Monthly Archives: February 2014

A Few Days

Well, let’s back up a few week first…

A few weeks ago I began to feel the darkness of depression coming.  It was coming down as a mantle across my shoulders.  I just wanted to sit in it, welcome it, wrap myself in it.  But, unfortunately, that option is not conducive with actually living.

Yet, the depression stayed.  It manifest abnormally for me.  It caused tears, but not mania or anxiety.  It made me want to stay in bed, not move frantically to out run its bad self.

It just wasn’t right.  It wasn’t me.

So I screwed up my courage, and I called my doctor.  She wasn’t in.  Wouldn’t be in for three days.  Those were a long three days.

Thankfully, she called back early her first day back in the office.  We added a medication I had previously been on.  I had gone off it because another, unrelated, doctor thought it was causing my stomach issues.  Coming off didn’t help, but that’s where I was.

A few days later…I started to feel a little better.  Was I better or was it a placebo affect, eh, who cares!!!

And today, I realized, I am in a good place.  Not only is the depression at bay, but so is the rage.  Glory Hallelujah!!!

I’ve been experiencing rage for so long and the medications I expected to help were not touching.  I decided it was just me, just that I could not control myself and did not deserve happiness or joy.  As the rage would flare, I feared my children would grow to hate me, that they would run as soon as possible.

Then today, I realized, I am reacting to situations with the frustration or agitation they deserve, not the over-the-top destructive anger.

I am giddy with this realization.  I have so much hope.  So much joy.  And a lot less fear.

I have aspirations of my family loving me, wanting me in their life and wanting to be in mine.

Hope is good.


*Yes, I am aware with this switch in my mood thanks to the addition of an antidepressant, that I need to monitor my mood for hypomania, but for today y’all, I’m just going to have hope, sweet hope.


On Being Strong and Spiritual

This post may not come out right, but it’s there and here’s my blog.  Maybe magic will happen.

Let me first say, I am doing better.  I think the medication tweak has really helped.  I have a lot let anxiety, a lot less rage and a lot less darkness.  I realized today I had been battling a lot of things the last few months that had become just second nature.  They seem to be draining away.  I still get moments that are hard to breathe, but not like it has been.

Now, on to what my heart wants said today.

I had a friend recently have to go inpatient for care.  That is hard.  Really hard.  But that’s not the hardest part.  The hardest part is the expectations of those around you.  They seem to think the hospital is magical and you come out all better.  No more boo-boos.  If only.

Sometimes, on the inside, there have been no medication changes or help.  My first time on the inside?  They took me off all my meds, gave me nothing and sent me back into the world without even a psych referral or anyone to follow up with.  It was four days before I heard from the hospital.  Thankfully, in the meantime, my midwife had found me someone and I was beginning to get help…but I sure wasn’t okay and I definitely did not come out of the hospital strong and ready to take on the world.  I was broken, angry, lost and confused.  And humiliated.

Nowhere in my mind or body was I strong.

It was a disappointment to me and probably everyone around me.  I mean, I had left my 10 week old for nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

When I came out?  I hid.  I didn’t know what to tell people or how to act.  I mean, how do you act when you were taken forcibly from your midwifes’ office and transported by ambulance to inpatient care, stripped searched, lied to and belittled?

I  have no idea what my friends’ hospital experience was like.  We’re not close enough for me to ask.  But I see a lot of people telling her to be strong and that just rubs me wrong.

She didn’t get a magic pill to fix everything.  She may not have gotten much of anything.  If she did?  It’s probably just a road map of where to head from here, not even to her destination, just where to go from here.

Her job, is not to be strong and make everything look okay.  She doesn’t owe that to anyone.  The only thing she has to do is keep her eye on the road map.  And for right now,  that might not even include moving.  She might be sitting at a rest stop.  That’s her job.

It’s also not her job to be able to draw deep spiritual lessons from where she has been or where she is.  If she can, that’s great.  If she can’t, that is perfectly fine.  Paul tells us we are strongest in our weakness for a reason.  We’re not supposed to have all the right words and actions.  Sometimes, we just be.

And telling someone rest in God, God Bless You, or any other thousands of Christian platitudes, might now be that comforting.  I know my journey with mental health issues has also brought me to a spiritual crisis.  I think I’m slugging my way through it, but the process is slow and arduous.  And sometimes, I have to shelve that to get through the day-to-day of a mind telling me lies.  Sometimes, often, someone saying, “I’m sorry” or, if they do, “I know” means a lot more than God Bless You or rest in God.  I think He’s strong enough to not be threatened when He is left out of a Facebook comment or conversation from time to time.  For me, even the little God Bless You, adds a weight to my struggle, makes it harder to keep my head above water when the dark ocean swirls.

