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Tag Archives: Marriage

Diagnosis: Depression

Depression.  A scary word, even scarier is the loss of control that comes with it.

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I have suspected for a while now that I was suffering from depression.  Was I going to do anything about it?  Nope.  Absolutely not.  Admitting was enough.  Admitting meant that I could work on the problem privately.  The power of positive thinking is not to be undermined.  I thought I could literally will myself happy, after all, I was the one allowing myself to be so affected by things I couldn’t control.  My doctor thought otherwise.

Almost six years ago, I developed an extremely rare condition in which my white blood cells began to attack the covering of my muscles.  I was quite literally being eaten from the inside.  I was put on radiation treatment in hopes that my blood cells could be “tricked” into thinking normally again.  I was on the medication for several years and recovering well when I developed another rare condition.  This time the white blood cells are attacking my skin.  There is no treatment for this condition.  I simply have to wait it out and it will take 4-6 years before disappearing.  Since there is literally nothing to be done about it, I grew tired of travelling 3 hours to see a specialist only to have him hum and haw and marvel over the impossibility of someone having not one but two rare conditions and parading me past his medical students as a learning specimen.  I opted out of our twice yearly visits.  I didn’t want to shun all medical care however so I made an appointment to discuss my case with my local family doctor.  I had a multitude of questions besides just wanting him to keep track of the growing spots on my limbs.  Top of my list was the effects of the drugs I was required to take.  I have inconsistent memory and frequently can’t remember little things like why I’m in the grocery store or forget school events.  Another symptom that continues to plague me is comprehension.  Some days it feels like there is a block in my brain that refuses to allow the messages to pass no matter how hard I try.  I also have difficulty with concentration.  If more than one person is speaking at a time, I become overwhelmed and cannot focus on anything.  All of these I attributed to the drugs I had taken.  Basically, I felt they had destroyed a part of my life.

My doctor had other ideas.  He immediately refuted the drug idea.  They pass out of the body within months after you stop using them.  One concern was the description of a blockage in my brain though.  I have scar tissue built up on my arms and around my ankles restricting movement and he was concerned that some scaring had occurred on the brain as well.  He suggested an MRI.  I wasn’t thrilled, especially since he couldn’t guarantee any fix, simply an answer as to why.  He kept the conversation casual and listened closely to what I had to say and finally told me I tested positive for depression.  There is an 8 question test and I tested positive for 7 of them.  I was devastated.  My dad is bipolar and his condition makes life difficult for my mother.  I did not want my husband or kids to have to deal with me like that.  Up and down.  Unstable.  Out of control.  The doctor insisted he was giving me back the control.  That the pills would help me focus instead of anxiously chasing one frantic thought after another.  I have developed a pill phobia.  Having to take any medication is a major issue for me.  I was in tears.  I didn’t need them.  I was handling things my own way.  He gently coaxed me to give it a try.  He produced a trial box and told me to come back in two weeks.  If I decided I really didn’t want them, I could simply stop.  It was up to me.

It was the hardest decision I have made.  It took almost the full two weeks to accept that I really do need the pills.  They are making a difference and I am happier and calmer than I have been.  Admitting that I had lost control actually gave me back control.  I am glad I took the time to speak with my doctor.

 
 

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Address to the Critic

Let’s face it; if you’ve followed my blog at all then you now know I suffer from extreme insecurity.  Today it hit me square in the face.  I should have known it was coming.  I had

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tossed and turned half the night defending myself to mysterious figments.  The problem is I just don’t seem to measure up to anybody’s standards.

I’m not pretty enough.  Really.  I’m three years shy of 40 with grey hairs that refuse to be hidden any longer and now require regular trips to the hairdresser.  Sorry but the whole spring chick window has been closed for me.

I weigh too much.  Yep.  I know.  I just don’t have any desire to do anything about it at the moment.  Talk to me when my stress levels have dropped 4 or 5 notches.  Better yet, come help me eliminate my stress.  I can personally guarantee a drop in weight will follow.

Get a job.  This is a really tough one for me.  I battle just as much with myself as with others who say it.  The trouble is I live in a small town that has the mistaken idea that a part-time job means 2-3 full days per week.  No half days.  This makes it difficult for a mother with children to find work.  We don’t have the option of working only during school hours.  My children would have to walk to and from school, pouring rain, blowing snow, -30 in the winter, +30 in the spring and fall.  I just don’t have the heart to make them do it.  When it’s -30 in the winter with an icy breeze blowing, it cuts your breath off.  I can’t even walk to the end of my block with a scarf wrapped around my face.  Older women have told me it’s not worth it.  Now is the time to spend with my children, a time of precious memories.  This is where my dilemma comes in.  Do I follow the wisdom of the older generation or tread the trail of my time and add extra income?

Church.   This is a biggie.  Once again it carries so much of my own expectations of myself.  The only time we missed church when I was small was a blizzard or if both my parents were sick.  I feel so much pressure to set the same model for my kids but life is more complicated.  My husband does not share the same ideal.  If I want my kids at every church meeting, I have to be the one to take them.  Then there is church itself.  I don’t attend often enough.  I don’t participate in activities.  I don’t…I don’t…I don’t.

Your son disrespects you.  He is expressing an opinion.

Your house is not clean enough.  The maid was busy.

You draw inappropriate material.  I like it.  It appeals to me.

You are lazy.  I prefer the term “slow-moving”.

You have all these business ideas yet do nothing.  One word.  Fear.

Once during one of my self-bashing tyrants, my mother told me, “God created you equal to everyone else”.  This has become a sort of motto for my life.  When I start to doubt myself, I square my shoulders and repeat this phrase.  It has helped me place one foot in front of the other and march through a new door.  Every so often, innocent comments creep under my bravado and I feel myself stooping under their weight.  I get angry.  If God created me equal, why can’t anyone else see it?!!

 

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Finding a Sunny Patch

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I feel happy today.  It is the first time in a while that I can truly say that.  The world shattered around my feet but I am starting inch by inch to creep out to that sunny patch.  I keep stubbing my toes but the light is pulling me forward.

My husband and I are learning to live together again.  We had been seeing a marriage counselor for a couple months.  One session about a month ago, the counselor suddenly informed us that he was only a temporary replacement and would not be returning to our area until October.  We were free, of course, to continue with the returning therapist but both my husband and I were reluctant to start with someone new.  It took us a while to open up and we did not want to have to repeat the process again and then again in October.  I was terrified.  We both give a little but do not meet in the middle.  My husband is very strict and I am a free spirit.  Polar opposites.  Even the counselor looked nervous for us as he shook our hands goodbye.  However, we had learned a lot.  I discovered that while my husband hears what I say, he rarely interprets the meaning correctly.  He found out no matter how demanding he is, it simply cannot change my irritating habits.  Our personalities differ as well.  I am abstract and often distracted.  He resembles an express train, goal in hand, he never stops till he reaches it.  We learned about the relationship triangle and how to step off it, refusing to be a victim anymore.  We were told the proper way to argue, more importantly, I was told NO MORE YELLING!!  I am still working on this annoying concept.  The month following our final session, we were like young children trying to ride a bike without training wheels.  There were a lot of falls, a lot of throwing in the towel.  And to make matters worse, life continued to crumble.

My husband’s job future became very insecure.  He never knew from week to week, even day to day if there would be work for him.  After two very tiny paychecks, he sold his small company and took a regular job.  It means a substantial cut in pay.  We were left with bills and taxes owing on the business and no way to pay them.  His final paycheck was barely enough to pay for food.  I have to relearn how to live on a budget and stick to it.  Remember, I am a free spirit.  Rules are only guidelines and I hyperventilate when forced to abide by them.  I am used to having the freedom to spend when and how I felt the money was needed.  Stress is driving me into the fetal position.  And through all this, my kids started to crumble.

We went from a single parent household with the occasional dad to a dad being present every evening and every weekend.  Every child’s dream, right?  Well, for my kids suddenly having a father demanding that a routine be followed, chores done, and exclusive TV rights, this was like waking up in the middle of a nightmare.  Daily battles with my barely teenage son, torrents of tears from my teen daughter, and clingy hugs from my baby girl [preteen:( ] took place.  Life became a game of survival.  I dealt with the changes the only way I know how, I hid.  I started withdrawing from friends, I slept the entire day while the kids were in school and stayed up till 3am.  I ate, jumped from one crazy and frantic get-rich-quick scheme to another, and cried.  And without noticing, life stopped crumbling.

We learned to adapt.  I went on a diet.  The kids worked out a TV compromise with their dad.  Boundaries were laid out and consequences for breaking rules were drawn up.  Respect for their dad returned.  I still struggle with poor sleep habits and budgeting but over all this has been a positive change in our lives.  We discovered the tools handed us by our counselor really do help.  My husband is happier, my kids are growing.  And I learned a stubbed toe only hurts for a little while.

I am happy again.

 

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Your Friend or Mine?

My grandparents still together after 57 years. I hope to be sitting with my husband at the end of our years in spite of the trials of our life.

