Tag Archive | Canadian

Some Things Are Just Never Going to Go Away

This is another reality that has become very clear to myself and Ken (through speaking with his therapist). There is no true cure for clinical depression (I have discussed this before). There is managing and something of a remission. But there is no out and out we are done with this YIPPEE we are free. And that is ok. This is something we have come to grips with, rationalized about, realized the reality and come to a point of peace with.

Invisible illnesses, mental illnesses, are frankly often something we don’t work to eradicate, rather work to manage, maintain and at the best control. Known quantity to most people… right?

The things that catch us unawares are those that are often symptoms and learned behaviours. Some so deeply ingrained that really you are not going to have them go away.

For our family it is the ever looming issue of PROCRASTINATION. Now, I am by nature, NOT a procrastinator. I am a go at it, get it done kind of girl. Nothing is more satisfying than tackling the issues (even in parts and over time) and managing to hit deadlines and goals. Give me steps and processes and I am your girl. Give me a simple form and a pen and I will sit down and it RIGHT THEN AND THERE.

Ken… well… I remember back in Canada (when we thought he was better, but apparently he was not in hindsight) when he had a form to fill out – something simple, to go back to the government about something to do with his status. Being an adult and all that I let him be, until the date was coming up. He rationalized the not doing it yet as – he was mad at the government for this seemingly duplicate and annoying form so he didn’t fill it out yet… to stick it to them???

Ok… rational and somewhat healthy adult mind goes – WHHHHHAAAAA? What it really was was that Ken’s full blown inclination to procrastinate was totally kicked into high gear. Why do now what can be done the day before a deadline (and believe you me… that is something that drives me MAD – I was a paper done in college weeks early kind of girl).

The reality of our situation is that procrastination is forever a part of Ken and his personality. Where I am like – let’s get this DONE. He is always on the other side tugging back and trying to slow down. It is subconscious (which makes it even harder to deal with) and persistent. It is also diminished as he gets healthier. BUT it is not going to be “cured”.

I think we all have these little… personality quirks. That trip us up. Kid you not, I am really horrible at saying no. I have a hard time hurting feelings (some jokingly say I am stereo-typical Canadian to the core). This leads to emotional investment in making people happy to a degree that is not always healthy for me.

It is on me to work hard to diminish the pull to be something of a people pleaser. Yet, I am always going to want to do it. That is the reality of it.

I think that we are used to adjusting and altering these personality quirks in a “regular” lifestyle. But, you add in mental illness and there is almost a feeling of let down or sadness that this more minor issue (compared to full blown depression) cannot be eradicated.

It can be hard to realize that BETTER or DIMINISHED is a good thing. In fact, compared to the overwhelming pressures of depression these smaller issues are so less dramatic and dangerous on their own that they really are NOT the huge deal they may seem to be when isolated and discussed.

We cannot expect the removal of a personality trait from a person who is NOT suffering from something like depression, bipolar, anxiety… anymore than we can look within ourselves and see to the destruction of some less than savory traits of our own in a healthier mind and body.

Our personalities are a combination of the good, bad and indifferent. While we can improve and alter ourselves we have to realize that we are who we are. The frustration at being unable to completely change a character trait is acceptable, but only if we also work equally as hard to control it. Blame cannot be liberally placed on it being who we are. Instead we need to know that about ourselves, accept outside support and realize that life is what we make of it.

So while Ken works against his instinctual need to procrastinate I have an opportunity to say WAIT you know we want this done in time. It is not easy on either side. He feels an urge not to, and when it becomes a sore spot often seems to be angry at me, when in reality he is angry at himself. Me, I am battling my need to be super fast and ahead of the curve and my frustration that once again Ken seems to blame me for his action. But we talk it out, we share and we try. And that is all I can ask for.img_20160624_221625

Justification and Proving Oneself

Right off the bat I want to say… with all the skills I listed in a previous blog post this falls under abilities I seem to OVER USE. Our identity in today’s day and age seems to be intrinsically tied in with our ability to justify our lifestyle or prove our worth. When you make a decision how often does it feel like you now have to explain why you did so to this person or that? When you take on an endeavor how often do you feel the need to do even MORE just to ensure that the world doesn’t question your abilities?

I truly believe that the one you need to prove yourself to is really yourself. What really do we owe the world at large that makes it necessary to explain away every decision, every unique thought, every new path we chose? What gave the opinions of others such weight that we come up with reasons and proof that what we KNOW deep inside is the right decision is actually the best one?

