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Mother’s Day 2014

June 5, 2014
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Man, Depression lately has really been bringin’ me to my knees. I don’t know if it’s hormones or work or both, but there are days the pain is literally unbearable and I can’t pick up and keep going anymore… utterly at its mercy.

I have no idea how so many Depression sufferers survive without the support of loved ones and family. (…I guess the truth is that many don’t survive.) I am convinced that family, especially parenthood, is the single most beautiful thing on this planet, and it keeps me picking myself up and trying again.

I’m not one to make a habit of sulking and writhing in misery in front of my son, placing the burden of my depression on his shoulders, but there are days- once in a blue moon– that I have to tell him I’m just not feeling well and I need to crawl into bed (and cry). Today was one of those days. Keithy tried to take him to ‘let me rest’ but Adry very adamantly told him, “I need to be with Mommy!” With utmost gentleness and compassion, he crawled into bed beside me. He didn’t ask me why I was sad; he didn’t demand to know reasons; he didn’t try to talk me out of it. He wrapped his arms around me and gave me kisses on my cheek, eskimo kisses, and butterfly kisses. He intertwined his fingers in mine and held my hand. He told me he loved me, that I was his “favorite mommy” (haha) and he never wanted to leave me, and that it was okay to just “cry it out”. We laid there together like that for 4 hours. He eventually began reading books to me until I drifted off to sleep. (He read The King Who Rained and a collection of Garfield comics. I fell asleep to his rhythmic voice sounding out unfamiliar words and giggling. I loved it.)

My God, I love him so much I physically feel my heart break over it. I am so incredibly thankful for his love for me. I didn’t expect it and I don’t deserve it, but I have it and I cherish it. I’m sorry he has to see me sad sometimes- it’s not my wish for him- but I also know that no one can replace me… I’m his mommy and I’m so very grateful for that privilege.

Motherhood possesses a healing power- a strength and determination that I don’t think I could find anywhere else other than in my son and the simple fact that I am responsible for loving him and providing for him. And I am excited to share multiply that love and responsibility for Ella.

That being said, I had a very pleasant Mother’s Day this year. I got to spend time with my family. We went to Prairie Oaks Park and had a little lunch, then walked through the cemetery in which Jonathan Alder is buried… (call it an early Memorial Day observation of sorts.) I shot a ton of pictures I’ll share with you now:

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The Moms Selfie! I love my mom so much!!

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All our boys!!

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“You see flowers in these weeds”


So, the rest of the evening Adry took reign of my camera and snapped several photos. I’m not going to lie- I actually dig a lot of his shots! Perhaps he’ll follow in my dad’s footsteps and become interested in photography and develop a good eye for lighting and composition. The first few are just silly ones in the car, but then he got all artsy at the cemetery.

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He shot this from a gravestone that said, “Loving and Caring Mother”. The thought of losing and burying a mother seemed to really hit a soft spot for him and he spent a lot of time at his grave looking at all the little trinkets that had been placed around it, and snapping photos.

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Adry asked me to take this photo of him and I obliged…
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Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Husband Bravo Chef Extraordinaire (Surprise Date Night)

July 6, 2013
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I’d been dealing with a pretty heavy depression for a few days. The kind that no matter where you go you can’t escape that gray, gloomy raincloud hovering over your head… the air is so thick and your chest is so heavy that it’s hard to breath. The no-good-reason, 100% chemical-imbalance depression. It’s the worst kind of depression because it tricks you into believing that it will never end and there’s no hope in sight. It feels like every single thing in your life, good or bad, is twisted and ugly and sad and pathetically hopeless.

You’d think that with all of of our scientific discoveries and medical research that someone could have come up with a quick cure for that, you know? Something so much better than hit-or-miss, numbing SSRI pills that take a month to kick in at the possible risk of increased suicidal feelings and anxiety. (They suck.) Like Soma pills from Huxley’s Brave New World! I’d take a holiday!

Alas, I don’t have Soma, but I DO have a Keithy! He knew I was having a hard time.

I came home Friday evening from work expecting to have to get a bunch of house chores done and blah blah blah the work never ends  and instead saw this on the door:


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I went inside and there Keithy was in a chef’s apron donning a big fake mustache, talking in an accent welcoming me to ‘Keithstro 77’ in broken english, haha!

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He pulled my chair out for me and had me take a seat.

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He had me choose three items from the menu.

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Once I decided, he brought out his homemade hommus for me to munch on while he “made” the meal. It was delicious!

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After we ate I got to choose from like 10 girly/dramatic movies that he had chosen from the library.

Anyway, it was a perfect evening because he was hilarious and made me laugh, and I felt so very loved and taken care of.

I have such an amazing husband. Even the most intense depression cannot infiltrate a joyful marriage. Thank you, Keithy Martin, for the joy you bring me.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal


January 11, 2011
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I believe, y’all, that I hit the peak of my selfish, self-centered, run-from-my-pain delusional lifestyle. I’ve come to a turning point.

