Friday, August 24, 2012

Medical Roller Coaster

I will admit that I was naive when it came to antidepressants. My first therapist said that I could make it through without them and I believed him. My next winter semester at BYU I found myself struggling. Old habits die hard. I started seeing a counselor at the counseling center but didn't really find her helpful. I decided to go see my doctor and tell her how I was feeling, and she put me on Lexapro. I'm not a very good pill popper, so slowly over time I stopped taking it. Did my doctor ever follow up on me? No. I ended up withdrawing from all of my classes that semester even though I only had about a month to go. All of my professors were understanding. Many of them told me that BYU wasn't going anywhere and it was more important that I take care of myself. That was my only experience with an antidepressant until this January.

A close friend that is also a counselor advised Tom and I that I should seek the help of both a psychiatric nurse practitioner and a therapist once I got back from Utah for Christmas. Tom and I carefully and prayerfully considered this and felt strongly that this is what I needed to do. Once we got back to Eugene we soon discovered how hard it is to get an appointment with a psych nurse. The closest appointment I could get was a little more than a month out. That appointment gave me a lot of hope and a date to reach for.

In January I began to find the anxiety unbearable. I found myself walking outside for hours because it was the only way I could cope with it. I didn't want to stop, but eventually my energy gave out and I would have to return home. I knew I needed help and as we talked with family and friends and were prayerful Tom and I decided to visit the ER. It was a big step for me. Up to that point I had only been to the ER when my mom was in a car accident. I didn't know what to expect or what to say. At this point in time I was not suicidal but was worried that if the anxiety persisted that I might find myself there. I expressed this and quickly found myself in what I call the "crazy" room in the ER. It is a weird shaped room with two benches that are covered in black fake leather. There are windows in one corner where the security guard can keep an eye on you. They take all of your possessions and lock them up. They then have you change into some thin scrubs. They bring you warm blankets and then different people come in to see you. Someone to fill out the paper work, a nurse, a doctor, and then finally a social worker. They all ask you the same questions.

I was given three options. I could admit myself to the hospital (Tom was against it), check out the Royal House (where you can come and go), or make a plan of what we would do once we returned home. We went with the plan of safety. I was also given four pills of Ativan to help with the anxiety. I was told to make an appt. with my doctor quickly for a follow up. Well it was a holiday weekend and the soonest we could get in to see my doctor was the following Tuesday. I would run out of Ativan by then. So we went to Urgent Care that Saturday. The doctor was very sympathetic and understanding. She gave me a prescription that would last me beyond my doctor's appt. Well we didn't want our pharmacy to think we were going around trying to store up Ativan so we cancelled my doctors appt. and made one closer to the time that my prescription of Ativan would run out.

I will admit that I loved Ativan. The first time I took it I was able to relax enough to take a nap and Tom finally got some time to himself. We were warned by a number of people that it is addictive so try to stay on a low dose. We also found out that it is one prescription that is very marketable and abused. I started on a low dose but eventually went a little higher. It took about a half hour to kick in and I could tell when it started to wear off. Those who saw me soon after I took it could tell that I was different. I felt a little groggy and so much more relaxed.

Well the time came to meet with my doctor. We tried to explain to her that we had an appt. with a psych nurse but she either didn't know what that was or thought she could do better. She gave me a prescription for Xanax and a low dose of Zoloft. Xanax is very similar to Ativan and is an antianxiety medication. I'm not sure why she made the switch. Zoloft of course is an antidepressant in the SSRI class. When I went to pick up my prescription the pharmacist warned me that the first ten days or so I would actually feel worse. I call those ten days my Ten Days of Hell. They were terrible. I even taught Sharing Time during that time. I have no idea how I pulled that off, but I pulled through. The hard thing about antidepressants is that they usually take around six weeks to kick in and for you to notice a difference. Lots of waiting, but I was still hopeful.

