Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another depression profile (sort of)

My husband's cousin, Heidi, has a fun family blog and today she had a great post about her experiences with depression. Introspection tells the story of how Heidi dealt with a depressive episode after a difficult pregnancy and death of her child. In my book, Heidi is one of those rare every day heroes who has been through hell and found a way out. Be sure to check out her post. She also put together a great website, Angel Babies, full of important info for people dealing with the loss of a baby. I am amazed by her ability to transform her pain into help for other. I know her efforts have blessed so many people.

*If anyone else has shared their stories about depression on their blogs or would like to share it here email me at lolapalooza AT hotmail DOT com with the phrase "depression profile" in the subject line. I would love to link you. Remember, the more we share our stories, the more we strengthen each other!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just For Fun!

I literally have five minutes until I have to pick up my kindergartener, but I got tagged by another blogger so here it is:

My Seven Random Facts (because that's what they asked for)

1. I have three sizeable zits right now. I really shouldn't talk about them, but they're grossing me out so I can't help it.
2. If I was going to be on a reality TV show it would be American Idol. I'd get my butt whooped but it would be fun to perform again.
3. The most recent book I read was Kindred Spirits by Chris Bigelow. It was weird.
4. I have watched three full episodes of the new 90210. There's no explaining why; I don't like the show. Maybe I just like to gawk at the main characters extremely thin legs. Really, how can she walk on those things? I looked for a picture online but I couldn't find any. So just imagine two lotion-y fake tanned toothpicks with knobby knees and you'll be set.
5. Hmmm. . . I'll have to come back to this one later.
6. I made a chocolate banana cream pie for the first time on Saturday. Hubby requested one and I was in the mood for an adventure. It was SO GOOD.
7. The most awesome anti-tobacco ads I've ever seen were at a gas station in Wyoming. You should use them in your FHE tonight!

Oh, and, you know, I'm supposed to pass this tag thing on, but I've never been a big fan of chain letters--so if you want to be, consider yourself tagged!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Room For Two: Abel Keogh Responds

You all remember my latest book review, right? Room For Two by Abel Keogh? Well, Mr. Keogh got wind of my review and took the time to respond! Here is the email he sent me:

Hi Laura,

I’m an occasional reader of A Motley Vision as was surprised to see a link to your review of my book, Room for Two, on your other blog. After reading your review, I thought I’d offer some clarification as to the purpose and message of the book.

I’m not “horrified” you had the reaction you did to Room for Two. I actually received a lot of comments on the depression issue from readers – usually from people who have some degree of depression themselves. Like you, they feel that scene with Julie on the mountain perpetuated some misconceptions about antidepressants. The purpose of that scene wasn’t to preach one way or the other about medication but to show that I loved Julie enough to move forward with the relationship even though that meant dealing with an issue that I had dealt with before.

"A memory of Krista flashed through my mind. She was having one of her bad days and telling me that there was no hope for anyone and that we were all going to die. The look in her eyes was dark and dreadful.

"Though I doubted Julianna’s depression would lead to any dark episodes like I experienced with Krista, it was enough to make me pause and wonder if it was something I was willing to live with….

"I looked at the ground....Krista’s dark days had been difficult. There was no guarantee that Julianna wouldn’t act similar or that one day she could wake up and her depression would be much worse. I had to decide if this was something I could live with. It was tempting to simply give up and find someone who did have depression. I’d been through a lot. Who would blame me if I decided to throw in the towel?

"Then my mind went back to Krista. Despite those hard days, I never thought once about giving up on her. I wanted to see her through those hard times because I loved her. She had meant more to me than anyone else and I was willing to be help no matter how bad the situation became. And in that moment I realized it didn’t matter if Julianna would have good days or bad. She was trying her best to work through her depression, and I was willing to take a chance and love her not matter what lay ahead." (p. 165-166)

My comments about antidepressants weren’t intended to perpetuate stereotypes about medication or those who are on them. In context, Julie’s approach contrasted with the approach Krista and her family generally took. I was just happy she was trying to do something other than medication to fight it.

Early drafts of the manuscript actually dealt with the depression issue quite a bit. I cut them out however because after feedback from editors and others I showed the manuscript to before shopping it to publishers felt it slowed down the pace of the story and detracted from the story I was trying to tell – one of putting a shattered life back together. I have no regrets about cutting that material.

