Wednesday, October 29, 2014

When Cry It Out Doesn't Work

What is a parent supposed to do when their child doesn't fit what is considered normal? It seems only a matter of time before we question ourselves and our method of parenting. It doesn't take long for others to weigh in and give their unsolicited opinions about why our child is the way they are and how what we've done or not done as parents is the cause. Then we circle right back to where we started; what do we do when our child doesn't fit what is considered normal? 

For me right now, it has to do with my youngest and his inability to sleep unless he is touching me. Just me even saying that out loud is usually met with eye rolls and comments like, "well I wouldn't be able to handle that/ I need my sleep/alone time." These comments imply many things like 1) I chose this by my parenting method, 2) I don't like sleep or alone time. Family members have told me to let him cry as long as necessary for as many days as is needed for him to "adjust", they've told me I have conditioned him to be this way. People seem irritated when I have to remind then yet again, for the 30th time, that evenings are very difficult for me to make plans and if you invite me to something I will probably decline as I will be home with a lightly sleeping baby on my lap. No I can't bring him with. He's a busy toddler and is exhasuted by 7pm. You want to see what that looks like at 8 or 9pm? I think not. No I can't pass him off to Craig. No I can't put him in my bed, his crib, the couch, or anywhere that isn't me for him to sleep. He wakes up the moment he is not in my arms. 

This has been my life for 14 1/2months. He has always been this way, despite me trying every method of sleep training and repeating it all every month or two. He doesn't sleep, cry it out, figure out his crib is lovely, or even tire of crying. Our ped says when he's tired enough he'll sleep and eventually he won't cry in his crib. But that seems like a far cry to our reality as in the last 30 hours he has only slept a total of 9 hours. Not anywhere near enough for a baby. He is terrified of his room now. He screams when I start walking back there just to change a diaper! I am nearly falling asleep while driving because I am awake hearing a baby cry for hours and hours. 

As exhausted as I am by him needing me SO much, I am almost more exhausted by feeling like I have to make excuses and justifications for my situation. I realized this week that the comments I frequently hear boil down to this- I am not a good mom. When you say, suggest, hint, or imply that he would be a "normal" sleeping baby if it weren't for me, you are blaming me for my situation and it hurts. When you berate me that "still? Geez, you need to just let him cry a bit", it doesn't help me. It makes me feel judged and isolated even more than I already am. It says I'm not a good mom because I have failed at something so basic as getting my child to sleep. 

Here's the truth. I am a very good mom. I have held him and laid cheek to cheek for him to fall asleep because to fall asleep. I have rubbed his head, held his arms tightly so he wouldn't sleep flinch (something he got from his dad), and breathed into neck because that insane closeness helps him fall asleep and stay asleep. I have protected him and kept him from falling off our queen size bed every single night for 14 1/2 months. I have gotten snacks, used the bathroom, recovered from surgery, and been very sick all while holding a sleeping baby and being as quiet as can be. I have given up girls nights, evening chores, hobbies, conversations with my husband or anyone else, just to keep my baby asleep and not screaming.

We have tried Ferber, CIO, Super Nanny, and all the stuff in between. What happens every single time is that each night is worse than the one prior. Two different times I've tried as many as 5 days, and at that point he cried the entire night. Literally, the entire night. He only stopped crying because the sun was up and I had to get him because the day was starting! He doesn't wear out and fall asleep. He gets so tired he looks sick. He yawns and falls over trying to play. What he doesn't do is fall asleep.

I think it's so incredibly difficult to be in my shoes. I never get a break. I can't put him down for nap and work on laundry or make dinner. I can't put him to bed and finish all of the things I didn't get to during the day. Instead, if it isn't done by 7pm, it won't happen. I clean, cook, shower, etc. always with a baby. No part of my day is time for me or time without a baby. My nights are the same. See? It's hard. Then we add to that equation the judgement from friends and family and it's just so draining. I feel like I have to make him sleep train and cry for hours and hours because, it must be my fault. I've made him this way. 

The truth is that he has been this way since he was born. I have tried numerous major efforts to get him sleeping alone and it's always a huge failure. I have raised 3 kids and he is the only one like this. I don't know how this will end or get better and that makes me worried at times. What I do know is that my job is to love and protect him and that is what I'm doing. Because that doesn't fit into the American way to parent, many don't understand it.

I wonder what life was like in Biblical times. I imagine that a family shared a tent and babies slept rightwith  their mama until they were old enough to wander off and sleep in a different corner/mat. This notion that babies are an inconvenience and must sleep isolated is a modern western theory.  

So, for me and my two dear birth group friends whose 14 and 15 month old babies also are like this, I offer love and grace and the expectation only that we love and protect our babies. The other expectations; that they'll sleep alone, that they won't wake up every hour, that they'll fall asleep before 11pm,etc, are hogwash.

If they require our arms to feel safe and to sleep, it's OK. 

*If you believe Cry It Out is a good method and what I should keep trying, I urge you to read this Psychology Today article-


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

To My Future Self

The blog I write today isn't for pity or a cry for help. I'm writing because I hope someday soon I can look back on this phase of life with awe at what I went through. That life won't always be like this. For Pete's sake, I hope its not always like this.

