Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Losing oneself in motherhood

I have seen it happen to many parents I know. They were cool people but then they had a kid. It seems like their whole personality turned into becoming a mom. Don't get me wrong, motherhood is one of the best things that could ever happen to me but it is very easy to get lost in it. I know this from personal experience.

You see, I started to lose myself after my wedding. My marriage didn't start off on good footing.To make a long story short, my husband decided to estrange himself from most of his family. I was hit with the baby bug before I even met my husband and I wanted to start trying right away. I waited a little more after my wedding because I stopped smoking and wanted to get my shit in order. In my mind, getting my shit in order also meant completely changing who I was because I wanted to be a mom. I ditched all my goth clothes because I stupidly felt like I needed to grow up. I had to be a mom now and that meant not dressing cool anymore. It meant it was my time to settle down. I had to fit into this little mold and be, well normal.

I had trouble conceiving and my pregnancy for my son was a difficult one. I had this huge ass chip on my shoulder because I gave up all the things I loved. I became a shell of who I was because I wanted to get pregnant and I couldn't! I almost lost my son (as well as my own life) in child birth.  A couple of months after he was born, my son had to have surgery for Pyloric Stenosis. I was going through post postpartum depression through all this too. Somehow, I survived.To this day, I have no idea how I kept my sanity but I did!

With all this in mind, you can imagine why and how I completely lost myself into motherhood. I felt like a loser mom and wanted to do everything right. Up until then, although this was never the case, I really felt like I failed as a mother. I am sure most women have their stories too. Maybe it is something similar to mine or maybe it's not. I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to be a great mom its crazy. We do it because we love our kids or maybe some of us do it because we had shitty mothers and don't want to make the same mistakes twice?

 Before and after shots. Funny that I look younger in the after shot, eh?

When I lost myself, I never cared much about fashion.I bought what was on sale. I stopped colouring my hair. I stopped doing anything for myself! My whole life was wrapped around my baby. I hung out with other moms and joined all these on-line Mommy groups. The very women I used to spend my life rolling my eyes at and avoiding like the plague became my group of friends. It was all so fake.

I also hated the snarkiness, the back-stabbing and the whole sancti-mommy bullshit behind it all. You were judged for the things you did or didn't do. Everyone bragged about how great their kids were and it became a competition on whose kid would do this or that before the other kid. It was like these babies milestones weren't their own but reflected on the mother's parenting style. It wasn't about the kid, it was about the mom. It was very narcissistic. I didn't fit in at all. I didn't like the music they listened to, I didn't play their stupid mommy wars, and I didn't want to dress like they did.

I remember when my kid started daycare. Where I am from, we get a year off for maternity leave so my son was almost a year old when I went back to work. It was around this time that  I started to let go of all the crazy things I did.  I stopped talking to those other moms and realized that a lot of my coworkers were parents themselves. A lot of them have older kids. I reached out to them for advice and it was less judgmental and more...well...real. I slowly got my head out of my ass and I started to change. I realized that there was more to me than just being a mom. Yes, I have an adorable little boy but what about me? Aside from motherhood, what defines me? Sometimes being a parent means that you should find time for you. I started wondering on what exactly made me unique. What did I enjoy doing besides taking care of a young child? My child's milestones, while they deserved to be celebrated, should be celebrated for my child, not because I am some wonderful super mom.  I am not trying to imply that I neglect my kid in anyway or to imply that he is unimportant.. He always comes first but I realized that it was OK for me to go out by myself, it was OK for me to take a break and to remember who that crazy girl I was before I even thought about conceiving.

