A background and the current situation.
I started going to counseling when I was 14. There were mean girls at school, home life was little rocky and I wasn’t coping well. At that point it was decided I was Bipolar but after further discussion it was brought to light that I had never had an obvious manic or hypo manic cycle so the Bipolar diagnoses was pulled. I was diagnosed with depression, continued counseling and started anti-depressants.
Years followed of diagnoses of OCD, depression, major depression, cyclothymia, and anxiety, as well as being prescribed a slew of medications.
Meds helped somewhat, sometimes. They would be wonderful and then loose their edge. Then I would go off of them. I’d be great for a while, sometimes the good would last a few months, other times a couple of years. Eventually the depression would start re-appearing and off to the doc, meds, and counseling I’d go. This is the cycle I’ve been on since 14 years old.
I’m blessed to have parents that recognized a problem, that sought help immediately, and that have always been supportive and loving. I’m also blessed to have an extended family that has always been very open about our mental health. It was talked about with laughter and ease and acceptance. While accepting mental health issues wasn’t easy my loving family made it far far easier. I love them. They are amazing.
Recently things have changed, again. Moving to Alaska 6 months ago, starting “real life”, having a toddler, and having a husband work crazy hours came with what was expected to be hard days and weeks. I found a great team of therapists and doctors as well as a new combination of medications that had me feeling the closest to normal I have ever EVER felt. I was happy, I was productive, I enjoyed my kids, and I felt fulfilled. It was incredible.
And then because it was suspected that I was having a possibly deadly reaction to the meds I was forced to, cold turkey go off all meds. And the depression came like a giant wave.
I’ve had lows before. I’ve had LOW lows, but this trumped them all. I wasn’t suicidal, my kids we were fine and completely safe. I knew I was loved, I knew there was people to help. But oh my… I don’t know if there is a way to describe it. I’ve tried HERE and HERE. Maybe those will give you some insight.
My loving and wonderful mother flew out last minute to help. We literally called her on a Sunday and she was here by Tuesday morning. That week I was able to start new medications and since then I have been ok. “ok”.
I’ve been to 2, 3, and 4 appointments to the therapists office a week since then. Appointments with the phycologist, the counselor, and the psychiatrist. We have just been trying to figure out what is going on, what has been going on for 15 years, and how to help me be healthy.
After hours of doing physiological testing we have all come to a new diagnoses which we feel lines up best with my history and current state. Unspecified Bipolar and ADHD. The “unspecified” refers to the fact that I had very obvious and consistent low cycles but my hypomanic cycles are uncharacteristic to what the DSM-5 lays out. (The DSM-5 is the American Psychiatric Associations’ official book of mental diagnoses.)
So this is where we currently are. I’m seeing a therapist/life coach once a week. I’ve started new meds and am on schedule to start another. I’m hopeful that these and the therapy will get me back to where I was in January, before stopping the other meds. While it’s a little sad to hear I’ve been misdiagnosed for 15 years and taking the wrong type of medications, I feel really good about the new diagnoses. It has been an answer to me for many many questions. Despite feeling for years like a diagnoses strips me of my individuality and sense of self I feel “Bipolar” and “ADHD” has actually added to it and given me more security in who I am. It feels good to have answers and as I’ve said I’m very hopeful that I’ll get what feels like “me” back soon.
Maybe you wonder why I write this all out, why I would divulge just personal information, especially on a topic that’s full of stereotype and shame. First I’ve said many times that I feel life experiences should be shared, that it’s one of the points of us being here on earth. Second, I grew up in a family that allowed for a safe space for talking about mental health, not everyone is afforded that blessing. I don’t mind being the person to share, to tell someone that it’s ok to get help, that you aren’t crazy, and that there are people who know what you are feeling. I don’t mind being that person and I feel somewhat of an obligation to be. Third, I need to hear all of that too.
So if you have questions please, feel free to ask. I’m an open book. Not all the pages are pleasant, not all are as pretty as I’d like them to be, but they are mine and I’m happy to share if you need them.
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Who knows how and why the demons come and go from the room in my brain.
