We’ve Moved!!

I’ve hinted at coming changes for a little over a month now, and the day has finally come! Now that I’ve had steady traffic here for over a year and a half, I decided to make the move to my own hosted site so that I can hopefully stretch to bigger and better things.

The new home for I Lay Reading is http://ilayreading.com/. Can’t wait to see you all there soon!

 

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My Journey Through Depression and Back

I’ve wanted to share this post for a while now. I originally wrote it in May, but shortly after I did, my grandfather passed away and so my recovery took a pretty heavy hit. By now I’ve talked to a few of you about this, at least bits and pieces. I’ve even gotten closer to a few new friends who have or are going through similar things. I wrote this to cleanse my soul of the darkness, but I am sharing it so others can benefit from it. I want you to know that there is light at the end of it. It hasn’t been easy to get here, and I’m still working every day to stay in the light, but I’m here, and it’s beautiful.

I have depression. To be specific, I had a Major Depressive Episode in late February that tumbled me over the edge into darkness. There are a lot of factors that led to that episode—I am not going to discuss them all here.

I am going to start by telling you that I have had anxiety for several years. Mostly, I can deal with it, but around the holidays last year it started ramping up to uncontrollable levels. That was the first red flag that something was wrong, but I shrugged it off. It didn’t go away. It only got worse, and I started having some weird obsessive behaviors I’d never had before—racing thoughts that my body just couldn’t keep up with. If you’re a regular follower on this blog, you know that’s when I started pushing myself to read harder books, “study books,” I called them. That’s only a tip of the iceberg. I was trying to be better at everything. Full-on perfectionist mode. Lists EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t stop, and I was ramping up to a crash.

In February, my anxiety really hit a peak, along with a truck load of stress. And then, at the very end of the month, my cat Smokey, who I had raised from a kitten to 16, got very sick and I had to put her down. That was the tipping point. The grief of losing my best friend and furbaby just tore apart any last strength I had. As much as I love Dallas, I hadn’t built up much of a support system here yet, and without friends to reach out to, I just broke.

At first, it just felt like grief. I tried really hard to shrug it off. She was just a cat, right? Why do I feel this devastated? My husband and best friend (who lives several states away) tried to reassure me, but I couldn’t pull myself up. It just got worse instead of better. My motivation for work and yoga fell away. I slept a LOT. I work from home, so the obligation to get up and drag myself into the next room is all that kept me from calling in every day. Cleaning was impossible in any room but that one—where my almost contradictory manic anxiety kept me rearranging drawers and shelves daily. My normal multitasking focus was at a grinding halt—and I didn’t care. I was hardly even reading or blogging (even though my racing perfectionist brain was screaming FAILURE FAILURE!). I stared at my books and lists trying to find the motivation.

I read the first 20% of Moby-Dick three times. I watched a LOT of Gilmore Girls in bed eating pizza my friend ordered me (from Florida) so I would remember to eat something. I didn’t go to yoga for weeks at a time, or would skip classes regularly.

The thing was—there was still a part of me deep inside who wanted to be normal. She wanted to go to yoga with her favorite instructors. She wanted to read and review the books on the list she’d so carefully made for March. And since when is eating ever a problem? Not to mention the added stress of watching the problems at work and not being able to focus enough to fix them, and putting all the household duties on my husband.

But I couldn’t make myself care. And so the two parts of me were at war with each other. This fostered so much self-hatred and self-doubt that it consumed everything. This is the hardest part of my illness to conquer. Normal Haley is a fairly confident person. But I have been reduced to shreds of that now.

I was never actually suicidal. I am grateful that while the darkness consumed me, it could have been much worse. I did suffer from what I was told is “Passive Suicidal Thoughts”—which scared the living hell out of me, and is what led me to get help. These thoughts—like taking a couple of Advil for a headache and then thinking “What if I just took the whole bottle?”—were not a plan, and were never wanted. They popped into my head randomly and usually left me sobbing on the floor. I didn’t take that Advil by the way, headache be damned.

Scary as they were, I know those passive thoughts are a normal part of the monster. And those thoughts and feelings scared me into reaching out for help. With the encouragement and support of my husband, I contacted my work’s Employee Assistance Program for a counselor. My counselor was helpful in breaking down the cause of what I was going through and gave me the diagnosis of what is going on. She also included R in one of the sessions so he could more easily understand what I was going through.

We determined that medication would be helpful, both for my depression and anxiety. It took a couple of tries to find the right anti-depressant that worked for me, but thankfully I have a fantastic physician, and when we found the right one it was like turning on a light.

