Bipolar Disorder · Depression · Life · Mental Health · Uncategorized

Well… this is awkward, My Awkward Life.

January 16th was the last time I posted here.

A lot has happened since then. Some good some bad. My previous post about my New Year detailed my transition to eating healthier.

Obviously my New Year has not gone as planned.

I had put so many labels on who I identified myself as that I felt boxed in, overwhelmed, and at my breaking point trying to figure out “Who am I?”.

“Vegan”

“Beachbody Coach”

“Blogger”

I am none of these things.

I am, simply, Me.

I roll with the tides. I can’t fight it. I am bipolar. This disorder is a cruel mistress. The depressive side can take me to the darkest of places and fill me with a sadness that is difficult to define, but on the other hand I am capable of feeling such joy over the smallest of things that I know others cannot. It is truly a double edged sword.

This past winter, I was suffering from a period of depression, and grasping at straws to feel anything else. In this desperation I reached out to my parents with an idea.

“Can I have a dog?”

“Yes.”

I was shocked. I believe, out of their own desperation, my parents agreed. I can only imagine that seeing your only child suffer when you’ve tried everything you can, with no end in sight, can make any parent desperate. We agreed that I would get a puppy and train it to be a therapy dog for me. We began to prepare for the responsibility that is a puppy.

On February 24th, we welcomed Bear Lee Goodenough to our family.

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Bear’s first night home!

I could write a whole book on the ways Bear has changed my life these past 5 months. Living a life in service of another changes your perspective. I still have bad days, but because of Bear, I don’t lay around and dwell on it. Bear HAS to be let out, fed, and walked. He NEEDS on me. If I choose to spend the day in bed, he suffers, so it is no longer an option for me. I now have a purpose. I have my own little family of three with my long-term boyfriend Geoffrey. Having them has flushed some of the darkness from my days.

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I can’t promise that I will never feel the way I did this past winter again;that would be naive. I’m trying to embrace what this disorder rains down on me, which includes labeling myself. I’m not going to be boxed in by my emotions. I’m not going to label myself vegan anymore. I may eat a vegan diet because I believe that it is a healthier option, or I may not. The same goes for this blog. I originally started it to keep my family and friends informed on my hiking and my life. It got away from me when I got caught up in the world of “blogging”. For now, I’m going to write about what I’m passionate about, and that changes almost daily. I have a very diverse amount of and I look forward to sharing them with everyone. I also want to share more about what it’s like living with Bipolar disorder and the daily struggles and hardships I have to face.

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Geoffrey and I, at my cousin’s wedding!

I hope you will stick with me on my journey here.

Always Awkward,

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Lists · Seasonal · Uncategorized

Holiday Bucket List

There is so much to do this time of year! So many traditions and experiences to be had. How do we make sure we get the most out of the season? Well, I came up with a fun bucket list of activities to ensure you get the most out of your holiday season, that’s how. Just download the free printable or save the image below on your phone and let the fun begin!

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Have fun, and enjoy the season with those you love!

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Life · Uncategorized

Thankful Thursday: Our Trip Part 2

For my second Thankful Thursday post, I would like to take a moment to thank my Aunt Susan and Uncle Tom for having us stay with them in New Hampshire. I’m so thankful for their hospitality and kindness while we were with them. Geoffrey and I have never traveled together before, so this was a real adventure for us. We had so much fun in New Hampshire, it is absolutely stunning there! There are so many beautiful things to see, there is no way you could see it all in one visit. I cant wait to visit New Hampshire again!

My aunt was gracious enough to pick us up from Chel’s house in Massachusetts. From there we drove to Boston to pick up my cousin Alyssa from the airport. We were lucky to be visiting at the same time as she was so we got to spend some time together! We decided from there to spend the afternoon sightseeing in Boston. We went to Quincy Market and had an amazing lunch. I had Bubble Tea for the first time! Then we went to the Holocaust Memorial. The memorial is six towers, each representing an internment camp and the  Jewish lives lost. Parts of the towers are inscribed with the numbers forcibly tattooed on every Jewish person in the camps.

