Category Archives: depression

Thoughts on “13 Reasons Why”

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I’d been hearing the buzz about the recently-released Netflix series called “13 Reasons Why.” The basic premise is a troubled teenaged girl commits suicide, but before she does she records 7 tapes explaining the 13 reasons why she took her life.  The reasons were basically acts of commission or omission by friends and enemies in her high school.  The story begins at the point when one of her friends, Clay, receives the tapes and begins listening to them.

This is not a spoiler-free review…

There’s lots I could say about the series.  This is not the typical show I sit and watch, but because it was opening up dialogue about suicide, rape, and bullying even among my peers I felt compelled to watch.  There was also a much deeper reason I felt compelled to watch…

While I know probably exactly zero teenagers read my blog I wanted to share my feelings about “13 Reasons Why” as someone who has been there.  Like Hannah, when I was a sophomore in high school I contemplated committing suicide. While my situation was quite a bit different from Hannah Baker’s the feelings were the same.  The path to suicidal ideation is a complicated one, and not only for teenagers but for anyone who has dealt with difficult losses or abuse be they age 16 or 100.

Back to the series.  I am not recommending the show.  It is way off the mature-content deep end of what I usually allow myself to watch (and I’m in my late 40s).  I don’t recommend it to teens at all, but I know they’re watching it anyway, so moot point. Again, I only watched it because it was so close to something I had experienced myself and the buzz surrounding it.  If you haven’t watched the show and are in the throes of depression or in the aftermath of abuse (especially sexual abuse) PLEASE, DON’T WATCH IT!  It is triggering…UBER-triggering.  Even if you consider yourself healed from depression, abuse, or trauma if you watch this series be ready to feel pretty lousy for a day or so after watching episode 13.  I daresay even if you’ve had a smooth-sail of life up to this point, this series will probably affect you deeply, because you probably know people who have been in the situations described in the series.  It is very graphic and explicit.  The language is horrible though probably pretty realistic for most high schools these days. It’s probably only slightly worse than when I was in high school 30 years ago I’m sad to say.

As far as storytelling I will say the series is done well.  It is designed to lure you into a binge watch. It does the job.  It’s emotional cocaine.  Try to resist the urge to binge.  I only allowed myself to watch two episodes max, per day, and then I either had to palate-cleanse by watching a lighthearted show, or I had to transfer into my quiet time with the Lord to pray and read the word to deal with the emotions it brought up.

Now, Hannah Baker…there are some issues with her character in which I had great difficulty.  I’m not minimizing anyone who contemplates suicide (again, I did many years ago), but because Hannah is a written character and not a real-life one I will bullet-point what I found wrong with the way her character was written:

  • Major Drama Queen (a.k.a mentally ill)–Okay, teenagers inherently are drama queens/kings, but Hannah Baker took it to a whole ‘nother level.  The fact that her suicide was basically revenge against everyone who had hurt her, and her suicide note a 7-tape dialogue of how everyone had done her wrong screams personality disorder to the max.  Her depression was secondary it seems which is why she didn’t sell me on on being the suicidal type.  The girl definitely needed help, and while her inept high school guidance counselor would be better working in the cafeteria than in counseling kids, Hannah’s “reaching out for help” was another lame excuse to take her life.  She taped the lone counseling session to prove her final point.  She wasn’t asking for help she was gathering evidence. Dramatic, yes, but not realistic.
  • She supposedly had no friends?  Huh!?  Hannah was actually outgoing and popular, but she lamented on and on about how she had no friends.  While some of the people in her life I would only characterize as “Frienenemies” at best she had some people in her life who truly cared for her even if  their so-called fatal flaw was that they didn’t pick up on her deeply-veiled depression.  Yet, she blamed them anyway. She pushed them away, especially poor Clay who thought, like most males, when a girl says “Go away!!” while crying she actually means it.  That brings me to another point…
  • She had parents who truly loved her and were involved with her.  Her parents may have been a little oblivious and involved in their own problems, but it was obvious they truly loved Hannah, and it seemed she truly loved them.  It was hard for me to swallow that at the end of the day that love didn’t stop Hannah from killing herself, and not only that, stop her from killing herself in a way that guaranteed her parents would be the first to find her.  I found that a hundred times more cruel than leaving behind 7 tapes as revenge towards her friends.
  • She set herself up for failure…intentionally.  I’m going to preface what I’m about to say with I do not believe any person “asks” to be raped.  Rape can happen if you’re walking down the street, at a family function, or at a party with friends; however, who in their right mind walks into a party thrown by a person who you have witnessed rape someone?! Hannah called it “a siren’s call.”  I just call it stupid and self-destructive and bad writing.  Also, I think most of us would’ve fought way harder than she did even if we were in a shut down/semi-drunk state.  Ref. “Bad writing.”
  • She never contemplates God.  Okay, I can’t remember if she mentions God or not (I’m not watching again to find out), but God is not in the equation of Hannah’s life or in the taking of it.  God is not considered or even called upon in any substantial way.  Hopelessness prevails.

I could go on about other characters and other situations in the series but I won’t.  While it has definitely opened up dialogue about bullying, rape, and suicide at the end of the day it’s a show written in highly-dramatic overtones and has done it’s job by being a ratings boon.  I don’t doubt that everything portrayed in the series is happening in American high schools everyday, and that’s why I feel that the series could potentially trigger troubled teens into doing something similar as Hannah. While I felt the suicide scene was not romanticized (it was very hard to watch) the series in general romanticized suicide which is something that if I were a writer and a producer of such a series I would undertake with great trepidation to the point I wouldn’t do it unless I interjected some hope and guidance somewhere…anywhere.  There are a few disclaimers and links to suicide prevention helps, but it’s not enough.  Overall, without God in the mix all the counseling and platitudes seem baseless.  Without God there is no hope, period, and in our Godless culture I believe that’s why suicide is becoming more and more prevalent.

I read a great blog post by a counselor regarding the show.  Whether you’re a teenager, a parent of teenager, or someone who has dealt with suicidal ideation this blog post says it way better than I have.

Back to my story a bit.  I won’t go into the gory details of what lead me to contemplate suicide as a 16 year old, but it had to do with a boy, and while that was over 30 years ago recent events in my life took me back to the same point I was in those dark days of my sophomore year.  Why didn’t do it in 1985?  At the end of it all it was God.  He stopped me.  His hand literally restrained me from driving off the side of a mountain.  That same night in my car I was overwhelmed with God’s presence infusing me with the reality that I had so much going for me in life.  I had a family who loved me dearly who would’ve been devastated if I had done what I was contemplating.  I couldn’t do that to them. I had friends.  I had a supportive church family, and most of all I had God.   I came to the conclusion that while there are people in this life worth dying for if the situation called for it there is no one…NO ONE in this life worth killing yourself over… not 13, 1,300 or 13,000.  God created you, and He has a purpose for your life.  When I faced a similar situation in my 40s I went back to that time that God showed me that if everyone turned their back on me He was enough.  While there were days in my recent past I wanted to die I didn’t contemplate suicide.  He truly is enough even in the darkest valley of pain and betrayal.

If you are in a dark place, and especially if you are contemplating suicide please, please message me!   I have plenty of information to send to you, and I will personally help you in any way I can.  I’m including links below to resources too!  You are special, and you are loved!  Please do not take your precious, precious God-given life for any reason! There are more than 13 reasons why you need to stay and live the life that God has planned for you!  It may hurt now, but believe me, it will get better!

