When you don’t have depression…

When you don’t have depression…

I often feel down, yet I am happy. I often feel alone, yet I am surrounded. I often feel tired, yet I don’t want to sleep. I often feel empty, and yet I am full. I often feel broken, yet I am whole. I often want silence, yetI love noise. I want more, yet I also want less. I am full of sickness, yet I have so much health. I am not depressed, yet I do feel compressed.

I often notice that on many days I feel down, yet I know in my heart that I am not depressed. I have often thought to myself, how could this be? I don’t have trouble getting out of bed, or going to sleep. I don’t feel unbearable sadness, or lack of interest in things. All the typical symptoms of depression I don’t have, yet I still feel down sometimes. It took me a while to sort it all out, but I have come up with a self-diagnostic for myself, and maybe it could ring true for you too. I call it: my Compression Days.

The definition of compression is:

~The reduction in volume causing an increase in pressure~

What I have realized is that I start every single morning with a new lease on life. My pots syndrome resets itself every morning. So in the morning I start at 100% (kind of). As many chronic warriors know , for every activity we do, or stress we encounter, or ache we feel, we lose a percentage of that 100%. The goal is to manage our day, thus managing our symptoms, so we can get through the day somewhat whole. The same applies to those outside of the chronic illness world too. I like to picture a big pink balloon. Every morning I fill that balloon up, and place it in a vice. As I go about my day, each event either loosens the vice, or tightens it. If i feel a symptom of my illness, the vice tightens. If i feel stress from work, or school, the vice tightens. Financial worries, kids worries, pandemic worries, family worries, tighten, tighten, tighten, tighten. I feel it tighten all day long, to the point that there is no room for a calm, happy state of mind. The compression keeps building and building until I can’t take it anymore, and I burst.

I am sure many of you can relate. Maybe we yell at the kids or spouse more when it was completely uncalled for. Maybe, you end up crying in the shower, afraid to let others know how you are feeling. Maybe you walk around in a bad mood all day, or just feel angry. May you feel off, but you can’t quite figure it out. I have had many days like that. I felt like I was in a constant vice being squeezed, and I had trouble articulating that until just now. If I don’t manage the vice, then the vice manages me

How do we manage it then? We slow down. We surround ourselves with the right people. We do things every day that makes us happy. We workout, we take time for ourselves, we create an environment that eliminates stress, we meditate, we get outside into nature, we watch positive tv, or read positive books and avoid the barrage of negative social media. We do things for others, expecting nothing in return. We enjoy solitude. We enjoy company. We appreciate family. We appreciate what we have been blessed with. We work hard towards a goal that makes us happy. We give ourselves a reasons to live. We give others a reason to live. We make an impact. We are the impact. We create change, for happiness.

The less compressed I feel, the happier I am. I see that now. I decrease my stress, the lighter I feel. The lighter I feel, the more my mood increases towards happiness. The happier I am, the better I am for my kids and husband. Not being chained down to compression, allows me to get outside, read my books, meditate, and write. My happy places get utilized. I am allowing myself to dust off my happy place, and use it.

~It is not death that man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live~

Marcus Aurelius

Compression allows us to live in anger and sadness. Loosen that vice, and live. Lose the anger, and sadness, and anxiety, and fear, one crank at a time. Go find your happy place, and just soak it in.

What I learned about life from Audrey Hepburn


Although Audrey Hepburn is famous for her iconic look and fashion sense, what I have learned to love and appreciate about her is that she had this unflappable ability to stay true to herself, and to be ok with making choices that might not always line up with what society feels she should do. She left Hollywood at the height of her career to spend time with her family. She knew what was important, and the spotlight wasn’t cathartic to her.

She knew what she had to do to find happiness, and while she struggled in some areas of her life, she always found a way through it. In the end, she learned to find happiness in all areas of her life, by starting with herself.

