Let me tell you a story

This one’s for all the naysayers. For all the people who say depression is all in your head. For anyone who has been affected by this disease.

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Let me tell you a story. A story about a girl. When this girl was 19 and home from college for winter break, she got very sick. She had debilitating headaches every day. She couldn’t leave her bed. She slept most days because that was the only way to keep the headaches at bay.

Her family became growingly concerned about her health and encouraged her to see her doctor. Her doctor ran some tests which were mostly inconclusive, and then referred her to a neurologist.

Unsure of the cause of his patient’s headaches, the neurologist ordered an MRI. He was concerned there may be an aneurism or tumor.

Thankfully, when the MRI results came back, no aneurism or tumor was found.

But that didn’t mean the girl’s headaches had gone away. The neurologist ran some additional diagnostic tests and concluded that the cause of the girl’s headaches was a chemical imbalance.

The girl had low levels of serotonin in her brain.

The neurologist explained by using the following example:

“Let’s say that most people, have a serotonin level of 10 out of 10. People with severe depression are at a 1 out of 10. You’re somewhere in the middle. For you, right now, the chemical imbalance is causing headaches. It could easily lead to depression over time.”

So the neurologist put the girl on a low dose of Zoloft (most widely known as an anti-depressant). The neurologist gradually increased the girl’s dosage until her headaches went away.

The neurologist warned that the girl could never go off the medication “cold turkey” or there could be serious side-effects and mentioned that she would most likely be on this medication for the rest of her life. You see, if the chemical imbalance wasn’t rectified, she could fall victim to her debilitating headaches again or become clinically depressed.

As her doses increased and her headaches became less frequent, the girl quickly bounced back to life. She was no longer sleeping all day. She wasn’t taking copious amounts of Aleve or Advil to get through the day.

All she needed was that one little pill.

But then, about a year or two later, the girl thought she knew better than her neurologist. As is typical of young adults in their early twenties, the girl was “college poor” and working her way through school. She mismanaged her money and was dangerously close to falling behind on her bills. Since her headaches hadn’t been very frequent, she thought she could maybe just skip her pills for a month. Her pills cost about $50 or $75 a month (which was a lot of money for her).

She started cutting her pills in half, to make the ones she had at her apartment last a little while longer.

But then, things started to change. The girl became very moody. She kept to herself. She never wanted to hang out with her friends, family or sorority sisters.

Then one day, the girl’s best friend and pledge sister sat her down and asked, “What is going on? Something’s not right. You’re not yourself. I struggled with depression in high school and I’m seeing a lot of these signs with you. What do you need? What can I do?”

The girl began to sob. She knew something was wrong, too. And she knew what the cause was – that pesky chemical imbalance.

She knew that what she needed was her medication. But she couldn’t afford it. The girl’s BFF told her to call her parents.

The girl’s parents had noticed some of the signs as well and were relieved their daughter had a friend who was looking out for her. Who saw the warning signs. Who helped her get the help she needed.

Of course, the girl’s parents said that finances should never be a reason why the girl couldn’t get her much-needed medication. So they paid for her meds for the following months until things started to balance back out.

The girl realized that this chemical imbalance caused more than just her headaches. If untreated, her life could quickly head into a downward spiral.

It’s now been more than a decade since that girl learned that lesson. She hasn’t always remembered to take her medication faithfully every day, and when she does forget, she’s usually reminded within a couple of days with one of those debilitating headaches. 

If she misses more than a day, she feels the overwhelming weight of the early stages of depression.

The girl and her BFF
The girl and her BFF

Obviously – if you haven’t figured it out – I am that girl. 

I am that girl who used to hide behind the fact that she took an anti-depressant daily and would tell any pharmacist, doctor or nurse who asked why she took it, “Oh, it’s NOT for depression. I get headaches.” 

I am that girl who was afraid to be labeled as someone who suffered from depression because of society’s negative labels of mental illness.

I am that girl who takes a little pill everyday to keep her happy and headache free.

I am that girl who was lucky enough to have loving family, friends and a BFF who cared about her and pushed her to get the help she needed.

I am that girl.

TBT: Cliff Climber

TBT brings us back to Door County and the 90s.  Here I am on some cliff of rocks back in 1992 with an old school Timberwolves sweatshirt.* Also, you gotta love the matching scrunchie. 

Emily-Door County 1992_0041

 I always loved our camping trips to Door County every year, as it is such a beautiful place

*This sweatshirt was probably not old school in 1992–but hipsters in Minnesota would probably pay big bucks for that sweatshirt today. Also, while we grew up in Wisconsin, our parents and extended family are from Minnesota, so we had some influence by them on our sporting teams…however I can say Amy and I are hardcore Packers and Brewers fans.

All the baby succulents

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last succulent propagation update, so I figured I should share what’s happening!

succulent propagation succulent propagation succulent propagation

As you can see, I have lots of succulent leaves that have sprouted babies and even more that have started rooting.

By the end of summer, I should have a bunch of babies ready to sell or swap!!

succulent propagation succulent propagation succulent propagation

I’ve been sharing some of my more successful propagation efforts. But that doesn’t mean that all of my efforts have been successful.

propagation failure

When I see a leaf shriveling or becoming translucent, I remove it from my propagation pots. There’s no point in spending more time on it, unless it’s a special/rare plant I’m trying to propagate.

