Tag Archive | depression

The Dark Night

There is a time in life that most people go through.  It’s not about hitting bottom, it feels worse than that.  Its more than a rough patch, it seems endless no matter what you do.  Weeks and months go by and it doesn’t seem to get better.  Every thing you touch turns to shit, people get tired of helping or holding your hand.

More and more you don’t want to be a drain on your loved ones so you withdraw, a little more every day.  If you do go out, go to work or run errands, you are just going through the motions.  There is no rhyme or reason for the way it is, and you run out of ideas or energy for making it better.  It doesn’t  seem to change, or end.

Dark Night1

It is called  The Dark Night of the Soul.  If you are very lucky you may have a handful of loved ones who will stick by you.

Sometimes I think my whole life has been one long dark night.  Then I remember some pretty good times, years of happiness and prosperity.  That is what the Dark Night does to you, it makes you forget the happiness you have known.  In reality I have had periods of great happiness, wonderful contentment, and many periods in my life that I call the Dark Night.

This current Night started around 2007 and is by far the longest night I have endured.  It crept up on me quietly and misled me by disguising itself as progress.

The company I was working for had been bought out some years before and in 2007 they started making some serious changes.  At first I was assigned some traveling, which I thought was fantastic.   Then I was given some special projects and opportunities to advance myself and help to reshape the department.  Fantastic.  Hmm, lots of unpaid overtime. The more I did for them, the more work they gave me.  In my personal life I was attending a lot of spiritual retreats and classes.  I really thought this was all a new and exciting chapter in my life.

The stress started to get to me, though.  I developed an anxiety disorder.  Then I started having random pain in my body for no apparent reason.  I hurt my back working out at the gym and it never got any better.   I ended up on anti-anxiety and pain medications.  In 2008 I hit menopause, adding an anti-depressant.  In 2009 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, had to take 6 weeks leave of absence, and more medicine.

dark night3

I never really returned to work full-time.  I had to take off several days every month for rest and pain management and often just because the fatigue was overwhelming.

Then the other shoe dropped as a result of all the time I had given the company to restructure our department, they decided to move the location of our office from Texas to Michigan.  I was not making that move.

In September 2010 I was laid off.  I was able to get a temp job in March but it only lasted a few weeks due to my need for days off to rest.  I applied for early retirement through Social Security, beginning another long process that I am still muddling through.  I was no longer able to leave the house for shopping or able to clean house and do my laundry.  I only made it through those months because of 3 dear friends. One came to shop and clean and wash, one came to spend the night several times to keep me company and the other one took me out to breakfast once a week.

In December 2012 I lost my house and had to let my dog go to foster care.  I moved in with my parents and applied for medical care through the county.  Lots of pain pills.  The oblivion was so alluring.

I was no longer involved in church, or anything really.  The new doctor began rationing my pain pills and eventually took me off them.  I still have pain but at least I am awake.

Things seems to even out after a while, but living with elderly parents and fighting depression and anxiety, emotional upheaval became the norm.

And all along I have been fighting the Darkness.  Begging the universe to bring an end to it, looking for ways to find the Light again.  Its exhausting.  Fighting anything is exhausting.

In spite of my efforts to make things better, it only got worse!  I was fighting with every one in my life. Finally this past summer I decided that enough was enough and that I was ready to check out.  I wrote a note.  I texted it to 2 friends and saved it in my phone.  Then I got in the car and went to visit a friend in Arkansas.  It’s only 6 hours away and 1 tank of gas.  It was the beginning of October and I planned to live only until the 13th.  Russ’s birthday would be my day to leave this plane.

Well, my friend became seriously ill right after I arrived.  We made a pact: that as long as she would fight for her life, I would not try to end mine.  I hate to say that her illness saved my life, but I felt needed and useful.

dark night2

After returning home, I started thinking about this Dark Night and why it wasn’t ending.  I was reading a lot of memes on Facebook about resistance and attraction and other metaphysical stuff.  I had tried the constant gratefulness route before but nothing really got better so I had given up on that.  I began to think along the lines of letting the Universe have its way.

One meme really resonated with me, “what you resist, persists”.

One morning it just hit me in the forehead.  Why am I fighting this Darkness anyway?  Is there something inherently wrong with being in the dark?  Isn’t darkness part of universal balance?  Could there be a real reason for being there?  I made a decision right then.

No more resistance.

I accept the Darkness for what it is.  I accept that this is where I am right now.  I will embrace it.  I will enjoy it.  I will open up to whatever I can learn from it.

I will make it my friend, and maybe it won’t kill me.

Instead of viewing it as a black bottomless pit of despair, I am seeing this Dark Night as a friend who is walking along a path with me while I make decisions about what I am going to do with the rest of my life.  I am recording my thoughts in my Book of Light, so that I will remember this struggle and so that I can teach  my grand-daughter how best to handle her Dark Nights when they come, as they will, as it seems they must.

