Sunday, January 31, 2016

Isolation

It dawned on me a couple of days ago that I have been dealing with this depression for FIVE years.  That is some kind of crazy.  I can't even fathom that it has been that long, but then I can't even really remember life when I wasn't dealing with it.  On it goes.  When it all began as Postpartum Depression when my son was five months old, I never imagined I would be dealing with Chronic Depression five years later.  But then, I guess I never imagined I would be dealing with depression at all.

When I went off my antidepressants last spring I thought I was in a place where everything was manageable.  I was still having symptoms, but I could handle them, and I did, for awhile.  I made it through the summer, with some very rough weeks here and there.  My symptoms started getting worse when they happened, but they weren't happening all the time. They were still very cyclical, so I pressed on, even though I could feel the rage that was associated with my early depression starting to return.  I just kept super busy.  Playgroups, playdates, swimming lessons, family reunions, even a little vacation at the end of the summer.  In reality we really took that vacation because I was so desperate to get away and regroup, so we did and it was great.

Then school started and at first it was so freeing.  I was exercising more and plugging right along.  Then October hit and my daughter had a nasty case of strep that kept her out of school for five days...looking back that is when the tide really changed for me.  I haven't been back to the gym since that week she was sick.  Everyone has been taking turns being sick since then, me included.  Mostly minor stuff, but I have been dealing with sinus headaches and issues all through the fall and winter, mostly because of the extremely warm weather we have been having here for this time of year.

When November and December came I was just spending all my free time doing Christmas Shopping and Christmas preparations.  I knew I was really starting to go down hill, but I was in denial.  I was determined to make Christmas extra exciting and fun and perfect mostly because I was feeling so bad.  I love Christmas, and the excitement of getting ready for it, the anticipation in the waiting.  This year though, I just could not hold onto the spirit.  Don't get me wrong, the season wasn't a wash, but it was somewhat disappointing.  I have some great memories from some specific days.  We did make it NYC for our yearly holiday trip.  That day was practically perfect.  We had fun getting our tree and decorating, and Christmas morning itself was just what I hoped for.  And my kids loved every second of the season, so even if I wasn't always feeling it, they certainly were.  I just kept feeling like I was missing something.  The depression was stealing my joy.

And something else was happening.  The first few times were subtle and I was able to brush them off, but after Christmas was over, everything snowballed so fast.  I started having anxiety attacks.  I recognized what was happening.  Some issues happened at my daughters school regarding her peanut allergy that were very quickly resolved as soon as I voiced my concerns.  I started to realize that a lot of my anxiety was centered around her allergy.  It was happening at other times too, but that is where it started.  We started planning a trip for mid spring.  We have never flown before.  I started panicking thinking about flying with her and wondering how I was going to keep her safe.  I knew in my mind that my thoughts were illogical.  I knew that I was obsessing about situations that I was handling just fine.  I do my research, I plan for every possible scenario.  I know what to do if she has a reaction, and I know everything I can do to prevent one.  Why was this happening?  Anxiety had never been an issue for me before.  Then I just started feeling anxious a lot the time for no reason at all.  I couldn't figure out any particular trigger.  By this time my yearly physical with my doctor was only a few days away so I just waited it out.  But I didn't want to go anywhere unless I had to.  There were a couple of days where my husband took the kids out and I stayed home, and that was just how I wanted it to be.  I just wanted to be alone and not responsible for anyone else.  By this point I had resigned myself to the fact that I needed to go back on my medication.

This was a blow to me.  Not only was the anxiety a major issue by this point but the depression was totally winning.  I felt, I still feel, so defeated.  I am so tired of fighting this fight.  Five years is a really long time.  I sleep, I have nightmares, get woken up or can't fall asleep and get up every day exhausted.  Exhausted from not sleeping and from fighting the fight.  I have been living with the attitude that this is as good as it is going to get, so why bother?  Why bother going to the gym, or trying to eat better, or trying to get out there, this is just as good as it is going to get.  I just don't have any fight left.

I started my medications again two weeks ago.  At this point the anxiety is definitely better.  Some stressful stuff has happened since I started taking them again and I have definitely weathered them better.  This has been a relief.  The anxiety was more than I could handle.  At least I am used to feeling depressed, I know what to expect, and how to handle it if I have the energy to fight it.  The anxiety was different.  It was a new sensation, a scary sensation that I was really having a hard time dealing with.  Hopefully it won't come back!

I am not seeing much of an improvement with the depression at this point.  I have had a couple of better days, but not better overall.  I had forgotten that a side effect of the meds is definitely worse migraines and headaches.  I still got migraines when I was off the meds, but I forgot how bad mine can really get until I went back on.  I had one all day migraine a week and a half ago and I feel like it never really went away completely.  That crappy kind feeling doesn't do much for the mood.

