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The Light Inside My Darkness

I’ll be the first to admit that I hate asking for help. It makes me feel uncomfortable, and defeated. I’m pretty stubborn, so the thought of even asking for help is usually out of the question for me. A few weeks ago I came to a crossroads where I was desperately needing help, and was scared to give in to it. I was determined to figure out how to help myself on my own, but I kept slipping into a deeper into darkness and it was terrifying. I was cognizant of the fact that outside help was necessary for me.

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

Much like Alice, I too went down a hole. Instead of going on an adventure with rabbits and the Queen of Hearts, however, mine led me to nothing but darkness and demons I couldn’t make go away. I have always struggled with anxiety, and have had bouts of depression throughout my life. Over the past 6 months or so, my sanity seemed to be slowly ebbing from me one panic attack at a time. It got so bad about two weeks ago, that I literally felt detached from my own body. I was living in a full on panic zone 24/7. If you have seen the show ‘Stranger Things’ (who else is so excited for the new season in October?!) it felt sort of like the “Upside Down”. I felt fuzzy, and just completely disconnected from everyone and everything around me. My sweet oldest son Calvin became very aware that something was happening to me. He would recognize the symptoms of my panic attacks happening, and would run to me and put his arms around me. He would actually comfort me until the panic subsided. He’s so sweet, and I don’t know what I ever did to deserve such a tender-hearted boy.

I tried everything to help ease my anxiety. Essential oils did nothing, meditation- nothing, breathing- nada, grounding excercises- nope. All these things that usually work for my occasional panic attacks were completely useless. I basically had to drug myself to even sleep at night because for some reason that’s when the panic would be the worst. I was exhausted, and finally could admit I needed to seek outside help.

Doctors Orders

I sat in the examination room of my general doctor, who I have known for almost ten years. He was asking me questions about my general anxiety and where I thought it could be coming from. All the while, my three children, (whom I had no choice but to bring with me), were fighting and being horrendously obnoxious. My eyes were filling with tears and I desperately wanted to scream at my kids to just let Mommy talk to the damn doctor for five minutes in peace. When my doctor asked me if I found myself yelling at my kids a lot, I actually started laughing despite wanting to sob! Uh, yeah. I yell at them, kind of want to RIGHT freaking now.  He actually informed me that a short fuse is a sign of depression and anxiety! Something that I didn’t even think of, but when I told Jess that later, he said “Yeah, I have noticed the past few months that you will blow up pretty easily. More so than usual.” Oops! At least I have a reason for it, and I’m really not just the meanest mom on the planet.

After checking my thyroid, and determining it was normal, he prescribed an antidepressant for me to take daily to prevent the feelings of anxiety, as well as Xanax to take if I happened to have a sudden panic attack. He used asthmatics as an example to explain it to me. They take a daily inhaler which prevents the attacks, but have an emergency inhaler as well in case there’s a sudden asthma attack. It made total sense to me. I have never been super excited to be medicated; I have tried antidepressants for small amounts of time when I had postpartum depression, but I hated how I felt on them. He assured me that the one he prescribed was a different type, and wouldn’t make me tired or feel loopy. At this point, I was willing to try anything to feel normal again.

Since that day, I have slowly gotten back to myself. I am no longer fuzzy, or disconnected, and am happy to report I have only had two attacks, which is SO much better than 10-12 a day!

Crawling Back Out of the Hole

Medication is not my end game. I have nothing against it, and anyone who needs it shouldn’t feel bad in the slightest. It’s a personal choice, and I want to be able to one day not have to rely on it. For now, it’s working for me, and that’s great. Ultimately, I need to determine the underlying causes of what is creating this incredible anxiety and stress for me.

My doctor suggested seeing a therapist. The thought hadn’t occurred to me that therapy would be an option, but he told me it’s one the most successful treatments for people with panic disorders like me. To be fair, the past five years or so have been an incredible roller coaster ride.

I’ve mentioned before that my mom passed away in 2015, which in itself was, and still is traumatic. When you lose someone you love, your entire life changes. You have to learn how to live without that person, and you yourself become a different person because of it. My whole world felt blown to bits, and I know I have changed. Two years later, it’s still a struggle for me to live without my mom. I miss her, and I know the pain of her loss is something I will have for the rest of my life.

The week my mom was diagnosed as terminal and literally given weeks to months to live, three of my closest friends all turned their backs on me. That hurtful loss of three women who I thought I would be friends with for life, coupled with the devastating news about my mom was unbearably painful. At a time when I needed them the most, they decided I was “out” of their group. It might sound silly to some people to be so upset about the loss of friends, but I am such an openly loving person. I feel things very deeply, even pain. My husband often tells me one of the things he loves most about me is how deeply rooted I get with the people I love. I’m fully committed to my loved ones, friends and family, so the loss of three at once was pretty devastating. Those friendships have not been mended, and probably never will be at this point, but I still have love for them in my heart. I also believe that things happen as they should, so I’m content at this point to accept that.

