Mait and Wobalitz

Before I share some stuff about my daughters, I received a scripture from a friend from Fairhope.  She was my core leader in my CBS bible study group.  I felt a connection to her then.  She and I had lunch one day and I felt that maybe she battled like I did.  She never said so, I could just tell.

2 Corinthians 11:30 “If I must boast, I will boast about the things that show my weakness.”  Wow.  How encouraging.

On to my girls.  If you have followed my FB page since 2011, you know Mait’s struggle with scoliosis.  Unfortunately I don’t think it is over.  She is one strong chick.  I admire her.  She wrote a paper about me that I will share later.  It is humbling.  She is a good writer.

I am going to focus on Elizabeth, or Wobalitz.  Dean couldn’t say  Elizabeth when he first started talking so he called her Wobalitz.  Of course it stuck.  She says she doesn’t like it but it is her email address.

Elizabeth is going to be my child who takes care of me when I am old and infirmed.  She already does that.  Dealing with Bipolar and Depression is tough.  Days exist when I just cannot function.  This is when Elizabeth takes over.  She cooks, cleans does laundry, you name it.  I try to tell her how much I appreciate it,, but I feel sometimes she does not believe it.

Elizabeth is very strong willed. She is stubborn and determined.  The day I found out I was pregnant with Dean, her motor turned on.  She was 18 months old at the time.  She did not just learn how to get out of her crib that day, she JUMPED.  Dennis and I were falling asleep and we heard THUMP.  It scared us to death.  I just knew she was dead.  We walked into her room and she just stood there with a huge smile on her face.  We did not even bother with rails on a big bed with her.  She had no desire to sleep in her room at this point.  We had to put one of those safety knobs on the inside of her door to keep her in there at night.

Elizabeth has been a force since.  She has one noise level: loud.  She makes herself known. You have to in a big family.  She has these beautiful big brown eyes and an infectious laugh.  She is beautiful and does not believe it.  I have to show her I love her in different ways than the others.  She does not want me to hug her.  She likes it when I tell her I love her but she acts like she doesn’t.  We bond by going to the grocery store together.  She loves to bake.  She knows all my basic recipes and kicks me out of the kitchen when I start dinner.

I have colitis as well.  I was in the hospital last summer and she came and sat with me for hours while they were pumping me with steroids.  We don’t have heart to hearts.  She just wants to be there with me.  She wants to know I am not going anywhere.  She calls me ten times an hour when I go run errands.  She is a home body.  She would rather go with us somewhere than out with her friends.  She has a small group of good friends.  She prefers it that way.  She is such a cool kid and I try to make sure she knows that every day.  Some days her temper takes over and it is hard.

Speaking of temper… When we first moved here, a bird would sing out her window at 6 am every morning.  It wasn’t so bad on school mornings but one Sunday morning she had enough, got out of bed and kicked the window out in her room.  She got 9 stitches in the bottom of her foot.  The nurses and doctors at the ER couldn’t keep a straight face.  At the time she didn’t find it so funny.  She was supposed to start 7th grade dance team clinic the next day.

Those are my girls.  I will get to the boys another day.Image

 

Medications and Such

This post will probably meander.

First, I have heard from a couple of people since yesterday who I have not seen in at least 15 probably 20 years.  Pretty cool.  One had depression and says she battles it instead of suffers from it.  We will use the word battle from now on:)

My other friend could relate to the man/woman in the head thing but she related it all to Star Trek.  I couldn’t do it justice.  I have always thought she was one of the funniest people I have ever known.  She also used to scare me a bit in high school.  Funny the things you remember?  She was not a mean person.  I just thought she was pretty cool and wouldn’t want to hang out with me: depressed brain talking.

OK, onto medications for depression, etc.  I say etc. because in 2005 I was also diagnosed with Bipolar II with depressive manifestations or something.  Look it up in that diagnostic manual.  Just don’t read WebMD.  I know you do, don’t you?  I used to as well.  I diagnosed myself with three different kinds of cancer!!

