Tag Archive | mental health

Rethinking And the Capital D Depression

I know I have covered this topic in some detail ages ago with my post called Having the “Sads” and Other Confusing Terminology…do take a look back if you are so inclined as I explain my own emotional well being descriptor words. But with today’s active conversation on the usage of some very important words in certain very specific arenas I felt the time was good for a bit of a refresher.

Of course, I must say this is all MY personal opinion born of our family’s attempt to normalize and understand how mental health has affected us and our future… and here I go.

Depression … I mean the word, what does it mean to you? Depressed, how do you use it? Is it a common word used to describe a vast series of emotional (and not so emotional) situations? Do you keep that word on reserve?

In our family the word depression/feeling depressed has been given a special weight to it. Now there is a reason for this… mental health is not a tangiable thing, you can’t see the illness, you can just see the effects.

I am sad that the ice cream fell off my cone, I can rally back with a new ice cream, a different treat, or the knowledge that this is just something that happened.

I am depressed when I cannot rally back, I cannot just pull myself out of what others perceive as a “funk”. I am fighting against a current (well not so much me, as this is not something I have personally experienced… but as Ken has explained it to me. And other likewise diagnosed friends), possibly stuck or sinking down. That is depressed.

I have often discussed with my kids the importance of proper word usage. The English language is an evolving language. It is our responsibility to realize that our words have power. It is our responsibility to try and understand that some of these words have gravity.

I want my children to know that if they come to me and say, “Mommy, I feel depressed, things aren’t right”. That I WILL take them seriously. I will take you, my reader, my friend, my family member, or even just someone who needs to say it seriously.

Depression is not spilled milk or a cancelled movie. Depression is heartbreak and soul tearing sadness and fear. It is suicidal thoughts and negative voices. It is serious and I want to respect that. I need to know that if Ken were to tell me he felt depressed I need to take it seriously.

I think this conversation is timely and worth repeating now especially. The holiday season (whatever you do or do not celebrate) is not jolly for all. Repeated reminders of joyous families, large gifts and happiness can have an opposite affect for some. So let’s hold onto the knowledge that if someone were to say the feel depressed right now… maybe, just maybe we can listen and make a difference.

I felt sad this past week because there is so much family togetherness going on right now and my dearest friends who are family and family are a country away. But I easily was able to rally with phone calls, cards posted and gifts finished and sent off. I was not depressed, I was sad and that is valid. Not using the word depressed for that situation does not invalidate the experience but it does (I find) help keep it in perspective.

So, I hope I have gotten the conversation rolling again. Let’s ensure that we are aware of our words… English has so many beautiful options for degrees of emotions.

And if you need to use the word depressed, depression, worse yet suicidal… speak up. If not to a therapist or religious guide, I am here and willing to listen. My family to yours… we love you all. Thank you for entering my dialogue and listening to what I have to say. All my love in the holidays to everyone!IMG_20171210_002613_555

Potential… Lost… Found and Tapped

***Woo busy few weeks… Grandma Visit, Easter… I promise to get back into the swing***

Potential. What does it mean to “have potential”? To “tap into potential”? To “waste potential”?

Through out my life I have often wondered what my own potential truly was. Have I actually found a path that uses my potential the best way? Is the potential gone after I chose my path?

Potential as a word has a few definitions:

  1. having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.
  2. latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.
  3. the quantity determining the energy of mass in a gravitational field or of charge in an electric field.

Well… we can ignore the last one (I am not a whiz with physics). For my use here I am focusing on the first two. In high school there is a lot of discussion about your potential – your capacity to become something in the future. What direction is your life going to take as you reach adulthood? Now, I was told I could become pretty much anything I wanted… which was sweet. Though, thankfully, my Dad did suggest not a doctor (I am queasy about blood), maybe not something that requires strong knowledge in the sciences (yah… not something I excelled at) and possibly NOT maths (yah I have a hate hate relationship with higher level math… if it doesn’t hurt me, I won’t curse it out… much).

So… I went from high school to college and a direction in the fine arts. I found I had a lot of “potential” with courses that required a bending of thought and discussion… philosophy and religion. I found a direction – I PLANNED to become a minister in the Lutheran church (specifically the ELCIC – Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada). Potential tapped… right?