My craptastic ovaries required surgery almost exactly 2 years ago. At that time a tumor was removed from my left ovary and my right heavily cystic ovary was 'cleaned' out. I felt amazing 24 hours after surgery. Like I was myself again. It was truly wonderful and I was in tears at how much better I felt and the knowledge that how horrid I had felt for months, if not years, was to blame on my ovaries. I was able to know I'm not just a mean, bitchy person. Several months went by and I slowly started feeling horrible again. But by then I was pregnant with our one and only natural pregnancy. I blamed the pregnancy for making me feeling crappy again. But it just got worse and worse. For a long time I thought I was just too traumatized from losing my dad the week after his cancer diagnosis. It was so wrong, so unfair, so deeply sad. I was 14 weeks pregnant and that compounded it all. Then the baby came and I continued to feel horrible. I started Zoloft and immediately felt emotionally better. I was able to look over offenses, not freak out about my kids' behavior, not require much, if anything, from my partner. I could coast and not feel like I was drowning every day. But I gained nearly 30lbs in 8 months. And the other side effects aren't lovely either; increased sweating, low sex drive/function, etc. I decided to stop taking it and after two attempts over a few months, I got off of it.

I think during the last year of all of this I had an increasingly ominous feeling that something was wrong with me. A couple months ago I told Craig I thought I was dying and wasn't sure if it was me just scared after losing my dad or what. A month ago it became very painful to use the restroom, get up or sit down, and intimacy had been painful for a very long time. Any normal person would just go to the doctor. I didn't because of a couple reasons. Sadly, I'd felt so horrid for so long that a small part of me wanted it to be a terminal disease so I could just be done with this miserable life. The majority reason was that I knew I would need surgery for whatever was found and it would take every dime we make for the next year or two or longer. I scheduled my annual appointment, the only thing insurance pays for, and planned to talk to my doctor about my many health concerns. Before that appointment arrived I required a trip to the ER. I thought I was dying. My hands, feet, arms, legs, and tongue went numb. I couldn't move them. I had such excruciating pain it was like a monster was in my right ovary with several knives just having at it. After an entire day in the ER, I had a diagnosis. A 12 1/2 cm growth in my right ovary. I hobbled home, in tears and feeling truly helpless. The next day I saw my Ob surgeon. We scheduled surgery for the coming Friday. I applied for financial aid from the hospital and knew that whatever the cost, I didn't have another option.

My ovaries hate me. They don't play nice, they don't behave fairly. Some genetic mutation causes me to have extreme PolyCysticOvarianSyndrome. It makes me gain weight and have trouble losing any of it, it predisposes me to depression, it causes facial hair growth, acne, etc. It means I never have a period (I've had one in my entire life). It makes huge and terrible cysts, and sometimes tumors, grow in my ovaries. It's a terribly mean disease for a woman. Yup, my ovaries hate me.

Because ovaries are a special environment where things are supposed to grow, namely egg follicles into eggs, the ovaries allow tumors and cysts to grow rapidly. Each cell of the tumors and cysts release hormones into their victim. The hormones mess with weight, mental health, and cause exhaustion, fatigue, and pain. This has been my life for almost 20 years, each year seemingly worse.

So I had surgery 2 weeks ago to remove the large growth and also the right ovary. Since then I have been constantly exhausted, moody, fatigued, not feeling like myself, and to add to the fun- my hair is falling out at the root, with the follicle still on it, and in clumps throughout each day. I used to have thick hair, now you can see my scalp. My pony tail is so thin.

I am asked, daily it seems, "how are you feeling? Great since surgery?" I wish I could say yes, but I honestly feel horrible. Every day. And I wish I could just snap out of it or will my body into being healthy, but it doesn't work that way. So now I am waiting for my post op appointment with my surgeon. She can't see me until the 20th, so it's been a long wait. We will do a blood panel to check all my hormones.

After surgery I started Wellbutrin, with the intent it would function like Zoloft but without making me gain tons of weight. I didn't feel much differently on it, but have since learned that Wellbutrin has an occasional and huge side effect of making it's patients go bald. Well shit, nobody told me that. It seems like if there is a horrid side effect besides death, it will happen to me.  So, I've stopped it at least until I can get in and have my hormones checked. It's scary and a blow to my already non-existent self esteem to be losing my hair. Plain and simple.

Amidst all of my health stuff, the kids passed around a puking bug and colds. Two of my children needed surgery and the baby had breathing issues after it. The fridge and freezer crapped out, which we discovered when getting out ice cream for my daughter's birthday party and the ice cream was like milk. And of course there's contract drama between the hospital and our insurance so now I'm looking at up to $40k of bills I have to negotiate between me, the hospital, the lab, the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, etc. Fun, right? This morning I was able to access the statements showing what we owe. It bummed me out for sure. Then my daughter, who did not have surgery yesterday, puked in the car. It sort of feels like I'm living in an awful dream.

I haven't had a date with my husband since July. Before that it had been 7 months. The needs a woman has before she gets married, to feel wanted, pursued, loved, and to be conversed with, don't just go away after she's married. It's been an extremely difficult and lonely season of life. I feel like I have no right to be upset or to wish life was different, since I chose this life, right? I chose to get married and have kids. I didn't choose a genetic mutation, so maybe it's OK to be mad about that? I feel like any acceptance or verbal grievance about how hard life is makes me an ungrateful person. Seems like Christians are supposed to suck it up and be happy. Clearly that's terrible dogma. I don't feel that way and I certainly don't want my friends and family to hide their sorrow and pain.

The sorrow of the last couple years of my life lives deeply in me now and I'm not sure how to get it out. I find myself questioning a sovereign God, one that doesn't intervene. Can't he see I'm drowning? Why isn't he allowing me reprieve? He could heal me. He could heal my kids. But he doesn't. I know the theology...we live on a sinful earth ruled by satan and God's perfection won't be experienced until heaven. I know that, but it's still true that if God wanted to heal, he could. If he wanted to make my 14 month old sleep without having to touch me every second of every night, he could. If he wanted to give us great health insurance, he could. I'm not writing it all off or signing up for an alternative religion....I'm just being honest. Humans struggle. This is the human condition.

And I suppose the old adage, "if you have your health, you have everything", is kind of true. I don't have my health and it sucks.