I still have a lot of work to do, and after several months most of my days are pretty great. Every once in a while I’ll have a few days where I wake up and go “oooooh no, ooooh no.” But for the most part, I’m doing much better. My yoga practice has strengthened again, and I’m reading enough that I can do blog posts most every day. I’m feeling much more organized, and I’m even taking a free psychology class online just because.


This is a very long post, I know, but I have just a few more things to say before I’m done.

I did leave some details out on purpose. I’m not going to disclose all of the original triggers for personal reasons, so please don’t ask. Keep in mind that while I am much stronger and am mostly out of depression, my anxiety is still a constant battle. Please be respectful of that.

I am not going to list the names of my medications, mostly because different meds work for different people. I don’t want you to make decisions based on what works for me—I think part of our problem today is everything is advertised now. Don’t just try what you see. Talk to your doctor, he/she may have ideas of what is best for your situation. Also, if something isn’t working for you after a few weeks, tell them. Don’t stay on a medication that makes you feel worse! My first AD made me want to sleep for 18+ hours a day, and the minute I walked in to my doctor’s office, he knew we needed to change it. When we did, suddenly the lights came on, almost to the point where I was disoriented because I didn’t know where all the energy came from and I overcorrected a bit. Things have levelled off now.

I have done a lot of reading on mental illness over the years—it is a personal interest/passion of mine. I have also had depression before, although I did not seek help at the time. Self-diagnosis can be a helpful thing when the symptoms are mild—you can find all sorts of resources online now. But there came a point when I couldn’t combat the monster myself anymore. Sometimes it’s just too big. And that is OK! Depression is an illness, just like the flu. Sometimes, we can defend ourselves. But other times, we need a doctor’s care and medicine, before we can fight it off. That doesn’t make us weak. It makes us human.


 

How can you get help? There’s so many different ways!

I went through my Employee Assistance Program. Most larger companies have some sort of system like this through their benefits program, and usually they are set up so employees can get help without the HR and managers knowing about it.

Colleges also have similar programs set up. Depression and anxiety are so common where students are in unstructured, stressful environments away from home. I know mine had a whole counseling center for that purpose.

For those younger people, talk to your parents if you can. If not—find a mentor. Guys, I PROMISE there is an adult out there who has noticed a change in you, even if you don’t realize it. A teacher, a religious leader, your favorite librarian. Someone. Reach out to them. They can help.

Depression is SO hard. And everyone has their own monster to fight. There is pain, there is apathy, there is self-hatred, and there is all consuming darkness. But I promise, at the end, there is light. I know because I can see it. I’m not all the way out standing in it yet, but it’s there, and it’s getting closer. And so I reach for it, every day.

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I can’t do a post about depression without giving you the most important resources–where to go if you REALLY need help right away. Guys, there is absolutely no shame in admitting that you cannot do it alone anymore. *raises hand* I had to admit it. Below are some hotlines if you are in crisis, or know someone in crisis.

I’ve listed a lot of numbers below, but did you know there’s also now a chat set up? For people with anxiety, it’s pretty great. I don’t know about you, but I really hate calling people (pretty ironic for someone who talks on the phone all day, huh?)

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/lifelinechat.aspx

 

The Comfort of Cooking » Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken

I know, I know…this is a book blog, not a food blog. But, in my past life, I used to cook on the daily. I even tried to write a couple food blogs and just couldn’t keep up with them. So, now that I’m trying to get back into cooking…I may post some of my recipes that are successes. They won’t be the focus of the blog, but hey, food is part of my geek, and THAT is what this blog is about. 

Guys, you HAVE to make this chicken. It’s what I made for dinner tonight, and it’s one of the best chicken recipes I’ve made. I used a whole chicken that I cut to pieces, but you could use whatever you wanted. I would recommend skin on though–that’s the best part. I took to the citrus off for the last 10 minutes and cranked the oven up to 500 to crisp the skin. Otherwise, I mostly followed the recipe.

I served this with new potatoes that I quartered and tossed in a casserole dish with a few garlic cloves and an Italian herb mixture, salt and pepper, plus a few pats of butter. I just put it in the oven to roast along side the chicken, it was ready at the same time! Easy peasy.

Oh, and don’t forget the bread. I did, and I was super disappointed. There was so much sauce/gravy in the pan, and it was SO flavorful. Seriously, I could have swam in it.

