Category: depression

Sitting on the Bench: Thoughts on Suicide Prevention

After one particularly hard day about a year ago I tucked the children into their beds, and then went to my room completely out of energy. I had nothing left to give to that day. I climbed into my bed at 8:30 and then my world collapsed around me. I began to think about how hard motherhood was, how I was inadequate in many ways and how sick I was of feeling as though life was so hard to deal with. I pulled my knees to my chest in the fetal position and began to sob. I prayed that God would just let me die. My mantra became ” I just want to die. I just want to die.” I thought, “If I just don’t wake up I could finally be at peace.”

My husband was at work and I sent him a heartbreaking message telling him how I couldn’t do it anymore, how hard my life was and how I just didn’t want to exist any more. He was shocked, I don’t think he quite knew how to respond. I imagine that many people do not know how to respond to a situation like that. It must be hard thinking you are trying your best to build a happy family life and yet your spouse simply wishes they didn’t have to live another day. Kyle assured me of his love for me, and reminded me that I can do hard things. He also encouraged me to go see a doctor and counselor, which was all I wanted, I had many days where I just though “I wish someone would take my hand and make a doctor appointment for me, and help me fix what I am unable to fix.”

I am not alone in these feelings, many people suffering from depression have thoughts of suicide on a regular basis, or at least think about the release of death. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just released a Mormon Message this week titled “Sitting on the Bench: Thoughts on Suicide Prevention.”

This is an honest film about suicide and I feel so grateful that depression is becoming an open subject.

Sitting on a Bench: Thoughts on Suicide Prevention

That week, a year ago, I got an appointment with my doctor, to begin antidepressants and scheduled an appointment with a therapist. It is miraculous for me to feel now, only one year later, that I am recovering from depression. I do have bad days, a similar episode happened only one month ago, so things aren’t perfect but I know there are people who love me and people who support me and rely on me and my life here is valuable.

My hope is that we may all try our best to be a little more compassionate, a little more understanding and little more free with our love and kindness towards others, because you may never know who needs your help.

* I do need to mention that my mother in-law was my angle through this whole time. She was there to tend for my kids when I simply could not do it. She was there for me to cry to when things were too hard. I will always feel supremely indebted to her for her efforts in helping my and my children make it through my toughest of times.

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Perspective

“Perspective [is] a luxury when your head [is] constantly buzzing with a swarm of demons.”
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

This quote is so true. I did not realize how little perspective I had until it was handed to me in a little blue pill.

Beginning an antidepressant has made the world of difference for me. The particular medication I am on did cause some drowsiness at first but that was my only side-effect.

I have gone from feeling overwhelmed by the mere idea of an outing with my two children to facing, the grocery store and the crowded farmers market and furniture auction all in one day, with two kids in tow.

I have gone from feel overwhelmed by the endless tasks of motherhood to playing with my children and belly laughing at least once a day from their silly tactics.

Just this week I was asked to give Kacen’s school teacher a list of concerns I had for him, if I would have been asked to submit this list two months ago it would have been filled to the brim with things that were difficult for me to handle with him. Yesterday I felt I was digging deep to find even a couple of concerns. Now, my kids aren’t perfect, but my perception of them has changed dramatically. And man, it feels so good to feel so much love, compassion, pride and pleasure in my children, their daily life and development.

My ability to cope with life has changed so dramatically. I have gone from a place where I was so easily provoked to anger and frustration, to a place where I have literally gone days without raising my voice to my children. Big improvement for me.

When you are so concerned with taking care of numero uno it is so hard to see the needs of anyone else, or the point of view of others. I just feel my mind has been elevated and it makes me rejoice.

I am not saying that I am a saint of mother or anything, but I have really made some huge improvements in how I am able to handle my children through the day, that is probably the number one thing I am most grateful to see an improvement in.