Suicide–Resources and stories from the Billy Graham Association

Peace with God

 

 

 

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A Word of Prayer With Myself

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It’s the week that most childless women dread the most, the week many of us call “hell week”…the week leading up to Mother’s Day.   For years I joined in with the collective pity party of the non-moms, and while there’s a solidarity, an us-against-the-fertile-world feeling there’s not any real comfort in it, and honestly, it’s never made me feel better about the day

Mother’s Day is not really what I want to address  in this post though.  I’ve had to come to some very harsh realizations lately based on some circumstances and relational issues.  So, when I say what I say below please note I’m talking more to myself than anyone out there.  I just hope that, maybe, as an infertility/childless veteran I can spare someone  the same pitfalls I’ve experienced.

Are you ready?  Are you sure?  Here comes the sage advice from nearly 20 years of chidlessness….

Just get over it.

Is that a collective gasp I hear throughout the childless blogosphere?  Will I wake up to comments of outrage  in my inbox in the morning?  Maybe, but hear me out.  Again, this is me having a word of prayer with myself.

How many more years are you going to spend pining away for that child you’ll most likely never have?  How many more times will you let that non-existent child keep you from happiness?  God gave you one life to live, and while you’d like to march right up to His throne, stomp your foot, and demand an explanation for why He didn’t give you children that’s not going to happen.  So, the best thing you can do is trust His sovereignty and hand him all the mess and pain and tell Him he can have it.  (Disclaimer) If you don’t believe in God then give it back to the universe, mother nature, or whatever entity you believe controls everything.  If you believe in nothing then it’s all a moot point anyway, and so you better get over it and live this life to the fullest, right, because when it’s over it’s over.

Really, what good are you doing to yourself by dragging it with you like the proverbial ball or chain?  Quit waking up in the morning and putting on your garment of pain and self pity.  Honestly, it’s not attractive.  It’s a heavy, moth-eaten old garment of mourning.  It’s made of scratchy wool; it stinks; it weighs you down so get rid of it.  You’ve grieved long enough.  Even in the olden days the period of grief when a loved one died was usually one year.  While your grief is different it’s still grief.  You’ve been mired down in it for years, and it’s time to snap out of it.  Get help to snap out of it  if you need it.

I’ve come to another big realization…your family/friends don’t understand.   They really don’t, and that’s why they sometimes/many times they come off as aloof and uncaring.  They don’t know how you feel (unless they’ve been there themselves), and what they want is you and not this constant grief and sadness you emit.  This is particularly true with your spouse.  If you’re relatively new to this path your spouse may be very understanding.  They may go out of their way to do things to make you happy.  You know the worst thing you can do when they’re trying to make you happy?  Not be happy.  I’m sure your spouse is wonderful, but after years and years of trying to pick you up out of the mire they will eventually run out of emotional resources to continue.  They are dealing with this too, and you are doing them no favors by constantly wanting them to wallow in the mire with you.  Heck, some of them will eventually pack their bags and leave… if not physically then emotionally and intimately.  Don’t let that happen to you.

I wish I could say that there is some magical formula to make this happen.  There’s not.  It’s really making up your mind and determining in your heart that it’s time.  This may be a place you come to on your own, or like me, circumstances may drive you there.  I do, however, have a few ideas on changing your mindset.

  • Appreciate each day.  Wake up and instead of putting on that horrible garment of pain put on some light comfortable garments of gratitude and think about what’s good in your life.  Even if you’re not where you’d like to be there is something good going on in your life.  Think about that  instead of the negative things.
  • Appreciate what childlessness gives you.  If I’d had children when I wanted to I’d be dealing with teenage angst and college tuition bills.  I will never have to deal with either.  I have more disposable income, and I am free to change the direction of my career or even my address without the added stress of, “How will this affect the children?”  Face it, I have more freedom even if I would’ve given up that freedom gladly for children.  I might as well enjoy the freedom because I have it.
  • Plan a kick-butt vacation even if it’s a mini-one like we did last weekend.  We spent two nights in a B&B and did a bike trip down the Virginia Creeper Trail in Damascus, Virginia.  It didn’t cost too much, and we made some awesome memories.  Even if you can’t afford a couple of days take a short day trip near your own backyard.  As Ellie in up said, “Adventure is out there!”  You just have to get  your depressed, lazy butt up off the couch and find it.
  • Start dreaming again.  This is something I am actively having to work on.  It doesn’t come easy for me because my dreams stopped when I realized that children weren’t coming.  It was easier not to dream anymore and avoid any further pain.  What I am realizing is that by not dreaming I was causing myself more pain in the long run.

