Friday, October 1, 2010

How do you survive?

I often talk about reasons…or finding reasons. For everything. Mostly for things in my life that just plain suck. I refuse to believe “that’s life” or “it just happened” and instead I spend hours reaching for and sometimes even making up reasons so whatever happened isn’t so painful. Right or wrong, denial or reality…it’s how I deal.

Sometimes the reasons come easy….and for others, I’m still waiting.

Sometimes I don’t remember there is a reason until much later.

Like when I laid my hands on the huge lump that was cancer in my Grandmother’s side…I only wanted to curse at God. I didn’t give a damn about reasons. When my 22 year old uncle shot himself and shot a piece of my soul….I wanted God to go to Hell because that’s where I felt like I was in that moment. When my other Grandma died of Alzheimers after months of torture, I thought nothing of reasons…I was too ashamed that I was relieved she had died.

When my first daughter was born and she came out blue and not breathing and nurses pumped her tiny chest and heart with just two of their fingers…I didn’t give a flying f*ck about reasons. I wanted to trade my life for hers. Later, when I lost a baby to miscarriage after trying for a year…I was pretty sure reasons were a bunch of bullsh!t. And the day I stood in my parents home – with rubber boots on so the mud and dirt and bacteria from the flood wouldn’t touch my skin – and I saw my father fall to his knees and my mother’s shoulders wracked with sobs….I nearly gave up on reasons.

The day I woke up and was pissed that God had let me live and I realized I couldn’t get out of bed and that I wanted to die….I believed with everything in me I would never know the reason for that.

But today – over 10 years out from the moment a major depression left me bed-ridden….I can see the reason. It’s not a recent discovery, I just haven’t written about it. I guess I’m trying to tell myself once again…to never give up on finding reasons….because they are there.

My daughter, Watermelon, is nearly 10 years old. She is a mirror-image of me when I was young. She needs extra attention and love and without it, her huge heart dies a little. She is over-sensitive and over-dramatic but has a spirit that can’t stand to see anyone or anything hurt or in pain. Her emotions are bigger than she can handle and her fears can take over common sense sometimes. While it’s difficult to see her feel so deeply and be so torn at times….it is who she is and I’ll probably always wish I hadn’t handed down these traits to her.

A while ago, something happened inside her. I have no idea why or when. I just know that when it became night, she went into full on panic mode. She would cry. And I don’t mean cry like kids do on a daily basis. I mean heart-wrenching, sobbing and weeping, holding onto my clothes with tight closed fists…the kind of crying and desperation that only comes from panic attacks and depression and mental hormones being whacked out. She wouldn’t leave our side. She wouldn’t stay in a room alone. She didn’t want to leave Rambo or I or her two sitters for one second. Being away from any of us would start a full on panic attack.

And to say I was torn is really quite the understatement of the year.

Be tough – tell her nothing is wrong – suck it up… she indeed knows that I know as her mother and adult that nothing is wrong and she’ll believe in that.

Or hold her tightly, let her cry, let her sleep next to me….which I felt would play into her fears and only prolong the pain but MY GOD – I knew her pain.

I knew no one could fix it. I knew it had to come from within. She had to trust herself enough to know she could get through whatever was telling her she wasn’t okay. I could barely hold her – knowing the ache she was feeling. I didn’t want to remember when I’d been there myself. I could barely tolerate the desperation in her eyes – it nearly brought me to my knees. Sometimes I had to walk away and leave her in Rambo’s arms. I couldn’t watch.  I couldn't even be her Mother.  I had to protect myself.

The guilt in that – in not being able to be there 100% as a coping mechanism for me is a huge burden to bear. The guilt that maybe I “gave” this to her is beyond unbearable.

The reality that I did the best I could – well, it’s just the truth.  And my guilt won't help anyone.

Watermelon is okay. It lasted a few weeks. We tried tons of things to ease her fears. Lots of talking. Holding. And even some stern talk. One day it was just over. She was back to herself.

She. Made. It. Through.

And when it was over I realized I found a reason for the torture of depression that I suffered so many years ago. I’m 99% sure Watermelon may go through this again, and may suffer from depression herself. The signs and tendencies are there – just like they were in me – though no one in my life noticed until it was too late.

And therein lies the reason.

Now because I suffered through the signs – I can see them before they even appear. Because I had to crawl up out of my own black hole…I can give her a ladder so she never has to scrape her knees. Today I know about solutions from counseling to meds. I know that working out helps me. I know eating healthy helps me.

If the day never comes that I ever have to use what I learned back then to help her – I’ll be a happy mom. But if the day comes that I find her in the throes of Hell that is depression – be it minor or major – I will be able to take my daughter’s face in my hands and look her in the eye and tell her, “I know what you are feeling.” …and mean it at my core.

And if you’ve ever been through depression – THOSE words can be a lifesaver.

To hear someone else has been there – and lived - can save you. To hear that someone else you loved had this too – means you might not be the only one. To hear that solutions worked from someone you admire – gives you hope that there might be solutions for you too.