I’m not leaving God out, I just need to battle it out in my own way, in my  own time.  Even when I can’t take a God Bless You, I will always take prayers, but even that can be expressed just with a hug.

All this to say, mental health issues are not easy.  They are murky.  They are mean.  They make it hard to see what we know amongst the shattered pieces of what used to be.  Someone walking the dark road, needs love and support, without strings, without expectations.  If you know someone walking through hell, let them do it carefully and at their pace.  Love them without pressure or demands.

Just love them.

If I Could Pour it All Out

If I could pour it all out here, I would tell you, life hurts.  Not life with my hubby or kids, but life with myself.  It hurts.

It started a little over a week ago.  I took the big step of applying for full disability.  I may have gotten laid off a year and a half ago, and my record may show it was through no fault of my own, but that’s not entirely true.  See, I worked at my job for 12 and a half years.  I worked there through 15 hospital stays in three years for Multiple Sclerosis.  My job was very accommodating and damn, I was good at it.  My job had lots of variety and required remembering a lot of stuff.  I had 11 managers in that time, many of whom moved to entirely different departments and a few to different companies, so if information was going to be remembered, I was the one to remember it.  And most of the time it all worked flawlessly.  I would effortlessly go from project to project, remembering years of data and information.

Then came Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.  Everything changed.

First, it took me extra time to return from my maternity leave due to my first hospitalization with a hypomanic episode.  Then they changed my manager and I lost all my confidence.  All of it.  Gone.  I could be asked a question, that I knew the answer to, but my mind would freeze.  Instead of explaining what I knew, I would stutter out bits and pieces of information, only to realize later that I had made a mistake and needed to retract much of what I had said.  Let this happen a few times, and what you get is complete and total doubt in yourself and your performance…and your employer has even more doubt and distrust.

My mind got stuck in the rut of fear and self doubt.  I no longer understood instructions given to me.  I started asking questions over and over.  My manager told me, “everybody knows you can’t ask Charity to do anything, she’ll just ask you a hundred questions.”  Any shred of confidence and dignity is gone as soon as that is uttered.  The worst part?  Knowing you used to be able to work circles around all of your new critics, but now?  Utter failure.

I spent hours in tears, hiding in the bathroom shaking, planning my suicide.  I also spent two stints in the hospital.  Now that I think about it, I think there might have been one other medical leave in there.  Damn, I don’t even remember now.

I just remember sitting in my car crying, shaking on the way to work, dry heaving in the bathroom, frantically calling my psychiatrist…having to call my hubby to get me once because my final plan included driving into oncoming traffic.  My doctor made me promise I would wait for hubby, or he would call the police.  I was so medicated while working that I was falling asleep at my computer, but it was the only way I could quasi-function.

I remember calling my doctor and telling him, “I’m scared.  I think, everybody I work with is talking about how to get rid of me.  They are talking about what a terrible worker I am.  They are telling each other how stupid I am.”

I didn’t hear them with my ears, but I absolutely knew that was what they were thinking, talking about.  I was sure of it every time I saw someone standing at another desk or there was a closed door.

Every day at work was miserable.  I was sure I was being watched and every misstep written down, and told to others.  I knew there was even a list of how many times I went to the bathroom and how long I was in there.

I kept hoping the next day would be better.  It never was.

The day I got laid off was terrifying.  It was a not unexpected sucker punch.  And it was freeing.  No more facade, no more faking it til I make it.

I came home.

And hubby and I knew then I would never be back in the workforce.

So I have applied for disability.  And it’s the right thing to do, but it did require digging through a lot of history, 22 years of history to be exact.  It also brought feelings of failure and shame.  I can’t do what I was raised to do, I can’t work and support myself.  I can’t do what I prepared to do, I can’t add to the Gross Domestic Product.

Putting 22 years of bad health on 14 pages was hard.  It started a spiral into darkness.  I couldn’t stop the spiral, so now I’m sitting in the bottom of a hole.  I claw at the edges, but they are smooth and black, there are no handholds.

I’m doing what I need to.  I am taking care of my girls, throwing myself into homeschooling them, making us a schedule that puts one foot in front of the other.  I have reached out to my doctor and we have tweaked my medication.

Now I wait.

Waiting in the dark is hard.  It’s scary.  What if the light never comes?  But it’s all I  have, so I wait…

And while I wait, I feel the weight.  Every breath is heavy.  Each movement like walking through sand, all the thoughts playing on my weakness, taunting me… “people don’t want to talk to you.  They want to get away from you.  You will never get better.  Your girls will grow up to hate you.  You don’t deserve those perfect girls.  They deserve so much better.  You better hug them now because they will be long gone as soon as possible.”

So much heaviness.  My breathing is uncomfortable.  I feel like I am choking.  The physical pressure inside me is terrifying.  There is no relief.  What if this is the time I descend into the pit and never come out?  How will I live like this forever?  How will I cope?  How will I keep a happy look on my face with this pain, in this dark place?

