Today I saw some of the most beautiful views my eyes have ever beheld. They were in fact so beautiful that it was absolutely impossible to do them justice with my camera. But you know me, I tried anyway.
Remember that time Sander had a nerd convention in San Francisco and I tagged along and got to roam the city all alone for a few days? Well, it's that time again and, just like last time, the city is not disappointing me. I'm less than 24 hours in and so far I've already
- slept in a rumored haunted hotel (I think maybe the lights flickered once. Oh and when I woke up at 3am because I was hot and went to turn on the ceiling fan, I couldn't get it to work. What did I ever do to this ghost?!)
- sat next to a very large and very drunk man on a bus and watched him sharpie a vagina onto the seat in front of us
- saw a man take what I swear looked like a komodo dragon for a walk
- eaten chicken satay (oh blessed be this city that provides the nourishment of heaven!)
- been high-fived by a barefoot, dreadlocked hippie girl for no other apparent reason than the fact that we were both there in that particular place and time
- witnessed a man pull his pants down in Golden Gate Park who then informed me he was available
- saw two men out for a stroll, one of whom was holding a small dog swathed in a pink blanket.
- actually saw a woman get on the bus, sit down, hoist her dog up on the seat next to her, put an inflatable neck pillow on the dog, and sing him to sleep.
I know, it seems like a lot for one day. It feels like it too, trust me.
I haven't even talked about the adventures we had whilst traveling to San Francisco! I really should too because that's the only part I have any pictures of I can share. We decided to drive this time around and leave a little bit early so we could spend a night in Reno and check out Tahoe and Yosemite on the way. It's on the way to Reno that we made the most jaw-dropping discovery, though. Ever heard of Thunder Mountain Monument? I certainly hadn't. So when we drove past this on the highway after miles and miles and miles of barren wasteland
I shrieked and ordered Sander to take the next exit because I HAD TO check it out. The hour that followed was quite possibly the strangest hour of my entire life, and that's counting the experiences of today I shared earlier. This place is an Indian monument built buy one man over the course of 30 years, using nothing but whatever trash he found in the vicinity. This structure you see in the picture above? He actually lived in that with his family for a good number of years. Let me show you some details of this place and you can tell me how excited you would be to live here....
An underground sweat lodge? Is that where you were sent if you had been naughty? You can see why we never felt at ease walking around this place, and we definitely made sure to leave more than the suggested donation of $2, just to make sure we didn't get back in the car with an ancient Indian curse on our heads. I mean, you saw the baby in the skull nailed to the tree, right? Brrrrrr.... I'll leave you with a few more pictures of this fascinating place, and the promise that I will return with more stories soon!
It's been a long time! For those who are and have been curious as to why, here is a handy list of all the reasons I have not blogged for more than a year:
I started a photography business
I suffer from major depression and had a nasty bout of it for a big chunk of 2014 and 2015
I had some other health issues (including, but not limited to: hypo active thyroid, weird growths in my uterus, fainting spells, stomach upsets, migraines, and a torn meniscus)
I have four children
One of those children is Elliot, who is five, who has more energy in his left eyelid than my other 3 children have combined in their entire bodies
I helped my parents move out of our house and into their cute new place in Pleasant Grove
Truthfully, the main reason I haven't been blogging is item #2 - major depression. I have debated over and over whether or not to open up about this part of me. Unfortunately depression is really good at making you believe that nobody cares, nobody wants to listen to you whine, and that you are generally not an important human being on this planet, thus making talking about it extra difficult. But I believe that it is better to open up and allow people to gain more understanding and sympathy for what this disease can do. I believe it is better to lower the bar and try and make this a subject that is not so hard to broach, and one that comes with a little bit less stigma attached.
When I become depressed the following things tend to happen (not necessarily in this order):
I lose interest in things I normally love (music, reading, photography, friends, cooking, etc)
I become incredibly tired and often suffer from terrible insomnia. It becomes nearly impossible to get out of bed, sometimes for days in a row.
You know those internal voices that tell you you're not good enough that everyone deals with to some degree? They become deafening and unrelenting. They become convincing.
I lose what little ability I normally have to keep my house tidy, or apply any kind of structure to my days.
The thought of going outside and being among groups of people paralyzes me.
I cry. A lot.
Depression tends to come and go in episodes. For me those episodes tend to last anywhere from a few weeks to almost a year. I can remember having these episodes every since I was a child of about 8 or 9 years old. Up to this year I have been blaming them on various external factors. "I'm being bullied in school, my dad can be difficult, I'm overweight, I don't pray and read my scriptures enough, I don't eat enough vitamins, I just had a baby." You get the picture. I told myself it was either my fault, or due to some circumstance I had no control over and that I would get better as soon as that circumstance changed.