After all, it is only in the darkness that we can see the light of the stars.

stars at night

Hugs That Heal

Zebra Family

The older I get, the more I realize how much healing is needed in our world.   I have also learned there are many ways to heal.  There is also a difference between healing and being cured.  Being cured means that whatever was ailing you has been removed permanently.   Being healed can mean the same thing, but it also can mean that you are given the strength and understanding to handle what you find you must endure.

For this moment, I am going to write about a healing that also cures.  Hugs.  Yes, hugs!   Have you ever been hugged so well that you could feel the sadness leave your body?  These are the best kind of hugs!

Someone said that the only jewels you need around your neck are the arms of a child.   I find this to be true.   No, they don’t come in colors that match your new outfit, and you can’t pawn them for money.   But they are priceless beyond compare!

I suffer from major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder.    It’s been so long now, that I seem to carry a certain amount of sadness with me every day.   Most of the time I don’t notice it, but it’s just under the surface waiting for a trigger.

When I first read that comment about the arms of a child, it reminded me of how I feel when I get a hug from my grand-daughter and my son.  My son is over 6 feet tall, and I am 5 foot 7.  When he hugs me, his arms go all the way around me and he pulls me up against him. I rest my head on his chest and I can hear his heart beating.  I can feel the heat of his body.  He will squeeze me, just right, and I can feel myself relax.  I usually don’t even realize that I was holding my body tense until that moment.  When he is hugging me like that, I feel safe and I realize that all is as it should be.  My mind clears and I smile again.

When my grand-daughter hugs me, she will tell me that she is going to hug me.  This means I am supposed to keep my arms down and let her hug me.  It is a gift she is giving to me and I am supposed to just accept it.  I find that more than precious!   She is just 3, and learning how to show love when she feels it.   She will wrap her arms around my neck or around my arms, as far as she can.  She will stay like that for a minute or two.  I can smell her hair,  the clean smell of her skin that little children have.   More than that, I feel her unconditional love for me, her grandma. It’s all I can do to stay still and let her do this without throwing my arms around her!   But I must, because she wants to give me this gift.  So I just close my eyes and soak it up.  I can feel a peacefulness come over me like I feel when I am alone with God.  Perhaps in that moment of receiving the hug of a child, I am alone with God!

When I want to give her a hug, sometimes she puts her arms around my neck and sometimes she just stands there.  She doesn’t resist, so I pull her as close to me as I can.  I hold her as tight as I can without hurting her, and feel her heart beating.  It is a feeling of life, of energy.  The feeling of a connection that I have with no other person on this earth.  My sadness and loneliness fade away.

There have been other people in my life that had this effect on me.  One of the first was my own grandmother.   When she would hug me, I could feel her love in the way she pulled me to her and wrapped her arms around me.   I knew I was her favorite, and I needed to know that.  She was there for me with a hug at times when no one else was there for me.  I miss her every day.  It is her example that I want to emulate with my grand-daughter.

Another one who could heal me was my son’s father.  He was my first love, and we were pretty young.  He was a very tall and muscular man, and his hugs were strong.  I felt safe and secure.  Again, I could feel his heartbeat, and it was strong and steady.  When he was out to sea, I had a cardigan sweater that belonged to him, and I would wear it because it smelled like him and I would feel his hug.  But thinking of this makes me sad, because the hugs became fewer and finally stopped.  He went away and I was heartbroken for years.

Not too long after he left us, I met a man who was older than me by fifteen years.  I will write about my relationship with him in another article.  He was experienced with hugging.   He knew I was a scared young mother, and he knew how lonely I was.  He knew just when to hug me.  When his arms were around me, I felt accepted as a woman again.  It helped me heal from losing my husband to another woman.   We were together for many years, off and on, as friends and lovers.  He has moved on finally, and I miss his hugs very much.  It’s ok, because all is as it should be.

Hugs from my girlfriends are different.  I don’t rest my head on their chests to hear their heartbeats.  But we hold each other tightly, patting each other on the back gently, and look into each others eyes knowingly.  When my friends hug me, I know I am part of a larger family.  I feel uplifted, I feel believed in.

I have one sister, she is two years younger.  We have only started hugging again in the past couple of years.    We did hug each other a lot when we were very small.   As we grew older there were family dynamics at play that caused me to pull away from her.  It wasn’t until she went through her second divorce that she realized how much she needed me, and I was able to find a way that I could be her big sister again.  We don’t see each other often, but when we do, we hug.  We hug hello, we hug goodbye.  It is a reassuring type of hug, letting each other know that we are there for the other.  I look forward to her hugs.

When my son was eighteen, he was arrested.  It was Christmas time, and I was frantic and panicked.  The first thing I did was drive over to my parents’ house, in tears.   I came to them because they had been through the same thing with my brother many times.  They both hugged me long and tightly.  I could feel the fear leave my body, because their hugs told me that they understood what I was feeling, and that it was all going to be ok.   It did turn out ok in the end.  Again, everything is as it should be.   Even so, the hugs got me through it.

