Tag Archives: Mental Health

Panic Attack On Valentine’s Day

Hi everyone! So sorry I didn’t post on Wednesday! We have a lot going on here in our little nest! More on all the exciting things we’re doing in future blog posts…

So, I look forward to Valentine’s day every single year. Every since I was little, I’ve always loved Valentine’s day!

I know what you’re probably thinking, “It’s because you HAVE someone!”

So not true! While I do love to celebrate my relationship with my husband, I also love Valentine’s day for other reasons.

Isn’t it a wonderful thing that we can have a day where we celebrate love? Sure, love should be a part of your daily lives, but I think it’s nice to have a day where we take a step back and acknowledge everything we have.

You could celebrate a relationship with a significant other, your relationship with your parents, your love for your fur-babies, or just that love in general exists. Plus, everything is pink, red, white, and just all around pretty which I love! I’m such a girly girl…

I used to love making my own Valentine’s mailbox at school and getting cards and candy from my classmates. I took picking my own Valentine’s very seriously, and I still do today as an almost 27 year old woman. BECAUSE I’M AN ADULT…THAT’S WHY!

This is beside the point, but it’s something that I always want to say around Valentine’s day when all the haters come out.

I wanted to write this post to share with you what happened to me on Valentine’s day and how our evening ended up in the end.

Like I said, I always look forward to February 14th. So, naturally, I had really been excited since it was coming up!

We took a Valentine’s Day picture before my husband went to work that day.


Can you tell we’re tired? Flynn is cutting two teeth right now and waking up a lot in the middle of the night.

On Valentine’s Day…you get Valentine’s toast.



If you’re a fan of The Office, you’ll like my Valentine to Zack…


So do I, Pam…So do I.

Anyway, the day was going well and I was so excited for going out that night! We were planning on going to the Valentine’s Cabaret that my husband’s students were putting on. However, things didn’t go as planned…

After work that day, I started feeling kind of anxious. I instantly knew that this was going to be bad.

It happened like it always does: heart starts beating faster, cold sweats, feeling nauseous…

And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I breathed in and out trying to make it go away, but I just couldn’t stop the inevitable.

Panic attacks are horrible and they happen sometimes for no reason. I had friends going to this party and had to text everyone (including our babysitter) that the night was a no-go.

My husband was really understanding and we ended up having a wonderful evening. Actually, everyone was really understanding. I really love that more people are starting to take mental health seriously now.

We watched Gilmore girls, drank some hot chocolate, and got one of our favorite dinners!



YUM! right?!

Even though I was feeling bad, we ended up having a really nice night as a family.

Zack had a very “dad life” moment at one point. 😛


We even had some fancy chocolate covered strawberries!

This point of this blog is to remind you that panic attacks don’t have to ruin all the fun. Sometimes they make you change your plans, but don’t let that ruin anything for you. Pick yourself back up and find a way to get through it.

Would I have loved to have done our original plans? Of course! But the important thing is that I can say my Valentine’s Day wasn’t ruined by my panic attack.

You can let them consume you or you can work through them. The choice is yours.

Ellen 🙂





Weekly Recap: Healthy changes & Hubby haircut

This was a great week! A long week…but a great one. My mom was visiting for a good portion of it and helped a lot with baby Flynn. I was really grateful for that.

I decided that since I post on Sundays and Wednesdays, that I would make Sunday my weekly recap post day. So, here it is! I’m excited to share all the pictures I took with you! I really had a lot of fun documenting my week and now I have a lot of fun memories to look back on! Also, I’ve been getting so hyped up to publish blog posts! I’m so happy that I found a hobby that gets me this enthused!

This was last week (I think- mommy brain is real, ya’ll), but I did want to share it with you! My husband got me Rosanna Pansino of “Nerdy Nummies” silicon poop brownie mold. I didn’t have any brownie mix and I needed something to make fast for Zack’s students so I used some chocolate cake mix that I had in my pantry. It worked perfectly and they were SO delicious. I could have eaten all of the ones that I made. Seriously…which leads me to my next point….


Some things in my life need to change. I’m a very happy person and have less anxiety right now than I have ever had in my life before. It’s amazing considering my anxiety has always been an ever looming presence. My point being, even though I’m super happy right now, it doesn’t mean there still isn’t work to be done.