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2,280,960 of these numbers cover the towers.

I felt overwhelmed with grief and sadness while walking through the memorial. It wasn’t sightseeing, it was eye opening, thought provoking, and a reminder of the conversation that needs to be on-going. A memorial that depicts such a hateful time in our history is something that shouldn’t be forgotten, especially now when hate seems to be spreading like wildfire through our own country.

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Always, remember.

Afterwards we wandered through The North End and Long Warf of Boston. We took some beautiful photos at The Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.

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From there it was time to make our way back to my Aunt Susan’s home in New Hampshire. We had a long drive ahead of us but after a long day in the car, we made it to our destination. We ate at a Mexican restaurant (with great Vegan burritos) for dinner and then spent the rest of the night unpacking and relaxing. The next day we woke up fresh and ready to go. We spent the day in Conway with my cousin Alyssa. We went to the shops and met her friend for lunch at a nice pub and then did some more shopping and sightseeing! That night, Alyssa and I went on a walk down to the lake right down the street from my Aunt’s house. It was absolutely beautiful!

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The mountains from Conway.

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The next day my cousin Alyssa went on a big hike with her dad through the mountains. We did some sightseeing on the way to go pick them up and had a bonfire and some great food afterwards. It even started to snow lightly in the dark over the fire.

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On our last day in New Hampshire, we had lunch with my aunt and uncle, did some shopping and went to Castle in the Clouds to look at the view even though it was closed for the season. It was a nice calm way to end our trip and we had plenty of time that night to pack and prep for our big train ride home the next day.

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Shopping in Mill Falls!
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The view from Castle in the Clouds.

The next morning we woke up early and got all of our bags in the car and made the long drive to the train station in Providence, Rhode Island. Once we got there we said our goodbyes, which was hard, and made our way into the station. Since the Septa strike had only just been settled, our train was packed! Geoffrey and I couldn’t even sit together for the long train ride home. I spent a good portion of the ride working on my computer and listening to an audio book. On the bright side, since we left at a later time than our previous train ride, there was daylight outside and we could enjoy the views from the train windows. After what seemed like forever, we were home! In Philadelphia! My dad picked us up at 30th Street Station and I gave him a huge hug. I had an amazing 11 day trip but I certainly  missed my family and my home. Our trip was amazing, we had so much fun on our first trip together as a couple and I cant wait to travel more!

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Life · Thankful Thursday · Uncategorized

Thankful Thursday: Our Trip Part 1

   I know I missed the first Thursday of the month but, I was traveling from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. I wanted to take some time this month to stop and really think on what I am thankful for. After all, with Thanksgiving fast approaching, now is the time for gratitude and appreciation. This week, since I’m just getting home from my eleven day vacation, I want to say how thankful I am for The Martinkas for offering their home to my boyfriend and I so we could enjoy a nice long vacation.

Our Trip Part 1

   Our trip started on Thursday October 27th when we hopped a very early train. We stayed up all night to make sure we were tired for the train ride and slept through most of it. Our train left 30th Street Station in Philadelphia at 5:15am. We arrived in Providence, Rhode Island just after 10:30, a little late but that was okay.

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Geoffrey and I at 30th Street Station.

Geoffrey’s sister, Chel, picked us up at the station and we drove to her house in Massachusetts. We got to visit with her, her husband Dave, and her daughters Addie, and Millie. It was wonderful to spend so much time with them and get so much quality time with the girls. We got to spend Halloween with them and do some fun activities with Addie and Millie. We got so many great photos!

Millie’s Dance Class 

   Millie takes an amazing dance class at Bellani Maternity. They offer great classes and have an outstanding shop full of unique things for kids and moms and they also offer a variety of organic products.

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Millie takes a selfie!

 

The Girls Love Uncle Geoffrey 

   Addie and Millie are such great girls. They are so loving. They formed a special bond with their Uncle Geoffrey this trip. They were at his side at all times, constantly asking for “Uppas” and giving hugs and kisses. It was so cute to see him get on the floor to play with them and cuddle with them on the couch.