I hope that as you read this article, you are thinking about the people in your life that hug you.   The people who you hug.   What do they feel when you hug them?  I hope they feel loved.  I hope that when they hug you, that you feel all the sadness leave your body and in its place you are filled with love.

After all, Love IS the great healer.

 

You are invited and encouraged to leave comments, indeed your comments are appreciated.

 

Out Of Control

steep climbing stairs

 

This hasn’t been a good week, at all.  Last week was so much better and I think I would like to turn back the clock and get a do over.

I could say it’s a matter of perspective.  It probably is but that is not how it seems.   I struggle with Major Depression and even though I am on some good medication, I still have to struggle.

I don’t like that word “struggle”.   I like better the idea that if you do not resist then you open yourself up to all possibilities.   But in the case of depression, it IS a struggle.

The other option is escape.   There are quite  a few ways to find escape, some harmful and some not.   If I am not too far into the darkness I can read or watch TV.   Talking on the phone helps, but it seems like when I need that the most, every one has gone to bed or not at home.  Being overwhelmed by depression is not something that can wait til later to be dealt with.

My favorite and most effective distraction from bad thoughts and darkness  is my grand-daughter Samantha.   I have tried to explain this to people but only one or two seem to get it.

She gives me complete unconditional love, and I do the same for her.  I love her in a way I have never experienced before.   Hearing her voice can lift me up to the clouds, or calm me down and make me feel at peace.   When we are together,  we don’t want to be apart.   She will follow me everywhere and she will hardly leave the room unless I come with her.  When she spends the night, she will snuggle up to me so close I can feel her heartbeat and her warmth becomes a part of me.  Even in the summer it is not too hot.  Then when morning comes, we wake up at about the same time.  It’s uncanny!

I haven’t seen her in about a month.   Since I don’t have my own place right now, I don’t get to see her anytime I want to.   It is so very frustrating that I just want to scream and scream and scream!  It’s not like I don’t know that I WILL see her again, it’s just that when I am in this frame of mind what counts is right now, not next week or next month.

Before she came into my life, when depression would hit me this way and there was no one to talk to I would just cry all night, all day.  Sometimes I would take some pain medication just to stop feeling and go to sleep.  (This is part of the reason I don’t live on my own right now.)

Samantha and I both know we are here to help each other.   I told her this when she was a baby and just after she turned three she told me the same thing, the exact same words.  So I believe this is true, that we are blessings from God for each other.

I don’t mean to imply that my relationship with her is more important than her relationship with her parents.  It’s not.  It’s just different.   It’s not because of how she makes me feel that I love her so much.  I love her because she is Samantha, a beautiful creature inside and out, and she is a part of me, the best part.  No one, not one, loves her the way I do.

What is wrong with wanting her cuddles when I am feeling down?  I don’t want her to talk me into being happy,  or make her responsible for my feeling better, that isn’t her job.  Her job is to be a little girl and to learn and grow up.   She needs the cuddles and attention that only her grandma can give her, as much as I need to have her near me.  It’s a two-way street actually.   I don’t think that anyone I have tried to explain this to understands.

The depression is compounded by the fact that I have little control over my life right now.    I can’t get the medications I know would work best for me, because I have no insurance and the county has strict guidelines on what medications they will issue and what dosages.    Some of these medications are not working very well.   Some of the treatments for my chronic pain aren’t working at all.

I can’t work outside the home, yet I am having to fight fight fight an ongoing battle with Social Security and I continue to get turned down.  At present the appeal has gone to the federal board and all I can do is wait.  No control.

The lawyer told me I could earn a little bit of money working from home, but not too much.   So I am trying to sell products online and to friends from a direct sales company, but after a good first start the sales have dropped off.  I am worried that it won’t pick up.  I know its back to school time and that makes a difference.   Fear is part of depression, and what I know intellectually does not make the fear go away.

Due to this slow sales time, I have no money.  That means I can’t put more gas in my car or get it inspected.   This leads to arguments with my son over whether or not he feels like bringing Samantha to me.  After all, he works all week and has to drive through traffic all week long.   After all, I say back to him, I don’t have any money for gas!

No control.   It’s all out of control right now and that feels wrong and scary.  It does not feel normal.  You see, I have been in control of my life for a long time.  I raised my son on my own, have had a good employment record, paid off debt.  I have become an ordained minister and I have helped other people.  I have been there when my friends or my sister needed me.  I have been there for my parents and always, always for my son.

It’s not like they aren’t there for me.  I am living in my parents house right now.  My son contributes to the cost of doctors and medicine.   My dear friends are willing to do whatever they can…

Depression is such a horrid thing.  It makes you think that whatever anyone can do for you is not enough.   You feel like there just isn’t enough and never will be.   You feel like nothing is possible.

