Friday, November 23, 2007


***Warning--This blog not for the weak of stomach...***

Ahh, Tuesday evening. It was filled with such promise. I gently folded some of my cutest clothes into my suitcase, and set aside a couple of portable craft projects to haul to Mom and Dad's house.

My head swam with images of helping Mom cook a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, of a semi-planned day trip to a fabulous antique shop in Santa Rosa, with a possible side trip through the wine country.

But alas. Wednesday came.

I woke up at 3:00 that morning feeling a little...strange. Shortly thereafter, "strange" became, "uh-oh..." as I dashed towards the bathroom. I didn't even make it to the toilet--instead getting sick in the sink.

Oh, dear.

I don't throw up. Seriously. The last time I had a flu bug that made me throw up was--I kid you not--1998, and in the NINE years since that horrible few days, I can count on one hand the number of times I have upchucked--always the result of gag reflex. Unpleasant, yes, but over quickly and not something that ruins my day.

Anyway, it's not a pretty topic.

This was Wednesday--my last day of school before my glorious four-day weekend. The school frowns on people taking days before long weekends and breaks; in fact, we are not allowed to use personal necessity time. We must use sick time, and the school can ask for a doctor's note.

I'm one of those employees who hates taking sick days. I drag my butt to work with colds, flu, and even, once upon a time, with strep throat (though, to be fair, I didn't know I had strep when I went to work that morning, only that I felt awful).

So after one incident of being sick, I went back to bed, thanking, "I should get some more sleep if I'm gonna make it through today..."

I didn't sleep much...and a little before 5:00 I was dashing to the bathroom again--and again, I only made it as far as the sink.

At this point I figured, "Hell, I'm up. Might as well shower." And still I was determined to work! I figured, "If I throw up a third time, then I'll call in sick."

Well, within an hour, the third time happened, and shortly after that, the fourth.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty punk.

I called the sub line, prepared a lesson plan, and threw my suitcase and a disgruntled Millie in the car. I drove to school (ever the dedicated teacher) to leave my lesson plan and get a couple of witnesses to my illness (no, I didn't ralph in front of them, just let them know that I was sick).

After this, Millie and I drove straight to Mom and Dad's house. Hey, if you're gonna be sick, might as well do it at Mom's house. I'm pleased to report that I did not have to stop once during the two-hour drive, which is fortunate, because I had visions of being approached by a wary Highway Patrolman on the side of Interstate 5, as I decorate the median. The embarassment!

I have awesome parents. Believe me, I'm aware of this, and I appreciate it. Sure enough, I was greeted with quick "don't-breathe-on-me!" hugs and a hand to my forehead ("Oooh, you're warm..."). After this came, "I have to go to the store. Do you want me to buy you some 7-Up?"

Mom and Dad went shopping while I went to bed to rest. While they were gone, I was sick two more times, bringing the barf-o-meter to six, and my misery to a record high for the day.

The good news is, that's the last time I threw up. After my sixth trip to bow to the Porceline God, I was able to eat some saltine crackers and sip some 7-Up, the first food I'd consumed in well over 12 hours.

So there hasn't been any more vomit, but it wasn't the end of the flu. I spent most of Thursday on the couch, unable to help Mom cook dinner--"I don't want your flu powder all over the kitchen!" (borrowing an item from Harry Potter...Floo Powder? Get it?). I've been achy, tired, and my gastro-intestinal issues went in an altogether different direction (yeah, yeah, TMI, I know, I know).

Anyway, things are looking up. I was even able to leave the house today! I'm not achy anymore, and I've been able to eat, including that lovely Thanksgiving meal last night.

Something to be thankful for, for sure.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Suitcase? Check.

Plenty of underwear? Check.

A good book? Check.

Comfy jammies? Check.

iPod? Check.

All I have to do now is get through one more day of school and then I'm off for a lovely, wonderful four-day weekend. And lots of turkey. And potatoes. And pumpkin pie.

My favorite time of year!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It Does Get Better...

Today is a good day.

I feel like I'm making some big progress with my anxiety and depression. I know myself well enough to understand the signs, and I can honestly say I feel better. I'm still struggling a little bit, but I'm better.

I spent Veteran's Day weekend at Mom and Dad's, and even they noticed the difference. I woke up on Saturday morning unrefreshed and tired. I actually went back to bed a couple of times. Once I was up, I was still tired, and though I tried, I wasn't my usual cheery self. That afternoon, I had a two-hour nap on the sofa.

I wouldn't say I was unpleasant company; I was just tired and blah.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling like a different person. I was alert, awake, and cheerier. I didn't crawl back into bed, or need an afternoon nap. Even Mom and Dad noticed the change.

Today was back to work--and I woke up feeling apprehensive. Not anxious, just apprehensive. I had a lot of phone calls to make today. I hate the phone. Loathe it. I'd been putting off these calls for too long, and the time had come to get them over with.

During my prep, I sat down with the phone and started going through my list. Then I organized my classroom a little bit, photocopied something for my department leader, and did a few other little things that needed to be done. I was productive, and it made me feel really good.

As I told my parents on the phone this evening (yeah, I don't mind talking to them on the phone), it's a process. I know there are good days and bad days, but I honestly feel like the higher prescription is kicking in and I'm making strides towards being myself again. Big strides.

Depression, you won't win.

P.S. A big shout-out to Michelle for the lovely Facebook message--you, too, are a good person, and your note made me smile. Also, a shout-out to Heather for the cute card. I have awesome friends!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Where Does It Hurt?

My name is Megan, and I am suffering from depression.

There. I said it.

It's hard for me--the Leo, the Girl Who Moved to England, the woman who tries not to be afraid of life changes and Big Adventures--to admit that I have a problem. It's hard for me to admit I need help. But I am admitting it. Admitting that I need help is the first step towards getting better.