The way I see it, one day, this cute little baby is going to grow up, have a life of his/her own then what are you going to do? It is important to have your own personal interests. It makes you less boring to your kids. My husband plays D&D twice a month. He shows our son how to play too. I took him to the Goth picnic last summer, we visit cemeteries together and my kid asks for certain bands to listen to while I drive him to school. His friends tell me that I am a cool mom because I dress cool and like videogames! You can be a mom and have outside interests too and even incorporate them into your family life. The point of all this is to please don't make the same mistake I did. Don't be THAT mom. Trust me. I love being a mom but I also love being Sylvie too.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Inspirational sites and why I dislike how-to guides

I remember when I came back to goth and would scour the Internet for inspiration. I came across many "How To Guides' or many lists on "what every goth should have in their wardrobe" sort of articles and videos. I remember remarking on the sheer volume alone of these posts and wondered why so many people even bother publishing such content. This is a personal preference but wouldn't a how to guide or even educating people on how to build a basic goth wardrobe kinda counterproductive? Isn't the point of goth to be individuals and not some carbon copy of someone else's point of view? Isn't it illogical to point out that a good starting point for any goth wardrobe is black jeans, a t-shirt, and boots? I mean... well...yeah...DUH!

I get it to a certain extent. This can come in handy for any new comer. For an Elder Goth like me, whom I like to think I have a pretty good knowledge on the subculture and knows how to dress goth, well, I used some of the advice for inspiration. I didn't bother so much with the how to guides, mind you but I love looking at people's outfits. I still do to this day. I admit, I even love clothing hauls on Youtube because I like seeing shit other people got! I like seeing how other's mix-match their clothes, what accessories they use and how. Sometimes, I get inspired to do my own thing. Sometimes, I may think something looks cool but decide it isn't for me. I never used these as means to mirror what these people were wearing, I just used it for my OWN ideas. There are many youtubers or bloggers that I simply ADORE but I wouldn't want to dress like they do. That's just me.

There are a few downsides to these guides/outfit posts unfortunately:

Some of us are afraid that looking goth is the only part of being goth. I admit, sometimes, I am afraid of this happening too but I think if people are genuinely interested in something, it tends to stick around. Or if they are like me it goes away but comes back! For me personally, when I was a teenager, I was labeled a Goth without knowing exactly what a Goth was. I got curious and decided to participate in the subculture for the hell of it and I got hooked!

It can be over-done. How many how to guides and wardrobe essential articles do we need? How many more subsets do we need? (Nu-Goth, Pastel Goth, etc.) No wonder some of us are afraid that goth is becoming simply a fashion without anything else to supplement it. In my opinion, if it means anything, it kinda takes away from the fun experimental years. You know, like some of us had a Mall Goth phase? I used to do my makeup like The Crow and even used Halloween makeup! I laugh at it now and to be honest, I have some pretty fond memories, embarrassing, yes, but they are fond memories nonetheless. In fact, I sometimes even regret throwing away the old photographs! I like to think that by experimenting with clothes, I learned about what worked for me and what didn't. Back when I was younger, I went out to clubs and saw what other people were wearing. I got my inspiration from there - which leads to, outfit posts can be a great source for those who are not as fortunate as I was to grow up in the city!

When I came back to goth in my early thirties, I made a few embarrassing mistakes. What looked good on my twenty year old self (before baby weight no less) did not necessarily look good in my thirty year old post baby body. I also work in an office. I want people to take me seriously. It is kinda hard for people to do so when I look like a 16 year old! I wanted something office friendly but showed my Goth side. I don't work in a conservative environment and the first blog that really spoke to me was Meagan's, from Coffin Kitsch. She helped me in those early years because a lot of her clothing is so beautiful and elegant. She reflects a lot on the style I wanted to portray at that time. She was a lifesaver and a huge inspiration for me. I was used to super toned down corporate (black dress pants, nice top, pointy boots was my go to look) and now I had a chance to up it a little. Meagan's blog helped me "up" it without risking any workplace infractions. Don't get me wrong, there were other corp goth blogs around at that time but personally, while they were inspirational, I found them too conservative for my office environment.