I haven’t even been able to write all week, until this evening.    I am writing now because I am so very angry.  Angry with the depression, angry with the chronic pain, angry with the fatigue, angry that I can’t have my grand-daughter over to visit me this weekend.    Angry that I don’t have control over my life the way  I used to.

I am even angry that I don’t have my dog with me anymore, even though I know she is with friends that love her and she is happier there.   Her name is Holly and she and I bonded into a friendship that was a new experience for me.   We used to sing songs together.   But there isn’t enough room for her here, so my dear friend took her in.   I am so glad she didn’t have to go to strangers, but I am angry that I can’t have her with me.   Samantha loves Holly too, and together we all had some funny times.  Samantha used to drop food to the floor from her highchair and call to Holly to come and eat it.  She thought it was such a hoot!  Her giggles were so cute that I could not find it in myself to get her to stop dropping food on the floor.

No control.  Is God in control then?  I don’t even know anymore.  It feels like everyone else is in control of my life except me.  Even this depression.  It comes when it pleases, and stays as long as it pleases.

I have a lot of years left to live,  and I don’t know if I can do that  if everyone is in control of my life except me.

I guess I can control one thing tonight, and that is whether or not I keep on whining or find some other way to distract myself until blessed sleep takes over.

 

Please leave a comment if you like,  the responses of my readers are very important to me!

One Woman Still Under Construction

pink flower

Today my son is thirty-five.  I remember explicitly the day he was born.  I was nineteen years old, in a small town on the coast of Oregon away from all my family except my husband.  I was excited the day had finally come, but I was scared to death.   Someone told me that the memory of the pain of childbirth would be forgotten.  That was a lie.  I remember it completely!

He was born face up, and could not be turned, so in order to make room for his face to come through the birth canal the doctor cut me several times.  I ended up with two hundred and sixty stitches!  I remember someone asking me if I wanted the mirror placed so that I could watch the birth, but I said no.  I was in so much pain that I just wanted it over with, I had no interest in seeing what was happening to my body.

For those few hours this was the worst thing I thought I had ever been through and I did not believe I could do it.  Several times I begged the doctor to just take the baby out or push it back in because I wasn’t going to do this anymore.  I’ll bet all birthing mothers say that!

Finally, the only way I could push sufficiently was to practically sit up.  My husband held me up as far as he could and I used my entire being, everything that was in me, to push that child into the world.  At last!  It was done and my son was here, all in one piece and beautiful.  He was truly beautiful, with long lashes any girl would envy, a double crown in his hair.

I was starving,  I was so hungry and finally someone brought me a sandwich.  I took about 3 bites and fell asleep.  I didn’t see my son again for nearly twelve hours.  My breasts ached, I could see the nurses wheeling other babies down the hall to their mothers to be fed, and I cried and cried until finally they brought him to me.  I was the last one.  He had been sleeping and they didn’t want to wake him up.  I didn’t care!  After all that work I did, I wanted my baby and I wanted him right now!

After feeding him at my breast, I laid him down on the bed and took off all the clothes and just looked at him. Each tiny finger and toe, his little ears.  His sweet pink lips.  I had been afraid to have a boy, I thought I would surely be better off with a girl.  Since I had been a girl I would know what to do with one.   As I sat there gazing at this little miracle, I was flooded with gratitude that I had a boy, I knew that I would know exactly what to do for him, how to care for him and how to raise him.  I would know what kind of clothes to pick out and what kind of activities he would be interested in.  I just….knew.

We ended up staying in the hospital for four days.  He had jaundice, I had an infection in my stitches.  I was able to spend a lot of time with him and I insisted that they not use the ultra-violet lights on him.  I had read that those lights might be a cause of hyper-activity.  So they brought him to me and I kept him near the window and the natural light to help his blood to change as it must in newborns.

I remember there was one nurse, I don’t know her name anymore but she had and effect on me.  She was mean and rude.  She would come in and mash down on my uterus very very hard.  She said she was “kneading” it to help the swelling go down.  She said it was standard practice but I didn’t care, it hurt!  It hurt so bad that when she didn’t stop when I told her to, I punched her in the face!  I think that was the first time in my life that I actually took up for myself with someone outside of my family.  I never saw that nurse again.

I thought giving birth was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life, but it wasn’t.

When I was eighteen I had a radical surgery on my left knee, and it left me unable to move my leg at all.  All the doctors and nurses believed that I would eventually be able to lift my leg off the bed, and they said I could not go home until I could do it.  But I couldn’t.  I tried and tried but that leg would not move.  I gave up and started to become depressed.  I begged the doctor to just put a brace on my leg and let me go home.