I’m not against depression medication. I think it does wonders for a lot of people – especially for those who are severely depressed. However, I also believe, like you, it’s a mix of approaches (e.g., exercise and medication) than just one approach alone that usually works the best. However, I also believe it overprescribed by doctors to a lot of mildly depressed people (those who are in no way suicidal but simply feel blue occasionally) who simply prescribe antidepressants to patients instead of trying to make changes to their life (exercising, getting out of a bad relationship, changing jobs, taking a vacation etc.) to see if that helps before taking medication.

Finally, I didn’t link Krista’s death to depression because no one knows what actually pushed her over the edge. There were signs in the weeks before she died that she may have been schizophrenic or bi-polar. There were probably a lot of factors contributed to her death and, as I wrote the book, I felt it wouldn’t be right to pin her suicide on depression or anything else when no one could prove as to why she put the gun to her head in the first place.

I will admit, however, I was surprised you thought I should focus on the storm clouds more. The feedback I generally receive from LDS readers is that the book was too dark, heavy, and depressing for them. Non-LDS readers generally feel the books strikes a good balance. But this is my “reader feedback” basis kicking in. :-)

I want to thank Abel for responding and for letting me post his email. I also nosed around his site, www.abelkeogh.com, a little more and came across his letter to Elizabeth and found it quite moving. The other writing on his site was worth checking out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why ARE Mormons so depressed?

A few posts ago, in the comments Katie asked me this, "How [do] you see Mormonism intersecting with mental health? Specifically, do you think there's something in the culture or our teachings that tends to create this high incidence of mental health problems (depression, anxiety, etc.) in Mormon women? Or do you think we're pretty representative of the population as a whole?"

I've taken a while to respond to it because I've been trying to figure out how to go about this. In my mind there are a few facts about depression we need to lay out first.

Fact #1: Depression IS an illness--a permanent, although ebbing and flowing, condition of the body. But, the term is also used to describe an emotional state--which may or may not be a long term condition. Not everyone who is having a hard time and views the world pessimistically is depressed in the clinical sense. The difference is that for some people feeling grouchy and pessimistic gets in the way of life, sometimes to the point of hopelessness and self-harm. These are the people with clinical depression. It is hard to talk about depression in cultural terms without accidentally conflating the two meanings, but I usually talk about depression in terms of the illness.

Fact #2: Clinical depression can manifest itself in a number of ways. Stereotypically speaking depressed people have no motivation, cry a lot, stay in bed all day, and wear pajamas to the grocery store. (You all know what commercial I'm referencing here!)However, depression also manifests itself through explosive anger, anger that never goes away, anxiety, racing thoughts, and inability to sleep. Through the ups and downs of my depression I have experienced both types. It's important to remember that depression has a wide set of behaviors when discussing it culturally.

Fact #3: It is almost impossible to pinpoint a "cause" of depression. Depression, in the clinical or temporary sense, usually occurs due to a constellation of factors including genetic predispositions, environmental conditions, previous emotional education, and other things.

So, to get to Katie's question: Why ARE Mormons so depressed? Is it a cultural issue, a doctrinal issue, or physical issue?

Mormon Matters blogger Andrew Ainsworth took these questions on in a couple of posts earlier this year (you can read Part One here and Part Two here. In the first part he talks about the biases in the study that concluded that Utah is the most depressed state in the nation and in Part Two he talks about some interesting theories (genetics and the lack of alcohol are among them) as to why Utah is depressed.

For me I would say that I do not think it is a doctrinal issue, but I do think there is an issue in the way many, many LDS people digest the doctrine. I think there are way that we internalize ideas that furthers our depression. For me, since I am depressed in the clinical sense, I think of these issues as triggers. Triggers are something that set off a cascade of negative thoughts which in turn transform themselves into negative behaviors. For a long time a big trigger for me was the scripture, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as my father which is in heaven is perfect." I'd read this scripture--almost compulsively and times--and tally my imperfections and fret about what to do. Sometimes I would stay up at night praying and praying myself to distraction. Other times I'd try to come up with some sort of penance--I think I usually picked not eating or abstaining from TV--to ease my anxiety on this issue. Another doctrinal trigger for me has been "No success can compensate for failure in the home." In my mind that meant that mothers had to be perfect or we, and possibly our children, would be damned. That created a set of impossible benchmarks and a flurry of nervous activity that depleted me and left me discouraged and not wanting to get out of bed.

Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with either of those doctrines. Neither of them is saying to make yourself nuts or intending to drive people insane--it was simply how my set of experiences and circumstances interpreted them that made them harmful in my life. An important facet of cognitive behavioral therapy is being able to examine your thoughts and find the parts that are NOT true and being able to dispute them. I was able to do this by looking at the big doctrinal picture and viewing things through the lens of the plan of salvation. When I looked at this life as a time to learn and grow and that the next life was the time to find perfection, well, that eased my mind.

(Now, all this is rather OCD of me, but depression and OCD are sort of sister disorders and, from what I understand, there is a high incidence of OCD in the Church also. That is an issue that definitely needs more discussion.)

Those kind of misinterpretations and misapplications tend to feed off each other, especially in the community of the Church. Our church is unique in its efforts to build a social structure within its members. This social structure is a good thing most of the time, but one unintended consequence (that is perhaps also due to pride) is the idea that our place in the social structure reflects on our righteousness. Many wards have "power couples" and cliques--they don't mean to, but it just happens. These can phenomenon can further isolate people who are predisposed to depression.

There are a lot of issues like these and I can't cover them all in one post--or even in a million posts. That's why it is so important that we talk about this stuff and help each other work through it. That's why we need to read our scriptures and attend our meetings even when we don't feel like it. We need to give the Spirit as many opportunities as possible to correct our misinterpretations!

Of course, there is one HUGE doctrinal misapplication that I haven't mentioned yet and that is our relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ. As Katie mentioned in the comments in another post, many LDS people misunderstand the relationship of grace and works. We mistakenly believe that our efforts make some sort of difference in how we are perceived by our Father in Heaven and what our eternities will be like. The truth is the only thing our righteousness does is signal to the Savior that we need His help. As scripture tells us even if we were to be perfect in all that we do every day of our lives--which we can't--we would still be unprofitable servants (Mosiah 2:21). After all, the Savior lived a perfect life and it was still required that he give his blood and body for us. We need to be righteous so that we can access His grace, but it is HIS GRACE that redeems and saves us--not anything we do. Trying to learn and accept that in my life has been a humbling process, one that is ongoing.

What roles the Savior's atonement and Heavenly Father's plan play in my depression I have yet to figure out, but I do know that my depression is a part of those two things. Because Jesus suffered for me He knows how I feel and is with me in my trials. Because my depression is part of Heavenly Father's plan for me I know that there is a reason for it and that it is in my (eventual) best interest. Anything beyond that, I still don't know. But what I do know is enough for now.

Katie, does that answer your question? Let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Book Review: Room for Two by Abel Koegh

I usually end up posting my in depth reviews on my other blogs: A Motley Vision and LDS Readers, but my reaction to this book was too personal (and therefore unprofessional?) for AMV and too conflicted for LDS Readers (they have a policy of not saying anything negative--which makes it difficult to review stuff. . .) so I'm posting this here.

Anyway, the book was a memoir, Room for Two by Abel Keogh. It literally starts with a bang--that of gun that Keogh's pregnant wife's has aimed at her own head. He runs to the bedroom of their apartment and holds Krista while she bleeds to death. You see Krista was born to two people who met in a mental hospital--her father was manic depressive and her mother was schizophrenic--and was given a genetic legacy of mental illness which manifested itself as severe depression. Keogh sits numbly through the police investigation and then struggles through the nine days of his little baby girl's life. Because Krista killed herself the baby had to be delivered nearly four months early after being deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time. It is a sad, sad, complicated story.

But that only occupies the first fifty pages--less than a quarter of the book. The other one hundred and sixty-six pages chronicle Keogh's search for a new wife and drives home the point that a person can get over these things. You can love again. You can be happy again. You can move on.

I should probably stop at this point in the review and say this: I respect Keogh's experience and his right to move on. I am glad for him and his current wife and children. I'm sure he has helped a number of people through his openness and honesty about the pain he suffered as a widower. I applaud his courage to tell a story a lot of people in LDS culture wouldn't. I am glad he is happy.

But. . .

