I've noticed that many of my friends and family have left blogging, and moved exclusively to other social media outlets. With Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc, its become easier to spend time on those sites rather than blog. What are your thoughts?
First off, all conference talks are awesome ... and Elder Holland's was exceptional. Then I heard Elder Holland, with tears in his eyes, say: "I testify God will send help ... from both sides of the veil, to strengthen our belief." At that moment, I realized that God had answered MY prayer just that way.
The last few days have been so rough. My depression was swallowing me up, and the combination of a medication mix-up between the pharmacy and insurance company, my kids being home all week for spring break, my vacuum dying right as my 85lb fluff-ball dog started shedding, and my husband being out of town on a guys trip, (among other things), was just too much for me to handle. During the first session of conference, I had a full-blown panic attack. I was so overwhelmed and beyond reason. I franticly tried to clean, rearrange the kids, and listen to conference, trying (and failing) to bite back my grouchiness. And then I lost it. I told my kids to stay downstairs, and that mommy was going to have a Time-out.
I went up to my room, closed the door, and let the sobs loose. I cried, even when it physically hurt to sob so hard. I tried to call my husband, multiple times, but he didn't answer. I sobbed more and more, and the darkness started to take over. Intrusive thoughts began taunting me, and my mind kept repeating:
"I can't do this anymore.
Can't I just be done?
I can't do this. I'm so alone. I'm done."
At that moment, I begged God to help me, give me relief from my anxiety and thoughts. Help my mind to stop thinking such harmful things. Help me feel peace.
The thought popped into my mind to call my mom. I texted her, and then called. She was able to spend the next 30+ minutes talking me through my panic, and reminding me to breathe. This might not seem significant, but I rarely open up to anyone but my husband, and he's the only one who can usually help me through a panic attack. While on the phone with my mom, the doorbell rang. I ignored it, but my kids answered ... a thoughtful neighbor had brought by cupcakes for us. After talking to my mom, I was able to get my kids lunch, apologize to them for having gotten frustrated before, and put the toddler down for a nap. Then I curled up and took a nap too.
My husband and mom both called and texted to check up on me, and then I slept peacefully for the next couple hours. I woke up with a huge headache, but feeling calm but exhausted ... panic attacks really drain my whole energy. About that time, my visiting teacher called. She had made way too much pulled pork, would I be willing to let her bring by dinner for my family? Um, sure, thank you so very much! She brought by the meat, rice, and some fruit salad. That homecooked meal made us all feel happily stuffed and loved. I had the energy to go through the bedtime routines with my kids, and got them all snuggled up and tucked in. Then, a friend dropped by with beautiful sunflowers for me. Have I ever mentioned that I adore sunflowers? Sunflowers make me happy, I just utterly love sunflowers. My day ended with me falling asleep smiling over those pretty flowers, and the dinner and treats that were brought over.
These people were inspired to know what to do or say, and brighten my day, allowing me to see the light through the darkness of depression. I have no doubt that God was mindful of me, and through these wonderful helpers, comfort me in a time when I so desperately needed it.
A friend of mine shared this article with me: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/04/what-christians-need-to-know-about-mental-health/ It was beautifully written, so accurate and honest. I wish everyone would read it, and have compassion for those dealing with illnesses or disabilities, both physical and mental. Just because its "mental" doesn't mean it's made up or just in your mind. Its not something you can "just get over". Its a true illness, and can be debilitating. It takes so much out of a person, and their family. They need a little extra love, reassurance, and sunshine in their life. And each of us can try to listen to the spirit, so we can be God's help to someone else. Because there are not many things more special than being able to be a reminder to someone of God's love for them.
A lifetime ago, I blogged about my PPD and suicide attempt. In reality, it was 7 years ago, but things are so different that it feels like another life. I still have depression, but its very carefully monitored by me and my advocates (husband, doctor, friends), and I have a very tailored treatment, which keeps me doing fairly well. I still have rough times, but I no longer have the intrusive thoughts, and scary darkness and loneliness that came with severe depression.
