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.
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.
I hear a form of it often. It came from my husband’s peers and teachers at school, it comes from people at church, it comes from my husbands employees, it comes from online articles and bloggers. It comes from both men and women, from fellow stay at home moms, from mothers who work full time, from women without kids.
I hear it everywhere. Sometimes it comes as:
“That is so amazing that you stay home with your kids. That’s crazy admirable, I don’t know how you do it. I wouldn’t be able to.” or “This is the most important job in the world. Thank you for being a stay at home mom.” or “This is the hardest job in the world, with no thank you’s and no breaks. But OH! It is SO worth it!” … to name a few.
And every single time I CRINGE.
Maybe you are wondering why I would cringe with such wonderful compliments coming my way. I cringe because for the most part they don’t feel like compliments, they feel like statements soaked with pity and a tone of “I’ll give you this boost because you obviously wouldn’t be doing this job if you didn’t feel like you had to.”
So I cringe but I smile and try to brush it off and I’m cordial. But really, what I want to say is,
“Thank you, but please know that I don’t stay at home because I feel like I have to. I don’t stay home because I feel like it’s my higher calling, that I’m doing my kids a favor, that it’s more important than anything else I could be doing. I don’t stay home because someone else told me I should. I don’t stay home because I feel like I’m not qualified to do anything else or that I’m not good at anything else.
I am not sacrificing my time, my personal fulfillment, my education, my career, my happiness, or my life to be a Stay at Home Mother.
Being a stay at home mother doesn’t define me, it doesn’t consume my existence. I do get out, I do have friends, I do have a life outside of this just like you have a life outside of work, and fatherhood/motherhood etc.
I stay at home because I want to, because I am damn good at it, damn proud of it, and am fulfilled and uplifted by it. I am a stay at home mom because I LOVE it. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be doing it.
So, thank you for the compliment, it came with good intentions and heart but really…it isn’t needed.
Now, if you’d like to rephrase and tell me just how amazing I am at being a stay at home mom, I’ll take it … because I am… like REALLY good.”
I spoke in my church services a few weeks and while I don’t often (ever) share thoughts of a spiritual nature here I feel inclined to share the experience and words I spoke over the pulpit. There are many questions I have within my faith, and there are many cultural aspects of it I don’t agree with and am I eagerly and sometimes impatiently waiting to change (and they will.) But this I know completely,
Christ lives and he loves us.
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for more than half of my life now. There was a time while attending college when my mental health was at its worst. The issue escalated because I was not taking care of myself; I was making poor and detrimental decisions regarding my education, my relationships, my finances, and my spirituality. It got so bad one semester that I completely fell apart, I was barely functioning. I don’t really recall what was said one night in a phone conversation with my Mother but it was alarming enough to her that she said, “Get dressed. Pack a bag. You brother will be there in an hour to get you. You are coming home.” As a started to get ready I was overcome with the fear of going home. I don’t feel like I’m alone in wanting to impress my parents, to have them feel proud of me, to feel accepted and loved by them and to fear their discipline and judgment when I’ve done wrong. While I so badly wanted to go home and be in the comfort of my mother’s arms, I was too scared too face her and my Dad. For the hour I waited for my brother, David I sat and thought of what I could say to him to let me stay at school and not go home.
He showed up around midnight. As soon as he walked into the door my fear left and my heart and mind felt as if they had a place to rest. I didn’t put up a fight and we got in the car to start the hour drive. David and I had always been really close but in those previous months our lives had become drastically different and thus our relationship had shifted from close to uneasy. We spent most of the ride in quiet until the last 5 mins or so when he started up. “Sharon, what is going on?” he asked. “I don’t know. I don’t know.” I replied. “Sharon, I love you. We love you. All we want is for you to get better and for you to be happy. Come home. Let us help you. Let me help you.”
This experience with my brother has, since then been a monumental moment in my life. It changed me. It made me feel, to the depth of my heart that I was loved, that no amount of sin or rejection could lessen the love that my brother and family had for me or could keep them from ever wanting me to come home.
Maybe you have already drawn a correlation between this story and possible feelings I have for Jesus Christ. I actually didn’t realize it until this week as I prepared this. For those of you that didn’t get it, don’t feel bad I didn’t get it for 10 years. I’ll recap, point out the parallels between my experience and our savior as well as the conclusions those bring me to as to why he is important to me.
Parallel one: I was struggling and making poor decisions.
While not to the depth I felt in college, this is a constant in my life. I am continually stumbling and often making selfish decisions, even when it feels I am putting forth me best effort.
Parallel two: My mother sent her only son to come and get me.
1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Parallel three: My brother’s presence gave my heart and mind a place to rest.
This brings me to my first reason why Jesus Christ is important in my life, and that is, He gives me rest. Whether it is from trial, sin, sorrow, or just everyday life, I often need a resting place, and that resting place is more often than not in my Lord and savior.
Mathew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Parallel four: I was scared to go home, fearing my mother and father’s disappointment and discipline.
There are times when I don’t feel I can approach my Heavenly Father because of sin, shame, or sorrow. I felt that with my parents going home. It was a brother who sat with me in that car and didn’t scorn, didn’t discipline, didn’t rebuke, and didn’t judge. It was a brother who brought me to understand the love my parents had for me.
Jesus Christ is important in my life because he stands with me and is my advocate.
It is Jesus Christ who doesn’t scorn, doesn’t discipline, and doesn’t judge. It is Christ that brings me to understand the love that my father and mother in heaven have for me. When I often do not want to face my father, it is Christ that convinces me to my knees.