I have struggled over the last few years to find my footing. It is ingrained in myself and most women that we put others ahead of ourselves, and that we need to have the perfect kitchen, the perfect meals, the perfect bodies, the perfect kids, and the perfect life. However, that isn’t what life is about! I have spent far too much time, trying to appeal to those outside of my home. Why? Does it matter what others think of me? Do those people ever set foot in my house? Is having the perfect bikini body worth 10 months of starving myself, just to hear the words “wow , you look great”? No, it really doesn’t matter. It is time that we do things to make ourselves feel good on the inside. If having a clean house makes you feel good, then clean it! But do it for you!

I often run myself ragged trying to have everything perfect. Will my kids remember the clean house and mom saying no to playing with them? Or will my kids remember a house that was lived in, and mom chased them around the mess trying to tickle them? Which leads me to this quote from Audrey:

“There is one difference between a long life and a great dinner; in the dinner, the sweet things come last.”

~Audrey Hepburn~
Photo by Elina Sazonova on Pexels.com

This quote stopped me in my tracks. The sweet things in life are happening all around us, each and every day. We have to start being more present, and start noticing and appreciating the things we have in our life NOW, not yesterday and not tomorrow. NOW. I often read books from Deepak Chopra, and the one thing I have learned to do to be more present is to stop, bring awareness to my beating heart, and start to listen to all the sounds that are occurring around me. Open your eyes to all the things happening, like the trees swaying in the breeze, the bird flying by, and to see the life that is happening right now in front of you. You don’t want to reach the end of your life, and look back and realize that the entire time, you had everything you were searching for but you were blind to it all.

” I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”

~Audrey Hepburn~
Photo by Samuel Silitonga on Pexels.com

I have learned recently that I have a need to have moments of solitude. I have been feeling guilty about this feeling for a while. During this pandemic and subsequent lock-downs, I have not been able to work and my girls are being home schooled. This has left very little opportunity for me to take time for myself. With my health, I haven’t wanted to go out to any stores, and have tried to limit my social contacts with those outside of the home, so I do feel that it has impacted my health in some ways. The guilt comes out of feeling that I should have more gratitude for being given all this extra time to see my kids, and for having a roof over my head, and food in my belly. The guilt comes because for some reason, I haven’t felt like I was allowed to have this time. However, the more I spread myself thin, the more cranky I was getting. The more days that passed where I didn’t allow myself time to meditate, read, write, do yoga, or do things to advance my own health, I felt more sick, more unbalanced, more rage. Yes I said rage. I found myself being short and curt with my kids. I found myself irritated with my husband, and irritated with life around me in general. I was more pessimistic, more angry, more unhappy. When I heard this quote from Audrey, I felt validation. I felt that it was OK to need time alone. When she said that time alone was how she refueled, I felt this light go on inside me. That is how I felt. She wasn’t afraid to say she needed time. Why was I so afraid to ask for time? Why was I so afraid to admit that I need that time too? Why did it take me so long to realize that I needed to refuel. I created a space in my house to do that, and I wasn’t using it. I realized, that I needed to take this time, so I could be a better mom, a better wife, a better version of me. I needed to refuel my soul.

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone”

~Audrey Hepburn ~

The way to true beauty, is through kindness, and seeing the best in people. It is time we start talking about the good we see in people, instead of the bad. It is time that we see beauty as more than just the shell that holds all of our souls. With so much bad going on around us, we have forgotten that there is still a lot of great things going on. Audrey lived through the war, and waiting on the other side was humanity wanting to help and fix all the bad that had occurred. We will get through this pandemic. There is a lot of good waiting for us on the other side of this. This pandemic has taught me to value those in my life, and to return life to the simple basics. Sit and talk with someone you love, hug someone you love, play with someone you love, and listen to someone you love. That is all we crave isn’t it?