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Cuddling on the couch watching a movie.

 

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Reading bedtime stories.

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Addie “Uppas”
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Millie “Uppas”
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Millie waving at a passing car.

 

The Halloween Parade

   One of the fun things we got to do with the girls was go to a Halloween Parade in Pawtuxet Village, Rhode Island. It is a quaint little town and all of the shops were handing out candy to the kids. We saw so many great costumes, like a family dressed as President Obama, Michelle Obama and their secret service! The girls had a blast collecting candy and we had a great time with them!

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Roar!

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Hiking

   Chel and Dave have an amazing park right around the corner from them, with a playground and woods to explore. So we decided one day, as a family, to take a hike through the woods. I love hiking, so it was great to do something I love with the people I love.

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Pumpkin Picking and Carving

   The day before Halloween we went to Attleborough Farms to buy some pumpkins and that night we carved them! I loved experiencing Halloween traditions with my nieces and seeing them embrace the holiday spirit. We saved the pumpkin seeds and baked them to eat as a yummy snack! They pumpkins turned out great and we had a lot of fun.

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Auntie and the girls!
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The finished pumpkins.

Halloween!

   Halloween was great! The girls dressed as baby jaguars or as they say jag-waters. We went trick-or-treating and watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Nightmare Before Christmas. With the girls curled up with us on the couch, Millie with Geoffrey and Addie with me, it was a perfect Halloween.

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Waiting for Trick-or-Treaters!
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Out Trick-or-Treating.

The King and I

   Chel was gracious enough to bring me to a show at the Providence Performing Arts Center. The show was breathtaking, from the intricate sets and costumes, to the beautiful singing.The show was like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I’m so grateful to have been able to go.

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Providence Performing Arts Center

 

Our Goodbyes

    After 6 days with The Martinkas it was time to move on to the next part of our trip. We had so much fun and it was hard to say goodbye. All our bags were packed and ready to go but we weren’t. Through tears and hugs we managed to say farewell and start on our journey to New Hampshire.

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Geoffrey and Chel.
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Chel and I! Chel has a blog at aisforadelaide.com

We had an amazing time with Chel, Dave, Addie and Millie. Hopefully we started a new tradition of spending Halloween together and we can’t wait to visit again!

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health · Life · Monthly Health Check In · Uncategorized · Vegan · Weightloss

October, That’s A Wrap!

I’m not going to lie, my October has been one big setback. It all started when I got back from a trip at the end of September and ran out of one of my medications, I briefly addressed that issue here. I was without it for three days and became physically ill. I was racked with chills, nausea, throbbing headaches, and more. It was excruciating. After those horrible three days my prescription was filled, but unfortunately the damage had been done. I believe, and so does my doctor, that being without my prescription caused a relapse in my depression. To counteract my symptoms, he put me on a new drug and when it didn’t produce the results we expected, he quickly swapped me to another drug. The second medication made me so physically ill that I had to go to the hospital and quickly stop taking it. As of today I’m still figuring out how to manage. I’ve been frustrated with this whole process, but I’m not giving up. I’m confident that I can get back to where I was in September. I’m not done with my journey to be healthy. This month has just been a small bump, not a complete derailment!

This monthly check-in will not be like the others. There are no accomplishments to post because my biggest accomplishment everyday this month was getting myself out of bed. There is no weight loss to report because I haven’t had the energy or drive to work out or cook healthy meals. My only goal for the next month is to get back to where I was, to put myself on a healthy schedule and stick to it. I look forward to my November check-in, full of improvements and goals met.

I’m feeling a bit better now and currently enjoying spending my time with family in Massachusetts for Halloween, it’s much more fun to celebrate with the nieces! I am having so much fun with them, they are the perfect motivators. This was definitely the break I  desperately needed, to get out of my environment and clear my mind. Today is Halloween, my absolute favorite holiday! I hope you have a fun and spooky Halloween too, and keep the fun going into November! Be safe, and stay healthy!