I still need to have a follow up with my doctor, I am not sure if this is the right medicine for me (still a little drowsiness), but I feel grateful that my first attempt at antidepressants has been positive, I know that is not the case for everyone.

I am quite a naturalist when it comes to medicine, the idea of bringing a mind-altering substance into my body has scared me for years. My doctor put it this way, “in your case the medicine is not a permanent thing, it is a tool you will use right now to get yourself better, just like a cast will give a broken bone time to heal, anti-depressants will give your mind time to heal, and can be used for as long as you need.”

In closing today, just a little note of gratitude for the caring, consideration and support of my family and friends, I feel truly blessed.

I will try to keep you all abreast of my encounter with depression. I feel that speaking about depression is something that has been faux pas for too long now and the more we can address an issue the better we are able to help ourselves and those around feel as happy and healthy as God in Heaven wants us to.

It’s Baaaaaack!

(this was written about a month ago, later this week you will get a follow up about my progress.)

You know that nasty gigantic bug I caught about 18 months ago, that big beast of a condition called depression? Remember how I thought I had beat this thing? How I was “really happy,” and “mentally healthy.”? Well, guess I was wrong.

Man, it just won’t go away. The crazy mood swings, the feelings of guilt, the weeping, difficulty concentrating, irritability, sadness, loss of appetite, gain of appetite, yeah it’s all there. But luckily I learned from all that jazz back here that when this happens I need to seek help.

I called up a therapist covered by insurance and got myself in right quick. And let me tell you, I love therapy. I recommend it for anyone who feels life is hard, haha. It is just relieving to decompress to someone who has tools to help you think about how you feel and will give you goals or guidelines to implement to achieve the mental health you want.

Generally speaking, depression can be treated by your family physician. And that is who I am working with for medication.

So there ya go, the cats out of the bag. I am still depressed.

This is personal but I want everyone to know that seeking help is not something to be ashamed of. It is a normal route for this ailment, just as seeking a doctor to help you with diabetes would be normal if you were suffering from that condition. And I want you to know the simple ways to start.

First, either call or get online and see what Behavior Health insurance benefits you have through your insurance. If you do not have insurance or do not have any BH benefits then google subsidized therapies, in my area there are some therapy agencies that offer cheap rated therapy for about the same price as a normal co-pay.

Second, make the appointment. Just take the first step towards mental health. It can be hard, sometimes almost feeling like an admission to being broken, but we are all broken in different ways. Not one person walking this green earth is perfect. There is no weakness in making yourself healthy and strong.

Third, follow up. Continue your course of treatment until advised by the professionals to change or alter your treatment.

I am not the perfect model for quick diagnosis and application of treatment. It has taken me a long time to come to the point where I have sought medical and therapeutic help. It felt like a resignation that being me wasn’t enough, that I couldn’t “work” this thing away with my own devices. But the small glimpses of perspective I have caught since I have started to press forward towards getting help have been wonderful.

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Crying Over Mowing

Andie and I meandered outside the other evening and saw my mother-in-law Valarie mowing the lawn. They bought this mower a couple of months ago and I have not really cared about it, I have had no desire to get outside and mow or to take a try on it just for the fun it. But that night I did, I thought,”Man I really want to learn to drive that thing, I can’t believe that I have let this experience pass me by.” Then I got all choked up, feeling excited over something as simple as learning to use the riding mower is such a foreign feeling to me lately that I felt so much happiness, hope and gratitude for the feelings of excitement, learning and hard work. Yup, I can sure be dorky sometimes but man I just wish I could just take you all into my body and feel the before and after, it is nuts.

Mowing the lawn with that thing is pretty fun and sort of relaxing. I feel super awesome adding a new skill to my repertoire.

Anyone else learned a new skill lately?

