Tag Archive | bipolar

Onward and Upward

I have always loved that line, well part of a line, out of C.S Lewis’ The Last Battle (Narnia series)… it has always felt like life has led us onward and upward. We must press on, not sit and reflect back. BUT with depression there is always an element somewhere in treatment where there is a time to stop and look back. Figure out what may have triggered the situation, what led you to the path you are on. This is really quite necessary because if we can understand the roots and foundation of the words in our heads, the thoughts we can’t quite throw off, we can move on and find ways to create a new dialogue, to understand how not to fall into the old patterns.

BUT what about the future? Recently I asked Ken… will we always be running a current dialogue about depression? Is this the new story of our life that will never quite be closed, will it always be at the forefront of our interactions with others, with our planning? Will we always have that specter hanging over us that Ken is DEPRESSED?

Sadly, the reality is that Ken will never be… CURED… not like you can remove a wart or cure some physical illnesses. Rather, we are working for what we term “remission”. Our path is to managing and reducing the effect of this invisible illness not curing it so that he can say, well that was life X number of years ago… here I am fit as a fiddle not a random negative thought in my head.

I think we would all love a CURE. We pray and work for cures to all sorts of things, cancer, HIV/AIDS, TB… And, at times that becomes possible. BUT with an invisible illness, especially those related to mental health, there seems to be no end point. Not if  you are chemically depressed that is. Remission is management and successful management. It is the ability to realize that while Ken will never be free of those thoughts and feelings that have plagued him for years he WILL learn to embrace the process to diminish their control over him.

Our onward and upward is to a diminished schedule of therapy visits, perhaps even a lowering of drug dosage, to a new lifestyle of positive thinking, of open dialogue between ourselves and the kids about how we feel and think. Our remission is one of process and progress. Where we take moments of joy and hold onto them, relish them and embrace them while also accepting and to a degree embracing the negatives as well.

I have often spoken of lifestyle changes in this series of posts. I feel that for anyone suffering from depression, bipolar, anxiety this is a key step. One of the easiest things to do is to wallow, to fall into bad patterns and to, for all intents and purposes give up. There is no giving up when you are onward and upward. If you are sitting at home in the basement in the dark no amount of therapy is going to make life fun. If you are willing to ignore things that need to be done and embrace procrastination no amount of drugs and vitamins is going to help you get organized and successful.

I know I sound like some sort of peppy self help guru but… they have some truths in their spiels. We really are our own worst enemies, healthy or not. And I will state right now… procrastination, wallowing not just depressed/etc. people do it. We are ALL guilty of these poor behavior choices.  What Ken and I have noticed is that when it comes down to it and our brain says “I don’t need to do that right now” my first reaction is to buckle down and do it, his is to… well… not… It is not easy to embrace that do it right now attitude, even as the healthy one, I struggle often with intent to avoid and the feeling that things should not be done right now. Ken on the other hand, does not struggle (did not as he is working on this) rather he embraces it and… well let’s just say, we have had a few arguments.

So what I am trying to say is, don’t give up. Work on that dialogue within yourself that will bring you to action, remind you of your worth. Downward and backwards often looks like the easier path, but the reality of it is that the harder path is the path of the most reward. Join us on our upward path of exploration, acceptance and joy. This of course ties into the last post about finding a REASON for getting healthy. Nothing spurs on a process like a good reason.

As always I want to remind you that no matter what side of this situation you are on, suffering, supporting you are NOT alone. Myself and my family are here, in person, online we are here for you. I am so amazed by the amount of people who have read these posts, some have shared them, conversations have been started. It is all good. If you have a suggestion of a topic for a post, or a question, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you think about my thoughts on something that has become a permanent part of my life! Bless!11109704_10153350636781151_3450574700329309778_n

The Importance of the Reason for the Journey…

Now I can hear some people saying… why is there even a question as to what the reason is for someone getting help for depression/anxiety/bipolar etc? Isn’t it simple? To not feel bad, to not risk suicide or cutting or whatever? To be “normal”?

Well… and this is from OUR circumstances… I am telling you right now, there are OK reasons to get onto the path to healthy… ones that are used and are a starting point but are not a good enough foundation to create a lifelong path to better days… They are a starting point, a trigger to begin but they have to lead to more… and then there is the key foundation reason to go on this epic journey, the one you may find through therapy and discussion or maybe even as an epiphany one day when you are simply trying to make it through the day.

This is not my first rodeo… in fact, in the span of time I have known/dated/been married to Ken I have experienced the lows of depression twice in person and once at the beginning of our friendship via the internet/phone. The first time (in person) he hit bottom it was the realization that he couldn’t leave US… that his thoughts and the behaviour that was becoming more and more acceptable added up to a situation where myself and the children would be without him. THAT reason pulled Ken from his funk enough to seek out help, to stop the cycle and to start anew.

Sadly there wasn’t enough. It was OK that he could sit there in group therapy and say, I need to be better for my family. He could look me in the face and say you and the kids are keeping me here. I know you need me and I need you. This was a start… an opening. But at the time the resources were not there to delve deeper. We got him healthy “enough”. And the help seemed to fade away. This led to years of stability… nothing epic either way, no horrible scary lows but the highs weren’t there either.

This status quo lasted us through Echo’s birth all the way to moving south and changing our lives in a substantial way. This last part triggered this current slide south. The reason, the foundation for his changes was there but it was external. His reasoning was all based on the situation outside his own brain. The kids, myself, the house, our future… all substantial reasons… but it wasn’t the BEST reason.