I sit with this pressure.  I wait with this darkness.

We School On

Back in January, the girls and I spent a couple weeks studying China in preparation for Chinese New Year.

We had a lot of fun discovering most of China is warmer than we are at this time of year, at least this winter!  We studied Gladys Aylward, Hudson Taylor and Marco Polo.  We watched videos of Giant Pandas, we even learned you can pay to have a Giant Panda sit on your lap for a few minutes, and we culminated it all with a homemade Chinese Meal on Chinese New Year.  I made Almond Boneless Chicken, Fried Rice and Almond Cookies.

It was good, but there was a bit more fun to have.  A friend passed on a few items she had from our own homeschool study with her kids, so today we experimented a bit.

We used a brush, wetting stick and stone to write the Chinese character for guard.  I even got out a fan I was given by a co-worker.  It was a great way to wrap up our school day and study on China.

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(We actually had two fans, one that came with the writing kit and one I had from a coworker–who doesn’t love a fan?!)

What fun studies have you done, hope to do, or helped with in your childs’ class?


Linked up:

Sharing With Hesitation

Sometimes it is easy to put it all out there, the depression, the mania, the rage, the mixed.  Other times, it is more complicated.  The feelings are more mixed up.  The thoughts are vague or just out of reach.

I find myself in the land of vague and out of reach, often.  I also find myself a bit more guarded since beginning the adventure of homeschooling our girls.  I don’t want people to think I can’t handle it, or shouldn’t be allowed to handle it.

Yeah, that right there is the biggest hurdle.  I am afraid people will think I shouldn’t be homeschooling.  When in actuality, having my girls here, gets me up, gives me structure to my days and hope.  They give me so much hope.

I think they know when mama is struggling, to some degree, but that doesn’t stop them from being cute, or funny.  It doesn’t stop them from hugging me, cuddling with me, loving me.  When they are here, they need me to function, they need me to be present.

Yesterday was a dark day.  As previously planned, we did not do school work today.  We had a mini winter break this week, including Friday.  But we got up at the same time, we got dressed around the same time.  We worked together to make heart shaped pancakes, and then Caitlyn and I made heart wreaths.  Sue and Patrice weren’t exactly interested, so I let them play and watch a little extra Disney.

Inside of me?  Dark.  The tears came more than I prefer and I was stuck on a dark train of thought, but Caitlyn, Sue and Patrice weren’t.  They were full of joy and fun.  And I couldn’t help but appreciate their playing and crafting.  I was forced to think of them and others as we made the wreaths and the girls gave some to our neighbors.  I was forced outside of myself.

It’s sometimes hard to have them here when my soul is pulling me inward, but I am glad they are.  I’m glad they are here to do their part in the tug of war in my soul.  I am glad they are here to pull against the dark, against the hard.

From Our House to Yours

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Okay, my pictures are kind of out of order.  Ah well.

Here’s how we made them:

First, we went to a friend’s house on Wednesday where she made them with the kids.

Second, we came come and did our own version today.

Third, I cut strips of paper 12 inches long by about an inch and a half thick.  My scrapbooking paper cutter wasn’t long enough, so I cut those babies by hand.

Fourth, we folded them in half, back/ugly side showing.

Fifth, put a small piece of double sided tape in  the fold.  Squeeze it so the paper sticks well.

Sixth, fold them into a heart, so the pretty side now shows as the heart.

Seventh, put a piece of double sided tape on the inside of the point of the heart.

Eighth, staple them into a circle.

Ninth, staple curling ribbon so it can be hung.

Tenth, Give them away to spread Valentine’s Day cheer.

Eleventh, tell all of you Happy Valentine’s Day from our house to yours.

Missions. Safe?

Missions.  The calling to tell and demonstrate the love and truth of Christ to those who may not know Him.

I just finished reading a biography about Hudson Taylor, Hudson Taylor  Deep in the Heart of China by Janet and Geoff Benge.  He was a missionary to the interior of China who lived from 1832 to 1905.  He founded the China Inland Mission.

Taylor is noteworthy for many reasons, not the least being he never asked for a dime of support.  He prayed and depended on God to provide every cent needed for the missionary work (and God did provide every penny).  This is a radical way to live, even within the missionary world.  The typical model is those being sent as missionaries go out to the churches and people and let them know what support they need to raise (I have served as a missionary with this model) and ask the people to come alongside the work the missionaries will be doing wherever they are called.

I’m not sure which is better or if one is right and the other is wrong.  I have an inkling both are just fine.  But I was very surprised at one readers’ response on Goodreads.  The commenter stated she did not see Hudson Taylors’ action as trusting God, rather as testing God.  She said Hudson Taylor took too many risks with his life, the life of his wife and children.