We drank a very inexpensive Once Upon a Vine Sauvagnion Blanc with it (We are running VERY low on whites at the moment. Time to stock up!). I’d recommend something a little less sweet, but definitely a white. Maybe a Reisling would be better with the citrus. I’m definitely not the best judge when it comes to whites, but I do think a red would be too heavy for this dish.

The Comfort of Cooking » Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken.

Blogoversary

I just realized, when I tore my calendar page off today, that my first blogoversary passed in April completely unnoticed. I had quite a bit going on at the time, and I completely forgot about it!

It’s hard to believe I’ve been writing for over a year. I’ve had blogs before, about food mostly, restaurant reviews, travel. All of them fell by the wayside. I lacked motivation and inspiration, subject matter, audience. I knew I wanted to write, but I just didn’t know what to put out there.

When I started I Lay Reading, it was part of my Happiness Project. I wanted to read more, read harder, read better. Part of that goal was to interact with other people about what I was reading, and write more in depth about what I was learning. And so, this blog was born. I never expected to write every day, or for very many people to see it. I certainly didn’t expect for any of my posts to go viral on Reddit or Pinterest. But those things have happened. And every time they do I sit here and just stare at my computer in wonder. People like me, they really really like me! It’s such a joy to share my love of reading with each and every one of you. Thank you, for joining me in this journey.

A little bit about me, for those who have found the blog along the way:

I’m a recent transplant to Dallas, by way of Indianapolis. We’ve been here just under a year now, and are learning to love this big, hot metropolis. I’ve been reading since before I can remember–and I read EVERYTHING I can get my hands on. Seriously, everything. My TBR is in the thousands, so I am not always reading the most current books (although I try to keep up), but I’m constantly cycling through to read what I think is most interesting. I am also trying to complete the Boxall’s 1000 Books to Read Before you Die, so you’ll see me reference that quite often. I love recommendations, so if you see me read something and think of something I should read next, let me know in the comments! I do read every comment, guys, and I love chatting with you. Twitter is my favorite mode of communication, but Instagram and Tumblr are great places too!

Again, I just want to thank all of my followers, and all of the bookish friends I have made in the last year. You make reading and blogging so much fun!

For My Grandaddy

Grandaddy.

 

My favorite person in the entire world.

 

Since I can remember, we had a special bond. Maybe it’s because I was first, or maybe there was just something between us that I can’t name. But whatever it was, it was THERE. You were my Grandaddy. Solid, upstanding, loving, funny, and going to outlive us all.

 

Why? Because you were the most stubborn person I’ve ever known in my entire life. If there was something you wanted, by george you were gonna make it happen. And if you felt that something was right, well, you stood unshaking in your conviction.

 

That created a family full of stubborn, opinionated, strong-willed people. The P. blood in us does not waver much. We even have a pout that we master early when we don’t get our way. Even the newest of us waited so long that is mama couldn’t be here today. But around 830 last night, my new nephew was born, giving Grandaddy one more grandson.

 

But even with all that stubbornness, you were also one of the most loving men I’ve ever known. You were the patriarch of our family, and you wore that badge with honor, praying over every meal, hugging the grandkids—making sure every one of us knew we were loved, shown through gifts, mementos, trips. We all got rings on our 16th birthday—mine doesn’t quite fit anymore, but it’s here.

 

One of my favorite memories is going to the Kentucky Horse Park for my 13th birthday. A whole weekend just for me. My favorite horse was Romeo, a red and white dapple that I got to ride on the trail with you. And we ate blackberry cobbler in the cafeteria—your favorite.

 

The love of Grandaddy’s life was…KENTUCKY BASKETBALL. Sorry Nana, you were probably a close second. Since long before I came into the picture, he was obsessed. And even while I was born into a Boilermaker family, Kentucky Blue trumped all. He even bought a Tennessee-loving boyfriend of mine a Kentucky hat once, because heaven forbid he wear orange near Grandaddy. But then, I accidentally committed the ultimate crime. I planned my wedding in October. That’s right…I did it. I made him choose—his beloved granddaughter’s wedding…or the Midnight Madness basketball practice he had been going to for decades with my uncle. It’s been a running joke in the family ever since. At least…I hope it’s a joke. I’ve been forgiven for that, right Uncle S? *fingers crossed*

 

Still, a few years later, when that marriage ended, and I felt I had let everyone down—it was my Grandaddy who was there to take me out to lunch and make sure I was taking care of myself. It was a tradition carried over from college, and it meant the world to me, especially then.

