Chronic Illness and Depression


Quite a stormy week actually. The news of Robin Williams passing hit hard. Because he meant a lot to me growing up. Oh captain, my captain. He was a wild and wise teacher, forever Peter Pan (as in Hook) who encouraged us to forge our own path. Write our own verse. Carpe Diem.

For weeks now, I wanted to write about depression. But I couldn’t find the words. Because naming them gives them power. And yet, naming also takes the power away. Sharing stories is power too. I don’t know whether my journey with depression is part of who I am, or if it’s fallout of my neuropathy.

My chronic challenges lead to pain and stress. Which lead to chemical imbalances and fatigue. Which leads to depression.

I know the sharp edges of darkness. I know undercurrent tugging always deeper. I know the thief in the night who steals away bits of my soul. I know that bleak landscape. Where stormy seas stretch to all horizons. And I don’t even know which way to swim anymore…

It can last a day. Or a week. I have had episodes that drag on for months. It’s exhausting and scary.

When I heard about Robin Williams, I was sad and shook up. Sad for his loss. But also because I got it. I understood. And that was scary too.

Because I hear sometimes, “How is that possible? Don’t they know?”

And it’s not about knowing. It’s about feeling like “I can handle this.” Until you can’t. And medicine takes time. Medicine is its own crazy rough seas. I’ve tried some medicines that feel worse. Some medicines lead to further exhaustion or anger or migraines. Medicine is no quick fix. By the time I am willing to take that step, admit that I’m out of control, mistakes have been made. Damage done with friendships and family. Tension with work commitments or unanswered emails… Add to that aggravated CMT symptoms- clumsiness, fatigue, numbness, pain.

I heard that Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease. My heart ached for him and his family all over again.

A disease with no cure? A disease with no cure is the scariest beast, the sea serpent brushing against your toes in deep water. And you don’t have a miraculous escape. You don’t get a secret weapon. You don’t even get a battle. You just lose yourself. Day after day you lose abilities, skills, strength. And you know it won’t get better. It only gets worse.

It’s terrifying. It’s the truth that we face every morning. And we face our challenges with humor. With creativity. With support.

And we have good days. I’m not saying that days don’t have magic and blessings. We do ‘get better’ relative to tough days. We have moments of joy and celebration. My photography and storytelling is a quest to catch magic. But it’s hard. It can be the hardest thing. To feel spent. And keep moving forward. I admire us.

So many people have inspired me over the years. They make the monsters feel smaller, more manageable. They give me strength. Even when they don’t realize, with a smile. A kindness. An understanding comment. It can be as simple as, “Rock on” or “How can I help?”

The power of community lifts me.

I want to pay that forward. I’ve been in I’ve-got-this space. I can handle this. I got this so good, you don’t even know how hard I’m working…

And that’s awesome. Sort of. But the fierce defiance isn’t going to help anyone. Not even me, eventually.

So in the spirit of authenticity… Truth. I want to be real.

Taking care of ourselves is not a luxury. Not a sign of weakness or strength. Taking care of ourselves is a necessity.

Sending light to the world.

May we all find sheltering shores.

Tahoe Sunset | Lenkaland Photography

Many, many kind words have gone to Robin Williams and his family. Let me add mine to the collective. Thank you for your inspiration. Your creativity. Your laughter. You will be missed.

Second star to the right, and straight on til morning…

First Mermaid at the River

Mermaid adventures at the river. Anika’s mermaid dreams include sharing the magic with everyone!

We visited the Yuba River, Bridgeport State Park.

Lenkaland Photography

Lenkaland Photography

And the mermaid swam :)

Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography

Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography

Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography


She swam with friends.

Lenkaland Photography

Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography

We found fish.

Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography

Lenkaland PhotographyThe mermaid decided not to eat them. She had a picnic instead.

We found that everyone loves a mermaid! Children and adults were enchanted! And wanted photos with the mermaid :)

Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland PhotographyAnika loved it! She shared the mermaid-spotlight with her cousin, Mila.

Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography

Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland PhotographyIan and I dove for fancy rocks on the river-bed.

Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography

Lenkaland Photography

Lenkaland Photography

Lenkaland Photography

We found awesome quartz and granite.

And the mermaid swam and swam. She didn’t want to leave!

We will be back again soon!

Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland Photography Mermaid at the River | Lenkaland PhotographyFollow my Twitter for updates about where Anika the Mermaid will be swimming next. She’d love to meet you!

Woodland Wedding | Asia & Gabriel

Summer solstice celebrates light. The longest day of the year. And these lovely people brought their own sunshine to the solstice. Their wedding ceremony was light and laughter and love. If you haven’t seen the magic that people weave together when they share this journey of life, you need to attend a wedding like this one.