I find myself daily trying to justify myself. Why I chose to have 5 kids (well WE chose), why I do things the way I do, why we homeschool… I am always trying to do MORE just to prove that I am right and the naysayers are wrong.

We do so much to justify Ken’s path… to prove his journey is viable and necessary. Now, don’t get me wrong… to get government programs, to deal with the world at large we DO need to do some proving. BUT the actual internal journey – our chosen path and route… that is something we neither need to justify or prove, but simply live.

The proof is in the pudding. That saying is something I remember from childhood onward… but what does it mean? Wiktionary has a definition (Wiktionary). Basically that you really can’t understand something until you try out or use it. Can’t PROVE it. (the full saying is the proof of the pudding is in the eating) So really, I can’t prove anything to you unless you are willing to go and live that choice yourself.

So what does this mean? Well it means that my proving something to you CANNOT be the final goal. I cannot prove to you that homeschooling works. I can prove TO MYSELF that it does, I can merely SHOW you that it is possible. And that is enough. It has to be, as no matter what I do you aren’t tasting that pudding yourself.

I cannot prove to you that therapy is the answer, that depression is best treated a specific way. It is tricky that way. There again you are not eating the pudding by reading my blog series on depression. You are merely experiencing my story and seeing the possibilities. What we have done is proven to ourselves through living this lifestyle, and fighting through the ups and downs that it is possible, that it WILL be possible for us to be healthier and happier than ever before. I have tasted the pudding and it is “glorious” (as Ken would say).

So proving something is almost a taunt… I can show you that amazing pudding, waft the smell of it your way, make all the food-gasm sounds. I have given you a description, an idea and a hope. The only way for you to prove it for yourself is to take your own steps.

Now justifying is a little more tricky. After all often times justification is something we create ourselves as a necessary evil. I feel the need to justify my choices to myself, to Ken, to other people when in reality why do I need to? Why do I need to justify my choice to homeschool when I can just do it and have it succeed? Why do we need to justify Ken’s therapy when we can simply embrace it and have it work? Why do we need to justify our emotions when feelings come and go and are natural in and of themselves? What is so crucial that we need to take each and every step/choice/milestone and create reasons for things we feel in our hearts are right?

I frustrate myself with my need to justify homeschooling. When someone asks why, why do I not simply say – because it works for us? Why do I cave and say… we take it year by year… well the twins were preemies… or the myriad of other ready made reasons to justify my choice and prove it is right? I have NEVER gone up to a public school parent and said – so why do you not keep your kid home for school? Why don’t you take the additional responsibility of schooling your kid on? I don’t expect them to justify and prove their choice… so when do I allow myself the same luxury?

Justification and proof are chains that ensure we diminish our enjoyment and total embracing of our decisions, our changes and our lifestyles. Children are a perfect example of this. I watch Echo make decisions and enjoy them to the fullest BECAUSE she has the belief that she is doing the right thing firmly cemented in her mind. She can wear that crazy mixed up outfit and own it because she says she likes it. And you know what? Her confidence and her belief in herself and her choice sells it.

So justification and proving of choices. Can we truly walk away from it all? Well, sadly no. There is always going to be something we DO need to prove (some of the more mundane things – identity, blood type, job qualifications) BUT there is so much more we can embrace, have faith in and live out to the fullest.

My goal is to stop proving to everyone that my lifestyle is best. Because in successfully living it my family is a walking billboard for it anyway. There is no reason to justify my 5 kids. There is no need to prove that homeschool is right. I don’t have to convince you, I simply need to convince myself. I am not trying to sell my lifestyle and my journey to you as something YOU should do, rather I am trying to include you, invite you in to experience my own personal brand of madness…

No one can really see all the proof they need or the justifications they want in someone else’s life. And why should they? Unless I am trying to sell my choices to you, or am endangering myself or my children… how does it become your deal? This blog, this series of posts about depression and my family is not here to prove anything, to justify anything… it is here to support you, to give you an idea of the reality of my life… to give you options to explore. To give you an idea of the opportunities out there to take advantage of. To let you taste your own pudding.

So to recap – proving and justifying all the decisions you make, the judgement calls you have, the paths you chose… not going to truly happen. Stop trying to sell your lifestyle to others and caving to giving them explanations. Instead model the life you have chosen to give them an idea of a possibility.

And for those of you on the path of healing from mental illness – that is your path. Don’t justify it with the world, live it, embrace it and show others in doing so that healing and happiness is possible! I am so proud of you, WE are so proud of you… this journey is quite the ride! And for those along as support – don’t ask for proof, don’t as for justification… ask them to live. Because then you can be a part of it too. You can feel the progress, hold onto the joy and see the possibilities.