Dear Future Diana,
I hope you have made it to the other side of this valley.

I can barely wrap my head around the message of this, but it's still worth watching:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

80 Years

There was a time when I viewed life in such a way that I believed "normal" was things going well. That relationally, physically, financially things were meant to go well. The tumult that came was viewed by me with almost an outrage. Like, how dare this storm rain on my normal life, I don't deserve this!!

Over time and tons of tumult, that view changed for me. I was wrong. I was actually viewing it opposite. "Normal" human life on earth is riddled with, in fact full of, tumult. The abnormal is when things are going swimmingly. When we view life as a series of hardships interspersed with sunshine and rainbows, it's easier to handle the tumult and appreciate the sunshine. I don't spend half my life pouting in the corner, screaming, "why me!??!!!!" 

Hardship isn't rare and it isn't only mine. Many of us suffer with incredible difficulties. Sometimes the break between hardships is barely long enough to take a shower. This is the human condition! The sunshine and rainbow readers are saying, "geez, Diana, a little heavy handed are we? Don't be such a pessimist!" And I agree! That's why this change in mindset has helped me. When hardship surfaces, I can say, OK, here's another one. I will survive and be OK. 
Before I was vomiting in a corner, afraid of the circumstances and quite busy at a party- a lonely guest at Pity, Party of One. 

There is often no human reason for the hard stuff we face. There is evil and there is good. One is from satan, one is from God. There is no, "if I just try harder, smile more, read scriptures more, tithe more, volunteer more, eat more veggies, then I won't suffer." 
God wants good for me. He loves me. He cares about me. He doesn't enjoy when I suffer.
 But yet, I suffer. 

If you can picture 80 years of clouds with various random rainbows in the midst- that is life. I used to picture 80 years of sunshine and a few clouds in the midst. See the difference? So, I guess it's a matter of learning to live life and find joy and laughter IN THE FREAKING MIDDLE of the storm cloud.

Yeah, I do sometimes feel jealous of people that appear to have more than their fair share of sunshine when I seem to have more than my share of storm. But I don't know what they really go through or what it cost to get that sunshine. Maybe their storm is just up ahead.  Maybe they just survived years of nothing but storms. Maybe my character needs this many storms. Maybe others are learning by me going through these storms.

It oddly does help me if I think of the crap I've faced and that I'm still here. Days so bad I wouldn't want anyone else to ever face it. I'm. Still. Here. 

John 16:21 
21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

John 16:33
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Pain is the human condition. Someday our joy will be made complete and we'll join our loved ones in heaven. For today, we must find a way to live in the storm in such a way that it can't only be described as surviving. 

No, it's not easy!

Me and the canteloup sized growth. Surgery is tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Monster Inside Me

Ovaries. The subject of many-a-blogs on here. The subject of many frustrations for me.

I had been feeling this ominous "something is really wrong with me" for several months. A couple weeks ago I began feeling some aching ovarian pain that increased when getting up from a sitting position or using the muscles needed to pee or do a bm.  I knew it was my ovary/ies. I also knew it would cost thousands and thousands to fix whatever was wrong. About 3 weeks ago I scheduled an appt with my husband's physician, a lady, and she said she'd allow my new patient exam to be my lady annual exam also. Which meant it would fall under my 1 allowed preventative visit per year and insurance would pay for all of it. It was scheduled for Sep 26. I told myself, just power through and make it to the 26th.

Sunday morning, the 21st, I felt even more "off". I hoped a quiet minute alone in the bathroom would help me. I asked Craig to keep an eye on the kids and I locked myself in the bathroom. Within minutes the pain grew exponentially. And then kept growing. Uninvited tears sprang from my eyes. I left the bathroom and told Craig I needed to go to the ER; this was serious. I could hardly walk. Sharp knives were doing a cruel dance in my right ovary and the pain rendered me paralyzed. It was beyond explanation.  In my heart I feared cancer and that this was the end. After losing my mother in law and then 10 months later, my dad, to cancer, I know I have a deep fear of that being my fate.

Craig called my mom for her to take me to the ER while he stayed home with the kids. I hobbled into the shower to rinse off and put on fresh clothes. I sobbed the whole time, both cussing and ask God to help me. The knives in my ovary got bigger and more mean. I toweled off, whimpering and moaning, and got dressed. I walked out to the living room, hoping my mom would be waiting, ready to take me. She didn't arrive for another 35 min. I feared I would die before she appeared. Around 10:15am, 45 minutes from the onset of the knives, something went terribly wrong. The pain was so agonizing I wished someone could kill me. My tongue, arms, hands, and feet started tingling and wouldn't move. It was scary and something I'd never experienced. I was dripping sweat, yet chilled, and my body began dry heaving. The 800mg of ibuprofen I'd taken at 9:30 didn't make a dent in the sharp stabbing pains racking my body.

I was ready to call 911 when suddenly the pain level of 15 stopped and gave way to a 7...still awful but I no longer hoped someone would murder me. The tingling stopped, my tongue started working, I could walk again. Then my mom arrived. I debated what to do. The grey cloud lingering over my tsunami was the insurance dilemma. I knew the ER would cost thousands. The pain continued and after double checking that no Urgent Care facilities had an ultrasound machine, my mom drove me to the Harrison Emergency Department.

At arrival I was in tears. It was hard to stand at the counter and tell them my name.  My blood pressure was 175/101 and my hands were shaking. The nurse explained that extreme pain can make blood pressure react that way.