My miscarriage came six months after my mom passed away. I have an entire post about it here if you’d like to read about it.

I also had to watch as my twin sister suffered through a volatile marriage for almost 4 years. Her husband was a closeted alcoholic who decided to show his true self after they were wed. He was incredibly abusive and a very toxic person to be around. It killed me inside to not be able to help my sister, but she needed to leave because she was ready, not because I was. I was constantly in fear of her safety, and would stay up many nights crying myself to sleep with worry for her. They are now divorced and she is living the life she should have been all these years. I am so grateful that she is safe now.

And if all that wasn’t enough, for almost three years, my husband was involved in a legal battle with his former partners in a business. It got ugly. REALLY ugly. It was long and drawn out, and the true colors of people who we thought were kind and honest came out. It was disappointing to see how ugly and selfish these people really are. If anyone has been in any kind of legal battle, then you know it is exhausting. Thankfully its over now, but boy was it stressful.

So, it’s pretty obvious my mental state has been drastically affected by all this stress! I think any normal person would crack from it all. I actually am sort of excited at the thought of being able to just unload everything on a neutral party. A loved one said it to me perfectly: “I think moms with small children really know the value of having one person really listen to you.” AMEN!

There was a time where I was pretty hopeless and feeling like I would never be able to pull myself out of the dark place I was in. But the good news is that I’m going to be okay. I still have a way to go in terms of fully getting better, and I know I will still have hard days. Thankfully I have a great support system and lots of people who love me so I am no longer afraid of the dark.

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Am I broken? No. Human, yes, but not broken. Mental disorders, and mental illnesses are something that not a lot of people like to talk about. It’s uncomfortable for some, and others are too embarrassed to talk about what’s going on. I was just afraid to admit I needed help. I literally felt like I was going insane, and I would ask Jess at least once a day “Am I crazy?” to which he would always reply “No.” People with mental illnesses and disorders are NOT crazy. It’s like any other illness. You wouldn’t ask a person with cancer to just “snap out of it” or just “don’t have cancer” much to the way you wouldn’t say similar things to someone with depression.

I like to keep the dialogue open about mental health, because so many people feel like they’re alone in the struggles they have. You are most definitely NOT alone. Please, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. I am so glad I did.

 

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Photo Credit: Alejandro Araos

 

 

 

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Table Rock | Boise, Idaho

Perhaps one of the most iconic spots in the Boise area is that of Table Rock. It’s easy to see why once you’re standing at the top with a beautiful panoramic view of Treasure Valley,  as well as the Owyhee Mountain range. The 60 foot high white cross that adorns the summit of the butte is equally loved and hated by native Boiseans. The area itself is sacred ground of the Northern Shoshone tribe, who apparently used the butte and surrounding caves for ceremonial purposes. Apparently, it’s a sore spot why nothing is there to preserve or respect the Shoshone tribe, and instead the white cross stands tall.  IMG_4693IMG_4697IMG_4694

The cross actually stands on private land, owned by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, (Jaycees), who purchased the land in a very shady auction which the general public was not even made aware of. So, the cross itself has a pretty turbulent and controversial history. BUT, controversy aside, it still is extremely cool to hike to the top and explore the surrounding caves. It’s become quite the graffiti mecca, and there is always new artwork to admire.

You can either start from the bottom where the trail starts by the old Idaho State Penitentiary, (which is also highly recommended to go and see!) The littles and I started at the bottom of the trail, but only made it about half a mile and had to turn back. It didn’t help that it was 96 degrees out when we started. So, we got back in the car and decided to drive to the top of the bluff instead. It ended up working out much better for us, and we were able to explore all the little caves and crevices.

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clearly, they were thrilled to hike up. You can see the cross that’s blurry in the top right corner. We had a ways to go.

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Even the artwork on the electrical buildings on the hike up from the parking lot are impressive! The details on them are phenomenal.

Once we sat on the summit for a few minutes and took in the gorgeous panoramic views, we hiked down to the caves right below that encircle the entire bluff. Memphis is really into Batman right now, so he kept exclaiming “I found a Batman cave Momma!” Too cute.

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Table Rock is a must see on my list of things to do in Boise! If you’re in the area, definitely go! Me and my littles had a great time exploring it and maybe one day we can go back and actually hike up to the top instead of drive.

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Fourth of July

We spent the 3rd and 4th of July with my husband’s company Envi Pest and Lawn in Nampa, Idaho. Our Fourth of July was renting a boat and taking on Lake Lowell. It’s besutiful and the water level is so high this year that it covered some of the trees which made it look kind of magical. There is also plenty of shade which was a major plus.  We took turns tubing, wake surfing, and wakeboarding for two days and had a great time.

