Another Summer Fades Away

This time of year is always bittersweet.  Summer always goes by so fast, and then the kids are back in school.  My daughter went back to college, and my son in back in high school.

I always have dreams about what we will do as a family in summer.  The kids are older now and doing their own thing so family time is precious.

Trips to see my mother and assist her also compete for my time.  I don’t know if this stage is temporary, but right now my mother’s memory problems seem to make her more relaxed and more pleasant of personality than what she normally is.

At this time of year I often think about how I’d once thought about homeschooling my kids.  I wonder what homeschooling families do when mom gets sick.  I have been slogging through some medical issues since spring and this thought just crossed my mind.  My mom didn’t home school us, but she wasn’t “allowed” to be sick.  When we were old enough my sister and I could help with various chores.  Probably at a certain point we were too clueless to offer help.  My dad would have never thought to vacuum or load the dishwasher or deal with school issues.  What happens to home school when mom is sick?  My dad would have been qualified to teach some high school math and most college math I am sure, but he would have never made the day to day commitment to do so.  He did help us from time to time, but often his answer was along the lines of “You can use calculus to solve this in a matter of seconds”, but since we didn’t know calculus we remained puzzled.

This year my son is taking chemistry and will be reading some Hispanic literature as it was written in the original Spanish.  Two things that are certainly far above my pay grade.  I did take some high school and college chemistry, but most of what I learned is stuck in a locked compartment in my brain, and I don’t have the key anymore.  Reading literature written in Spanish….not in my skill set at all.  I could attempt some French literature, I suppose, but my brain is rusty there as well.  I’m grateful that my son has school and sports to keep him stimulated.

The bloom of summer is fading for me, just as it is for the world.  Time for the next season.

Not All In My Head

I’ve spent a good part of the year not feeling 100%.  It started out with vague GI symptoms.  Many times it was just that burning feeling I’d had a million times before in the pit of my stomach I thought was just caused by anxiety.  The pain in my stomach then started to become vomiting for no reason.  I started taking medication for the pain in my stomach and have as needed medication on hand should I feel nauseous.  Along with the GI problems I felt tired and unmotivated.  Lots of naps.  I am supposed to have more diagnostic testing soon, but there was a long wait to see a gastroenterologist.

I’ve also had some back pain and crampy female type pain, like a very uncomfortable period.  It is a kind of pain I would normally take ibuprofen for, but the ibuprofen would make my stomach discomfort worse.

Once I started having some odd bleeding and the continued crampy pain, my mind went wild wondering if the crampy pain and the GI pain were caused by the same thing.  I made an appointment with a gynecologist, found out I have endometrial cancer, and I will be having a hysterectomy soon.

I’ve feel tired and painful and haven’t had the energy to get done everything I feel I should be doing.  Is it my history of depression influencing how I feel?  I’ve been taking many naps.  Sometimes you read stories about people being diagnosed with cancer who are motivated to do something grand.  A little voice in my head says I should feel this way, but the urge to take a nap and lie down wins out instead.

I feel hopeful about my prognosis with my endometrial cancer and upcoming surgery.  I am just waiting to get everything done.  People I know are supportive for the most part.  One person I know who is more of an “essential oils cure everything” type of person asked me if I had carefully researched what I was about to do.  She thinks I am a poor lost little sheep both for having worked in traditional healthcare environments and receiving care in the same sort of environment.  She’s also worried that I am ruining my lady parts for my husband by undergoing surgery.  I walked away from her and refused to even address any of her ignorance.  I honestly really wanted to laugh at her though.  Are you really that stupid that you think getting a hysterectomy for cancer is that controversial?

I’ve been cranky and impatient.  On one of my last days of work I told my supervisor how I *really* feel about changes they have made that make communication and work flow much less efficient.  If I had not felt so bad I probably would have not said anything at all, because it won’t change anything.  God forbid I as a nurse should want to spend less time with bureaucratic red tape and more time with the people I am supposed to care for.  I am sure I “sacrificed something” by expressing my opinion when it is time for my next raise.  The ultimate irony of all this is that several months ago my employer spent thousands of extra dollars to educate us on communication issues and workplace inefficiency.  I guess my supervisors weren’t paying attention.  Perhaps we need Michael Scott and Dwight Shrute from the TV show The Office to become our new managers….things couldn’t possibly get any more absurd.