A young nurse took pity on me and came to me with an idea.  It would be our secret.  She would place her hand under my calf and lift my leg for me, and all I had to do was try to hold it there on my own.  I found that I could do that!  At first just for a few seconds.  But she came in several times a day for two days and each time I could hold my leg up longer.  Finally she just touched me and I lifted my leg about 3 inches on my own!  We both were very excited!  The doctor came in the next morning, ( I had practiced all night) and I proudly showed him my accomplishment.  He was very pleased and said I could go home now, that physical therapy would help me do the rest and soon I would be back to running.  ( I never did get back to my jogging routine).

This in fact was the hardest thing I had ever had to do, to make that sleeping muscle awake and perform without knowing how.

Giving birth to my son, I knew that sooner or later he would arrive and it would be over.  Learning to use my leg was an unknown to me, and I think it was fear that made it so hard.

I grew up believing I would be married and a mother.  That was all I wanted, and I was so happy to be married and have this little baby.  However, when he was about two and a half, his father left us.  I was working, but all of a sudden I wasn’t making enough money.

I was plunged into the world of single parenthood.  I was completely unprepared.  My family helped with some things.  I was able to cut some expenses by doing laundry at my parent’s house, and for several months my mom watched my son while I worked.  Later, when his dad moved away, they would take my son every other weekend to give me a break.  I will always be grateful for the things my parents did for us.

It was a very hard adjustment.  Getting up earlier, no time for breakfast.  Get myself and my son clean and dressed, pack his bag and off to the sitter or daycare.  Work hard all day. I was in retail so I was on my feet all day long.  After work, pick up my son, get home and prepare us a meal that was healthy. Read to him, play with him.  Bath him, get him settled into bed.  Then a little TV for me, and soon I was asleep.  My days off were filled with errands and laundry and cleaning.  There was no one to share these daily chores with me.

In the beginning I had a sort of breakdown, became depressed but I didn’t know it.  I just felt like I was on autopilot.  I took good care of my son, but for a couple of weeks I didn’t bathe myself, I hardly ate.  When I tried to eat I would just throw it all up.   I was working in a men’s shoe store, with men.  No one said anything to me, but one day I noticed a couple of them looking at me in a funny way.  That was when I realized that I could not remember my last shower or the last time I kept any food down.  When I got home that night I took a long hot shower and fell into bed.

I woke in the middle of the night with a fever, fell back to sleep and dreamed.  I dreamed I was in a cave, in sackcloth with my hair all tangled around me , barefoot and all alone.  I woke up in the morning shaking with fever, when I tried to get out of bed I fell to the floor.  I crawled to the phone and called my mom to come and get my son.

I think she took me to the doctor as well.  I know my fever was high and there was mention of  a seizure.  I was supposed to go to a specialist at some point and be tested for seizures, but I never did.  Once I recovered, I was too busy.

Welcome to the shock of having your life plan ripped out from under you.  Welcome to the world of single parenthood.  Welcome to creating a new me.

I did heal from this, and became pretty good at the parenting thing.  There were some ups and downs, arguments with the ex over money and time spent with his son, illnesses. But there were bright times as well, and I  hold those memories close.

My son also had to adjust, I have a picture of him taken at the day care center about the time his dad left us.  He looks depressed in that picture, a sad little boy who didn’t understand what was going on in his life. By the age of nine he wasn’t doing too well without his father.  I will let him tell that story when he is ready, it is enough for me to say that he had to create a new self as well.  We had excellent help from the medical profession for him to be able to do this at such a young age.

When I was twenty-nine, again I fell into a deep depression, for no reason that I could see.  I was prescribed Prozac, it was the newest hottest drug on the market.  It did help some what, but it gave me insomnia and to help with that I was prescribed Ativan.   At the urging of a dear friend, I entered therapy.

Shortly after that, I was diagnosed as bi-polar.   The medication was changed, and I was told some awful things about my future.  I was told it was a progressive condition, that I would get worse over time.  I was told I should not work, that I should not raise my son.  I was told to let someone else raise him.

Well, I just could not accept that at all.  I believed that as long as I was in therapy perhaps I would make it.  I was too terrified of becoming homeless to quit working.  My son was the one bright spot in my day.  I couldn’t lose that.  He had already lost his father, I couldn’t put him through losing me too.

So I stayed in therapy, I took my meds  and kept going to work.  Never once did I miss a day of work due to this issue.  Some days were bad, and I would come home and throw a pot pie in the oven for supper and lay down on the couch.   I would play board games with my son, or watch him play Nintendo.   I felt like no one understood me.    I know my family tried to, but there was a lot going on there with my brother.

My closest friend was busy with new babies.  There was one friend, Steve, who did understand the depression phase, and he would come over and just sit on my couch and let me lay my head in his lap and sleep.  No words.  Just his presence.  I will always be grateful for this.

During the up times, I shopped. I mismanaged my money and my mom had to bail me out several times.  I couldn’t control it.  I thought I was doing ok.  I was paying my bills and I thought that using the credit cards was ok as long as I made the payments.  But there were more and more credit cards, then I was given an American Express card.  Well that was a different ball game.  It had to paid in full, and this is when I started asking mom for money.  In the end, I had to file bankruptcy and start over.  I really did learn to manage money then, all cash. All the time.

