The thing I despise very most about Rocky (my kidney stone) is how he has affected my mental health more and more as time has gone on.  Because of the pain from him and my surgery to aid in my process of getting rid of him, I've had to stop swimming, standing/walking for too long, and driving.  (Thankfully the last couple of days have been better so I've been able to do a little more.)  Because of the infections he has caused, I've had to stay away from people and germs to try to get this all cleared up so I can get the surgery done to take him away forever.  All of these things combined make a perfect recipe for depression.  And then it's all compounded by the fact that it's Christmastime and my depressed brain tells me that I'm the crummiest mom ever, my kids will never have good memories, they need someone else who can give them a better life, and I'm simply not good enough.  All the tears this week have been exhausting.  

One good thing is that I can clearly see the impact exercise has on my mind, which gives me even more motivation to do it when I'm a able to again. 

Another good thing is that I have a sweet boy who is willing to share his most prized puppy, blankie, and blippi bear when I can't seem to stop the tears from flowing. 😍 

And the last good thing is that I have an appointment tomorrow with the urology clinic.  I had a urine culture on Monday and not all of the infection is gone yet, but hopefully we can still schedule to get rid of Rocky forever!!!  🤞🤞🤞


Finished Socks!

 Thanks to Birdie's Pie Shop and Thrivent and other generous donations, along with LOTS of willing hands, we finished all of our socks and messages for this year!  I can't wait to take them to the youth and adult inpatient mental health units for Christmas morning. 




It's the best word I can use to describe what I felt this day last year.  It was this day that I was able to go home from the third time of being in the hospital.  Quite honestly, I was terrified.  The last two times I had gone home, I left the "safety" of the hospital and came home only to find out both evenings that the severity of anxiety was still ever-present and ever-painful.  I had grown convinced that this was my new life, a life that I simply could not bear.  I wondered if I would forever have to live in the hospital, away from my precious family, because that would be the only place where I could be okay.  I had never felt something like this before, and there continue to be no words to explain how excruciatingly painful all of it was.  

This time, I came home ready for the panic attack that was sure to rear its ugly head that evening.  Literal miracles had occurred that third time in the hospital, but I still wasn't sure if they would last or if I was still living on the high of having hope in a better life than I had before imagined for myself.

I got home, we finally celebrated my birthday since I had gone back to the hospital on my birthday, and we snuggled on the couch to watch a movie.  I continued to tell myself that this time was different, that I wasn't going to panic like before, that I really was okay, but this huge part of me didn't know what to believe, and I was beyond scared.  If those physical symptoms of anxiety manifested themselves again, especially to the intensity I had been enduring for so long, I knew we would have to make some very difficult decisions about my long-term wellbeing.  

But that evening, there was no panic.  I still wasn't convinced that I wouldn't end up back in the hospital within a few weeks or months,  but an evening without panic felt like maybe, just maybe, I had finally woken up from the nightmare I had been stuck in for 4 months.  

The next day was the same.  No panic.  Still fear that this wouldn't last, but no physical anxiety like before.  Day after day, this continued.  There were many ups and downs, but they were different.  I could tell that the cocktail of medications I was taking was working.  There were powerful triggers that would leave me crippled, but Kyle helped me through those, and I remained out of the hospital.  

This last year has been difficult in ways that are equally impossible to describe, but we are moving forward.  The hard days are spreading out farther.  The good days are becoming more of the normal.  I am finding peace.  

This is the day I gained a second chance at life, because I was finally free.



 Happy acai bowl day to me! 😂 I told myself a long time ago, that when I made it to my 2000 lap mark of swimming, I would buy myself a dragon bowl with my own spending money to celebrate.  I took the whole summer off from swimming to spend more time with my kids (plus I was biking everywhere with them with Garrett in a trailer, so that was plenty of working out), but I got back into swimming at the start of the school year and have been going strong since.  