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

“As you grow older you will discover you have two hands. One for helping yourself, and one for helping others”

~Audrey Hepburn~

I have had the need and desire to help people my whole life, and since being removed from paramedic I have struggled to find a way to fill that void that was created. The void wasn’t the job, the void was in no longer having a job where I was helping people everyday. However, I don’t need a job to do that. I am learning that now. I can help someone every day with a kind word. I can help some one every day with a kind gesture. I can help someone every day by checking in with them. Everyone in this world is going through something. Everyone in this world has a hidden feeling. It is hard to reject and ignore an act of kindness when it is given to you, it only spreads goodness. If we all were to just check in with someone today, can you imagine the ripple that one act would create?

Photo by Ioana Motoc on Pexels.com

“When you have nobody you can make a cup of tea for, when nobody needs you, that’s when I think life is over”

~Audrey Hepburn~

I leave you with this one final quote. Take a moment to process this. Solitude is different than loneliness. We all need to feel purpose. We all need to have a reason for living. The relationships in your life will formulate the type of path you will take. We all need to have someone to love, and to love us. Invest in the right people, and they will invest in you. Find those people that will make you a cup of tea every day. Find someone that needs you. Make life need you as much as you need life. Audrey made life work for her. She did things that made her happy, and didn’t conform to others ideals. Don’t conform to societal ideals, find your own life. There is no wrong path if it makes you happy.


Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com
The sunlight poured through the window, warming each one of the floorboards its golden rays touched.  It was there that she sat, each and every day in that old wooden chair.  She would move it from its spot at the kitchen table, positioning it so that every part of her body could capture the suns warmth when she sat down.  The old chair creaked each time she shifted positions, but she didn't seem to mind.  Sometimes, I think she moved purposely just to hear the sound of something other than herself creak.  She always sat with her ankles crossed, and her hands resting gently in her lap.  Sometimes though, she would reach up and play with the pearls that always hung from her neck. She would start to coil the beads around her index finger, unraveling them, just to start again.  As she did this, her head would tilt back just enough to allow the sun to land upon every wrinkled crevice of her skin.  I used to think she was sleeping, because she would keep her eyes closed for such a long time.  Her eyelids would dance, as though she was chasing a dream, and a smile would crawl ever so slowly across her face, pausing before her lips were fully drawn.  When she opened her eyes again, they were usually glazed over with the beginning of a tear, but she never bothered to wipe it away.  Instead, she allowed it to dry in the sun, when it began its slow roll down her cheek. Even though her spot now sits empty, as soon as I see the sun spill its golden rays upon the floorboards, I move that old chair from its spot at the table and position it just so; thinking that one day, I might be able to capture the suns warmth like she had.  

Peeling Positive

Today I feel
so down I came, 
I tried to heal
but fell in shame.

Today I hurt
so up I knelt
I wiped the dirt
but still I felt

Today I stole
an ounce of sun
It took its toll
But I wasn't done

Today I stood
and gazed in pride
at how I could
If I just tried

Today I peeled
 my layers in back
and what was sealed
was no longer black

Light is there
If I only look
beneath to the despair
no longer the crook

When the doctor is wrong

When the doctor is wrong

I sat on this for a few days and I debated on whether I would write about this. The reality is, I couldn’t justify not speaking up about this. I have worked in the medical field, and I have been on both ends of the world of medicine. I have been the person people turn too, and I have been the one turning to people. As those with chronic illness are acutely aware of, it is very easy to get lost in the system. It is a time consuming and painstakingly slow process to find a diagnosis. It took me over 2.5 years to get diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia syndrome. That was 10 plus years ago. I went from being an athlete, working a dream job, living it up……to barely being able to walk my dog without having to sit down and rest. My heart would race every single time I stood up. At the time, this condition wasn’t quite as recognized as it is today, so I didn’t blame the doctors who threw their hands up in the air with me. However, it was frustrating at the time because I was told that I was fine, that it was all in my head. Why? Because I was young, and healthy. I was told it was probably anxiety. Nope. I didn’t have anxiety. What I was anxious about, was why my heart rate was going wild. I knew something wasn’t right. No one knew me better than myself, and I didn’t quit until I had a name for it, and a treatment for it. I knew I would get an answer, and to be honest, I understand the health care system and that to have the health care in this country that we do( for which I am grateful), sometimes it is going to take a while. I am ok with that.