I’ve known for a while now that I’ve wanted to lose this baby weight so that I’d not only feel better in my own skin, but also be a healthier person and feel better all around. It’s something that’s REALLY important to me, but I have such trouble getting motivated…especially when there are poop cakes just sitting around my kitchen!

Note: I think it would be especially funny if you used sprinkles around Christmas time and made them “reindeer poops”! I might have to find another use for these bad boys…

Valentines poop?…hmmmm….back to the drawing board, I guess. ❤

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten off topic. The bottom line is: It’s time to get back on track, get in better shape for myself and my family, and feel better in my body overall.

Now, to do that, all I have to do is eat healthy and workout. Easy right? Ugh…easier said than done is more like it!

However, I’ve really been working to find the “right” workout routine for myself and I’m striving to eat better. This is actually a big goal that myself and my therapist are working on.

Here are some of the healthy meals/things that I ate this week:

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I’m documenting even more on my Instagram! Follow me @ellenvandever for more fun pics and inspirational fun!

It’s been really hard to diet, and getting my exercise routine going has been a pain, but I’m doing a pretty good job so far. I just have to keep reminding myself that little moments in time add up to big results. I’m not a very patient person, so this is something that can be really difficult for me.

It really does sound so cheesy but I’m actually enjoying pushing myself sometimes. I like the feeling I get when I say “no” to myself when I want to eat more calories than I really should be eating in a day- it feels empowering. I can’t control everything in my life, but I can control what I put in my body and how I take care of myself. That’s freeing to me in a way.


This is my grocery list. I have to say, it’s usually better looking than this but I was in a bit of a rush. I looked on Pinterest at the best healthy grocery lists for vegetarians and got a lot of great information. I ended up spending $150 on 2 weeks of groceries for myself, my husband, and baby food for our little one. Let me know if you’re interested in hearing more about how I make my grocery lists and meal plan for less.

I love grocery shopping and meal planning- I could color code everything and be in heaven!

For dinners, we’re making:

  • Mexican Mush: Zucchini, leftover rice and black beans, low cal cheese, a dollop of greek yogurt, and some salsa all mixed together and baked until the veggie is tender
  • Spaghetti and Salad: Whole wheat Spaghetti with homemade  marinara sauce and a iceberg lettuce wedge salad with low cal vinaigrette dressing
  • Loaded Baked Potatoes: Sweet Potatoes with low cal fixin’s
  • Tacos: Black beans, brown rice, a dollop of greek yogurt, low cal cheese, lettuce, salsa
  • Stir Fry: Zucchini, baby corn, and broccoli cooked with brown rice
  • Pizza and Salad: Small portion of Totino’s party pizza (my splurge for the week) and a large salad with a light vinaigrette

Flynn wasn’t too sure about the new contraption we put him in at the Grocery store…

but he sure looked cute!


Side note: we went to Walmart this week and while I was shopping for new sports bras, I saw this underwear…


Team Quidditch? Not…team Gryffindor? Ravenclaw? Hufflepuff? Slytherin?


I mean…you had one job, Walmart.

We also got another dusting of snow this week! Thank goodness it wasn’t another Snowpocalypse, but they did close down school one day. I insisted we go take a family picture in our winter wonderland!


Flynn wasn’t too thrilled, but what can ya do?

Zack and I also got to go on a little date and he decided he was ready for the UNTHINKABLE!

He chopped off those long locks! DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!!!! *gasps*


All I have to say is…HUBBA HUBBA!

That’s right ladies, my husband’s a dream boat! *swoons*

While Zack was looking spiffy, my normal glasses broke and I had no choice but to wear my backups. They make me feel like Harry Potter and I’m really not so sure about them.

I was really feeling self conscious about them but then I thought, “Ya know what? I can be ashamed of these, or I can rock these…”

And you know what? They grew on me a little. Zack fixed my normal ones today though, so I definitely feel more at home now!