The day I had been holding out for finally came: My first appointment with my psych nurse. I have a friend that sees a psychiatrist, and she gave me some information about how it all works so I felt prepared. We were just about to walk out the door when we noticed we had missed a call and had a voice mail. Well it was the office of the psych nurse letting us know that she was sick and wouldn't be in that day. Tom called them and found out that the next time they could fit me in was more than a month away. I was devastated to say the least. Tom started calling other offices to see if we somehow couldn't get a closer appointment. Well one office was just getting a new psych nurse, so I was able to get an appt. a week later. A HUGE blessing and miracle.

But in the meantime my mood decreased dramatically. I snapped and had my first episode. Tom stayed in close touch with my therapist who talked to her husband about the situation. As I have mentioned before he works at the Johnson Unit. He isn't a psychiatrist but is very well versed in all of the medication. He immediately advised that I go off the Zoloft. He believed I was having a bad reaction. As it turns out I was on a ridiculously low dose for someone my age, and the fact that I had such an adverse reaction to it rang some bells.

Well I finally had my appt. with my psych nurse. She shot question after question at me. I could tell that some of them were the same question but phrased differently. I was open and she took what I said seriously. She had my mother-in-law and I remove certain items from my apartment and that is when she told Tom and his mom that under no circumstances was I allowed near the river alone. I found it a little scary that she took what I said so seriously but at the same time I began to feel heard and more safe. Since I had such a bad reaction to a medication in the SSRI class I was given a prescription for Wellbutrin that is in another class (aminoketone class). I was told that it would make me a little antsy but would get me doing things. I was also given a prescription for Ativan once again. This time my psych nurse was switching up when I would take it. She wanted me to be able to get the sleep that I needed. I wasn't exactly happy about this. I wanted to be able to cope when I was awake. The morning after my appt. my psych nurse did a follow up call and Tom voiced my concerns to her. She decided to put my on an antipsychotic drug that would keep me from impetuous behaviors. I was put on Abilify.

Well the next day we got a call from the office saying that my psych nurse had decided to retire instead of move to a new office. Once again I was devastated and wondering if anything was going to work out right. Luckily since I had met with her I had my foot in the door and was able to get an appt. with a different psych nurse who I love. So in many ways it was still a HUGE blessing and miracle.

From that point on it is a blur as to when I was taken off or put on a new medication. It became apparent that I am quite sensitive to medications. The three antipyschotic drugs I was put on all had side effects that I wasn't willing to take the risk of them lasting even beyond the time I stopped taking the drug. Haldol and Abilify caused restless legs. I could not hold them still. I attribute to that fact that I actually got up to bear my testimony the fast Sunday after I got out of the Johnson Unit. :o) Needless to say I was taken off those two (was not on them at the same time). Seroquel was an antipsychotic that would help me sleep. I was put on a low dose (every time you start a new drug you are put on a low dose that won't really do anything but help your body get used to it). I was in the middle of writing an email when all of a sudden I knew I needed to make it to my bed. Tom actually had to carry me to bed and take off my shoes. I was out. Sometime in the night I got too hot and had a sweatshirt on. My body felt like a ton of led bricks and so it took me forever to wriggle out of it without being able to lift any part of my body. My psych nurse called the next morning and freaked out when she heard what happened. She suggested that I take an even lower dose. Well there isn't a generic of Seroquel and so we had to pay $55 for it even after a large insurance discount. We weren't willing to pay that again for a lower dose when we had a full bottle, so Tom carefully cut a pill into fourths. For the next two nights that is what I took. I didn't have the same extreme reaction, but I felt groggy and horrible. I spent both days in bed. I decided myself that I wasn't going to take it anymore. It just wasn't worth it. I haven't been put on an antipsychotic since.