They are cockroaches. They consume without hesitation, without empathy, without mercy. It is deafening as they infiltrate my mind. I clutch and frantically flail, grasping for the withering memories of happiness, laughter, peace, and hope. But my grasp weakens and the crumbs of my emotions are quickly consumed. I crouch in a corner, too numb to scream I tightly closing my eyes, hold my breath, and try to get used to the loud.
In an instant the noise settles and I slowly peak open one tightly closed eye. A light has been turned on and the creatures have scattered to their dark hiding spaces. As I inhale and open my other eye I notice the room is larger than I remember. The room is expansive… It’s huge, it’s overwhelming…. and It’s empty. Empty of stress, noise, grief, and dark… I feel relief.
Until I realize that the room is completely empty…of everything.
The cockroaches have scattered but have eaten all and have given nothing back. They have taken me. They have stolen me. I am not up, not down. Not happy, not sad.
And so I start, ever slowly and somewhat painfully to fill the room once again. Fill it with what I remember to be my happiness. Fill it with friends, with love, fill it with good food, and laughter. I fill it even though I more than often just want to sit in my empty because I know it will empty again. It will empty again I will start all over. And it takes time, it takes practice, it takes patience but I continue on with the empty and try. I fill it so I can wake up to my room and feel at ease, feel comfort, and peace. I feel it so I can feel like me. I fill it because even if it’s only for a little while there’s the hope to it feeling like home.
So it goes, a full room, the cockroaches, an empty room, and filling the room back up again. Again, again, and again. Because a cycle of depression takes away happiness, what feels like home, and what feels like me. It comes, it takes, and it leaves and it gives nothing back.
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Being a stay at home mother is hard.
And sometimes you don’t want to do it. Sometimes you need “me” time. Sometimes you are so tired of the “hold me’s” and the constant touching, and the breakfasts lunches and dinners, the never ending to do list, and the worrying. OH the worrying! Worrying you are doing enough, doing it right, and if they are getting any of it.
There are plenty of blog posts to tell you that you are “enough” that “motherhood is the HARDEST” that “it’s ok”, that “you will get though it”, “enjoy the small moments”, and that “It’s TOTALLY worth having the hardest job in the world.”
This is not one of those blog posts. This is a swift kick in the butt… which often we also need.
Being a Stay at Home Mother is NOT the hardest job in the world.
We have “go to park, museum, library, playgroup” on our to do lists. All of which we typically get to hangout with friends while our kids play. Our “clients” LOVE and adore us to death and we love them the same. We get to spend all day with them. And when we do have a bad day and don’t REALLY want be at work we get to stay in PJ’s all day long and distract our kids with all day TV and movie marathons, order in pizza, and be on FB for most of the day. We can even call a friend with a “PLEASE take my kids for a few hours today?” for a small break.
I’ve spent ALL day at the beach plenty of times and that was my day at work. I see a friend or at least chat on the phone with one at least once a day. My kids, while they can be rude and obnoxious, and yell and scream and even bite, give me kisses and “I’m sorry’s” and “I love yous” and they are without a doubt the best snugglers in the world. I know my husband’s employees and co-workers don’t come back with kisses and snuggles after they’ve yelled at him.
There are plenty more examples but those are just a few of some things that make my job much easier than most others.
So I’m calling it, being a stay at home mom isn’t the hardest job in the world. I’m putting my foot down to the common phrase. Can we PLEASE STOP SAYING IT? I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park, not even close, it’s hard in unique ways, it’s challenging, it’s the pits sometimes and it is hard, SO HARD. But can we just say that it’s hard without putting ourselves on a pedestal, without belittling others and saying that we are working harder than anyone else in the world?
Lets say that it is the hardest job in the world. Heck, maybe it is the hardest job you have ever done or it is YOUR hardest job in the world….SO WHAT? What favors is this phrase doing anyone? All it’s done for me is be a good excuse to complain and not do my job better… that’s it.
So let’s stop whining and complaining about how we have such a crazy schedule, that we don’t get days or nights off, that we don’t have enough time in the middle of the work day to watch our episode of Gilmore girls, or do our pinterest craft because little hands won’t stop messing it all up. I don’t want to hear from myself or anyone else anymore how you we don’t have enough time to do everything you WANT to do. We are at work for heavens sake. So let’s WORK.
This job is hard. But we can totally TOTALLY do it. We are awesome. YOU are awesome. You are a champion. Your kids LOVE you. And you are capable of learning and working hard and changing and jumping into this crazy job 100%. You don’t need the phrase that this is the “hardest job in the world” to feel better about yourself or to be an excuse to not be doing it better. This job doesn’t have to be the “hardest” to have it be important and fulfilling.
Our job is awesome. It really is. We get to do SO much that so many other people don’t get to do during their work day. Let’s focus on THAT. Because while our job isn’t the hardest in the world, it sure is one of the best.
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Taking a break from the down and dreary posts.
Painting it therapy for me so I’ve been doing a lot of it. Because of the push of some fabulous friends I’ve started selling the paintings as fabric over at spoonflower.com. I’ve already sold a few yards and have a few of my own in the mail as we speak that will be spring/summer matching skirts for Lou and I. It is so much fun to see these paintings on fabric. Love this little project of mine. It’s no stress and it’s so much fun.
Here are a few of my designs. Some are currently listed and others will be up next week.
Check out my spoonflower shop if you want any of these fabulous threads.
Which is your favorite and what would you make with it?
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This post is the start of a series I’ll be posting on mental health and my experience with depression and other mood disorders. I’m kind of terrified to publish it. It’s my darkest, my deepest, it’s my real. It’s scary to show people real, I mean, I’m always real but this is… this is ALL of the real. I’m writing these not for sympathy, attention, or even encouragement. I write because it’s therapeutic and because I feel like someone needs to write it … and I guess it’s going to be me. Someone needs to say “hey, this is ok. you aren’t crazy. you are going to be ok, someone else feels this too. you still matter, you are still you, you are still LOVED.” I write because I need someone to read this and say “me too.” I write because… that’s just what I do.
On paper I have the most light filled life.
A beautiful husband, son, and daughter.
A healthy body. A healthy family.
The ability to write, to paint, to read, to run, to laugh.
A body that fits into it’s 22 year old wedding dress.
A husband with a great job.
The choice I have to stay home.
A killer head of hair (thanks mom.)
Food. Good food.
A Mother and Father who love me.
ALASKA. How many people ever get to live in Alaska?
And you all see it. You all embrace this light filled existence and call it “Sharon”. And maybe some of you want it. Maybe some of you are jealous of it. Maybe some of you strive to have it all “just like she does.”
But you don’t see everything.
You don’t see the dark.
The days of staying in bed until far after my husband has left for work.
The marathons of movies for the kids.
The pile of dishes from yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that…
The weeks I go without getting out of pj’s.
The panic attacks.
The embarrassment of calling in “sick” to church callings, outings, favors.
The dread of morning.
The prayers for night.
The constant, CONSTANT heavy fog making even the sweetest light blurred and shaded.
It’s hard to explain depression. I understand why people who have never experienced it don’t understand it because even when I’m in the depths of it, even though I’ve been dealing with it for the majority of my life now, I don’t understand it.
I don’t understand it but I know how it feels.
Depression feels like finding yourself stuck in a rip tide, a dozen or so yards from shore with only a boogie board to cling to. Unable to touch and with loud suffocating waves crashing down on top of you, you kick and kick with an immense amount of force and urgency. It’s concern turning to panic and terror when you realize your efforts are getting you no where, you are alone, and your body is quickly getting sucked into the sea. Depression is understanding how people drown from pure exhaustion, how they finally just give up. It is screaming and screaming and SCREAMING for help while the waves continue to choke your lungs, while you watch beachcombers, families, and lovers mosey past, enjoying the sun and soothing sounding waves. It is wondering if you’ll drown while only a football throw away they sit and laugh and embrace each other, unable to see or hear your plight, watching as you seemingly paddle along enjoying the waves.
Depression is being surrounded by beauty, love, what might as well be the most amazing perfect place on earth, and being unable to focus on or appreciate any of it because all you are trying to do is just not drown.
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