 

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My nieces Addie and Millie. Read more about them on their mom’s blog at aisforadelaide.com

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crafting · DIY · Seasonal · Uncategorized

No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

For me, there is no Halloween without pumpkins! One of the core traditions of Halloween is to put a Jack-o-Lantern on your front walkway. But one of the most frustrating aspects of making Jack-o-Lanterns is the mess we make and the tools we need to carve them. Below are a few ideas of how you can decorate your pumpkins this year the no-carve way. Get the kids involved to make it a family affair! Learn more about Fall crafting here.

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  • You can use faux pumpkins for these ideas or real pumpkins, I used faux only because I got a great deal on them at Target!

Pro Tip- If you are using faux pumpkins, a great way to make them look more real is to cover them in a coat of brown paint and simply wipe off the excess with a paper towel. The paint will stick in all the pumpkins crevices and make it look much more realistic!

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Chalkboard Paint Pumpkin

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This one is super easy!

What You’ll Need:

  • A Pumpkin
  • Chalkboard Paint
  • A Chalk Pen or pens

Step One-

Paint your pumpkin with chalkboard paint! I prefer black paint because it sticks to the spooky theme but you can choose any color you want.

Step Two-

When your pumpkin is dry, pick a word or design and write it in chalk pen on your pumpkin.

Glitter Pumpkin(Slightly Messy)

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What You’ll Need

  • A Pumpkin
  • An Acrylic Paint Color of your choice
  • Glitter of your choice
  • Glue bottle with a narrow nozzle

Step One-

Paint your pumpkin with your chosen color, you may need to do a few coats to get the coverage you’re looking for.

Step Two-

Once your pumpkin is completely dry use your glue to draw a pattern of your choosing, such as a cobweb or a spooky face. I suggest putting down some cardboard or old newspapers on a surface you can work on. Take your pumpkin to your work space, we will be using glitter so expect a little mess to be made. Lightly pour your glitter over the glue. Don’t worry about getting glitter on areas without glue, it will come right off! When you have completely covered your glue with glitter, shake off the excess and you are done!

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What You’ll Need:

  • A Pumpkin
  • A Black Paint Pen
  • Orange Rhinestones
  • 3 different kinds of ribbon of your choosing
  • Mod Podge
  • A Hot Glue Gun

Step One-

Print out the letters below for your stencil. You can use any other words/phrases that you’d like, but I recommend the one below for this tutorial.

Boo!

Once you’ve printed out the letters for your pumpkin, cut them out and tape them to the front of your pumpkin. Trace around the edges of the stencils with a pencil.

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Step Two-

After removing the stencil use a black paint pen and go over your tracings. Allow time to dry. Use Mod Podge to glue your rhinestones to the outlines of the letters to give them definition. You can use bigger rhinestones than I did. Using tweezers to apply them really helps speed up the process. Coat the whole decal in a layer of Mod Podge when your done to really seal it in.

Step Three

Using your hot glue gun, take three different kinds of ribbon, overlap them, and glue together. Now glue your ribbon strand to the side of your pumpkin for a classy look. You can add a bow to the top for a finishing touch.

 

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crafting · DIY · Seasonal · Uncategorized

5 Halloween Kid’s Crafts

We all love this spooky time of year, especially kids. What better way to celebrate than with a good craft. Crafting is an important part of childhood. According to this article by PBS.org, crafting with kids grows their fine motor skills, provides opportunities for language development, strengthens problem solving, and develops visual learning. So, take advantage of this and try out some of the crafts below with your little one this Halloween.

Popsicle Stick Witch Hat

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What You’ll Need:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Glue
  • Black Paint
  • Paper of your choice
  • Ribbon and Button to decorate (Optional)

Step One-

Glue the popsicle sticks in the shape of a witch hat, as pictured below. Allow to dry.

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Step Two-

Once dry, paint the popsicle sticks black. Allow to dry

Step Three-

Pick paper that you would like to be the back of your witch hat. Trace the inside of the popsicle stick triangle with pencil on the paper and cut about an inch away from the pencil lines. Erase the lines and glue the triangle on the back of your with hat.