I took all of my medications with me the second time I visited the ER with the intention of being admitted. Of course all my possessions were taken away and not given back until the end of my stay. I went off Ativan cold turkey. My first full day in the JU was difficult. I wanted to break through the window and run. I was going through withdrawals. My therapist's husband came to my room and visited with me for a bit. I asked him all the questions I had about medications. I was put on another antianxiety medication but wasn't feeling a difference. He said I didn't notice it because it doesn't give you that initial high but that its effects actually last longer. I told him that I wouldn't call it a high, but as I've thought about it he is right. Ativan makes you feel like you don't have a care in the world. It relaxes you, and when my friend saw me for the first time after I had been taken off of it she noticed that my eyes weren't glazed over and I seemed to be more present. The antianxiety medication I am presently on is still addictive and I have lowered the dosage a little, but to me it doesn't feel addictive. When I left the JU they gave me back my bag of medication which was sealed off in two bags with strong tape. I had a nurse help me open it, and I gave her the bottle of Ativan. She asked me if I was sure and I told her that if she didn't take it I would. I sometimes still find myself craving that "high."

I came out of the JU weak physically. My psych nurse was concerned, so she put me on Remeron. The goal is that it would help me sleep while also increase my appetite. The interesting thing about this drug is that the lower dosage makes its side-effects stronger. The higher you go those effects lessen. I have been on Remeron for months. When I got back from California and started having trouble staying asleep my psych nurse started to decrease my dosage. She was concerned because I was doing things at night that I have never done before like sleep walk and talk in my sleep. I haven't had a normal night's sleep since California with the exception of my time in Utah. We dropped the Remeron to its lowest dosage and it made no difference to my sleep habits, but I did find myself eating in the middle of the night because I was so hungry. We are now in the process of upping the dosage since it isn't helping me sleep and eating in the middle of the night isn't helpful either. :o) I also have noticed a dip in my mood.

A couple of weeks after my time in the JU I felt the brunt of the depression. All of a sudden it was hard to get out of bed each morning. I had no desire to do anything. I kept asking myself if I had a choice would I rather feel anxious or depressed. I was told over and over again that I needed to "fake it til I make it". I did not want to fake it. For some reason I fought it for a few weeks. During this time my psych nurse put me on another antidepressant that works well with Remeron. It is called Effexor. I have to eat before I take it in the morning or else I get a horrible stomach ache. I've noticed that even then I sometimes will feel nauseous afterwards. Now each time you add a new drug or adjust a dosage you take the chance of having the opposite side effect than you want. I feel blessed that I haven't had that problem since I stopped trying antipsychotics.

A couple of weeks after being on Effexor my therapist began to notice a change. She literally became giddy. I was cautious. I have shown great improvement over the last couple of months. Things that in the past would have caused me to spiral downward I am able to slowly take in stride with the help of my therapist. Every time I see her she always tells me how good I'm doing. I don't always feel that way, but I'm sure she observes more than I do. Am I not anxious or depressed anymore? No. Recovery takes time. Lots of time. Especially as you begin to enter the world again and take on more responsibility. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to be patient with myself. There is no rush. I just need to do what I can handle and say no to everything else. Easier said than done.

So for right now I am on three antidepressants, one antianxiety medication and a natural sleep aid. My psych nurse hopes that I can be weaned off the antianxiety medication and that I won't stay on all three antidepressants. So there is still more change in my future. Once we get the medication stabilized I then stay on it for a year. After that time I guess I meet with my psych nurse and see where we want to go from there. I may slowly start weaning myself off the medication, but if I take a dip in mood then I will most likely need to be on medication the rest of my life.

For years I have watched the commercials about different drugs. Some seem to be the answer to everything, but then they go and list the side effects and I wonder who in their right mind would take that risk. And now I find that I am taking that risk. It really has been a medical roller coaster! I never knew how complicated it could be. How horrible it can be. I am always tired and often have a metallic taste in my mouth. Minor compared to what side effects I could be dealing with. I have a friend that has become diabetic because of the medication she is on. Every so often I probably will have my blood tested to make sure that the medication isn't affecting anything else in my body. But I have learned when Heavenly Father tells you to do something, you do it. Even if it is an adventure you would rather not live.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

For Good

Recent events have caused me to look back and appreciate all the friendships that I have formed over the years. Making friends has never seemed to be a challenge for me. Sure I would have classes in high school that I didn't have any friends in, and I would feel awkward at first. But those classes provided me the chance to get to know a lot of the foreign exchange students or other people that I normally wouldn't get to know. They were also opportunities that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have been truly blessed with wonderful friends - so many that have touched my life and have helped me to become a better person.