Again, this is a very blunt and direct post and a trip to the woodshed for myself, but sometimes instead of patting each other on the back and saying “there, there” sometimes we need to give each other and ourselves a swift kick in the bum.

So, consider this the swift kick we all need.

 

 

On Giving Birth in the Dream World…

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Birthing dreams…those are the worst.  I’ve had several over the last twenty years.   I probably average one or two a year now.  They were more frequent in our early years of trying to conceive, since obviously, my mind was often consumed by my desire to get pregnant.  Even though I’ve (mostly) moved past the  point that I desire to have a baby…although I’m doing nothing to prevent it; still allowing God room to do a miracle though I’m not expecting it…having birthing/baby dreams are the thing that rattles me the most at this point.

I cope pretty well now with the big stuff that used to send me into a deep depression.   I can go to baby showers, go to the hospital and see a friend’s newborn, and a year later go to that first milestone birthday party.  It’s the stuff that goes on inside my head, especially in my subconscious, that can send me into a tailspin more quickly than anything.  I think it’s because during the dream there is such a sense euphoria then upon awakening I’m back to harsh reality.  Needless to say, the ensuing day/days are never my best mood wise even when the dreams are on the bizarre side (sometimes I dream I give birth to a baby but once it’s put in my arms it’s one of my cats—I’m sure a psychologist could have a heyday interpreting that!)

So, I had one last night.  It went something like this:  I was taking a bath when quite suddenly I began having “pains”.  The next thing I knew I was giving birth right there in the bathtub.  It was sort of a “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” scenario.  I gave birth to tiny, premature, yet healthy baby girl.  Hubby would not let me get out of the tub, so I drew her to me and began to nurse her (I always nurse in my birthing dreams—another interesting aspect a shrink could have a field day with).  Hubby called the paramedics, and they came.  I was embarrassed that the paramedics were seeing me naked, but it was a passing embarrassment, because I was elated and surprised that I had a baby girl!  After that the dream kind of trailed off.

It wasn’t the last dream of the night, so upon awakening I didn’t really remember it until I started taking a shower…in the flowing water the memory of that dream hit me like a ton of bricks.  Then I was hit with a depression that almost rendered me unable to go to work, but I powered through, although  the memory of the dream has haunted me all day.

I really wish those dreams didn’t jar me as much as they do, but because I’m dealing with the subconscious I can’t fight off the tidal wave of feelings they dredge up like I can do with waking thought.

Here’s to hoping I have sweet and baby-less dreams tonight…

Dichotomy is Thy Name

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I’m so back and forth in how I feel about my childlessness these days.  My moods swing like a pendulum at times.  Last weekend, out of the blue, I had one of my off-the-charts anxiety attacks about it.  I don’t know where it came from.  I had a lovely Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, but Saturday evening it hit me like a train.  I guess I started thinking about how much my life doesn’t seem to change from year to year, and with a whole new year stretching out in front of me it all feels so overwhelming.  I woke up Sunday morning with the wet blanket of depression on me.  It literally felt like I was carrying something heavy on my shoulders.  I didn’t go to church, and I cried on hubby’s shoulder for a couple of hours.  He was frustrated with me, because he doesn’t want/doesn’t know how to be my counselor.   I get over it pretty quickly, although I do carry around a low-level malaise most of the time.  Maybe that’s normal maybe it’s not, but I function well most days and have many good to down-right great days.  I think the low-level malaise is something you obtain after any great loss.  It’s always going to be lurking deep, down inside no matter how much you heal, and will rise to the surface if the conditions are just right.

