Archive | May 2016

Being the “Healthy” One…

Is it a privilege or something of a minor burden? I know that question sounds VERY selfish… and it probably is, but I find that as the person who is considered healthy it crosses the mind. In the grand scheme of things I am VERY thankful that I am blessed with a healthy and balanced mind (and for the most part body and soul). I have never experienced the lows of true clinical depression or the roller coaster of bipolar. I admit to anxiety here and there, but I think that is honestly a part of the human condition. We get anxious, we fight through it. Sometimes we win and find coping strategies, sometimes it overtakes us and we need assistance. Like I mentioned in my therapy blog post previously, there is absolutely NO shame in that!

But… at the same time… you are the outsider looking in, the cheerleader with no power to change the process, the speed, the outcome. There is a feeling of absolute dependence from time to time, I find. I am dependent on Ken to follow through on his process, to embrace his changes in order to attain his healthy lifestyle. I am relegated to the sidelines often when he comes home with a new strategy that only he can accomplish.

Yet, at the same time I am instrumental to his process. I am there to remind him, to support him, to pick up the pieces when something doesn’t work or he finds the burden of daily responsibilities too heavy in tandem with these new skills he so desperately needs and wants.

There is a weird experience of being silenced and yet heard at the same time. I can speak and it is a toss up as to whether or not my words will reach him at times, not by choice but a combination of his own existing issues (like the hearing disorder) and a lack of skills to process my ideas and my speed (and yes, I am well aware that I am a max level multi tasker with a high level of self motivation and perfectionism…). Sometimes it is my suggestion that is the solution, sometimes it is my confusion that exposes an issue… But at the same time, my methods, my “ways” aren’t heard or can’t be assimilated.

I know I have had my moments where I have wondered, is it so horrible, having the support… therapists, psychiatrist, doctor, people asking how you are (and sometimes even sitting long enough for it to be more than simple courtesy). Having a team and a network of people to all want you to be better, worried about you, working with you?

And then… I blink… and I remember the fear we had when Ken admitted those horrible thoughts were back. That he had plans in his head with manageable steps that would lead to me no longer having my family intact. That those ideas and such will never quite fade away. Where I have momentary doubt and frustrations he has the inability to truly walk away from it. Medication and vitamins and therapy, a lifetime of having to consciously change patterns that are easy (or easier) to ones that are safe or healthy… and all of a sudden I am reminded that maybe I should just look to my own support group instead.

And that is what I think is crucial for the one who is “healthy”. You may not have a team of medical professionals but you CAN have the ear of a friend. It is not wrong or bad or even embarrassing to admit to a good friend that the responsibilities you face weigh heavily. Or admit even to the person who is struggling through mental illness that you have fears and concerns. Or maybe visit a therapist to unload (We have gone a few sessions as a couple. It is amazing) It is hard to celebrate the victories and progression if you do not face the uncertainty and the concern.

So the benefits, when you are not sleep deprived, worried about your family and feeling guilty about not seeing how ill he really was sooner (yup still dealing with that one, even though Ken AND his therapist say that is not on me. I just love him so much and it feels like I let him down by not noticing sooner… and then he reminds me that his like max skills as deceiving even himself subconsciously when in the throes of depression), are amazing when you are the healthy one… YOU get to be there as they get better and better and reap the benefits of that. YOU are their main support and that means so much to you both. YOU are (apparently) an inspiration to him and (sometimes) others… or at least so you are told. And most of all, YOU are not chained to a disorder that could haunt you for the rest of your life. Instead you are instrumental in helping someone else break free as much as they can.

My experiences have led me to realize that those moments of “woe is me” and “why am I having to always be the healthy one” are crucial in that they remind me that I am human. I can have those down times, they are ok, they are not horribly selfish and meaningless. Rather, it is part and parcel of dealing with something so life changing and, hopefully in the end, life improving. I am not guilty of horrible things, rather I am working through my own process of healing, because in the end I was hurting too. Just my hurt is in turn healed as Ken heals himself.

