sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category

Depression and Illness 

I got sick for the first time since coming out of my depression. Really sick. All of a sudden- flu sick.

I never used to be so ancy to get better, or maybe I just don’t remember what it felt like to really not want to be sick
One of the most difficult things being sick has been the fear that I wouldn’t want to do things again that I would find myself happy to be sitting around, in the recliner or in bed and watching movies and streaming an entire season of a tv show in one day. You know how when you get really sick, it’s hard to imagine getting better? Like, you feel so sick like you are dying, but you know you aren’t dying, your body just feels like it is.

I turned a big corner today after 4 1/2 days off illness with high temperature. I actually got to the point where I could tell I felt better and after watching some tv, I told myself, I would stop watching and get some things done. Because I finally felt up to it and finally could see a light at the end of the tunnel of illness. Yet, I watched one more episode and then another.  I have vivid memories of doing this in the past, when I wasn’t feeling well

Depression is an illness. It does leave you feeling sick and tired. No energy, no motivation, thst isn’t Laziness, it’s depression.  You don’t look sick to anyone. People don’t know why you don’t get the project done on time or follow up like you said you would or make that phone call to set up an appointment for yourself or even for your child. Little things take a lot of effort to complete. There are no “little things” everything feels like a big thing, everything feels like a lot of work to complete or it takes all of your energy to do it.

When you are sick with the flu, you are tired,  Have no energy, no motivation to do Anything, no desire to,

When I am sick with the flu, I became content watching movies. I figured, why not make the best of my time and do something I enjoy. I also wanted to keep my mind on positive thoughts. I picked feel good movies and comedy shows. It’s ok to be “lazy” when you are sick. It’s like universal permission to be lazy.

The fear of becoming depressed again can be crippling.

I wrote the above post more than 2 1/2 years ago when I was in a very good place as far as my mental health. I have bipolar depression, the kind where my upswing is hypomania, or just high functioning and feeling good. I have been though a few cycles of ups and downs since I first write this post. I have realized some more things as I reread this post

I get sick more often and am much slower to shake any illness when I am depressed as compared to when I am not. I look back on things I did just days after being very sick in spring of 2016 and in a more depressed state, wonder, how the heck did I do that?

I have gotten sick during my more recent down cycle, one that lasted from June or July until Oct-November. It was ten times more awful being sick as it felt like forever and even when I began to feel better, I still didn’t have much energy to do anything, which just lead to not feeling well again. A vicious cycle of physical illness and depression.

Is it possible that some people with chronic illness are caught in this loop of physical illness and depression?

I see it in my own life. And I consider myself generally healthy.

The only medications I have been taken are for my depression.

What I ask of my readers today is this:

The next time you have a friend or family member not follow through on something or fail to do what they said they would, stop and contemplate the idea, Anne they are dealing with some form of anxiety or depression.

Sometimes I look like a lazy person and yet, I have accomplished much in my 49 years. I have had periods where I completed WonderWoman like feats, as well as many long stretches of barely getting by.

If this post helps even one person dealing with a mental illness or a loved one who has mental illness, than I am forever grateful for the opportunity to write and share my experiences.

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Everybody Hurts, Sometimes

Life gets messy at times

We all experience ups and downs and for those for us with Bipolar Depression, this experience is exaggerated often to the point of dysfunction.

For me, it is to the point of barely getting by, doing just the bare minimum.

Barely functioning, yet somehow making it through each day

Yet, in the bigger picture, it really feels as if this life is not my own.

I am listening to R.E.M. sing.

This song is powerful and propelled me to writing a blog today.

I had no intention of writing a blog but as soon as this song came on, I reached in my bag and pulled out my keyboard.

The music and the lyrics brought me to a place of honesty.

When I was younger, I wanted life to freeze so that I could catch up.

Now, I feel like I am the one who is frozen and life is wizzing by…

I am now taking a mood stabilizing medication along with my antidepressant.

I thought the antidepressant alone was helping until I discovered i was spiraling down again, slowly, yet enough that even calling my doctor to get in to be seen sooner took much effort and then I called and got no response and I wanted to call back again but never did.

And then it was time for my regularly scheduled appointment. She didn’t give me much time to talk this time but quickly jumped to adding a mood stabilizer when I began to describe my experience and was eager to prescribe the same medication that has been working for my brother. I agreed.

It takes time with all of these medications. To avoid side effects, you slowly titrate up the dose and so you won’t see any results for weeks or often months.

She told me to come back in 4 weeks after I had increased the dose to 50mg, after starting at 25 for 2 weeks. I went to check out and schedule the appointment and she did not have any openings for 6 weeks.

So what do you do with that?

They told me to call back in a few weeks to see if there has been any openings.

Why do they make it so challenging for someone with depression to come in as prescribed by the doctor for a medication increase.

Don’t they know how challenging it can be to follow through and make that phone call?

Don’t they know how challenging it is to get a person on their phone system?

Maybe she has an online way to get in touch with her, I think I remember that. If only I could figure out where that information is so I can access that.

Because waiting an extra 2 weeks to up the dose feels like too long.

Why do these small tasks feel so large and overwhelming to me?

I sat here at Panera while eating my dinner and enjoying a Netflix show and watched a young couple at a booth across from me.

They were holding hands and looking at each other. They were not holding their phones and had their full attention on each other with that look of total infatuation and young love. That feeling of connection with someone new. The attention and interest with each other, such intimacy.

I glanced up many times finding joy in their connection.

Depression is like the opposite of intimacy

You fell disconnected, out of touch and invisible.

You feel lost and uncertain and out of touch with your inner feelings.

You are lost in the day to day mundane tasks and use any opportunity to escape from regular life that you can.

“I want to break free

I want to break free from your life’s, you’re so self satisfied, I don’t need you

I want to break free”

Queen sings in my ear and I feel the lyrics

I want to break free from this depression, my depression

I want to be free of this feeling of drowning, of sinking, of being lost and disconnected.

“But life still goes on….”

“I don’t want to live alone…

God knows I have got to make it on my own

So baby can’t you see, I’ve got to break free…”

I made an effort today to jump into my work, reading and researching information for my new business endeavor with my husband.

We have developed a presentation and program for Collaborative, Conscious, Respectful Parenting.

This week we will give our second presentation. We have one client now, a family, from our first presentation we gave about 2 months ago.

We scheduled a second presentation for last month but no one signed up to attend.

It felt easy to pursue this endeavor 4 months ago when we first dove into it.

These past 2 months since that first presentation have been very difficult. When I practice the presentation with Don and we discuss things, I am engaged and energized by the experience and I know I can do this.

Life creeps back in and day to day life and my irregular schedule of getting weekly work from on e of the 3 companies I am employed with and it falls to the background.

A few weeks ago, I took 2 of my children to the dentist. My youngest was 9 before he would allow a dentist to clean his teeth. My oldest had serious trauma from dentists. I have anxiety over taking my kids to the dentist because of those experiences. Taking my youngest to any “professional” is challenging because his typical response is not to be compliant and do what he is told. That is challenging for me in a social setting.

We came out of the appointment having a very easy experience with only my daughter needing to come back to fill a cavity. She has no problems going to the dentist and usually does not have cavities.

I realized after that visit, that if I could survive that and we all did very well, then I could surely speak to a group of people about parenting.

In other worlds, getting through challenging experiences or potentially challenging experiences, helps me to realize that doing what I have longed to do, what my should wants to do, is not really as difficulty as it feels at times.

It feels difficult because it is not what I have been doing for “a living” for the past 25 years. It is outside the realm of my usual working experience.

Yet, is is also within the scope of my work practice and even experience with both adults and my own children.

It is new and new things take time to become comfortable.

I need to slowly figure my way in this new experience.

Don and I bring a unique dynamic because of our personality differences.

I am a big picture person, a dreamer of possibilities, and he is detail oriented, organized and follows through.

I am an introvert and process things internally and through my writing. Don is an extrovert and loves being in front of a large group speaking to people.

I have the background of being in healthcare and he has a business background.

It really is an amazing combination and together we share a passion for helping families. In particular for helping families with anxiety struggles, especially those with children suffering from anxiety related issues which we know effects the entire family dynamic.

It is so fun to see him using the tools that I first discovered years ago when our oldest was young and see him sharing books like, “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk” with his Clients in his EFT practice.

Engaging in this new endeavor with him has been a vision of mine since at least 2011. And yet, struggling with depression, takes a toll on my ability to follow through.

I have the benefit of knowing that I have pulled myself up and out of the depression several times before and so I do have hope that I will again. Despite knowing I am dealing with depression, I am still making small steps forward. Today, after sitting and talking with Don about our next steps we need to take, I felt energized to dive into the next steps. I also knew I needed to get out of the house and dive into a place of quiet where I go to write and do inner exploration and know I can focus solely on myself and my pursuits, knowing Don is home and engaged with the kids and dogs and they can reach me by phone whenever they need to.

David Bowie sings, Changes, as I finish this post tonight.

Changes…

Runaway Train

Runaway Train

Call you up in the middle of the night

Like a firefly without a light

You were there like a blowtorch burning

I was a key that could use a little turning

So tired that I couldn’t even sleep

So many secrets I couldn’t keep

Promised myself I wouldn’t weep

One more promise I couldn’t keep

It seems no one can help me now

I’m in too deep

There’s no way out

This time I have really lead myself astray

Depression seeps in

Silently and slowly creeping

Like a shadow obscuring the light

It arrives slowly without warning

A gas leak that slowly chokes out the life

Within us

We struggle and fumble

To find our way out

To the fresh air

And to the light

Again

Rain falls softly

Quietly covering the ground

The wind blows the leaves of the trees

Branches sway

Thoughts of how I use to be

Enjoying myself with my children on a road trip to ohio

To an unschooling conference

Just this past May

Two months later

And here I am feeling lost

We drove to St. Louis over Easter weekend

I had determination, organization, purpose and poise

Now i sit in the silence looking at old photos

Longing for that feeling I once had

Happiness, joy,

It is more than that

Purpose

I sense of divine purpose

Yet each time I encounter the chains of depression

I move forward

Never back…

Runaway train never going back

Wrong way on a one-way track

Seems like I should be getting somewhere

Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Can you help me remember how to smile?

Make it somehow all seem worthwhile

How on earth did I get so jaded?

Life’s mysteries seem so faded

I can go where no one else can go

I know what no one else knows

Here I am, just drowning in the rain

With a ticket for a runaway train

And everything seems cut and dry

Day and night

Earth and sky

Somehow I just don’t believe it

Runaway train never going back

Wrong way on a one-way track

Seems like I should be getting somewhere

Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Bought a ticket for a runaway train

Like a madman laughing at the rain

A little out of touch, a little insane

It’s just easier than dealing with the pain

Runaway train never going back

Wrong way on a one-way track

Seems like I should be getting somewhere

Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Runaway train never coming back

Runaway train tearing up the track

Runaway train burning in my veins

I run away but it always seems the same

Family Road Trip

We left Charlotte at 7am Friday morning.

Four people, suitcases, bags and bags of snacks: gluten free foods, fresh brewed tea sweetened with local honey

Missing a family member, oldest son, home to take care of dogs, attend work and school

Been a long time, four and a half years to be exact, since we traveled to St. Louis

I drove first

Road trip playlist on Spotify

Chai tea with coconut milk, caffeinated chai

When did i become a morning person?

When did I become a morning person who needs her caffeine in the morning to get her day going?

Writing

Time to myself

Music

Starting my day

Time with my husband and two younger kids

Seeing my husband with his family, in his element, relaxed, being the jokester among a family of self proclaimed comedians

Eye rolls from my sixteen year old daughter

“That’s how I know I am doing my job”

Nieces and nephews, who are my age, with children, teenagers of their own

I can’t stand to fly

I’m not that naive

I’m just out to find

The better part of me

Family

Nearly 24 years ago, I married my husband and became a Grothoff

I joined this family

Three new brother-in-laws and four sister-in-laws

Eleven nieces and nephews, from age 8 through age through age 23

Now,

Twenty-four years later… age 32 through age 47, with children of their own

Sixteen great nieces and nephews, if I counted correctly….

Playing with Andrew, age 18 months

Feels like a hundred years since I had a toddler of my own

My youngest is nine…

“9 going on 40” as his aunt said yesterday

Speaking up

Speaking up for my child

Speaking up for my child with social anxiety

Allowing

Allowing him to go off and be alone

Overwhelmed by all these people he does not know

He was four years old when he was last here in St. Louis

He was four years old when he met most of these relatives

That was half his life ago…

It was a house full

They were not all here, several live in Texas and some could not come

Nineteen people, not including us…

Only five other kids, two of them being teens

Family

Large families

I grew up with a large extended family

My mother being one of seven children and my father was one of six living siblings

We visited New Jersey at least once each year

So many aunts and uncles and cousins,

Great aunts and uncles… my parents cousins…

People

Many people

I was the quiet one

Close to mom as a young child

Or hanging with my sister as I got older

Loud family

Difficulty to get a word in edgewise with all the animated extroverts

Fun family

Memories

Creating memories for my own children

Establishing bonds

Building a sense of comfort with being around this family that lives 756 miles away

Three days to visit

Three short days for him to have time to get to know these strange people

People who are “strange to him”, unknown

I feel proud of how well he is doing

He has come such a long way on his journey, overcoming social anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder

It is an ongoing journey

He came out of the bedroom on his own in the middle of the gathering

“I thought I would come out to be with everyone” he told me

He made that decision on his own

Talking with him and

Encouraging him to be a part of the gathering and talk to people, to at least say hello

He has made such huge progress over the past several years

Family

Oldest son at home

Texting and FaceTime connections

Give a little bit

Give a little bit of your love to me

I’ll give a little bit of my life for you

Now’s the time that we need to share

So find yourself, we’re on our way back home

Family

Two more days to be the parent he needs in this new environment

Meeting his needs

And meeting mine

Balance

Being there for all three of my children,

And my husband

And myself

Easter

April 1

Fresh starts

Foolish fun and games amount family

Easter, April 1, 2018

You’re on the road

But you’ve got no destination

You’re in the mud

In the maze of her imagination

You’re lovin’ this town

Even if that doesn’t ring true

You’ve been all over

And it’s been all over you

It’s a beautiful day

Don’t let it get away

It’s a beautiful day

Thank you to: U2, Beautiful Day lyrics

Supertramp and “Give a Little Bit

Five for Fighting and “Superman””

I am grateful for Google and Azlyrics

And grateful for all the poets of this world

Your words inspire me

Bipolar Depression: When Life Just Sucks and the bills need to be paid

I have been on prozac, 20mg, 9 months now. I have birthed myself a new life.

Unlike the last anti-depressant I tried 2 years ago, I feel that the Prozac is helping me and not causing side effects and mania.

It makes me wonder, why didn’t I try this medication years ago?

Here I am now. And somehow it is all perfect and in perfect order.

It can be challenging to really believe that.

The idea that life unfolds, or we create it, just the way it needs to be.

And it is what we do with what happens that matters more than what happens.

We create our life….

Yet, there are those times when it really feels like life is happening to me

Sh#t happens

I work PRN as an Occupational Therapy in geriatric rehab.

PRN means no required hours and no guaranteed hours.

I sign up to work but they can “call me off”if they don’t need me something that can happen the night before or the day of…

I am employed with 2 companies, one for almost 8 years and the other for 4 years.

PRN also means you get paid a “higher rate of pay” because you have no benefits.

Healthcare changed in 2000 and greatly for me in the field of Occupational Therapy.

I had a pay cut and salary caps happened and jobs were hard to find for a while.

My work is very different than it was when I graduated college with my Bachelor of Science Degree in OCcupational Therapy in 1992.

All those Medicare cuts and changes that happened at the beginning of this century, mean I now make less money than I did 20 years ago. I worked PRN 21 years ago in addition to a full time job. At that time, my PRN rate of pay was double my rate as a full time employee. IT was $50 an hour. The current average rate of pay in the area where I live for a PRN OCcupational Therapist is now $45 an hour.

I now have 25 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist and yet 21 years later, I am making less money.

PRN means no increase in pay.

This is healthcare.

Or better named, sickcare.

I vent about this all the time to my husband and close friends and family.

It is time I write about it.

I began asking for a pay increase 4 years ago at my job I had been with for 4 years when I found out the current rate of pay for new PRN employees, therapists, was $5 more than I was making. I got told I would get the pay increase and then called back the next day and told, “I didn’t know there was a hold on raises. But you will be the first to get a raise when it changes.”

I asked again almost 2 years later, I was told I had to wait until the fall (it was early spring) when they do reviews.

As a prn employee, I had never had a review done.

First of September, my boss schedules a review for me. Wow!

I get told I will get the “pay increase”, in other words, they will now pay me what they are paying everyone else who was hired after me.

It will be in my December pay check.

December comes, no pay increase.

I was told that the regional manager forgot to allocate the money for my raise.

Apparently, they can only do raises one time per year.

I inquired about my options. I won’t even share that here because you would never believe it.

And I know my boss went to bat for me for the raise and then after the raise didn’t happen. I appreciate her efforts.

Much to my surprise, a year later, I get the pay increase!

After nearly 8 years working nearly ever week and most weekends for this company being available for most weekends and also being called off work when the caseload was too low, I now am getting paid what they should have been paying me at least 4 years ago.

$50 per hour

The rate of pay I made 21 years ago, when my hourly rate as a full time employee was $25 per hour.

GRATEFUL?

Sure I am grateful.

