Depression and Happiness: Take Two

I'm writing this in advance of the one year anniversary since starting this blog. My goal for this blog was to create a space to dump my thoughts. I had found solace in writing my thoughts on the proverbial paper of the electronic world. This space then evolved into an educational platform. A place where I felt like case studies from the perspective of a still fresh and green veterinary practitioner could be archived, and newly graduated veterinarians, or veterinarians-in-training could go for information, so that they did not feel alone. A branch of this blog went towards my winding journey towards veterinary school. I had spent seven application cycles trying to achieve this goal of just being accepted. Once I was in veterinary school, I spent a good portion of my first year with imposter syndrome - did I really belong there? My first year out of veterinary school is not unlike other veterinarians. Naïve to the ups and downs, and eager to make a difference in the lives of others and their pets. To be broken down within days of starting out as a small animal practitioner and having to weave my way to the place where I am now - feeling much more fulfilled in my practice. But how do you get there? I started blogging before COVID-19 hit North America. I started blogging within the first month of being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and starting treatment for this. My blog posts went through the unknown of whether COVID-19 was going to be passed from pets to humans, or vice versa. I also started blogging before I was diagnosed with low ovarian reserve, even lower than expected for my age. Before undergoing fertility treatments during a time when you could not book a face-to-face appointment with your medical doctor. I started blogging before I turned 40. Before my sister and her family moved away, back home to BC. Before my husband and I drove across the country to start a new life in my home province. Today, I can honestly say, I am happier. My new job that I started last month feels a lot better. When my husband and I started 2020 hopeful with sooooo many things to look forward to, the COVID-19 pandemic took everyone for a ride through the ringer. This is going to be a blog post of reflection of the significant changes that have occurred this past year. Let's see. We went to L.A. in March. This was before SARS-CoV2 hit Canada, and there was one case off the coast of the U.S.A. The reason we went to L.A. was because hubby works in the animation industry. He is a storyboard artist with dreams of becoming a director one day. L.A. is where major studios live. Disney, Pixar, Netflix and Skydance are just some of those studios that you may have heard of. I even joined the VCA family in 2019 in order to set ourselves up for an easier transition for me to transfer to a veterinary hospital through VCA. We loved L.A. March was also six months after we had started trying to conceive. Trying to build a family proved harder than I was hoping for. I was always erring on the side of pessimism, which some people will say it's part of the reason we didn't have a successful pregnancy. But I had an inherent premonition for lack of success. Why would anything come easy for me, given my history of struggling to get to where I am with my career? And well, life in general?? My hubby and I are torn from the same ragged cloth of immaturity, being late bloomers, we both took years to get started with our careers, and to get married, and to settle into life. I don't believe in curses, but sometimes, I wish I did. When we got back from L.A., I got my blood taken and I was diagnosed with low ovarian reserve, having a low AMH even for my 39th year around the sun. I recall that all ultrasonography was put on hold, because Canada was entering a state of emergency, lock down was approaching. When the country locked down. So did my hubby. His dream of going to L.A. and starting a career as a full storyboard artist was punctured. There was no travel across the border, unless of essential services. I had to be the one to tell him that his work was not considered an essential service. He actually had developed a cough while we were in L.A. He was one of the first in Toronto to receive a COVID-19 screening test. He went to a walk-in clinic and then panicked and sent him to the hospital where folks in HAZMAT suits jabbed a giant q-tip through his nose towards his brain. The test came back negative, but our life has not been the same since. Let us reflect on the good that came from this. He worked from home for some time, and since he has been applying for jobs in L.A. he actually landed a gig working for a studio based in L.A. If COVID-19 restrictions weren't in place, he wouldn't have gotten that job. He also wouldn't have been signed on for the four other jobs that he has gotten since then. For someone with social anxiety, working from home is perfect! In May, we started at a fertility clinic in Toronto. The initial phone consult was very hopeful. I really liked the doctor that we were referred to. The clinic had put in all sorts of restrictions and screening, so that they