However, what I am not ok with, is waiting months and months to see a doctor that you hope might change your life, and having them treat you poorly. Having a doctor not listen, or brush you aside. Specialist need to realize that patients wait months and months with debilitating symptoms or illness, and so much hope lies on that one date that they have marked on their calendar. Hope is what keeps people alive.

Photo by Yelena Odintsova on Pexels.com

I had recently had my hope dimmed, and was treated poorly by a doctor who’s appt was etched in my calendar for months. An appt that I had hoped would bring clarity, and with that answers. As some people may or not may not know, for this past year I have had some medical issues popping up on top of my POTS diagnosis. It has been a very difficult year for my physically as a result, and I have been referred to a multitude of doctors, and I have visited the ER a few times. While most of the doctors have been great, and have listened and are genuinely concerned, I just met one this week that I just can’t ignore. This doctor, from the time I walked into his office, had me pegged. He didn’t care what I had to say.

Some background before I tell you about this doctor, I was put on a certain medication for my adrenaline rush issue that comes with PoTS. I wasn’t put on it for anxiety, but for my adrenaline. I used to get really bad rushes in the middle of the night, and this seemed to calm it. However, after 2.5 years of being on this medication(which is a short term drug usually), I had many different specialist recently tell me that I shouldn’t still be on it. Some wondering if it is causing some of my issues. As a result, I have begun the process of weening myself off of this. This type of medication is not a drug that you can just quit cold turkey without complications. It is a slow process.

This particular doctor didn’t care what I said, didn’t listen, didn’t ask, instead he just told me instead to double my dose of said medication, when I was having a flare, and to deal with it. I then informed him that I was weening off it and that I wasn’t interested in taking extra, and then I informed him that I am also extremely sensitive to that medication. I had once tried taking an extra dose, and it made me incoherent. His response to me was ” well, you’ll either be loopy or you’ll sleep it off. Either way you won’t remember your symptoms”. So just take an extra dose and deal with it.

I was slack jawed. I turned around and left his office. The fact that a doctor would tell me to take an extra dose of a medication that I was trying to ween myself off of, and to take a medication that caused me to become incoherent when taken in excess (I have 2 kids btw), was absolutely ludicrous. I have been in a personal hell for a year, with my symptoms. To be told to take a drug to make myself sleep or become incoherent, every time I have a flare (which is sometimes daily), is disgusting. Especially when I don’t have an answer for what is going on. I don’t want to knock myself out for the rest of my life to deal with this! I want an answer! I want a fix! I want to feel better! I don’t want to be doped up so I don’t feel anything! How this guy can call himself a doctor is absolutely gross.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

When I became a paramedic, I tried every single day to help my patients the best way I could. Doctors take oaths. When did oaths become less about fixing someone? I am someone who literally walks into an office and begs them to fix me. Whatever it takes, fix me. Don’t give me a pill as a bandaid. Doping someone up, is not fixing them. Tell me why this is happening, and tell me how I can fix it.

This process isn’t fun for me. Being in agony isn’t fun. Being scared isn’t fun. Not being able to do things with my children isn’t fun. Dealing with symptoms and waiting months and months isn’t fun but I will do it for as long as it takes if it means an answer. My hope lies in doctors. Every time I am told that there isn’t an answer, my hope dims. Every time that I have a flare, my hope dims. I will not have this one doctor dim me. I will fight. I will prove him wrong. Just as a did before with my pots. I know me.

I am thankful for a great family doctor who always takes the time to listen to me, and is constantly trying to find an answer for me. Cheers to all those doctors out there who have been great to me.

It just takes one doctor. One doctor who will listen, and think, and figure it out. One doctor. Thats all it took for my Pots Diagnosis, and that is all it will take now.