day 0/90
  • In bed by 10pm and awake by 6am. Day 0/7
  • 30 Days of Yoga. Day still 2/30

  • I can feel the fringes of my usual funk creeping in and I find myself feeling relieved my therapy appointment is tomorrow. There’s so much to get off my shoulders. My brain tries so hard to weigh me down and over the years I’ve just learned to succumb to it because that’s easier when I so often have the energy left to fight it. Of course that doesn’t help anyone, especially not me, which is why I’m trying to change.

    Most of my goals are starting the clock back at zero days. I’m disappointed by that, but this time I’m not going to give up. I’m just going to replant my feet and try again. This is progress.

    An interesting note: I was hungry the other day when driving home from dropping my son off at school and I started to get the low sugar shakes and sweats. I can’t function well when that sets in so I scarfed down what food I had in the car in an attempt to raise my blood sugar, which happened to be the matching pop-tart to the one G ate while we were driving. I ate it quickly and finished up my coffee. Less than a minute later my throat was tighter and phlegmy and I could tell I was having to take bigger breaths just to keep my breath even. A headache also set in at the same time. I can only assume it was the gluten in the pop-tart. Before this slip-up I had been gluten-free for 6 days, and while I know you have to be absent of it for weeks for your body to be rid of it completely, I can’t help but wonder if there was something connecting the occurrences. Regardless, I’m definitely off gluten and all the better for it.

    It’s 11:30 at night. I’m not doing well with my early bedtime plan. Still back at 0 days for that one, but I have a plan in place to get up early in the morning because I need to backup my phone in case they screw it up when replacing the battery at the Apple store tomorrow. Wish me luck! I’m so thankful that I was able to take advantage of the $29 replacement special they were offering until the 31st of Dec, 2018. I reserved my spot just under the wire. I, too, like to live dangerously.

    Goodnight, all. Stay positive.

    Day 5: The Vacation

  • Post daily for 365 days.
  • Grow out hair for 365 days.
  • Post daily gratitude for 365 days.
  • Lose 40-lbs in one year.
  • Gluten-free. Day 5/90
  • In bed by 10pm and awake by 6am. Day 0/7
  • 30 Days of Yoga. Day 5/30


  • Well … it didn’t take long for me to have to start over again on some of my goals. My family really needed a break from the normal scenery and to spend some quality time together. No itinerary. No distractions. So here I am writing this from Chincoteague, VA.

    Now wasn’t the best time to spend money on frivolities with the government shutdown and my husband most likely not receiving a paycheck on the 15th, but I can’t let a poorly run government dictate when my family takes a break. If it’s one thing I’ve learned while on my own personal journey with anxiety, it’s that when you need a break you find a way to make it happen.

    We left last night and since Friday was a full schedule up until the moment we left, I’m now two days behind in my 30-day yoga journey. I’ll be doing two sessions a day once I’m home until I catch up. I forgot my yoga mat at home and something about lying on a hotel room floor doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t care how clean it is.

    I’m also not doing too well with my “early to bed early to rise” goal and will start that over again when we get home. Yesterday was rainy and dreary and while I was awake by 6:00 I didn’t actually get out of bed until 10:00. My boy was still sleeping and I knew if I woke up and started making noise around the house he’d get up sooner than his body wanted him to. And his body has been telling me for weeks he’s behind on sleep. This morning the hotel room was so dark with the curtains drawn that we all got some extra sleep. And I can’t lie, there’s something so amazing about not setting that alarm for the next morning.

    At least I’m doing well with the gluten free goal I set out for myself. Although, I do need to clarify that this is not a celiac-level effort of gluten-free life. It’s a “let’s see if a little less gluten makes me feel better” experiment. For instance, I’m not stressing out over trace amounts of gluten and I’m not going to inconvenience anyone else for the sake of this goal. And also … “I liked beer. I still like beer. Sometimes I drink too many beers. Sometimes others do.” Just kidding. That was my Brett Kavanaugh impression and I couldn’t resist the opportunity. I don’t drink beer that often so it’s not tough to cut out of my life, but sometimes it just seems like such a great idea! Gluten free beer never gets that reaction from me.

