7.23.2019

Paperless Post Review

I was recently given the opportunity to try out this awesome website called Paperless Post and write a review about my experience.  Paperless Post is a company that creates beautiful, unique, professional, and easily customizable cards, invitations, and announcements that are sent by email, hence the word "paperless" in their name.  It just so happened that my daughter's birthday is right around the corner, so I decided to try it with her party invitations.  I had never used this website before, so I wasn't really sure what I was doing, but I dove right in and quickly fell in love with how easy and fun it was to use.  Here are some of the many things I loved about my experience:

  • It was quick and easy to make an account.  It's always a huge turn-off to me when just making the account is difficult and time-consuming.  Like I said before, I had never used this website in the past, but within seconds, I was already starting the process of creating my first invitation.
  • I LOVED how many theme options there were for invitations, and I liked that there were lots of different styles, so it seemed like there would be something perfect for anyone and any event.  
  • As I was looking through the many, many options, I came across a little heart button below the title of the invitation.  I clicked it and realized that doing this to some of my favorite invitations allowed me to see all of my "favorites" grouped together when I was done.  That made it much easier to figure out what I wanted, because I could see them together and not have to remember which ones fit what I was looking for.
  • Once I had narrowed down what I wanted, I was very impressed with how easy it was to customize my invitation.  I could choose everything from font, letter size, word color, and word location.  I felt like I could really make the invitation my own, but without the hassle that I have experienced before trying to do this on the computer.  
  • After I created my invitation, I was ready to send it out.  I collected a few email addresses and was about to send it off, when I realized that I could preview my invitation before sending.  I was able to send it to my own email first and open it as if I was the actual recipient of the invitation.  At this point, I had already enjoyed my experience and would have had good things to say, but this is when I fell in love.  When I opened the email, it took me to a picture of an envelope.  I clicked to open that, and the invitation came out of the envelope.  It felt like I was really opening a card.  Usually I'm an old school paper person still, but everything looked so neat and professional that it didn't seem "cheesy" or weird to me to send an invitation by email.  
  • I sent my invitations and within hours, I had already heard back from everyone on our invite list.  They were able to RSVP without making an account and I could see that they had first seen the invitation and then that they had responded whether or not they could make it.  This made my job much easier, because I didn't have to remember to follow up with people to see if they would be able to make it.  
  • The invitation also had many convenient options that the recipients could use like reminding them to RSVP, adding it to their calendar, giving them directions, and allowing them to send me a message.
  • Finally, the invitations were very reasonably priced.  For just a few dollars, I would have been able to invite several people to my daughter's party and save money, time, and hassle by using Paperless Post.
Overall, I was very impressed with this website and company.  I will definitely be using it again!  


6.07.2019

Tender Mercy

Today, I had a beautiful, sweet experience.  It was quite simple, yet it had such a profound impact on my heart and has changed how I view this often difficult trial I have been called to face.

For the last 3 days, I have been stuck in the dark, terrible place I call "suicidal hell."  This is when my mind is tormented every second of every day with the thought that I should not go on.  It's when my brain is so broken that there is no possible way to distinguish what is true or real anymore.  It's when I lay in bed nearly all day fighting this terrifying internal battle that shatters the most tender pieces of my heart with no relief to be found.  For these 3 days, I was convinced that I had failed my family, that they needed and even deserved someone else who wasn't so broken and debilitated by this darkness, and that I had to give up.  I simply couldn't see a way to go on, and I was desperate for an escape.  I couldn't find the adequate words to describe the storm raging inside of me, so I held in the pain and prayed with all the faith I could muster that I would have enough strength to get through yet another battle in this great war for my life.

This morning, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but the pain was still unrelenting.  I walked to a friend's house hoping the combination of exercise, fresh air, and company would help, but as soon as I got home, the thick darkness overcame me again, and I went straight to my bed to continue fighting.  Over the next few hours, my mind and heart were overwhelmed with the weight of deep depression, and I was sure there was no relief to be found ever again.  I kept trying to write texts to explain to someone the heavy burdens I was bearing alone and to maybe ask for help, but I could never find the strength to send any of them.  Instead, I laid there wondering how this could be part of God's plan for my life and why He would allow my heart to go through so much pain with no lasting relief, despite all the prayers and fasting of my family the last several years.