Step Four-

Decorate! You can use ribbon, buttons, feathers, rhinestones or whatever you have!

Pine Cone Bat

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What You’ll Need:

  • Pine cones
  • Black Acrylic Paint
  • Construction Paper
  • Twine or Ribbon
  • Googly Eyes
  • Wire

Step One-

First you must paint your pine cones! Wrap the tops or stems of the pine cones in wire and create what looks like a ornament hook. Water down a cup of black acrylic paint. Be sure to use a cup your okay with throwing away. Find a place you can make a bit of a mess and easily clean it up. I put down some cardboard on my back patio and hung a tension rod between two saw horses to hang my pine cones on so they could drip dry. Dip the pine cones in the paint, let as much excess paint as you can drip off into the cup then hand your pine cones up to drip dry. Allow to dry for at least 4 hours or overnight, until the paint has completely dried to the pine cones.

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Step Two-

Once your pine cones are completely dry lay them down on construction paper and trace some bat wings for your new bats!

Styrofoam Spider

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Popsicle Stick Friends

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Doily Pumpkin

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Bonus: Free Printable (Spider Hand print Art)

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Cooking · health · Recipe · Uncategorized

Pumpkin Smoothie Bowl

Smoothie bowls are becoming increasingly popular. It’s no wonder, they are easy to make, beautiful to look at, nutritious, and super tasty! I have a smoothie every morning for breakfast and I wanted to create a recipe that put the spotlight on this trend and was seasonal at the same time. So, I created a Pumpkin Smoothie Bowl. It’s really easy to put together and perfectly captures Fall flavors.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup of Canned Pumpkin
  • 1 Frozen Banana (Freeze outside of the peel)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Pumpkin spice
  • 1 Tablespoon of Honey
  • 1/2 Cup of Coconut Milk or Almond Milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • A Handful of Ice Cubes
  • Pick your choice of toppings like Almonds, Chia Seeds, Banana, Pumpkin Seeds, Coconut, or Walnuts!

Materials:

  • Blender
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife

Step One:

The night before you make your smoothie, peel and chop a banana and put it in a Ziploc bag and place it in the freezer.

Step Two:

The next morning, remove your banana from the freezer.

Place your banana and all other ingredients in your blender.

Blend until smooth.

Step Three:

Place smoothie into a bowl and cover with your choice of toppings!

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Enjoy!

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crafting · DIY · Seasonal · Uncategorized

Prepping Acorns for Crafts

Seasonal crafting is one of my favorite pastimes. I love collecting things I find in nature on my hikes and including them in arts and crafts. I always keep an eye out for beautiful things to pick up when I’m out in nature. Fall is one of the best times for that. With all of the colorful falling leaves and the abundance of acorns and pinecones to collect, you can grown quite the collection quickly for crafting. However, if you are going to use something from nature in your crafts, which I highly recommend, you absolutely need to preserve it. I already wrote about how you can preserve Fall leaves here, but pinecones and acorns need to be baked if you are going to bring them into your house. This prevents mold from growing and kills any unwanted guests that might be hiding inside. Below I’ll explain the process for preserving acorns for crafting, which can also be applied to pinecones.

Step One:

First of all, collect some acorns! Make sure you aren’t picking up acorns with cracks or holes, these aren’t good for crafting and holes in an acorn are a sign of bugs! Also be sure not to pick up green acorns, those aren’t ripe yet and are more likely to mold because they carry more moisture in them. You can collect just acorn caps, there are some great crafts out there for them!

 

Step Two:

Now that you’ve collected your fair share of acorns, it is time to clean and rinse them! Put all of your acorns in a colander and rinse them under lukewarm water. After you’ve rinsed all of the dirt off of your acorns, place them in a bowl filled with water and let them soak for an hour to remove any remaining dirt.

Pro-Tip: If you do not bake your acorns soon after collecting them, you risk the possibility of worms hatching. Don’t risk it!