Most of you know I've been on a low dose of an anti-depressant since February. My doctor called it "situational anxiety." In retrospect, I think my anxiety and inabilty to cope with stress well has been going on for a few years--at least since England, though I can recall some times in college where I might have benefited from help.

According to the Mayo Clinic, depression a disorder that affects your thoughts, moods, feelings, behavior and even your physical health. People used to think it was "all in your head" and that if you really tried, you could "snap out of it" or just "get over it." But doctors now know that depression is not a weakness, and it's not something you can treat on your own. Depression is a medical disorder with a biological and chemical basis.

Sometimes a stressful life event triggers depression. Other times depression seems to occur spontaneously with no identifiable specific cause. Depression is much more than grieving or a bout of the blues.

Things came to a head for me today. The last few weeks have found me in HALT mode (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). I've been eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese more than anyone ever should. I've been too tired to go to the gym, and my usual annoying morning-person tendencies have been replaced by an inability to get out of bed before 6:45--even if I've had a full eight hours of sleep. I've been incredibly lonely at times, but instead of reaching out to my friends, I withdraw into the safety and security of my apartment. And anger? Yeah, I've been angry. Angry at my kids, at their parents, at the school district, at idiot drivers, and that rude woman in WalMart who told me off recently.

So I haven't been the happiest girl on the planet of late, but today, it seemed completely overwhelming. I cried most of the morning--which made for some interesting stares in my direction as I walked into the Kaiser building. I saw first my primary physician, and then a psychologist. Both visits were helpful, and heartening: there is hope for me. My antidepressant dose has been upped a little bit, and the doctor gave me an anti-anxiety medication I can take on an as-needed basis.

I can't pinpoint what set me off this time--I guess it's job stress, but it's also just life stress. But what I'm really coming around to is that it's okay to suffer from depression. It's really okay. There's nothing "wrong" with me, I just need help right now in a stressful life situation. I need to find the direction I want to move in, because where I am now, career-wise and in terms of where I live, is not working for me.

The psychologist and I set two goals today. The first is to get to the gym once per week. This way, if I make it once, I've met my goal, and I'm not a "failure" for failing to make it every day. I'm also to try to add twenty minutes of extra moving around every day, to get the endorphins moving. This could be anything from vacuuming the apartment to strolling around campus during my prep or lunchtime.

I'm also insisting on a self-imposed ban on the mac and cheese.

The thing is, I want to work out. I want to work on my scrapbooks. I want to keep in touch with my friends. It's hard to explain, but I just haven't been able to do it lately.

Today was a big day for me. It was stressful, it was exhausting. I took a two-hour nap this afternoon. But I made an important step--I started fighting back against the depression. And I know, with the support of the people who love me, I can kick it in the butt.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

California At It's Best

In 2004, as you all know, I packed my (enormous) bags and flew into adventure and glamour to teach in England. I vowed that I would never again live in California. After all, who wants to live in such a crowded, too-hot-in-summer, not-cold-enough-in-winter, superficial place? The state is home to Hollywood--'nuff said, right?

Well, we all know what happened. After a year in England and a year in Washington, I found myself, in 2006, back in the Golden State. I certainly wasn't thrilled to be here (aside from being near my friends again) but I wasn't completely horrified, either. I think the word bewildered suits.

I've struggled since then to come to grips with the fact that I will probably spend at least a good portion of the rest of my life living in California...and you know what? That's not so horrible.

Yesterday, after a week of planning and map-reading, I decided to fill up Rosie's gas tank and head off to the coast. If I'm going to live in California, then hallelujah for the Pacific, right?

I made the somewhat-lengthy drive to Stinson Beach, Point Reyes National Park, and then swung through San Francisco on the way home. It turned out to be a lovely day.

The beauty of the Northern California coast is that it is pretty rugged. There are a few white-sand beaches, but mostly the coastline is rocky and wild. I like this--it's dramatic.

Because of this, building a coastal highway, of course, becomes a challenge. Therefore, we have California's Highway 1--at this point in California, known as the Shoreline Highway.

I took this twisty, winding, crazy little road to Stinson Beach, stopping along the way at an overlook far above Muir Beach.

Looking straight out at the Pacific:

My next stop was Stinson Beach, a small town with a lovely little beach.

After Stinson Beach, Highway 1 goes inland a little bit, and through Point Reyes National Seashore. I made the long, slow, winding drive to South Beach, to enjoy some very dramatic, very dangerous wave action.

Here's a short video I took of the action:

After all of this, I wanted to head back to civilization. I was driving along and the thought of going to San Francisco suddenly seemed very good. So I took U.S. 101 south across the Golden Gate Bridge, and drove into one of the lovliest cities in the world.

I stopped at Pier 39 to do some touristy stuff, like seeing the famous sea lions, and then I did something I've never done in all the times I've been to San Francisco: I took a boat tour of the bay. It was about an hour long, and I got some terrific pictures.

First, a video of the sea lions (noisy little guys, eh?):

The boat tour:

Approaching the Golden Gate:

Looking back towards the Bay Bridge:

Under the Golden Gate:

Angel Island:

The Bay Bridge:


After the tour, I wandered around Pier 39, having a quick meal and taking some pictures before heading back to Antiyuck.


Of course, I got lost on the way home. I got from Interstate 80 to 580 without problem, but then I forgot--until about 5 miles after passing the exit--that I was supposed to take 24 to get to Concord. Oops! I corrected the mistake and made it home without any further incidents.

It was a gorgeous day for sight-seeing, and it reminded me that maybe, just maybe, being a California Girl isn't such a bad thing.