Irony – Allanis style

I’m having a rough week. I will know in a few days if I am pregnant or not from round three, but if i’m honest, I think not. It’s a roller coaster of hope and frustration, and we go back to the fertility doctor on the 20th of March.

Mostly unrelated, for the past half decade or so, I’ve worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I met my first little sister when she was 14, and we built a solid relationship, so as she entered adulthood and aged out of the program, we have stayed close.

Today she told me she is pregnant, by accident, with a BF or three months, without resources or means, or planning. Because that is what young fertile people do. I am being supportive. I am being helpful. And I am dying inside.

There is a For Better or For Worse strip that basically says “fertility doesn’t come with foresight”.

I have no words.




I cry in my car a lot. More than I do anywhere else combined. There is something about the feeling of being in an isolated space by myself, that despite the fact that my windows are untinted and I’m not actually invisible, I am alone with my thoughts.

I think part of it is i’ve noticed most people in traffic are hyper self-involved and not paying attention to what is going on around them. Even if they happened to glance over and notice my tears, they won’t cause any more than a passing curiosity, a minor blip on their radar.

I prefer not to let my Husband into my daily grief/pain/darkness. He already worries about me enough, I don’t really feel the need to give him more cause.

All that being said, I broke down and let him into everything last night. I feel bad, because he looks utterly helpless when confronted with my distress. I find the active trying to conceive, the knowledge that in theory we have improved our odds with the medication, harder than not trying. I will know whether this round has been effective in about ten days. We go back to see the doctor again in March – we should have three full rounds of letrozole under our belts by the time we see him again.

On top of the infertility and stress of the medication, i’m really frustrated with my weight. I know, without stepping on the scale, that it’s up. I’m finding it hard to have the motivation to be as active as I usually am, or, for that matter, to eat well. Being unhappy with my body does not help the rest of my mental state, but at least it’s something I can hold onto and actively work on. So I’m signing up for a 5km run, adding two rowing workouts to the 2-3 I was managing over the December/January period, and limit simple carbs. I need to get this back under control, because it feels like very little else is mine to do so with.

I don’t want to track calories, that tends to mean I feel entitled to eat more to compensate for my exercise calories. I just need to find some much needed balance.


Happy 2018!

I am disinclined to make new years resolutions. I think it’s important to reflect and evaluate where you’re at and decide what you’re happy with, what you’re not, and how you want to change… but I think the arbitrary start date of New Years and making it a resolution is setting yourself up for failure. I mean, it’s a running joke among fitness/health professionals that the first week of January is a whirlwind and crazy busy and that by mid February everything will have calmed down back to normal.

All that being said, I had a pretty relaxed holiday, I didn’t spend any time with anyone other than my three furballs (the Husband, the dog, and the cat…) and I got some time off work, and I got to spend some time in reflection and think about what I do want to work to change.

The first thing that I know I need to work on is my own perception of myself and my war with my body. I’ve mentioned before that I feel like in many ways my body has betrayed me – its inability to conceive, to adhere to the physical appearance I idealize, and honestly the feeling that it has over the past year given out on me as my ability to push through the depression and its sister ship fatigue and I am actually having to take some time off. For these, and so very many more reasons, I often feel like I am waging a never ending series of battles with myself.

There are aspects of that last paragraph that made me cringe a little bit even as I wrote them – the idealized body annoys me – not because it exists as much because I still apparently buy into it. And that, although I do think I have gotten better at this, I still struggle to give myself grace and respect that self care is a necessary thing. I often counsel my clients on this front, but often I recognize that it’s basically a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. Which makes me a bit of a hypocrite, but…. well, like I say, i’m working on it.

The most recent meeting with the second fertility Doctor did help to reduce my feeling of inadequacy with respect to our inability to conceive – he made it clear that neither of us is to blame for our lack of a baby – we as a couple simply have not been able to create a viable melding of our genetic matter (I may also call an eventual child exactly that as a nickname, maybe i’d be unfit to parent??? VMGM FTW!)

The useful thoughts that came out of actually having time away from our workaholic lives to hang out together and talk: Husband and I have agreed that one way or the other, whether because the fertility treatments work, or whether we end up looking into and going through the adoption process, we plan to be parents sometime in the next five years. That being a plan, we have agreed on a few behavours that both of us think we would like to change/modify before we model them for the next generation. These are basic things like actually sitting down at the table to eat instead of grabbing food and hanging out in the living room and ignoring each other, less screen time in general for non work/school related purposes, etc. Nothing ground breaking, mostly just small things that we think would be good to change anyways, and we both see the value of building the habits now so that they are habits when the time comes, which will make it easier to adhere to.