Moving to Eugene was stepping into the unknown. It was our top choice of the three schools Tom applied to, but neither of us had ever visited before. We knew no one. Tom moved here before me and said that he felt very welcome in our new ward. My first Sunday I was greeted by many people, and I am still greeted each Sunday by those same individuals. I felt welcome, but it took a couple of years for it to really feel like my home ward. Even though I'm hidden away in Primary I love getting to know the teachers and children. I've enjoyed watching the children grow up. I have enjoyed getting to know the Primary Presidency as well. They are amazing women. All that have served since I began teaching what seems like forever ago.

But I quickly realized that I was in my own little group. Many times the singles in the church either feel over looked or too focused on. Being married without children in the church is also an awkward place to be. I have found it harder to make friends because my world doesn't overlap with those that do have children. It was a new experience for me and a little on the hard side. My time is my own where as many of the women in my ward are running around taking care of their children. I was not part of the "Mommy" group.

A couple of years ago I found out that one of the counselors in the Primary Presidency actually lived close by. We talked at a Primary activity at the beginning of the year and discovered that we both were on the crafty side. This counselor also liked to get outside and go walking. She said she would invite me the next time she went out.

She did give me a call and asked if I would mind biking instead. I hadn't been on a bike in years and was a little nervous about it. She said I could ride her bike while she rode her husband's bike. I took the plunge. I was a little shaky at first, but the saying is true. :o) It is just like riding a bike. Once you learn you never forget how.

That was the beginning of many bike rides to the Rose Garden and many walks around our neighboorhood. A friendship was formed that I came to really cherish. We talked on the phone almost everyday and saw each other almost everyday. I finally had found a friend in Eugene. A true friend. One that has blessed my life immensely.

I will never forget when Leslie called me to tell me the news that she was moving. She was moving outside our ward boundaries and wouldn't be within walking distance anymore. When we hung up I started to cry. I was already having an emotional day, and I was worried that the move would change our friendship. I acted like she was moving to another state when really she wasn't moving that far away. Tom & I helped with the move, and I loved the new place that she was moving into.

The move didn't change our friendship. We now had a new neighboorhood to walk around. I would find myself stopping by her place a couple of times a week and sometimes she would drive or bike over here. We still saw each other often. We would share our creative endeavours with each other and enjoy shopping trips to Michaels or Ben Franklin's. I spent time with her on her birthdays while her husband was at work. He always insisted that she treat me out for lunch. :o)

A year later she moved back into our ward and within walking distance again. It was good to have her closer again. Especially as I came to the relization that I was struggling with depression. There were times I would spend at her place until my mom or Tom got home so that I was safe. If I was scared to be alone I just had to text her (she got a new phone and we became texting buddies) and walk over. She kept me in her prayers and baked me delicious goodies.

The beginning of this year has been difficult for us for different reasons. Me with my struggle with anxiety and depression and Leslie with her health issues. We haven't seen each other as much though we have stayed in touch via texting, and anytime we both made it to church I always enjoyed sitting next to her and getting a hug.

A couple of months ago she announced once again that she was moving. This time out of state. I was devestated. She was teary eyed when she told me and she said that we would stay in touch via texting and facebook. She was going to be moving shortly after Josalyn and Bryce moved. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle it emotionally. I had already lost two grandparents, my uncle was dying and the kids were going to be moving. And now I was going to lose a dear friend.

Well it turns out that with her health issues she and her husband decided that she wouldn't be moving. I was happy. I felt that I was losing too much in my life already, and I couldn't picture my life in Eugene without her. My uncle passed away and the kids moved and somehow I survived it all even though I found it hard and heart breaking. But at least Leslie wasn't moving.

