Tag Archives: why

Mental Health Monday: Who cares which came first when you’re sitting on a dozen eggs?

The age old question: which came first, the chicken or the egg?


A cause and effect deal.

Technically speaking, it was the egg. But I’m trying to make a point — so we’re going to focus on the long time philosophical conundrum for the sake of today’s discussion.


I struggle with a lot of different mental health concerns. Perfectionism came first and came early. I was young when my parents started a daily routine — hands on shoulders, looking me in the eye, “Rachel… relax” as I stepped out the door to school.

Binge eating came next. I don’t remember my first binge, but I do remember the first time I got caught. I was maybe 9 years old and had a jar of chocolate frosting and spoon tucked away in the filing cabinet I kept in my bedroom.

Legit depression took root in high school and it’s been off and on and off an on ever since. More consistently on than off the older I get. And always a bodily focus – dissatisfaction, disgust, hate.

Anxiety became a problem only very recently — panic attacks post-miscarriage. An entirely new phenomenon, though relatively easy to tamp down in the worst moments with medication and sometimes a well-timed phone call to the just-right person.

A veritable laundry list of interwoven mental health concerns.


Since I started seeing a therapist in college some 15+ years ago, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to unravel the knotted mess. The perfectionism obviously led to the binge eating — but did the depression contribute as well? Or was the depression a result? And while anxiety really became a problem only in the last two years, was there always some of it there? I mean, I’m definitely an introvert and social anxiety has been a constant since I was very young — how did that factor into all of it?

The age old question.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?


Round and round and round… for years on end. Exhausting. And more importantly, stupid.

Who cares whether it was the chicken or the egg that came first when you’re sitting on a dozen that can hatch at any given time — running and pecking and clucking and so on?! No one. That should be the answer. And when did I realize that? Last week… maybe this weekend. Either way, it wasn’t soon enough.


I struggle with an embarrassingly long list of things. (Honestly, I’ve never felt so embarrassed before talking about these things one egg at a time — the whole carton on display at once? Yikes. Please don’t hate me.) But it doesn’t really matter why. Why doesn’t help. The only thing that matters is what I do, how I deal, the actions I take for the purpose of self care and mental health in the now.

Looking for a cause and solving the root problem is a great plan if you’re dealing with a plumbing issue. Or even trying to do some evolutionary mapping (a la chicken and egg). But it seems that lately, with respect to my mental health, getting stuck in that which-came-first, why-why-why mentality really prevents me from moving forward at all. I get stuck in a place that’s not solution-based, but problem-focused, and I can’t get out. In other areas of my life, I despise that attitude — in work, in personal relationships, when dealing with my physical health. Solutions are where its at. It’s time I took the same tack with my mental health. Enough with the why, the psychoanalysis, the which came first. Freud and the chickens can suck it. I’ve got eggs to deal with by the dozens and I don’t have time for the rest.


Infertility: Marking Time

On Tuesday morning, I had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to check out the state of my fallopian tubes. It hurt like a son-of-a-b. Holy crap. They told me it would, but dang. I thought I had a high pain tolerance until my eyes went black as I was laying on the table. Fortunately, there was a woman at my head telling me to breath– nice touch, radiology.

Basically, the procedure is a way to check the fallopian tubes for blockage. They inject dye into the uterus and use fluoroscopy to see if it spills all the way through the fallopian tubes. It dd. But it hurt. At least now I know that’s not the problem. Good thing, yes? Except… then what is the problem? Still no idea.

I think that for me, the worst part of infertility has to be the sense of punishment. The constant nagging in the back of my mind that says, “what did you do to deserve this?” Because, obviously, it must have been something.

Is it because of all the mice? Is it because of my curiosity about infertility and the passion I felt for it in my graduate studies? (I was so proud of the oviducts I extracted– is this punishment for my hubris?)

Is it because I didn’t think I wanted kids when I was younger? (Is the the universe’s way of laughing in my face about changing my mind? For showing me how stupid I was to think my one time passion for power and pumps could have overpowered the call of my biology?)

Is it because I was mean to people? Because I have spent major periods of my life mired in selfishness? (You know, up until the age of like 27…)


Maybe it’s because I’m fat. Because I don’t eat enough vegetables. Because I’m not wild enough in bed. Because, because, because.


The truth is, though, none of those things. Infertility is a particularly dark and course thread in my tapestry. I do not understand its purpose, but I’m certain it has one.

And the guilt and the responsibility that I feel about it is not altogether uncommon. In fact, I don’t even think it’s out of the ordinary at all. For me, the tendency to look for an answer always leads back to myself. No matter how irrational that may be. Conversations I’ve had with women who’ve experienced miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy are eerily similar.

Perversely, I find myself jealous of those women thinking, “at least you know you can get pregnant– that you’re not completely broken.” And I have to stop myself, because that’s not fair. What we’re all experiencing is a loss… whether it’s the loss of a cycle that could have produced an egg, an egg that could have been a embryo, or an embryo that could have been a baby. It’s a loss, it’s worth grieving, and it is not our fault. It’s an experience to be felt. It’s an opportunity to move forward in life without looking back to wonder what if… but why… how come…

We cannot change the life we have lived, and we cannot know the life that will come. While in some cases we can predict how the past will affect our future (forgetting deodorant in the morning is likely to lead to stink by night), more often than not we can’t (being excited about an oviduct is unlikely to be related to faulty fertility), so in most instances, it’s really not worth the over-analysis and the guilt.