D&C 45 3-5 Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him. Saying: Father behold the sufferings and death of him who did not sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.
Parallel five: My brother, David loves me.
Jesus Christ is important to me because he loves me.
“In the many trials of life, when we feel abandoned and when sorrow, sin, disappointment, failure, and weakness make us less than we should ever be, there can come the healing salve of the unreserved love in the grace of God. It is a love that forgives and forgets, a love that lifts and blesses. It is a love that sustains a new beginning on a higher level and thereby continues “from grace to grace.”” James E. Faust 1976 Conference
I didn’t understand why my brother’s few words impacted my heart so much for a long time but I understand now. It is because it was the love of Jesus Christ that I felt through the love of David’s words. Jesus Christ loves me completely and utterly and unconditionally. It is his love that sunk deep into my chest, it is his love that brought me home, it is his love that made me realize the love my family had for me. I’m so grateful to have a little brother who emulates my elder brother in so many ways and because of that can teach me of the love Christ has for me. Jesus Christ wants me, and you to know and feel that we are loved by him, our heavenly parents, and family in heaven, and that no amount of sin or rejection could lessen the love they have for us. Nothing could keep them from ever wanting us to come home.
In those weeks, months, and years following that ride home with my brother I changed. It wasn’t instantly nor was it anything close to easy. I had the support and love of my family, a wonderful therapist, and helpful medications that assisted me through the long and painful process to happiness. But those things, as essential and helpful as they were are not what changed me, it’s not what healed my gaping wounds.
No one, not my family, not my therapist, not my little brother could do that. I changed, I am the person I am today, I at times forget that sorrowful and dark engulfing time in my life for one reason and one person only. I have been healed by my Brother Jesus Christ. It is through his atonement that I am healed.
Jesus Christ is important in my life because he heals me.
Alma 7:11-13 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.
Jesus Christ is important in my life because when I have no where else to turn, he is there. When I am just too tired, he enables me to give a little more. When I am filled with sorrow, shame, or grief, he is standing by my side. When I feel as though it will never get better, that my heart is too broken, he is there to heal me.
When my faith is weak, when I get hung up on the unimportant, when I wonder if God is listening, when my testimony in in all other things is overrun with questions and/or doubt, it is my devote faith and knowledge in Jesus Christ that grounds me.
Jesus Christ lived, he died, and he lives again for me, for you, and for all of humanity. He loves each and every one of us individually and we are so very blessed with the ability to have a sincere and very real relationship with him, which is unique to each of us. In building that relationship, in discovering why Jesus Christ is important to you I have faith that your burdens will become lighter, your weaknesses will become strengths and you will have more joy in your heart and more peace in your mind.
I can hear Christ echoing my brother’s words so clearly at times. “Sharon, I love you. We love you. Let me help you. Come home.” He is saying the same to you, and all we have to do is go with him and he will take us to where we need to go.
Read more about Christ, the peace he brings, and my beliefs HERE.
I am currently losing it. She is in her bedroom sobbing. He is shuffling around eating far too many tic-tacs because it’s keeping him quiet and occupied. I’m managing the budget wondering how next month is going to pan out, while the living room is disgusting (not just a mess but disgusting), chicken needs to be cut and frozen before it goes bad, the clothes in the washer need to be washed for the 3rd time because I keep forgetting to put them in the dryer, and dinner needs to be started at some point.
So of course I turn to writing because I’m so overwhelmed with everything and a phone call complaining to my husband or mother helps no one at this point. I write because I know so many of you are thinking “I completely know how you feel” to every word I type.
This hour describes a somewhat typical occurrence in my home. Everything seems to hit me at once, I lose it, the kids lose it, but then we all get a break, the hour passes and I move onto the list of to dos, and the kids to giggling and toys. But right now is different, right now I am not just losing it the way I assume so many of us do time to time. Right now I’m also losing it because I realize I have completely lost myself.
I have lost myself to the dishes and the kids, the errands, the never ending laundry, the dinners, the messes, the “I needs”, the “I wants”, and of course the non stop touching and pulling. I have lost myself to my endeavor to be the perfect and unrealistic image of a mother so many of us are striving to be. This title of Mom has consumed me. But I am so much more than this title. I am not Mom.
I am love.
I am passion.
I am giving.
I am anxiety.
I am outgoing.
I am slightly eccentric.
I am down days.
I am up days.
I am love.
I am grief.
I am joy.
I am human.
I am a daughter of God.
I am not Mom, You are not Mom.
Mom isn’t a whole self and it also isn’t an image that we need to accept or succumb to. It is not a profile that can be achieved, compared, or lived up to. Why does it seem so many of us are often trying to be the same Mom? We are women who individually have hundreds of definitions, and that uniqueness shouldn’t be swallowed up by a single image and title.
A Mom is a female parent, that is it. Everything else we want our personal motherhood to be we get to decide. We get to decide based on our family, our kids, our financial circumstances, our strengths, our weaknesses, and what we WANT it to be. Every single one of our motherhoods are different. Isn’t that wonderful and freeing? … and I suddenly feel more found.
I am not Mom, you are not Mom. Yes, Mom takes up a significant part of our days, yes motherhood is a part of us and a part we love, cherish, and are so blessed to experience. But this title and image of Mom it is not how we live, how we act, how we feel, and it isn’t the single definition of ourselves. We are not Mom because we are not a title.