We also took part in the phenomenon sweeping the social media sites! We face matched using the Google Arts and Culture App! So much fun! We got a good chuckle out of these, and I have to say, I’m not mad about mine. 😛

Flynn was, of course, just like his Daddy all week. I love those boys. ❤


And finally, I added a few new things to my Etsy shop! Here’s a high chair banner I made for both of my niece’s birthday parties. I’d love for you guys to check it out and feel free to request any crafts you want or need made! I’m very into customization and I have very competitive pricing!


So, that’s it! In the future, I think I’m going to get better about documenting my week. I will continue to update my Instagram and you here about my weight loss journey. Send good vibes my way (specifically the ones that keep my away from the doughnuts!).

I really appreciate all the support I’m getting from you all! It means the world to me!

Much love and see you on Wednesday,

Ellen 🙂


What I wish I had known: Anxiety chat

I don’t think anyone knew the real truth of the matter. There were so many people around me, and sometimes I felt like screaming at everyone to get away from me. Of course, I couldn’t though. How would people respond? I’d looking like a complete freak in public.

School was always a challenge for me. It seemed like everyone casually walked through the halls- laughing with their friends- pretending to search through their bag when their were really texting someone. But it was different for me.

There were the popular kids, band geeks, “weird kids”, the tough crowd- your basic cliques. I settled in with the theatre nerds though I like to think I was friendly with people of all groups. I even won “friendlist” two years in a row which was a real honor to me- even if it was just a middle school award.

When the popular kids would talk to me, I would stammer. I would be paralysed with fear that I’d say or do something stupid and I’d end up looking like a spaz because of it. Once, a boy told me I was ugly and I was so overwhelmed with embarrassment that I couldn’t move. In that moment, I felt so small. Kids can be so cruel for no reason…I suppose adults can too for that matter.

The point is, my anxiety was running the show for the first bit of my life, and no part of me had any kind of control. My fight or flight response was strong- it still is. What made it worse was that mental illness wasn’t as widely talked about as is it now. It’s crazy to think that seeing as it wasn’t even that long ago. Therapy never worked for me as a child- because no one ever really listened. Now that I’m older and have a really great therapist, I can say that with certainty.

My parents and siblings tried what they could to make me feel better, but I got really good at hiding how overwhelmed and on edge I was at every moment. I only got good at it because I didn’t know what it was myself- anxiety. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t even know that that word could mean what it means to me today. Looking back, I would have panic attacks all the time and I never knew what they were. That’s sad and scary to me. I don’t blame anyone for not knowing what to do with me. I never really voiced what was going on- just cried and said that I didn’t want to go to school (or dance, or baton, or to a sleepover, etc.).

When I think about the level of panic attacks I would have, it honestly blows my mind.

Now, let me be clear. My childhood was not unhappy and I wasn’t a constant anxious mess. However, anxiety is an intense emotion and if you’re feeling it at an unsafe level at all, its debilitating. There are and were such happy times that I can remember. Days where we’d stay at home on the weekends and play all day. I was a home body even then. Those are days I cherish.

A day I don’t cherish? Easy…

There was this one day where I went to the office to call my mom because I was having a panic attack (although I didn’t actually know it). I went there a lot to do that, and the lady behind the desk knew that all too well. I walked in, asked to call my mother, and- I will never forget this- she looked at me and said, “You’re always trying to get out of class. No.”. I was dumbfounded. I wasn’t trying to get out of class. Hell, I would have loved nothing more to be in Earth Science with the rest of the class learning and happily getting along with others. I would have loved to have been normal.

This woman had just made an assumption about me that was wildly inaccurate but made me feel guilty. So, now I not only had this panic attack going on, but I also felt guilt pouring into my body and strangling me. And you know what? That wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t! I burst into tears in front of her and she rolled her eyes. I tore out of there, went to the bathroom and called my mother from my cell phone. I forgot to mention I was a goody goody and very rarely broke the rules. Luckily, mom understood that I needed to be out of there and came and got me.

I missed a lot of school due to panic attacks, and I got in trouble because of it. I think most of the teachers assumed that I was too lazy to come to class or just wanted to go home and lounge around. Let me say this again: I would have done ANYTHING to have been able to sit in class with my fellow students comfortably and have a normal school day. Sometimes I could, and then other days it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. And I never told anyone other than my family- and not even they knew the real extent of it.