I think the Internet can be a good thing - to a certain point. As much as I make fun of Health, Pastel, Nu Goth, I think perhaps, I shouldn't be so closed minded about these styles and just take a peek at what they are wearing. Perhaps I can do something fun and creative on my own by taking their inspiration?

I am by no means trying to imply that Goth is simply a style. We have a very rich heritage that I whole heatedly embrace. I love the music, I love visiting cemeteries and I love to read. I think it is equally important to participate in the movement as well as to dress the part - something, thanks to my chronic migraines, I have not had the chance to do much of in the past. I am hopeful this will soon change!

I guess what I am trying to say, just like when I came back to Goth in my early thirties, I will soon be in the process of rebuilding my wardrobe all thanks to my weight loss goals! Luckily for me, many items can be altered to fit my new body size but I do plan on buying AND DIYing some new items too. Some of the fashion sites (re: nu-goth) that I often scoffed at are inspiring me to push myself a little further and to be more creative with my own personal style. Perhaps I can find some inspiration there? I think we should be using these as inspiration rather the be-all end-all Uber Goth look and do what everyone else is doing. Thanks but no thanks, I don't need anymore advice on how to create a fishnet shirt out of an old pair of tights and I don't want Siouxsie makeup either. Show me YOUR style! What makes YOU goth?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Do you want to build a snowman?

Yes, I just went there and quoted Frozen in my title. I used to love that movie and now I hate it with a passion. My kid decided at one point that it was his most favorite movie and we watched it ALL THE TIME. Sometimes, twice in a row and more if we would have let him! If I hear Let It Go, I am going to scream. In fact, I prefer this version, instead:

If you watched this parody, you would know that it's about a student that is tired of studying for finals! Instead of "Let It Go" Elsa is singing "Fuck It All" and I highly recommend you give the video a go! I am not a student but Philip is in grade one and is already being tested, each week. There are times I feel like this for him, especially when we have to study together.

Humor aside, this is not going to be a goth sort of post but more of a really happy update. In my last post , I expressed my frustrations with my migraines and how I totally flipped out in the Doctor's office at my local walk-in clinic. As a result, I was put on a preventative, an anti-depressant for my migraines.Well, my prescription was for a couple of days as the doctor gave me a small dose, I might have to get something stronger or stay on the small dose, it all depends on my body. These pills can hit you like a tonne of bricks and a little over a week later, it is only now where I am able to handle them! I had to go back to the clinic and requested that they do NOT increase my dosage but to renew my prescription because they appear to be working. Although, she was not the same doctor that originally prescribed me the anti depressants (she wasn't on duty), the current doctor remembered me because I go there all the time! Despite having to go through my whole spiel all over again (I conveniently left out the no drinking coffee suggestion from the previous doctor) and she was very sympathetic. I expressed my concerns that (a) I did not have a family doctor but I am on a waiting list, (b) I knew about how taking an anti depressant all along would help but originally, I didn't feel comfortable taking that route as I wanted to explore other treatments beforehand (logging food, physio, chiropractor, etc) but they did not help. Lastly,  I felt like I had to go into the clinic begging for drugs and this really bothered me because I am so frustrated with being in this situation. These migraines are really affecting my quality of life and that I get over 15 of them a month. She not only reassured me that she never got the impression that I was begging for drugs, she happily refilled my prescription, she gave me her blessing AND she took me as one of her patients. I see her in May for an actual appointment. I was so happy, I hugged her! I finally have a family doctor out of all this mess!

Adding a cute bat photo, there goth points!

Today was a very mild day. We were hit by a huge ass snowstorm earlier this week and got dumped on by 40 cm of snow. Schools never shut down here and I had to take a day off work last Wednesday because Philip had a snow day! Normally, these huge changes in weather causes a migraine and guess what? NO MIGRAINE. I did get a headache when we were hit by the snowstorm but for the first time ever, Tylenol worked! Normally, I would be on my ass! I did get a migraine on Friday but that was because I caught the flu and throwing up triggered one. Normally, when there is such a huge change in weather, I would get a migraine but today I didn't! Not even a headache!I would have been stuck nursing a migraine and feeling guilty because I wasn't able to play with my kid. Not only did I go to the clinic, I cleaned, I did laundry, and I built a snowman in my backyard with Philip! You should have seen his face, he was so happy!