The BEST reason came with a new therapist and a determination to not repeat our nasty little cycle. What we have found is that to make changes that stick, to really embrace the process of creating a sustainable life plan and avoiding the greater chances of a relapse into depression. The main reason for becoming healthy HAS TO come from within. This time around Ken is getting better for himself. HE needs to be well, not because of us but because in becoming well we all become well. Therapy (and you know I love the idea of therapy) is a look inside at the history of your depression, at YOUR history, your issues, your feelings and insights. That internal appeal is the strongest foundation you can create. Just as the bad thoughts and feelings are inside of you so too must be the drive to change.

Your family and friends are also an important foundation but the most we can do is cheer and support, we cannot change the dialogue, we cannot know that those suggestions are surging or that you feel a certain way. That has to come from inside of you.

Those “OK” reasons are amazing… the knowledge that you have someone or something dependent on you that you don’t want to let down, that you have responsibilities and a burning desire to fulfill them. All these are powerful, but don’t let the external be the sole reason. Children grow up and move away, jobs end, animals pass away… look within. Find the reason within to be strong and stand tall and find joy in life again and that is an even BIGGER gift to those you feel a connection to.

Basically, it is important to find the foundation for your health the same way you find the foundation for faith, for love, for your future: from within. There is something to be said about the saying “you can’t truly love someone until you love yourself”… you cannot be healthy for others until you realize that you must first be healthy for yourself.

As always – for those who suffer and strive to be healthier WOW are you ever amazing! And those who help out along the way – what an amazing gift you are giving. If you need a shoulder on either side of this experience I am here as is my family. And as always comments, suggestion, etc are welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read this!IMAG2427

Tiny Bodies, Big Ears

Well, I am not the ONLY “healthy” one (as was discussed last entry that is a part of my mental health saga series) in this not so tiny family of ours… We have 5 kids (obviously) which are currently ages 12 through 5, which I gush about often here on the blog. I am a stay at home mom who homeschools all 5… just laying it out there. So our kids are home with us and around our family situation at a near constant basis. This has been instrumental in Ken’s process and been implemented into his therapy itself. I am not saying this is optimum for ALL people undergoing the process of returning from severe clinical depression, but for our family, having Ken thrust into our day to day life and education plans forced him out of himself and the thoughts we are committed to if not silence, prove false and quiet.

Because of this constant interaction and the children’s progressively deeper understanding of life in general it was never an option to keep the situation completely out of their scope. I do want to stop right here and clarify, we have NOT discussed anything to do with Ken’s suicidal thoughts/plans/intentions… this is not a discussion that I feel my children are ready to deal with and grasp, but WHEN they are it will be something I sit down with them and frankly share. I joke about the 1 in 5 statistics and how we live it with our 5 kids… but I am more than aware that there is a potential (especially with Ken’s family history and his own severe case) for any or all of our kids to at one time or another suffer from this mental illness.

Now at the same time we have created a house that is open for discussion. We are pro therapy of course, and do not hide from the kids that Ken is on a regiment of medication and vitamin supplements (once again this is overseen by his therapist and psychiatrist and NOT something we take lightly… doses are prescribed for a reason people). We have often discussed how Dad has had a hard time feeling positive and happy, so therapy and his medicine help with that and make it so he can be with us in a better way. I have made a conscious effort NOT to hide Ken’s appointments. The kids are not privy to the content of the therapy sessions, but they are well aware that Dad goes weekly and WANTS to go. That if they felt they needed to come with and talk about the situation they are welcome. In fact, Mom has gone a few times to check in and be involved.

Out of necessity we have discussed in great lengthy Dad’s hearing impairment. I would LOVE to say this has taken instant effect and the kids are always careful to not crowd in and talk at the same time or slow their speech BUT… well we are on a great learning curve right now. I am a firm believer in the idea that if I explain these seemingly grown up issues to the kids in a way they can understand they too can be a part of the healing process.

But I ask you, do you seriously think we could have kept it completely from them? There is a saying – Little pitchers have big ears. Basically be careful what you say in front of children… for all that they seem deaf when you ask them a question or tell them to go do a chore, that whispered conversation in the front of the van is heard clear to the back. I would rather they sat down with us and were given proper information than they picked it up here and there and then repeated these little nuggets to the world at large out of order and improperly.

Our children are our future and for mental health and mental illness to ever be properly addressed we really need to continue our education with them and as soon as possible. Echo does not care that Daddy goes to therapy, in fact, she loves tagging along to see his work aid. The boys are well aware that Dad was not as happy and involved as he is now, they are SO pleased when he takes interest in their assignment or pitches in on a science project.

The road is not a smooth one, feelings are hurt when we have to cancel for an appointment, and sometimes he returns too drained to be involved with us… we are still trying to strike a balance with what Ken WANTS to do in regards to education and family and what he CAN do or can AIM for. This does slow my process down with planning and at times a project just MAY go on a bit longer than expected… BUT having that additional involvement in our school of Ken and his own interests and skill set is a win win for us all.

I think that having the whole family participating in positive ways as a healthy unit is an important part of the healing process. We are not just healing Ken with his series of issues and diagnosis but we are healing a family that wasn’t even aware it was hurting. That is the most amazing part of this process, before we were aware we were hurting we were healing. When one of the family is in need we are all in need. I think that this process is filling a void that we didn’t know existed.

So basically, while I think that keeping many of the details of an illness from children can be the best choice… telling them all about how feeling super sad and having emotions you simply cannot deal with as an adult means it is absolutely ok to go talk to someone and seek help allows them to see that as children those sorts of emotions are something to share and talk about. Silence is really one of the biggest stumbling blocks in healing mental illness, let alone diagnosing it. 

Well, here I end this entry… and as usual I end with a reminder… for those who are suffering, either in silence or as they seek help… we are here with you… those who support others… we applaud you and hold out a hand to hold in solidarity… because EVERYONE should know they are loved, know that WE love you! Reach out, talk, share and heal. It will make us ALL better people! DSCN1583[1]