But ultimately, the main thing I need to work on, not as a resolution, not with a finite end date or goal… just a general sense that I need to learn to work with my body and be kinder to myself instead of punishing myself… Because frankly it’s just counterproductive.

Random final thought: Having to have sex every day for a week is a lot less fun in reality than it is in theory once you’re in your 30s. It’s amazing how something so fun can start to seem like such a chore.

In a little under two weeks I’ll know if i’m pregnant or if we’re going for round two of letrozole. Honestly, it hasn’t been so bad. Other than a weird taste in my mouth early on, three days of crushing fatigue (like 12-14 hours of sleep/day) leading up to ovulation (probable ovulation) this medication has not been as bad as I expected at all. Mostly I am dreading the let down I know will come when I find out that I am, once again, not pregnant. You would think after 57 cycles of this I would be numb, but this whole fertility treatment brings it all right back home.



Nothing and Everything

So it was nothing. It was just a fault in the test strip, and it meant nothing. I don’t know why I let my hopes get so up. We have been trying to get pregnant for over four and a half years, with no success – not even a blip on any radar. So why I thought this time would be different is logically beyond me.

I took it quite hard. Every time my period starts when I know that our timing was exactly what it should have been, I feel like a human failure. Winter isn’t great for me from a depression/SADs point of view in general, and I find that all the hoopla around Christmas makes me feel stressed and pressured to feel things I don’t really – the forced cheer is daunting at best.

Oh, also, my birthday was last week. Every year my birthday is a bit of a life review for me, seeing if I’ve done what I wanted to do, achieved my goals, etc. Since there is a pretty glaring piece of my life plan missing, even though I’m ok on the other fronts – professionally, personally, academically. Which makes my wallowing in the grief surrounding infertility that much more annoying. Well it’s annoying for me, and I feel like if I actually talked to anyone else around me about it instead of just occasionally blurting my thoughts out here, that anyone else iI talked to would also find it annoying.

I’ve had a weird feeling for a few months that 32 will be a pivotal year. No logical explanation, I just think it will be. We had talked to the doctor and gotten a referral for the fertility clinic that was due to happen on April 2nd, 2018. On my birthday last week I got a call: The appointment is now Monday. And I am so overwhelmed that I don’t know what I’m feeling. I’m excited, but terrified, and I know that my expectations are too high. Because really, after so many years, what can a new doctor really offer? So this appointment, this progress, it is everything and nothing. Because if they can help us, if there is a chance of my getting pregnant, of us having a baby, that is everything. But the far more likely reality is that there won’t be anything they can do, so this will be nothing.

We need to know. I need to know. Because having a baby, being a parent, it’s everything to me. And right now it feels like we have nothing.





More than most things, depression is humbling.

I have in most aspects of my life been able to force my way through, muscle/brain/charm/flirt, etc. I am lucky. I am a pretty, caucasian, blond, and highly intelligent female. I found out when I was 17 that the IQ tests I took at age 9 designated me a genius – on a continuum I fall about halfway between 99-100. I didn’t actually know when I was placed in the gifted program at age 10 what it meant, other than that i got to skip social studies, which was great for me – give me mind puzzles over details on the voyageurs any day. I mostly use this as an example as why when I say that IQ is not a relevant indication of success, it’s not sour grapes – I am in the top 0.5 percentile according to highly biased tests best suited to middle class north americans. I just don’t think IQ is relevant because, frankly, it has a lot of research and anecdotal evidence suggesting it is not. However, it has been valuable to me in that I pick up new concepts quickly, I can respond and amalgamate new information efficiently, And I see links between details that are not immediately evident to others…. Basically I feel like I am extremely good at fooling people into thinking I know more than I do. Don’t get me wrong, in my chosen field of active rehabilitation, I am good – I have worked my butt of to know, research, back up, and reenforce what I do, and I am good at it. But much of the rest of my life I am simply faster on my feet than average, and therefor I feel like i’ve fooled people into thinking I am smarter/better than I am.

All that being said, where does the humble come in? Here’s where:

I can’t muscle/think/smartass my way through depression and mental illness. Long before I started this blog, I was in denial that I was experiencing depression. My sister in law told me, years ago, that what I was experiencing was depression – she was right – and I denied it outright. My own fear of the stigma and overall atmosphere surrounding mental health caused me to completely disregard my own. In my mind, the fact that I was not suicidal, and could get my butt out of bed in the morning, were indications that I was fine. I was not aware of the term “high functioning depression”. I thought that to be depressed I would have to be basically bedridden and lacking any kind of motivation.

So I convinced myself that the black hole of a mental state was just my being grumpy, it had nothing to do with the feelings of inadequacy, the fear, self loathing, insecurity, fatigue… It was just my having a shitty day. Nothing to worry about. Because I could get up, go to work, be a full time student and work 2-3 part time jobs and still be a supportive friend/wife/sibling/child… all of this could happen, right?