I’ve been working on the anxiety (with related depression)  in the past few years, and I can say that it’s definitely more under control than it was two years ago, but I do have the occasional no good, rotten, very bad day.  Oddly, the bad days usually come during weekends and holidays when I have more down time and more time to think.  I’m a chronic over-thinker/analyzer, and believe me, there are days I envy the ditzy people of the universe.  Oh, to just turn my brain off would be bliss!

Fast forward to mid-week…I’ve been hearing of a lot of folks my age dealing with rebellious teenagers and prodigal adult children, and I think, “Whew!  I’m glad I’ll never have to deal with that!”  I even voiced this aloud yesterday at lunch with my coworkers.  They were talking about planning, applying, and paying for college and just listening to everything they have to do just wore me out.  When I told them that it’s things like this that makes me grateful I don’t have kids it led to a very open and honest discussion about kids vs. no kids.  I said, “Well, you’re going through these headaches now, but at least you’ll have someone to take of you in your old age.”  They said, “Oh, you can’t even count on that” which is true.  I knew it was a bad statement the minute  it left my mouth, but I was trying to comfort them in an awkward way.  Anyway, it was great, thoughtful conversation, and I think they understood my side somewhat.

So to sum it up…last weekend I’m in the throes of depression about my childlessness and at the end of this week I’m almost relieved to be childless.

Welcome to my life…

 

 

Recovering…

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I felt compelled to follow up yesterday’s “raw” post.   Not that I am ashamed of it.  I’m not.  Writing about my feelings is very cathartic and has become a coping mechanism for me.  Revealing the depth of my feelings to the WWW.  always feels a bit uncomfortable (I’m really a very  private person as a norm), but sometimes I just need to get it out there.  While I feel that my whining, crying, and complaining might discourage I usually get the opposite response… that sharing these thoughts is helpful to some who are walking/have walked the same journey I have.  So, I keep doing it for myself, and my peers.  Again, I don’t advertise this blog to my family.  I am willing to accept the risk that they might find it one day.  If so, they will then see exactly what I have been through if they have the stomach to read it at all.

Most days I’m an encourager.  As hard as it is for me to do so sometimes I always at least try to see the upside of things, but there are days when the hits are so hard, the hormones so wild, that it just comes gushing out in a projectile vomit of emotions.  Lovely, picture eh, but that’s what it is.  Violent, profuse, and not very pretty.

As you can tell I’m having a real difficult time in the faith department right now.  I do believe there is a God.  I believe in Jesus Christ and his death for the sins of the world.  I have seen Him move so many times, and there are things that have happened in my life that cannot be explained by anything but the movement of a loving God working on my behalf.  What I can’t prove or explain or see with my own eyes I have to take on faith, but to me there is just too much evidence of a creator.  What I struggle with are the unanswered “whys” in my life and in other’s lives.

Why do I not have children when that was a huge desire of my heart?

Why does God take beautiful children from their parents via sickness and injury.

Why are some poor, persecuted, and abused?  You know, the same universal questions many ask.

At 42 I’m struggle with why I was asked to walk this path.  There seems to be no logical explanation.  I sort of feel like if  this was my God-given destiny then why wasn’t I called to do something greater than what I’m doing now?  Why do I struggle so?   Why do I feel stuck in so many ways? Why do other women in my similar condition thrive and “move on”?  Why does it seem that when I’ve almost climbed totally out of the pit, something comes along and stomps on my fingers, and down I fall again?

Again, so many “whys” asked to a seemingly silent God.  I feel like I keep failing some sort of test or challenge, and if I can ever pass…like on the show “The Amazing Race”… I’ll get my next instructions.

I have no answers, but this is just how I feel.  I am recovering from the latest blow, probably quicker than I ever have which is probably evidence that I’m stronger than I used to be, but am so looking forward to the day when things don’t affect me as strongly as they do now.

Lamentations on Estrogen Dominance

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I’ve nursed a single 90-day-supply bottle of Prometrium for nearly a year now.

What is Prometrium?  It’s a natural progesterone tablet that helps offset estrogen dominance.  Since I ovulate rarely if ever at all my body just doesn’t produce the amount of progesterone it needs.  The most commonly prescribed progesterone replacement is Provera; however, it is a synthetic version of progesterone, and I don’t tolerate it well at all.  Take the worst case of PMS you’ve ever seen or experienced and multiply it by 50% and sprinkle some suicidal ideation on top.  Simply, it sends me into major anxiety-depression.  When I become estrogen dominant I also become depressed, but compared to the Provera-induced depression described above it’s like a meditative walk in the park.

Right now, I’m in the estrogen-dominant depression.  I become swollen, achy, fatigued, unmotivated, and I cry at the drop of a hat.  Throw in some adverse circumstances, and boy, I probably need to hang a Kleenex box by a string around my neck.

Why have I nursed one bottle of Prometrium for a year?

Well, let me qualify what I’m about to say by this.  I am SO VERY FORTUNATE to have insurance.  I’m not complaining about what I have to pay for my meds.  My problem is with poor planning on my part.  See, other than the ever-present PCOS I’m pretty healthy.  At the first of the year my GYN suggested that I take a low dose of Prometrium everyday instead of taking a higher dose for couple of weeks each month and withdrawing (the withdrawal process is not easy for me).  I was fine with that, because I tolerate the Prometrium very well with a good side effect being that when I take it before bedtime it helps me sleep!  I had forgotten that Prometrium is a top-tier drug on my drug plan meaning the highest co-pay (why are “natural” options always more expensive?).   In late 2009, prior to my GYN appt. in January of 2010 I had decided to cut back on contributions to my flexible spending account  in an attempt to save some money.  So, when I got the $60.00 bill for three months worth of Prometrium I groaned, because I had failed to account for that in my flex spending account.  I just did not have it in the budget to take it everyday.

So, I cut it back to two weeks every month or every other month or until my estrogen-dominant symptoms start interfering with my daily life which usually doesn’t take very long.

Even with Prometrium I can be a little irritable at times, but it lifts the gray veil of mild depression that is the main estrogen-dominant symptom I experience.  Now that I have experienced such positive benefits of continuous Prometrium use when I withdraw from Prometrium the decline is so rapid and noticeable  that I try to get back on it as soon as I can.

Now, I know that I should just buck up and pay that $60.00 every three months, but our finances have been exceptionally tight this year with my husband’s medical struggles, accompanying medical  bills and the subsequent lack of extra income he has brought in before to help us pay for incidentals and the unexpected expenses.

So, I nurse this precious bottle of life-giving hormone, and will plan for it daily in 2011…that is before I see what I will be required to pay as far as higher insurance premiums in 2011…thanks to Obamacare.

(Sorry about that political dig.  I’ll  blame it on estrogen dominance.)

Another Day…

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Another “Real” day when the recurring problems raised their ugly heads yet again.

Another day where I feel like this “condition” is slowly but surely stripping away my life as well as my sanity.

Another day when someone doesn’t understand the stigma I’m under as a childless woman and how it’s shaped who I am.

Another day where I feel completely and utterly alone.

Another day where I feel like this thing has stolen my future.

Another day when it feels like a curse.

Another day where I feel that God’s promises only apply to those who were fortunate enough to have a functioning reproductive system.

Another day where the empty womb threatens ALL of my relationships.

Another day where I feel the only people who truly understand what I am going through are miles away and/or only available through the internet.

Another day where I’m afraid to reach out to anyone because I’m embarrassed and mad as hell that I’m in this dark place again.

Another day where I feel I’m misunderstood by everyone who knows me.

Another day where I have to plaster on a fake smile and say “I’m fine” when I’m really not.

Another day where I wonder if this pain will ever end.

This is just “another day” for a woman who has endured long-term childlessness.