Our two days were FULL and fun days! We were all exhausted when we got home which just meant we had the time of our lives! We rented a boat and took turns riding the tubes, wake boarding, and wake surfing. When we weren’t in the boat we played in the water, played various games and ate LOTS of food! I’ll be honest though, the kids had a few meltdowns. And by kids, I mean Memphis, and by a few, I meant a lot! He was playing so hard and so long that both days he just completely fell apart. Poor kid! It’s so hard being 3!

We also had an extremely intoxicated man literally fall to the ground and start violently puking by our food table. My older kids asked me why that man was throwing up. So, that was cool. Way to keep it classy in front of the kids buddy! But despite all of that we had a great time.

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If you need Pest control or lawn service and live in the Boise, or Twin Falls areas make sure to check out Envi Pest and Lawn ! Also, we ended our day watching some local fireworks and doing sparklers- what could be better right?

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Jump Creek Falls

Just outside of a small town called Marsing, Idaho is Jump Creek Canyon. Without GPS it would have been impossible to find as we maneuvered around private land. This one neighbor is obviously FED up with travellers thinking his property was the way to Jump Creek.

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Yikes. We get the hint!

There is an upper trail and a lower trail. The upper one looked a little too advanced for the littles, so we decided to do the lower one. I’m so glad we did! It was not a super long hike, but it was windy and uphill with lots of rocks and slippery gravel. It winds along the stream that comes down from the falls. So, we took our time with the kids, and that was just fine. There were lots of caves and cool rocks to explore on our way.

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The mouth of Jump Creek Canyon

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One of the many caves and caverns we discovered!

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Once we made it to the end of the trail we were pleasantly surprised by the waterfall! It’s not as full as it would be at the end of spring/beginning of summer with most of the snow melt but it was still very awesome. There a good-sized pool underneath that’s perfect for swimming in. It happened to be an extremely hot day too (98) so the kids didn’t mind the chilly water. Shay discovered a cool tunnel right by the waterfall that she liked to explore and climb through. Memphis was content to stand in the shallows and throw rocks, but Calvin and Jess and I braved the cold water for a few minutes.

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When we had our fun with the water, we decided to climb up some rock formations to get a better look at the top of the waterfall.  I asked a very drunk gentleman to take our family pic, and thankfully there was one good one, because the rest had his finger in the way!

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On our hike back through the canyon we decided to follow the stream instead of the trail and it was a whole different experience! We had to hold Memphis through some of the deeper water, but most of it he was fine wading through.

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Jump Creek Falls was totally worth it, and I cannot wait to go back and do the upper trail one day!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

MK Nature Center in Boise

You know what sucks? Sinus infections. Even more so in the middle of the heat of June. Thankfully, a visit to the local Urgent Care has gotten me some meds so hopefully I will be feeling back to my normal self by tomorrow.

So, while I am sick at our temporary home here in Boise it gives me some time to sit down and write about our adventures last week to the Morris Knudsen Nature Center. It’s located on Walnut street behind the Idaho Fish and Game Headquarters. It’s also situated right on the Boise river and the green belt of the city.

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The littles LOVED these fish signs!

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We always have a HOOT!

The best thing about the MK Nature Center is it’s FREE! I love some good free fun, and this place offers so much. It’s 4.6 acres of gorgeous forest with an enormous pond and stream in the middle that has board walks to walk and observe the fish. They had some GIANT white sturgeon which the species itself is about 200 Million years old. My kids could not even wrap their heads around the fact that they were looking at something as old as dinosaurs. The longer one was about 7 feet long and 200 lbs!

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As we made our way down the stream walk, I took a tremendous fall. I was attempting to take a photo, and thought that standing on a log would help me get a better view. Unfortunately for me, the log was not stable so the moment I put my weight on it, the thing rolled from under me. My legs literally went up over my head and I landed on top of the log with my back and my elbow went directly into the ground. It hurt, but thankfully other than some nasty scrapes and bruises I am alright. I am, however, grateful that no one other than my children witnessed my epic fall! After a trip back to the visitor center and some band aids, we continued on our adventures.

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Once we completed the stream walk, we visited the Butterfly Gardens, and then headed back to the visitor center where there was plenty to see and do. They had the cutest little burrowing owl named Hoots, a turtle named Splashy, and a one-eyed American Kestrel named Fiona who were outside that the kids had a good time watching for a while. A very informative employee had a table set up outside with various horns and antlers that the kids could touch and pick up. She even taught us how to tell the animals ages by counting the rings on their horns!