As a depressed LDS woman, I'm a little hurt. As a woman who struggled with perinatal depression three times and with PPD three times and is now fighting run-of-the-mill depression every day, I feel a little betrayed--not by his remarriage or his eagerness to move on, but by the fact that he abridged his wife's incredibly complicated and IMPORTANT story into fifty pages and managed to spend one hundred and sixty-six on what it was like to hold hands for the first time again. I mean, love IS magical, but depression is a transforming experience too. If his book is a true reflection of his experience, he didn't seem to spend more than few days wondering what his wife must have been suffering. And, what is perhaps the worst part to me, he didn't seem to even try. It was as if he thought that since he wasn't mentally ill there was no way to comprehend the strangeness of her experience so he closed himself off completely from any type of sympathy for her. He missed her after she was dead, but, from the way the book reads, he seems to have misunderstood her while she was alive. And that makes me sad.

Granted, I might have taken Keogh's book a little too personally and my reading may not be an accurate reflection of his experience; he might be horrified to find that I feel this way. But I wish that he had chosen to spend a little more time in the rush and tumble of the storm cloud and a little less on the silver lining.

It also angered me that this book perpetuates a lot of stereotypes about depression:

*His wife had been on Prozac for a long time previous to her pregnancy and chose to go off it because of the baby. Now, he may or may not know this, but SOME antidepressants are safe to take during pregnancy and most OBs and psychiatrists agree that if the mother's health--mental or physical--is at risk. I wish he had taken the time to correct this misconception while he had an audience.

*As luck would have Keogh's second wife also has depression--although obviously not as severe as his first wife's. She herself says she's never been suicidal. When his soon-to-be second wife tells him this he praises her for not taking medicine and handling it through excessive running (I say excessive because she ran at least three marathons in a single year, one of which was run on a broken femur). He says, "Her [solution] intrigued me. Maybe it was because I had spent so much time with Krista's family, where prescriptions were preached as the cure-all for every ailment; this was the first time I'd heard someone say they'd rather not be on anti-depressants [sic] . . . Some people would say there's nothing you can do about the way you feel. Take a pill and enjoy the ride." His soon-to-be second wife replies, "I'm not saying the medication isn't helpful. I just think people have more control over the way they behave and act than they think" (165-166). Now there are a lot of things that bother me about this conversation but the glaring misconception is that medicine is an exclusive option, an all-or-nothing deal, a zero-sum game. I've blogged about the stereotypes surrounding antidepressants before and I've blogged about the wonders of CBT and therapy too, and I hope that people are beginning to understand that antidepressants and therapy (and exercise) work best in combination! It's not an either/or scenario. Taking medicine is not a cop-out. What it is, is a responsible choice. Oh, and it doesn't take away your agency. If anything it restores it after illness has taken it away.

*Another problem in the book's treatment of depression was its complete silence on the fact that depression has spiritual ramifications. The above conversation illustrates this and the implication--and all too Mormon idea--that we are better off doing things ourselves and not asking for help. This is echoed by the author's insistence that he doesn't need to see a therapist and that others around him aren't "progressing" as much as he is because their grief lingers longer than his. The way he present himself in the memoir, he comes off as proud that he was the one who actually suffered the most and needed the least help. This idea of needing to do things alone and for ourselves is not only untrue, it is absurd. Yes we have our agency and we are accountable for our actions, but the point of this life is to learn to partner with Christ. There is no way to yoke ourselves with Him without asking for help--both temporally and spiritually. The idea that we need to pull ourselves up by our spiritual/emotional boot straps keeps too many depressed people from seeking the help they need and from building the support structure they cannot live without.

I could probably go on but it would cease to be helpful. There's just one more thing that I feel like I need to mention: depression is a deadly illness. For all the pain Keogh's first wife's death caused, he only barely links her death with her depression. If the memoir is an accurate depiction of his mind's workings it takes him months to realize/accept that Krista was not in her right mind when it happened--that she could not have done something different. So I'll say it again: depression IS a deadly illness. It needs to be taken seriously.

Anyway, I'm not trying to slander Keogh or disrespect his experiences. They are his and I'm grateful to him for being willing to start a scary conversation. I just disagree with the way the story was framed. Like I said before: I would have appreciated a little more time of the storm cloud and a little less on the silver lining. It might not only have been more interesting, but have done a lot more good.