Recently, a neighbor's husband passed away. When I found out it was suicide, my heart broke, and I spent the rest of the day sobbing. I hardly knew them, only met him once, but the situation hit very close to my heart. Why did God allow me to live, when others don't? I don't have the answer. I'm heartbroken for those who live on, when their family member or friend takes their own life. I feel like I have a bit of a glimpse of what was going on for their family member / friend, and it takes me back to that horrible day when I attempted.
The thing that really tears at me is watching the survivors pick up the pieces and having to keep moving forward in life. Knowing how close my husband and 3 children were to being in that situation. And SweetPea ... don't even remind me that baby SweetPea would have never been part of my life. I try very hard not to dwell on the "what ifs", but its hard not to sometimes, and see the stark difference that makes my heart heavy and sad.
A lot of the time during my severe depression is dark and blank. I don't remember much of baby Sunshine's first year, it was all foggy and dark. I do remember very clearly how I felt in the time leading up to my attempt, those feelings, the state of my mind, and what I felt my reality was. I hope that sharing this will help those who are survivors, who wonder why their family member or friend committed suicide, why they couldn't see how much they were needed, why they were so selfish.
I was living in basic survival mode, sleeping, changing diapers, laundry, and I sat in a daze often. I did what absolutely had to be done, and my mind had a constant monologue telling me how I wasn't good enough, I would never be good enough, and my family would be so much better without me in their lives. Now that I am recovered and all, its very easy to see how tragically flawed this thinking was, but at that time, the depression was so thick, I wasn't living in reality. In my world, everything was dark and painful. I was always tired, so very tired. I was never good enough to be worthy of anyone's love. I wanted to go to sleep and not have to face day after day of darkness. However, I hid it well. I thought that my burdens were something I deserved, and shouldn't dump on others. I thought that if I talked about the taboo subject of depression, mental illness, or suicide, that people would see how worthless I was. So I pretended to smile all the time, and kept telling myself to "fake-it-but-you-still-won't-make-it".
Don't ever try to tell me that I (or anyone with depression) should have tried harder to be happy. That is one of my pet peeves, when someone is to the point of questioning their life, to think that the easy answers will help them, the religious Sunday school answers, the exercise answers. All those did for me was make me feel like I was a worse human being. I tried, but I still felt completely alone, like my Heavenly Father didn't feel like I was worthy of his love or blessings. Everywhere I looked showed me how unlovable and undeserving I was. I didn't deserve the love people did give to me, and if they tried to tell me how much they cared, I smiled, but inside I knew that they didn't mean it. The world I was living in was dark and lonely and scary, and I just wanted out.
Depression is NOT a choice. Its a CHEMICAL IMBALANCE. I was NOT choosing to feel that way. I was very sick. VERY SICK. There are so many people who don't consider mental illness a real sickness. IT IS VERY REAL AND VERY TERRIFYING. Its like a cancer that people will judge you for having, tell you to suck it up and just get over it. People like that need smacked ... in the face ... with a chair (not really, but they need a reality check, and hopefully they never have to experience it first hand to truly understand) You can't just suck it up and choose to move on. You need serious help, medical help.
I've heard people say that suicide is a sin. I'm sure it can be. However, I also believe very strongly that people who are suffering enough to consider suicide often are not "in their right mind". I believe that God has such sorrow that their mind isn't working, and they don't understand how special they are. I know that my savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for me, knows exactly how I felt. In the Bible, Mark 15: 34 says: "And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He knows what it feels like to be alone, and being submerged in darkness.
I know that God is fair and just, and can see in our hearts, and know what is truly there, and that many cases of suicide are not a conniving sin, but a tragic side effect of severe mental illness. I was not attempting suicide for a selfish reason, rather I had the delusional idea that it was selfless, it would give my family happiness in the long run, and they would be better off without me there.
Some of the trouble with people who haven't experienced depression, and try to judge what should be done, don't understand. People who are to the point of suicide are not mentally in the same world as you. Trying to rationalize or reason with them isn't actually helpful. Sure, they might smile and nod, and thank you for your help, but all they heard was "You're broken, and you can't be fixed" over and over in their head.