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We finished our day exploring the inside of the visitor center which had plenty to do and see. The kids looked at the different stuffed animals who are native to Idaho. My daughter particularly loved the display about bats, since bats are one of her favorite animals. They also got to say hello to a gopher snake named George, and three adorable tiger salamanders. They made rubbings of different animals and charts, guess what skulls belonged to what animals, and even got to guess how much a newborn black bear cub weighs, (spoiler: it weighs 8 oz! I was surprised too!)

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Car Troubles that broke the Camels Back

I took my van in yesterday for what (I thought) was just a routine alignment before I head back to Utah for a few days this weekend. After an hour and a half of sitting in the Meineke lobby with my kids in tow, they told me the bad news. Turns out, they could not align my van’s tires until they replaced a part that was broken. Don’t worry, I was skeptical too. I feel like women always get swindled at car shops, ( hey, if you’re offended by that I’m sorry but it is how I feel from many experiences). They even took off the part and came and showed me up close, and YES, it was beyond broken. A few more weeks or even days and it may have broken completely off which would have been big trouble.

Even better news? It was going to be $800. UGH. I mean, no one wants to put that kind of money into a car repair, but if I didn’t align my van, my brand new tires would be ruined quick, and that would be another $400.

After then spending ALL day at Meineke when I had only planned on about 45 minutes the kids were all going crazy and Mommy was DONE. So, when we finally got our van back and were going to head home, the traffic was insane because of rush hour. Not wanting to sit in traffic for an hour, I decided to look for a park and wait out the traffic.  One popped up on Google Maps called Camels Back Park, and with a name like that I thought it must be cool!

We were all pleasantly surprised with just how cool it was!

First, we noticed just how large, clean, and fun the playground/outdoor workout area was.

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Memphis thoroughly enjoying the outdoor gym

The playground area alone, kept my kids busy for over an hour. I really liked how clean the whole park was. Definitely one of the cleanest I have been to!

Once we had our fill playing, we decided to go hiking. The main unique characteristic of Camel’s Back Park is the sand dune!

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Memphis for scale

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Heading up!

So, the hard way, would be to walk straight up, which we opted not to do. If it was just me I would have, but I had six pairs of little legs who would not have been able to make it, and I was not about to carry them up! So, we took one of several trails that went up and around to the top.

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Once we got to the top, the views were amazing! The littles were pretty proud of themselves, because even though we went the “easier” way, it was still very steep, and the sand was slippery. We stayed up at the top of Camel’s Back for a while and soaked in the view.

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There are many trails up there, and I definitely want to go back and explore more of them! I think I should keep hiking essentials handy in my van for the rare occasion that we stumble upon another cool hike! Oh, and if you go here, do NOT try and go down the sand dune. I made that mistake thinking it would be faster, and boy was I wrong! The kids were all slipping, and I did too. So, our solution was to all sit on our butts and slide down the sand! Just don’t do what I did, because I am still picking sand out of my crack!If you are ever in Boise, go check out this unique park!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

 

 

 

Idaho Botanical Garden

We will be exploring Boise, Idaho for the next few weeks! I absolutely LOVE the gem state, and I may be a bit biased since my hot hubby is an Idaho boy. But I digress. We got to spend some time up here in Boise last summer, and it is such an enchanting city! The people here are so nice too! So, when we found out we would be getting to spend about six weeks here again I was excited. We will be exploring all Boise has to offer so stay tuned!

Yesterday, the littles and I ventured to the Idaho Botanical Garden and it did not disappoint! The garden, which is nestled on about 33 acres of land is beautifully landscaped and had so many trails and pathways to explore. And the smell! That heavenly aroma of flowers was intoxicating! My oldest son had fun reading the names off the plackards of the types of trees, flowers, shrubs, and plants to his younger siblings.

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The cool thing about the botanical garden too, is that it’s right next to the historic Idaho State Penitentiary which is another place we will definitely go visit. So, I found out while we were there that the land the garden is on, was originally part of the prison, and some of the old guard towers are still standing among the gardens. I love that they preserved a part of history.

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You can see part of the outer wall of the prison behind my kids in this photo.

The Idaho Botanical Garden is super kid friendly. There were so many hands on parts of the experience that they loved. The children’s area with the tree house was by far their favorite part. Besides the flowers and exhibits, the amount of wildlife we saw was impressive too. We saw various birds with nests and babies, an adorable baby bunny hopped in our path, about six snakes, tons of lizards, ducks, fish, and squirrels just to name a few! My oldest son, and we were leaving turned to me and said “Mom, when you first told me this morning that we were coming here I was not excited. But this place is AWESOME!” Thats a Mom win if i have ever heard one! I gave myself a high five. I’m so glad my kids had such a great time, and we spent about three hours there but could have easily spent more. We cannot wait to go back! If you’d like to plan your visit to this beautiful place, head to their website here .

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette