Suicide is a Symptom

So I know it's been a while since I've written anything real and honest for you guys, and I'm sorry about that. The thing is, I haven't been in the best place, mentally, to even begin to feel like I could hand out advice or help anyone really.

This summer, depression hit me pretty hard. I couldn't understand it, because life itself was going fairly decent. There was nothing situational about my depression, yet I couldn't shake off the funk and function like an adult, at all. I got pretty good at slapping on a fake smile and doing what I could to keep the kids happy, but I felt like an empty shell.

Sometime in July, I started having intrusive thoughts about suicide. It wasn't that I wanted to die, but I didn't see much point in living. Sure, the kids needed me - but wouldn't they be better off with someone who could do things with them, be present and happy in the moments? Didn't they deserve that much? While there weren't any attempts on my life made, I did understand the severity of the depression and the suicidal thoughts and decided to seek help. 

I've dealt with depression for so many years; it almost seems synonymous with the lack of activity from the fibromyalgia. My general practitioner treated me with an SSNRI, claiming that it would help with the doom and gloom as well as the pain. It didn't. So we'd try another. I've cycled through a couple different medications, but the side effects always just seemed to make things worse. At the beginning of the summer, my doctor decided that I needed a "medication holiday" and that's when I realized that perhaps there was more going on with my mental health instead of simple depression.

Let me back up a little and talk about the side effects of the SSNRI. You see, when I was taking Effexor XR, I was always jittery and nervous and had massive amounts of energy. I would go days without sleeping, and while my body would get tired, it seemed like my mind was always in overdrive. I loved it because I thought that's what normal was supposed to feel like. It was so nice having the energy to do things!

But then after a couple of months, I would experience a crash and the depression would take back over. Everything would hurt and the headaches were enough to make me think I had a tumor or something horrendous going on. I'd make a new appointment, we'd go through another battery of tests, and then my doctor would decide to either switch me out to a different medication or increase my dose. This went on for a couple of years until she decided that I should stop taking them altogether. 

That brings us back to this summer. I truly believed that if left alone, I wouldn't be able to keep myself from ending my life. Between the depression and the panic attacks, I stopped leaving the house, I cut myself off from most of the world. I hated me, and I hated everything around me. OK, maybe that's not fair of me - I love my kids, I was just so annoyed and tired that I didn't want to be around them. After a long discussion with my mom, many tears and long hours spent researching, I decided to reach out for help.

I set up an appointment with the local mental health services, knowing it was time to start taking meds again. They told me I would need a full psychological evaluation before they would be able to set me up with anyone who could prescribe medication. This meant an hour of questions regarding my thoughts, patterns, relationships, etc. Having been through this a few times before, I wasn't looking forward to it since I already knew what was wrong with me. But, if this was what I needed to be able to get back on meds to fix my brain, I agreed. They let me know it would be about a month before they could fit me into the schedule.

About a week before my appointment, I woke up feeling fantastic. I cleaned the whole house, called my mom, did a couple of projects with the kids, and started on a painting that I had been meaning to try out for a few months. It was great! But that night, I didn't sleep. I didn't think much of it, I had so much on my mind and so many things I wanted to get started on the next day. At about 2:00 in the morning, I was sitting at the computer researching some new something or another when I realized I didn't feel right. I felt exactly like I had when I started taking the Effexor. I was jittery and couldn't sit still, rapid thoughts were flying through my head faster than I could process what they were, and even though I was tired, I didn't feel like I needed sleep. This lasted for five days.

My appointment finally came around, and as I sat there answering all of the questions for the psych eval, I realized that this isn't the first time this has happened. She asked me if I ever take unnecessary risks - well, no because I worry too much about the consequences. But then as we talked more, I started to recognize the patterns of behavior even from when I was a teenager that may have been considered impulsive. Taking spontaneous road trips halfway across the country by myself, meeting men in person that I had only talked to online, starting projects with "grand illusions" (I've started college four times now, each with a different degree in mind)... 