Now, 7 years later, I look back at myself during that time, and my heart breaks for that girl, so lost, lonely, hurting and scared who felt like suicide was the only option. I now have the ability to think clearly, and I think about everything I would have missed if my husband hadn't acted so quickly, if I had succeeded in my attempt. And I cry for everything I have. I cry out of sorrow and happiness for the opportunity I have to watch my children grow up and turn into such special people. My heart aches and I sob at the idea of never having our fourth baby, our little SweetPea miracle. And I have to stop the "what-ifs" very quickly, or I quickly work myself into a series of sobbing panic attacks and hatred for what I tried to do.
For those who are survivors of someone who has committed suicide due to clinical depression, I hope you can find peace. I hope you know that they loved you, and your love WAS enough, but the illness had already taken over. I hope you know that God is watching over you, His heart heavy from the load you have to bear. He is there for you. He loves you.
Depression sucks, but if we can all be more kind and sensitive, and find compassion for those who are living with depression, whether we know them or not, then maybe people will be more willing to share their stories and experiences. Life is about learning and growing, helping those around us. Life is hard for all of us, but maybe as we look around, we can find people who need our help to see the sunshine around them.
Lots going on in our house! SweetPea turned ONE!!!! There's just a month left until summer vacation. Our Bernese Mountain dog, Dakota, is due with puppies in 2 weeks (and has her very own blog now, lol!) Plus, my youngest sister has been living with us, and I'm trying to spring clean. Busy!
I can't believe my lil SweetPea is going to be ONE tomorrow. Its so bittersweet - I know that the next stage is so very fun, but I'm not done enjoying this stage. It's just blissful, I so adore her. I've enjoyed all my babies, but the other three were so close together (3 in 3 1/2 years!) that I was just in a sleep-deprived state of exhaustion the whole time. With SweetPea, the older 3 are in school all day, and I am able to just sit and rock SweetPea and snuggle my day away.
One year ago, my head hurt like crazy, an endless headache that I couldn't get rid of. I remember laying on the recliner, trying not to cry from the headache, because I knew crying would make my head hurt even worse. I do miss the kicks and punches in my belly, that special time when I had SweetPea all to myself for months. Feeling her move, her hiccups, and wondering what she would look like. But pregnancy was really rough. Bedrest for 11 weeks was very hard on me, but especially my family. My kids would worry about me, and fuss over me, instead of me being able to fuss over them. It wasn't easy. But we all agree that SweetPea was worth it.
I could have never imagined how perfect she would be, and how she fit into our family like she'd always been here. My other children all adore her to bits - it makes my heart swell when I see them feeding her or getting concerned over whether or not a toy is "baby-safe". And SweetPea adores them too - they can get her laughing uncontrollably, she wants to be just like them, be in the same room as them, playing with the same toys as them. It's darling.
Then there's the fact that SweetPea is a MAJOR mama's girl. Poor hubby! He tries so hard, and she does love him, and babbles all the time about her "da-da", but she's stingy with the kisses and snugs when it comes to anyone but mama. Luckily he doesn't mind too terribly, and I love that my baby seems to enjoy being my baby, snuggling with me, burying her head in my neck. ***swoon*** Those are the moments that I wish I could capture, and relive a few years ... or months ... down the road when I desperately miss it!
All the rambling ... to say, tomorrow my baby turns one. I am so sad that this year has flown by so quickly, but so happy and overwhelmed with gratitude that she came to us and God let her stay with us.
Yesterday, we dropped Koda off to a breeder's house (hopefully we'll have some puppies come May!) We loved being back up in the higher elevations, nestled up in a mountain valley. I am such a country girl at heart!
I think Koda loved it too!
The kids loved meeting Koda's "Husband", named "Bishop"
I think their puppies are going to be so gorgeous!
It's ridiculous how much we are missing our Koda. She's become such a basic part of our lives. So many things we do, so many of our routines, include her. Last night, I was getting ready to head up to bed, and started towards the front door to let Koda out for her nightly restroom break ... I was pitifully sad to remember that Koda wasn't here. This morning, I thought "Should I kennel Koda, or bring her with me to drop off the kids? Hmm, I'll bring ..." Then I realized Koda wan't home today!
Our big question right now is if we are going to keep a puppy from this litter ... I guess we'll see!
SweetPea is starting to leave the baby stage behind. She's 9 1/2 months, and oh my goodness, she is into everything! I'm glad we've done a bit of "baby-proofing", but with this little one, we are going to need to do some more!