Once again, I digress.  The number of antidepressants out on the market now is staggering.  This is why you should go to a psychiatrist and not your GP.  These medications have so many side effects and react differently to so many different medications, that you need someone qualified in psychotrophic medicines.  Big word, not sure if I spelled it right.   A major side effect to some of these is suicidal tendencies.  BE CAREFUL!!  BE HONEST with your doctor.  Ask your GP for the name of a reputable Psychiatrist.  Give them all medications you are taking even vitamins and OTC.  I sound like a pamphlet don’t I?

Side effects from these meds are many.  You could have dry mouth, the shakes, dizziness, stomach problems, anxiety, and the worst, weight gain, etc.  Read about the side effects and talk them over with your doctor. You have to find what is right for you.  Also, it takes about two weeks for them to take effect.  The upside?  That little creature in your head might just shut up.

I know I slipped in about the Bipolar deal.  It is not a lot of fun.  Many people are dual diagnosed.  You may be as well.  They kind of figured it out by my telling them my past history and experimenting with some prescribed drugs.  When you think Bipolar, you think Lindsay Lohan or someone.  Unfortunately, I think that may be her problem.  Many artists battle it.  They mask it with booze and drugs.  It is scary.  I am diagnosed with Bipolar II which means I don’t go into hyper manic states where I stay up for days at a time and get in my car and travel across the country.  I am not trying to make light, but you have to find the humor in this stuff.  I have been known to mop the floors at three in the morning.  Getting up at three isn’t he concern, it is that I actually wanted to do something that related to cleaning the house.  I can go into a mixed state where my mind races but I don’t really feel like doing anything at all.  My mind wants to go for a run but my body wants to get back in bed.  Here again, my husband, the saint, has had to put up with some major stuff.  I have hurt him bad through this.  Again, thank him for being my rock.

If you are depressed and Bipolar and they just give you antidepressants: disaster.  Antidepressants cause Bipolar people to be manic.  How about that?  All those years I was on antidepressants and still feeling even crazier than before, it was maddening.  I did a lot of impulsive stupid stuff and I hurt a lot of people.  I am no proud of that.  But when I was diagnosed, I was relieved because I knew they could help me control the symptoms.  At one point I thought I should just be locked up in a padded cell.

Back to meds.  After a while, a long while, they can wear off and you have to try a new one.  You may have to be on one that is not generic yet: EXPENSIVE!!!  Thanks to Obama, it is going to get worse, but I just can’t go there because I will be in a padded room.  I digress again.  It is my rambling mind.  PLEASE take your meds as directed.  Don’t quit because you are feeling better.  You will feel sick as a dog if you quit cold turkey: think major hangover times three.  Sometimes they wear off and you have to try a new one.  Please be HONEST with your doctor.  I cannot say that enough.

I hope you all will have a great day.  I am sure something will pop through my brain later today that I think you MUST know about:).  I am taking my Mait to the back doctor again today to discuss a possible fifth surgery.  She hurts so badly.  We just aren’t sure whether she would be better off if the rods were just gone.  Her spine is straight and, God willing, should stay that way.  We just ask for prayers on whatever decision we make.  This is where I am bad about stopping, praying and listening to God has what to say.  If you have any verses that might be helpful right now, I would love to receive them.

I will keep you posted.

Pain Shame and Loneliness

 

In the past year since I have moved back to Birmingham, Mountain Brook has been plagued with a number of needless tragedies.  Because of this, I cannot stay quiet any longer. I posted something along the lines of this article and I got an overwhelming response, I feel compelled to embellish and hopefully I can touch a few more lives.  I may ramble my way through some of this so bear with me.

I suffer from Depression.  There, I said it.  It is out there.  It stinks.  Some days I wish I could get a brain transplant.  It hurts so badly.  Deep in my soul it hurts.  Some days it just hurts to live.  Sound familiar?  Keep reading.