They got me a bed in about 10 minutes. A couple nurses rotated asking me my history and about the day's events. The pain would go away nearly completely and then rear it's head and leave me in tears again. It made me feel weak and I hated having to ask over and over and over for pain meds. It took quite a while, maybe 45min to an hour but they finally got me Zofran for nausea and Dilauded for pain. It made my head feel spacey immediately but the knives continued to dance in my ovary. An ultrasound was ordered and we waited. About 40 minutes later the tech arrived, another dose of Dilauded was given, and we looked at my ovaries. The tech said she was not able to tell me anything as she worked. So I watched, in horror, confusion, and amazement, as my right ovary measured over 12cm. It should be the size of a walnut! I felt the same way I did 2 years ago when we discovered a Dermoid Tumor and 9cm of cysts- WTF.

 Why does my body torture me?

The ultrasound tech made a comment about me handling this monster quite amazingly...that women with 1-3cm cysts are often seen freaking out, asking for pain meds. I told the tech, "I wish I had a penis"!

Then we waited another hour for radiology to review my ultrasound and the ED Physician to come talk to me. She told me she'd consulted with the on-call surgeon and because this was not life or death, they would not do surgery on me that day. I felt panicked, wondering how I was supposed to survive the pain and take care of my kids while waiting for surgery. 2 calls in and an hour wait later my mom spoke directly to the on call surgeon and was again told no, as the cost of bringing in the whole surgical team was not warranted in a non-emergent scenario. Everyone said they empathized, but no one would help. After 5 hours in the ED, I was discharged. I limped to the car in the parking lot, holding back sobs. Totally confused how they could send a woman home in such incredible pain and with such a huge growth. We picked up narcotics from the pharmacy on the way home.

I got home, put on jammies, nursed my baby, hugged my girls, and waited the 1 1/2 hours it took for the meds to bring any relief. I felt better for a while, then woke around midnight with excruciating pain, then took another pill and went back to sleep. 

When morning came I felt nearly fine. Only a dull ache and soreness remained. I waited til 8:30 for the surgeon's office to open and was told they had to order my report from the ED, wait til 9:30 for the surgeon to come in, and then call me back to schedule. They called at 10:20 and scheduled me for a consult at 1:15.

This is what I learned at my appointment:
The waxing and waning of pain is consistent with torsion, which is the twisting of the cyst with ovarian tissue. It can cut off blood supply to the ovary and kill the organ.

The cyst was easily palpable to the surgeon and extends all the way to my belly button. It is as if I am 18 weeks pregnant. 

The cells of an ovarian cyst release their own hormones and this being a 12 1/2cm cyst it is releasing A LOT. These hormones mess greatly with my mental health and my ability to function normally, lose weight or maintain a good weight. 

Antidepressants (like Zoloft) butt heads with the cyst's hormones (I quit Zoloft over a month ago after feeling crappy on it, now I know why)

My body doesn't want this cyst, so it spends all the energy it has trying to fight it. There is nothing left for my other needs- emotional or physical. 

The bulk of my PolyCysticOvarianSyndrome issues may be blamed on my right ovary. Removing the ovary might make me feel better than I have in years. It may not. 

The remaining ovary might ovulate and function semi normally. It may not. 

There may be a tumor or cancer or any number of things going on, we won't know until the surgeon is in and poking around. Removing the sickest ovary, which appears to be the right, looks like our best option with the knowledge we currently have. 

I asked if removing both ovaries would be better for me. The surgeon said doing so would put me into menopause and she would not do that to someone so young. 

Surgery is scheduled for the 26th. I am anxious to have it done and to begin recovery. I want to feel like myself again. It's been a very long time since I have. 

I am nervous to start receiving medical bills, estimated to be about $12k. We are a single income family with three kids 5 and under. That's a TON of money to us and we certainly don't have it laying it around. I will fill out all paperwork I can to have costs reduced. We do not qualify for much so far. Not broke enough for Medicaid, ya know?

At this moment my baby is asleep on me. His chubby body melted into the body that grew and sustained him for 9 1/2 months and has now fed him for 13 1/2 months. This moment is precious and I will smell his milky breath and savor this, knowing the God of Angel Armies goes before me into each day. He knew about all of this before I did. It's not fair, I didn't cause this pain, but I have it and I'll survive it. The knives can find someplace else to dance.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Getting Off...


I've been slow to update as I partly wasn't sure what to say. I partly didn't want to admit how dismal things ended up.

I slowly weaned off 75mg of Zoloft over a month's time and then switched to 5-HTP. After just a couple days of no Zoloft I was feeling pretty terrible. Growing anxiety, anger, stress, and feeling uncomfortable (almost freaked out) in loud and crowded places. I HATE feeling like that. It's not me, not the me I know I am. I am social, fun, outgoing, intelligent, silly.....not someone who wants to crawl into the nearest black hole and think about how her family would be better if she wasn't around. Yikes! It was a huge and noticeable difference for me being off of it.

I read so many medical articles, forums, blogs, etc. about Zoloft use and how to get off of it. I did the best I could and I learned pretty quickly that my brain is not ready to function normally without it. To be honest, that's a frustrating and depressing thought. My brain doesn't work like it's supposed to. I need meds. UGH.

In the big picture of life, I just want to be healthy, I want to raise my kids in a warm, loving, and fun environment, I want to live life with my husband in a fun and gracious way. So really, taking a little pill every day is a small thing. I do get that. It's just that it comes with baggage. In the one week off of Zoloft I felt less desire to eat, less ravenous hunger, and I dropped 2lbs. In nearly 2 weeks back on Zoloft, I'm up 3lbs. It's ridiculous!

It just really super sucks for me because I already had it rough having severe PCOS. Recap: zero periods, very cystic and painful ovaries, above normal carbohydrate cravings, inability to properly process carbohydrates and sugars, difficulty losing weight. Now add to that Zoloft and the actual metabolic change that takes place in which I gain weight fast. It sucks. No way around it.