 

It was on those dates when I really got to know my Grandaddy. He was such a great storyteller when you got to know him one on one, and he had so many to tell—from growing up in Chicago, to meeting Nana and living in Kentucky. He loved to travel and could remember landmarks from any road trip he’d ever been on. And by landmark…I really mean BBQ joints.

 

It wasn’t really until I met Richard that I realized my whole life I had been looking for a man like my Grandaddy. I joked before, Nana, but he sure loved you. I grew up with a model of true love and friendship every time I saw Ed look at Carol—when I came in the kitchen early in the morning, and saw them sharing the newspaper, he with his cheerios and bananas, Nana with her tea; or in the afternoons when he’d rub her back so sweetly before her nap. He was a helpful, guiding, affectionate husband—and he was always teasing her about something with that ornery twinkle in his eye. And Nana would usually give it right back to him. That’s what I wanted—their partnership. I don’t remember a difficult moment, or a happy one, where they were not together. And so I thank you both, for being such great role models for us all.

 

Richard and I were home in February for a late Christmas, and we spent and afternoon visiting Grandaddy on our way north. Nana asked if he knew who I was and, with that same ornery twinkle in his eye, he winked and insisted my name was Elaine…at the same time he hugged me. I am absolutely certain he knew exactly who I was, and was just ragging Nana on—because he asked us a lot of questions about Dallas and work and, of course, BBQ.

 

My last conversation with my Grandaddy, my favorite person in the world, was about a hole in the wall joint called Blalocks, between Dallas and Texarcana. We pulled it up on our phones and it was just as he remembered. He was, of course, stubbornly determined that he was going to get better and we were going to go get BBQ there next summer. I said, “Absolutely. You come see us in Texas and we will go to Blalocks for BBQ when you feel better!”

 

Grandaddy, I will always love you. You will always be my most favorite person. And I know you will be there when Richard and I stop in Mt. Pleasant, TX on our way home, for that feel good BBQ. Think they’ll have any cobbler?

Gallery

Mike Pence’s Dishonesty About the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Originally posted on Liz Boltz Ranfeld:
After he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in Indiana, Governor Mike Pence expressed bewilderment in an interview with the Indy Star: “I just can’t account for the hostility that’s been directed at our state,” he said. “I’ve been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the…

Open For Service

So there is some pretty crappy stuff happening in my home state of Indiana today. Governor Mike Pence just signed a new bill into law that allows business to discriminate against people based on their “religious freedom.” That’s as bad as it sounds–they can segregate gays, lesbians, transgender…basically whoever they feel jeopardizes their religious freedom.

As you’d expect, shit has hit the fan this week. When the House passed it, everyone took to social media–regular citizens, companies, news organizations, EVEN CHURCHES–to try and get this thing stopped. They wrote to Pence, did everything they could to try and get him to understand that WE DO NOT WANT THIS BILL. But, today he signed it. And now, this discrimination and segregation is LEGAL. And we are horrified, ashamed, and angry.

I know this article is making the rounds, along with many others. And people across the nation are seeing it and probably thinking HOLY SHIT INDIANA, WHAT IS YOUR DEAL?

Know this, please:  Sure, there are some people in the state that are probably thrilled this is happening. We do have a lot of conservatives living in Indiana. But for most of us, we are not OK with this bill. We are devastated that Pence is taking such a huge step backwards. We were ecstatic when the marriage ban was lifted this year–for ourselves, for our friends, for our families. It’s good for our people, it’s good for business, it’s just good for the state.

This new RFRA bill is the exact opposite of that. GenCon is threatening to leave, which will mean millions in lost revenue. Salesforce, who has an entire branch company here, has cancelled all programs and travel to Indiana. The NCAA has it’s Final Four coming up in Indy soon and they have come out negatively against the bill. I’ve even seen a few religious groups and churches cancelling their conventions! They aren’t happy about the representation this is giving either.

In addition to the big guys, local businesses and restaurants are putting up stickers showing their support for their community.

 

If you live in Indiana, have a business, and plan to be OPEN FOR SERVICE, click on that sticker above. I’ve linked it to the site that has all the information on how to get involved.

 

On a personal note, I may not live in Indiana anymore, but this is an issue that lives very near and dear to my heart, for a lot of reasons. People should not be discriminated against for any reason, but love? Why should love cause so much hate? I have never understood it.

This blog is not technically a business. I don’t make money from it, it is just a hobby. And even if I did…I live in Texas now, where RFRA has been around since 1993 (Again…why are we going backwards? This should not be happening in 2015. GIANT step backwards. We should be removing these laws, not establishing them.)

But guys, this blog is definitely OPEN FOR SERVICE!