So, once again… for those who are seeking help… we salute you… ok we send out tons of hugs. (I am not much of a saluter)… you are not alone, you have us in your corner… and for those of you who are supporting those brave and somewhat broken souls… well you aren’t alone either. Our shoulders are here, our ears open and hugs are always available! NO ONE needs to suffer alone! We LOVE YOU!IMAG2448

This entry was posted on 18/05/2016, in Uncategorized. 5 Comments

A Zoo Date~

What can I say, we seem to gravitate to the Como Zoo in Minnesota. And what is better than enjoying the zoo on a day where it is NOT packed and not more than mildly chilly? Why going with new homeschool friends! Nathan, Drew and Bella are so much fun. With their mom and Ken and myself we had 8 kids, no crowds, and all the time in the world. They are new to the state so it was fun to take them around and show them our favourite parts… talk about future get togethers and explorations… just generally get to know each other better. DSCF6156

IMAG2950It is such a gift to get to know some homeschool families that are local. This is the second such family that we are getting to know and love. It is wonderful to have moments where the questions are different, the experiences are common and the laughter about personal stories is shared with an understanding that they have been there too! DSCN1541

As it was the end of April when we went to the zoo it was still a breezy spring day, so many of the animals were relegated to their indoor housing. I cannot count how many times we walked into one and the kids remarked on the smell… it is funny how you see how they almost believe the animals should smell like flowers and potpourri instead of animal and musk.

Gavin took this one in case you were wondering what he was certain was the issue in the giraffe enclosure!

Gavin took this one in case you were wondering what he was certain was the issue in the giraffe enclosure!

We were able to take our time at each location and talk about things, speak with the interpreters, take pictures. It was relaxing to not have to hold the kids back but let them run and explore within a greater visual area. IMAG2939DSCF6146

DSCF6107But enough about all that… time for just a wild series of enjoyable images!!! Make sure you scroll to the end. After my favourites are the best of Gavin’s… unedited!!!!

Just the girls

Just the girls





PENGUINS! Emanuel demands extra time each trip to visit his all time favourite animal.

PENGUINS! Emanuel demands extra time each trip to visit his all time favourite animal.


Polar Bears! There were two in the enclosure. They were just hanging out, wandering. Somehow I think the weather was somewhat warm to them, possibly quite pleasant.

Polar Bears! There were two in the enclosure. They were just hanging out, wandering. Somehow I think the weather was somewhat warm to them, possibly quite pleasant.



Spot the snow leopard.

Spot the snow leopard.

This female tiger is on loan from the Minnesota Zoo for breeding... she was pacing a little... we were wondering if it was man troubles... I could just see her grumbling under breath - stupid tiger thinking I would just clean his fur and be all in love.. wine me, dine me man.

This female tiger is on loan from the Minnesota Zoo for breeding… she was pacing a little… we were wondering if it was man troubles… I could just see her grumbling under breath – stupid tiger thinking I would just clean his fur and be all in love.. wine me, dine me man.

Arctic Foxes look like toys,  Echo and Nathan were in love.

Arctic Foxes look like toys, Echo and Nathan were in love.

Gorgeous bonsai

Gorgeous bonsai

Monkey House

Monkey House


Such a stately gorilla.

Such a stately gorilla.

I wish I had taken video of this little guy... he was adorable.

I wish I had taken video of this little guy… he was adorable.


This was the best Ken could do with the wolf... but dang super close!

This was the best Ken could do with the wolf… but dang super close!

IMG_20160427_151358And now, Gavin’s photo efforts!

Sleepy cat





This duck was a kid favourite and not even one of the exhibitions.

This duck was a kid favourite and not even one of the exhibitions.




Sloth... Butt???

Sloth… Butt???

And a picture of me taking a picture of something.

And a picture of me taking a picture of something.

Therapy… A Safe Place To Be

I know I have brought up therapy before in passing in previous blog posts regarding our journey to healthy living. I don’t know how I can every emphasize enough that medication without therapy is not the optimum solution. It is proven time and time again that you need a full body/mind/soul examination to get on the road to becoming healthy on a LONG TERM BASIS. I can tell you right now, I speak from experience. Not the personal experience of a person unwell, but of the person standing there wishing they could do more but watching while an unbalanced plan simply falls to pieces.

This is not my first rodeo as they say… In the span of my relationship/marriage to Ken this is the SECOND time we have experienced the severe lows of full blown depression. The first time (which is years ago now) we began on the right path. He took himself into the doctor to explain things just weren’t right, he was put on medication (Zoloft or some sort of like brand has, and still works best for him) and taken to a counselor. This is terrific, we were able to stop the world and get him help. BUT in Alberta at the time, this was a stop gap. Said counselor would then (on the psychiatrist’s recommendation) find him some sort of group or continuing therapy within the confines of our location and basic healthcare.