It is funny how God works in our lives. Leslie wasn't ready to move at that time and I wasn't at a very safe place to handle her leaving. When I found out she had signed a year lease I let out a sigh of relief and really began to believe that she was here to stay at least for another year. But I was wrong. Next month my dear friend is moving to Arizona. I believe that we will stay in touch, but it won't be the same as having her within walking distance or sitting next to her at church. It will be another change that I will have to deal with. But I am thankful for the timing. I feel that I'm at a better place to face this new change. Yes it will still be hard and I will miss her much. But God is aware of both of our needs, and I am putting my trust in Him.

"I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason. Bringing something we must learn and we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them and we help them in return...I do believe I have been changed for the better. And because I knew you I have been changed for good." -Wicked

You have changed my life for the better Leslie. You have helped make Eugene feel like home. It won't be the same without you, but I am thankful for your friendship. I am thankful for you. I am thankful for all the memories we share, and I hope there will be more to be made in the future. I love you.






Monday, August 6, 2012

Here's to Us


I had heard tales of how hard a first year of marriage could be. Two separate people coming together and trying to merge two different lifestyles. I have personally watched those I love struggle through their first couple of years of marriage. It wasn't enjoyable to observe, so I imagine it must have been hard to work through. When Tom and I had been married a couple of months an unmarried cousin asked if it was as hard as we are led to believe. My answer? Being married for me was easy. It is true that Tom and I became engaged on May 17th and married August 6th of that same year. With such a short engagement how could I find marriage easy?

Tom brought stability to my life. Someone who was always there with a listening ear and encouragement. Even though he had quit working at the Malt Shoppe he still came most nights to help me close. The dreaded class of Statistics that I had put off until the end of my college career Tom helped me with. I had my own personal tutor. My grades went up to where they originally had been for so long before college. But I wasn't doing it because I felt I had to or needed to. I just worked hard with Tom's support and was able to do it (even with skipping a few classes here and there which you now know is breaking one of Tom's rules).

Now all the reasons I listed above are good reasons, but they are not why I found it easy being married to Tom. Tom and I were in the same ward for a school year. I knew of him but hadn't personally met him or exchanged words with him. He was nicknamed the 'Tall One' in my apartment. I didn't meet Tom until I started to work at the Malt Shoppe. It quickly became obvious that he was friendly and fun to work with. It also became obvious that everyone flirted with him because he was "safe." I admit that I flirted with him too though at the time I was in a serious relationship. The month of August of 2004 my boyfriend and I agreed that we could date other people. Did we really want to? No, but I wasn't going to let him show me up so I got the manager of the Malt Shoppe to get Tom to ask me out on a date. He treated me to a movie and to lunch. Then we spent the evening working together. Neither of us had feelings of a romantic nature for the other. We were friends. Good friends. But I thought he was too tall for me, a little too nerdy and a little too naive. But we spent many hours working and talking together and continued to be in the same ward. We were friends first.

It took time for me view Tom as someone more than just a friend. With the help of roommates and friends I gave Tom a chance. It was then like God hit me over the head and said he has been here all along. He is the one for you. One Sunday after we were engaged and sitting together in church together all of a sudden a warmth spread from my head to my feet. I looked at Tom and saw him how God viewed him. A son of God with much potential and that God had plans for him. It is a moment that I will never forget.

After we were married I would still have what I would call my "weird" moments. Moments where all of a sudden I would see Tom the way I saw him before I fell in love with him. But those moments slowly slipped away. Now my "weird" moments are when I look at Tom and wonder how did I get to be so blessed to have him as my husband. In the beginning I worried that he would die young so that I would truly understand how blessed I was.

