Saturday, July 23, 2016

To The Friend I Lost....

Dear Friend that I lost, not by choice but by circumstance, I still think of you every day.  Some say that people come into your life only for a season, but I never thought that would be true of us.  We were such good friends, and we went through so much together, but then things changed, and I changed...and maybe we just didn't understand each other anymore.  Knowing that doesn't make me miss you any less.

We were single girls together for so long, we talked on the phone for hours, hung out on the weekends...we even went to movies on opening night.  Then something began to happen to us.  I met this guy...I fell for him hard and fast, and less than two years after I met him...we were married.  That was the first adjustment in our friendship, me spending time with my single friends while being part of a couple.  You were there for me through that, you were in my wedding.  We had fun.  My husband and I were working a lot, but we still managed to find some time to spend together.  Then the first major blow hit me, when I lost my first baby.  That was so devastating to me, it changed me on an epic level, to this day I am not even sure if I realize how much.  I lost friends during the time that I was just trying to cope with the fall out of my grief.  I realize in retrospect that no one can truly understand that kind of a loss if they haven't been through it themselves.  You were there for me in that time though, even if you didn't understand, I knew that you loved me.

Then I finally did become a mom.  That is when I truly started to see how different married life is from single life, and how vastly different parenthood makes it.  Little people change things.  I know you loved my baby girl.  You liked to come and visit her.  We had fun.  But then Matthew came along and I was overwhelmed with the demands of dealing with a two year old and a newborn, of trying to potty train my stubborn girl, just trying to survive.  And I know between when Anne came and when Matthew came I was slowly starting to drift from you.   I know that there were times that you needed me and I wasn't able to be there for you like I should have been.  This was not only true for you but for other friends as well.  I am sorry for that.  I know that you started to feel like I abandoned you.  Maybe you didn't know it at first, but in the end....

When the depression hit, when it really stepped in and took over, I almost lost myself completely.  Even now, FIVE years later, I still don't feel like I have gotten myself back all the way.  There are pieces of who I used to be floating out there in the universe somewhere.  For awhile my world shrunk into this little tiny place.  I still have to retreat there sometimes.  I go there to survive, and there I do just what I have to do to get by, until I am strong enough to fight again.  When the depression was at its worst, and we fell away from each other, I don't think I even realized fully what had happened, what I had done to you.    I don't know if I could ever really explain to you where I was at that time, how deep in the hole of rage and sadness and overwhelming emotion I was.  I could only focus on my kids, my husband.  They were all that there was for a while, and with help I was able to focus on myself too.  I did build myself up and pull myself out of that place that I was in, but by then it was too late.  I had hurt you too much and you were gone.  Ironically, around the time of our final encounter, I was just on the cusp of finding my way back to my life.  Maybe if I had come back sooner I could have salvaged what was broken....but I will never know.

Now my life is different.  The depression isn't gone.  I still really, really struggle with it sometimes.  I sill have to fight.  There are times I still have to retreat into my tiny place.  But when I can be myself, and the cloud doesn't pull me down, my life is really good.  I have an awesome husband, two amazing kids, and I have my extended family, my church family and more close friends than I have ever had in my life.  Things can still be hard, I am still figuring some things out, still learning how to live with my depression, but I know the good that I have in my life.  I do miss you though.

I miss having you in my life.  It has been years since I have seen you, but do you know that there are times when I see something or hear something and my first impulse is to tell you about it?  And then there are my kids.  Anne is 7 now, Matthew will be 5 in a few weeks.  Some of their favorite books are ones that you  chose for them.  Recently they got into the Spy Kids movies.  Remember how those used to be our guilty pleasure...we saw them all in the theater?  My kids watch them over and over, and it makes me think of you.  My greatest victory over the last couple of months is that I have gotten them obsessed with Star Wars.  We have been watching all the movies and they love them.  We have lightsaber battles in the living room.  I can't wait to take them to Disney, for all the cool Disney stuff, but also to see all the cool Star Wars stuff they have there now.  I won't be able to go there without thinking of you either though. 

You would really love my kids.  It makes me sad that you aren't a part of their lives.  Anne has the most amazing imagination.  She can read now too.  She loves books about mermaids and fairies the most, but I will find her some Star Wars books on her level soon.  She is an artist.  I am blown away by the stuff that she draws.  You guys would have fun creating things together.  She is also very spunky.  She keeps me on my toes.  She has this amazing pure joy for life though, it flows out of her.  That joy of hers pulls me through the hard times.  She is a really special girl.  I wish you could know her.

Then there is my boy.  He has this seriousness about him, but it is really just because he is taking everything in around him.  That is how he learns, he watches and then he does.  It is fascinating to watch.  He loves to build stuff, mostly with his Legos, but he is really imaginative and mechanical with the stuff he comes up with.    And he is so sweet and compassionate and gentle.  He has a very giving soul. His first impulse is to share with someone else instead of keeping for himself.  He also has this adorable goofy side that makes me laugh every day.  I am sorry that you never got the chance to know him, that he never had the chance to make you laugh and to show you his dimpled smile.

I know the circumstances of our lives changed us.  They took us from the place where we used to be, where we were good friends, and put us someplace else.  We hurt each other.  I can't blame that totally on my depression, I know that I made mistakes.  I am sorry for that.  My memories of you will always be fond ones.  We had an amazing young adulthood together, full of many, many adventures, many good times, many laughs....and we also got each other through many hard times.  We were good and true friends for awhile, and I will always be grateful for the time we had together.  I don't think that I will ever stop missing you, I know I will never stop loving you.  Where ever you are, I hope that your life is full of joy, full of close friends and family.  I hope that you are happy, I hope that you feel loved.  You are never far from my thoughts, and always in my heart.

Friday, July 1, 2016

On the Giving Up....

It has been a long six months since my last post.  My life has been the typical roller coaster that life brings, with the added kinks that battling depression brings to it.  Going back on my medication has helped.  It brought my anxiety under control very quickly.  It has helped with the depression.  I feel like it hasn't helped as much as it did before I went off it.  But...that choice was made and I can't go back and make it differently now.

So many things have happened in the last six months.  We took an amazing family vacation to the Caribbean, and were blessed to be able to share that with friends.  It was a great week.  We were totally unplugged and totally in the moment together.  It was hard to come back to reality after that.  Being away from everything felt so good, it was so freeing.  I wish I could feel so carefree every day.

We went on our vacation the last week of April, and then May and June passed by in the blink of an eye.  My kids are growing so super fast!  My Anne lost her first tooth, finished First Grade, TURNED SEVEN, and had her very first dance recital. This picture was from right before she went on stage.  She was SO nervous to be in front of all of those people.  When she was done I asked her how it was.  She told me she loved it.  "Who wouldn't like being up on the stage like that Mom?" she said to me. Well, I wouldn't!  I love the pluck this girl has.  She faces her fears with courage and grace and always finishes smiling. 
She has her own ups and downs though and we are working on that.  She feels emotions so deeply and often acts on what she feels before she thinks things through.  It is hard at the age of seven to recognize that point in yourself when you lose control of your behavior to your emotions.  I struggle with that sometimes myself.  She is destined for greatness though, my girl is, she is always full of surprises.  She got an award at the end of the school year for Kindness, and honestly no grade she could receive would could make me prouder than that.  Kind and Brave is what we are going for and she is well on her way.

Then there is my little guy, my Matthew.  In the past two months he has finished preschool, had his kindergarten orientation, fallen totally in love with Star Wars, and scratched his cornea in a scary accident.  Thankfully that healed quickly within a couple of days, but that is not an experience he or I will easily forget.  It was so hard to say good-bye to our pre-school.  Anne went there for two years and then Matthew started after she finished and did two years as well.  It was a part of our daily lives for four years and just like that it was over, and my baby is ready for kindergarten.  Wow!  This picture is of him walking out of the pre-school for the last time.  I cried.
All of this kids growing too fast and too many things changing has been very overwhelming for me.  I feel like I am losing my babies.  I know I still have lots of time with them, but I also know that time will fly by!  My snuggly, baby boy is going to Kindergarten and our afternoon snuggles before school pick up time have come to an end.  I already miss him and school doesn't start for two more months!