P.S. It is interesting to me that Keogh blogged through much of the aftermath of his wife's suicide and almost none of it is included in his book. The blog posts are raw and, a few of them, powerful and interesting. It seems natural to me that, as a writer, you would want to use some of what you had already written about the experience. After looking at his blog his memoir feels sanitized.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Voting Quandaries

(This is an off topic, but hopefully interesting, post!)

The first time I voted was in the 2000 election. I am quite ashamed to admit I didn't even know it was election day. I had graduated high school the previous June and met my soon-to-be husband that summer. I was pretty young and, well, pretty stupid. I mean, I hadn't even discovered NPR yet. I guess the worst part of it all was that I didn't even know who the candidates were.

It was a warm fall day, the prettiest kind of fall day with brightly colored leaves filtering the sunshine. My older brother, who had just returned from his mission and was in a couple classes with me at USU, let me know it was election day and threw me on the back of his motorcycle (he always let me wear the helmet; so chivalrous!) and drove me to our polling place--which turned out to be my old elementary school. The old ladies working the joint were overjoyed to see a first time voter and pointed me toward the booths with huge grins. I hurriedly asked my brother what to do. "Just mark the Republican box," he called out, "it's just one vote." And then he laughed. I think he voted for Ralph Nader.

When I exited the booth the old ladies proudly stuck an "I voted" sticker to me and showed me out the door. I took the sticker off and wondered if its declaration was true. Had I really voted? Did I make my voice heard? Or did I just waste a very large piece of paper?

Those questions brought me back to one of my earliest memories. I think it was the night George H. W. Bush was inaugurated. All I really remember was that it was extremely boring political thing and I thought it was SO strange that my parents were SO interested. At some point in the ceremony an American flag was raised and my parents stood and, with the hands over their hearts, recited the Pledge of Allegiance with everyone on TV. Now, to my six-year-old mind, this was patently uncool and I laughed as derisively as I could. My father turned a stern eye on me and told me to stand up. When I protested that I didn't know the Pledge both he and my mother stared at me. It took me a moment to register what their expression meant. The Pledge was practically over when I realized they were staring because they were appalled. They were disappointed. I stood up at the end but didn't know the words. I felt irredeemably empty.

That's how I felt that first Tuesday in November of 2000.

Of course, that election was a ridiculous one to learn on and what with getting married in the following year and then finishing my bachelor's the year after, somehow, becoming educated about politics fell lower and lower on my list. Don't get me wrong--I had tried. After September 11, 2001 you couldn't be American and not have some political leanings. We were in Iraq chasing down Saddam Hussein--who, I'm pretty sure, one of my seminary teachers listed as an Anti-Christ. So I listened to NPR and the BBC for hours everyday. I read the newspaper and The Atlantic. I even watched a couple State of the Union addresses. I found myself really liking Colin Powell and even liking the dude I'd voted for: George W. Bush.

Four years flew by and it was time to vote again. This time I at least knew the candidates names. But I didn't feel like I knew much more than that. Despite all the things I'd heard and read I still didn't understand the issues. I'd had my first baby and was wrapped up in the PPD and trying to make a new home in a new state. As I waited in line to vote in the 2004 election I realized I still had no clue what I was doing. I ended up voting for W because I liked how he quoted scripture and that he prayed every day and went running. They were weak but at least the second time I had reasons.

Since then I've added US News and World Report and Newsweek to my magazine subscriptions. I check the BBC online and talk politics with pretty much everyone and try to listen to their points of view. The West Wing and The McLaughlin Group are my favorite TV shows. I even watched ALL the debates, including the VP one (and the Saturday Night Live versions! What? A girl's gotta get some fun in somewhere). Here's the thing, though: I still don't know! I don't know who I'm going to vote for. I don't know what half the stuff on the ballot is about. I still don't know enough and I'm beginning to think I may never. It makes me want to give up.

The last two times I voted left me with regret and I don't want to feel that way again. So, there are eighteen days until I vote for the third time. What do I do in the mean time to figure this out? How do you all figure it out? Do you just go with your gut or is there a more cerebral process? Let me know! I could use some guidance!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A big thanks to you all

for being so supportive of my essay. Thanks to those of you who passed it on to others. One of the most difficult things about depression is how isolating it is. I hope that my essay and my blog can help us all create a community, both online and off.

Also, I wanted to remind you all that I happy to share your stories here too. If you would like to guest blog or do a profile post please email me at

lolapalooza AT hotmail DOT com

and put 'depression profile' in the subject line so I know you're not a spammer!