Now looking at our first year of marriage I view it differently. We had our struggles. There are things we had to learn about the other person. I learned what Tom's rules were and how disappointed he would be when I would break them (that still occasionally happens). If you were to ask me a year ago which year had been the most difficult for us I would have told you our first year of marriage. Why? Because with each passing year things have gotten better. We know each other better. We love each other more.

If you were to ask me that same question today my answer would be different. This year has been the hardest one for the both of us. Most undoubtedly the hardest year of our lives. Those of you that have kept up on my blog know why. My struggle with depression and anxiety didn't just affect me, it affected Tom too. There was even a time where I wasn't sure I would come through this trial and still want to be married. When I first voiced this to Tom it broke his heart. I'm not sure why I felt that way. Maybe it was because I was unsure of everything. Luckily I had the sense to not make such a life changing decision while being down in the depths of despair. I also knew that those who loved me would think I was an idiot and would be making the worst decision of my life. And yet Tom continued to stand by me. Through it all he was my friend. The one that I would turn to and for most of my struggle he was my safe place. Many times he would just hold me and repeatedly tell me that it was going to be OK.

Tom had to put up with a lot. More than just breaking his rules and putting me first. I know he had moments where he truly believed that he was going to lose his wife. Either by divorce or death. Sometimes he left for school not knowing what would be waiting for him when he returned home. He felt pulled in many directions. Since I know Tom so well I would manipulate him to where I knew what decision he would make before he actually did make it. I walked all over him.

My time in the Johnson Unit wasn't only good for me, but it was good for Tom as well. He knew I was in a safe environment getting the safe space that I needed. It was there that I came to understand that both Tom and I were seeking a different marriage environment. You would think after 6+ years I would have figured that out. I knew that I didn't want to have a marriage like my parent's, and Tom did want a marriage like his parent's. Those two marriages are like night and day. I wanted to land somewhere in the middle. Tom came to accept that or at least is trying to. :o)

As it became apparent that this present struggle of depression and anxiety developed into something that both of us never dreamed of experiencing, that it would either bring Tom and I closer together or tear us apart. I believe that it is bringing us closer together. Tom has been a trooper. I never realized how patient he could be or how devoted he is. He has never given up on me. He has held me as I have sobbed my heart out to God. He has held me to keep me safe. He has held me as I cried in anguish wishing that I was dead. He has held me and loved me through it all and continues to do so.

I am so blessed that a little over seven years ago God opened my eyes to what he knew I would need. Not only through this trial but the ones to come. So here's to us. For continuing the fight and sticking together. And here's to Tom for loving me even at my worst. Love you. Always.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Family Fun

Last year my sister Christina and her son Sawyer came out for the full month of June while my brother-in-law Nate studied for two important tests (he is in medical school). Christina and Sawyer started their trip here in Eugene and spent a week with me and Tom. It was fun to have them here and show them around even though Sawyer was sick and then Christina caught the bug. They then spent the rest of the month at my parent's in Washington. Tom and I spent his summer break there so that we could see them again.

In December Christina let me know that she was planning on making the same trip again this year in June. Nate had three huge tests to study for this year. Once it became apparent that I was in it for the long haul with the anxiety and depression, Christina and Sawyer went straight to Washington for the month of June.

My youngest sister Brittany, who lives in Utah, made it to Washington for a week to spend with my parents, Christina and Sawyer. She just loves Sawyer! My family let me know a number of times that I was invited to come up that week. It happened to be the same week that the kids were moving, so I didn't make a commitment. I didn't know how I would be doing emotionally at that time either, so I was wary of getting their hopes up. I was also worried about making the drive up since I tire so easily.

The day after we said our final goodbyes to the kids came the moment of decision. I think that my family at that point had given up the hope of seeing me. It was Wednesday and I either had to drive up that day or I wouldn't go at all. I started to pack my things to see how it felt. Tom left for school not knowing whether I would be going or not. I knew that my family would be understanding if I didn't make it, but that they would also be sad. I felt a burst of strength and packed the car and headed out. I didn't let my family know that I was coming.

