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Here I go again..

February 28, 2016

What do depression and anxiety look like? I just looked in a mirror and saw for myself.

That’s where I’ve been. I think I am very fortunate that I saw the signs. I knew something was not right.

It is so hard to explain. And I was real, I mean REAL good at hiding it from the Chief. But not so good hiding it from my daughters, my best friend, or my SIL. Even now I struggle to find the words to describe it because it is almost indescribable–it just is.

I got the house decorated for Christmas in record time. The girls and I really enjoyed that. I enjoyed Black Friday shopping. I was listening to Christmas music since Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the candlelight tour of homes with my BIL and SIL. It wasn’t the typical “has the person lost interest and enjoyment in the things they once loved to do?” No. It was an overwhelming sense of dread and confusion and inability to make a simple decision. On the days I had to sub, I could get right up and get going… but when I got home from school I’d still want to curl up in the fetal position. Actually, the first alarm bell was the day I didn’t want to go to the gym. Not because it wasn’t enjoyable but because I had a day’s worth of activities following that I panicked over and worried about and couldn’t make a decision on.

I didn’t write my year-in-review letter. I had made a Christmas card with our beautiful family pictures we had taken in October. But I didn’t see a point to the letter. If you were in my life you knew what a year it was–tonsillectomy, ruptured L4/L5, subbing, surgery, camp, personal relationships in turmoil, my dad’s cancer… who wants to read all that and have a Merry Christmas?

And I didn’t want to host New Year’s Day. I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t know when the Chief was going to be home and I felt the world closing in.

One night the girls were fighting. T2 was pulling a stunt her sister had at that age, wanting something and not letting it drop–some absolutely annoying thing–right after I had shelled out $60+ to take us all to the movies. I will admit that as loud as I could reasonably do so in the theater lobby I called her a spoiled rotten brat. I drove them home and let them out and then drove away. I went less than a mile away and sat in my car at the park. I texted the Chief. He called the house to check on them. I played Sudoku for 2 hours. The oldest texted and I told her to tell her sister to go to bed; her too.

Then there was an incident over text messages with the Chief. Out of respect for him I won’t air the dirty laundry–we’ve already talked about it. But I stopped functioning. I sat in my car so that I wouldn’t curl into a ball on my bedroom floor. The girls were scared. A numb fog surrounded me. For days. Even the day he came home. I was ambivalent.

I described things to the Chief in these terms: anxious, fogged, as if every nerve in my body was on fire–I couldn’t handle loud noises or touch beyond the gentlest of caresses, an inability to see beyond the next minute let alone the next hour or day and if I had to think about it the pain and anxiety came back in a vicious cycle.

I had already made the decision to ask my therapist and GP to start some kind of antidepressant. Now it was just a matter of making it through the holidays until my appointment. I didn’t host New Year’s… getting a nasty case of Strep throat and a sinus infection was the perfect excuse. I had hoped the Chief could have gone with me to my GP but he had to leave for a class. We decided to start on Cymbalta for a couple of reasons–it is used for pain management and doesn’t seem to have a weight gain side-effect.

It took about 10-14 days for me to start to feel normal again.

The Chief has honestly said he doesn’t know if it is making a difference–I was REALLY that GOOD at hiding it from him. I guess that’s a hazard of this lifestyle. But he has been so supportive and understanding once we really had a heart to heart. I haven’t had the courage to talk to the girls about it to see if they’ve noticed.

I’ve been on Cymbalta for 40 days now. The Chief has gone back to sea. I feel fortunate that I was that aware of something wrong. It was gradual … two years building up with one kick after another… but I think my dad’s cancer scare left me so raw that the misunderstanding between the Chief and I just highlighted how broken, how out of balance I was.

Do I hope I’m only on Cymbalta for a short time, like when I had post-partum depression? Sure. But I also know it may be a long-term solution.

The day I didn’t dread going to the gym was the day I knew I was turning a corner. I guess this is another corner in this journey.

 

 

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Giving Thanks!

December 2, 2015

So much to be thankful for. God is so good!

My father had surgery on Nov. 18 to remove part of his tongue and all the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck. The 6 hour surgery ended early and the doctor felt confident she got it all. I saw him the next day when it was my turn to take our mother in to the hospital. Say what you will about the lackluster reputation of VA hospitals but I have to say I felt my father received excellent care in the SICU unit. His nurse(s) only had two patients (that I could tell). Yes, it was probably a bit premature to give him shredded chicken but hey, hospital food is like that in any hospital. He came home on the 21st, sooner than we all realistically expected–but we did want him home before he had to give up his private room.

Over the course of the next week we got news that the lymph nodes were clear, followed by the determination that chemotherapy would NOT be necessary. He got his staples (at least a dozen along his neck to his ear) out on the 30th and the doctor was pleased with his wound. Eating can still be a chore but my mother reports he is becoming the master of the blender. Today he just passed along that the surgeon feels he does not need radiation either. He will have bimonthly check ups over the course of the next 12 months, but NO radiation!

The power of prayer. We are so thankful!

What an emotional roller coaster this has been!