There are other meds on the market, but all of them are in the SSRI family. These meds help the brain use serotonin. They are the 'new class' of antidepressants and work much better than the old meds people used to take. All of the SSRI's can cause weight gain and issues in people sensitive to it. There isn't one that works better than Zoloft, in fact Zoloft is supposed to be the better one. My brain clearly needs an SSRI, so now I have to learn to deal with the craziness it causes my metabolism and cravings and try to overcome it (let me just eat this bag of Skittles first. Sort of kidding).

I know many people were hoping this would be very successful for me so they could try it also, and I wish I could report that it went well and I'm thriving off of Zoloft. Sadly, not the case.

The week off of meds was so horrible I clearly and distinctly had this thought multiple times, "I would rather be fat than feel like this."

I don't want to give up on myself or my health. I don't want to trade my mental health for my weight health. I want to be able to do both. I endeavor to do both. I want to find a way to be a normal weight and have a normal appetite while on Zoloft.

I'm not sure how to do that. So, the saga continues.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Getting off Zoloft, using 5-HTP as an alternative

Day 1 of no Zoloft, using 5-HTP:
I purchased it on Amazon for about $12.

Yesterday I took my last dose of Zoloft, only 25mg, after titrating down from 75mg over a few weeks. I took my first dose of 5-HTP yesterday (200mg, extended release) and again took it this morning.

I feel ok so far. I have read horror stories about quitting Zoloft, so I was nervous. My symptoms during titration have primarily been irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and loss of train of thought (whatever I'm thinking just disappears).
Also, I weighed myself this morning and officially gained 22.6lbs while taking Zoloft. Ugh. I don't expect the weight to fall off or be easy to lose, I only pray I can see the scale moving down instead of constantly up. 

After my last blog post, over a dozen people, men and women, reached out to me in similar circumstances and frustration. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you for sharing your struggles, what meds work or do not work for you, and for being vulnerable. 

Something I've certainly pondered is, what happens if 5-HTP doesn't help or doesn't help enough?
If that is the case, I will likely schedule an appt with a doctor (we pay for this 100% out of pocket) and try other meds. The bummer is that SSRI's ALL have a history of weight gain in patients that are sensitive to it- clearly I am. These are the primary SSRI's:

Generic NameBrand Name

Prozac is considered the worst weight gain offender, but all have the ability to cause problems in appetite, metabolism, and weight. 

SSRI's work for me. From WebMD, "Symptoms of depression result when certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) get out of balance. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) help symptoms of depression by increasing the amount of serotonin available."

I also realize that being "fat" might end up a small price to pay to be happy and to raise my kids without being a total witch. I just am not ready to consider my only options as fat&nice or thin&mean. You know?

Other ways to help anxiety and depression include getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and getting exercise. I genuinely try to do all three. 

Thank you for being on this journey with me. I intend to keep updating as I realize many people are also in need of an alternative.

*I am not a doctor or health care provider. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

An Update of Zoloft

I'm not even sure exactly how to say what's going on. It's been frustrating, to say the least.

In January I wrote a post about starting Zoloft and dealing with anxiety issues. That post was wildly popular and many people thanked me for sharing and opening the door for a hard topic to be talked about. You can read that blog post HERE. I've written about a lot of personal stuff over the years, but that post took courage and I didn't even post it until a couple months after writing it. It was major for me.

Zoloft (generic Sertraline) has made a huge difference for me. 99% of the effects of it have been good. The 1%? Weight gain. Major weight gain. It has gotten worse by the month and there's no end in sight. Zoloft makes me hungry all of the time. Not like I want to eat salmon and an apple hungry, but like I want 28 cookies and an entire pie hungry. Zoloft has jacked my appetite and made it insane. It has also messed up my ability to lose weight, a fact I didn't know; Zoloft rearranges the metabolic structure of the body in some patients. I keep trying Paleo-ish again and again and I lose weight for a week and then it piles back on and even more than before. Talk about depressing! I didn't know until a couple weeks ago that it was likely because of Zoloft, a medication in the family of SSRI's, which provides serotonin for my brain. It helps calm me, helps me sleep, takes away anxiety and unusual anger. But, Zoloft also causes weight gain in 25% or more of it's users, and 10lbs or more in that group of people. Weight gain worsens over time usually.

Wanna know something crazy? I gained 7lbs the first WEEK I was on Zoloft. I thought it was because of a natural vitamin supplement I started at the same time because I had no idea Zoloft would cause weight gain. So I blamed the supplement! Now I realize it was most likely the Zoloft as I have not been able to lose that darn 7lbs and have in fact gained another 14lbs on top of that. Before I started Zoloft I was literally 1lb above my pre-pregnancy weight. I worked so hard for that and I felt good. Other than the anxiety and anger, that is. This was me right before I started Zoloft:
Look at my muscular arm and even a clavicle sticking out. I was healthy and had worked hard to lose the baby weight.

So... I find myself in this terrible place of knowing my brain needs something to function normally. My brain chemistry is out of whack and that's mostly a heck of a lot to do with genetics. But yet the thing that makes my brain feel awesome makes me pack on the pounds. That does not make me feel awesome!

I feel embarrassed every single day by the weight gain. I feel like friends, acquaintances, blog readers, etc are thinking I've 'slipped up' and given up on my weight and Paleo-ish-ness.I feel like people see me as lazy and a pig (extreme, but I genuinely feel that way). I feel like my weight enters a room before I do. Those 21lbs cause major emotional duress for me. It's messed up; a medicine that is supposed to make me feel better causes major weight gain that makes me in fact feel worse! How do I win? I can be nice and pleasant to be around, and also fat. Or I can be snappy, anxious, rude- but thin. That just doesn't feel fair!

I can try other meds, definitely. The thing is, the other meds that are safest while breastfeeding are also part of the SSRI family and they ALL have a history of weight gain. Some even worse than Zoloft!