The depression is heavy.  I feel isolated and disconnected.  I am doing okay with my kids, I don't feel disconnected from them, with my husband it comes and goes, but outside of this house, I just feel disconnected from everyone at this point.  I find myself avoiding having conversations with people.  Every now and then I will get out there in a group and chat with friends and actually feel pretty good.  I think for a second, "wait, there I am.", but then the next day I can be in a whole group of people that I know and feel partially invisible, like no one notices me, and partially hoping that no one will notice me.  People will say "hi, how are you doing." and I say 'good, how are you?" end conversation.  Why don't I say more?  I just can't get it out.  I can't say the stuff I want to say, or need to say.  I know what I need.  I am simply exhausted.  Right now, I can't fight the darkness back by myself.  I know that I need to be with people and to just do normal stuff.  I need to go out and walk the dog, go to the gym, just hang out with friends.  I don't even necessarily need to talk about all this stuff I just need to do normal stuff.  I need to not be alone in the house curled up on the couch all the time.  I really try to shine light in other peoples lives as much as I can. I try to be supportive and help out when people need help.  I try to help friends talk through stuff when they need to, watch their kids when they need a break and all that stuff.  I feel guilty for not doing that stuff for people right now.  But honestly I am in survival mode right now.  Most days I do the absolute minimum that I must do to get the family through that day and nothing more.  I don't have any more to give than that right now.

I have not given up the fight, but right now I am battle weary.  For now I have reached my limit, I need to rely on other peoples' light right now to help pull me up and out of the darkness.   Five years is a long time to fight.  It's a really long time.  I know that someday I won't have to fight anymore, and this burden will be lifted from me, but today is not that day.  My life has a purpose, I have a family to raise, I will get through this.  I just can't do it alone right now.  I need some light.

My fight song;
It's Not Over Yet

Addendum:  So last night after I went to bed I realized that I can't do math.  And I never claimed to be good at it anyway.  I have been fighting depression for four years not five.  Year Five is just beginning.  My husband and I were having a heart to heart last night and we were discussing how bad I have been feeling and I said to him "I just don't have any fight left."  He said to me "You always say that."  I said "I do?  But this is the worst it has ever been, since it all started."  He said, "You always fight your way out of it."  Thanks for the LIGHT my Love.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Choose to be Kind






I have been wanting to write for awhile now, but it has been hard for me.  This depression has changed me.  It has changed how I process things, and I think even how deeply I feel things. I am more guarded about putting my emotions out there then I used to be.  This is the careful walk I walk to keep myself from going over the edge.

 I am generally a glass half full kind of girl.  I always see the positive in things, I can help other people see the positive in things.  But the world is so DARK.  So many terrible things have happened, and are happening.  So I haven't written in a while.  I had to spend some time really thinking things through and processing my thoughts. 

The truth is there is are a lot of bad things happening in this small world of ours.  Some of these things we hear about and some of the things we don't.  Some things seem small, and others seem so big that there can't possibly be a positive solution to the problem.  I think we all need to remind ourselves that the bad stuff is not the only stuff that is happening.  Our world is run by the media these days, the news outlets and social media.  Stories get shared and spread across the globe like wildfire.  One of the big problems that I have noticed is that not all of the information being spread is actually true.  I don't believe everything I read online, but I am afraid that there are other people who do. 

The Paris Terrorist attack happened, and the world got all riled up.  But the world also didn't notice very similar attacks going on in Lebanon and Nigeria. The fact is violence is happening all over the world and all of the time and has since the beginning of time.  That is the part that I have to remind myself of.  The world seems so dark right now because of the speed in which the news travels, and what is chosen to be shared.  It isn't just Radical Muslims committing these crimes.  There are people competing for power all over the world committing atrocities in the name of whatever they believe is right.  War and violence have always existed unfortunately.  Then there is just the general bad stuff going on here in the United States.  Mass shootings all the time.  Violence is everywhere, from smaller domestic incidents to incidents like the one that happened this week in California.  There are more mass shootings in the US than anywhere else in the world.  That is pretty sad. 

Then there is just the general selfishness and greed in the world, and the judgement and the hate.  If you doubt this exists, go to Facebook and pick any general public site that holds some kind of news story and you will see people just ripping other people to shreds with their hurtful and judgemental comments.  This type of stuff just breaks my heart.  Fear and Hate cannot be allowed to win.  The refugee crisis is a perfect example of this.  People are up in arms and don't want to allow people who desperately need help to come here because they are afraid that they are all terrorists, yet we Americans are literally killing each other every day anyway.  It is true that only a very small fraction of the mass shootings in the United States have been committed by Muslims.  Most of the time it is just an everyday, average American.  Everyone who knows them are always shocked that they could commit such acts.


This is the simple conclusion that I have come to.  We are all human beings and we all have the capacity to grow up and do great things for others, and we all have to capacity to grow up and do hurtful and murderous things to others.  America grows people just as capable of committing violence as any other nation in the world. 

After the Paris Attacks happened I did two things:  First I intervened when my kids were just being generally terrible and mean to each other and I told them this "We all have a choice to be kind or be mean, every single day, in every situation.  I want you to always try to choose to be kind, even when someone else is not kind to you."  I have stressed this with them over and over again.  The second thing I did was make a more conscious effort to do what I always try to do.  I felt so helpless after the attacks, when I was reading all the hate and fear on the internet, and feeling completely unable to do anything about the darkness that felt like it was taking over the whole world.  So I pulled myself back into my own circle, of my own family and friends.  This was the world I could touch, so I did.  I try to always show love and support whenever I can, but I purposely found more ways that week, and I am still trying to do just that.  I am trying to do things to show love to whoever I can, whenever I can. 

I think about the Apostle Paul a lot.  It says in the Bible that he had some kind of affliction that was chronic and very bothersome to him.  We don't know exactly what this was.  He repeatedly asks God to lift this affliction from him and God tells him no.  I have asked God the same question over and over about this Depression that I still struggle with on a daily basis.  I want so much to be free of it.   I try to remember that it has changed me.  God laid this answer on my heart in the wee hours this morning.  He said "I made you to be empathetic and encouraging."  I sat with that for a bit.  I realized that my own personal struggles have made me able to feel things so deeply when others are struggling, but it has also made me more aware when others are struggling.  There have been times that this has allowed me to pick up on a situation that someone else is dealing with, that others might not notice, and I have been able to offer support and encouragement.  This depression has been many things for me.  It has been hard, it has been exhausting and it still continues to be EVERY SINGLE DAY.  But it has also been a gift.  Through this darkness that I struggle with, I have been able to bring tiny bits of light to this world.  Why would I want to change that?

I have vowed to try to stop reading comments on things on line, to stop reading negative news stories and seek out positive stories.  There are good things happening in this world every day.  There are hearts all over the world full of love and cheerful giving, through small acts or big ones.  Tiny bits of light all over the world.  Love is the only thing that will drive out the darkness.  So be mindful of that.  When you are online be careful of what you post.  Don't post things driven by fear or hate.  Don't be judgmental.  As Thumper says in Bambi, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."  Choose to spread  Light and Love, choose to be Kind.  It will make the world better.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I Wonder What They Will Remember....

Things have been rough for the last month or so, kind of on and off, but the last few days have been pretty bad.  I have to say that I am thankful that I haven't been ragey depressed....just sad depressed.  I feel like sad depressed isn't quite as bad for everyone around me, so I don't feel as guilty about it.  But sad depressed is a heavy weight to carry.  It actually even hurts sometimes.  I hate feeling like this.  It really sucks to feel depressed when you know that in actuality you are really happy.  I have been on the verge of tears for several days now.  I have been forcing myself to carry out my daily duties.  Some get done, some don't.  I go from feeling totally disconnected from everyone to wanting to curl up in a ball to just wanting to hug someone, be it a small human child, or husband or lovable dog. 

I have found myself wondering lately what my kids are going to remember from their childhood.  I often worry that I am ruining them.  I am afraid that all they are going to remember is me yelling, or sending them to their rooms so I can just breathe.  I wonder if they will remember me putting in movies for them so I can just sleep on the couch and escape for a little while.  Are they going to remember the times that it got to be so much that I just left them?  That I yelled up the stairs to their Dad saying "That's it!  I am leaving!", and then I did.  Are they going to remember the things that I said in the heat of the moment, the stuff that I didn't really mean? 

What is growing up with a depressed Mom going to do to my kids?  They aren't really old enough for me to explain this to them yet.  The fact is, this is not going away.  I have learned to accept this, but that doesn't mean that I like it.  I am honestly exhausted from the fight these days...sometimes I don't know if I can even fight it anymore.  If it swallows me up, what happens to them?  Are they going to remember the times I shut down, and left them, or are they going to remember that I always came back? Will they remember that I always fought my way back to them?  Will they understand?

I have been going through photos for the past couple of days, getting ready for some Christmas scrapbooking projects.  So I have been looking at hundreds of pictures from the past year of my kids.  One of my joys is to take pictures capturing all the big moments and lots of the little moments.  I love making scrapbooks as gifts for them each year and for their grandparents too.  As bad as I have felt the past few days I have been constantly reminded that my kids are happy. 

One of my favorite pictures of Anne this year, it just captures the joy that she always carries with her.
Joyful, goofy and cuddly, that is my boy!



My kids actually seem to be undamaged and secure.  They are both confident and compassionate kids.  Is it in spite of my depression or because of it?

I really do wonder what they will remember about their childhood.  Will they remember how much I hate to cook or will they remember that every Friday I made them homemade pizza and we curled up on the couch and had a movie night?  Will they remember that I was always rushing to get them places on time, or will they remember that I signed them up for their favorite activities and made it work every week to get them there?  Will they remember that we stayed inside more than we should have, or will they remember the fun they had playing with each other when I just let them run rampant with their imaginations while I was trying to cope inside my own head?