When my husband and I started having difficulties in our marriage, it affected every area of our lives.  He rarely called during working hours anymore.  He works long hours and is often not home at night so phone calls are our main means of communication.  Home time was spent with him in front of the TV or computer or other electronic device, I rushed around keeping the kids in line, using the opportunity to grocery shop without an entourage, or relax with a book in my bedroom.  Socially we started doing things separately from each other.  It was never a spoken agreement rather sort of a mutual consensus that he had his interests and I mine.  Without realizing it, friends became pawns.

This was glaringly obvious when I attempted to join him one weekend in a visit with one of our friends.  I had thought that this would be a nice way to reconnect.  We were leaving the kids at home and it was just the two of us going to visit with a couple who are easy to be around.  I was surprised, hurt, and more than a little angry when my husband tried to discourage me from coming with him.  This was his downtime and I was most definitely not invited.  I went anyway.  It was not one of my greater ideas.  It only emphasized the gap widening between us.

We often vacillated between friends and strangers, sometimes in as little as several hours.  Naturally with so much emotional intensity, each of us sought an outlet for our angst.  I turned to my mother for encouragement, sympathy, and the occasional scolding.  He talked with close personal friends.  Never once did I think about the aftershock that was sure to follow.  It came as a complete shock one afternoon when a dear friend would not speak to me.  Mystified, I was describing his odd behaviour to my husband during one of our amiable times.  A guilty look crossed his face and he confessed to confiding in great detail to this friend the extent of our marital discord.  Never before had I considered that we would lose our mutual companions.  I myself try to be impartial and recognize that there are always two sides to a story whenever I hear a disagreement.  I naively thought everyone did this.

This started a new chapter for me.  I became more conscious about who I talked to and how much I shared.  I focused more on my children and their friends.  I cultivated anonymous online friendships that required no personal information or input from me.  In short, I became shallow, only concerned with myself and my own feelings.  Deeply hurt by betrayal, I still struggle to fully trust my friends.  After all a friend is someone who makes life bearable and helps us over the bumps in the roads.  Friends are there to laugh with, empathize with.  They are a connection in this world of empty faces, the strings that tie each one of us to the other one.  They are that elusive feeling of belonging that each of us strives for it.  Can a broken person be a good friend?

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2012 in family, marriage

 

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When Prayer Isn’t Enough

I am first and foremost a stay-at-home mom.  Oh, I have other titles.  I am a bookkeeper for my husband’s small company, I am errand girl, I am secretary.  My actual job though is to care for my family’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
When one of my family members started to digress emotionally, it was difficult for me.  It was a huge blow when he no longer wanted my support or helpful analysis of his behaviour.  I couldn’t “fix” him.  Our marriage suffered and our kids became unsure and insecure.   The constant fighting and bickering was overwhelming and confusing to three children who had heard all their lives that mommy and daddy loved each other and would never, ever separate. 
 Then came that fateful weekend when everything smashed together, the moody silences, the screaming, the tears.  Both of us wanted out.  I was ready to call it quits.  Something I never thought I would ever say and even scarier, I was too tired to fight for our marriage any longer.  If he walker out that door, I doubt I would ever see him again, certainly our marriage would have ended.  Both of us stubborn and lost. Me, furious and emotional; him, calm and empty.  The lyrics to a song by Matthew West played over and over in my head, “I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be”.  I boke down sobbing, “Lord, I’m not strong enough.  I can’t do this”.   I had nothing left.  I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to.

 Prayer just wasn’t enough.

 In the end, he didn’t walk out the door, rather it was me who did.  I slammed my way outside and grabbed an axe determined to finally chop down those overgrown tree branches that I had been badgering my husband to prune all summer long.  I swung around, startled to find my youngest daughter had followed me outside, scared and worried that I was going to do something stupid.  She came offering a hug but wanting comfort.  I sent her away. 

 Frustrated, I turned my fury into hacking away at the lilac bushes.  They wouldn’t budge.  There was absolutely no way those spindley branches were coming down.  I flailed my axe in vain.  I was using the wrong tool.

By this time, I was beyond rational thinking.  I stomped into my backyard looking for a good stout tree.  In the silence of the snow covered yard with the moon shining brightly, I looked up at the star filled sky and begged God for help.  I didn’t get an answer.  There was no startling revelation.  I felt alone and confused and unloved, more upset than ever knowing that I had hurt my little girl too.

There in the black sky was the tiny formation of the Little Dipper.  I went back into the house and brought my little one out and pointed out the Little Dipper and the Big Dipper.  As she admired the stars, I realized that I would never stop fighting for my children, their right to a whole and complete family.  Things didn’t improve overnight, over week, or even over a month.  It was a start to a new phase, a new chapter, an intense painful chapter, our trial.  This is where my journey begins.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in depression, marriage, prayer

 

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