Another sad part of Zoloft and also a bit embarrassing...did you know antidepressants tend to kill libido? Yup, it bites. It's literally never in my life been an issue for me. Until now. Until Zoloft.

I was on 75mg of Zoloft and have titrated down (a slow dose decrease to avoid major withdrawal symptoms) to currently being at 25mg. I can't keep gaining weight. It makes me feel like I don't even want to leave the house! My clothes don't fit well and I'm not setting an example to my children of being happy, active, and healthy. UGH.
This was me last weekend-

I have ordered a supplement called 5-HTP and plan to start it this week. It cannot be taken with Zoloft, so that means once it arrives in the mail I'll stop my last doses of Zoloft. 5-HTP is a natural supplement that is supposed to help with anxiety, depression, sexual desire, weight, energy, and sleep. I am really hoping it helps me.

I have friends in the similar boat as me and it's a helpless feeling; knowing you need something to help your brain but yet that something is ruining your weight and self esteem. Per my usual, I'm writing about deeply personal and TMI issues because I know I'm not alone and just maybe you're in this little boat and trying to figure out what to do also. We can be little boat buddies, OK?


PS. I'm not a doctor or health provider. I don't make money when you click links and I don't make money from this blog. I write because I love it and because it feeds my soul.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 2014

I have come to realize that deciding to go back to Paleo right before moving was an epic failure in terms of choices. Yikes. I forgot just how crazy moving makes things and how much pizza is involved. I am trying to consider this a minor scale says otherwise. I am already mostly recovered from the chaos of moving, but still working on getting back to healthy. I am using the My Fitness Pal app now, which is helping and also hurting. I wish there was an app that tracked refined sugars and carbs, NOT sugars and carbs from fruits and vegetables. I wish there was an app that purely tracked proteins and refined nasties, not calories and all that jazz. I hate seeing my carb number at 100, when all I've had is a morning smoothie with fruit, protein powder and almond milk. It's sort of depressing. It also makes it hard to see a quick glance at my true intake. Maybe I should invent the PCOS Tracker (I said it first!), an app that tracks refined numbers to allow the user to keep refined carbs and sugars under 30g a day.

We moved about a mile from the old house. Easier than moving across the country, BUT everything still had to get out of one house and into another. The new house is a blessing. It's beautiful, insulated, no oil heat, and works well for our family. There are still boxes to unpack, but the house looks and feels very settled. I keep pondering maybe just throwing out all the boxes.....maybe we don't need whatever is in them???? Kidding. Sort of. Also, props to my handy hubby who got the fridge water and ice maker working after the landlords (and our dear friends) were told by repairmen that it was a lost cause. Hubby is a genius!

Life has been a busy journey through suburbia; soccer games and practices for the 5 year old, ballet with the 3 and 5 year old, speech therapy for the 5 year old, chiropractor visits with all three kiddos, grocery shopping, more grocery shopping (they eat everything I buy so I have to keep doing it!). I am striving to find joy in the mundane. The reality is that at times motherhood is suffocating. Being needed 24/7 takes its toll. 12+ hours during the day the girls need me and the other 12 hours a precious nearly 25lb baby boy needs me. He will not sleep unless he is literally touching me. I have actually mostly come to terms with this. He is the king of chillaxin and loves to be sprawled out and snoring, while still touching me or laying in the crook of my arm. It's pretty darn precious. And he smells so good. SO good. Sometimes as I'm falling asleep at night I just rest my cheek on his cheek and feel his warm breath and smell his hair. I rest my hand on his round booty and he puts his little fingers on my arm. It's a bit of heaven for sure. Someday he won't sleep like this. It is how he feels safe right now and that's a gift as his mother that I'm able to give him. I've reached a point in my life that making him cry, just so I can have some space, doesn't feel right. Research tells me its not, but even moreso my heart tells me it's not right. So, we snuggle and we cuddle and I work to embrace these sweet smelling moments rather than fight them with every inch of my person hood craving some alone time. It is a battle at times.

Solomon is a peaceful, joyful baby. He's very chill and doesn't hold back on smiles. He's just so HAPPY all of the time. I wonder if that's partly because his needs are met unconditionally. He's very snuggly and loves to be cuddled. He says mama, dada, nigh nigh, and I swear he says 'all done!', too. His hair is a beautiful sunny blond and his eyes are navy blue like his Grandpa Truman and his mama. He is a beautiful boy and brings so much joy to our family. Evangeline has decided she does like him after all and that's pretty adorable, too. She calls him Solly or Bubba and proudly tells everyone we meet, "that's my Solomon."
This is my precious boy at 13 days old. He actually fussed and cried for nearly the entire photo session as this was back during the spiteful colic days. Maria was a very patient photographer:
(Maria Hays Photography)

This was my sweet boy last weekend at his first Viking Fest:

~ Diana

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Following up on my last post, I did indeed go back to Paleo-ish and Primal foods. I am down 6 1/2 lbs and truly already feeling a lot better. It's amazing how much more energy I have first thing in the morning when I'm not eating junk the day and especially evening before.

I've also taken measurements and will be checking those periodically.
This was me yesterday, 6lbs down since going back to Paleo-ish.

A few things that help me:

  • Weigh every single day and input into a free weight tracker app.

  • Don't eat after dinner (dinner is at 5pm in my home). If I eat after dinner I try to stick to cheese or an apple.

  • Don't wait to eat until I'm starving and want to eat an entire bagel shop.
This morning my breakfast was 2 eggs pan fried in Ghee (clarified butter), 2 kiwi fruits, 2 slices brown rice yeast free bread (I ended up just eating 1/4 slice, I just wasn't feeling it), coffee with milk and one Stevia packet, and a smoothie with unsweetened vanilla coconut milk, frozen berries, and Jay Robb vanilla protein powder.