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It’s Like Waking Up


It’s like waking up.
For 20 months I have been living in this crazy fog, like legit crazy. Before the fog, I used to be that mom that was amazed at every little thing her kid did (have the pictures to prove it haha). I was freaking impressed with his character, behavior, and achievements, yeah he was only two. But man, I thought he was the coolest and cutest dude ever. I thought Ky and I were doing a bang job with him, and just knew he was going to be a perfect child. He was active, and happy, and just loved to be with us wherever we were. He slept great and signed words to us, legit communication. When we were with friends he was just cute and reserved, though energetic, but he would share and not cry or carry on if kids took his toys, once again yeah I get it, he was two. But man just my mental and emotional state towards him was so…..so….. well, healthy. 
Who couldn’t just love this to pieces?
Then a couple of things happened. Things that aren’t excuses but they did change me. We were having a lot of disappointments in our life, especially with my husband’s work efforts. Our supposed six month stay with the in-laws was turning into a two year stay. For new parents, new college graduates who were ready to get running with this whole “life” thang, our life was actually starting to feel sort of bleak. And to add to that we were both feeling very impressed that it was time to start trying for another child. I am blessed, I know I am, but I pretty much have a one hit wonder record with conception. Think the word pregnant and I am. But at the time another baby just seemed like another burden to bear. And man the first bit of pregnancy is not good to me.
I went from being the mom who loved playing toys with Kace, singing songs and reading little books to the mom who was passed out for most of the day while he watched tv. So much TV! 
Things carried on like this for my entire pregnancy. All the while Kyle and I were emotionally haggard through what we viewed the great disappointment in life, not getting a job right out of college in your line of work and living the dream, on your own. (this is sort of too emotional to write, ya know, putting out there the deep inadequacies you feel). Luckily a bright star broke through, after a rough bought Ky finally decided to go back to school for nursing, this is so the right thing to be doing for us too by the way. He is a rock star!
Things were looking up, hope and optimism were brimming on our horizon. Then came the aftershock of birth.
I was so unprepared, so ill-equipped for this. It makes me weep thinking about how low I fell; how far removed I was from that sweet, innocent, pretty much perfect little boy. I was a mess. I was emotionally void, if not for anger and frustration. The mom who used to think her kid was amazing became annoyed with his pleas for help and companionship. I could see his retrogression, the tantrums increased, the communication decreased. That is what breaks my heart. He is such a smart kid, like so smart. But my disconnect did something to him, something that is taking a really long time to “fix.” (I knew this would be hard to write). No one wants to feel like they broke their kid, but I pretty much do feel that way.
I know some people who were close to me could see the struggle, haha denial. I am sure a lot of people could. I am so blessed to have many angles in my life, people who care, who are friendly, and supportive. What seemed like such a depressing thing, to live your parents with two kids, turned out to be my saving grace. My mother-in-law helped me so much with the kids it is crazy.
Emotionally I knew the things going on inside of me weren’t really me, I knew the thoughts I was having and emotions I was feeling weren’t Heather. Or the Heather I wanted to be anyway, the Heather I was before. But I felt hopeless to change it. After multiple unhealthy thoughts I knew I needed to get help. I was so afraid of the effects of anti-depressants while nursing because from what I could tell much is unknown on the subject. And I value breastfeeding so much for the nutritional and emotional benefits that I didn’t want to give that up. My doctor felt that Andie and I would both be ok if I took anti-depressants while breastfeeding so I started to work my way onto Zoloft. But I was still so afraid of the unknown that I stopped. And maybe it was just knowing that if I was turning my back on this treatment then I needed to step it up hard core and work my way back to emotional healthfulness, but something changed. From that week on I could feel the old me breaking its way through. I know the chemical imbalances weren’t fixed from a couple of days on an anti-depressant, but I think that I gave myself some mental ultimatums that I could not let those thoughts in.
Things weren’t easy. It wasn’t an overnight fix. The woman who started this blog two months ago was still very much affected. By the way, I am not advocating not seeking help or using anti-depressants. In hind sight, actually now seeing how bad I was I wish I would have just did what was best for me and stayed on the medication and bottle fed. Just to reiterate I do not necessarily think my actions were the most healthy or correct approach to all this, but it is what I did.
Anyway it is now 10 months after I had our beautiful baby girl. And finally like in the past couple of weeks I feel like me. I feel whole. I feel happy. I feel completely invested and pleased with my children, not because they have changed dramatically but because my outlook on them, who they are, their behavior, and my relationship to them has changed. It is seriously like waking up. I feel like I have been lost, gone, checked out, asleep, for months, MONTHS, and finally I am back. Life is so good.
I can finally enjoy days with as much happiness and energy as these two. And love moments like this.