    Still growing out my hair, still trying to lose weight, still thankful every day, and still posting.

    Yesterday I was feeling pretty thankful that our dog sitter was able on such short notice to care for our animals so we could take this family vacation. Today, I’m grateful for a little boy who loves to spend time with his family and go exploring in nature with his mama. For anxiety sufferers, there’s something so calming about the outdoors that removes you briefly from the chaos trapped in your exhausted mind. It’s such an effective way to recharge.

    Anyway, see you tomorrow.



    Day 3: Stretching out the Wings

    ACTIVE GOALS

  • Post daily for 365 days.
  • Grow out hair for 365 days.
  • Post daily gratitude for 365 days.
  • Lose 40-lbs in one year.
  • Submit at least 5 images at each photography club meeting.
  • Gluten-free. Day 3/90
  • In bed by 10pm and awake by 6am. Day 2/7
  • 30 Days of Yoga. Day 2/30

  • Today’s early wake-up was much better. I felt rested enough, or maybe I was just giving up after the several wakes throughout the night. Either way, I ended up getting to sleep at 11 and waking up at 7. Slightly off my schedule but still better than before. I’m trying not to get frustrated that I didn’t complete it exactly as the goal is phrased, because one thing my therapist also wants me to work on is giving myself grace. To stop living in an “all or nothing” state of mind.

    My son had a rough day back to school after the Christmas break. He didn’t want to go but we talked and I got him excited to go, but of course once the moment came and we were waking to his classroom his anxiety overwhelmed him and he broke down. It was heart breaking, but his teachers are so good with him and helped him through it and his tears had turned to huge smiles by the time I picked him up. It was still hard to watch him suffer in the beginning. As someone who knows just how confusing and suffocating anxiety can be, it is painful to watch it affect your child.

    In order to cope with the sadness of leaving my child at his school in that state I came straight home and did my second day of yoga with Adriene. Day 2 Dedicate: 30 Days of Yoga. It was just what my spirits needed to lift. It helped ground my emotions and center them on a more stable foundation to deal with whatever the rest of the day had in store for me.

    This afternoon I was happy to de-clutter the house of all things Christmas. While I enjoy the festive look before the holidays, as soon as the celebrations are over I want it all out of my sight. This process helped so much to alleviate some of the stress I was dealt today.

    My husband had a great day at work, passed a difficult test and earned a fancy certification as a result. To celebrate we decided it was time to take a family weekend trip. So I booked us a stay in Chincoteague for the weekend at a hotel with an indoor pool. My son’s therapist recommended we have some fun play time in the pool together as a family to help ease his fear of swimming underwater, and it just so happens to be the off-season on the mid-Atlantic coast. I am very much looking forward to this time together and a slower pace to work on some more of my goals.

    At our photography club meeting tonight I submitted 5 images to be critiqued in the theme “winter.” My goal is to participate in the theme each month. I’m also very glad that my husband has decided to start coming with me to the meetings and participating. Photography is such a beautiful method of expression and I love to see the differences in perspectives each photograph shares. It’s eye-opening.

    To end this post, I’m thankful for my village. Near and far, I have so many people in my life from various walks who can lend an ear and offer me sage advice when I need it. They calm me down and bring peace to my heart simply by sharing words with me. Words sent from a loving place of friendship. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Until tomorrow.

    Also, I was gluten free all day today except for the snickerdoodle cookie dough blizzard I had at Dairy Queen tonight. Let’s pretend you can’t read that, even though to be accountable I technically have to write it down.

    Goodnight!

    Day 2/part 2: Yoga begins

    ACTIVE GOALS

  • Post daily for 365 days.
  • Grow out hair for 365 days.
  • Post daily gratitude for 365 days.
  • Lose 40-lbs in one year.
  • Gluten-free. Day 2/90
  • In bed by 10pm and awake by 6am. Day 1/7
  • 30 Days of Yoga. Day 1/30

  • I have a confession.