I'm learning to eat more in the first half of the day and then taper off, rather than eating 99% of my calories in the evening.

I call my lifestyle Paleo-ish because I eat dairy and legumes (beans, primarily). It's been easier jumping back into it than I thought. Thank you, Jesus!

Yesterday I had the best ever protein bar. For reals, it tastes like a white chocolate Kit Kat. I am in HEAVEN. I've had a lot of different protein bars, and this is the best I've ever had. The best price, considering shipping online, seems to be buying them at Trader Joes. For nutrition and flavor info, go here: .
These are the labels from the peanut butter creme variety:

Yesterday I also did some reading about some questionable foods like popcorn and corn tortillas. In doing so I found a blog I adore! Go HERE to Mark's Daily Apple to read about whether popcorn and tortillas are Primal.  Go HERE to read about awesome Primal substitutes for regular foods, on Mark's Daily Apple.

I'll write more when I can. Cheers!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Paleo, again?

Well, I think I'm paleo again. Which really means modified paleo for me because I refuse to give up dairy. It's 4:15pm and so far so good on day 1! Granted, it's like even the trees look like sugar today. Man, the sugar withdrawls are not my fave. It probably doesn't help that I ate a bag of skittles AND M&M's last night. *A-hem, cough, not the little bags, cough*. Why do I do that to myself???

I asked my amazing friend, Chef Valerie, what her staple diet is and she gave this amazing and super helpful list:

-bacon (lots of it )
-Uncured salami
-kipper snacks 
-tuna (sustainable)
-chicken (ewe I don't really like it) 

-carrots (like a lot) 
-red cabbage (OMG love) 
-basil (fresh & a ton of it) 
-thyme (fresh) 

-avocado (half a day) 
-bell peppers
-lots of balsamic vinegar 
-Apple cider vin but raw 
-coconut oil
-stoneground mustard
-coconut milk ( full fat stuff in a can. I used a tbsp in my coffee. Leave in fridge and you can separate the cream from the milk. The  cream is what I use) make sure it's unsweetened. 
-Probiotic. I use a dairy free unsweetened coconut kefir. It's like a tbsp a day. 
-Braggs aminos
-Braggs olive oil

"This is what I HAVE TO HAVE. Even though I buy all organic, it's surprisingly cheap! 

A basic breakfast for me is hard boiled eggs, bacon and some kind of veggie + coffee. 
Lunch: salad, meat and half an avocado. 
Dinner. Steak, salad, veggies. Decaf coffee 
Lots of water. I drink like a gallon a day!"

Thank you, Val!!! Like her Facebook page to see her beautiful food creations HERE !

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Natural Way to Whiten Teeth

I've noticed in pictures my teeth aren't looking as white as they once did, but whitening strips with bleach are a huge drooly hassle and also kind of hurt my teeth. I came across a neat way to whiten teeth and decided to try it out. My results have been awesome and sort of surprising!

What is it?
Activated Charcoal, food grade

Where do I buy it?
Amazon, Walgreens, etc

I purchased a bulk bag on Amazon ( 
but you can also buy a bottle with capsules at Walgreens, Walmart, etc :)

How do I use it?
Dip your wet toothbrush into the bag of charcoal and brush really well for about 2 min. 

Will it stain my mouth?

Does it hurt?
Not at all! It's quite gentle and I even have a recently cracked tooth.
What does it taste like?
Honestly? Like pretty much nothing at all.

How does it work?
There's a fancy scientific way to explain this....but I am no scientist ;) Basically, activated charcoal bonds to the icky stuff in your mouth, thus safely and effectively removing stains. Millions of tiny pores trap carbon-based impurities. Pretty stinking rad! Coffee, tea, food, etc....stains don't stand a chance!

How will this work on fake teeth?
To be 100% honest, I don't know. It should remove stains from faux teeth as well as genuine teeth, but the theory needs to be tested. I'm gently prodding Craig to try it out.

Some people do this daily in place of regular toothpaste. I am a huge fan of a minty clean mouth, so I will be doing this in addition to my regular routine.


And yes, I am brave to put my big ol mouth on here. Haha.

During! I swear, it doesn't stain! 
More during :


I did it again the next day:

Let me know how it works for you! I have a feeling this is addictive. Yay for white and clean teeth!


Added: Here's my gorgeous friend Kaitlyn, I'm loving these results!
And Beautiful Heather:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

One Pan Creamy Chicken Burritos

These are so yummy. For reals. Last time I made them Craig declared they were the best EVER.

Let's get started. What is in this huge pan of goodness? 
(Ps. pans are Ecolution,

1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
3 Tbs bulk taco seasoning
Chopped rotisserie chicken, as much or little as you want. This is about 2 Cups worth. 

And....that's it! 
Please feel free to add:
Black beans, drained and rinsed
Olives, drained
Chopped onion
Chopped bell pepper
Leftover rice or quinoa
Etc. add what your family loves!

Add all to a large skillet or saute pan and cook over medium heat until cream cheese is melted and corn is heated through (remember, chicken is already cooked). Get a clean spoon and taste the filling. The best chefs taste their food! You can adjust seasoning here. If it's too salty, add some more beans or cream cheese. Not enough seasoning? Add more taco sauce. When you think it tastes yummy, turn off the burner,  you are ready to fill your tortillas. 

Ok. Time to prep your burrito area. As you can see, I am doing all of this just on the stove area. Of course you need to make sure all burners are off. Even in a small kitchen you can make kickbutt burritos!

I use large flour tortillas, the huge pack from Costco, a baking sheet, and mozzarella. Use whatever cheese you want, truly. You can even smother them with Velveeta and I won't judge! I buy a mega bag of mozzarella at Costco and freeze it. Grated cheese generally freezes really well. No need to thaw before using. 