As my mind continued to grow more and more weary in this fight, I started to think that maybe I needed to make a plan of escape once and for all.  I simply couldn't keep doing this, so it seemed that there was no other option.  I began to think of possible means when the thought came to my mind, "This isn't your choice to make."  It took me back.  Surely this thought had not come from the brokenness of my own mind.  And then something clicked.  I can pray and plead and wish for God to take me away, but ultimately, I have to have the faith and strength to submit to His will for my life, regardless of what that will is.  It's not my choice to decide when I have had enough.  It's not my choice to decide when I will leave this world.  It's not my choice to decide when I will be healed at last, never to be broken in this way again.

The pain didn't leave immediately, but I suddenly felt peace and calm.  It's not often that I feel Heavenly Father near me when I am severely depressed.  This is usually devastating and heartbreaking to me, because it seems that the comfort of the Spirit is what I need most of all in those moments, and it's not there.  But this time, I felt like this was Heavenly Father's way of telling me that although it's not time for this pain to be gone yet, He has not left me alone.  For whatever reason that is still unknown to me, it is not His perfect plan for me to be miraculously healed at this time, even with the faith of me and my family and others who love and care about me.  But for the first time in a very long time, I was able to have a small moment of inspiration that allowed me to feel God's love and mindfulness of me and to know that I am not destined to fail in this fight.

This has been a looooong ride, and I fear the dark days that will inevitably come in the future, but I know that if I can just remember that it isn't my choice to escape, then I will always be okay.  I will fight and conquer every single episode of pain and darkness, and ultimately, I will win. 

5.24.2019

Testosterone

Shortly after getting pregnant with this sweet boy, I started to feel really well emotionally. It felt like something literally shifted in my body, and consequently, the things that were once so hard to accomplish every day (getting out of bed, doing dishes, taking care of Brooklyn, eating, etc.) were no longer difficult. I suddenly wanted to be productive, I had energy, I could do so much more than just survive every day, and it was beyond incredible. It had been such a long year before that, so finding relief was such a blessing.

Shortly after delivering Garrett, the depression returned, we moved, and my whole world seemingly crumbled beneath me. I kept plummeting down lower and lower and lower with no end or hope of relief in sight. Thankfully, I made a really good friend in this new place who cared about me enough to help me get in to the most amazing and caring doctor I've ever had, and I had a reason to find hope once again.

At first, he wanted to try medication again, but after my body failed to respond to several medications, he knew that we needed to go a different route. We did a hormone test, and as he predicted, my testosterone came back abnormal. He thought this would be the case, since I was fine while being pregnant with my baby boy, and being pregnant with a boy releases small amounts of testosterone into the mother's body.

His plan was to give me a very small supplement of testosterone, and we were all hopeful that things would improve soon. Unfortunately, we had a setback to this plan and weren't able to start testosterone right away. I was devastated and so disappointed at first, but I kept holding on through the help of my amazing family and friends.

Then, Kyle had the brilliant idea to see if there were any natural ways to boost testosterone in the meantime. One of them we found online was pomegranate juice. I was pretty skeptical, especially because the depression had been so severe that it seemed like something so simple couldn't make much of a difference. I started drinking a glass of pomegranate juice every day about two weeks ago, and I have seen a very noticeable improvement in how I've been feeling in the last week. I also started exercising more regularly at this same time, and the weather got much nicer, so I'm not positive exactly what is making me feel better, but either way, I'm so thankful.

We're still moving forward with trying to figure out medically why my body is struggling to produce enough testosterone, so hopefully we can find answers and more permanent solutions soon, but until then, I am so so so thankful that we are finally getting somewhere and thankful for this little miracle boy who might be the very key to figuring everything out.

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5.19.2019

Mania!

Oh mania... It's my favorite place to be, and it's been here for 5 days now. That is super long for me and is very welcomed after such a long and deep low this last time. It's such an interesting feeling, like I've finally figured out the secret to conquering depression, like I have the power to make sure I never get back to that dark place again, like surely this high is here to stay forever now. This happens every time, and it always makes the inevitable crash back into depression very difficult to handle. But I enjoy it while it lasts and hope that it stays as long as possible! 