Woodland Wedding | Lenkaland Photography

Asia and Gabriel are dear friends that have found a special joy together. Everyone came together with good wishes!

Their ceremony was held in the forest outside the North Columbia Schoolhouse in Nevada County.

Woodland Wedding | Lenkaland Photography

Wishing them much love and joy!

Woodland Wedding | Lenkaland Photography Woodland Wedding | Lenkaland Photography Woodland Wedding | Lenkaland Photography Woodland Wedding | Lenkaland Photography Woodland Wedding | Lenkaland Photography

Big thank you to my second shooter, my awesome husband Giovanni of Giovanni Paolo Studios. Photos of the reception are coming soon! Hoops, bubbles, and more laughter and love. Of course :)

Find all of the photos here.

Wishing you light and laughter and love :)

Woodland Wedding | Lenkaland Photography

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My New Mermaid

Anika and I returned from vacation to treats! She is a mermaid!

And I can take photos! I got an underwater camera for my birthday. These were the first images.

We are both enchanted :)

Absolute delight! “I have a tail!”

My camera is the Olympus TG-3 Waterproof Camera. Needless to say, I am thrilled about the opportunities! Much fun for both of us (hopefully for others when we share them, too :)

Diving into adventure :)

*This post does contain affiliate links. Should you decide to purchase, a small amount supports Lenkaland. Your price remains the same. Win win and thank you!

PS- the tail is from Fin Fun Mermaids. We are not affiliated with them- just amazed and happy to share the magic :)

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Vacation Moments

Truth: CMT symptoms (or any disability symptoms) do no take vacations. If anything, they are aggravated by vacation. Different places, different schedules, different expectations. I see how carefully I manage my day-to-day life when I step away from the crafted routines.

At the same time, I am defiance. I am the next experience. The challenges are opportunities to create memories that last through rough days. The moments are most important.

Jumping on the Bed and Over the Lava-Floor!

Jumping on the Bed and Over the Lava-Floor!

On the Lake

On the Lake

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

"You Played Murder Games, Mom?"

“You Played Murder Games, Mom?”

Sunset Over Carson Valley

Sunset Over Carson Valley

Finding the space to enjoy these times may add to my careful management. But it’s worth the effort. I am lucky to have an understanding family. We take frequent breaks. We keep the schedule light (one or two activities a day). I find that I need a few hours in the afternoon to recharge.

Life doesn’t have to be easy to be wonderful. I am so enjoying the time together. We are laughing. Swimming. Creating memories. And that’s the most important thing of all. Live life :)

Challenges and all :)

Into the Storm

Our annual family vacation started with a hot summer morning. And became an insane summer storm!

StormWe crested the pass into the Carson Valley to see these clouds massive over the sky. I must say that I have not seen green skies before. And these were really green. We pulled over on a lookout spot to watch lightning fork and flash across the sky. We tried catching a lightning strike on camera. They are shy, quick, and always out of the frame :)

We drove down the hill. The storm arrived in the last stretch of highway. Big plops of rain that drenched the windshield. Then hard cracks on the roof and windshield as hail joined the rain. And lightning speared with crashes of thunder. In the back seat, Ian quickly moved from wonderment to apprehension. We calculated the time to the store (one block) as an alert blared from our radio.

BLEEEEP BLEEEEP Emergency flash flood warnings…

We drove at a crawl to the store as water sloshed over the road. How well did we know this area? Could the whole road wash away? We were below the pass and the mountain range.

We made it to the parking lot and the rain and hail managed to intensify, becoming a crashing  pummeling thunder on the car roof. Ian became increasingly upset. I glimpsed muddy water washing into the parking lot. I reassured Ian and myself as we stayed in the car to ride out the storm.

Want to feel small? Want to feel how mighty the sky can be? Sit in a Prius as a red-cell storm (on the radar) passes directly overhead. Whew!

So we waited it out and drove past washouts and rock slides to our hotel. Where the power had gone out! No power meant no keys. And no elevators. So we had to wait for security to let people into rooms one by one. Rain kept falling as clouds broke into peeks of clear skies.

Security walked us up seven flights of stairs to our room. Where dark gathered. And, yes, it wasn’t the vacation that we had planned, but there was magic in the quiet. The kids played ipad games sparingly (didn’t want to waste the battery).

Around 8pm, the power returned! Yay! We appreciate all of the little things again. Like charge cables and elevators. I felt like Rapunzel for awhile stranded in my tower.

But morning arrived with power and (almost clear) skies. Vacation is on!

ipad anika

Time to go play :)

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