What is most overwhelming is the change in my Mom status.  I have been at home on full press kid duty for seven years, with both kids in school full time, this role will change significantly.  I know they will still need me and they will still be my priority.  I will be there to take them to activities, make sure they do their homework, make their lunches, and be there for any illness or injury.  I just don't know how to handle my time anymore.  If I think too much about what I want to, or should do with my time after school starts I have to stop thinking about it, because I don't know how to proceed.

This is the part where I have given up.   This depression and other life events have brought me through so many ups and downs and stops and starts I feel like I have given up on progressing forward.  Now don't get me wrong, I have generally and slowly moved forward over the last five years.  Things are very different now than they were in the beginning.  I just feel like real change is something that is not going to happen.  My view of how I should spend my days and how I actually do spend my days are very, very different.  I am not a perfectionist or an idealist.  I don't imagine some utopian lifestyle that is impossible to attain.  I just can't set and accomplish goals for myself for the simplest of things.  I can't make it to the gym on a regular basis.  I stopped going last fall when Anne got really sick with strep for a week and I pretty much never went back.  I never actually enjoyed going....it was much more soothing for me to spend my alone time getting things done and prepping for the holidays.   The longer I stayed away the easier it became to not return.  Now when I think about it I kick myself for wasting the money, because I haven't cancelled my membership, because I have to actually go to the gym to make any changes in my membership.  That is a more extreme example.  I have also failed miserably even at the smallest of goals I have set for myself, such as reading for a little while each day or getting in my devotional time every day.  I just feel like I keep failing over and over again so I just stopped trying.  It is easier for my life to stay in my comfortable little ruts, doing the same stuff every day.  I actually feel better when I have busier days and I do different things, but those quickly become overwhelming and I feel like I need a "rest" day and then before I know it, back in the comfortable ruts. 

I have given up on the fight to some extent.  When the depression comes on and it gets bad, I don't really have the will to fight it any more.  Thankfully the bad days do pass eventually.  Sometimes it is one day, but it has lasted up to a full week.  I can manage to a point, but I also have a breaking point where I fall apart completely.  I was that way for a couple of days in June and then it passed.  I am back to my status quo now, one day at a time.  Sometimes I get myself out there, some days I spend most of the time on my couch.  I am constantly fighting fatigue and my allergies and sometimes headaches too.   So I just wonder, will my life every actually change?  Will I get stronger?  Will I be able to reach some of my smaller goals, and someday maybe some of the bigger ones?  What am I actually going to do with myself come September?  Will I get myself more involved with things or will I just dig those ruts deeper?  Is there some hope for me?  A better way to fight it all?  I know there is very little to nothing anyone else can do for me at this point, I just wonder what I am actually capable of doing for myself.  I know there are things I do right every day, and my kids are doing well and growing in kindness and love, if I fail at everything else, maybe I can accomplish the one thing that matters most.  I just know that I need to do more and I fear that I can't.  Right now that is just where I am, and I don't know if there is much I can do about it.  Sometimes just putting it out there helps, in writing, floating in the universe...I don't know.  I know that I can push past it, I can fight it, I do win sometimes, but then it always sneaks back in and I lose again.  That is what makes it the hardest, at this point in the game I feel like the depression is never going to go away, it will always be a part of me.  Accepting that fact has made me feel like it has won.  Why should I keep fighting it back if it is never actually going to leave?  It's not like this is some movie or fairy tale with a happy ending.  This is real life and there is no miracle cure for this disease.  The stuff that helps doesn't make it go away, so what level of fighting is actually worthwhile?  What will actually be enough for me to move forward enough to make small changes here and there?  Is there an answer to that, or do I just give in and live life the way it is? 

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.