The reality of this is that not all locations are equal. Not every area has enough therapists, or even psychiatrists. I have had friends who simply saw their GP for all medical managing. Ken was placed in an AMAZING group therapy program that worked wonders… for a time… and then the doctor in charge was transferred and the rug was pulled out of the program. Job done, keep seeing your GP, maybe a psychiatrist and we will hope for the best. The reality of that is that it was NOT the best… When someone has not seen a therapist or entered into some sort of counselling program, while the medication may be helping and the severe thoughts quieted, that person is NOT healthy. They are on the path but just like a long hike has signs and tour guides… you don’t drop a depressed person an a stack of pills and say… Cool you be good now.

Left to their own devices are they going to take that necessary medication? Without dealing with the issues that have led them to the horrible compulsions and thoughts do you really think they are just going to poof away because they alerted one doctor (or maybe more) that something isn’t quite right?

We don’t expect cancer patients to just become healthy after a treatment, there is follow up. We shouldn’t expect people suffering from anxiety, depression, bi polar disorders to struggle alone. And that is where therapy comes in. Now I am all for sharing with friends and family. As Ken says – Sharing is Caring… (and then we all groan and I have to hold myself back from decking him), but when you share with a loved one or a close connection there is the risk of holding back (for their benefit and your), the fear of rejection… therapy comes without those stumbling blocks.

Not everyone, as I mentioned before, can afford/access therapy. BUT there are options… if you are religious (or at least open to religion) there are many churches where the minister or someone else within the church who can be your sympathetic ear. That is what they are there for. I, myself have talked to my fair share of ministers throughout my life. They have been a support and a safe place for me during many tumultuous times. Often you can go into your county offices… public health in Canada… they will have posting, pamphlets or even a knowledgeable person who can work out your options. We have found many therapists actually have a sliding scale according to your wage and circumstances.

More and more people are trying online or e-therapy. I do not know much about this version of therapy other than it is a way for people who simply cannot make it in person to carve out an hour and skype and interface with a trained therapist over the computer. has an explanation with the main reasons why someone may chose this option HERE. In the end what is important is a connection on some level with the person you are talking to. If you can find that via Skype and that works for you, job done. There is further discussion at the bottom of the page linked about TEXTING therapy. I do not know anything about that, nor have I done any research, but I stand by my statement… the form that works for you is SUCCESS not what works for the other people around you.

There is no shame in asking questions. NEVER feel ashamed for working within your own resources to get the very best help you can get.

Of course there is more to therapy than just finding an office. You really do need a good connection with your therapist. We really lucked out with Ken’s she is accepting of his rather, unique humour… she acknowledges and supports our homeschooling and has even worked to implement it into his therapy (creating a deeper connection and healing some of the wounds inadvertently made as he fell into a deeper depression previously)… the connection he forges with her allows him total honesty and in turn we have seen him accept her direction fully and work to truly create a sustainable lifestyle of new patterns and coping skills. This is all possible by a COMBINATION of medication, therapy and the WILL/WISH to be well.

I really want to emphasize this… all these measures, medications and external support are going to come for naught if the person in question does not WANT to be healthy. Therapy is a vehicle to get you on your way but you have to put in the effort (gas) and steer yourself. It is up to the rest of us to work hard to remove the taboo and the fear and disgust some people still see as attached to the idea of seeing help from a professional. I believe it is up to us to educate ourselves and our children on how amazing and productive this choice is. There is nothing to be embarrassed about when you have the strength and the will to seek help. Instead we need to embrace these individuals, celebrate the step and share our experiences. I have seen time and time again when we mention our love of Ken’s therapist that others feel they too can open up or even ask where he goes. It scares and saddens me to think that there are people out there suffering in silence because they don’t feel that they can seek help.

So let’s see… sum up… medication alone is not the optimum way to treat mental disorders… therapy is an amazing tool… there are many versions of therapy and many providers… find what works best and is most affordable for you and RUN WITH IT… therapy is something to be proud of (you have made a huge step and sought help)… this is something we need to teach ourselves and our children…

And as always… our home is open, our love is here and you are NOT alone. Take heart, the journey may feel long and difficult but you don’t have to travel it alone. We love you! Please feel free to share information or suggestions in the comments. I try to check them as often as I can. I could not resist sharing this little meme… There is work to be done and not just for those who are suffering… we need to learn to acknowledge the struggle and not expect them to just… snap out of it.13087730_1891558407737461_5681903751797484645_n

This entry was posted on 11/05/2016, in Uncategorized. 6 Comments