That's when I got my new diagnoses. Bipolar Disorder and Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia

Bipolar disorder. Huh. Well, I guess every guy I've ever dated would probably agree with that. The more I've thought about it, the more it fits. The feelings of superiority, impulsiveness, and highly elevated mood followed by what feels like a crash - weeks of not wanting to get out of bed, suicidal thoughts, a heavy feeling of doom following me around. 

I've had the diagnosis for about a month now, and I'm still coming to terms with it. I've started therapy and the doctor put me on an antipsychotic (Seroquel) although we may be adding a mood stabilizer as well at my next appointment. I'm starting to recognize thought patterns that lead to my spiraling, I'm trying to acknowledge that while I do have a mental disorder, I am in control. 

In the next couple of days, I'm hoping to write a post for anyone who may be going through something similar to maybe help others come to terms with a bipolar diagnosis. Perhaps what questions to ask, what types of therapy and medications are out there, and how to keep track of moods and recognize cycles. 

Meanwhile, if you have any questions or even a story to share, let me know in the comments. I've found that knowing I'm not alone in this is really helpful to keep me stable. 

Signs That Work Life Is Taking Its Toll

Could it be that your work life is bleeding out into your personal life? Raising a family is a job in itself, so work should only be about following your career goals and putting food on the table. However, we can find that our personal life becomes altered when work is getting to us. As parents we can then be short-tempered with our kids, make shortcuts for things we don’t need to such as not cooking and buying fast food for dinner and a whole range of things that change us into someone we don’t want to be. It's hard to resist getting annoyed or taking the frustrations of work to your home. We’re only human after all and feeling as if you need to change in some way to not get angry is normal. Here are some signs your work is taking its toll.

   

Tense neck and chest 

When we get tense and frustrated, it tends to show in our muscles. Most people can feel it in their shoulders as many knots form at the top and on our trap muscles. However, it can also make our neck and chest tense. Our blood pressure rises when we get stressed and angry, so the blood flow up toward the head is sometimes squeezed as it's the tallest traveling point of our blood. Our chest, therefore, has to work harder to pump blood around our body and especially up to our brain. Hence why if you feel a constant tightness in your neck and chest, you need to find ways of calming down and relaxing when you get off work. 



A chronic ringing 

At first, when we begin working in a somewhat loud environment, we definitely notice the difference from our old job. There’s just a lot of noise, no discernable sounds but just a wave of loudness. Getting off from work, if you can hear a ringing noise in your ear when you are in a quiet place, chances are your hearing is being damaged. It's not normal to have this chronic monotone high pitch noise in your ears. Here are some staple signs you need hearing protection for your work and how you could avoid long-lasting damage to your eardrums. Other signs may be that you tend to talk louder to people and they tell you to lower your voice. To you, it sounds completely normal, but that’s because normal sound levels have been made duller and quieter to your ears. 

Popping pills 

Headaches should only happen rarely. It takes a complex set of circumstances in your brain for it to feel internal pain. High amounts of stress for long periods of time can cause migraines and constant headaches. If you find yourself taking pills to soothe your headache pain more than twice a week, then you need to find ways of relieving your stress or changing things up at work. 

Work life should never have an effect on your personal life at home. Dragging the office back to your living room mentally is not a healthy way to live. Eventually, our health catches up to us so before you have some serious issues you should make some changes to your lifestyle.

An Easy Guide for a Trip to London, UK

London is on the top of many people’s lists when it comes to cities they want to see, and for a good reason! The city itself is ancient, built on top of Roman ruins and rebuilt again and again through history. It is one of the great seats of power in the west and was once the capital of nearly a quarter of the populated world and a quarter of the world’s population. London has history, it has culture, and it is still one of the best places to go for everyone. If you need help building your itinerary, however, here are some great suggestions for your next trip to London.