To soften your tortillas and make them easier to roll with, microwave a few at a time for about 20 seconds. I store my extra tortillas in the freezer. They freeze beautifully!

I use the same wooden spoon I cooked with and place a good scoop of the mixture in the middle of the tortilla. I fold once the long way (yes, that is the uber technical culinary term ;)), fold one end, fold again the long way and then the final end. 

I know they look sort of wonky and there are probably a million better ways to do it, but I sort of like them wonky. While baking, they get a bit crispy on the outside pieces while still staying ooey gooey on the inside. The top two on the pan are the large flour tortillas, the middle two are little 6" flour tortillas. I decided I'd make several little ones for my 5 and 3 year old. And hot dang the mini burritos are cute!

There they are, my pretties! There were two more large burritos but I put them in the *freezer for a different day. I sprinked cheese on top and placed the pan in the fridge. They are ready to bake for dinner! Whenever it's time to eat, simply bake at 350 for about 15-20 min; until cheese is melted and burritos are desired crispyness. Yum! 
They are delicioso topped with Mexican sour cream (warning: it's freaking good!), avocado, salsa, and a big ol' side of Juanita's chips. 

*To freeze and serve later:

Place burritos on a cooking sheet and freeze them for about an hour. Remove from the freezer and baking sheet and individually wrap in Saran Wrap. Place all burritos together into a Ziploc Freezer Bag. To cook, remove a burrito from the freezer bag and remove the plastic wrap. Wrap in a paper towel and microwave 2-3min (depending on microwave). Bam- homemade frozen burritos. You're welcome!

Thank you for visiting Sparkly Granola, I hope you love the burritos as much as we do! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Finding Help For a Better Life

Jan 10, 2014

I am on Zoloft*. I started it a couple months ago. I had become a person I didn't know anymore. Irritable, angry, unpredictable, a screamer, and incredibly anxious. I could hardly handle being a parent anymore. I reacted to normal behavior in my children with feelings of anger. I knew logically the feelings were out of place and uncalled for. I knew seeing myself from an outsiders perspective that my behavior and emotions were pretty crazy. Yet, I couldn't switch off the nastiness in my brain. I couldn't change the feelings and even trying to change the mean behavior (yelling at my kids, snapping at my husband, speaking rudely to people) was feeling impossible.

As I've mentioned before, I'm in a wonderful online birth group with about 150 women. We all were due around August 2013 with our babies. We've experienced a heck of a lot of life together and it's an incredibly supportive and kind group. A couple moms mentioned how they were feeling a month or so after we'd all had our babies and I read their symptoms thinking, "wow, that's how I feel." The problem I was trying to sort out, and many others were as well, is "how is it post partum depression if I don't feel depressed?"

How is a mom supposed to know to get help or that she even needs help when her feelings don't fit the questionnaires?
*Do you feel sad?
*Have you lost interest in normal things?
*Do you cry often?
*Have you considered hurting yourself or your baby?

Hmmm.....not really. I tested fine with all post partum questions that screen for PPD.

How about:
*Do you feel pissed off a lot?
*When you feel angry, can you refrain from screaming?
*How do you feel about other people, even family members holding your children (anxious?)?
*Is your internal filter of nice vs mean broken?

Those would've maybe found some telling answers. I honestly had no clue that anger and anxiousness could be symptoms of depression. Because of the support of my birth group, I called my Ob's office and got a prescription. Within a day I felt calm and like I could filter my thoughts again. Entire days were now passing without me yelling. As I have become healthy again, I've realized I probably should've been on something a long time ago. I think some of this is current brain chemistry, some of this is life, some of this is genetic.

I am able to feel intense feelings of love for Solomon and the rest of my family and I realize now I haven't been feeling that for a long time. That makes me sad....thinking what I've missed. But, how do you know you need help when you don't know the issue exists?

Ideally when someone is in this situation, a family member will speak up, with love. I think my family was too afraid of me to help me. I wish that wasn't the case and I'm thankful God allowed me to be in a group of supportive women so that I could get help. 

I am really enjoying Solomon, even him needing to be held all of the time and the fact that he still only sleeps on me (day and night). I can shrug things off easier and I'm much nicer to my children. I don't feel anxious in busy, crowded places or when other people hold my baby. I can respond nicely, most of the time, to my children. I'm not negative and mean. I am able to feel in love with my husband and my children. That is huge!

It takes a lot of guts for a mom to call her doctor and admit things aren't going well. I think we tend to justify our behavior that it's not that bad or we feel so ashamed of our actions and thoughts. We think maybe we're just mean moms. That is a heartbreaking place to be in and we end up loaded with guilt. A mother also might fear judgement from her doctor, spouse, friends, and family. There's often a sense of, "if I can just BE better, TRY harder...."

I am sharing my experience because I know others are in this position and just hanging on by a thread. I pray you find the strength to call your doctor today or tomorrow morning. Don't wait any longer. You are not a bad mom or wife. You need help and it's not your fault. 

For more information about Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, see:

*Zoloft (generic Sertraline) is considered the preferred medication for a breastfeeding mother by Dr. Hale. It is a once a day medication with minimal side effects after the first month or so. The degree of your initial symptoms (headache, lethargy) will vary and does go away. Often a mother will start on 25 or 50mg and increase to 75, 100mg, etc as needed.

The generic is very inexpensive. With no insurance, a 90 day supply of 75mg costs me less than $10.

Local mamas have an incredible resource in Crystal Gurney and Kitsap Hope Circle. If you are in or near Kitsap County, please visit this website

Thank you for sharing this blog with anyone that has a baby under a year. This might be just the help they need. ~