Will they remember Halloween this year?  Will they remember how close I was too the edge that weekend?  Do they know how many times I almost cried that day?  Do they have any idea how much I just wanted to crawl into bed instead of taking them to our Church's Fall Festival?  That isn't what I think they will remember?  I think they will remember that Mommy dressed up like a pirate to match their pirate costumes and went out anyway.  And I hope they will know how glad I was that I did, and how grateful I was to be present with them in their joy.  I hope they just remember that all I ever wanted to do was play pirates with them.

 

Monday, October 26, 2015

This Crazy Up and Down Life!


I feel like I go so long between blog entries these days.  Honestly it is just this crazy up and down life I live.  I went off my anti depressants last spring and things were okay for awhile.  Then I had a bad cycle and they weren't okay for awhile.  Then the summer happened.  I was determined to keep myself and the kids busy through the summer, so that the depression would not sneak in and take over.  I guess that is always my goal, that it won't get in and take over.  But it does, and then I fight it off and things are good again...and then it comes back and so forth.

The summer was busy, we filled it with playgroups and playdates and swimming lessons and Vacation Bible School and family reunions.  I actually made it to the gym three times a week for most of the summer.  In general I was pretty impressed with myself.  I have had good days and bad days, but honestly the bad days hit harder without my meds.  I wouldn't say that there are necessarily any  more bad days being off the meds, the bad days just seem  harder.  My focus sometimes is so driven by just staying okay that I don't realize how it affects the rest of my life.

My husband is self employed in the wedding business.  He works all the time, and as you can imagine, the summers are especially busy for him.  So I live my summers determined to get through them and keep everyone busy and happy.  I stumbled through the bad days and pushed forward.  After a while I realized how angry and disconnected I was feeling.  And then I realized that we, my husband and I, just weren't talking anymore.  My bad days are really hard on him.  The anger pulses through my depressed mood and then before I know it, I am letting it all loose on him, and the kids, but more so at him.  The kids are used to me yelling, they are not even really phased by it anymore.  I wish I didn't do it as much as I do, and I try not to, but it still happens.  I don't think I am as "yelly" as I used to be though.  But on the really bad days I can't control it.  I was afraid things were getting too bad though, going down a road that we wouldn't be able to get back from.

So we found some time to reconnect, and went on an awesome family vacation the last week of summer.  We all needed it so much.  Going to the ocean always rejuvenates my soul.  My husband and I actually used to daydream about moving there.  We used to think that was the only place we could be happy.  This trip, though, as our daughter was declaring that she wanted to live at the beach forever, we realized that we are exactly in the area where we want to be.  We know that we have more to lose than to gain if we moved away from our family and friends and the kids' schools and our church family....it feels good to know that we actually have a place in the world where we feel settled.

Then school started.  We have a first grader and a pre-schooler this year.  My emotions started going all haywire about the kids growing up.  My baby will be starting Kindergarten in a year, and I just don't feel ready to give him up just yet.  I know he will be ready but I won't be.  Crazy roller coaster emotions.  And First Grade is hard.  HOMEWORK is hard.  We are just adjusting to a whole new set of routines.  I let the kids each choose one activity outside of school to participate in this year.  My daughter has wanted to dance forever, so I signed her up for ballet, and my son has been begging to play soccer for ever, so I signed him up for a soccer skills class.  So three nights a week after school we have activities now.  We have soccer night, church night and ballet night.  And on Saturday mornings the kids have swimming lessons.  I do better when I am busy, and I feel better when the kids are doing stuff that they love, and both of them really love their classes.  But it has also been a struggle to get in a routine where all the homework gets done, and dinner is on at a reasonable time.  And honestly I always feel that there is so much stuff to do, that I then start to get overwhelmed and then nothing gets done at all.

Right now I feel like I have this huge to do list and there is no way that anything will get done.  This is kind of funny, because who decides the stuff I have to do anyway?  I mean aside from the daily laundry, homework, food preparation  and cleaning, all that other stuff is on me, right?  All those deep cleaning and basement organizing and scrapbook making projects are things that I have assigned to myself.  I guess I don't really have to do them.  But I feel like I do.  Then there is the list of phone calls and e-mail kind of stuff that needs doing.  I  hate doing that stuff because the kids always interrupt me at the worst moments....and I just hate doing them.  I just need to buck up and plow through them, but finding the motivation for that can be challenging, so that stuff just falls into the I have overwhelmed myself category.  I don't know what it is about feeling overwhelmed.  This is kind of a new thing for me.  The just not feeling motivated feeling is very different from the overwhelmed feeling.