I promised myself time off when I finished my undergrad – I was just going to work the part time job as a research coordinator for a lab at the university – a role I had been doing while completing my undergrad degree and honours thesis (it’s published, woowoo). Then I got my first real job as a Kinesiologist, and the next five years are what she wrote – far be it for me to turn down a job in my chosen field and not choose to work my ass off. But I never took time off. By the time I walked across the stage I was already embarked on my new career – something that few of my peers had managed, but something that meant that long desired and planned for time off didn’t happen. Fast forward five interesting and professionally fulfilling years – I don’t regret that decision. But I was burnt out and a mess at the end of my undergrad, and I never actually took the pause that I promised myself.

Back to humble. Basically it is this: It doesn’t matter how smart, driven, determined, or full on stubborn I am. Depression has caught up with me and overrun my life in the last few years. And that is humbling; not because I thought I was better than anyone else, but because I had that stupid blind faith that I would somehow manage to be the exception: That Depression wouldn’t be able to take its tole, do it’s damage, because I would push through. So … humbled. Because this is my take away: You can run, but you can’t hide. You can busy the shit out of your brain, prioritize other things and people, and run at full steam for as long as you can… but you cannot ignore mental health. It isn’t simply gone. It refuses to be forgotten. Trust me on this, I tried. For years. For years before I knew what I was doing, and possibly with more fervour once I had more awareness. Therapy helped a lot, because it tends to. And I think it was a decent stopgap measure, but in my vanity, I still thought I could go it alone, and that was an epic fail.

When I finally hit the point earlier this year that I wanted to stop existing, I was clear that I needed help. All of the help. And I needed to let go of my own narcissistic vanity and be vulnerable. And I hated every second of that. I hate being vulnerable, I hate feeling weak, and I hate letting people in and needing support. But in wanting to not be me anymore, I realized I had to stop pretending that my depression wasn’t real.

I’m not going to for a second pretend I have any answers. I don’t. I don’t want to die. I want to see what life has to offer. I wish I had more humility, because even as I write this I still feel like I should know better. But that is the thing with being humbled – it happens in spite of yourself, not because of a decision, despite one… despite your sense of self, wants, needs… the id will out. And mine has wanted out with a vengeance, and scares the ever living shit out of me.

At least I don’t want to die.

Ugh. Humble is not my colour.




I hate being the object of pity. I’m not much happier with sympathy, I can sometimes handle empathy… But I hate pity.

I raced at Regionals this weekend, and although all of my four races felt good, and my team came together and performed well, I did not win any medals. Which was disappointing – every other person on my team won in one of their other races, I seemed to be the common denominator among losing boats. I thought I had made more improvements over the last year than I had, but apparently it’s going to take a lot more work to compete at an international level and win.

One of my coaches, who is an ex national team athlete (he was headed for the olympics until an injury forced early retirement), decided to race a single scull, and unsurprisingly he won. He felt like it was unfair, because despite having followed the letter of the law, it is somewhat unsportsmanlike for an athlete of his caliber to compete at a masters level. So this is where the pity comes in: At the end of the regatta, once the boats were packed back on the trailer and we were ready to make the 4+ hour drive back to the ferry, he called everyone together for a team meeting/end of regatta wind down chat. It started out nicely enough, he made some nice comments about learning a lot from adult athletes and how much he enjoyed coaching us…

Then he brought up a new thing. The “spirit” award. Citing the idea that this person had been positive and complained the least throughout the weekend, he called on me, and gave me his gold. And I just wanted to crawl under a rock and die. It I felt that I had earned that award, maybe it wouldn’t have felt so shitty, but I don’t think I did – There was another member of the team who had been far more helpful, positive, and proactive than I had been all weekend, which means they selected me because they felt bad for me. Because I alone had not medaled. I can handle my own disappointment, but knowing that I was the object of my coach’s pity just … It just sucks.

I held it together until I got into the car to drive home and then let the tears come. The ladies I was carpooling with were worried about me, and agreed that it was a poor choice and pretty transparently a consolation prize… and they were lovely. Half an hour into our drive home we were giggling about other things.

I have no desire to have anyone pity me. A large part of why I keep the details of my infertility largely private is because I have no interest in being the object of that attention. And I work my ass off at rowing, i’m just not performing at a high enough level to win yet. Having my coach think that that action was appropriate just… Makes me want to quit. Having it happen in front of all of my peers, and drawing attention to my failure, not to mention making me a lightning rod for their pity as well? FML.