Afterwards, I did some more chores around the house then went for an hour long walk!

It has been a long time that I was this active and it feels great! Told ya, I was going to force-choke this year into submission!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Goals for 2017 revisited

Earlier in January, I wrote what my personal goals were and I thought I should touch base because there has been some progress! Yipee!

(1) Get a less expensive place. Well after giving notice that we wish to no longer renew our lease, we were able to renegotiate our current lease. This is extremely rare but I guess we are well liked as tenants. Plus, we are permitted to have a dog. I once wrote about some particularly difficult neighbor who lives downstairs. He is moving. All around, this is incentive enough to stay.

 (2) Save Money.  The reduction in rent will allow us to save some funds.

(3) Continue to invest in my health. This is going well. I lost almost 30 pounds! I am eating better and rarely got sick this year.  I had a cold that didn't turn into anything serious and the flu. Considering I just wrote all this down, let's hope I didn't jinx myself and I get sick in a couple of days!
As for migraines, this is where it gets sort of interesting. In my province, there's a shortage of family doctors and considering I do not have any life threatening health problems, I have been on a waiting list for a year. As a result, I have been going to the walk-in clinic for the renewal of my pain meds. Excedrin and Advil don't work for my migraines. 

Despite the significant weight loss, after going to physiotherapy, a chiropractor (made my migraines worse) and massage therapy, as well as logging the food I eat, I realized my triggers were things I could not control. I live in Canada. We get all four seasons here and obviously this causes a change in my barometric pressure. This is a huge trigger for me. I know in a couple of weeks, with spring on its way, I am going to have my ass handed to me with these flipping migraines. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I came home from work in tears because I had a daily migraine for over two weeks. 

I went back to the walk-in clinic as I have a pretty extensive file there and thought it would be the best place for me to go and to be honest, I was a complete basket case in the doctors office! I totally dumped on the poor woman. She asked me if I was depressed and my response was perfect "wouldn't you be depressed if you were in constant pain all the time?"  and I totally had a melt down in her office!It takes a lot for to cry, especially in front of a stranger but I did.

The doctor tried to play devil's advocate and suggest certain foods (IE, coffee and chocolate) could be triggers and how I should avoid them.I totally flipped the fuck out. I am tired of this bullshit. I KNOW what my triggers are! Seriously. I cut down on chocolate and I only drink 1 to 2 cups of coffee a day (sometimes 3). 

Food  doesn't trigger migraines (aside from alcohol but if I stay hydrated, I am usually OK) In fact, coffee actually seems to help me with my migraines. Looking back, I was so strung out by finally letting my guard down, finally accepting how bad my situation is that I was reminded of a Gilmore Girls episode and most probably pulled the same stunt as this the moment she told me to stop drinking coffee:

Yes, I cried and told her that I loved coffee too...oh boy!

Needless to say, she put me on something that could potentially prevent migraines. I am taking an anti depressant. So maybe going ape shit worked in my favour? I know someone who is taking an anti depressant for migraines and she rarely gets them now. I am hoping this works for me. It also apparently helps people with anxiety so I am hoping to hit three birds (migraines, depression AND anxiety) with one stone.

The medication I am on is a very low dose. They are starting me off small because it hits your body hard. I take it at night. It knocks me out and I have a hard time (worse than usual) getting out of bed. It has been a couple of days and I am getting used to them. I go back on the weekend for a stronger prescription. It is sad that I had to resort to becoming a basket case in order to get help (and having my "headaches" taken seriously) but I am thankful that (a) the nice young men in white coats didn't come to take me away and (b) my migraines will be reduced and I can have a "normal" life.