I think that I just keep coming up with these plans and ideas about how to make myself feel better, how to parent better, how to make my marriage better, how to make my relationship with God better.  Then I just fail miserably at trying to follow through with anything.  I bought a parenting book, a couples devotional and we went to a marriage retreat.  I get determined to diet and exercise and go to the gym and walk the dog...and all of these seem like completely reasonable things to do.  None of them take much time.  I just can't seem to do them.  The only thing I am doing remotely well is making it to the gym several times a week.  I usually do 3-4 times, unless I have a kid who is so sick that she misses four days of school.  That happened last week. 

So why can't I find time to read a book every day?  To pray more?  To clean the basement?  To write more blog entries?  To make that phone call to switch my car insurance?  It is seriously frustrating.  And when I stop to think about it, sometimes I wonder why I bother to try to change things at all.  I feel like even if I start, I will never follow through all the way anyway, so what is the point.  There are some days where I do really well and then I feel accomplished.  I have succeeded in creating a good school year routine for the kids.  We are keeping up with Anne's homework and both of their church quiet times pretty well.  We are fitting in their classes and dinner is on the table every day.  I have yet to fall into that giving up on dinner attitude that I have excelled at in the past.  But I just feel like I can't push it to the next level.  I feel like I will never get past the point of just doing what I have to do for show.  If the kids aren't fed and the homework isn't done, other people will see that.  I can run the vacuum and clean the bathroom before people come over. I would like to do more than just live on the surface though, but mostly I am just too tired.  I fight the daily battle.  Some days I win and some days I lose.  But I am coming to the conclusion that this depression is going to be part of me for the rest of my life, and it kind of sucks.  I wonder how much fighting is actually worth doing.  I feel like it is pointless to try to change because I will never really ever get there.  Then I just feel like I am failing myself and everyone in my life because I just can't move past it.  When I feel like this, everyone elses' lives just look so much easier, and better.  What do you do when you want to change, but you actually can't because something inside of you is broken? 

It is hard to go from having days where I feel motivated and I feel like I actually can change some of the things that I want to change, to days where I feel like everything is impossible.  In actuality, I have changed.  I have changed a lot.  I am more in tune with myself and my emotions, which is probably part of the reason why I feel like I have failed so miserably every time I lose it and yell at my kids or my husband.  I know that things can be better in certain areas in my life and I actually know what I need to do to change them, which is why I am so hard on myself when I feel overwhelmed and generally unable to move forward.  It is just a constant, exhausting battle.  I just have to do everything I can to make sure that I keep moving forward, even if I am moving at such a slow, painful crawl that I can't even see it.  I know that someday I will be able to see it, even if today is not one of those days.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Difference a Meal Can Make....

 

It was a just over a year ago that I started having severe pain in my left hip joint.  The pain progressed over a three week period, until it got to the point that it was so bad that I could no longer put weight on my left leg without it giving out completely.  I have never experienced that level of pain before in my life.  I was eventually diagnosed with a stress fracture just below my hip joint.  So here I was, home with a three year old and a five year old, and I was not allowed to put any weight on my left leg at all.  I was still in a great deal of pain and trying to hop around on crutches without falling and causing myself further injury.  I was on crutches from the middle of August to a few days before Thanksgiving.  That is a long time.  During that time, I had one child starting kindergarten and one child starting pre-school.  Both kids had to be transported to and from school on a daily basis.  My husband, who is self employed in the events business, had exactly two entire days off during the whole period that I was on crutches.  This whole experience has been on my mind lately as I am reflecting on how far I have come since the injury occurred.

So what does all this have to do with the title of my post?  Looking back, I remember how devastated I was when I was diagnosed and I realized just how long my recovery period was going to be.  Initially the possibility of surgery was discussed.  Here I was three weeks before I was supposed to send my five year old off to kindergarten, crying in the doctor's office because I was afraid I was going to miss it.  I was afraid I wasn't going to be able care for my little ones and be there for them during some of the most important moments in their lives.  AND, if I couldn't care for them, who was going to do it for me?  I have never been the type who is comfortable asking others for help.  I like doing things my way, and I like doing them alone.  But desperate times call for desperate measures.  I was blessed to not have to ask for much help, most was offered.  People came and helped me with my kids, especially in the evenings when my husband couldn't be there to help with bed time.  My friends and family were there to help with child care.  When school started I worked out arrangements for people to walk my kids in and out of school for me, so I didn't have to get out of the car and hop around, risking further injury.  One lovely woman from my church volunteered to come to my house once a week and clean it for me.  Her visits meant so much to me on and it was wonderful to not have to worry about getting things clean around the house.

My family is blessed to be part of a wonderful church family.  Whenever someone has surgery, or loses a loved one, or welcomes a new baby, the meal train comes along.  I always signed up whenever I was able too, but I don't think I ever realized the importance of this ministry.  Everything changes when you find yourself in a situation where you need help.  My church family, as well as some outside friends and family faithfully brought my family dinner for six weeks. I don't know how many of those givers realized what that meant.