Ok, some come along with me here – I think EVERYONE reading this blog has realized something – Lisa is NOT a minister… or a philosopher… or a religious scholar… or (and this is grasping) a university professor in any of these disciplines. Nope, 100% wife and mother. So answer me this…

Did I waste my potential?

Who I was in high school with her interests and dreams and graduating marks, who I was in college with my wide eyed enthusiasm and excelling marks… did these “Lisas” get wasted? Or has it gone into hibernation waiting to be tapped?

Where 20 yr old Lisa was sure she would be a minister… 37 yr old Lisa is sure she is a good mother, a strong teacher, a rather fantastic crocheter (if I do say so myself). She has tapped into a NEW potential, something that was not held up as a solid opportunity way back in high school (because really, motherhood at 17/18 years old… nope not for me). I don’t believe I wasted it, I tapped into my potential for those 3+ years. I learned, I grew, I argued, I laughed and cried. BUT, in the end, I found NEW potential.

I found those latent (existing but not yet developed or manifest; hidden; concealed) qualities that were not tapped by my college education with our decision to start a family. Do I regret it? Nope! Amazingly enough, I filled my yearning for working in the church with committee work and promptly learned – I suck at politics. And, as much as I love the church, in any organization there are politics.

On top of that… and this should be no surprise for people who know me, I am shy!

No, I don’t think I wasted my potential. Would someone from the outside looking in come to a different conclusion… possibly. But here is a new question for you – does that matter? Often you will hear people talking about someone’s wasted potential. How they SHOULD have done this or that instead of the career they chose based on their own knowledge of that person at particular times of the person’s life.

She should have gone with that career in writing, after all in college she wrote such amazing papers. He should have gone into medicine, look at his amazing marks in science. They would have made an amazing singing group – after all they did all that singing in small bars during college.

The saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side”, comes to mind. Looking at his or her life as a youth, as a college student it may look as if they SHOULD have gone this way or that, but can we ever truly be in another person’s head? This is something that Ken has to deal with often. Depression, plus high intelligence and add in a strong personality and you have someone with lots of potential.

That potential is there with options. Some are absolutely obvious, some deep inside and kept secret. Using Ken as an example (cuz… Depression = Ken = my examples) he was an athlete up through to college and rather successful (this was known), he was and is very good with computers, but deep inside that muddled head of his is an artist, a bit of a scientist, maybe even a comedian.

So… let’s review what he did with his potential. Sports ended before we got married (choice and illness). Computers continued through to today. Art is something that he toys with and need to come back to again (again choice) and scientist has gone by the way-side.

So has he lost potential? Wasted it? Well, we came to realize now that sports/athletics were actually negatively impacting Ken’s mental health. Competition on that level and the stress to his body was not helping his inner dialogue. Of course, on the outside he broke records, played hard and won. BUT while everyone watched that potential being tapped a whole new potential was brewing underneath – the potential to lead to self harm, depression and possibly death.

Direction changed to computers, which has morphed now into the much healthier (due to having to be accountable daily to many and face to face communication) project manager. Project manager may not seem like the height of tapping potential but I am sitting here watching him grow and excel.

So, while some may say he had so much potential, I see it as he has so much adapting potential. KEN has adapted to a whole new lifestyle post depression, he has adapted to our family as it has grown, found a career that makes him the best he can be and stretches his limits. No, he is not an athlete, or a scientist or currently an artist BUT he is Ken. Amazing, ambitious, unique Ken.

So we have each tapped some potential and are always looking to find more. That is the other thing. So I am a mother, but I found a new potential in crochet, and I am not half bad at the recorder, maybe the piano will be some untapped potential I never even knew I had! That cannot be wasted if I never knew it existed, right?

Together Ken and I have the potential to be amazing, I kinda think we already are… just a bit! After all, humans are creatures of change even as we fight to stay the same. So, doesn’t it mean that our potential is ever changing, ever growing and morphing into something new? Now, I doubt I will ever have the potential to be a fighter pilot (ACK heights) or a sumo wrestler, but who knows, maybe… years down the line… you will come to read about Lisa the biblical scholar and Ken the divine artist?

After all, depression or no, personal limitations or not, our potential is there! And we ALL have the potential for greatness on some scale or another. So be that great person – after all… I already know you ARE!!!!IMG_20160624_221658

 

 

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