Throwback Tuesday…..Tears Never Cried

The words she never said

were like tears never cried

Tears invisible to the world

Still they remained with her

The world wanted her quiet

just to smile

Once she thought she was strong

to control the tears

she was wrong

the tears inside

the unspoken words

turned to stone inside her

a burden still to be carried.

Published one year ago.  Still true.  My issue, I suppose, because people expect me to be how I am most days, but aren’t sure what to do when I crack.

Throwback Thursday….The Seedy Side of Town

Everywhere she goes she always can connect with the seedy side of town.  In her hometown it is the dividing line where old money sits across the street from the very poor.  Nestled nearby is a “charming” historical district with many bars.

In the seedy side of town the golden rule does not apply.  The predatory and the opportunistic easily find the most damaged of society.  Sometimes it is hard to tell the predator from the prey.

In the dim light of night she looks attractive.  If you look closer though you can see her smudged mascara, dirty fingernails and unwashed clothes, and you might turn away.

She mostly seeks her own type, those who cannot say no to another beer.  She seeks validation and affirmation that she is still something.  She doesn’t care the price she pays as long as she gets her fix for the night.

Not content to sit at home and fall asleep after one too many drinks, she comes alive in the night.  For just one more night she can tell a sympathetic stranger her tales of woe.

In the hot blinding daylight of summer, life is just too harsh to face.  Better to sit in the dark air conditioned bar where no one cares if she is sober or drunk.

I plan on selecting some old posts to republish, scheduled on Thursdays.  When I republish the old posts I plan on giving some more background on what inspired me to write the post.  I wrote this one about a year ago during one of my sister’s chaotic episodes with alcohol.  There is a historical district with several bars in  our hometown that would be a frequent landing place when she came back to visit.  She would often “run away” when visiting my mom to have a few drinks.  At least one of the bars has asked her not to return.  I have no idea why.  If you met my sister sober and cleaned up, you would never imagine the person she is drunk.  When sober she can often have a sweet childlike manner when she first meets people that fools others about what lies beneath.

We Don’t Have All The Answers

I often write about my experiences with depression on this blog.  Whether you are talking about depression or diabetes, anxiety or arthritis, you can surely find someone who has ALL of the answers about your condition.  Bonus points if it comes with a “natural cure”.  Negative points if you have succumbed to BIG PHARMA and Western Medicine.

I think the last time I wrote about depression I was angry.  Angry because I can find plenty of people out there who could tell me where I am going wrong.  It could be that I don’t pray enough, or maybe I need to eat more broccoli.  Or maybe I just need a “natural” supplement with the same price tag as my “unnatural”  antidepressant.  Because don’t you know every cell in my body claps with glee when that natural supplement enters my bloodstream.   Oh wait that doesn’t happen because I am not taking a natural supplement for my depression.

I was angry because there are others that think they had all the answers when it comes to mental health struggles.  For a dollar you can buy their ebook.  Or maybe they will get a kickback for whatever natural product they are promoting.

People with mental health struggles need compassion.  Everyone needs just a little kindness in their lives.  You just never know who is struggling or why they are struggling.

I would hope that with the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain people would say to themselves “We don’t know all the answers” and “We need to find out more”.

I didn’t know either of these individuals.  I don’t know what kind of pain drove them to suicide.  I do hope the individuals who try to simplify mental health struggles into a sort of checklist of easy changes you make in your life will now think twice.

This turned into a bit of a rant.  I did want to clarify that I am not against herbal or natural remedies, I am against those who would say “natural” remedies are the only answer.

Dad

My dad has been gone for almost one third of my life.  I think of him often at this time of year.  In my mind he is a tall quiet guy, waiting for something….what that might be , I am not sure. After my dad passed away it struck me how similar my dad and I were…I wished I would have realized this when he was still alive.

I came across some old census records from when my dad was a child.  It is hard to picture him as a child.  He was the youngest in his family.  His family had lived comfortably before the Depression came along. When my dad was born though they were struggling. From what I gather my paternal grandfather never bounced back after this, either economically or psychologically.