I feel like i finally made it happen!

Because PRN employees don’t get raises, pay increases, nothing.

I have been told that by my other employer, where I have now worked 4 years.

Why am I prn?

Because in order to be part time you have to average 20 hours per week.

They don’t have that many hours to give me at either place. I often work 20 hours between both jobs.

Many companies only have full time and prn employees and not part time employees.

So this is all good right?

Now the company is choosing to use prn employees as little as possible.

A secret policy that I have only learned about through the grape vine.

I have been called off work as a prn employee and I get that is part of being prn and the status of healthcare.

But now, I am called off work more and more.

It doesn’t matter how many years I have been with the company, nor my experience, nor the fact that when they do my quarterly relives now, I get glowing remarks on what I great employee I am.

What is the point of the glowing reviews?

It feels like a slap in the face!

I began getting the glowing reviews after I was told my raise wasn’t happening, because the regional manager forgot to allocate the money for my raise.

Now, just 3 months after my raise went into effect….

I am finding out not from my boss but from my co-workers, that the company is now choosing to use prn employees as little as possible.

Why am I writing about this and not going to my boss?

I have gone to her multiple times.

I have had many sit down talks with her about my concerns and issues.

I have reached out to her to find out about these rumors I am hearing.

She chooses not to fill me in and not respond to my phone call or repeated questions about the changes.

Each month, I am asked to give my availability for working weekends for the coming month.

I typically let them know I am available most Sundays for a full work day and most Saturdays for at least a half work day. On average, I tell them I am available for 6 our of 8 weekend days, every month, for nearly 8 years.

I find out about how much I am needed for on the Friday afternoon or night before the weekend.

I find out if they are calling me off work on the Friday before and sometimes not until 10pm the night before.

This is the nature of prn work in Occupational Therapy. (PT and OT work in adult and geriatric rehab)

I have been told, that despite my years of experience and time with the company, that if there are no evaluations, I will be called off first rather than the COTAS (OT assistants with a 2 year degree).

OK

It is a financial thing, they tell me.

Something I have never been happy with.

When I am needed for evaluations, they need me. But I am the first to go when the caseload is low.

That in itself sucks.

But what sucks even more

Is the company deciding to use prn employees as little as possible and not sharing this information with the prn employees.

Not openly sharing it.

We all know because we talk to the full time employees

Who are now required to rotate working weekends.

Not because they want to but because they have to.

Sometimes life just sucks.

I have seen that I am being called off more often and despite really liking my fellow co-workers and the facility as a whole at my weekend job, and have been looking for more work hours elsewhere.

My other prn job I work one or two days during the week as well as Saturdays when needed also has a low caseload right now.

And that is a crazy story with its own issues but I will save that for another time.

That being said,

I now have two prn jobs with very little hours for me to work.

And I have been looking for more hours and have let them all know that I am looking for more work hours.

Instead of more hours, I am getting far less hours.

In January, I earned enough to meet and exceed our expenses, to help pay down our debt.

My February pay checks totaled $1000 less, not quite meeting our basic expenses.

So far in March, I have worked a total of 5.25 hours.

It is only March 4, but I have only worked that many hours from Sunday Feb 25 through today, Sunday March 4.
I signed up to work full day last Sunday and today and for 5 hours yesterday and got 0 hours.

The 5.25 hours came from my other prn job.

But I may have 0 hours this week at my other prn job.

The caseload is low and instead of referring patients to our in facility outpatient therapy program, the facility is referring patients to a home health company who is trying to establish a monopoly in the facility, despite our company having a contract with a different home health company.

So I shared a little of that drama…

This is the nature of health care…

Sick care

I usually work at least 15 hours per week, 20 hours per week meets my expenses.

Sometimes I work 25 or more hours per week and other times 10-15, and it balances out.

But working only 5 hours in 2 weeks won’t pay the bills.

I have been asking about other prn work and have a number of companies to call and…

I updated my resume

Today, I am applying for other jobs. I have had that on my to do list for several weeks.

Now it feels urgent

When I began looking around for other work and asking my fellow prn employees and co-workers who work prn, I was looking to give myself more options and to seek work at a higher rate of pay.

I was looking for a third prn job to have the upper hand.

To be able to tell my weekend employer,

“NO, I have other work and work where I won’t get called off the day of or the night before at 10pm.”

I enjoy the jobI work weekends, I enjoy what I do as an Occupational Therapist, the patients I work with, and my co-workers, and the facility.

But I also value my sanity.

And, heck, the bills need to get paid!

Part of the reason, I have hesitated to find other prn work, more prn jobs…

Is because I am also a writer and actively working

To grow my writing, and turn Child-led learning into a paying gig

My husband, Don, and I are making plans to speak together on conscious parenting.

I run a local homeschool website, Charlottehomeschooling.com

I run Child-led Learning blog and facebook page and my goal is to grow that into a community and to also work as a child-led learning consultant.

I am ready to take my experience and skills and more to new work.

I am ready to use my skills as an Occupational therapist to begin a business in well- care, instead of sick-care.

Sundays are now writing time and planning time and goal setting time.

I can embrace my new Sundays.

I am also ready to see the $350 I typically earn (or used to earn) each Sunday, showing up in my life in new ways…

..so the bills can be paid.

I am ready universe.

I am open to new possibilities.

I am a writer.

I am Gina.

I am creating a new realization, a new experience, for my life

…and for my family.

Depression: Trudging through the mud with chains on my back while trying to keep my head above water

Here comes the sun

It’s been a long, cold winter

When I look back to when I have been depressed, I see sadnesses but there is so much more to it then that.

Life becomes a chore, all of it. Getting through each and every day is exhausting

And I look forward most to going to bed at night and sleeping and being in the quiet

But when I wake, I don’t feel refreshed, I feel tired and want to keep sleeping

Getting up is challenging

Getting up and starting my day takes a lot of effort

Leaving me with a half empty tank for the rest of my day

And some days, getting up takes nearly all my tank and so I am left running on fumes all day

Until I can go to bed again.

I manage to do the essentials, feed my children, feed myself

When I am depressed, I eat, too much

Trying to find comfort in food, but the comfort never comes

Leaving me feeling heavy and disappointed further pushing me down

I manage to wash clothes, I like doing laundry, the only cleaning task I truly like

Something about the simplicity of laundry and the reward

Sort the colors, fill the washer, add the soap and turn the dials

I get myself and my kids to the things we must do, are committed to

I get myself to work and get through the day

I don’t enjoy work very much and it feels like WORK

There are moments of pleasure and times where I feel good at work, work gives me a. Feeling of accomplishment

When I am working, I feel competent, because I have been an Occupational Therapist for 25 years

And I know the routine

I complete an eval, setting goals and then reassess them 3-4 weeks later and see the progress, or lack of it

And when they have reached their maximum potential, I complete the discharge paperwork with reassessment again.

It is logical and familiar.

I am a good therapist and I know what I am doing.

Yet, i have many moment so “I don’t want to do this anymore” seeing all the flaws in the system

And the problems that need fixing and it frustrates me beyond belief

Yet while I am at work, I probably am functioning my best

Home

Thinking about it now, recalling how coming home is always challenging when I am depressed,

I think it is because I come home to “disappointment”

Disappointment in myself for all the things I have NOT been doing in my time away from work

You can look at the menu but you just can’t eat

You can feel the cushions but you can’t have a seat

You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can’t have a swim

You’re the fastest runner, but you’re not allowed to win

YOu can see the summit, but you can’t reach it

It’s the last piece of the puzzle but you just cant make it fit

The doctor says you’re cured but you still feel the pain

Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain

There are moments of joy, playing with my youngest and engaging with all my kids

Yet there is this dark cloud over my head the whole time

Just when I think I am pulling myself up and out of the muck and mud,

Something happens creating more challenges in my life

Causing me to fall back into the mud

Don is my rock, steady and always by my side

Yet, when I am depressed all I see are his flaws

I expect him to disappoint me and that is what I experience

This is a new reflection, a new realizing that I am just now fully realizing

As I listen to Peter Cetera sing, The Glory of Love

DEPRESSION

Have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?

I always thought if you were clinically depressed, you wound have any moment of joy

I always told myself, i wasn’t really depressed or i won’t be able to go to work

I wouldn’t be able to function at all, that is real clinical depression

Those people have it bad

I am still functioning.

It wasn’t until I came out of it, that I could look back and see how depressed I was

It didn’t matter that I was still functioning, I was barely functioning

I was barely getting by and it was painful

Often physically painful with aches and pains, throwing my back out to the point of not being able to move

Many trips to the chiropractor and other doctors for a variety of illnesses

And then I would get sick, stay home from work sick and it would take a long time to get better or I would relapse

Looking back this happened in college, often, sinus infections that just wouldn’t go away

Mood swings

All my life I have experienced big mood swings

When I went to college and learned about bipolar disorder

I wondered, Is this me?

Yet, i don’t experience mania

Not full on mania

It was years before I learned about hypomania

I think I learned about it from my brother and his bipolar diagnosis

From that time, i began to wonder about myself

I went to a psychiatrist after I had been on an antidepressant for a long time, 8 months ore so, prescribed by my primary

Because i finally took myself to the doctor and tole them I needed treatment for depression

So by the time I went to the first psychiatrist, i was having nearly all the side effects from the antidepressant and i was in a state of hypomania but beginning to look more like mania

The doctor diagnosed me with depression, removed me from the medicine showing me how I was having all the side effects fro it

And then

She declared me cured

I knew I was not cured but hopefully that I didn’t need the antidepressant anymore

And so worried that I would fall back into the depression again

I was good for a while, for another few months

Until i slowly began sinking again

So slowly, rreeping up on me

Realizing it but naively thinking along the way that

THIS was the low point and surely I would pull back up

Sinking further and further

Finding a doctor again and trying a different antidepressant and going to a new psychiatrist

Because I wanted to make sure the medicine didn’t cause mania because

That can help end with bipolar disorder

I had been reading and researching becoming more and more convinced that this was my proper diagnosis

And going to the psychiatrist, to the expert, to determine if that was the case

Yet, she diagnosed me with depression

And I got tiered of paying twenty dollars cash each visit and not happy with her

Challenged by th noisy fan because the building’s air conditioner was broken and she had a soft voice and an accent

And my hearing is not what it used to be and it was a challenge to hear her words

And a challenge to be there with her asking dumb basic questions

When I had dug so much deeper with all my purists in EFT and alternative modalities and inner work

Luckily, my primary has continued to prescribe my medication and i don’t seam to baving side effects

I wonder about mania vs hypomania

I realize that it would have been good to continue to go to the same psychiatrist so manybe she could have seen the difference in me,

Why?

To diagnosis me properly

Whatever

I have done that for myself

I am more qualified to do it

Which is sad, really sad that the mental health system has failed me

I intended to work in mental health when I was in college studying Occupational therapy

We had an entire semester plus dedicated to mental health and level I and level II fieldwork in a mental health setting

Only finding traumatic brain injury and a acute rehab pulled me way from my interest in pursing a career in mental health

Here I am

All these years later

Discovering that the doctors don’t always do the best job at diagnosis in

The psychologists and psychiatrist with their MDs and PhDs, all those years of school

Didn’t help me

My own personal education, experience, research and inner work and trial and erro with a variety of approaches

Has led me to diagnosis myself

I would have been the last person to say this is valid,

I am biased, this is why i went to the professions in the first place

They were supposed to be the experts

They first failed me with my children, especially my youngest son

In getting him help for his anxiety and challenges that affected his every day life

Yet, I find myself needing to say, I mean no disrespect for these professionals and they are essential in the system

And I KNOW they help many, many children and adults get the help they need.

And yet, there are those who are misdiagnosed and those who fall through the cracks of the system

Those who don’t get the help they need because of costs and insurance, bad insurance or no insurance

Or no qualified providers in their insurance plan

WE MUST ALL TAKE CHARGE OF OUR OWN HEALTH AND BE INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS

As an Occupational Therapist, my role is to facilitate my patient’s return to a higher level of independent functioning.

I facilitate, but I can not do the work for them and if they are not motivated and don’t make the effort, there is nothing I can do to make them better.

“Man, through the use of his hands, can influence the state of his own health”

The quote is from one of the founders of occupational therapy and something I learned in freshman year in a Theory of Occupational Therapy class. I learned about many different theorists yet that one quote is what has stuck with me.

That quote is what motivated me to help my daughter learn to knit and crochet when her OCD was so severe that it crippled here in her daily life. And what drove me to engage her in Sudoku puzzles and other tasks to help calm the anxiety that was rampant in her Brian causing havoc in her life and in ours.

I have learned that I must go to the doctor and get their advice AND do my own research, go to the alternative practitioners and gather all the resources and information and advice

AND then I must decide what to take in and what to discard in order to maximize my level of independent functioning.

BUT WHEN I AM DEPRESSED, IT IS REALLY HARD TO DO THIS!

I KNOW What I need to do much of the time, but making the decisions to do it and taking the action is challenging.

It can be paralyzing to know what I need to do and not be able to make the decisions to do it.

To an outsider it looks so simple, just do it,, just call the doctor and make the appointment, just get up 30 minutes early and walk every morning, just go. Outside once each day and do grounding exercises, just write in your journal daily.

Sure I KNOW I need to do these things and at times, I can do them, once or twice,

Trudging through the mud with chains on my back, while trying to keep my head above water

A Day in the Life of a family touched by OCD

I wrote this post over 3 years ago. I never published it.  I am going to share it as I wrote it. It feels unfinished at the end and that is exactly how our life felt at that time.  I am happy to say that Abby is now functioning like a typical 14 year old for the most part, or at least like a typical unschooled 14 year old. She has overcome so much and come so far in 3 years.  Whenever I stop and think about this, I feel speechless,breathless,  amazed at how she has overcome such a severe disability. And then I breath out as reality brings me back to my current life, because we are now going through similar issues with our youngest child.  Somehow, my husband and I have two children with OCD.  We both feel compelled to help others who suffer, Don, with his coaching business, and me with my writing. We know how isolating having a child with OCD, or any mental illness can be, and we want others to know, you are not alone, there is help.  Don has recently written an ebook on OCD. His website

 

I woke up this morning and my little one was still asleep.  I checked my phone and saw my husband’s text:  “Left at 6:50, she was still sleeping”.  I stayed put checking email and facebook on my phone until my youngest woke up at 9:30.

We then headed downstairs to check on my daughter, Abby, asleep on the couch.

She said she had been up for a while but was curled up and calm.  (Thank God!)

I went in the kitchen and got her supplements and a new glass of water and a fresh straw.

I brought them to her and gave her the supplements one at a time, dropping them into her mouth and waiting for her to  reach her body across to the table where her cup sat and drink from the straw.

I then started breakfast.  I heated up pancakes for the kids as I started some hot water.  I got pancakes ready for my 4 year old.  He wanted a special cup for his juice and so I told him to get out the one he wanted which he did.  I then started sausages and then brought my daughter’s plate of pancakes, with syrup and cut and the box of spoons to her in the living room where she sits watching TV.  I set down her plate and opened the box of plastic spoons, moving the lid out of the way for her to reach in and take one.  I pointed out how many spoons were left and reminded her that we will not be buying another box of spoons.

I went back to the kitchen and started my breakfast, cut up apple, and quinoa and got it cooking on the stove and used hot water to make myself tea.  Jason was done eating now and so I got his vitamins out.

The sausage was done and my daughter was now in the bathroom.  I called up to her but she said she was too full for sausage.  I put them away in a container and labeled it “Abby” and then I put on some other sausages that she doesn’t like but Jason and I will eat.

Then she called me upstairs to help her wash her hands.  I pumped soap into her hands and then turned on the faucet, waited for her to finish, and then turned faucet off for her and went back downstairs to kitchen to finish making my breakfast.

Jason managed to play by himself and things were relatively calm.  It’s easier when only two kids are home.  My oldest had spent the night at a friend’s house.  And my husband had an all day workshop and wouldn’t get home until after 6pm.

I managed to eat, and make a batch of nettles (I soak dried nettle leaves in hot water to make an infusion which we then let cool and freeze in ice cube trays to use daily in smoothies and to drink.  Nettles are full of minerals and great for allergy relief.)

Keep in mind that my 4 year old talks almost continuously and comes in frequently to tell me or show me something or requests me to come see what he is doing.  Abby and Jason managed to play together briefly but it ended because Abby made too many rules and Jason came to me crying.  He desperately misses playing with his sister but it is not easy to play with her because he can not touch her or her spot on the couch and she does make a lot of rules when they play.  Abby tried to negotiate with him asking him which rules he didn’t like, but Jason was done.

By now it was about 10 am and so I reminded Abby that she was supposed to be Skyping with her cousin at 12.  Her cousin lives in PA and about 2 times each week they chat on skype or Google Chat.  They are working on a story together and building a house for the imaginary family on Google- Auto Desk Homestyler.

I ask her if she has a towel to use after she showers and clothes to wear.  I go to the kitchen to finish cleaning up, unloading the dishwasher etc.  She finally decides she needs to wash clothes and her towel as well as sheets.  she goes upstairs to get her clothes and comes down, “Mom, I need you to open the washer”.

“Just a minute”  and then I head down and open the washer, she drops clothes in and I tell her to get more and then I start the washer and add the soap.  She brings a few more items down and her towel but tells me she can only wash the clothes she is going to wear today.  And I tell her she needs to wash more because I can not wash clothes for her every day.  She gets mad and huffs off.