I used to swim 34 laps (33 laps is 1/2 mile, but who wants to stop at the other end of the pool?! 🤣) breaststroke 3 times a week.  Now I swim 3 times a week still but it's anywhere between 40 and 66 laps alternating between breaststroke and freestyle.  I've beat my half mile personal record by 35 seconds and my full mile personal record by 3 minutes.  

My body feels good, but even more than that, my mind feels good.  Toward the end of summer, some of the things we had been biking to were done, so my exercise decreased dramatically.  Not exercising as much + some medication issues + difficult topics in counseling led to a plunge into deep depression.  Now that I am swimming again, there have still been some bumps and triggers and uncontrollable life circumstances that have caused bouts of depression and anxiety, but I find that I am able to bounce back quicker and have much less drastic swings, when I am exercising regularly and pushing my body to work hard.  Hence, my reason for celebrating!



 Ever since July 16th, I have been living in this easily triggered state of the frequent "this time last year" trauma. Sometimes I could predict when it would come and other times it has caught me completely off guard. That is almost over for this year, and my counselor reassures me that it will be somewhat easier next year and continue getting easier as the years go by.

But this week is the worst of it. Last October 30th, I got home from my second and longest hospital stay, 2 1/2 weeks. But when I got home, not only were things not better, they were far worse! Kyle took the whole next week off work and my wonderful friend took my kids for the entire week while I literally just tried to survive. Kyle and I had some very special experiences together that week that I hold close to my heart, but ultimately he was there to save me. No one can comprehend what those days were like for me or him. We were living a pure hellish nightmare. I didn't know if or how things could ever get better from there.

On my birthday last year, November 4th, he took me to the hospital one last time. I stayed a long, lonely, tear-filled night in the ER waiting for a bed to open up. November 5th, I was officially admitted. When I met with the doctor that day, she asked why I was back and what I expected they could do for me. And then November 6th, things began to change in miraculous ways until I was ready to go home on November 11th and start picking up my broken pieces and trying to live life again.

I'm riding the wave that this week might be, but there's a difference this time. There's a light at the end of this dark tunnel. I've almost done it, friends. One year down, and hopefully it will keep getting easier from here.


Beautiful Progress

 When I started writing on social media about my struggles with mental health, I told myself that I would share all sides of it. The good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the triumphs and the setbacks.

Last night was both beautiful and triumphant. 

For the last several years, I have had pretty bad separation anxiety being away from Kyle Avery. I know people hear "separation anxiety" and think of babies or little kids, but it's not limited to that. You see, Kyle is my constant. He knows me better than anyone else. He knows what to do or say when I am struggling. We spend so many evenings and mornings talking about how I'm feeling and working through the process of overcoming these hurdles placed before us together. He has missed out on several opportunities in the last few years, because he knew I couldn't handle having him gone. But I've wanted to change this. I don't want us to live this way forever.

So we came up with some plans, some little baby steps we could take to overcome this huge hurdle. 

One of our ideas was for him to sleep with Garrett in the backyard, so we could be apart but still very close. That ended up being swapped when Brooklyn wanted to camp with me in the backyard. Although we had to come in early because of the weather, I still felt an increase in confidence, because I fell asleep without having anxiety.

The next step was me staying in a local hotel with Brooklyn for a night. For a while, I've been pretty scared about doing this, but since I've been doing well for the last little while, we thought maybe it was time.

Yesterday, Kyle explained to Brooklyn why we were doing this and that it was okay if we needed to come home early. She understood, so we headed out. First, we swam in the hotel pool as a family, went out to eat for dinner, and then Brooklyn and I went back to the hotel while Kyle and Garrett went home. Brooklyn swam a little more, we watched a movie together while I crocheted, and then we read until we were tired and ready to sleep. We called Kyle to say goodnight and then Brooklyn wanted to snuggle my arm to fall asleep. I fell asleep quickly without any anxiety.

This morning, I woke up early (5:30am) as I often do. I was scared for weeks leading up to doing a hotel stay that waking up early would be terrifying without Kyle there in case I wasn't okay, but I ended up being fine with only a little bit of anxiety. I still prefer having Kyle there, morning breath and all 😉😂 but I was happy to not have any big anxiety. 