Once again thank you to my fellow Canadian girl in an American world… your chat on messenger triggered this long winded post. We make a great team!img_20160626_113442

Daily Life and the Far Reaching Effects of Depression

I know I have mentioned time and time again that our family has been affected by depression on a grand scale, it is a daily part of our life and often dialogue within the house, and within the greater world. This has meant grand and small changes on a very consistent basis.

People have had varied reactions to our choice to homeschool (and have from the very beginning). This is a choice we made when we first married, something we discussed during our engagement in great detail and implemented from the birth of our twins in 2004. But anyway, we have had people laugh, think we are nuts, tell us we will ruin our children, support us with a smile on their face (sometimes this reaction is from the most unlikely of acquaintances), go out of their way to help us find resources and even ask us when we were going to come to our senses and put them in a proper school.

Ken’s therapist stands apart from all that, when he walked into therapy at a low point in his health, where his confidence in himself and his choices was tarnished (in fact, he had sided with some of the naysayers on things that past year simply to avoid arguments and complex situation which was devastating for yours truly) she said explain your family and your home. When he brought up homeschooling she lit up and embraced the situation.

How better to start bringing Ken back into the family and out of his self imposed isolation (seriously locked himself on the computer and in our bedroom while I ran the house like a single parent) than to bring him into our daily lives? Simply have him sit down and read a story, take that first step out the door and walk that nature walk with us while we enjoy Minnesota on a basic level.

Homeschooling is a 5 day a week process for us with a basic and consistent backbone of work and then the varied topics and processes we add as we go. Someone who is actively depressed often cannot slip into that process without resistance and resist Ken did. BUT we had him involved in simple things and through that he reconnected with his kids. Something that was crucial to our FAMILY’S well being.

That is not to say there wasn’t and isn’t hiccups. Part of the process is to give Ken a responsibility… like science, that he will captain. This is a two fold problem. He needs to take responsibility and finish what he starts, but at the same time I cannot allow the schooling to suffer. Give and take, a tug of war, but it is for a good reason. The kids need his involvement and I need the break. Thankfully there is a lovely ebb and flow to schooling. When a month simply does not go according to plan (not a unique thing to be sure), the next month or months compensates.

It is not all sunshine and roses, but that unique bond that is there with the teacher and student allows for interaction and a role Ken can take on and tailor and show the kids that this illness is not going to take him away from them permanently.

This is something I cannot stress enough… while you are depressed, actively depressed relationships ARE injured. You push people away, you put out that false front. Our kids are so much smarter than you think. (HERE) In the middle of your suffering they are suffering too. We all are, I have never felt so alone as when Ken was in full on depression (Capital D depression as we call it). I never signed up to be a single parent (for the most part who does), but there I was coping with everything but rides and minor disciplining, alone. That is hard for the entire family and one of our first steps in recovery and change was to repair those breeches. (not easy, I still have my moments of anger at the situation, guilt at not catching on and sadness for time lost)

Homeschool became the catalyst for that. And while not everyone homeschools (we ARE in the minority right now), there is most likely some activity in your life that would work wonderfully for instigating the regrowth of relationships and personal connections. This is something you should strive for. Contrary to some people’s beliefs we are not islands, we are built for interactions (maybe less so for some but total isolation is never healthy). Any sort of illness will damage or at the very least, affect these contacts. That is one of the joys of becoming healthy, it is a chance to make the repairs a part of your process.

Our entire lifestyle has been altered with the return of Ken’s depression. We are becoming more and more aware of how we need to be an inclusive unit. We cannot allow for someone to hide away in a room for long periods of non productive time (Ken IS a coder after all), to remove themselves from all of the hustle and bustle of a busy family of 7. We need to be inclusive and accepting that this is not an instant thing. Ken took ages to want or have the energy to be involved with us and even today fights procrastination tendencies. This is the reality of things, our reality and really all we can do is embrace it and move forward.

As always I want to thank everyone for their support as I find my voice in this life of ours. I want to extend love and support and acceptance to all that are finding their own path and thank each and every person who is a supporter. No one has to be alone and my family and myself are here!

As well, please feel free to suggest topics or ideas to cover. Many of my newer posts, like this one suggested by a good friend and fellow transplanted Canadian mom (Thanks lady!) are based on a suggestion or even a sentence that triggers a whole new pattern of thought.20160709_201845