This is how it went for about 5 years.  Work, therapy, child rearing.  Battling the schools to pay attention to my son’s learning disability.  Managing my money, trying to date.

Being afraid.

I was afraid all the time.  I felt like there was this huge sign flashing on  my  head that said “MENTALLY ILL” in big neon letters and everyone could see it.  I believed that everyone could tell just by looking at me.

I began to withdraw.  I stopped going to church, stopped going out with friends.  Accepted that this was my life.  I was working hard at the therapy, but I still had these fears to deal with.

Then one day, I decided that enough was enough.  I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I was standing in my cube at work and I raised my fist toward heaven and silently screamed at God:  “You could heal this! Why don’t you! Why are you making me go through this! I don’t want it anymore and you have to do something about it!”

Almost immediately a voice, like a thought, came to me, silently.  A scripture came to my mind and it was ” As a man thinketh, so he is”.  Then that voice that was like a thought said to me, “Susan, if you want to be well, then ACT well”.     Very simple advice, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before.

I made some decisions that day. On my own, with no advice from anyone else.  I kept it secret, just for me.  Secret, so that if I failed, no one would know.  No one would say I told you so.   If I succeeded,  it would be mine alone.

I stopped taking the medicine.  I didn’t even tell my therapist but i did keep going to my appointments.

I worked hard at becoming what I considered normal.  I resisted my impulses and gave thought to my actions.   If someone asked me to do something and I would have said no, I would pause and think and then say yes.  When I realized I was acting out of a habit, I forced myself to do the opposite.   At first this required concentration.  After some time, it became easier and one day I was just being myself.  A new self.  I felt whole.

After about two years, I was in a therapy session and the doctor put down his pen and looked at me with this questioning look on his face.  He asked me, “Susan, what have you done?!”  I asked him what he meant.  He said he had watched me very closely for several months, and that he believed I was no longer bi-polar.  I asked him if he was sure of that.  He was, he said.  He was certain of it, but he wanted to know what I had done to bring this about because he was also sure it had nothing to do with him.  I just smiled for a while.  Then I told him what I had done with myself.

I already knew I was no longer sick, but having him affirm it, and to say out loud “you are not bi-polar” was the validation that I needed.

A new birth, once again a new me.   Was this harder than giving birth to my son, or making my leg work again?  I don’t know.  I know it was hard, but there isn’t really anything to compare it to.

Years later I learned how I was able to cure myself of the bipolar disorder.  It has to do with the neuro-pathways in your brain.  When you have a thought, it creates a pathway, and the more you think that thought, the stronger the pathway becomes.  If you stop thinking that thought and replace it with a new thought, a new pathway developes and the old pathway withers away from disuse.  But I didn’t know this, I only knew that it was up to me to make a change.

When my son was nineteen, he moved out on his own.  It was his time to make a life for himself.  It was hit and miss for awhile, but eventually he got the hang of things and got his feet on the ground.  He has a good head on his shoulders.    For me, it was empty nest time.   What was I supposed to do with myself if I wasn’t spending my time looking after my son?  I worried when he didn’t call me.  I worried when he did call me because it usually meant something was going wrong.  I talked to him and said that i needed him to call me just to say Hi, every couple of days or so.  I told him I didn’t know what to do with myself, and you know what he said?  He told me to go ahead and just live my life!  Now, that was a novel idea!

Now, I am about to be fifty-five.  I am a proud grandmother.  It is my hope that I will be able to help my grand-daughter prepare for a life that can bring anything at any moment.

Throughout the whole ordeal of being bi-polar and getting over it, I maintained my job at the same company.  I worked there for twenty-two years.   That job became a career for me, and it was a blessing as well.  I was safe there, I did my job well and I had someone there who understood what I was dealing with and protected me.

Eventually, as it always goes, the company was bought out by a larger corporation.  For seven years we all struggled with the change from being a family business to a corporate atmosphere.  One day the parent company merged our company with another and that became the beginning of the end.  All that went on during this time is another story.  I don’t know if I will write about that.  It still hurts too much.

After working there for twenty-two years, in spite of all of my accomplishments, I lost my job.  I was fifty-one years old.  That same year I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and degenerative spine disease of the lumbar.

I tried to find work, and I ended up taking a temporary assignment but due to my increasing fatigue and pain, I missed too many days and the contract was ended.

When that happened,  I started to slip into that old depression again.  I had enough severance pay saved to sustain me for a couple of years, so I just stayed in.  I gave up.  I filed for SSDI.

I stopped leaving my house except to see the doctor or run down to the 7-11.   I paid friends to clean my house and do my laundry, take out the trash and pick up my medications.  I did not leave the house if I could help it.  I paid a neighbor to take care of my yard.