I have spent the last year and a half living my life as though everything were going to change in the next 2 – 4 weeks. I avoided decorating my spare bedroom since I was just going to turn it into a nursery. I avoided buying new clothes since I’d be needing maternity gear shortly. I postponed re-reading the Harry Potter series because I wanted to read it over 9 months to my growing belly. I gave blood less often, I was hesitant to commit to trips, I stopped eating deli meat and drinking wine, I had wild fantasies about announcing my impending pregnancy, and I imagined what it would be like for Curly to meet the baby. I put everything about my life now on hold because I wanted to badly for my life to change, to include a new addition to our family.

As I marked time through this pause of infertility, I forgot to continue to actually live my life.

Now I’m carrying guilt about that. But I’ve told you, and I can change, Scrooge-style. I can say, as my favorite of all of my Aunt’s handmade cards say, “In this moment I shall…”


A 30th Birthday Recap: The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How


Dang! Dang! Dang!

(Dang! That’s what the back of my Lymphomaniacs softball jersey said… I suppose there’s a reason for that.)

Nothing quite like a birthday to make you feel L-O-V-E-D loved! And that is how I felt every second of the entire day yesterday!

There were cards, balloons, flowers, texts, emails, Facebook messages, phone calls, chocolates, a stuffed purple monkey (!), cookies, Tweets, songs, and more!!

Birthday Flowers and Balloons

And it just keeps coming! I got a message from my brother, who is the worstbest this afternoon…

Birthday Texts from Tom
Muppet Treasure Island reference for the win!

My niece sang to me in her absolutely, ridiculously, so-cute-I-can-barely-stand-it words…

Emma girl
She calls me “ee-chel” and tells me she “lubs” me… I melt.

And on Saturday, my mother- and father-in-law are coming over for dinner and CAKE! (cake! cake! cake!)

No photos yet, but it's going to look a little something like this.
No photos yet, but it’s going to look a little something like this.

Thirty?! Kind of awesome!

But the really cool thing about yesterday (and today and the rest of this week not to mention probably the rest of my life) is that I truly have AWESOME (awesome, awesome, awesome!) people in my life! And that makes me want to ask some serious, reporter-style questions!

The who, what, where, and when– that’s not quite so tough.

WHO You guys! My family, my friends, my family’s friends, my co-workers, my husband’s coworkers and their families, my friends’ friends and their families, internet-only (so far!) friends, and everyone in between!

WHAT A crazy amount of love and support! Well wishes, happy memories, good times… LOVE!

WHERE EVERYWHERE! Literally, everywhere I have ever been… from infancy to now, and even people I only really “know” in the virtual world. Truly, ev-er-y-where!

WHEN Obviously on my birthday, but also every other day. I had a happy thought about every single person that wished me a happy day yesterday– a specific moment in time, imprinted in a neuron (have you read about what scientists at MIT found about how memories are stored? so fascinating!) and recalled upon contact to bring a smile to my face and to make 30 that much better!

But then the tougher ones…

WHY Seriously, you guys, why?! I mean, I’m a nerd. I’ve always been a nerd. And there are so many things about myself that I’ve always disliked and struggled with. I’ve been made fun of, teased, picked on, dumped, and basically broken in so many ways… and I carry all of those things around with me, in a metaphorical hump on my back that some days makes me feel completely, 100%, Quasimodo-style unlovable. But then again, even the Q-man had himself an Esmeralda. And like Esmeralda, there you are! Loving me anyway. Why indeed? Emily had heard my tantrums from down the street since I was 2 and she was 3… but she texted me yesterday, 28 years later. Kelly watched me eat myself sick every day after school from like sixth through eighth grade… but she remembered an inside joke from high school and used it to wish me a happy “brithday” on FB yesterday, nearly 20 years after all of that. Aimee got escorted out of the Ojibwa Casino in Baraga on my 18th birthday… but she sent me an awesome email yesterday, 12 birthdays later. Jess had front row seats to six years worth of spectacular grad school meltdowns… but she sent me a message first thing yesterday morning. And my co-workers survived a complete disaster that I managed to bring down on all of their heads… and they still decorated my office and brought me balloons. Dang. Truly, why?

HOW So, yeah… how did I do it? How did I get Emily to look past the tantrums, Kelly the food, Aimee the security guards, Jess the tears (and mouse poop), my co-workers the drama? I have a feeling it has a lot more to do with all of them and their amazing, incredible, hearts of pure gold (or fat hearts, maybe???) than it does with any spectacularly redeeming quality I possess. (This isn’t about my square jaw, is it???) So how do you guys even? I don’t know… but I certainly hope that I have the “how” part down of being a good friend like you do!


So anyway, thanks a ton for all of the happy birthday wishes! It was a good one! (And you’re welcome for the hard hitting investigative journalism.) Now that I have prepared for 30, turned 30, and thanked people for the well wishes, we can certainly talk about something else for a while. No sense beating a 30-year-old horse, you know?


PS: Do you remember reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle? Tell me you read it, pretty please! It’s just so good! But so are all of Madeleine L’Engle’s books. I recently re-read many of them as an adult… still so good!! Anyway, in A Wrinkle in Time there are three women– Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit. This post reminded me of them. And reminded me of sweet Charles Wallace and his sister Meg, who always hit so close to home. And of the twins, Sandy and Dennys, who got themselves into such biblical-style trouble in another of the books. Seems like it may be time for another L’Engle binge!