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5.15.2019

Disappointing News

Last Friday, I got a text from my doctor with some bad news. We weren’t going to be able to move forward with the treatment we were planning to try, because the specialist he had consulted advised him not to. Immediately when I read this message, my eyes began to fill with tears. I hurried to my closet to hide away from Brooklyn, when all the strength left my body, and I fell to my knees in broken sobs. My heart hurt with such intensity that I could only gasp for air between the bursts of tears that seemed to overcome me. It felt like every last bit of hope I had in me washed away with each warm tear that streamed down my face. I didn’t think I would be able to find the strength to get up or stop crying ever again. I called my husband and messaged a few close friends to share my devastation. There was nothing they could say to make it better, but I felt love as they mourned with me in my moment of great hurt. I continued crying as I wished that my husband could be there to wrap me in his loving arms.

And then something so beautiful happened. My snuggly baby boy army crawled to my closet to find me. When he had finally made his way to me, he reached up for me, and I picked him up. He then laid his head on me and stayed there looking up at me and saying, “Aww” for the next 20 minutes! I didn’t immediately feel better, and I’m pretty sure I soaked his cute blonde hair with my tears that continued to fall, but I did feel the immediate goodness of God through this sweet boy as he wrapped my broken heart in love. It was such a tender moment, one that I will never forget, and one that will forever remind me that God knows me and is so mindful of me.

We do have a plan moving forward, so we will continue on this journey hoping and trusting in better days to come. It’s hard knowing that this struggle isn’t over yet, and I do have some anxiety about the days ahead, but I know that there will always be miracles to accompany the most difficult days, just as there have been SO MANY miracles in the past.

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5.07.2019

Feeling Hope

Things have suddenly taken a turn for the better for me emotionally, and I am so thankful. On April 27th, I reached the lowest I have ever reached before. I had no hope left in me. I felt broken beyond repair. I thought healing was beyond reach for me. I thought there was no reason to go on. And for the first time, I really could have been gone. It seemed like nothing could help me stay. Thankfully, I found the last of the strength I had in me to reach out for help, someone responded to my urgent plea, and I didn’t act on the feelings and thoughts that were so pressing at the time. After this traumatic, scary experience though, I decided that I needed a break from medicine for a while. Since my medications weren’t helping at all and were only making things worse, I decided with my doctor to stop taking them for the time being. I’m open to trying again in the future if we think that is necessary, but for now, I’m taking a much needed break. At the same time, my doctor discovered something that he thinks is the cause for all of this emotional turmoil. We’re still in the process of beginning a new, quite unconventional treatment option, so I won’t share the details until we see if it works 🤞🤞🤞 but just knowing that this might help me, that I might get better, that my heart has a chance to heal, has brought so much hope into my world. I still cry. I still struggle with getting overwhelmed by small tasks. I still have daily thoughts of dying. I know I still have a looooong way to go to heal from these years of struggle, but for the first time in a very long time, I have a tangible feeling of hope for a bright future ahead for my life. It’s finally my own feeling, not just me trusting in the hope that others have for me. It brings immediate tears to my eyes to think of all the people who have been there for me along this wild ride and who have saved me when the darkness seemed all-consuming and was literally impossible to fight on my own. My life is forever changed by the Christ-like ministering and love I have seen through my darkest days.

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5.02.2019

Mental Health Awareness Month

Supposedly, this month is Mental Health Awareness Month, but I feel completely unqualified to say anything about it. I guess it's because I feel like I don't know anything about mental HEALTH anymore, only mental ILLNESS with my brain being so sick right now. 😜 This last weekend, I experienced a level of darkness that has left me scarred, wounded, and changed forever. It hurts that there is something so powerful and so painful that it has changed me in such a drastic way. Thanks to my incredible husband, wonderful friends, supportive church leaders, and an amazing doctor, I'm holding onto a few things they have repeated to me during this difficult time that give me glimmers of hope. While I don't feel these things for myself yet (which makes me feel raw, vulnerable, and slightly hypocritical sharing them), I can trust that they are true, because I trust that the people who say they love me or care about me really do.

1. My life is never too broken to heal.
2. Asking for help is not weak. In fact, it's one of the strongest things I can do.
3. I am not defined by my lowest points.
4. I may never be the same again after what I've experienced. But isn't that the point of the struggles we face-- to change us, to open our hearts, to give us new compassionate perspectives, and to show us how to help others?
5. I don't have to escape if I can heal, and I CAN heal.
6. It's okay to not feel hope for myself at the moment but to trust in the hope that others see and feel for my future.