I’m beginning to come back down and see past myself. I’m beginning to open my arms to loving people, not for what they can do for me, but for who they are and what *I* can do for *them*. My head is clearer and I’m thinking more rationally. For the first time since my split with Ben I can look at my son, and instead of feeling overwhelming guilt and stress and self pity I instead feel full to the brim of just passionate, motherly, self-sacrificial love. Beautifully painful. I don’t know how else to describe it.

It feels SO good to feel more like myself. I want to hold onto this. I’m terrified I’m going to relapse into self-absorbed guilt and grief and depression again. Those feelings are nightmarish.

If there’s ONE thing I’ve learned from this experience so far, it’s mercifulness. In the midst of the most selfish period of my life I learned a deeper level of humbleness and mercifulness… somehow. It’s like, I so badly needed compassion and mercy simply BECAUSE I didn’t deserve it at all. And so now I desire to more humbly administer compassion and mercy to others who act selfish and don’t deserve it. I’ve learned that there’s a lot of pain behind selfishness, so I will be quick to understand, slow to judge.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Appreciation Project

December 23, 2010
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December 16 AP 350– Winter activities/festivities. Snowmen, snowball fights, ice skating (and I don’t even ice skate, but I still love it), sledding, etc.

December 17 AP 351– Hummus. Garlic and roasted pine nut. On flat pretzels. Or pita bread.

December 18 AP 352– Holiday traditions. Santa Clause: love the magic and imagination! Rudolph, cookie decorating, TV specials, Coke Christmas edition cans, LIGHTS everywhere…

December 19 AP 353– Classic Christmas music. Bing Crosby, Vince Guaraldi, Brenda Lee Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, the list goes on and on and on and on… I love it ALL, and I love the mood it sets. We’ve had it blasting a lot in this house and I’ve loved every moment. I appreciate the ‘Christmas spirit’.

December 20 AP 354– The Christmas Story. Mary, Joseph, Jesus. The nativity. I’ve been going to church since the very week I was born without any breaks, and that story still gets me. Mary and Joseph’s relationship, Jospeh’s trust and obedience, Mary’s courage and faithfulness, their travel and hardships, Elizabeth’s conception, the star… and the shepherds. If I could be anyone in the story I would want to be one of the shepherds who saw the angels in the sky praising God, and then they got to go see the baby in the manger for themselves… their newborn king.

December 21 AP 355– Christmas shopping, (finishing my Christmas shopping!), gift wrapping, and ultimately watching Adry and others receive and enjoy their gifts. It’s a good feeling, no?

December 22 AP 356– Sucking it up: spending time alone. In the past I was never one to run from pain. I would get unbearably depressed or anxious or lonely and I’d suck it up and trudge through it and endure until it was over. I’d get in my bed blanket cave and I’d cry and wait it out. I’ve always had depression issues. I don’t need a failed marriage to make me feel depressed, and I can clearly distinguish grief from my usual depression. The BIG difference now, though, is that I run from it. I can’t STAND it. I feel it coming and I get restless and I want to crawl out of my skin. I leave the house, I cling to people and affirmation, I indulge in mind numbing activities to get a “fix”, and I refuse to be alone. But tonight I felt it- that gnawing depression- and I had the strongest urge to just LEAVE and do something to distract myself, but I sat through it instead. I stayed home and finished laundry and wrapped my presents for Adry and got the rest of my chores done. I came >this< close to texting a few of my friends and asking them if I could come over, but I didn’t. I stayed home with my boy, faced it head-on, and endured. And right now I’m feeling more like my old depressed self- depressed but content- rather than depressed and absolutely pathetically desperate.

And by the way, I’m not ashamed that I struggle with depression. NOT ASHAMED. And I WILL speak up about it. Because SO many people suffer from it and it’s NOT something to deny. And I say this because very recently, right when I was going through the whole marriage breakup fiasco, I was accused of being depressed as if it was wrong or my fault. Dude, I’m not even kidding. This person, with several witnesses in close proximity (as I was crying, mind you) accused me of several vile things, one of which was being depressed as if it was shameful.

It amazes me how, even with so many sufferers, Depression is so misunderstood and mistreated and ignorantly judged. I guess people who don’t feel it just can’t comprehend it… ? I don’t know. But I just want to tell anyone out there who might be reading this and needs to hear it::: Depression is not wrong nor controllable (though can be managed), and it is not your fault and you should never feel ashamed. And besides taking numbing medication with terrible side effects and withdrawal, there’s nothing you can do about it so you might as well embrace it. You can try to deny it, you can try to ignore it, you can try to run from it, but it’ll eat you alive if you don’t just accept it. Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior or weak or faithless. You get up and you get through your day with a dead weight on your chest suffocating you… That’s not weakness; that’s strength.

Click here to read my AP entry for Depression

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

“Life’s like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.”

November 21, 2010
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November 13 AP 317– MexiCoke! YUM YUM YUM. The perfect Coke!

I bring to you a series of photos entitled ‘I Pose With My MexiCoke’.

November 14 AP 318– The Ohio State University campus. Mom and I went to see a Jim Henson film at the Wexner Center on campus and then we ate at Tommy’s. I just remembered how I LOVED to be a student walking those streets in the fall among other students all bundled up. There’s something about the atmosphere that gets me.