I know that he thought he was doing something nice, and that makes the whole thing somehow worse. If he were just being an ass hole, I would write it off and dismiss it, but he genuinely thought that he was being kind. And there isn’t really a way to give it back without being an ass hole in return.

I’m aware that three days of racing in 35+ degree (celsius) weather, plus <5 hours a night of sleep for five days, plus 7+ hours of travel time on either end it making me more emotional than normal. I’m aware that once I am well rested and a few days have passed I will feel less miserable about this. But right now I don’t want to get back on the water, I don’t want to deal with anyone from that arena, I just want to hide, give up, oh, and starve myself to boot, because when I hate myself, I feel all the old body image issues resurfacing.

I have to go for a training shift at my new job today. I am overtired, have a slight heat exhaustion hangover, and my brain feels like fuzzy mush. Not ideal training circumstances, so here’s hoping I can get through it with some shred of dignity intact.

Fuck pity.



In Reference to Mental Health

I think, through my adolescence and 20s, I had seen my bouts of anxiety and depression as a passing phase. I saw the flux as the result of hormone shifts and the stressors of school, work, relationships, whatever. I remember vividly my sister in law, who also deals with depression, telling me that she thought I was depressed, and brushing it off. I was 24. I think I had bought into a significant portion of the societal bias against mental illness, a stigma that continues to cause me to be very careful of who I discuss my mental health with, and under what parameters.

I’m not proud of bowing to social norms. I don’t lie about my mental health, but I definitely hide it under a shroud of bravado and easy smiles. I will answer direct questions honestly, but I learned a long time ago that when you seem like your life is an open book, no one bothers to flip the page. I have spent years carefully constructing a facade, one that is just quirky and odd enough that most people assume that I can’t possibly be hiding anything, because wouldn’t the foul mouth, dirty sense of humour and tendency to do a happy dance randomly in public be the obvious things to hide? It’s not that those things are lies. They are just emphatically not the whole truth.

Interestingly, within the safety of that shroud I have learned to watch other people and their behaviours more carefully. Because I am painfully aware of my own disguise, I am more inclined to see through those that other people use. From a professional perspective, it’s extremely valuable: I am adept at seeing past the walls and learning about people – and I find their whole self interesting, which leads to better therapeutic relationships and I think ultimately better care.

As my 30s are well and truly underway, I am more aware of the reality that comes with dealing with depression, at least for me: It isn’t transient, or a passing phase. That doesn’t mean it won’t pass, and it doesn’t mean I can’t work on it, build up my coping skills, and improve my outlook. In fact, even as I sit and write, I’ve been pretty stable for the better part of a month despite significant upheaval in my professional life. I feel like a whole person most of the hours of the day. I recognize that I have a tendency to over-extend my resources, and I work to make sure that I allow for that, and the recovery time that needs to follow. So I work on balance, and self care, and try to practice what I preach.

But I am starting to realize that it is important for me to own my mental health. Because it is mine. It’s not going away, it will be ever changing, and sometimes hard… But sometimes it will be glorious, and I will get to experience true and utter joy – and that is worth everything, every single time. I have chosen thus far not to seek medication. The talk therapy has been effective, and all my understanding of the medications are that they dull your senses at both ends of the spectrum: no huge lows, but also no highs, and I live for those (none external chemically induced) highs.

I am blessed with a strong cohort of very good friends, who have been available to me in ways I could never have imagined, even when I didn’t know how to ask. I am lucky to have married a man who has weathered my storms with grace, and been willing to work on our relationship even when I was ready to give up. I have strong biological family bonds, and stronger logical family bonds, and I treasure them.

But on mental health: Its mine, good, bad, or otherwise. I am happy that this most recent depressive episode seems to be passing. With each successive experience I am more certain that there will, eventually, be a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

I will mourn my ability to conceive for the rest of my life. I am starting to accept that, and the daily hurt is slowly ebbing away. There are sharp pangs, and there is a very good chance that I will never attend another baby shower as long as I live. And I will let myself grieve that loss as often and as deeply as I need to, because that too is mine. Mine to decide how much it hurts, mine to determine what the appropriate response is, and mine to share only if and when I choose. I don’t know if I will ever parent in any conventional sense, or if any doctor will ever be able to tell me definitively why my body doesn’t seem capable of conception. And it’s not ok. But it is something I can acknowledge and build into my life foundation, not use to tear myself down.

Someday I want to share my story and struggle with mental health with the people I care about, and maybe beyond. Partially because I think there are too few stories about the people who don’t conceive (how many times has my saying I can’t get pregnant been met with “i’m sure you will!” or “I know a woman who said that and then…”), but mostly¬†because I would like to¬†face my fear of sharing these little secrets I’ve been so carefully hiding for so long. But for now, this is Me.