Then finally last year, in early spring, I became so depressed I could hardly function at all. I couldn't hide it from those closest to me and it made them sick with worry. Sander especially couldn't stand seeing me so unhappy and tried everything he could possibly think of to help me feel better. I don't have the vocabulary necessary to express my love and gratitude for how he stepped up and did absolutely everything he could to reduce my stress. But the depression was too strong for me and it was too strong for him. I regularly became convinced I was doing more bad than good for my family and that the best thing for everyone would be if I just disappeared. I attribute my faith with never allowing myself to entertain thoughts of suicide. I was simply too aware that it would solve nothing because I would take my sadness into the next life and would then also have to deal with the consequences of having given up. But I can't remember how many times I sat in my car, tears and snot running down my cheeks and chin, fingers on the ignition, trying to stop myself from starting the engine and driving away with no intentions of ever coming back.
Sometimes the sadness would be replaced by total apathy. I welcomed those moments of emptiness. They worried me more than the sadness, but were much easier to undergo. They were a pitiful relief.
Long story short: I was feeling worse than I ever had. And this time I couldn't think of a single circumstance that might be the cause. I tried hard to find one too! I googled and researched and read and asked. I saw doctors and tried diets. I sought out a therapist. I talked to my bishop. I started whole regimes of vitamins and forced myself to go hiking regularly hoping that what I was feeling could be blamed on a simple lack of exercise or fresh air. In the process we found out about some of the health issues listed in item #3 of the above list, but even after gaining knowledge of these ailments and dealing with them appropriately, I was still sad.
Then finally early this year, with as little fanfare as when they rolled in, the storm clouds seemed to slowly start parting and I started having more good days than bad days. By the time spring rolled around I finally felt like myself again. Unfortunately I started feeling worse again in July and the fear of going back to last year's darkness had me ringing the alarm bells early. I sought out therapy immediately this time and alerted Sander.
My therapist finally told me what I didn't want to hear all this time: You have major depression. "You need medication." She then told me what I needed to hear: "It is not your fault. You have all the coping skills I could hope for a patient with MD to have. You are doing everything right and you still get depressed, and it's time we got you some help."
And that's where I am at right now. At the start of what I understand to probably be a long and windy road to finding the right medication and dosage. I'm scared of the meds. I'm scared I won't be who I am anymore, because I actually like who I am with exception of the depression. But I am infinitely more scared of what depression might do to me and my loved ones if I don't go down this new road, so here I am.
It's weird being an upbeat, easygoing, happy person, and having depression. It makes it feel kind of like I am two entirely different people fighting to have control of this body. Luckily my lighthearted nature has helped me develop many essential coping skills. On the flip-side, it can be difficult for those outside my very small inner circle to even see that I struggle. You may notice that sometimes I go quiet and withdraw. You may notice that I sometimes cancel plans or don't attend social events. You may think I sometimes turn weirdly aloof or start ignoring you personally. I can assure you it is not ever you and I am sorry if this unwelcome guest of mine (the most helpful way for me to think of my depression is as an unwelcome and rude house guest that doesn't just affect my daily life) has made you feel like I don't care about you. I can assure you that I do and that I have often thought about you and wished I had the strength to reach out to you and tell you that I miss you so much.
But there you have it. If I were a jigsaw puzzle, this blog entry would be the pieces of seemingly endless black night sky. But there are also beautiful stars and a bright moon shining its silver light onto a garden filled with beautiful flowers of every color, size, and shape. And these flowers have no doubt that in the morning the sun will rise.
Here goes my first attempt at blogging from the Blogger app on my phone! I figured this would make it easier to share quick photo updates of the week. And let's face it; I need easy what with my awful blogging track record of the last year or so. So let's see how this goes....
... I finally caved and purchased an actual editing program (Adobe Lightroom 5). And, being the instant-gratification kinda gal that I am, I immediately ran outside to my models, yelled some quick instructions at them (lie down there! look that way! don't stick that up your nose! DON'T EAT THAT!!) and shot some pictures in magical RAW format to experiment on.
And experiment I did. I have been at it non stop since last night; at first filled with arrogant delight that I was going to be that protege who would be able to just fiddle around with Lightroom for a few minutes and be an expert (I am able to use my camera without ever having so much as glanced at the manual, after all!) .... You'll be happy to know that three hours later I was grunting loudly, pulling out my hair by the fist full, and seeking out the help of experienced Lightroom gurus on YouTube whilst crying tears of humble repentance.
It's been a day. I have edited a handful of photos. I promise I will get better at this (meaning I intend to download every free Lightroom preset known to internets). Until then, here are the pictures: