I have recently (very recently) become a mother. I am a 48 year old, single woman and have adopted a preschool age child.
With thrilling anticipation, I have worked tirelessly for this for years and nobody is more surprised at the reaction I’ve had to being a mother than I am.
Almost immediately, a depression washed over me. Not a disabling depression but an old, familiar disheartening, sickening, joy robbing depression.
I have given this considerable thought.
As we all know, when you have depression, you are predisposed to a double whammy when faced with a loss and even though I am joy filled to have this little peanut in my life, apparently, I am also grieving the loss of my notion of what my life would look like.
For even more years, I have envisioned my life playing out differently – married in my 20’s or 30’s – having children (via whatever way) with the man that would be my best friend – my other half.
We’d have a house – a double income – nice cars – lots of couple friends…I’d be able to relax and not have to be frightened about not having work. I’d be able to reduce my hours in order to spend more time with my child.
I’d have a partner in this parenting journey and I’d have the goodies of the relationship leading up to it.
Not having this has evidently made me sad. I thought I was all done with this years ago.
Yet, when I pick her up and look in that little face full of wonder, I feel magical. I feel happy. I feel full of adoration. She doesn’t give me any time to acknowledge a depression. I am just so stupefied by my body’s response to this otherwise wonderful event.
I guess the take away is that it’s possible to feel lousy even at the best of times. Depression is a gremlin I’d rather not wrestle with at this time in my life but once again, it doesn’t care and I’m left with no option other than to enter …
I’ve gone a litte quiet of late and I’ve been missing the blog!
You see, I’m a new (single) Mommy of a bouncing baby 3 year old; adopted from the state foster care system. I was aiming for 8 or 9 but apparently, God plopped her down on my path for a reason!
Oh! And I’m a first time mother. Nuff’ Said?
Two years of being immersed in this journey coupled with a great deal of self care and introspection is what freed my heart to move forward.
And I my friends, am in over my head and over the moon.
I’ve never felt my heart beat like this. I’ve never cried watching the Polar Express until watching it with her last night.
If any of you know what a 3 year old is like, let me explain mine.
Remember the Tasmanian Devil cartoon? Remember the girl Taz with the pretty red lips that spun in circles at 96 MPH? Well, mix her with some innocence and curiosity and whole lot of spontaneous hugging and that’s my daughter!
I just dropped her off at her foster family (we are slowly moving her in with me) and I’m so tired I can hardly see the screen or find my mouse.
Up next: My adventures taking her to see Santa yesterday!……………………now, where’s my wine…
We celebrate and honor those that have and are serving our country. It is a day that is too short but the appreciation we have in our hearts is real. What also is very real is the rapidly increasing suicides by military personnel.
I advocate for the cause and it’s hard to read, but here are the facts:
Military suicide deaths have outnumbered combat deaths for the past 3 years. On average, there is one every 27 hours.
I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. I am a never ending tape, tirelessly asking people to come out of the shadows and talk about it. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be afraid to TALK.
I only know that we send these heroes out to protect us and they are struck with such depression and/or PTSD that they feel their only solution is to take their own lives.
My “adopted” mother and I were out shopping when she saw a man in camouflage stepping out of his car. She walked across the parking lot and said a simple Thank You – and then she stepped up on her tippy toes hugged him. With that, she came back. Wouldn’t it be WONDERFUL if this caught on?
If you know a military man or woman, let’s don’t feel shy about asking them how they are doing.
If they need to talk the number to call is 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
And no, I’m not crazy. Well, maybe a little but that’s not the point. The point is that I’m thankful for it.
It can be hard to put yourself “out there”. I get that.I understand that. It’s more important to me that people talk out loud about mental health so here goes…
I love my crazy, wacky, break the rules – skate along the edge, not at all conventional life. What’s the alternative? It’s to hate it and that’s spirit robbing.
After my mother lost her battle with depression and addiction, I was raised by the heart and the man that is my Dad. He remains my hero and nothing makes me happier than his name coming across my iPhone. Life is good.
My path from childhood to adult hood was full of adventure and love – heartbreak and healing. It was a long introduction to a disease called depression and as I weaved in and out of it, I was anything but grateful.
It is easy to be grateful when depression is in a dormant place and it is literally impossible to utter a thankful word when it’s not.
My best chance is that I know that there is always an end to a depression. I have learned and it is my anchor, this knowledge.
Back in 2002, while deciding whether to relocate to the west coast from the east, my boss made a spot on observation.
During one of my many, vocal wrestling matches with the decision that needed to be made, she exclaimed : “Geeeeze Leslie, I have never, ever met anyone that can WHAT IF themselves into a corner like you can'”.
She was right.
It is actually painful for me to make most decisions. At least the medium to large variety.
As I look back, it seems it was easier to let the wind blow me or let circumstances make my important choices for me and determine my actions.
I do not know why but gonna go out on a limb here…I suspect it has something to do with FEAR.
As an example, watch me come apart here: (I’m already breaking out in a sweat)
What if my boss Googles me and finds my blog?…What if she reads any one of these posts and what if she thinks I’m crazy? And what if I lose my job?!? What if can’t afford rent and food?? and then and I have to live in a VAN down by the RIVER??? Pass the brown paper bag!
And so goes a never ending dialogue that lives within me. The subjects change – the process does not.
And my perch on the fence has robbed me of opportunity and confidence.
Everyone is afraid of something, I might be just be afraid of everything but mostly, of making mistakes.
The What-If frenzy keeps you planted firmly where you are; safe, on the fence. Or is it?
(in part 2, we’ll look at possibilities for managing the What-If gremlins)
Photo Credit: C-100-Today’s Best Music
It’s a big day for me and I have a very passionate “hope” for many more.
The snow was falling, nearly crashing down like crazy outside the window and as a bonus, school was closed. At 48, I can recall every crystal inside every single snow flake like it was a moment ago.
I laid there with my brother’s black and gold bedspread around me. If I buried myself enough, if I just pulled it up a little more, perhaps that would make the pain – the feelings that I could not articulate – it might make them go away.
I simply could not escape it and that was all I wanted to do. I needed relief. I needed to be out of pain.
But at that age, I didn’t know that to be out of pain was “normal”.
My normal was the crushing oppression that is depression.
I was so young. Just 14 and I didn’t have the tools to deal much less the vocabulary to express or talk about it.
The 70’s were a very different time than we live in now and back then, parents didn’t spend half of their children’s lives asking “How does that make you feel?” or “do you want to talk about your feelings sweetie pie?” like we do now.
To further complicate matters, my poor Dad was flung into single parenting this rather unpredictable, moody, creative and spirited kid. I’m sure I gave him quite the run for his money!
What he did know was this:
He said into the kitchen phone in hushed tones “…and she’s despondent…”. That’s all I overheard. I had to look the word up.
The next day I was sitting in a Doctor’s office. And thus began my on again/off again lifetime love affair with various shrinks all over the country (Someone has to pay their mortgage).
All kidding aside, my amazing father quickly recognized …
Am I the only one who has spent years on the look out for their passion? And what about my bliss? Where’s my damn bliss? Has anyone seen my bliss?
I am half joking here, but the other half I mean from the bottom of my heart. At 48, only now are things unfolding for me. And like so many of us, I had to be hit over the head with it.
Hindsight being 20/20, I can scroll through 5 years of Face Book and clearly see what I am attracted to – what draws me in. And after one identifies a passion or two, what then?
I pose a question: As a person who is a Mental Disorder Warrior, do you struggle with inertia? Do you start but have trouble completing things? Do your ideas stay just that? Ideas, not action.
A few things that I recommend if you have binoculars in hand:
I can say this for certain: having fumbled and stumbled and accidentally finding a few things that make me feel passion, it brings me alive when I think of it.
What do you do? Have you found yours? What is it and how did you know?
PHOTO CREDIT Dave via …
I spent this past weekend with friends in Pennsylvania; it was the usual comforting, warm and laughter filled time we have each and every visit. One night we sat under a tent, the humid rain-filled world around us, as we clinked wine glasses and shared secrets. That’s what girlfriends do. Even in mid-life (as they say), that’s what we do. That’s how we roll.
Tears immediately filled my eyes as I was overcome with gratitude; it was the same feeling I experience when I know someone has read my writing and it was meaningful to them.
What I didn’t expect to hear was this:
“Oh and by the way Les, you’re not broken”.
And there it was – and now I was really trying to hold back the tears. We talked a little bit and I creatively changed the subject to get the spotlight off me, but the validation and reassurance I got from my girls was priceless.
I truly believe that my feelings of brokenness come largely from what I see in the world; how I think I should be and what I think I should be doing. I’m aware enough to know things are usually not how they appear, and to be careful what you wish for!
But at 48, I just wish I fit in a tiny bit more; I wish I was a just a little bit more mainstream.
I’m mostly OK with the place I’m in now and have plans! I truly miss being in a relationship but needed some time to heal from the last one and this year, I’ve been more focused on creating a family, not dating.
When one is in the throws of a depressive episode, it’s nearly impossible not to feel broken! And I figure that’s pretty normal thinking for distorted thinking time!
So, my broken may not = others definitions but I want people to see that having any kind of mental or …
I frequently look down, expecting to see shards and bits and pieces of me that have fallen to the ground – physical proof that I am broken. Like defective pottery cast aside, I expect the pieces to lie at my feet.
I am 48, yet I own no home.
I am 48, yet never have I heard the words “Will you marry me?”
I am 48, yet no letters appear after my name on my business cards.. like PHD or MD or PA or DMD. Not even BP!..which might not be such a bad idea!
I am 48, yet no kids call for me in the middle of the night because they have had a bad dream.
I have not fit in to what our society expects one to do now have I? I am most certainly not the “norm”.
I have never fit into neat little columns titled “The Way It Is Supposed To Be”. But OH how I want to. Oh how I long to “be like everybody else”.
What bothers me the most is that I have never been anybody’s wife. It was so easy to happen I guess. Staying in too many long relationships that should have ended, I did the best I could. I didn’t know. If someone would have told me how fast time would move? Well, then I might have acted differently. Or perhaps, I would have not.
I am not a person who regrets. I think wishing I had made different choices in the past is a waste of energy. So this writing is a bit of a contradiction.
If you read my blog, you know that I am a positive (often nauseatingly so) person. But this “broken” thing? Well, it has taken me to my knees of late.
Call it mid life or call it lonely but whatever it is, it is jumping up and down wildly, trying to get my attention.
Becoming aware of one’s mortality really sucks. I’m 47 (shun the term “late 40’s”) and over the last few years, the inevitable has happened.
The “It’ll never happen to me” way of living your life quietly morphs into a more realistic way of living and so, naturally, I’ve given more thought to things like the afterlife — or rather, heaven. I’ve become more curious.
I long to have a complete and thorough confidence in heaven and the peace that that brings.
Today, I finished the book “Heaven Is For Real.” It’s a breathtaking account of a child’s visit to heaven and a beautiful, beautiful account it is. This book opened my mind and heart and made me smile.