Behind the Scenes of My Depression and Anxiety

Luckily, I’m one of those people who has no problem giving others a behind the scenes look at my life with depression and anxiety. In fact, I get a kick out of revealing how it all started. There’s no doubt that I had it in my genes long before, but this one life-changing event triggered it. My grandmother, father, and all three of my brothers live/lived with it as well. We all handled it differently. Some with unconventional means and some with the proper channels of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Either way, we’ve all survived. Grandma lived a long, happy life and we have fond memories of her sense of humor, generosity, love, and yummy midnight snacks.

For me, it started in the fall of 1986. I was just starting my second year of college at age 19. Sure, I considered myself an adult, but I was soon to find out that I was still just a teenager with a strong connection to my parents. I was in the “cool” dorm bunking with two friends. Over the summer, I had started dating a Marine, in a long-distance relationship. (Bad idea.) I was ready for an amazing year.

My parents called with the bombshell.

They were moving from my childhood home in Virginia (90 miles from college) to Newport Beach, California (about 3000 miles). And here’s the kicker…they assumed I would just move with them. In hindsight, maybe I should have. But, no. I was a mature young adult. I was in college. I had friends. I was deciding on my major. I was having a great time. And, of course, I had a boyfriend. After many arguments, they let me stay. And they bought me a car.

And that’s when the proverbial shit hit the fan.

Almost immediately, the depression and anxiety set in. I found myself crying all the time and a lot of mornings, unable to get out of bed. And guess who I called. My parents. Rightfully so, they had one answer…move to California. I still wouldn’t do it. I was determined to ride this out on my own. So, I did that. With lots of drinking and partying. Somehow I managed to get to class and dance rehearsals. Don’t really know how. I’m sure my dance program was a good outlet for the way I was feeling.

And what the heck was I feeling? Sad? Angry? Abandoned? Caught off guard? Treated unfairly? To this day, I really don’t know that I can give a label to what I was feeling. It was a physical and emotional attack that came without warning. I believe it was living inside me and had a damn good reason to surface.

The story continues with moves, transfers, break-ups, tons of phone calls, a couple visits to California, psychiatrists, moving in with my sister, more drinking, more partying, more bad relationships, a failed marriage, etc, etc, etc, until the day I had a full-blown panic attack and finally, finally, took this thing seriously and started to turn my life around.

That was in 2001. Fourteen years. I suffered. Just because I was stubborn.

The one saving grace that surely helped me through all of this was the communication with my parents. Yes, we disagreed. Yes, I made decisions that made them cringe. Yes, they wanted grab me up and take me under their care. But they let me find my own way without judgment and with an open line of communication.

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An article from Palmer Lake Recovery, Parents Guide: How To Help Your Teen Cope With Mental Health Issues, is an excellent resource. It discusses statistics, warning signs, causes, how to help, and useful resources.

Some ideas from the article that my parents handled well:

“A good starting point for you as a parent is to have a conversation with your teen in a constructive way that is non-confrontational and is focused on offering them the love and support that they may well need more than ever.”

“Your teen needs the sort of parental support that lets them know they are not facing their struggles alone and that you are there to support them through this difficult time. It is equally important that parents also have a support network they can call upon.”

behind the scenes

How I Deal with the Naysayers

How I Deal with the Naysayers

My husband and I picked up my parents last weekend and moved them to Florida.  Our five-year-old daughter stayed with a friend. It took us two days and about 20 hours of driving.  We made it safely and without any major incidents.

My father suffered a brain injury on August 1st and has been through ICU, additional surgeries, Rehab, Therapy, and pure hell since then. The injury was caused by a grave error made during heart surgery. His heart is perfect. The rest of him is not. He is not the strong, sharp, healthy 86-year-old man he was when he walked through those hospital doors almost three months ago. My mother, age 78, and quite healthy, is not the same either. She is exhausted, discouraged, frustrated, and sleep-deprived.

For these reasons, my husband and I are now taking them into our home for an indefinite period. Yes, this is daunting. Yes, it required a great deal of discussion and planning. Yes, it will change our lives. Yes, people are saying that I don’t know what I’m getting myself into.

But here’s what I have to say:

  • The next person who tells me that I don’t know what I’m getting myself into will get slapped.
  • I am an extremely positive person. This is the way I choose to live. This puts me at a distinct advantage.
  • I am pissed. Those doctors screwed up my father. I am determined to help fix him. Anger helps motivate me.
  • I adore my parents. They have bent over backwards for me my entire life. It is my turn to do the same.
  • Their granddaughter is the light of their lives. Why not let them bask in her light and soak up some of that youthful energy? And in the meantime, this is an opportunity to teach her compassion, patience, and understanding.
  • Everything is temporary. Accept it. Enjoy it if you can. Move on.
  • I am strong and I can do anything. Why not this?

So, as we move through this new and challenging journey, I will continue to be positive. I will teach yoga. I will use my essential oils. I will cry when I want to. But most of all, as hard as they knock on my door, I will not let the naysayers in.

how i deal

 

Behind the Scenes of My New Book, ‘She Waited For Me’

It’s been slow going, but book two is in the works. Here is a behind the scenes look at my possible introduction. Right now, I’m just writing, not worrying about the way it all comes together. There are certainly typos, for sure. Not paying attention to that either. Thanks for reading.

Introduction

Never say never. Really. It’s not possible for something to never happen. People will argue until their faces are blue against this point. But I know this. Never, never happens.

This was true when I shocked myself with an instant change of heart in the Fall of 2010. Jeff and I had been married only since May of that year and we were already talking to a fertility specialist. We were in our early forties and pretty darn sure nature wouldn’t take its course all that easily. We had yet to find out how difficult it would be.

For years, to myself, family, friends, and other not-so-potential husbands, I had stuck to my standard line. I will never go through fertility. Why would I spend money to make a child? Why would I pump my body with hormones? Why would I use a petri dish to create a child when there are millions of children out there who need parents? Why not just find one who’s already here looking for love, a home, a family? No. We will adopt. End of story.

My husband had one simple thing to say and that was it. My never turned into okay, I’ll do it. Just like that. He wanted a child from him. From his DNA. He wanted a child to look like him. He knew that my reach for adoption would have been the world! No color, race, ethnicity was off the table. But that wasn’t for him. And I respected that. In just a moment, my adamant desire was relinquished and we were heading into fertility testing.

Forever etched into my mind is the symbol at the bottom of my long list of tests, numbers, and foreign vocabulary.

< .01

Do you see what that says? Less than 1%. These were our chances for conceiving a baby through natural methods. Ha! It was laughable; however, I don’t recall laughing. We certainly knew it would be low, but this was ridiculous! What the hell do we do now?

We look at the options. And we look at them from the least to the most invasive. All the least invasive were skipped over quickly. My eggs were goners. I was 42. No shocker there. So, trying to pump my body with medication to get my eggs to wake up and do their job was futile. Again, we were given the percentages and they sucked. In addition, Jeff’s sperm count was inconsistent. Not bad. Not really the problem at hand. Just not steady enough to pick up the slack.

Our very best chance was In Vitro Fertilization with a Donor Egg. And even with that, our chance for conceiving was only 60%. But by the time we went through all our other options, ranging from 20%-50%, this one was looking damn good! It was going to cost us about $15,000. It was going to involve a great deal of time, patience, pain, and emotional upheaval. It would be the biggest and most daunting adventure of our lives. But it would work. I knew it would.  That certainty was my light at the end of the tunnel.

And Emma Grace is the light of our lives.

behind the scenes
Emma at about 4 months. One of my very favorite photos.