I’m back!

That would make more sense if I had written here how I’ve been feeling for the past couple of months. But I wanted to understand what exactly was going on before I did.

If you’ve been reading here for long, you know that I suffer from depression and anxiety at times. As far as depression goes, it’s mostly been a seasonal thing up until the past five years or so when things started seeming a little consistently bad. When it began to seem like I was dealing with something beyond my seasonal stuff, I went looking for some professional help. This was in the year after Silas (he’s 5 1/2 now) was born. I saw doctors a couple of times for bloodwork to look into my thyroid function, but despite having all the symptoms of hypothyroidism, those doctor’s told me my numbers weren’t within treatment range and basically sent me home. I didn’t argue, because I didn’t like the idea of taking medication. I believed I could fix myself if I just worked hard enough. I changed my diet, going strictly gluten free, and did have stretches of feeling better. However, I think I have been coping with depression more often than not since Silas was born. Bad things have happened, and I thought that maybe life itself was just getting me down. There’s been a lot of loss these past few years. Family, and friends have died. Friend’s babies have died. I had a difficult pregnancy and birth (Job’s) that left me unable to walk long distances without pain (still). Life has been unpredictable, hard, and just plain sad at times.

Last fall–well fall 2015, after running some bloodwork, my obstetrician put me on medication for my thyroid (early on in my pregnancy with Mabel), and within a week the depression that I had been battling lifted. I felt like myself again and it was amazing. I could hardly believe how much better I felt, and how quickly. When you’ve battled depression, you don’t take feeling good for granted. The real me is a positive, high energy person. I tend to see the good in most things, and am pretty darn good at practicing contentment no matter my situation. Depression robs me of that, of the real me. And I hate it. For what it does to me, and my family.

Needing to figure out what is going on for the longterm, outside of pregnancy, I scheduled an appointment at a local doctor’s office that came highly recommended. Before I could see the doctor, I had to have lots of bloodwork done and saw only the P.A.s. It was suggested to me that I switch to a more “natural” drug, and I agreed it was worth a try. That was early December. My instructions were to take the new drug for at least six weeks, and then repeat my bloodwork and return to see the doctor. I started feeling bad within days of switching drugs. The inside of my head turned into a really ugly place. Bad went to worse, and I should have probably gotten switched back right away, but I wanted to give this more “natural” treatment a real go and have the bloodwork done to see what it did for my levels, rather than just going by how I felt. And I started wondering if maybe my real problem was postpartum depression anyway. Or maybe I was just crazy? I had my labs drawn about a week before my scheduled appointment with the doctor, literally counting the days until I could see her and find out what was really going on. That appointment was Monday this week, and she swept into the room all smiles and positive energy, which I love (inspires confidence!) and told me that my levels were terrible, that I was having an auto-immune “flair” and that I have Hoshimoto’s disease. So now I know. My meds have been changed, and I am already feeling so much better. I can actually get out of bed in the morning without a long mental battle first. I’m not sad about every. single. thing. And, I am eating dairy free (dying!!!!!!) in addition to my usual gluten free diet. My lovely doctor sent me home with instructions on how to eat, how to supplement, and a suggestion that I read this book after I explained that I must operate at 100% (at the very least). No room for feeling so bad!!

I am obeying doctor’s orders and truly thanking God for her, for good meds, and for coconut milk. And, I am knitting HATS. Hats are fast and always needed. I discovered the joy of colorwork last week when I knit Beatrix a Hillier Hearts cap.  That pattern is so fun, so quick, and just all around great. In other hat knitting news, Job claimed Jonny’s sacrificial ribbed beanie, so I knit Jonny a new hat too. That pattern is pretty fun, though next time he’s getting a hat with some sort of colorwork whether he likes it or not, because that is my new thing. Silas requested a red hat with yellow lightning bolts, but I can’t deliver on that one for lack of appropriate yarn or pattern. Instead I cast on a blue Hillier Hearts cap and replaced the hearts with sort of grayish (same as Bea’s main hat color) snowflakes that I improvised. It isn’t very good because there isn’t enough contrast between the yarn colors and snow isn’t really gray anway, and it’s definitely not yellow lightning on a red hat. So, I will probably have to knit Silas another hat when I finish the dirty snowflake hat. No big deal. Hats I can do. Right now I feel like I can do all sorts of things which is so much better than the way the past couple of months felt.

p.s. Sorry for the personal health saga. But I had to tell you. 🙂

p.p.s. Realizing that you might want to know what that toy is that Job is playing with. Those are his bees! He loves them.


Making Things Pretty

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Jonny and I oftentimes plan to watch a program (usually something on PBS Masterpiece) at night after the kids are in bed. Some nights though, we end up in conversation with our three older boys, and plans change. They may not always want to talk with us like this, or better yet, if we always welcome conversation, maybe…hopefully, they will. On a recent night when this happened, Gabe asked Keats, “What are your three favorite things to do?” He was echoing the same question that I had asked him earlier in the day. I like to keep my older kids thinking about what their interests are, encouraging answers outside of the realm of say, watching movies or going swimming at the lake.

Anyway, Keats threw out three things and then the question was turned on me. What are my three favorite things to do? My three big boys started answering for me, saying that this was easy. “Knitting, Cross-stitching, gardening, dyeing yarn…” they all took turns naming what were surely my favorites, and the list went on. Actually, I wasn’t sure at the time what my top three things were, and I’m still not. After thinking hard for a minute or so I gave my number one as, “Making things pretty.” Keats covered his face in his hands while exclaiming, “Mommy!” As in, “Mommy, that’s a ridiculous answer.” I answered back, “Hey, you named eating cookies  as one of your top three! Give me a break!”

I eventually came up with a proper answer: spending time in nature, making things (including knitting here), and of course, making things pretty. But honestly, I felt a little stumped. I’m not exactly sure what my three favorite things to do are. While I like to have my kids think about this sort of thing because I want them thinking towards careers eventually, as far as I go, I guess I don’t think often enough about what I want to be doing. Life is more often about what I ought to be doing. But the more I think about it, what I ought to be doing is often what I want to be doing if I look at the big picture. And maybe that’s the lesson I most want to teach my children. What you think you want to do with your life might not end up lining up with your actual vocation, in other words, what God wants you to do with your life. But, if you base your life choices on what you believe God is directing you towards, you will likely find that you enjoy doing what you ought to be doing, even if it ends up involving something quite different than what you originally envisioned.

Beatrix complained about doing something or other yesterday, and I told her just to do the work and she might end up liking it. I said, “I didn’t want to scrub all the toilets on Saturday, but once I got going I didn’t mind at all. And I was real pleased once I got all those toilets clean.” (I use the example of scrubbing toilets far too often with my kids!) Bea started dancing at this point, singing, or maybe rapping? “Who cleaned those toilets? Yeah, I did! I did!” I’ll probably hear her little voice in my head when I’m cleaning toilets from now on. I may even start rapping.

I hope I’m making sense here. I’ve been interrupted no less than a dozen times in writing these few paragraphs…such is my life these days.  Bottom line, I have certainly found ways to do what I ought to alongside things that I enjoy, and in doing so, some of the drudgery has become less so. And so much of it has to do with attitude, anyway. Of course I still stay up too late sometimes to knit and make things pretty when I ought to be sleeping. That’s how Mabel got that sweet little hat. And as her mother, I think I ought to do all I can to keep her sweet little head warm.

p.s. The pattern is called, Doe Cap, and it is in the latest Making magazine.