    I woke up at 6am this morning like I promised myself I would. I stayed awake researching, eating breakfast and watching Hoarders. Solidly productive. I went upstairs to gently wake my boy up for school at 8am and all hell broke loose.

    With an immediate and massive 4-year old’s tantrum in response to the gentle wake-up I decided it best to give his overly tired body more time to rest. I lied down in his bed with him and rubbed his back to help him calm down.

    I’m sure fellow parents can guess what happened once my exhausted body and stressed mind was back in a cozy bed. Next thing I knew I woke up at nearly 11am with my boy still sleeping next to me. So, while I technically accomplished my goal for the day I didn’t exactly work it the way I thought I would. But there is that element of listening to our bodies and giving them what ours so clearly needed: sleep.

    That said, the rest of the day was great. My son and I made a trip to the library for new books, I got my hair trimmed and reshaped to prep it for growing out, and I had a healthy, gluten-free meal at Panera with my family tonight. Not so easy to walk into a restaurant with the word “bread” in its name, but I got by with the turkey chili and the Santa Fe Chile Lime Chicken Salad. I would have preferred bread, but that’s just how it goes.

    After dinner my boy and I came home and set up the room to start Day 1 of 30 Days of Yoga. Originally I was going to do this myself when he was in school this morning but since we slept through all of that we had to improvise this evening.

    My sweet friend and neighbor invited me to hop on board Dedicate: A 30-Day Yoga Journey with Adriene with her. Today was Day 1 and it was so relaxing, focusing on breath and body awareness. Not only that but Adriene is very pleasant to listen to and the environment she invites you into is beautiful and calming.


    It’s so important to take time to slow down and practice mindfulness, and now that my son has followed in my footsteps and been diagnosed with anxiety, teaching him how to practice mindfulness is part of his treatment plan. This is such a lovely way for us to bond and work on our anxiety coping skills together.

    Here’s my little yogi, practicing hands to heart.

    We had a great 50-minute session, and while he got bored about halfway through the video and moved on to something else, it was good for him to see his mama sticking with it until the end. Even if in my final savasana he was piling placemats on top of me.

    To wrap up the day, I’ll close with my thankfulness piece. I’m thankful that there are therapists out there who are equipped to recognize anxious pain and confusion in children and to educate parents on the best way to help them through the process to figuring it all out. I wish it had been an easier resource when I was a child, but I’m glad it’s readily available now and that we can all work on improving and supporting each other in this area as a family.

    Until tomorrow, namaste.

    Day 2: I’m Awake

    It’s 6:00. As in 0600.

    I am awake, but still lying here in bed squinting at my phone and trying to wake up enough to function.

    This is my view.

    What the heck do people do this early? I asked my husband this while he was getting ready for work. His alarm went off at 5am. “We drink coffee.”

    I am a night owl. I always have been. Staying up until 1am and waking up around 8am. So why the change? Because I have a 4-year old.

    My son goes to pre-k, for which we need to be out the door by 8:30. When we get up at 8am everything is rushed and it stresses us both out. So I’m hoping that by getting to bed earlier I can shift the timing enough to avoid the unnecessary panic.

    But just lying here writing this I’m slammed with nausea, never ending yawns and a mild hot flash.

    Fine. I’m getting up.

    It’s so dark my Christmas tree lights the way to the kitchen. This is new.

    I make my way to the kitchen for coffee, to feed the dogs (who aren’t even awake yet) and eat my rice Chex (gluten free!)

    But what else should I do? I didn’t wake up with the excitement of doing something new and getting started, so I’m going to take this easy. I’m going to do what I would normally do in the wee hours of the morning/late night: watch Hoarders and inspire myself to purge my home of excess everything.

    Why is it so dark outside??? Day 1 of new sleep schedule is done before the sun is even up. That does feel good.