Tag Archive | therapy

Having the “Sads” and other Confusing Terminology

Well maybe not CONFUSING… more specific to a family that is knowledgeable first hand about depression. July was over in a blink and August has done a dash on me, and in its wake has left me with a case of what we call the “sads”… Now what is the “sads” you may ask? And well you should!

Through out my marriage to Ken there have been MANY discussions about feelings (sadly sometimes one of us was much more up front and honest about the ones spinning around in their heads. But that is more an ability to voice and accept than a withholding so settle down Mr. Man). Depression is a word that the world seems to toss around a lot. Much like love in our society – if you listen to people talk in general we pretty well love EVERYTHING. Love is not reserved for the significant or special. You can love you partner just like you loved that piece of celery you munched down on at the YMCA. (ok a rather specific example, but I have eaten A LOT of celery lately).

The word depression or depressed can be tossed out and used on a whim as well. I was so depressed, my favourite show ended. Wow was that movie depressing. This is not the same thing as what Ken and I term capital “D” Depression. Capital “D” Depression is a whole different realm of emotions (and if you ask Ken I am sure he would sometimes term it as his own personal hell). In this family we reserve the term DEPRESSION for those scary times. For the active emotional quagmire that is full blown depression. For the moments of unease and confusion that are not tolerable or fleeting.

Lower case “d” depression comes up when we are mid journey after medications have been settled and therapy begun. Lower case “d” depression is the emotions and thoughts we are working on, the stuff we know now is running through his mind on repeat and are aware of but cannot yet shut off. Ken is depression, he is dealing with depression but he is not Depressed right now… that nasty little dialogue in his head is not the winning thought pattern. He is not cured, he is not “done” he is dealing and improving at that point – he is depressed but on the way out of it. He is an amazing work in progress.

So hopefully everyone is following me so far – Capital “D” depressed – SUPER BAD NEWS… lets not toss that term around unless we are sure… lower case “d” depression – well still not “good news” but it is a process right? We can use this term carefully. That movie didn’t make me depressed, though if I am dealing with depression I bet it sure didn’t help – maybe it reminded me (ok not me – Ken? someone who is mid journey?) of thoughts I am trying to deal with differently, etc etc.

NOW for the “sads” – I kinda of see this as the Lisa form of depression – when I am utterly honest and rational (cue Ken with a joke asking if my time of the month is imminent and then lifting an eyebrow and reminding me of irrational behavior I honestly own up to) I can totally explain them all… though in the throes of the “sads”… well, the “sads” can feel (in the moment), overwhelming and impossible. I can be in the middle of it an not know why the heck I feel that way. BUT and here is the big BUT – the “sads” are not forever. The “sads” are explainable and once you come upon the reason – the niggling nugget of brain unrest and down trodden feelings, the “sads” become… well… maybe the “merely morose”, the “meh I’ve felt better”s.

The “sads” are a normal human reaction to so many things – not enough sleep, too many good byes, too much activity, that super sad movie that lingers in your brain. THOSE are triggers for the “sads”. They are not a sign that you need medication (unless hugs and chocolate and a good long rest are considered medication). They are a sign that you are human. We feel A LOT, we ignore A LOT. We hide from emotions sometimes and that is not good. When I get the “sads” I tell someone, I talk about it, I think about it and I figure out why the heck on a sunny day (like the day I am writing this on) I felt so meh, so blah, so not happy happy joy joy. And, after a bit of introspection I realized – well hot damn, I miss my friends back home and all my crochet work for people up north, my dear friend heading home herself for a visit, the people who ARE planning to come and those who CAN’T… well I wasn’t taking a moment to breathe and be ok with the fact that I am a wee bit homesick. Instead I was packing on the activities and wallowing in my “sads” inadvertently.

My point is – maybe we need some new terms, some levels of emotions, some quantifying of our harder and darker emotions. Seriously, telling Ken I have the “sads” makes him almost smile and in that moment I am already working my way out of them. I have named my darker and harder to shake emotions. I know that they are fleeting and that they won’t hang on for long if I work on my thought process and acknowledge my off kilter internal dialogue.

When we use the term depression a lot I think we diminish its definition. We need to realize that it is ok to admit to depression in all its stages but we also need to realize that we cannot place that term on things that do not fall within the true definition of it. Though this may be more relevant for those living with depression/anxiety/bipolar etc. When you can place a certain weight on that specific term you can better explain to your support system your current mental well being. When I ask Ken how he is feeling he doesn’t say I am depressed, rather he will use other terms to equate the level of his emotional well being. I don’t have to guess what depression means. That way if (heaven forbid) emotions make a downturn we have a safe word almost to let him alert me to that change.

PLUS who doesn’t feel like having the “sads” is something surmountable? I, for one, am not going to let something so silly sounding as the “sads” take me out of the game for more than a day (or two tops, I promise). Instead I am going to delve deep, shed some tears if I need to (I am a crier, true story) and remember that as homesick as I get – it will pass (maybe with the assist of chocolate but who am I to tell?).

As always – those who are suffering – never alone, never – we are here and if you need a shoulder – message me! And those who are support – well you are amazing and we all know it!

Take care, please share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions! Til next time! IMG_20160628_144336

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

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