When I am driving by myself I like to blast the music. Not just to hear it but to feel it. My parents live on a gravel road and are the last house on the road. I came swinging around, and the place that I usually park was taken by Brittany's car, so I hurriedly had to make the decision to drive on the grass around her car and park. My family was confused at first who was coming up the road because they are still not used to the new car. Brittany recognized the song that I had playing, so I think she was the first one to realize that it was me. They of course came running up, and I got a lot of hugs.

My trip home was a good one. It was good to see Sawyer since I never know when I will get to see him next. Well that also goes for Brittany and Christina. Brittany and I shared a room which I loved since we grew up sharing a room. I made the trip home mostly for my family rather than for myself. I had recently become more silent, and it had been some time since my parents had seen me. I provided the proof that I was still alive and still kicking. :o)

We spent time with Kari and her mom watching "Lark Rise to Candleford". Christina hadn't seen it, and I had forgotten how fun it is to watch movies with her. She flipped at one point and ran out of the room. She then calmed down and we had to rewatch that part. :o) It brought back many memories of Christina's reactions to movies.

We took a trip to the zoo on Friday and had a lot of fun watching Sawyer's reactions. He thought the giraffe was a cow (probably because of the spots). Loved the turtles! I guess that is one of his favorite words to say. Many times he would just sit in his stroller and stare at the animal. Brittany and I made the most of our opportunity to get snow cones, and she shared hers with Sawyer. He loved it and kept wanting more. Most of the animals were active, so that was fun. By the end of the trip I think we were all ready for a nap. Sawyer fell asleep on the drive home. He was such a good sport. One thing that made us smile is that he kept grabbing at leaves. He lives in Arizona, so he isn't used to so much green vegetation.

Another highlight of my trip was an evening spent with family friends that we have known for years. Ken and Marlene are so much fun. We love playing Mexican Trains with them. They have an awesome set because it actually comes with a train station with little trains to use as markers. If someone is taking too long there is a button in the middle that you can push that makes a sound. Over the years there were the Ririe rules and then the Paine's rules. The Paine's rules were more challenging. Well their rules have evolved, so now it is more of a combo between the two. It is a game my dad will actually play. Brittany came out ahead and won the game. She rocked it!

Brittany drove back to Utah the day I returned to Eugene. She left much earlier than I did, and I was half asleep when she said her goodbye. When I left, I left my mom, my dad and Christina in tears. It is very unusual to see my dad cry. Did I cry? No. That is unusual for me. If I see someone crying and I'm feeling emotional I usually can't hold back the tears. It may seem heartless that I didn't shed any tears, but I guess I have gotten used to stuffing them way deep inside. I sometimes go into therapy telling my therapist that it is her lucky day because she is going to see me cry. I may tear up a bit, but even in circumstances where my heart is breaking I do my best to stuff it down. I'm not really sure why. The waterworks only turn on if it is just Tom and myself. I will get teary-eyed and maybe have a few tears run down my cheecks, but the heartbreaking sobs only escape in front of Tom.

I love my family. They have been a huge support to me through this trying time. My mom has sacrificed weeks to keep an eye on me, and my dad has sacrificed time without her. They have also welcomed me home even though I was not myself. My dad even stayed home from church one Sunday so that I wasn't left alone for long. My siblings have sent me encouraging texts, letters and phone messages, and I know that they have kept me in their prayers. Family has always been important to me, and that is a big part of why I picked the major I did: Marriage, Family and Human Development. And no, this is not the 'mommy' or 'Mrs.' degree. I can get quite defensive about that. :o) Now sure it has blessed my life in many ways. I'm sure I'm a better wife because of it. But it is the stepping stone to go on and eventually get a masters degree in Marriage, Family Therapy. But because of the classes I took I came to understand my own family dynamics better and my place in my family. My family is far from perfect, but we love each other. And I believe we are each trying in our own ways to become closer as we have become adults and are seperated by miles. I am thankful that Heavenly Father sent me to the family he did.