Yes, the risks were big, but isn’t that often the case?  Especially in missionary work?  Not everyone can be called to stay home and witness to others at their nice job.  Some, many, are called to go far away from home, loved ones and security.  Thanks to technology, we can now reach the far off places more safely and quickly, but still, Christian missionaries bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s truth is not welcome everywhere.  Some places the rejection is peaceful, other places, the reaction is angry and violent.  God doesn’t hide this truth.  Jesus was actually pretty blunt that the Gospel is divisive.  But that doesn’t stop Him from calling people to fulfill the Great Commission.

And when He calls, obedience is the best response.  It may not be the easiest or the safest, but it is the best.

I spent a short time traveling as a missionary.  It was wonderful.  It wasn’t always easy, but it was the best place to be.  I will tell you it was easier to be traveling as a missionary than it is to be at home trying to be a Christian wife and mother, but this is where I am, so I will embrace it.  I will throw my arms around all it’s mess and it’s beauty.

For right now, THIS is my mission field.

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#Dayoflight Blogging to Bring Awareness

I am joining with a group of bloggers today to share my story in hopes to help bring light and life to mental health concerns.

I’ve been pretty open the last three years about the twists and turns my mental health has taken thanks to postpartum depression/postpartum anxiety that became bipolar disorder.

In the beginning, my journey skewed heavily toward depression and anxiety.  Turns out anxiety is also a way mania presents, but in the early days it was just absolutely immobilizing.

It’s kind of that way today, but that strays from my original thought.

Over the last few months I have been experiencing more hypomania (not as high of a high as mania).  And around Christmas there was stretch that lasted days, weeks.  I didn’t recognize it at first.  I was sleeping, which is not normal for me during mania.  Turns out that was only thanks to a medication that can make a horse sleep.  Again, I digress a bit.

It was a good time for mania.  There was lots to do for the  holiday.  Crafts to make, cookies to bake, field trips to take.  And I could do it all.

There started to be little hints that it was hypomania.  But I kept thinking, no, I’m sleeping at night.  I can’t be hypo.

Until Caitlyn.

We were downstairs and I was talking about our next project.  I was getting really excited.  She, wasn’t.

I kept talking, until she calmly and quietly said, “mommy, can we not do so much stuff?”

I had to hide my disappointment, I mean, heck, I had so many ideas.  And so much to do.  And this was the time to have fun.

But it was too much.  Too much for the kids.  And it is my personal opinion, when a 7 year old asks to not do so much fun, maybe you are doing too much fun.

I tried to reign it in.  Over the next week I tried to slow down.  I started to look around and realize I had craft projects EVERYWHERE.  There was one in every room.

And bit, by bit, the turn came.  The hypomania ended (that’s why your hat isn’t done my friend). I held my breath for the black hole.  And it came.  I spent a couple days in the deep darkness of depression.  The same medication that kept me sleeping during hypo, also seemed to curtail my descent into the depression.  I am very thankful for both.

Honestly, when I look around, I kind of miss the hypomania.  It is so productive and makes me feel like I can handle everything coming at me, but at the same time, it can turn very ugly, the anger, rage and anxiety can be devastating, so I keep seeing my doctors and taking my meds.

I do it all, looking for normal, looking for an even keel.

Please, if you struggle with depression, get help.  There are so many resources.  The days can be brighter.

Check for information and resources.

Standing on New Feet

Things are a little rough.  I won’t go into details, but they are.

Normally, I would be losing it right now.  And, I’m not going to lie, panic is on the cusp, but we are so loved.  And as rough as today is, it is not three years ago.

Three years ago, I had no strength.  I had no hope.  Depression and anxiety were trying desperately to claim me.  I loved my girls.  So much.  But I didn’t know how to survive.

I remember being at church for a missionary luncheon.  My older girls were in a play room and Patrice was just tiny in my arms.  A wonderful lady, one of the missionaries to the Philippines our church supports, offered to hold Patrice so I could eat my lunch.  As she held her, I thought, my girls are safe and loved here.  I should run away so they can have a better life without me.

More than once I sat in the bathroom and cried.  I cried so often in the basement, it became a conditioned response.

But the days kept coming.  I kept fighting.  The battle was ugly, including three hospital stays, but hell had a name, bipolar depression.  Things with names can be fought.  And fought it was.

Here we are, three years later.  And I am ok.  I am not med free, and know the chances of that ever happening are slim to none, but I am healthy.

I am not just surviving during this rough time.  I am standing beside my husband.  I am able to think, pray, feel and love.  He isn’t having to carry me.  We can be, for the first time in a long time, partners.

I am standing on new feet.  They feel kind of wobbly, like they are on stilts, but I’m here.  Standing.