The pain that I was in was overwhelming and exhausting.  I spent my days going from the sofa bed in my living room to my desk chair across the room.  I only left the house to do school drop offs or pick ups.  By the time I got home each day with the second kid I was spent.  Healing the body takes a lot of strength and energy, so does fighting the pain.  Every night, like clockwork a different smiling face was at my door, with a hot, fresh, DELICIOUS meal.  It was quick and easy to serve my kids nourishing food, and easy for my husband to clean it up when he came home.  It eased my husband's burden.  He was working incredibly long hours and trying to take care of all of us.  He was exhausted.  Having a meal ready when he came home was such a relief for him as well.

It was also exciting to see what new and delicious delights we would get to try each day, getting to sample everybody's different specialties.  The kids were into it too, my usually picky eaters ate pretty much everything that came through the door.

In short, that meal train saved my sanity, kept my family fed, and gave me the strength to heal.  When you bring someone in need a meal, you are showing love, making them feel cared for, and giving them something to look forward to, at the end of a long day.  It's basically hope and love on a plate, wrapped up in something yummy.

There doesn't have to be a meal train set up for you to bring someone a meal.  If you know a person who is going through a hard time, or is just having a bad day, show up with some food!  If a formal train is created for someone in need, I encourage you to participate.  Even if you don't have time to cook you could always just pick up the phone and have a meal delivered.  One of my husband's cousins who lives three hours away did that for us when I was recovering and it was amazing. 

Food is a basic human need, we can't live without it.  Bringing food to new parents allows them more time to rest and relax and enjoy their new babies, you are literally gifting them with precious moments!  Bringing food to someone who has lost a loved one, shows them how much you love and care for them, but also meets a need for them, they they may not feel able to meet for themselves in the midst of grief.  Bringing food to someone recovering from a surgery or injury or suffering from illness cares for them and their family and allows them to rest and heal, and enjoy the little things, without pushing themselves to prepare a meal when they are in pain and exhausted.

If someone that you know is facing one of these situations or something similar, and you wonder how you can help, bring them a meal, or order a favorite for them and have it delivered.  And I hope that if you are ever in a situation where you could use this kind of help, I hope it is provided for you.  For my family it made all the difference in the world.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dear Master of the Darkness

Dear Master of the Darkness,

I wanted to take some time to let you know something.  You fight a good fight, and lately you have won a few battles, but guess what?  You are not going to win the war.  You might sneak into my thoughts and prey on my insecurities and make me doubt myself, my Faith and my ability to mother.  Some days are harder than others to push you back, but I always do.  It's been 3 1/2 years and you haven't won me yet.  You aren't going to.  I am stronger than you are, I have too much to live for, too much to fight for.  Let me just remind you (and myself) of what I have that you are not going to get.

I have my God.  No matter what kind of day I have, or how far I wander, He isn't going any where, and He will always take me back.  Whatever confusion and questions and doubts I have, He and I will work them out, and you aren't getting in there.  You can try, but you won't succeed.

I have this guy:

I waited around for most of my adult life for him.  I spent a lot of lonely years before I found him.  Then I did.  Our life together hasn't been easy.  We face constant challenges and struggles.  We have bad days, bad moments, but we have more good days and spectacular moments.  I miss that sometimes in the dark moments.  You sneak in there.  Then I make mistakes.  I worry that I am failing him.  But guess what?  You can't take what we have.  He loves me.  He will fight this fight with me, and he isn't going anywhere. 

I have this girl:


She can drive me absolutely crazy.  She is stubborn and dramatic and JUST LIKE ME!.  She is AMAZING.  Look at her!  She EXUDES light.  She has the gift of happiness.  She has an amazing imagination and creative spirit.  She has a kind and loving heart.  You can't have her.  She is my rainbow baby.  She is the light of my life.  I will fight for her with everything in me.  And when she is older and I explain all of this to her, she will understand what it is to have a Warrior Spirit.  She will know how to fight, and you will never take her.

I have this boy:


He has a quiet stubborness and a wild energy.  He is also snuggly, and charming, and so sweet.  And look at THOSE DIMPLES.   My sweet boy is my heart.  You can't have him either.  He will fill this world with light and love and those adorable dimples.  He will melt hearts where ever he goes.  Darkness can't get into melted hearts.

Then I have this guy:


Whenever I feel disconnected from the world, from God, from my family, when you get in there and I just can't feel anything...this pup is there.  He looks at me with those eyes filled with love and devotion and reminds me what unconditional love is.  He soothes my spirit, and fills me back up with light and love.  You can't have him, no way can you get in there.  This waggly, lovey, has eyes only for me puppy is the biggest barrier against the darkness that I have.  He always brings me back.

So you can keep trying.  You will bring me down sometimes, you do pack a pretty powerful punch, but with these four in my corner, plus my supportive family and friends and my God.  Let's face it, you don't have a chance.  So I guess the choice is yours.  You can admit defeat and move on, or you can wear yourself out trying.  You aren't going to get me, I have too many reasons not to let you win and I will fight you to the end.