You know it's not right to want to die so when someone else says they've been there....well, it's almost like you've been shown the light.

To hear those words equals understanding. It means you don’t have to explain the unexplainable feelings that depression is. It means someone gets it and it means you are not alone. It means it’s not the end of the world – when a moment ago you were sure it was.

It means there is a reason…….for what I went through….and if she indeed has to go through it too….for me it means I’ll find a reason for that too.

No matter how long it takes. I will never stop believing…that there is a reason for everything.

For me, it’s never been just a cliché. It’s how I survive.

How do you survive?

Do you believe in reasons?


LDswims said...

You know me...absolutely reasons. Sometimes we get to know them...sometimes we don't. Sometimes we know them immediately, sometimes we learn them twenty years later. Sometimes there are multiple reasons.

I can look at anything that I'd rather not reason away, that I'd rather just say, 'dangit, why me?' and realize that there are positive reasons behind whatever the event was.

I also like the saying "when God closes a door he opens a window". We have to be strong enough to recognize the window and figure out what to do with it.

Love you, Chica. Like you, it's how I survive.

Blossom said...

It is great that you'll be able to see if your daughter is suffering from depression before it gets crippling; depression is a sneaky bitch. I've been there, where I've sobbed every day and didn't want to leave my apartment. I've also thought many times about just giving up on weight loss (before I was banded). Just giving in to food, not caring what I would end up weighing, and resigning myself to being alone forever. But I can't do that. So each day I just push through. I think if all my friends see something of such value in me, how can they all be wrong? It must be there. And I don't WANT to end up that way (it would just be easier). So I just HAVE to keep fighting, because I don't really want to let myself & everyone else in my life down. And sometimes you need a reason to do/not do something; other times, you just do it.

Liz said...

Oh, Drazil....(((((HUGS)))))

My sister has suffered from clinical depression for about 15 years, and is at the point where she thinks she can cope on her own. Having been there with her for the whole ride, she is doing ok, but things could for sure be better. I just hope that if the bottom falls out again, as it has so so so many times before, that I'll see it coming and can prepare, both to help her as much as I can, and to protect myself.

TracyZ said...

Reasons are the single thing that keeps me moving forward every day.

Lots of hugs for you today!

The reason I have a blog is to be motivated by and to motivate people like you. This morning my Zumba class was full and I couldn't get in. I was going to go home but I just kept thinking of your blog and how it really shouldn't "matter". So I got out of my car and onto the sidewalk. You are the reason I exercised this morning. ;)

Sandy Lee said...

So many reasons. It was when I felt your pain so many months ago and HAD to e-mail you to tell you I had been there too. Each day, there is a reason why we are here. I don't have a strong religious belief, just a belief that all humans deserve to be treated as best we can.

And remember that being parents means a pair. When one can't be the strong one for our kids the other one picks up the slack. I think of it as Pair-enting. Because no matter what, we cannot always be on stage 100% of the time. You'll be there for your two little girls when and if they most need it. And they will remember all those sweet little things you do for them. Loves you babe.

amandakiska said...

So powerful! Great post!

Kristin said...

Oh my. You are at the really tough part of motherhood, and I'm scared as all heck to get to the point where their problems are *real* problems.

I'm glad you've found a reason for your horrendous depression. Compassion and genuine understanding can be lifesavers. And sanity savers. Your little girl is lucky to have you for a mom.

JourneyBeyondSurvival said...

How do I survive?

Barely sometimes. But honestly? I think it is precisely because of my bipolar that I'm able to bear my daughter's terrible illness. That eats her skills away and leaves her mind trapped in her dysfunctional body.

How? Because I have been through something that was ten times worse for ME personally. I've had who I am stripped away piece by piece and given back to me a shredded mess. I had nobody I trusted to see through the label and just love me enough to let me talk about it and be normal. I've been alone. Trapped.

So I can help her. I can be sure to care for myself. I am able. Because I know what it's like to be trapped, I know the consequences of not caring for myself, and because I medicate responsibly.

Who knew that a pile of shredded mess could assemble so beautifully?

Nicole said...

very powerful post...I do believe in reasons...somedays its easier to believe in them other days not so much. Personally fighting with anxiety/depression it is so very scary. Even scarier seeing my mother lose her fight with Bipolar.

MrsFatass said...

We need to talk. Um, not on the phone, mind you, but I'm going to send you an email this weekend. I've been tossing an idea around in my head and boy oh boy does it involve you.

This post? Is a sign that it's time for me to say, er, write it.

You are a writer, my friend. I love the story you tell today. Quite a powerful prologue. . .

Barbara said...

Another great post, you must have a furnace running in your brain.. where do these great thoughts come from!! I have yet to find the reasons why my life has played out the way it has.. but I have no regrets and have fully accepted each day and each challenge. what else can I do.. I just get up each day and say, let's hope this one (the day) doesn't hit the crapper!

The Ninja said...

Yep, reasons, definitely reasons.
Infuriating and confusing, but still there, just the same.
I survive awful crap by imagining the worst possible thing that could happen in the situation, then I work backwards. What would I do if that happened, okay, I got this, even if the WORST thing happens, I'll be alright.

Cindylew said...

Reasons for everything??? Absolutely I believe. Some are much more willing to reveal themselves than others and some are not terribly profound.
Maya Angelou says "we do the best we know how to do at the time and when we know better...we do better". Right now you're doing your absolute best to survive and thrive in a difficult situation. I have no doubt you will surpass all expectations. Love you pop tart.

Read said...

This totally spoke to me on so many levels. Many years ago I suffered from a couple of horrible bouts of depression and I hear you and know of what you speak, but beyond that - now that I have kids I watch them for any signs of these things they have gotten from me (and my mother and her mother).

My older son is 95% my husband and 5% me. Unfortunately the 5% he got from me is the way he deals with stress and emotions and I worry every day for him. My younger son is 95% me and ... okay, he might be all me, but starting at 8 he started having serious anxiety issues. When it started, every single day he would make himself vomit on the way to summer camp because he didn't want to be separated from either my husband or I. We tried many many things with varying degrees of success and finally in the past year found a counselor for him to see when it started getting worse. I'm happy to say he's made some remarkable improvements and is doing fantastically this year! If you ever want to discuss this further privately I'm always available.

I believe absolutely everything happens for a reason - it's the only possible way I can survive in this world. I trust that it's okay that I don't always see or understand the reason, but always have faith the reason is a valuable one.

Genie @ Diet of 51 said...

You have such a gift for expressing deep emotions. Lucky Watermelon that you understand!

Reasons, reasons, reasons...... Yeah, I do believe in them, although I wish I didn't. Sometimes seeing and understanding "the reason" is the worst burden of all, if you get my drift.

You are the sweetest pickle in the jar. Ya know?

Shaggs said...

"I can give her a ladder so she never has to scrape her knees" very powerful words that hit the nail on the head. In spiritual worlds we say that we choose our parents and sometimes when I watch my kids and also those of my friends I understand why. We may be here to teach our kids and help them through their problems and we may be the best ones to do it cause we've suffered the same pain that rears its ugly head in our babies - either way - to teach is to learn and we have alot to learn from teaching our kids how to live with the demons we've fought for so many years.

Just Me said...

Draz, I have been thinking about your blog ever since I read it yesterday...especially about your baby, W. We went through a similar incident when my granddaughter was born and she had to be rushed to Children's Hospital while my daughter and her husband and myself had to stay at the hospital where she was born until my daughter was better. Tough times.

I also relate to the depression, anxiety, panic attacks. Been there, done that...I remember when my first husband died I would just lay on the bad and stare at the ceiling. I didn't even pay my bills because I just couldn't. Almost had my hydro cut off even though I had tons of money in the bank from a life insurance policy. Money does not help depression.

You are right though about your daughter and if she does happen to suffer from depression (hope she never does) that you will know how she feels. I did not have that luxury and it was and still can be tough.

How do I survive - well, first of all (unfortunately) drugs. I finally found a wonderful doctor who understood me and took the time to get me "just right." I have a chemical imbalance and I just have to live with it. Also, I have come up with several different tricks along the way to help myself. Also, my husband is a wonderful source of support, as well as my family is. But most of all, I know that it is not dangerous...just uncomfortable and it will pass.

Yana said...

I had a wise friend once who said we can talk about how you got here (reasons) or we can talk about what you chose to do with the current situation you have in front of you.

I'm not saying there's no such things as reasons, I'm just saying that I can spend so much time trying to figure them out that I can become too passive. So acknowledging reasons is one thing, but spending too much time dwelling on them can be counter productive for me.

Scuttleboose said...

My mom and sister always say "If it's meant to be, it will be", and I often look to that in the darkest of situations (like the one I'm in currently!)... and it also keeps me from obsessing about things I can't control (like where I will be in a year). So yes, to an extent, I believe in reasons. I'm glad that you're opening up about this - it's so healthy for you and for your readers (ahem, like meeee!!!)

Libby - Denver, CO said...

Hi Draz,
New blogger here just becoming familiar with all the great folks in the banded blogging community. Your posts really speak to me and it is evident that you are loved in this great group of people.
I started suffering from depression when I was 11 or 12. My father suffered from clinical depression at a time when there was very little treatment (other than EST) and there was such a stigma attached. I was lucky to finally receive appropriate treatment as an adult. Your daughter is so fortunate that you know what to look for and you can address her needs early on. Thank you for posting.

tasha said...

Very great post yet again! I relate...mostly because I despise seeing all the traits that my children inherited from us, their parents. I'm waiting to see the good I've passed on to them. I believe in reasons, but am content to live without knowing them...because even I knew, I most likely wouldn't understand, and knowing the reasons wouldn't change what is. I am content in trusting God with those reasons, even in the painful times when I disagree.