So many people suffer from this disease.  Yes, it is a disease.  Look it up on the internet.  NAMI is a good source.  They will give you the technical signs and symptoms.  They will tell you what to look for. This is my cancer.  People openly talk about all forms of cancer. I am here to talk about mine. I am here to give you the personal side of this disease.

 Moms, do you have those days you can barely get out of bed, empty the dishwasher or fold the clothes?  Climbing Mt Everest sounds easier than “whipping up” dinner.  How about all those PTA meetings and events, baking cookies and brownies that have to look like something on Pinerest.  What about the smocked dresses for church and the matching bows and outfits for your four children who must look like they did not scream and yell the whole morning you were getting everyone ready to praise the Lord? You didn’t sign him or her up for a private coach when he or she was in first grade.   It is hard enough for those moms who don’t suffer.  What about those of us who do?  I did all the smocking and yelling before church.  During the sermon I sat there quietly praying that God would give me the energy to be able to hang up all those fancy clothes that I feel like burning!!  What about finding the right decorator to make your family room look like a museum? I have a bad back and looked tirelessly for a recliner that would fit my small frame.  Guess where I found it?  Goodwill.  I still haven’t gotten it recovered.  It is my writing and reading chair.  My children are mortified when they bring friends home and foam is sticking out.  But it gives me that throwback feeling like I am an important writer who can’t think straight if all her stuff is in “order”

I am right in the middle of my children trying out for their prospective squad.  Some days the guilt consumes me.  Guilt is something that everyone deals with.  Believe me when I say it is ten times worse when you suffer from depression.

Men, sometimes you have it worse.  You are the soul bread winner.  You have children to feed, clothe, and put through college.  Shoot, rec league sports are so expensive now you are tempted to take out a second mortgage so your child can have the best bat and the best batting coach.  How can you let your daughter live without those $400.00 pair of boots? What about the country club dues and assessments and that house on Lake Martin that you can’t live without?  Heaven forbid you miss your dogfight on a Saturday morning.  How are you supposed to put one foot in front of the other each day when all you want to do is pull the covers over your head and disappear?  Cavemen aren’t supposed to be depressed are they?

Depression and suicide are tough when dealing with adults.  The thought of losing a spouse or close relative to suicide is horrible.  To know they felt there was no other option can send anyone reeling.

Now think about your child.  I can remember being depressed in fourth grade.  Can you imagine trying to deal with such dark feelings at such a young age?  These are supposed to be carefree years, making “S”’s on your report card, playing on the playground, taking ballet classes at Steeple Arts.  I am a girl so I don’t remember what sports were available then for boys.  All I remember is trying so hard to feel carefree and I couldn’t do it.  Boy did I play the part though.  My husband says that my best feature is my smile.  I started perfecting that smile at a very early age.  My parents had no idea.  I have three much older siblings who were dealing my parents fits during this time.  In my depressed mind, I thought my dark thoughts were not valid enough to warrant their attention.  So I suffered silently.  Depressed people can barely understand these irrational thoughts much less share them with someone.  Who would understand?

Middle School and High School were tough.  That first year in Jr High when all four elementary schools converge is frightening to even the most confident children.  It was my personal hell.  I remember having a lot of stomach aches on Mondays.  Somehow I trudged through it.  I put that smile on, made good grades, and danced my heart out.  Steeple Arts was my saving grace.  We all put that black leotard over those pink tights and tried to stay far away from Mrs Coates “stick”!  It is important for your child to find their niche during these crazy years.

I was a cheerleader and Dorian in high school so I made the “cut” in the hierarchy.  Inside, each day, I lived my own private hell.  I had it all, right?  I had good grades, made the “squad”, had dates, was in the “right” sorority.  And yet I was miserable.  I had no idea how I was supposed to express these irrational thoughts and deep pain to someone.  Who would understand such a thing?  I sure didn’t want any of my friends to know what I was thinking.  I didn’t want my peers to think I was crazy!  They would not like me anymore.