were able to perform services for fertility, despite not being considered an essential service. I was able to get baseline Day 3 blood work and an ultrasound performed. My AFC really wasn't that bad, all things considered. By then, we were getting winter over with and being on my medications my stress and anxiety was a bit more manageable. I had started listening to a reproductive specialist on her podcast last spring. One of the things she mentioned was to evaluate your goals. I had modified it slightly since that blog post and now that I think about it, people always say to break down those larger goals into smaller more easily attainable goals. From the professional perspective, I still want to specialize. Being part of the VCA family I'm hoping will help with that goal. It isn't something that I expect to start on right away, especially since there are more pressing goals - like start a family - that will go ahead of the career goals that I have. However, this does not stop me from educating myself and to pass on some of this information to others through this blog. It may not be formal teaching and educating, but sharing knowledge here and on my Instagram is part of that goal. May was also when my sister and her family moved away. That was a new low in my life. It was even harder because we weren't allowed to have any social gathering or contact. My husband drove out with me to say goodbye, because I couldn't drive with tears welled in my eyes. The personal goals of travelling and training more BJJ would need to occur in a post-COVID world. Like many folks, I struggled to stay motivated to work out at home. I had joined an online community, then strained my neck, so that put a damper on that. In the summer, once Toronto BJJ was set up for training in small groups, I had a few training sessions with some of the ladies. It was extremely well needed. But then, the cases of COVID-19 started going up again. We were put on the funded list for IVF treatment, and I really couldn't take the risk of exposing myself to COVID and having to have my cycle cancelled because of that. So my workout activities halted, and I started to prepare myself for IVF injections. Fall came and we passed through the season doing fertility medications for what seemed like ages of waiting and then quickly resulted in a cancelled cycle, a conversion to IUI, that was also cancelled. Then an unsuccessful timed intercourse that cost way more for medications than was necessary. As soon as they cancelled my IUI, we were planning out drive across the country. We had already planned to move. It was in my head the moment my sister entered B.C. and my poor hubby who has never lived outside of the GTA had to mentally prepare himself for a huge move. But I am now closer to my family. When we build our family, this will be a lot more important! I started this blog for me. Then, I started sharing it with the cyber world. Like every new blogger or social media influencer, you have to get through the haters, and put hope into helping others. If my blog posts help one individual feel like they are not alone in this dark profession, then I will keep posting! Fortunately, the haters were few, and the support from the community thus far has been great. I don't want to put it out into the world to bring too much hope to myself, but after blogging for this past year I decided I was going to add a new endeavor to this - I will be starting a podcast! As soon as we can get our new home set up, and whatever equipment needed for that, I will let you know when that gets started. Let me reflect more from this past year, when I said 2020 was our year, when it ended, I can't be disappointed about not achieving all that we had set out to do. Everyone is in that boat of little achievement and a lot of weight gain! We didn't make a family, but that doesn't mean we can't make it happen. Now that my work life is feeling more balanced, I feel like the stress of work is one less thing that will be affecting my fertility. My work schedule is consistent, so my sleep pattern will be a lot more consistent. I met with a new naturopath, so I have new ideas to improve my egg quality and I received a referral to the local fertility clinic here in B.C. So what is your goal? One of the goals with blogging was to get words out of my head, and on to paper so that I could sleep better. With better sleep, I would have reduced stress. It was a step towards happiness. I also produced an average of one blog post every 2 days. Some months were more productive than others. I found that when I was really busy with work, I either had a lot to say, or no time to say it. I even had a dozen or so posts that were started and never published. I don't want to make a goal of posting more, but a goal to continue posting when I have something cool to add to the community. I will still post my journey of trying to conceive. I still have more to discuss with mental health struggles. There will always be interesting cases to learn about and discuss here. There will always be new goals. Thanks for reading over the past year. The support means a lot to me!

Depression and Happiness: Take Two