(4) Get some mad DIY skills . I am still working on this. My goal is to lose more weight and DIY some new clothes. I do plan on re-decorating my home so stay tuned!

5) Give myself some credit for my accomplishments. This has been working out for me!

(6) Continue being the best Mom I can be and continue to give myself some down time. Yes, ALL parents deserve a break. Parenting is not for the weak!

(7)Adopt a dog  - I wrote back in January that I wasn't sure the landlady would permit a dog. I got permission!

8) Finally get something published the traditional route. Although I am going about this very slowly, I have something on the back burner.

(9) Invest in better quality makeup. Thanks to my saving money goal, I have only been buying makeup when I run out. I have not needed to replenish anything yet but when I do, I have this in mind!

(10) De-clutter and be more sustainable. Despite not moving, I have so much shit I want to get rid of! So far, my little one donated a huge garbage bag full of toys to charity! The added bonus, he felt good being able to give away toys he no longer plays with to children who don't have many things. It is amazing the amount of junk we keep. 3 huge bags have went into the recycling. These unfortunately couldn't be donated. A lot of it was old art projects from daycare (I kept most of them) and a lot of it was old children's books that had pages missing. Got to love the toddler years, eh? I felt like recycling them isn't as bad as filling up a landfill somewhere! As a result, I only managed to throw out one big garbage bag. In my original post from last January, I wrote that I wanted to continue being sustainable  and I am so happy I am able to reach this goal. 

And because I had fun finding silly memes to entertain you's another one for good measure. I am going to get off the internet now..I promise!

What are your goals?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Star Trek, British Castles and hibernation...oh my!

I apologize for my lack of posting. Nothing has been really going on in my neck of the woods that have been blog worthy. I have not purchased any new clothes or accessories (self imposed shopping ban) because I am still focusing on my weight loss. This winter has been a cold one with lots of snow. I have remained indoors and only ventured out when needed. There were days that I didn't even go swimming because despite making sure my hair is completely dry, I am so paranoid of catching some lurgy.

What have I been doing? Well I have been staying indoors as much as possible! I play video games (Hearthstone and WOW) as well as watching Netflix on my couch with my blankets.

I have been watching Star Trek! So far, I have seen all the originals (Kirk and Spock!) and am almost finished with The Next Generation (Wesley Crusher, Captain Picard, and Riker!) I remember watching some of these episodes on TV with my dad. I also remember when I first moved out and was able to afford cable. Every Saturday morning I would watch the Original Star Trek on the Space channel.

Another cool documentary on Netflix I have enjoyed recently is called "Secrets Of The Great British Castles."  The second season just aired here in Canada and I devoured all the episodes! The documentary is hosted by a historian called Dan Jones and you learn all about the grisly history behind some of Britains castles!What I like about this documentary is the host. Seriously, he is not your stereotypical stuffy historian that has patches on his elbows! This dude is tattooed and genuinely seems to be really passionate about history! He doesn't drone on and on in a monotone voice either. He won't put you to sleep! In fact, the host even gets to try on medieval armor and try out medieval weaponry. How cool is that? If you are from across the pond like me and have a thing for British accents, well that is just an added bonus too!You don't need to be a history buff to enjoy this and I highly recommend it!

To conclude my post, I would like to point out that I never fully realized exactly how much of a huge nerd I was until I started writing this post.... but meh. Star Trek, Medieval history and British accents, what more could this girl ask for?

Live long and prosper my friends!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Invisible illnesses

I am going to be a little personal here as I would like to reiterate on my last post about aging.

In a lot of ways, yes, I am getting in touch with my youth but in a lot of other ways, I am grateful for some of the more harrowing experiences I had as a child as they shaped me into the adult I am today. Some of my experiences with my parents helped shape the mother I am today with my son. You see, I come from the generation where my parents shrugged off mental illness. It wasn't discussed because you "didn't want to get thrown in the looney bin" and I want to hopefully encourage others to have a discussion with their children. For me, I was probably around the same age as my son (school-aged) and wasn't a teen before I started displaying symptoms of having anxiety.