By my senior year, I did want to die.  Everyone was so excited about going to college.  I was expected to attend Alabama like all my family, pledge one of two sororities and experience the perfect college life.  I knew in my heart I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t pretend anymore.  I tried in some meek way to explain to my parents that I couldn’t handle that life.  My mother loved college!!  She couldn’t understand why I didn’t want that same experience.

That summer I went too far and became suicidal. They labeled mine a cry for help;  which it was.  But still It was not something anyone talked about then and still people don’t want to face the fact that their spouse, loved one or, heaven  forbid, child could feel so bad that they felt no other option was available than to end their life.

It is real and it is here to stay.  Unfortunately there is no cure.  Drugs can only do so much.  The rest is up to us to want to step out of our own private hell and take the steps to get out of our heads and begin to enjoy life the best way we know how.  There are counselors who have years of training and working with people with depression and suicidal attempts.  There are some really good ones out there.  It is a tough road to find the right fit for you.  You may have to explain yourself over and over until you find that one who can help you personally.  That right there can be a huge reason not to go for help.  Don’t give up. 

Teenage depression and suicide is a tough topic to face.  I gave you my scenario. I hope I have given you some insight on what might be going through your child’s head.  Every trained counselor and youth educator can give you a list of signs to look for.  Unless they suffer from depression, they can’t tell you what is going through these kids’ minds. The pressure to have perfect grades, the perfect friends, the ideal high school “experience” is very high.  Some of this pressure comes from within. I believe this is a birth order thing, but I digress.  Top that off with depression and it is even tougher for these kids to handle.  We want our kids to be perfect!!  They can’t be depressed.  I can’t send them to a therapist.  What would my tennis team think, what would my garden club “friends” think?

Tell them to stuff it.  You are going to fight for your child.  If you have any suspicion that your child may feel this way, get help.  School counselors are paid and trained to be discreet.  They know the best therapists in town to deal with your particular issue.  These kids hide behind every façade they can.  They are the valedictorian and the homecoming queen.  They are also the quiet ones who slip through the cracks:  that “good” child of yours who never makes any waves or seeks attention in anyway.  He makes good enough grades, plays a sport or is on a squad and always tells you everything is FINE:  Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.  That is a dangerous word.  I use it myself on many occasions.  My sister has caught on though.

Don’t forget your elementary child.  I am witnessing through my children how much pressure these young kids are under to excel at an activity.  Hours and tons of money are spent with special coaches in ALL activities.  Ask yourself: “Is my child going to play at a D1 school or the pros?”.  Ask those kids who played for Saban and left early so they could feed their family, how much extra money their mom had to pay for special coaches.  Give your child a break.  Let them be a kid.  We have these great small neighborhoods around but no one is home anymore to play.  They are all out perfecting their “swing”.

Depression is genetic.  Social and economic factors don’t help.  I believe situational depression does exist as well.  My mother suffered from the genetic kind but I never really knew how much until after she died.  No one talked about it.  I wish I had known. Maybe I could have better understood why she laid in bed some days or forgot to pick me up from school.   If you suffer please talk with your children about it.  They need to understand why mommy is still sleeping or Daddy is always snapping at them.  They need to know that if they feel this way, they are not alone.  This is where we break the cycle.

Parents, if you suffer, give yourself a break some days.  The dishes and laundry will be there when you get back.  That sales quota is going to rise in six months again any way.  How many more hours can you bill this week?   If your spouse suffers, bear with them.  We know you want to shake us and tell us to snap out of it.  We wish it could be that easy.

I know I may have rambled.  This is an important topic for me.  I am almost 47 years old and I am tired of being quiet.  You may think I am even crazier for writing this, but I hope I can at least touch one hurting soul.  If you have read this and can relate in any way, please know you are not alone.  Talk to someone.  I am in the school directories.  It may be one of the hardest but most rewarding things you could do for yourself and your family.