I know many of you don’t share my faith, but I do believe in a power from God. I know it is manifest through the priesthood handed down to worthy men, and I praise my Father in Heaven that my husband is counted among one of these men. And through the power of the priesthood I am able to be made whole. Yes, I believe in religious healing, actual physical healing, but that isn’t exactly what happened to me. Depression is real, it is chemically an imbalance in my body, I don’t think God stepped in and changed that for ME, but I do know that mentally my ability to cope with life has changed. I know that I have received power from heaven to rise above the dark hole I was swimming in. Sorry if this hard to follow, it is a really hard concept/emotion/state of being, to explain.
The way I feel now is so different, I feel so happy and alive. And most importantly the way I view my children is so beautiful. I sit and look at them and feel that feeling of love I had the first moment I held them. That awe at the miracle they are, the hope they embody, their joys are my joys, their learning is my learning, their pain is my pain. Finally being back and being a part of it all breaks my heart for what I missed but I the gratitude I have for how I feel now is so immense. 
Please, I feel like it can’t be said enough, post-partum depression is real. There are real chemical imbalances that cause women to feel depressed after pregnancy. I know God has the power to heal us, but often he does not. We have trials for a reason, to grow and to learn. I believe we have to help ourselves and part of that in our modern day is the ability to use modern medicine and therapies. There is medical help out there and there is no shame in using it. Sometimes you can’t pray a sickness away. And I know I am lucky, I only had a brief encounter with depression, it was only a burden I had to bear for ten months, I am by no means the authority on this and don’t claim to be. All that I understand is my situation and I do not mean to project my feelings or what I felt helped me overcome this trial onto anyone else who is suffering from depression of any form.    

Give Yourself a Break

Oh man I was a blubbering baby in church last week. Sometimes I have a habit of being rough on myself. Oh yeah you too? Seriously this mommy thing is tough and I sometimes think “I am such a crapy parent!” For instance, after speech therapy when I am trying my best not to bawl because the therapist is handing me lists of things my kid needs to work on and I can not for the life of me figure out how I didn’t teach my child to answer simple questions like “What is it?” without repeating “What is it?” Weird right? Of course I know it isn’t all just me and my parenting and it is partially just Kacey-roo and who he is. Or when I loose my temper too easily because Kacen is just screaming and screaming. But anyway yeah sometimes I am pretty tough on myself and doubt my skillz.

So back to church a woman mentioned that when difficult situations happen with her children and she is not quite sure what the answer is she reminds herself that God has sent these children to her for a purpose, they are supposed to be hers and she doesn’t need to worry too much but trust more in that knowledge.

Then we read the following quote:

So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all. Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving.

-Jeffery R. Holland

 And here is how I heard it

So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as Kacen’s. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work of being as a mama. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness of motherhood is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all. Those finite vessels include me, so be patient and kind and forgiving. To yourself and your skill-z and to Kacen and his frailty and fits.

Yeah it was just what I needed to hear.

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Giving Up

Two years ago I was in a sort of dark place emotionally. My poor, wonderful, amazing mother got an interesting Mother’s Day card that year with this original poem in it. I say my “poor” mother because it was somewhat more of a self reflection than an outward observance, but some of the points I did think about her too. Anyway, like I said it was a little bit of a dark place for me, but I guess they say that some artist do their best work depressed.

So happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. And to all you mother figures out there, a valiant woman’s influence is invaluable to whatever degree you interact with children and shape their lives.

I love being a mother  and have sure grown over the years with this responsibility and truly feel blessed to have my children’s love in my life. And I am so grateful for all of the wonderful women in my life who have served as the best role models I could hope for, my mother Peggy, my Grandma’s, Patty and Nola, my two wonderful sisters, Micah and K’Leena, my aunts, youth leaders, teachers and friends.

 

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A Bad Day, a Lesson Remembered

When Jonah was called of God to cry repentance to the city of Nineveh he did not stoically respond and willingly journey 500 miles East, through a land infested with blood hungry Assyrians, to what he knew he ought to. No. Instead he boarded a boat to run 2,000 miles in the opposite direction. Sometimes as a mom I sure don’t feel like doing what I know I ought to. Sometimes I just wanna run away. Last week I had one of those moments

9:00 a.m.

I was loaded with both kids in the car heading towards a play date. Why couldn’t Kacen just get over this fixation for a stupid pancake and stop freaking out?

My day actually started much earlier than this, it started at 2:00 a.m. with Andie waking up, and because I was so uncomfortable from her not eating her evening meal I nursed her, totally off schedule. She then woke again at 5:00 a.m. and would not fall asleep not matter how much rocking, soothing or singing I did. So…..I fed her. Again. Hoping she would be pacified and go back to sleep. Nope, not a chance. We rocked for about 30 minutes then I had to get the most rest I could sitting in the rocker. Finally at 7:00 a.m. I threw in the towel and just went to my bed. As soon as we laid down she shot up with a smile on her face ready to start the day. I groaned and wanted to go back to sleep.

We had a really fun day planned, a play date with friends, a trip to the library and of course outside time. However, as soon as I was gathering things up to head out of the house Kacen became insistent that he needed a pancake. Really? We had just eaten breakfast plus I was going to stop and get pastries for a snack for our play date. Bottom line I was not about to whip up a pancake like some short order chef. Instead of trying to find some compromise or trying to gently explain to him the situation I scooped him up and dragged him to the car.

Then the screaming began. I go nuts on limited sleep, poor Kace. The screaming was starting to make me twitch, I really was going to loose it. Whoops yep just lost it. Like some psychopath had taken over I was screaming just like Kacen in a stupid twisted attempt to prove how unbearable it was. He didn’t care. So then being real mature I pulled the car over took him out of his seat and told him, “Then walk home and go cook a pancake.” (Haha those of you who know me are totally judging right now, that’s ‘aight, it is the truth, sometimes I do stupid things like this). But man, he was so sad, the poor thing. He turned around and just walked into my legs sobbing. I picked up my little man and just hugged him there in the road. Things were made up for and he got back in his seat.

Ahh here comes the screaming again. I had to stand outside of the car and through the window explain to Kacen that I could not get back in that car if he was screaming. He quieted down for a bit and things went relatively well that morning…until nap time.

In my sleep deprived state I just needed both kids to take their scheduled naps. A mountain of dishes was ready to be climbed and aching feet were looking for rest. Kacen, on the other hand, had other plans, toys were colliding, he was screaming and I, being the genius I am, forgot to turn off the monitor receiver in our room connecting to his room so little miss Andie fast asleep got rudely awakened by his playing. Really, this time I was going to loose it. After reprimanding Kace with stern talking too, much finger pointing and lots of “No screaming Kacen, no no no,” I rocked Andie back to sleep. Begrudgingly I made it mostly through the dishes, leaving three baking sheets to wait until tomorrow, finally I laid on the couch ready pass out.

But little Kacer-roo just kept screaming! Kyle finally got home and I was a basket case, I picked up my keys and left.

Yeah just like Jonah I ran far away from the task at hand and what really needed my help.