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4.25.2019

My Crazy Tracker Charts

Once upon a time, my cool, nerdy, amazingly supportive husband Kyle made me an excel sheet we lovingly call my "crazy tracker charts." Yesterday I had my first collaborative care appointment, which means that my doctor, a counselor, and a psychiatrist all work together on my care. I brought my charts, and they made it very obvious that I have rapid cycling bipolar 2. I've spent a lot of time in very deep depression this month, but there is hope and healing ahead. It's going to take time and work and figuring out more things medically first, but we will get there. Someday, I hope my charts will be small waves with lots of time spent at 0 (normal). But until then, I'll keep plugging in the data and enjoy seeing the craziness of my brain on my awesome charts.


4.19.2019

Miracles

I know I've shared a lot recently, and I won't share so much in the future, but my hope is that sharing can bring light and hope to someone else who is fighting similar battles.

Yesterday was a day of hellish darkness. When I woke up, I immediately knew that I was in the fight for my life. But this time, I couldn't find it in myself to try to be patient and submissive. I was angry that this darkness persists and so very tired of fighting. As tears soaked my face and as my heart crumbled, this thought came into my mind, "Be prepared to see miracles today." Every time the darkness is this thick, every time I don't know how I can survive one more storm, every time I wonder how a heart can endure so much pain and keep beating, I see miracles. Not miracles of healing, but miracles of strength and love, and yesterday was no different.

First, it was a good friend who listened as I cried and who spoke comforting words of encouragement. Then, it was two people who texted one right after the other saying that I was on their mind that morning and asked how I was doing. One of them also told me about an article in the Ensign which I read right away and it touched my heart. Next, it was a friend who dropped anything she may have had going to come and sit with me. She let me explain my darkness, she told me about her struggles, and our hearts connected on a level that can only come through struggle. After that, it was a sweet card that came in the mail from a dear friend with a package that I ordered from her. She didn't have to do that, but it couldn't have been better timing. Finally, it was a friend who sent me a picture of two Dove chocolate wrappers with sweet quotes that she said made her think of me.

None of these acts took away my darkness, and it stubbornly persists today. But they wrapped my broken heart in love. They buoyed me up and strengthened me. They carried me through the darkness and helped me once again find the will to win.

I am thankful for the "immediate goodness of God" that I see and feel through the wonderful people all around me. I'm thankful that I don't have to face this struggle alone, as I'm positive I wouldn't still be here if that were the case. I'm thankful that I am able to experience miracles, even if they aren't the miracles I sometimes desire. I'm thankful for the love that binds together the broken pieces of my heart until they can heal someday. Someday I hope to be the one to let someone else see God's goodness through me as so many have done in my life.

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4.17.2019

Smile

A few weeks ago, I was driving to take a picture of the foundation on our new house. I had been feeling alright that day, but as soon as I was alone, I began to cry and couldn't hold back the tears no matter how hard I tried. At first, they were tears of confusion and frustration as I wondered what had just happened and why my mood had crashed so quickly. After just a few minutes though, my thoughts spiraled downward, and I desperately wanted to die. I thought of my husband and kids and knew that I needed to hold on for them, but the pain was so great as I wondered how I could ever survive crash after crash after crash in the future. It hurt in a way that I feel few people could ever understand unless they have been there, and pretty soon the warm, angry, sorrowful tears steadily streamed down my face.

I got home, parked my car in the back corner of the parking lot, and sobbed. I felt all alone and weak in this moment of great hurting, and I wondered how I would ever find the strength to pull myself together and go inside my house.

And then something miraculous happened. I was parked in an area that didn't have an outlet, so no one would come over there unless they were parking there as well or lost. There were several parking spots open next to me and no one was around, so I felt like I could get my tears out without anyone seeing. After a few minutes, an older man came and parked next to me. When he saw my face, I'm positive he could see that I had been crying. Without saying a word, he smiled the most genuine and heartfelt smile I've ever seen. The look in his eyes was as if he were comforting me and saying, "It's okay. You're going to be okay." In that moment, I felt an overwhelming feeling of God's love for me. I felt that I was not alone, that God was so mindful of me, that He cared about me and hurt to see me hurt, and that I really would be okay. The man backed out of the parking spot almost as quickly as he had parked and drove away.

Immediately, my tears stopped flowing, I dried my face, and I returned to the safety of my home and family. All because a kind man took the time to smile at me.

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