Top Landmarks to See

London has no shortage of landmarks. From the time it was known as Londinium and under Roman rule, the city has fallen, been rebuilt, and has evidence of each era if you know where to look. For most first-time tourists, however, these are the top landmarks you must see:

  1. Big Ben, the London Eye, and Westminster
  2. Buckingham Palace 
  3. Tower of London 
  4. The National Museums 
  5. Hyde Park 

There are hundreds of landmarks to enjoy in this amazing city, so if you don’t feel like seeing one or even all of these landmarks, there are so many other places to explore instead.

Top Markets to Visit

London’s markets are legendary, and of course local and tourist favorites. Whether you want somewhere to eat, to shop, or to simply wander through, here are the top markets you must see:

  1. Covent Garden 
  2. Borough Market 
  3. Portobello Road Market 
  4. Brick Lane Market 
  5. Camden Market 

If you are a true connoisseur of markets, however, don’t let this list deter you. There are markets in every borough and for many different purposes. There are flower markets, antique markets, food markets and more throughout London during each season. These five, however, are consistent staples and are open regularly all-year round.

Top Events to Go To

London is full of eclectic and must-see events throughout the year. From annual events like Christmas at Kew, or daily events like a West End show, here are the top activities to see during your trip:

  1. A West End Show 

    There are shows for everyone. From West End shows for kids like Wicked or the Lion King to more serious plays that feature some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. London rivals and even surpasses NYC for its theater performances, and you would be making a huge mistake in missing it.
  2. Christmas Events
    London positively lights up at Christmas. From the streets being bathed in wondrous Christmas lights to pubs being decked out for the holidays, there is something for everyone. Don’t miss out on:

    1. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
    2. Christmas at Kew 
    3. Ice skating at several top London Landmarks 

  3. Summer Events 

Summer is the time of food festivals, music festivals, and rooftop bars in London. As these events are hosted throughout the city, however, you will need to look up beforehand to see what will be near you and what is the most interesting. There is also the Notting Hill Carnival to enjoy, just remember to go on the “family friendly” day if you don’t want to get caught up in a massive street party.

London has everything, and the more you research, the more you can create a unique itinerary that is perfect for you.

Let your engagement ring do the talking about your relationship

If you want your beloved to cherish the engagement ring for many years to come, you need to look at different ways you can make the ring special. Buying a regular engagement ring from a jeweler is not going to surprise your partner and the ring will only be as special as any other diamond ring. Your partner is special to you and you need to take efforts to prove the same. How about custom designing your own special engagement ring?



Traditional or customized, what is your take?

In every committed relationship, the love is unique and two people are bound in a bond due to their love for each other. If you can find an engagement ring that is truly as special as your partner, it will be cherished for a lifetime to come. You need to pick a ring that is as unique as your relationship and it has to remind your partner of all the love you have for them. An engagement ring is worn for a lifetime to come and if you put in more efforts and customize the ring, it will only remind your beloved of the love you share.

The specifics of the customized diamond ring will vary because every couple is different and each one of us is unique. You might find the perfect ring by simply combining different elements like metal, diamond and gemstones while someone else might change the band style and the setting of the diamond to build a new style. There are endless ways in which you can uncover a truly unique and individual style. You can add a special touch to personalize the ring and add elements that reflect your relationship with your partner.

You can change the little things in a ring and make it unique and special. You could add side stones to the white diamond center stone or set platinum or gold in a traditional ring. You could pick a traditional ring and add gemstones to it or you could pick a platinum ring and add a band of diamonds on it. If you have a vision of the type of ring you want and you cannot find ways in which you can modify the ring you own, you can get a custom diamond ring for your love. A jeweler can help you with a custom design and you can get it made exactly the way you want it to be. Every engagement ring has a story to tell, make sure yours is worth remembering.

Things to keep in mind when ordering a customized engagement ring

If you have decided to get your partner a customized diamond ring, you need to keep certain things in mind.

  • Make an informed decision

Before you start planning a custom design for the ring, you need to understand the benefits and disadvantages of customizing a ring. You need to review the design and the idea before you turn it into a reality. Undoubtedly, there are a number of benefits of a customized ring. It will be a reflection of your creativity and your individual personality. It will also reflect your value and choice. The ring will be unique in every manner and there will be nothing like your ring with anyone else. The design will garner attention and it will become a piece of jewelry that will be cherished for many years to come. You can also choose to match the rings and create a symbol of your relationship as a couple.