Sincerely,
Me


Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Battle is Not Yet Won

So here is the thing.  It just isn't over.  Everything went so well through the process of weaning off the medication that I really thought that I might be okay.  I knew I would have some bad days, but I really thought all would be well, that I was strong enough.  If you are a follower of my blog you know that I have been battling PPD turned Chronic Depression for 3 and a half years now.  I just went off my medications about two months ago.  I really thought I was ready, maybe I am ready.  Maybe I should be on medication for the rest of my life.  Maybe I just don't really know what is going on at all.  All I know is this, I am feeling pretty crappy, depressed, emotional, and just plain broken.  There it is....I have been debating for weeks about whether or not I was going to share anything at all.  I have been walking a very careful line.  I feel like if I let too much out, if I reveal too much to anyone I will completely fall apart.  I guess I am afraid I won't be able to put it all back together.  So here I sit, wondering what the purpose of all of this really is.  Then I remembered why I started this blog to begin with.  It was born out of the absolute worst, darkest place of me.  I started this blog so other Mamas (and really anyone who suffers from depression) wouldn't feel as scared and alone and lost in the dark as I did.  So I have decided to share what has been going on over the last few weeks, as much for myself as for all of you who are going through this to.  And if you love someone who suffers from depression, this is for you too, because they probably can't tell you what it feels like to be in this dark place.

This is it people, the raw unfiltered truth.  Depression sucks and I am terrified that this is what my life will always be now, and that I am losing the core of myself to it.  This is not the darkest that it has ever been for me.  At this point the hold is not so strong that I can't fight through it to some extent.  I can put on a happy face, I can still immerse myself in projects, but the me that my kids see, that my husband sees...is not the me I want to be.  I can only hold onto the other me, the real me, for so long at a time, and then it starts to slip away, swallowed by the darkness and the rage.  When I fall there, I am afraid that I won't be able to pull myself out.  I fear this is the only me that my kids will ever remember.  I fear this is the me that my husband will someday no longer have the strength or will to love.  There are moments when it chokes me completely and I fantasize about packing up the dog and disappearing, that Joe and the kids would be better off that way, and maybe I will be too.  I know that if I did leave, I would miss them without measure in a matter of hours, it would never last.  But it breaks my heart that the thought ever comes to begin with.

Fighting this on a daily basis is exhausted.  I am thankful that there are days that I do feel okay.  My depression is very hormonally based.  I am on my second cycle since going off the medication completely.  I was actually okay while tapering off the meds and for the first few weeks once I was off completely.  I felt strong and empowered.  I was totally convinced that going off the meds was God's Plan for me.  Everything went so well.  His answer was so clear.  I had no reason to doubt it.  Then something strange happened.  I know that this catalyst has had a huge impact in how everything has been going over the last five weeks or so.  Joe and I are very done with having children.  We made this decision years ago.  We were always open to the possibility that something might happen and we were okay with that.  But...there would be no trying.  We were  not going to add that stress to our lives.  I certainly did not want to deal with the possibility of going through PPD again, so we were happy and we were done.  Then one day I was sure that I felt God tell me that I was pregnant.  It was two full weeks before taking a test was even possible.  So I went with it.  I hadn't asked for it.  I would not be disappointed if it wasn't true.  I am happy with my family the way that it is.  I begin having strong PMS symptoms, but one symptom in particularly, breast tenderness, was very strong.  It actually presented the exact same way that it did when I was pregnant with my second child.  I took this as confirmation and waited until I could take a test.  A few days before my period was to begin I started getting really irritable, a normal PMS symptom.  The issue with the breast tenderness was interesting though.  Normally with PMS it will last on and off for several days prior to my period.  It is never a constant discomfort.  The only time that it was a constant discomfort was when I was pregnant with my son.  It was to the point where I could not wear my sports bra, and could not get comfortable at night.  So I waited.  The early tests were all negative.  The morning my period was due the test was negative and it started a few hours later.  This is the part that gets difficult to explain.  I was  not disappointed that I wasn't pregnant.  The idea sounded fun here and there, but I am well enough versed in the reality of parenthood that I understand the stress that this would put on me.  My fear was never that I wasn't pregnant, it was what not being pregnant would do to me in my relationship with God.  And this little detail of not being pregnant struck a huge blow to that relationship.  Being pregnant was not something I asked for or desired.  As many women I do have an occasional fleeting moment of holding a baby where I wonder what if, but then I move on.  I still am trying to figure out and fight my way back from why God would tell me this and have it turn out not to be true.  Maybe I misinterpreted something, but I was so sure and so at peace with this knowledge that now I am utterly confused and frustrated.  I feel totally disconnected in my relationship with Him right now, and that has been the most difficult thing to deal with.  I know that I need Him if I am going to keep this depression under control at all.  This has also left me doubting my whole decision to go off my medication to begin with.  That prompt from God seemed so clear and decisive.  Yet here I am, weeks later, completely falling apart.