When Brooklyn woke up, we got some hotel breakfast, packed up our things, walked across the street to look at a big Halloween display, and went home as planned. 

This is HUGE!! I can't even explain how good it feels to know that I can do this, slowly and as I am ready. We still have lots more steps to take, but this one rewired a part of my brain to tell me that being away from Kyle doesn't have to cause great anxiety.





Feeling Happy

 The last few days, I've felt happy.  I've caught myself smiling or laughing, and it's been completely genuine.  It's such an amazing feeling.  

Sometimes I get so scared sharing when I am happy (like right now 😬😫).  Not because I don't want people to know and not because it's not worth celebrating, but because I don't know how long it will last, and I know how incredibly difficult it is to share when I am not doing well again after telling everyone that things are good.  In fact, it took me 4 months into my pregnancy with Garrett before I started telling people that I had actually been feeling well that whole time, just because of this very fear.

I think we're making a huge breakthrough medication-wise.  It's too early to know and definitely too early to share, but I will share someday if the trend continues.  

Happy, light-filled days are such treasures to me.  I don't know how long this particular period of light will last, but I will love every second of it, even if it happens to be fleeting.





Birdie's Pies

 LOCAL FRIENDS!!!  The generous owners of the cutest pie shop in town, Birdie's Pie Shop, made this beautiful specialty pie and are giving the entire proceeds from the sales of this pie to my Christmas Socks for Hope project. Their generosity and kindness blow me away! The pies feature semicolons and hearts to stand for suicide prevention month.  I tried the pie this morning and it is beyond delicious!!  Be sure to stop by sometime this week to support their shop and my project.  And if you want, please share this post to help it reach more local friends.  It may seem like a small thing, but I know these socks and messages are warming feet and hearts.


How I Feel

 Things I have been hungering for people to know about how I've been feeling.  Not for a pity party or sympathy.  Just so people can know where I'm at and for me to relieve the heavy burden on my heart from feeling like I have to hide what is going on in my world right now.

--I feel alone.

--I feel unlovable.

--I feel incredibly scared of being vulnerable because of the fear of how it might be received.

--I feel like a huge burden.  

--I feel like I am losing everyone around me because of this ongoing struggle.

--I feel this heavy conflict of trying to love myself as I am now and not long for the person I used to be and want so bad to be again.

--I wonder if anyone can truly understand what I am feeling and experiencing, especially when there aren't often the adequate words to describe it.

--I feel like a shell of who I once was.

--I worry that I am beyond healing.

--I feel like it takes so much effort to smile and have fun.  I'm willing to make the effort, but I don't want it to be confused as me being okay.  It often feels fake or forced, but I'm trying my hardest to make it real again.

Like I said before, this is not a call for attention or sympathy.  I simply need people to know.  Kyle feels great confidence that God knows and loves me even as I am and that this will improve.  I am holding onto his confidence and having faith that he is right.

Once again, photo credit to the amazing Brooklyn.  She's going to be a professional photographer before I know it.


Happily Ever After

Us then and now.  9 years later.  9 years of growing more in love with each other every day.  9 years of working through heart wrenching challenges together.  9 years of hiking and chasing sunsets and looking for beautiful new places to explore together.  It's hard to remember what life was like before we had each other, and I'm thankful it feels that way.  

I've been really emotional lately.  This morning, I cried to Kyle that when we were married, it seemed like that should have been the start of our "happily ever after," but now it's hard to know what happily ever after even means.  In pure Kyle wisdom, he said, "True happiness comes through struggle, so that means we are living our happily ever after."  I realized that our relationship is rock solid, BECAUSE of the tears we've shed, the heartfelt prayers we have prayed, and the heavy trials we have faced hand in hand.  Our life together is nothing like what I imagined it would be, but our love is sweeter than what I ever imagined it could be.