Tag Archive | CAPD

What I Learned About Myself in 3 Weeks…

So it is common knowledge that I got a tattoo the week after our 17 year anniversary. What surprised me is what I learned about myself in the three weeks healing time afterwards.

Day 2 and the beginning of the healing process.

Day 2 and the beginning of the healing process.

  1. Well I definitely don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, it is on proud and vibrant display on my left calf. And I hope people ask me about it. As the wife of a man who has been diagnosed not only with severe depression, but also CAPD, I found my symbol in his fight to control and manage his illnesses. The depression is represented by the semi colon or body of my butterfly. A more and more common symbol of depression and mental illness, it is a constant reminder for me of how I will never truly grasp how close I came to losing my husband and love of my life for ever on 2 separate occasions. Had he chosen to end his story instead of continuing on, my life, and the lives of my children would be very different right now. I have often spoken about how I feel the need to be an advocate for mental health awareness. Two helpful links – Project ; and in case you need help in knowing what to say  Make It Ok.org. Maybe one day someone will see my butterfly while I work out, or on a walk… or even peeking out in a fancy dress and ask me and I will have the chance to listen or share. If I can share my story, Ken’s story and help someone find help or become a source of support… icing on the cake. The other half of the butterfly is a wee bit obvious – maple leaf, Canada: you can take the girl out of Canada, but my origins are a massive part of my personality.Project-Semicolon-760x410
  2. Altering my body permanently was neither as earth shattering or life changing as I expected. Granted when I first got it done and posted it up on Facebook my little corner of the world shared its opinion and got excited. Some were impressed, some quick to admit they would never do the same, others wanted explanation of the image and many were surprised. But, the greater world, life in general… a blip on the radar. And you know what? That was more than OK! I love the reminder that some ink on my body was nothing more than a personal choice that I would now live with forever (proudly I might add). What was way more important is that my own children are super proud of their mom! It was an opportunity to remind them of the struggle dad has with his own mental health, and that it is OK to be sad, to need help. But they also need to be aware that mom really wants them to tell her… any time, any place, and if not her any responsible adult. Needles and healing and a choice that is permanent was simply that… a choice I made. Not the end of my life, though Ken was quick to tease me about his tatted up wife and how much of a rebel I was!IMG_20180704_125226_971
  3. Keeping my legs covered for 3 weeks seem to have given me the permission to embrace colour. My sari skirts were a bit of an impulse buy (Ken edit: If you call agonizing over a purchase for 3 weeks an ‘impulse buy’) if a bit difficult to pair up with shirts on hand, but for 3 weeks I have been colorful. Since some of the skirts only matched some crop tops I purchased recently belly baring became commonplace. It is a movement from worrying about fitting in, matching my clothes to my “life” and into comfort and colour and embracing the fact that I love brighter feathers. Plus, they make a lovely swish when I walk and I have always loved swishing and twirling since I was a little girl – why should that change now?20180628_152211
  4. Baths make me calmer and 3 weeks without that has been a bit of a struggle. I am not a girl who loves a hot shower, give me a long soak to relax away the tension and frustration of a long day anytime. The kids also enjoy the respite from mom after lunch when I took my lunch break. Maybe I really am more mermaid at heart than I like to admit? 
  5. That little square of skin is now the softest skin on my entire body, I swear! Lotion lotion lotion. Washing and lotion, no sun and then the itching. No one mentioned how high maintenance this small patch of skin would be, but worth it! Self care is so important, and this was a reminder to me that maybe I need to pay more attention. When you have to alter your life to look after a single body part… like my time spent on what we thought was my hip, but is now believed to be a slightly slipped disk from when I almost fell in the winter. The reality is I am growing older, and in order to do so gracefully and healthily I need to be more aware. Yoga, workouts, long walks, R.I.P.P.E.D. classes at the YMCA… they take on an even greater meaning when looked at from the perspective not of losing weight or strengthening up but of self care. Taking time for a nap without guilt (seriously I have to convince myself, idleness in my mind, becomes laziness or neglect… I have a very hard time just taking a moment and stopping), spending a few extra minutes working on your appearance and standing tall with confidence that you look awesome. I am learning more and more about these moments. I love myself, my insides and outsides, the family I have created, the life style I live. It is flawed and confusing and at times difficult but it is all amazing. The life I live, the appearance I put out there in the world is all proof that I love myself. That I take the time to care for myself and the ones I love. 

    No filter, not needed. Just hard work and comfortable in my own skin!

    No filter, not needed. Just hard work and comfortable in my own skin!

  6. I like feeling a little the rebel. Granted, many see me and my family as a bit more than a “little” rebellious with our large family size and homeschooling, or my lack of ability to drive and my insistence that we celebrate both Canadian and American holidays PLUS Chinese New Year. Ok… so I was already a bit of a rebel, but having a tattoo… that feels like a “cool” rebel. All that other stuff is more necessity or not a choice but a calling. I CHOSE to get a tattoo, I CHOSE the design and then had one of my oldest and dearest friends not only hold my hand through it all, but take pictures AND help with the design. Who else could be so lucky but to have someone who is basically a sister also be an amazing artist who can take my crazy ramblings and make something amazing on paper?? Thanks again Shandai! You ROCK! They say it takes a village to raise a family, well it sometimes takes friends to help create the perfect family unit too. I have been doubly blessed with an amazing community AND friends who are family to round out the flesh and blood relatives we were born with. (Plus Shandai is pretty cool, rebellious and all round awesome herself)

So there you have it, 6 things I learned about myself all from 30 min of tiny needles, ink and the hand of an amazing artist at Rose in No Man’s Land. I can’t say I won’t go back… My butterfly may need something sweet to land on yet. But for now… My heart is out there, open book. Ask me, share your story with me, read my story here (just search the word “depression” in my search box), my heart is open and I have found that sharing is so much more than simply caring. 