The PMS part of that last cycle was rough physically, but mood wise I was okay except for the irritability the last several days.  Once my period started that irritability persisted and the depressed mood started to kick it.  I am an angry person when I am depressed.  I don't have loads of patience to begin with, so when I add this anger on top of my lack of patience things do not go well.   Luckily I had lots of stuff going on to distract me.  Both kids were still in school and I had a huge birthday bash to craft and plan for.  This kept me motivated, and we went right from that to all of the end of the school year activities, including a Kindergarten Graduation.  So I plowed on through, feeling depressed and irritated here and there, but I was managing it.  Then school ended.  Now both my kids are with me ALL the time.  And we are in wedding season, so my husband is working ALL the time.  PMS for my current cycle kicked in hard, right as school ended.  Then my period started and girls, it has been a rough one.  Besides the issues with my mood, it has been really heavy and the migraines have been killer.  And I have also turned into an insomniac over the last week, which is NOT helping.  I used to have issues with insomnia when I was younger and they popped back up during my pregnancy and every now and then with a bad cycle, but it has been a long time. 

So this is where I stand right now.  I am exhausted, I am depressed, I am angry and I feel completely alone.  I have really been trying to work my way back into having a connection with God, and have done a few things that have helped a little,  but I keep getting overwhelmed by the thought that I can't trust myself to know how He is trying to guide me, which leaves me feeling that disconnect all over again.

I feel like I don't have anyone to talk to.  I could talk to Joe, but honestly he is rarely home and the times I have had the opportunity, I haven't been able to talk.  I held back because I knew I would end up dumping all over him spewing everything out, and I just didn't have the strength to even let a little out, because I was just barely holding on in that moment.  I felt like if I moved just one little inch everything would come crashing down.  So I held it in.  I have lots of Mom friends....lovely people, I am sure many of them would listen to me and be supportive, but have you ever tried to have a serious conversation with kids running all over the place.  I honestly feel like I never actually get to finish any conversation when my kids are around.  I decided it is more frustrating to try to start a conversation about the stuff I need to get out there, and then get cut off and never get to finish.  That will just leave me feeling more lost and disappointed.

Then I feel terribly guilty.  I feel awful for the way I speak to my husband and my kids.  I feel like I yell all the time.  I snap at Joe for no reason way too often and make him feel terrible.  I don't know why he puts up with it.  I feel so jealous of him sometimes that he gets out, that he has time to himself even though he works so much.  He still has time with other men, he gets to talk to them, he gets to get AWAY.  I desperately need that and I know that it is not going to happen, so I try not to think about it.  We are immersed in wedding season now.  I am lucky if Joe is even home more than three nights a week.  And when he is home we are both so tired that we put the kids to bed and watch tv and go to bed ourselves.  He actually went up to bed at 7 pm tonight.  I can't blame him, he didn't get home until 2:30 am last night.  It is so much harder when he is not here.  One night this week, when he was home, and there was one meltdown too many from the kids, I just got in the car and left.  I didn't have to say anything to him, he knew what was happening.  It didn't help as much as I hoped it would...I was too emotional to calm down much.  I just know I am faced with night after night all summer long without that as an option.  Forget just the summer.  Last year the working all the time lasted until Thanksgiving...so hooray.  I love my husband with everything in me, but I often wonder how things are going to be able to last, with him gone so much and me like this. 

I need time to myself to reflect and work through this, time to not think at all.  I need time to talk to other people who get this, to have uninterrupted conversations to help me hash all this out.  I need time with my husband.  We need to have some fun, this stress is not good for him at all either, and I hate what it is doing to him.  BUT, funds are low and debts are high, so I basically have to figure out how to work through this as things stand.  The things I feel I need aren't going to happen often enough, so I am going to have to figure something else out.  I am going to have to figure out a way to pull myself out of this darkness that is trying to take over the core of who I am. 

Whenever I write a blog entry, I try to end it with a positive thought.  My purpose is to bring hope to those of you who are also fighting the darkness.  Sadly I don't think that I can do that today.  But maybe that is okay?  Sometimes it just really sucks.  Sometimes you will feel completely alone and like you can never find your way out.  There are people out there that have found ways to overcome this.   I honestly don't know what I am going to do.  I am going to try to do better tomorrow than I did today.  And I actually did do better today that I was at the beginning of last week, so maybe that is progress.  I am going to find projects to immerse myself in. I am going to try to find ways to feel connected to other people.  I am going to try to keep my kids busy and happy this summer.  I am going to try to not yell as much tomorrow.  I am going to try to let my guy know how much I love him, even when I feel like the darkness is trying to choke it out of me.  I am going to keep fighting. No matter how lost and alone I feel, I have never lost sight of how much I have to fight for.