 I am so far from the perfect parent. Parenting teens is like trial by fire.  I know one of my children suffers and I want to build a wall around them to protect them from the pain.  All I can do is keep pushing them to talk.  As with any illness, I can get pretty mad at God.  People tell me that God has a plan for me.  Maybe this is it right here by sharing my story.

I would like to make a special shout out to my husband, Dennis.  You are my rock.  I love you to the moon and back.  Thank you for sticking with me through this roller coaster.

Remember His Goodness

From football season to Thanksgiving to Christmas.  Then we have The Super Bowl, Mardi Gras and Mountain Brook’s back to back basketball championship win.  Dorian tryouts have ended.  It is so quiet around my house.  There is this lull.  A calm before the storm, if you will.  Ash Wednesday is in two days.  We are on our way to deciding what to give up or start to do on a daily basis during Lent.  The weather is dreary outside after such a beautiful Sunday.  How do you feel today?  I was up all night with two sick children, bed hopping from one to the other.  I am so tired…

I have been tired.  I have been struggling with God.  Some days I am so mad at him for our situation.  Then I feel guilty because I am not following all the rules a “good Christian” should.  Some say follow the Bible to a tee.  It can be hard for an English major to do that.  Millions of people around the world interpret the written word so differently.  

When do you feel closest to God?  Is it reading his Word?  Is it taking the sacrament?  Is it praying with your husband that He will get us out of this “mess”?  Do you read a certain devotional that gets you through the day?  God is with us all day every day in so many ways.  But I forget that.  I forget that when I fuss at my son for being upset that my husband ONLY made blueberry muffins for breakfast.  I forget Him when I lose my patience.  Then when I remember Him later that day, I feel guilty.

I am a sufferer of depression.  Some of you know that already.  Some recent events in my community have prompted me to come forward and expose my disease.  This past week has been one of the most emotionally draining ones I have experienced in a long time.  I posted it on Facebook for all of my “friends” to see.  I couldn’t be quiet anymore.

I have been angry at God lately because I suffer.  In the last couple of days, I have come to the realization that maybe God prompted me to expose myself.  Maybe, just maybe, this is my Spiritual Gift.  I have received more “likes” and “pm’s” in the past week than the seven years I have been on Facebook.  Jesus suffered for us.  We all suffer.  Maybe God wants us to use our suffering for the good of others.  It isn’t easy.  You are left very vulnerable.  Jesus was pretty vulnerable half naked up on that Cross with nails through his hands and feet.  He is our voice.

I choose to be yours.  Right now I am calling us sufferers.  I want to find a better word.  A word that describes us more as survivors, like cancer survivors.  This is our cancer.  Right now it is a silent killer, like cancer was so many years ago.  I am only one person, but I hope and pray I can put a dent in the education of depression.

Please know that you are not alone.  It is ok to be mad about this.  I struggle with this, but it is ok to be mad at God.  It is through his Grace that we can be mad at Him.  He can take it.

I am no expert on faith.  I can’t quote the Bible very often, but I seek solace in it’s words.  I go to my minister with these questions all the time.  He is trained to deal with doubters like me.  He tells me it is ok to doubt.  God is still there for you.  

I have thought a lot about what to do about Lent this year.  I decided to start this blog.  I am still trying to get the hang of it.  My laptop is missing the “t” so I have to push real hard on it.  If you see a lot of missing t’s that is the reason.  Some days I may not write about God.  But He is always there.  As I write this, I believe He is the reason I started this.

I hope you will come away with some understanding what we sufferers/survivors are going through.  Our thought processes are convoluted.  You will see some days I don’t believe in myself; that my self worth is abysmal.  But I hope by writing it out, I can get through it.  I hope you that suffer and survive the day can get something out of it.  I hope that if someone you love is suffering/surviving, by reading this, you can get some idea of what is going through their mind. 

By writing this, I hope I can remember that God is behind it.Image