All healed up!

All healed up!

Socializing After Circling the Wagons

As always I am writing purely from my personal experience… but the first thing we did when Ken realized he was returning to suicidal thoughts and deep clinical and chemical depression was to “circle the wagons”… I am not sure if everyone is familiar with this saying so I will of course link a definition Circle the Wagons. Wiktionary seems to have a pretty clear definition.

Anyway, by circle the wagons I mean we really did stop the world and focus inward. This was crucial as we were literally working to ensure that Ken was out of danger from himself, his thoughts and any urges that he could have in the future. I am very grateful to my in-laws as they were in the thick if it right away due to proximity.

We had to reassess how we dealt with the public as a whole. How to do you hold a lighthearted conversation with a near stranger, close friend, acquaintance when your entire being is focused on the well being of one person? With the additional complication of not releasing to the greater world how bad and how dire things had gotten? This was not like he was diagnosed with cancer and now we were having a public battle with a disease. In order to get Ken the help he needed at the speed and comfort level he required we had to close our mouths and sometimes the door to those outside our immediate circle.

Really it became second nature for a while. We needed to deal with medication levels, government programs, therapy and psychiatry appointments. We had to familiarize 5 children with the situation in a way that they could comprehend and in a way that did not pressure them to take on any miss placed guilt, confusion or fear. It was a battle we had to fight quickly and quietly at first. There was no way that at that point in our journey to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle that I could blog like this, share like this. And boy did I want to.

Circling the wagons can be something that is comforting. We are home, safe and sound, no pressure from the outside… no people saying – but you don’t LOOK sick… or you can’t be THAT ill or I would have known (how would you have known when HE didn’t know? when his own wife didn’t know as she slept next to him night after night?)… no unanswerable questions, no slipping out of privileged information.

So we cut back on out meet and greets, worked out workable dialogues and explanations and focused our energy on what was crucial – reintegration of Ken into our family in a healthy manner AND a focus on getting Ken started on a path that was not self destructive and frightening.

Circling the wagons was swift and easy really, it is the “un” circling that has been the trick. Our reintegration into society (as trite as that sounds) was slow and painstaking. We had to push out of that comfort zone and remember that it is ok to share. My first job was to figure out the limit to what information we were willing to share. Did we want people to know how sick he had been? Do we let in the world on our process? Do we meet new people and just act like all is well?

Well the answer is … you try. And it was scary and hard and at times felt impossible. Having to explain that we couldn’t just get together because Ken had multiple appointments. That we have to cut back on everything because he is on medical leave and we simply do not have resources. That his health was so bad due to depression induced neglect that yes he needs naps and rest right now. These all were things we had to face, extend out and realize that maybe, just maybe everyone else would understand just a little. And if they didn’t – well maybe their place wasn’t in that part of our journey quite yet.

Meeting new people (something which I was very fearful about initially) has taken on a pattern. Depending on the venue I am very up front with Ken’s hearing issue. There is no point in beating around the bush – the man can’t process what you are saying if it is too noisy. He isn’t ignoring you he is… Ken. And that is ok. No one has laughed, no one has seemed upset or disbelieving. In fact, people are interested in knowing more!

I have become quick to mention, when someone asks WHY we have stayed where we are in the state, that mental health resources in Anoka county are AMAZING (cuz they ARE) and that Ken has depression so we stay where we can get resources to ensure he is healthy. You know what? No one has seemed all too disbelieving or unreasonable about that either!!!

BUT it is hard. There are days when I am peopled out… I carry the brunt of interaction in public due to Ken’s hearing issue AND being the buffer when he hits threshold, then add in 5 active children and my own shyness. Because even if I can type up a storm and in my own house be a chatty Kathy, throw me in a new situation in an unfamiliar location and BANG I really do want to sit back, crochet, and take it all in.

There are days when I worry the kids will say something that will come across wrong (of course I think many parents worry about that who are not dealing with an illness or something that they wish to divulge in their own limited fashion… kids are just too darn honest). That I will be shown up as a bad mom, a difficult wife, a lacking in something person. Insecurities run abundant when you are dealing with something so life changing and dependent on you playing your part.

SO what can be done? Well… for myself I find that my internal dialogue has to change. Ken’s illness is a starting point for a new life for us. One full of healthy walks, therapeutic talks, and a family that is now stronger than it has ever been. I have to release the fear that the kids will over share. They are kids and everyone knows that. I am not the only one with 12 yr olds who think they are grown adults, I may be in the minority with FIVE minions, but that is ok.

I am constantly seeking a balance, socializing with the necessary privacy, sharing with a reasonable stopping point, newness with a touch of familiarity. And it is all good. There may be people who cannot understand our family, but somehow I think that is more homeschooling/large family/random Canadian weirdness than Ken and his illness. Besides, how can I truly be an advocate for mental illness support if I don’t step out there, loosen up our wagons and let the reality go free? The grass may not be greener on my side but it certainly is wild and interesting.

As always, for those who are fighting their way through it… be aware, if you lock down some day do open back up. We are here waiting for you when you do. And those in support… remember, being let into that circle of support is such a gift. It is proof that you are an amazing person who is a positive impact on their health and their future. GO YOU!!! And anytime anyone needs a shoulder.. well we are here!

Once again. If you are interested in any of my depression and my family series do use my search engine. The term depression should bring up most. I hope to set up a better link series in the near future. And if you have an idea or topic to share. I would love that!IMG_20160722_145258

 

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]