With the benefits, you should also keep the trade-offs in mind. One is that the ring will be fairly expensive. You should not be surprised if you are asked to pay up to three times the amount you would have paid for a non-custom ring. This also depends on how elaborate the design of the custom ring is and the type of jeweler you choose. Further, a customized ring will take longer and if you want a unique, well thought out design, you will have to give the jeweler a time of a couple of months at least. A customized ring will require a lot more involvement from your part and the jeweler will have the final say in the design.

  • Understand the entire process

The specifications of the ring will vary according to your requirements and needs. It will also depend on the jeweler you choose for the task. However, if you understand the entire process of customization, you can ensure that the ring is exactly what you wanted it to be. You need to begin with sketching an idea by asking yourself about the type of ring you want. You do want something unique but that is not an answer to the type of ring you want, hence you will have to sketch the idea as best as you can. The more specific you are, the better your ring will turn out to be. You can search the internet for alternative options and look for your desired style. Pick something that catches your eye and try to explain the same to the jeweler in the best possible manner.

  • Find the right jeweler

If you have an idea in mind, you will have to look for a jeweler who can do the design. Pick a jeweler you can trust or choose the one who has already been working for you. Your jeweler might have someone in-house who can create custom designs for you. Ask your friends and family for referrals and connect with their jewelers. You need to see the past work of the jeweler before selecting one for the customized work. Any jeweler will add their own touches to your idea so you need to be very sure about the person you assign the work to. Understand their system of working and take a look at their portfolio before you ask them for a custom design. You can try your luck at https://www.jacobmercari.com where there are many design and style options for you to choose from.

  • Work with an expert designer

At this stage, if you have the sketches on hand and an idea of the ring in mind, you need to contact an expert jewelry designer. You can have a long conversation with them and ensure that your project is starting with the right mindset. After the ring is underway, you can review the color illustration and make changes if need be. When you see all the elements in person, you can gain an idea on how the ring will turn out. You might feel intimidated at the beginning because the jeweler is a stranger and you might not be able to explain your idea or concept to them. However, he or she is an expert and will grab the crux of the information in no time. You need to remember that it is your ring and it has to be just the way you want it to be. It is not the designer’s ring. You can take suggestions and voice concerns if you need to.

Lastly, you need to take care that you are working with an authentic jeweler who gives you details about all the elements you agreed to. Before the ring is turned into a reality, you need to agree to the final design and insure the ring. Take steps to protect the ring at all times and keep it safe and secure with an insurance cover.

Aromatherapy For Sleep: Infographic

Aromatherapy is a huge topic right now, as I'm sure you may have noticed from the influx of MLM posts around the internet trying to sell you essential oils. It's not without merit, though, as aromatherapy has been used since the early 1900s for psychological and physical well-being.

Being a mom, I know I usually try for the all-natural remedies for my kiddos before breaking into the medicine cabinet. Aromatherapy is one of my favorite methods for small ailments like stress or insomnia. 

Did you know, a 2015 study concluded that lavender as aromatherapy increased the quality of sleep and reduced anxiety in patients with coronary artery disease who were limited on medications that could be used to treat these common problems? 

Lavender isn't the only scent that has been proven to be an effective sleep aid. FragranceX even produced the infographic below to show how these natural sleep aids can be used and which methods work best. Check it out below, and don't forget to pin it for later!

Source: FragranceX 

What are your best sleep tips?
All families should vacation with their kids to Disney World at some point or another. It’s an experience the kids are sure to never forget. Families can save on a Disney vacation by buying or renting a Disney timeshare resale (AKA Disney Vacation Club) for their accommodation. These are spacious condo-like units within Disney’s resorts. If you choose to purchase a Disney timeshare and later want to sell it, get a timeshare worth estimate online first and then look for a broker sell Disney timeshare for you.