My best friend would come over now and then to spend the night, giving me company and making me laugh a little.  We watched TV together.  We would splurge on fast food and cookies and ice cream.  We shared all these treats with my dog, Holly.   Holly started to get very very excited when she saw my friend drive into the driveway!

I had a another friend, Dawn, who was a licensed psychotherapist.  She lived in Missouri, and I was living in Texas.   Never the less, once a week we did therapy by phone.  She could do long distance Reiki and other types of energy healing as well as talking.  We did visualizations, reframing, past life regression.  We were trying to find the root cause of this repeated depression that haunted me.

We were never able to get there though.  Dawn passed away from multiple myeloma just a few months after she became a grandmother.  I was happy that she lived long enough to meet her grand-daughter.  I miss her very much.

By now I was taking a lot of medications.  Pain meds, muscle relaxers, antidepressants, anti-anxiety, blood-pressure, beta-blockers, pharmaceutical vitamin D, anti-inflammatories.   Nothing was really helping, and none of it was treating the fibromyalgia.

I was very much in a dark night of the soul.

I began to take more and more of the pain killers and muscle relaxers.  All I ate were cookies and chips and ice cream.  Sometimes candy.   I just wanted to sleep.  Just to sleep, that was all.

I was unable to sleep in my bed, I would wake up with bad dreams. So I slept in my recliner and this didn’t help my back.   I wasn’t sleeping well, and I guess that is why I kept taking more medication, because all I really wanted was to sleep.

Eventually, my funds got very low.  I realized I would not be able to pay the rent soon, or the bills.  After much discussion, my dad said I could stay with them until my disability was approved.  By now I had been denied twice and had hired a lawyer.  I was too sick to pack up my house.  My friends did what they could. Most of it was done by my sister, God bless her.

I loved that little house.  It was built the same year I was born.   It had a large back yard and Holly loved to roam the perimeter and roll in the grass.  She liked to lay in the sun.  My landlords were wonderful people.  The neighborhood was quite and peaceful.  There were red birds, cardinals, robins and doves.  The same squirrels took up residence in my trees and threw acorns and pecans at me.  I had great neighbors.  I didn’t want to leave.  There just wasn’t any choice.

I guess I brought about a tenth of my things to my parents house.  The rest is in storage.  I miss my books, my TV, but my parents have gone out of their way to make me comfortable.  Holly went out to the country to stay with my friend whom she loves so much, there is ample room for her to roam.  She is being well cared for and loved.  I am at peace with that.

Shortly after I moved in, my medical insurance ended.  I applied for medical assistance through the county hospital. It took a few months but I was finally accepted and managed to get an appointment with a GP a couple of weeks later.

It was wake up time!   This doctor was shocked at how much medication I  was on and that I was not in a coma!  Those are her actual words!  She switched the muscle relaxers, switched the anxiety medication, started me on a medication for the fibromyalgia, lowered the dose of my painkillers,  and upped the dose of my antidepressant.  I didn’t like these changes, however I had no choice but to go along.  I saw her once again, and then she was rotated and I was assigned a permanent doctor.

He raised the dose on the anti-depressant again, and upped the dose for my diabetes medicine and talked to me about my weight.  This was the first time ever that a doctor actually talked to me about my weight!    He referred me to the orthopedist for my back, and to the psychiatric department for the depression and anxiety.

It has taken some time but I am making headway.   The back pain isn’t any better even after a long series of injections, so I am supposed to have a more intensive procedure soon.   I am at the maximum dose for the pain killers, as well as the anti-depressant.  I am walking with the assistance of a cane.

The good news is this: I am awake again.  I am still waiting on my appeal for coverage with SSDI, but I am able to think about my future now.

I am about to be fifty-five years old.  I am wondering, what do I want to do with the rest of my life?  I know I can’t go back to work full-time or even part-time really.  My back and my fibromyalgia won’t allow that.

I love being a grandmother, and I put my heart and soul into it.

But I feel something else growing inside me. I feel a need to be creative again.  I want to write.  I have no education in writing.   I did some procedural writing when I was working.   I wrote poems as a teenager. (what teenage girl hasn’t written a love poem or two?)  I kept a journal while I was in therapy.  I have written sermons, and even delivered them at church in front of real people!

I want to write.  Here I am, starting from scratch again.   I decided to begin with a blog.  Now I am writing articles for Blogmutt and LinkedIn.   It’s nothing very grand, but I am doing what I want, I am writing.

Recreating myself, a new identity.

Once again, giving birth.

 

Basic Needs, SNAP and WIC – Don’t Judge

Lighthouse

I hate to admit it, but I am receiving SNAP benefits, and when I go to the store, I swipe that card as fast as I can and jam it back in my purse. This comes from the time I was first married and had a newborn, my husband was in the Coast Guard and our entire income was 400.00 a month. This was 1979. The Coast Guard paid the rent and basic utilities, but that 400 did not stretch enough to cover the phone, the rent on our color TV, yes I said rent( we gave it up after a month), the food, baby items, gasoline, etc. So we went on WIC and Food stamps.