 

Step Three:

Now that you’ve soaked your acorns, it is time to dry them. Remove your acorns from the water and place them on a towel and allow them to dry for an hour or so.

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Step Four:

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Arrange the acorns on a cookie sheet and place in the oven.

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Step Five:

Turn your acorns every 30 minutes and bake until they turn a deep brown, about 2 hours.

Step Six:

Remove acorns from the oven and allow them to cool completely before using them. Once they are cool, go ahead and start crafting!

 

For Pinecones:

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  • Collect some pinecones!
  •  Preheat oven to 200 degrees and place pinecones on a cookie sheet.
  •  Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Allow a day to cool before crafting!

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Examples of crafts with Acorns and Pinecones!

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Awareness · Depression · Mental Health · Uncategorized

World Mental Health Day

As many of you may or may not know, as I myself was unaware, World Mental Health Awareness Day is today, October 10th. First started in 1992, it is now celebrated in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its goal is to bring attention to mental illness and the major effect it has on people (1). When I was deciding what to write about for this post, a picture and an idea was making it’s way around the internet.

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Over 41 million people in the United States take an antidepressant (2).

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States (3). It affects 16.1 million adults over the age of 18 (4). Depression can cause severe symptoms affecting sleeping, eating habits, personal relationships, and work life. It can cause a loss of interest in activities, feelings of hopelessness, sadness, irritability, decreased energy, appetite changes, physical pain, digestive problems, and thoughts of suicide and or attempts. These are just some of the symptoms that people with this disorder have to live with everyday. This is a serious illness that affects a large population and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

A diabetic cannot go without their medication and you would never expect them to. So why do we treat mental illnesses and depression differently? Without insulin a diabetic could go into diabetic ketoacidosis, a coma, or even die. Without their antidepressants a person can fall into a deep depression, become recluse, and or commit suicide. This article explains perfectly how suicide is a symptom of mental illness  Stop Looking For Answers: Suicide Is No One’s Fault.

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I prefer this version!

The original post of the above especially got to me, not only because it is Mental Health Awareness Day, but because of a pharmacy snafu, I found myself without my antidepressant for 3 days this past week. That might not seem like a lot of time, but in my experience abruptly stopping any antidepressant causes me to quickly show signs of withdrawal. After the first day I started to experience severe stomach pain. I later realized, after blowing it off, it was withdrawal when I suddenly started getting dizzy. My eyes felt as if they were throbbing in my skull and I felt as if I was sea sick. I knew I wouldn’t be getting my medication for a few more days but I was already so sick without it. I was terrified. I found myself struggling for control over my depression. I would just cry for no reason. Finally, after three days and countless phone calls I was able to get a 2 week sample of my prescription from my doctor, but my pharmacy still could not fill my prescription for a week.

Even after being back on my medication for two days, I was swinging in and out of a depressive state. I was afraid to be alone. All of my fears and worries came rushing back, as if a dark cloud was looming overhead. The next day I called my doctor and  we figured out a new game plan and I’m feeling better, but I’m still not back to where I was before. I’m afraid I may never get back to that place again. That is the delicate balance of a mental illness. After all that I’ve been through, to say that depression is not a real illness, that it is something that can be brushed off by a walk in the woods, is ignorant to those who struggle everyday. On today of all days, everyone should know that depression is something that many people can’t manage on their own without relying medication.

I am one of those people.

I have depression, and it doesn’t have me. Everyone with a disorder, disease, or illness are not defined by it. It’s important to understand managing whatever you have, so that you can express who you really are to the world.

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Let’s not shame those who are brave enough to seek help for their illness. Only 44% of adults with a mental illness ever seek treatment according to this insightful article about Mental Health Facts and Myths. So many suffer in silence, too afraid to ever get the help they need. Let’s raise each other up and embrace our differences, instead of judging one another.

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Read more about my battle with depression here.

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Sources:

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Mental_Health_Day

2: https://www.cchrint.org/psychiatric-drugs/people-taking-psychiatric-drugs/

3: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adults.shtml

4: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

5: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/