I was ashamed. Why was a so weird? Why couldn’t I just have sucked it up? It just wasn’t a possibility for me. I was always so in my head, and by middle school I had really developed some OCD tendencies. I would repeat my name in my head over and over again to try and ground myself, but after a while it became more of a OCD twitch than anything else. There were more but I really don’t think I want to get too far into that. Maybe one day.

Here’s the point i’m trying to make with all of this: We need to LISTEN to people when they say they don’t feel right- that something is off. Many people don’t know that they are having panic attacks- just like I didn’t. This is especially true for Children and Teens. You never think these things will happen to you, but guess what? They are way more common than you think. I was shocked when I started to tell people that I take medicine for my anxiety- so many others told me that they have to take something for theirs too and even depression. It can happen to you and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.


High school me was constantly in her head talking to herself about holding it together and not looking like an idiot. High school me thought she wasn’t worth the time because some people treated her like what was happening wasn’t important. When teachers would get onto me about missing school, I felt that guilt. Like I was doing something that was wrong when really I just wasn’t getting the help that I needed. As an adult now who’s looking back at the situation, I now know that it wasn’t my fault.

I was a good student, a nice person, and I tried hard. So, why did I feel like no one was noticing that something was up with me? Sometimes I’d legitimately lose my shit at school- I was crying out for help in my own way- and people would just look at me like I was a crazy person. I had to miss a show choir show once because of a panic attack. My dance partner came up to me and said, “You really let me down.”. All the while, I’m sitting there crying. Did he think I wanted to be acting hysterical in front of the entire group? That I wanted the attention? I wanted the complete opposite.

I was so self conscious about all of this, and it didn’t help that I was an absolute bean pole. I weighed less than 100 pounds until I got to college and I was often hearing gossip about me being anorexic. One of my teachers even brought it up almost every day saying that I needed to eat more. She legitimately thought I wasn’t eating on purpose when really I was just a very small person who had a fast metabolism.

NEWS FLASH, PEOPLE!!! SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST SMALL. JUST LIKE SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST HEAVIER SET! Everyone is beautiful in there own way, and picking out someone’s qualities and telling them they aren’t good enough…it’s just not right.


Me and my big brother 

To all those out there that are struggling with body image,

Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t beautiful at whatever size you are. Just focus on making yourself healthy and happy. I love the quote that says,

“We get so worried about being pretty. Let’s be pretty kind. Pretty funny. Pretty smart. Pretty strong.”

– Britt Nicole

It’s lovely, right?

So, to sum this all up, here’s what I wish I had known growing up.

What people think about you- it doens’t matter. Ultimately, your happiness depends on you. Yes, people say that all the time and it seems cheesy, but it’s so true. You are beautiful- no matter your size. Your qualities make you the unique individual that you are. What you’re feeling is called a panic attack/anxiety. It can happen for no reason and it can spiral out of control if you don’t take proper care to make it better- make yourself better. You are weird- but in the best way possible. Your weirdness is what’s going to be badass about you when you grow up. Hell, it’s what’s badass about you now. 

It’s ok that you don’t have this all figured out now. Things and people will fall into your life at the exact right moments and one day you’ll be sitting on your couch writing a blog where you get to talk about how happy you are with your little family. 

I wish I had known all of that and really believed myself. I’m a much happier person now knowing all of this and having people who support me and help me to understand that anxiety is something that we all face and isn’t something shameful. It takes work and self care to get yourself to a place where you can take a step back, breathe, and know how to handle your anxiety.

I truly think we need to look out for the signs of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks in people- especially children. My main reason for writing this blog post is to make people aware of how debilitating and isolating anxiety can be when it gets out of control. Some people may just not know what it is or how to handle it.

Be a friend to someone in need. Be understanding of what they are going through and help them figure out what they need to make themselves feel better and in control. Because everyone deserves to feel good about and in their bodies.

I hope this blog wasn’t too much of a bummer. I think it’s a really important subject, and it’s something I’ve wanted to get off of my chest for a long time.

Please let me know in the comments if you suffer with anxiety and how you cope. Maybe we can inspire some people to get help or try something new to make themselves feel better.