Back then the food stamps were coupons and you had sign each one as you used it, so it took time at the checkout and there was always some wise-ass behind me making cracks about free food.

I had to borrow a neighbors car to get the groceries and I went to three different locations each week to get all the best deals. Those programs kept us from starving, but it was emotionally damaging to have to go through all that judgement.

I guess I have never gotten over it.

Then when my husband left me, and I became a working mom, I was fortunate enough to have jobs that paid well. Sometimes I took in a roommate, but not often. I very seldom received child support, but I did get my son raised and on his feet, I even provided him with a car.

THEN, 4 years ago I lost my job of 22 years. I had enough saved and along with the unemployment that lasted me 3 years. I was never able to find a job before I became unable to work at all, and plummeted into a profound depression. That is when my parents and sister packed up my things for storage and at 54 years old I moved in with my parents.

It felt like I had lost every thing. Pretty much. My car is paid for so I didn’t lose that. I was renting my house, so that was not a problem, and I had used my severance pay to pay off all the credit card debt.

When I moved in with my parents I had a little money left, but that’s gone now. My son pays for my medication and doctor bills, and I have applied for social security. And again, once again, I had to apply for food stamps, or SNAP as its now called. Thank God it is a debit card thing and not the stupid paper coupons you had to sign at the register!

BUT, things are looking up, I am able to work about 10 hours a week, so I am selling AVON to make a little money while I wait on the SS appeal, and today, I was able to finally open a new checking account. There is hardly anything in it, but it is open and it is mine.

So yeah, I relate to the many people in this country receiving WIC and SNAP. It is painful when others make judgements and assumptions and then express those opinions out loud when a person like myself is at the check out register. I don’t believe that anyone is taking advantage of this system. The application process is very detailed so it’s pretty hard to fake it.

If you have a problem with people who are down and out taking advantage of the benefits designed to help them out of the dark black hole, please keep it to yourself! You might be one of us some day, you never know.

Starting Over

After losing my job in 2010, I tried hard to find another job in the same field. After awhile I gave up, and eventually fell into a depression. I have had depression before, but this time it was really bad. My family rescued me, and I found a place to let go off everything and just rest. Now, I am more myself again, and able to reflect on what has happened, where I am and where I should go with my life.

I recently read a short article about potted plants. It said that when the plant stops flourishing you should take it out of the pot and check its roots. If the roots are going in circles around the perimeter of the pot, the plant is root-bound. It has taken all the nourishment it can from the soil. At this point, it is time to re-pot, or plant it in a garden to flourish again. While re-potting you have to manipulate the roots back outward so they will resume their path of growth and receive nourishment. You might even have to cut off the bottom portion of the roots if they are very bound up. This helps it let go of the parts of the roots that are not functioning well.

This is how I see myself. A re-potted plant. One of the women I used to work with was always telling me that I was too talented for the job I was doing. Perhaps if I had listened to her and explored other avenues earlier I may have avoided the depression that was so devastating. I guess I wasn’t ready, I was too comfortable.

So, here I am now. I have decided that I want to write. I am starting with this blog, and I will search the internet for everything I can find about writing. I am stretching out my roots, into this big world, to see what other nourishment it has to offer.

If you choose to read the articles on my blog, please leave a comment. I believe the comments will help me on my way.Image

Getting Started

 

Getting Started.
After losing my job in 2010, I tried hard to find another job in the same field. After awhile I gave up, and eventually fell into a depression. I have had depression before, but this time it was really bad. My family rescued me, and I found a place to let go off everything and just rest. Now, I am more myself again, and able to reflect on what has happened, where I am and where I should go with my life.

I recently read a short article about potted plants. It said that when the plant stops flourishing you should take it out of the pot and check its roots. If the roots are going in circles around the perimeter of the pot, the plant is root-bound. It has taken all the nourishment it can from the soil. At this point, it is time to re-pot, or plant it in a garden to flourish again. While re-potting you have to manipulate the roots back outward so they will resume their path of growth and receive nourishment. You might even have to cut off the bottom portion of the roots if they are very bound up. This helps it let go of the parts of the roots that are not functioning well.

This is how I see myself. A re-potted plant. One of the women I used to work with was always telling me that I was too talented for the job I was doing. Perhaps if I had listened to her and explored other avenues earlier I may have avoided the depression that was so devastating. I guess I wasn’t ready, I was too comfortable.

So, here I am now. I have decided that I want to write. I am starting with this blog, and I will search the internet for everything I can find about writing. I am stretching out my roots, into this big world, to see what other nourishment it has to offer.

If you choose to read the articles on my blog, please leave a comment. I believe the comments will help me on my way.