St. Croix State Park

scsp riverA couple weeks back, Matt and I did a little camping near Superior, Wisconsin. On our way back, we decided to get one more hike in before we headed home. We stopped at St. Croix State Park in Hinckley, Minnesota.

St. Croix State Park has a ton of trails and is a huge state park. It has two rivers and is great for any outdoor enthusiast–from hikers to mountain bikers to canoeists, campers and more.

scsp river bluffWe hiked on the River Bluff trial. It was quite pretty, however the bugs were thick–nothing a little bug spray couldn’t combat as long as you kept moving. 

scsp river bendI always find water peaceful. I would have sat and relaxed a bit beside the river, if it weren’t for bugs that would’ve ate me up. 

scsp river edgeAll in all it was a good hike. The only downside was having quite a few ticks covering Matt and myself…unfortunately Mr. Jack had us both beat on the tick count. We had to have removed 20+ ticks from Mr. Jack. He got a special bath when he got home too. Ticks can be scary with the threat of Lyme disease, luckily we all made it through fine–no tick bites.

scsp river bluff trialOther than our experience with ticks, St. Croix State Park was a fun place to visit. We barely hit the surface of what that state park has to offer. We will have to make our way back there soon.

Yay ‘Merica!

Summerfest Big Bang_1July2014_tkant

 

Happy 4th of July y’all! Enjoy celebrating our great country! Yay ‘Merica!!

 

(Photo: Big Bang during Summerfest 2014 — Milwaukee, by Papa Kant) 

TBT: Emily’s Goodbye to Milwaukee

TBT brings us back to a sad time…when I left Milwaukee back in 2011. While I miss Milwaukee, I do really enjoy living in the Twin Cities.

When you are leaving your home, obviously you need a going-away party. I love Mexican food, so it was also necessary to stop at one of the many great Mexican restaurants in Milwaukee. You could say we had a Going Away Fiestsa.

going away fiesta

Here is Amy, Andy, and I outside of the restaurant. I mean when there is a statue like that outside of a restaurant, how do you not take a photo with it?

cake time

Amy got me with a going away cake…it was delicious.

 cake fail

Cake Fail. Or rather, eating cake in a moving car fail.

 

More Succulent Rescues…

This past week, I was “gifted” a plant arrangement in desperate need of some TLC by some coworkers who found this in the office of someone who recently took a new job.

Succulent Rescue

As you can see, it was in rough shape. There were actually three different plant varieties in the basket, but my coworkers took one of the varieties out.

I did some research and figured out that the vining plant with pretty yellow blooms is actually a succulent! It’s a calandiva. It clearly was reaching for sunlight for a very long time. 

The most difficult part of this plant rescue was not figuring out what to do with the Calandiva – It was a succulent and I knew if I just snipped them and made cuttings, it would survive and be much healthier. The difficult part came when trying to free the other plant from the mess of roots in the pot!

I split the plants between three new homes. Most of the calandiva is in a plastic pot with the right kind of soil and lots of rocks for draining. One cutting is now in a vintage animal cracker tin, with two other succulents and lots of rocks. The other plant (I didn’t really investigate what it is), is now in another plastic pot and enjoying having its own space for roots to grow.

Succulent Rescue

Next week, I’ll be answering some of the questions I am often asked about caring for succulents. If you have a question for me, post a comment below!

Oh, and in case you missed it… head over to our Facebook page! I now have some succulent arrangements/terrariums available for sale in the Milwaukee area! Sorry to those who aren’t in SE Wisconsin – I haven’t figured out how to ship these safely! Here’s a sneak peek:

sconniesucculents8

TBT: Tie Dyed in Door County

TBT brings us back to the 90s in Door County. If you haven’t heard of Door County, it is a beautiful place. Some even call it the “Martha’s Vineyard of the Midwest.”

We always went camping in Door County when we were little. We stayed at the same campground, which had a pool, playground, and a game room–so in kids’ terms it was pretty awesome.

It is also a gorgeous place to explore with great hiking, awesome beaches for swimming and sandcastles, many wonderful cute downtown areas to enjoy, and pretty tasty fish fries too! If you have never been there, you should definitely visit it some day. If camping is not your cup of tea, I hear they have many great hotels and B&Bs.

3 Kids_Door County

Also, don’t you love our matching tie-dyed tees! If you have to match, what better option than tie-dyed…especially in the 90s.

TBT: The Technicolor Dream Coat

This is my favorite photo I have with my dad. I think I was about 4, so it is late 80s or early 90s. I am wearing Joseph’s Technicolor Dream Coat (i.e. a paper bag I colored all over). It was a project I had done in preschool or Sunday School, as we were learning about Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors.

Emily & Dad coat of many colors

Amy and I have a pretty awesome dad. Also, if it weren’t for the carpeting and the old box tv, you would think my dad is quite the hipster.

Mr. Jack & his love of eating water

Mr. Jack is a pretty great dog. He also has a hilarious love of eating water. 

(Thanks Mom & Dad for watching Mr. Jack and catching this hilarious video.)