But I didn’t make it further than the car in the driveway because as soon as I sat down I just opened the windows set back the seat and fell asleep. The sort of wonderful sleep where you feel like real life doesn’t even exist, like you can just sleep all day long without a worry. I think I finally stumbled back into the house around 6:00 p.m.

Wearily dinner was made, the family fed and children readied for bed. The usual bedtime routine went well and I figured both kids were down for the night.

10:37 p.m.
Ky was sleeping on the couch, I was blogging, of course, and Kacen was up in his room screaming :) Apparently someone did finally take a nap and was allowed to sleep until 5:45 p.m. What a train wreck of a day. But the beautiful thing about a day is that it ends, and tomorrow is always a new one.
Days like this aren’t all for naught if you take the opportunity to learn from it. Unlike Jonah I don’t ever sit at the end of the day wishing that I had died rather than help my kids, so that is good. Even in the mist of the whole debacle I took time to reflect, with the help my loving sister, and decided that my reactions to Kacen’s fits weren’t working so time to change. Upon reflection, if I would have simply got on knees and gave Kace a hug before heading out the door, telling him, “Mommy can’t make a pancake right now, but how about we grab you a cracker and go play with friends?” it may have all turned out a little different. Maybe. And luckily bad days come and go and most of my days end pretty darn good with these two kiddos.
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The Business of Being a Mom

In a search for mental stability after the birth of my daughter I went to a self help group, that teaches coping skills for everyday life. The model of the group is that you have different “spots” you say to yourself when you feel stress, anxiety, depression, addictive tendencies or anger coming on. One spot I heard frequently during the one hour meeting  was “Treat mental health as a business and not as a game.” Great advice really. But I thought it related well to being a mom.

Treat being a mom as a business not as a game.

It is tough work being a mom. It is even tougher if you decide to invest in your children. Letting your children watch hours of tv a day, eat whatever they want, do what they want when they want is much “easier” than order, reason, coming to understand each child and their needs and why they do what they do. Been there done that. I often gave into Kacen’s behavior with the excuse that he is simply a difficult child but I was not putting forth much effort to help him. It took this meeting a month ago to make me really want to change.

So obviously I am no pro at it but I have seen marked changes in my children and myself as I have tried to truly find what works best for our family. And man it is hard, it is like going back to school again, but this time in being a mom. I will be posting reviews of some of my favorite books that I have read on the subject. Of course there is, oh my, just too much information out there on the subject of parenting. And I believe that all parenting material is like a good menu where you thoughtfully pick and choose what will work best for your family. If you don’t want to wait for the reviews here are the books I am currently reading, and yes I do read them simultaneously some days I need to hear this and other days that.

  We are capable to think for ourselves and come up with answers to parenting questions, but sometimes it is wonderful to get some help from people have a deeper understanding of childhood behavior, communication and emotions.

On Communication
 On lifestyle
 On Sleeping and Eating
Book One
 Book Two
 

Update

* I just want to clear up any possible misconceptions about what I have written and what this “quest” if you will, is all about. I am a happy person and I am really happy with my life. I do know I am a pretty good person and a pretty good mom but there is always room for improvement and change. And just because I am generally satisfied with my life, every aspect of my life and every day lived in my life isn’t puppies and rainbows. Being a mother is important and I am grateful for the opportunity I have to be a part of my children’s lives. This quest to “find myself” is not about some downer pity party about me not having enough “time, money, mental capacity, etc” to partake in my own hobbies; it is about my change and growth and finding what really makes me happy in all facets of our life, emotional, social, physical, tactile and cultural. And I want to find the best way to integrate who I am into our family, to show my children the value of motherhood and individuality within a family. 

Anyway thanks everyone for reading! And thank you for all of the wonderful comments. I love to hear from you. I just don’t want anyone to worry that you need to talk me off of any ledges or anything, I am ‘aight. But your loving encouraging comments are always welcome.