I sense my dad knew from a young age he would have to make his own way through life. He started working at a young age. Later he would join the military and finish college. After that he would meet my mom.  I admire that he took time to serve in the military. He’d always taught us to be respectful of veterans.  He’ d always wanted to make sure that we were aware of dates such as the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in which US military personnel had lost their lives.

My father always struck me as an old soul. Perhaps it was because I sense he didn’t have many years of a childhood that were carefree.   He had very old fashioned beliefs especially in terms of religion.  He was extremely intelligent in certain respects, but in navigating relationships with people,  there was always some awkwardness.

Beyond the quiet intelligent man that the public saw, he had another side. His other side was controlled by alcohol.  While it was not entirely the alcohol that made my dad sometimes difficult to get along with, the alcohol sure didn’t help.  Why did he drink..who knows, I can only guess.  I’ d always  thought there was an element of depression and anger that he was trying to manage.  Along with that I also thought there seemed to be a ghost of sadness that haunted my dad’s side of the family.  This ghost was only hinted at though, people just weren’t  open about the it struggles with mental health.

Despite my dad’s inner struggles, I always admired his work ethic. He didn’t want to stop working.  He had already become sick, and his death would only be a few months away when he finally quit his job.

While I never talked about it with him, I always suspected my dad and I both had a strong need for quiet.  Sometimes our shyness made it difficult to communicate with others.  Our words sometimes tumbled out in a way that seemed awkward to others.  I’ve really tried to work on this especially in the past years.

If I could go back in time I wish I would have tried to get to know my dad better.  I wish I would have been able to figure out how to let down some of my own walls and get my dad to do the same.

I originally posted this 2 years ago.  Since then, through researching my family tree, I found an old class picture from when he was in the eighth grade.  He is the tallest in his class but somehow gives the impression he wants to be invisible.  Or else he just didn’t want his picture taken.  I was happy to find the picture as there were few childhood pictures of dad.

As I have mentioned elsewhere in my blog, my sister is an alcoholic as well.  I don’t know if my dad and sister had a genetic vulnerability to alcoholism, but it sure is a tough disease.

I apologize if you have already seen this posted.  I am confused about trying to repost an old post and I am not sure if  it had went through on the other tries.

 

Now I Know What My Problem Is..

I am in a good place with my depression right now.  I still take antidepressants and don’t foresee that changing any time soon.  Sometimes I come across statements that are so incredibly ignorant about depression I become incredibly angry though.  This one comes from a so called holistic pharmacy student.  She writes:

“Accept Sadness: I wouldn’t suggest that clinical depression is the same thing as a bad mood. However, the availability of treatment for mental disorders supports our refusal to work through emotions. Emotions are part of the human experience: both good and bad ones. “

Golly gee, if I had simply accepted my sadness and not refused to work through my emotions I would be in such a great place.

I realize people are trying to (sometimes) be helpful with their commentary, but please please stop assuming you know what a person has been through or what they have tried.

As a person who lives and works in a community with a major teaching hospital/university and comes across health care students of every stripe,  I have never heard such an ignorant statement.  And this student claims that she is holistic.

As a young adult I used to do a lot of walking, because I had no car.  I used to get plenty of Vitamin D and exercise.  I sometimes would walk over a bridge over a river with a swift current and think about jumping in. More than once.  Especially when I walked over the river when it was dark.  It was as if the river was inviting me in. The experience of walking over the bridge has never quite left me as one of the darkest points in my life. I wasn’t taking antidepressants.  I almost never never admit to having those feelings.

You can have your own opinions about antidepressants, but please please don’t think you know what a depressed person has tried or make assumptions that they refuse to work through emotions.  Just don’t.

And because I have to be snarky, I would think because my family probably ate plenty of sauerkraut back in the day, according to the author I would be practically immune from depression.  I ain’t never going to try any kombucha though, so I guess I am not trying hard enough.

Straight Arrow Hits Bottom

This post is spinoff of  Nostalgia.  I mention a straight arrow guy who now is in the marijuana business in Colorado, where pot is legal.

I called him Juan, not his real name.  When I first met him, I felt as if he was a male version of myself.  We were both a bit socially awkward and shy.  Of course back then in my college student days I would never labeled myself as socially awkward.  Our parents expected us to travel a narrow path.  No room for errors.  Juan had much to compete against.