Really! I WANT to know what it has been like for you all!

Friday, October 10, 2008

My essay is up!

A few posts ago I mentioned that the latest issue of Segullah came out and it had an essay of mine. Well, the link is finally up! Click here to read it. The editor even said it should be required reading for every Relief Society. What a compliment! Love those ladies at Segullah :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How did you know you needed therapy?

Somebody asked me that at Enrichment the other night. We were all sitting there tying quilts for Project Linus and she asked me, "How did you know you needed therapy?"

I gave her a loooong answer about how I'd been on and off medication since the birth of my first child and that I really am a bit crazy (even though my therapist tells me not to use that word in reference to myself). When I finally stopped talking I wasn't sure I had given her the right answer. I've been mulling it over and I'm still not sure I've figured it out, but I want to give another try.

I recently went back to therapy. I don't usually cry when I'm there--I don't cry easily (weird for a depressed person, huh?)--but my first time back I cried because I was weary. I kept saying, "I can't believe this is my life! What if it never changes? What if I'm stuck like this?" After compassionately telling me to "just let it all out", which made me smile because that's so therapist-y, she also reminded me that there are always going to be ups and downs but that I also always have choices. There is always something I can do to change my circumstances and my feelings. It was nice to hear someone say that out loud.

I know that I need to go to therapy because I can't handle this illness on my own. It is so overwhelming that I need a reality check. I need someone who is outside all of it and has heard it all before, someone who can see the way out of the depressed maze me and my illness have created. And I need someone to help me replace all the bad habits that I've adopted to deal with stuff of depression. I need someone to help me change the script in my brain so that it doesn't keep going down the same dysfunctional pathways. I go to therapy because I need help. I need to not be alone.

So how 'bout you? Why do you go to therapy? Or, if you don't, why do you wish you could?

Monday, October 6, 2008

A couple questions for you guys!

Question number one: Was it just me or were there more General Conference talks focused on overcoming depression (as an emotional state--although, IMO, some of it did apply to the illness as well) and finding hope? Any of the talks hit home with you? Which one and why?

Question number two: A friend of mine asked me how to find a good therapist. Since I found mine through another friend I suggested she ask around. However, in the event that she isn't surrounded by openly depressed people like I am (how did I ever get so lucky! I love you guys!) what would you all suggest? How do you find a good therapist? Should she go through LDS social services? Should she have an LDS therapist or does religion matter?

I found this directory at Psychology today but I don't know how reputable it is. And there was this great article at Webmd. Finding a therapist can be tough. And as I know my friend reads here, please post your tips!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I got something happy in the mail today!

When I opened my mailbox I was pleasantly surprised by the new issue of Segullah. It was supposed to be the summer issue but it somehow got lost at the printer's, so now it is the "September" issue. Anyway, I'm excited because I'm in it! Wow! I've only ever seen my name in actual print twice before. It always makes me happy. Usually they put the whole issue up online too. I'll be sure to post the link when they get it up.

If your little apple doesn't fall far from the tree

then your family is probably like mine: you are not the only one who struggles with moods and emotions. Odds are that one of your kids does too.

In our family it is our oldest (5 years old) who has struggles. She has a lot of anxiety and spends a fair amount of time trying to manage it. She has a therapist (you all know how much I LOVE therapy) and we have seen some good results there. However, since she is so young we have to spend a lot of time at home going over (and over and over and over!) the concepts she learned in therapy. There is a lot that I have to remember for her and help her do. Some days it's pretty hard.

Thankfully, I recently found some books that have proved helpful: What to do When I Worry Too Much (overcoming anxiety) and What To Do When I Grumble Too Much (overcoming negativity). I came across a these books at Parentbooks and we have started using them as Family Home Evening Lessons. Our whole family benefits from practicing the concepts in them and the books make it easy to explain cognitive behavioral therapy ideas to small kids.

These books are written by a child psychologist and there are a whole bunch of titles in the series--covering things from bad habits to OCD to anger issues--many of which are available used and new at Amazon. So if you have kids whose emotions take a lot of energy to regulate and you'd like them to learn a little self-mastery these could be a great place to start!

Oh, and good luck!
And, you are not alone! (Michael McLean doesn't technically own that phrase, right?)
And, remember: we're aiming for progress not perfection :)