The following are the various “give thanks” Bible verses that I used over this past month. As I stated, there are 57 passages but some are event or person specific. Plus I didn’t want to post a “I give thanks to you, now destroy my enemies” verse. So I didn’t post 30 verses but I think this is a pretty good list and during my times of distress over these past few weeks it was such a good reminder to give thanks to a God who has been so gracious.

O give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! I Chron. 16:8-10
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! See also: Save us, o God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory and your praise. I Chron. 16:34-35
…A Psalm of David. I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7
(Nov. 4, 1994–2nd best decision of my life, saying yes to the Chief)
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. … You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praises and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
Psalm 30:2-4; 11-12
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Psalm 57:8-11
A Psalm of Asaph. A song.
We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near.   Psalm 75:1
“Great is Your Steadfast Love” A Prayer of David     Psalm 86:1-13
How Great are Your Works. A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
Psalm 92:1-8
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever. A Psalm for giving thanks.
…Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.    Psalm 100:1-5
Tell of All His Wonderful Works
O give thanks to the LORD; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all His wondrous works!    Psalm 105:1-5
Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
… Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.
Psalm 106:1; 107:1 & 43
With God We Shall Do Valiantly. A Song. A Psalm of David.
Psalm 108:1-6
Great Are the LORD’s Works
Psalm 111:1-10
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His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
Psalm 118:1-29
“Give thanks” is used 4 times in this Psalm.
His steadfast Love Endures Forever
Psalm 136:1-26
“It is He who remembered us in our low estate…”
Give thanks is used four times in this Psalm.
Nov. 18:  Give Thanks to the LORD of David.
I give you thanks, o LORD, with all my heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day that I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
Psalm 138:1-3
My heart is lighter and I can breathe easier tonight. Thank you, prayer warriors.
On a completely separate topic, today’s Give Thanks is so appropriate on so many levels. I love how scripture works that way.
Psalm 142:1-7 You are my Refuge. A Maskil of David when he was in the cave. A prayer.
Great is the LORD
A Song of Praise. Of David.
…The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your work shall give thanks to you, o LORD, and all your saints shall bless you.
Psalm 145:9&10 but read the whole song!
The LORD is My Strength and My Song
You will say in that day (or this month!)
“I will give thanks to you, o LORD,…
Isaiah 12:1-6
Thanksgiving. I Cor. 1:4-9
I give thanks to my God always for you…
Thank You to those in my life who have embodied exactly what Paul is talking about.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
Eph. 1:15-23
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thes. 5:12-24
Stand Firm
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you…
2 Thes. 2:13-17
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My Heart is Lighter

November 21, 2015

To say that the past two weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster would not even cover it. There aren’t enough hours in the day or hours of sleep. I am drained.

But my heart is lighter. My father is doing well. The surgeon finished early and feels she got it all. There are a lot of details but things look to be in his favor… Size, time frame, hopefully clear lymphnodes. God is good.

My parents of course drove me crazy by not having any clear game plan. “Pray for me to have more patience.” “Why?” “Because I will kill him!” oh, you mean he’s acting like an emotional drama queen? I have no idea where I’ve seen that before.

The next night I pretty much got asked to drop everything just in case he got released early. Let me clearly state, I would have dropped everything for an emergency but I couldn’t wrap my head around why this was being asked of me when my older sister lived in their town, does not have two busy teens, and her husband is home to watch her children. When I checked in with my sister I almost blew a gasket when she said she hadn’t been asked!

Thankfully other family members insisted on being there to help and logic prevailed and we actually got a schedule firmly in place about who was doing what and when.

I took my mother to the VA hospital the day after the surgery. He was not as disfigured as I was expecting. He has a lisp but when the swelling goes down and with a little speech therapy it should not be noticeable. The side of the neck where all the lymphnodes were removed is sunken in but that may flesh out.

It was a good day with my parents. We talked about the every day things of life continuing on. My children are their first grandchildren. Many firsts coming up…concert solos, driving permits, the beginning of the college and scholarship search, and the youngest applying for a special high school. We talked about the Chief and his ever changing schedule. Yes, even would he be home for Christmas and for once I didn’t mind the question even if I had no answer. It took two hours to get mom home and another hour for me to get home, but I didn’t mind. Not with a lighter heart.

Mom took a day off and my sister went to see him at lunch. We got word early in the day that he would be released on Saturday. My sister’s schedule was more open so she is taking mom to get him discharged as per the schedule we came up with. God is so good.

There have been other things come up in these two weeks that have left me saying “I seriously do not need this right now!” and “What now?!” that I can’t go into. I am barely treading water and struggle with sinking into depression. The Chief has been supportive and open with me when I discussed considering antidepressants for a short period. Hopefully the crisis of dad’s illness passing will ease the burden not only on my heart but my head.

But for now my heart is lighter and I know that God is so good.

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Honor the Merchant Marine on Veterans Day

November 11, 2015

While observing this federal holiday today, please take time to remember ALL who have served in defense of this country.

Veterans Day: Honoring the U.S. Merchant Marine

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