Juan was the youngest of five.  There was maybe 15 years between Juan and his older siblings. They’d graduated college. One was a dentist, another a doctor.  So starting college, he knew he’d better aim high.  In addition to getting a degree, he was in ROTC while in college, and after graduating became an officer in the military.

People can hit bottom at any time in their lives.  Just like many of my friends, Juan successfully transitioned from college life to adult life.  While my friends seemed to be having the time of their lives I was spinning my wheels, struggling to stay afloat.  I’d dropped out of college, was officially diagnosed with depression.  My parents would disown me for this or that.  It seems surreal now to think about it.  I would crawl myself out of the black hole and rebuild my life.

As I saw my friends, Juan, and my sister successfully navigate their lives, it didn’t occur to me that they would have their own versions of hitting bottom later.  I knew I wasn’t the only person to hit a speedbump in their young adult lives.

Hitting bottom….people often think of alcoholism when they hear that term.  My sister and other people I knew would blow up their lives in that way in their thirties and forties.

I never would have expected Juan to hit bottom.  He would have been the last person on the list of one thousand to mess up his life. Juan and I went on a few dates.  There was a spark there but it was never there at the same time.  Plus we were socially awkward and new in the world of dating.  Except for the fact that he was Presbyterian and not Catholic, he was as close to the perfect boy to my parents as I could possibly get.

Juan married a beautiful, smart woman.  I didn’t think much about him until years later.  I’d heard that he blew up his life, gotten kicked out of the military and was divorced.  Later I heard he was in the marijuana industry and remarried.  I saw some pics of him with his wife online.  He looks happy and appears to have rebuilt his life again.  It is a different path from where he started, I’m sure.

He’d be the last person I’d expect to be involved with marijuana, who knew.  Marijuana is not for me, in that regard I am a nerdy straight arrow.  If it works for him though, great.

As I’ve written about before, my sister has battled alcoholism for a long time.  What makes some people struggle at the bottom, and others rebuild their lives .  I wish I knew the answer.pexels-photo-726478.jpeg

Burden

In my internet travels I came across a couple women sharing just how incredibly burdensome it was to take care of their husbands with depression.

I just know what I read but something seemed off about their words.  They painted their husbands as a standalone source of dysfunction in the house.  But if you poked a little bit further you could see there were other problems.  One of the women was a recovered alcoholic.  Both put too much of the family’s dirty laundry out there.

I’ve been down that journey with my parents and even my sister in my younger years.  This was before my sister started drinking and was still the oh so perfect child.  But as I deduced later I just represented one portion of our family’s dysfunction which manifested itself in depression in my early twenties. During that period I was the one who needed to fix herself, not anyone else.  My family didn’t like me fixed though because I began to speak up and assert myself more often.

I wondered if I am burdensome to my family.  I try to be the best parent I can be, but I’ve had failures. This month was terrible workwise, but I generally miss very few days of work.  I shower, do the laundry, make home cooked meals try to attend to all that is needed of a wife and mother.  I cracked wide open this month, but then went back to trudging through everyday life, with the new challenge of attempting to help my aging mother.

I have no doubt that having a depressed spouse can be challenging.  Describing your depressed spouse as a burden helps no one though

Tears

I’ve been overwhelmed by life in general, but particularly how to care for my aging mom.  I’m overwhelmed by the fact that I seem to be failing, and it is just all out there for the world to see.  I cracked wide open today and could not hide it.  Tears.  Weariness. Failure.  Someone told me, we don’t see you as you see yourself.  Were they being honest?  The suspicious side of me says that they just said it so we could all move past the awkwardness of a woman falling apart complete with her red, puffy tearstained face. Maybe I needed to crack.  It takes a whole lot of energy to keep it all in.  Maybe hitting bottom leaves me at a place where I can rebuild what is broken. My younger self tells my older self that I should be past falling apart.  If these words were on paper they would be tearstained with an irregularity to my handwriting that would suggest a sort of desperation.  Life is spinning around me at a pace too fast for me to keep up with.  I could use a nap of several days or even a week but I don’t have the time to hide under the covers and escape the cruel world.