According to my parents, depression and anxiety were "just a phase" or I was being a "typical teenager" and I would "grow out of it" I am sure for many young goths, these terms are the bane of our existence. I know it was for me! Here I am, in my late thirties, I still have these issues and am I am still goth. Sorry mom and dad, it wasn't just a phase, after all! I don't want to come across as I am bashing my folks online, I do realize today that my folks did the best they could BUT I personally refuse to put my head in the sand about this when it comes to my child. I simply want to write about the importance of being able to communicate with your children about their emotional well being. I grew up in a household where my father thought a cup of tea would solve everything and my mom shrugged it off. Looking back, I realized that perhaps things could have been different if someone in my life told me they understood or that they had some empathy towards me. I would also like to point out, as contradictory as this may sound, I personally have a hard time respecting anyone who uses their situation as a crutch to justify bad behavior. I was guilty of this. It sucks having any issues but it doesn't mean that it gives anyone the right to make excuses for being an ass. I can be the most sympathetic, understanding person on this planet BUT I have a hard time helping people who try not to help themselves. I know when under the knife so to speak, it is hard to want to get help for yourself when you feel like shit but it IS doable. As a parent, I also wish to teach my kid that yes, you can feel whatever you want but it is how you behave that is important. Sometimes, one must take responsibility.

As a teenager, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Over the years, I learned the hard way to deal with my ailments without any desire to have a pity party around me. I am very fortunate to not require medication (although I am very open to the possibility should I ever require it) for my situation. I learned how to cope with it

Being a parent enabled me to be more self-aware of MY emotional well being, after all, how am I to care for someone dependent on me if I were to be a basket case? There are times I don't want to get out of bed and I have a hard time managing my anxiety but I remember my son and it helps me. I have a pretty valid reason to really be proactive with this but I do realize that I am lucky.

Now that I am a parent myself, I am paranoid that my child may have anxiety. Remember, I was roughly his age when there were warning signs with me. I have seen some red flags (I could be wrong) but out of respect for Philip, I do not wish to go into details or specifics. I would much rather feel stupid over having an irrational fear of my kid's mental well being than him going down the same road I did when I was younger.

The point of this post is to stress the importance of being able to talk to your children. Please don't make the same mistakes my parents made. This is something that might not be a phase or shrugged off. I get it. For someone who has never had a mental illness, it is hard to understand.  I know my parents today regret not listening to me. It broke my father's heart to see me in that depressive state and he blamed himself for it. Start a conversation. It doesn't have to be about anxiety or depression. Ask your kids how they feel and really listen. What I wanted the most when I was younger was to have someone who understood me or at least listen to me and I didn't get that.  I remember this and don't want to repeat the pattern. I made it very clear to my little one that I understood some of it. I also stressed that I may not understand everything as I am not in his head but I made it very clear that I will do my best to try to understand. He has my empathy. His feelings matter, they are important. I may not like how he can react to some of his feelings but I will never judge him for having them. I will correct bad behavior though. I made it very clear that he can come to me for anything. He is safe with me. That is another thing. Make sure you listen to the little silly things now because to a child, they can be pretty big. If you don't listen to their silly kid problems now, what makes you think they will talk to you about more serious issues later on?

Again, I don't blame my parents anymore as I know they did the best that they could do but we are no longer in the eighties and nineties. I am sure there will be a day where my little one points out any mistakes I made, I am waiting to hear them! I discovered so many resources in my area that are available for not only my kid but for me too! Let's move forward.  If you are a parent with a child with any form of mental illness, don't be ashamed. My depression and anxiety made me a very creative, kind, empathic person. If I were given a choice to have a life free of anxiety and depression, I wouldn't take it. It helped shape the person I am today. I know where to find beauty in the dark.


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