We all deserve someone to walk with us through the hard times.

-Ellen 🙂


When PPD sneaks up on you

I’ll be honest with you…

I didn’t even know that I HAD postpartum depression. I know what you’re thinking, “How could you NOT know?”. The truth is, I honestly remember being, overall, generally very happy.

After all, my husband was home for the Summer without having to go to work (he’s a professor and gets the summers off for the most part), I had a brand new beautiful baby boy, I was on maternity leave for several months, and I was letting myself eat anything that I wanted since I just went through…ya know…a big life changing surgery.

Basically, other than being drop dead tired, I was living the dream. I remember thinking, “Wow! I’m really surprised I wasn’t affected by PPD. I thought for sure I would have some sort of issue but its really not been a problem at all.”

My was I wrong.


So, how does a grown woman go about 8 months without realizing what she was actually going through? Because PPD is a sneaky, conniving, little, bitch, ladies.

I recently spoke to my sister and she confirmed my suspicions. She thought I might be suffering without realizing it, but let’s be honest, anyone going through that needs to realize it for themselves or they won’t change anything. So, let’s get real…

When Flynn was first born, I couldn’t be any more in love (and I still am!), but I genuinely thought he hated me. I mean I literally thought this little guy who had barely been on this Earth more than a couple of months loved my husband and hated me. Now that I look back on that, it makes me really sad. How could it have not dawned on me that feeling that way was my mind crying out that something was wrong?


To carry something that you’ve grown yourself around for 9 months and watch your body change is an amazing and extremely hard thing to do.  Pregnancy, while beautiful and life changing, is HARD you guys…like…harder than you expect.

For the first few months I was so sick and in one of the worst depressions I’ve ever been in. Maybe that’s another blog post though. Let me know if you’d like to hear about the first trimester from my perspective.

MY point being…

You spend all that time growing and keeping something safe inside you and then the big day comes. You meet your sweet baby and everything feels just right. And then, it happens, PPD comes along and makes you think the thing you worked so hard to have despises you and that they don’t need you. And, you know what? It’s not fair at all that I felt like that.


I know someone who thought about physically harming herself after giving birth. I also know someone else who had thoughts of hurting others too. I feel extremely lucky that mine never got so bad. However, any kind of emotional distress you’re going through that rocks you to your very core…needs to be addressed. That’s why i’m writing this blog- as a warning and a reminder from your friendly neighborhood blogging girl.

Are you listening???

LOOK FOR THE SIGNS OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION BEFORE IT GETS OUT OF CONTROL! None of us have to feel this way! PPD can be helped in so many ways.

I remember lying in bed and hearing Flynn start to cry- and I wanted to cry because it was two in the morning and that meant it was time to try breast pumping again. My husband would bring our boy close and feed him his bottle while I tried pumping; one of the most painful/exhausting/ and alienating things that I have ever done. Plus, I was barely producing so all of it felt like it was for nothing.

I’d watch Zack feeding Flynn and I’d feel my boobs getting more and more sore and I wanted to burst into tears…and sometimes I did.  But again and again, I told myself it wasn’t PPD. I thought it was sleep deprivation and that was the end of it. All the while I thought about how I wasn’t helping Flynn and Zack was doing everything. I couldn’t help it. No matter how much I told myself, “You just went through a HUGE surgery. You need to take it easy. The dishes can be done later. You’ll get your body back in time.” I always felt like I wasn’t providing enough to my family (and sometimes I still struggle with this thought).


Now that Flynn is sleeping through the night and I’m a bit more rested, I can see that sleep deprivation was only one factor in what was going on.

Before I make this blog into a super bummer of a post, I’ll sum it up here.

PPD is not something you have to go through by yourself. Speak up and don’t be ashamed. No one deserves to feel like that and there are plenty of others who will understand what you’re going through.

I’m SO PROUD to say that I am now seeing an amazing therapist who gives me homework each week I see her. I’m changing my outlook on life and I am becoming a much happier person for it. I truly think everyone could benefit from seeing a therapist. No matter how good your life is, you know you still have your stuff.

Self care is important…and don’t you forget that!

Ellen 🙂