November 15 AP 319– My decision to not date and just make friends.

November 16 AP 320– Jumbo! My Jumbo Love: a big purple hippo who has seen more tears and heard more giggles and taken more punches and snuggles than any other person or thing on this EARTH. He is also falling apart, but I will make sure he does not disintegrate in my lifetime.

November 17 AP 321– Wearing off of depression and anxiety. I just realized that for the FIRST TIME since NOVEMBER 2009 that I have HAPPY (or at least content) days WITHOUT MEDICATION. This time last year I spent EVERY.SINGLE.DAY in a state of PANIC and racing heart and/or severe depression and/or SEVERE full blown panic attacks aaaaaaall the way through the winter until I started on Paxil. Then I weaned myself slooowly off Paxil and Depression and chronic moderate anxiety attacked with a vengeance, but things are getting better. I’m totally okay and managing and functioning on my own. Yay!

November 18 AP 322– Panera’s  broccoli and cheddar soup in a bread bowl, but especially my darling brother  Matthew treating me to dinner.

November 19 AP 323– My letters from Adam. They make me feel like a giddy middle schooler with a crush. Definitely something to look forward to throughout the day.

November 20 AP 324– My awesome bike and bike seat and Adry’s trailer *breath* AAAAAND Girls’ Night out of the house with Mary & Crew. Really funny ladies. Pictures of the bike ride coming soon.

November 21 AP 325– Triumph over OCD, one ritual at a time.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal


August 13, 2010
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An update.

Probably four days a week I succumb to intense depression. If I manage to get out of bed to get dressed and get to work on mommy chores, I cry throughout the entire day with a debilitating pain in my gut.. Other days I am too sick to get out of bed except to feed and watch over my child. Getting up is literally physically painful and tiring, as if I have a rotting tummy, a brain without gravity, and weights chained to every limb.

I’m sick of making decisions. If someone could please just walk me through this and tell me exactly what to do every step of the way, I would really appreciate it. I’ve lost all motivation. One minute I want a fresh start to reinvent myself and find clarity, and the next I want to bury myself in blankets and lose consciousness. I just want to know exactly what to do, and I want to do it without looking back. Limbo is killing my soul, slowly and painfully.

If I could go back to my life of ignorance- before I found anything out- when I felt pretty okay and had hope that the days were getting brighter and we were on the right path, I would. Heh. I so would. Hope was my backbone, and living without it has been a nightmare.

Why why why why WHY is this happening again?

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

The Blue Day Book

July 10, 2010
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July 9 AP 190– The Blue Day Book.

The Blue Day Book: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up by Bradley Trevor Greive

No, the mug does not come with it; it's just for scale.

Perfect for: a friend in the throes of heartbreak, grief, depression, or simply the blues.

When Alexz first gave The Blue Day Book to me my first impression was that it was a simple inspirational gift book filled with sweet nothings and simple photography; however, this is genuinely a quality book filled with humor, truth, and challenge.

In less than 100 sentences this book successfully made my laugh, think, and tear up. I was encouraged to view my situation in a new perspective. While reading its inspiring message I enjoyed black and white photographs of animals: some funny, some beautiful, some adorable.

Cheer someone up today and give them The Blue Day Book. I highly recommend it.

You might also be interested in The Blue Day Book for Kids.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Appreciating Depression

April 18, 2010
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April 18 AP 108– 2 Corinthians 12 and Depression.  Anxiety, depression, anxiety, depression.  If it’s not one it’s the other, and sometimes both at the same time.  I hate anxiety.  Hate it.  HATE.IT.  But I’ve never altogether hated my depression.

Don’t get me wrong.  It sucks.  It is about the most horrible feeling on Earth, I’d say third to grief and anxiety.
And I’m feelin’ it now.  Not just the numbing kind that you can try to fight through to get through the day with a smile on your face for the benefit of others.  No, today I have the dead weight in your tummy, elephant on your chest, sad sad sad kind.  I want to curl up in bed in the safe haven of my blanket and pillow cave and cry and do nothing and be nothing.  I just want blackness… unconsciousness… to cease to think, feel, exist.  (Not to be confused with suicidal thoughts.  I’m not suicidal.)  I know this isn’t the worst it can get, either.  But still… I don’t mind it.


"7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

I cling to Him when I am depressed.  I turn to Him.  I have physically felt him hold me, you guys.  It is all too clear to me that I am His, and this life is His, and I run to nowhere and gain nothing when I try to take control and live for what I want.

I don’t think God GIVES me depression.  I think it is a natural result of my chemical makeup, and of a fallen world.  God planted his seed and tends to his beautiful creation garden, and whether by a simple snap of His fingers or a beautifully and perfectly crafted evolutionary process, I am the way I am.  I know that God will not take depression away from me.  I know this.  He’s made it clear.  He’s given me the strength and willpower to fight anxiety and panic attacks, but I know in my heart of hearts that depression is a lifetime companion for me.  But He uses it– He uses it to soften my heart, to humble me, to slow down my otherwise racing thoughts so that I can Be Still Know That He Is God.  He uses it to break down my walls so that I may accept His strength and comfort.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal