Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Make it a Veggie-rific New Year

I wanted to do a big, long, gushing post about my CSA--how much better I feel since eating all those veggies, how much more exciting our meals have become since we added so many new foods, how much our neighbors love us for giving them that bottle of wine we got with our Christmas delivery (really!), how much I love the challenge and surprise of a box of greens every week--but, my oldest is still out of school (read: "Mom, I'm BORED.")and my other two are sick (there's nothing like the smell of vomit in the wee, small hours of the morning to let you know you're in for a good day) so this sentence will have to suffice. Joining the CSA was one of the best things I did in 2008. Not only did I learn to cook with more veggies (I can now work them into anything. And it *usually* tastes good!), but I learned to freeze and can a ton of things too. I made salsas, pickles, pickled beets (so much better than store-bought!), sauerkraut, pumpkin butter, apple butter, salad dressings, and marinades. I learned to cook with fresh herbs. I learned that I love leeks, kohlrahbi, garlic scapes, kobacha squash, and even kale. Well, love may be too strong a word for that last one, but I do have several recipes that just don't taste as good without the kale.

So here's the link for my CSA--which works if you are in Colorado or southern Wyoming. Or, for those of you who live nearby, you can google it and try any of the others in the Boulder area. And for those of you living in Utah, here's some good news: you have CSA's out there! They aren't just for us hippies on the Eastern slope! Here are a couple to check out (I have no idea if they are any good, but they are worth looking at). Utah's Own, Slow Food Utah, Copper Moose Farm. Or check localharvest.org. They have everybody.

My sister wants me to add that not all CSAs are as good as mine--and they may not be. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't look into it!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

We Fish You a Fairy Frissmas!

I thought it would be fun to make a little video Christmas card for you all, so I rounded up the kiddos and asked them to sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". After about, oh, 27 takes of frustration and silliness we ended up with this:

So, we fish you a fairy Frissmas and a fappy (no, wait, make that "not un-fappy") Foo Fear!

Oh, and thanks for reading my blog and sharing your thoughts and experiences. I have the best readers! I'm excited for the new year and all the blogging it will bring. Upcoming posts: support systems--does gender matter?; a series on homeopathic therapies for mood disorders; and a guest post by a creative arts therapist!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Fun!

Well, the kiddos are out of school, there is (some) snow on the ground, and my husband actually started his Christmas shopping. We must be getting close to Christmas!

If you are like me (which all of you are, right? Because everything in this world is about me. ME! ME! ME! Hmmm. I think my kids are rubbing off on me.), then you might like a link to some holiday activities to do with your kids.

Or, you might like a funny Christmas story. The story is mine--it's the one I entered at LDS Publisher--and I think it's hysterical. But nobody else did. At least not anyone voting in the contest. I guess that's what you get when you kill off the main character. :) But it's still a Christmas story and, in my opinion, it's still funny. Enjoy!

Or you might want to know some really silly Christmas statistics. I found 'em, especially for you!

Santa Stats
From http://www.JOKE-OF-THE-DAY.com

There are currently 78 people named S. Claus living in the U.S. -- and one Kriss Kringle. (You gotta wonder about that one kid's parents)

December is the most popular month for nose jobs.

Weight of Santa's sleigh loaded with one Beanie Baby for every kid on earth: 333,333 tons.

Number of reindeer required to pull a 333,333-ton sleigh: 214,206 -- plus Rudolph.

Average wage of a mall Santa: $11 an hour. With real beard: $20.

To deliver his gifts in one night, Santa would have to make 822.6 visits per second, sleighing at 3,000 times the speed of sound.

At that speed, Santa and his reindeer would burst into flame instantaneously.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The But Not Unhappy Holiday Playlist

To be honest (and we're all about honesty here), there is a lot of holiday music that makes me nuts. I do not like "The Twelve Days of Christmas". If I have to hear "Feliz Navidad" one more time--whether it's the original or Los Lonely Boys--I think I'll scream. Oh, and don't get me started on "Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer."

Bad Christmas songs are blog fodder for a lot of people (checkout Musical Fruitcake for some truly pitiful songs and be sure to check out the worst Christmas song EVER. According to their list it's only number 2, but really, it's the worst.)but, while that is entertaining, that's not what I'm going for here. No, what I'm aiming to provide is a playlist that brings a little quiet to your mind and a little sanity to the sounds around you. A playlist that doesn't exacerbate your mood swings. Here's my depressed (but not unhappy) Christmas playlist:

*"Where are You Christmas" sung by Faith Hill. Hated the movie it came from but loved the song. Seriously, where is the Christmas I remember? Why can't I find it? Okay, it might be a little melodramatic but it works for me. If you're a country music fan, the sweeping emotionality of her new song, "A Baby Changes Everything", will really work for you.

*"River" by Joni Mitchell. The version I have is the live version sung by the Indigo Girls and I love it. There are plenty of days I wish I had a river I could skate away on. And just hearing those chicks croon it out makes me feel a little bit better.

*"Winter Song" sung by Sarah Bareilles. That's right, that feisty chick who won't write you a love song is happy to write you a haunting winter ballad that asks the question we all want an answer to: Is love alive? In my mind that's what Christmas is all about. Is love alive in my heart? Is the Spirit of Christ working within me so that I can share that love with those around me?

*"December" by the Counting Crows. This is actually a Christmas song but it is about December (duh, Laura)which makes it tangentially related to Christmas. And it's moody. So, you know, that works.

*Sarah Mclachlan's album Wintersong seems pretty good. I've only heard a few snippets but I really, really like it. Oh and it's not jaunty or bouncy and there are no sleigh bells. The only problem: it's so soothing it might make you want to get back into bed and never get out again--and don't we have enough problems with that already? *wink*

Those are just a few of my favorite Christmas songs--besides the standards like "O Holy Night" and "I Wonder as I Wander". Hopefully these will help you de-stress a bit during the last week before Christmas. And then, maybe, just maybe, you'll be ready for another round of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You".

What's on your playlist this year?

Oh, and for extra giggles (especially for you, TJ! All those nightmares you gave me from blasting this song in the middle night are forever gone!), here's a little Metallica Magic from the dude that brought you a truly awesome Star Wars/John Williams tribute:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Support Where You Need it the Most! (part three): Men vs. Women

Remember when I put up that really weird-o picture of a bra made out of veggies? Well, I'm sparing you another one but, for this week's But Not Unhappy Science Friday, I do want to return to the idea of support.

I originally planned for this to be a two part series (you can read part one here and part two here), but Breakdown's comment really got my attention. He said:

I have no problem asking for help. My problem is often that I can't get anyone to help me when I need it. Home teachers, friends, family. For the most part I usually find myself fighting my own battles. I do all I can to help anyone that asks but when I need it it usually seems like I have to pull teeth. Now, it's not all the time. I have had some good people help me from time to time, just there are those times when I really need it and nobody is there to help. It's a bit discouraging.

Now, there are a lot of unknowns here. To be honest, I don't know any specifics about Breakdown's life (but I love his comments! Thanks dude!). But as I pondered his statements I began to wonder if his experience encapsulates one of the many stereotypical differences between men and women. After all common wisdom holds that women are "wired" for community building. In psycho-speak this is sometimes referred to as a "self in relation" (as opposed to an autonomous self, which is stereotypically more masculine). My experience, in many cases, tends to back this assumption up. Women like to talk. A lot. Men, for whatever social/biological/possibly screwed up reason, don't talk as much. Well, maybe they talk but they don't seem to emote as much. Men are wired for competition and conquering, not hugging. Right?

So now that I've laid out the stereotype, how true is all this? Cue the science. Check out this study: Gender, culture, and social support: a male-female, Israeli Jewish-Arab comparison. After all, what can we learn from the Israeli Jewish-Arab conflict if not insights into social support systems? (Actually, because of their physical proximity yet independent cultures, the Israeli Arabs and Jews present an ideal population for this kind of research. Surprise!)

The study was actually a phone survey in which participants were asked to rate their likelihood of asking for help in different difficult scenarios (such as depressive episode, job loss, or financial hardship). The study looked at culture and gender and compared their findings with evolutionary, social, and psychological theories about the role of gender and culture in developing a support system.

Okay, now that we got the science out of the way, what does it all mean to us? It means exactly what we already knew: culture and gender do define who we ask for help and how we build our support systems.

The study said, "Culture influences people's perception of appropriate behavior and thus how and when they seek, obtain, and enact supportive behavior, and studies show that social support is constructed within a specific cultural context . . .Indeed, gender roles promulgated by culture were found to influence how men and women seek, obtain, and enact supportive behavior in stressful situations".

Israeli Arabs ended up fitting a more masculine profile ("A masculine culture is characterized by such masculine stereotypes as assertiveness and competitiveness, whereas feminine cultures are characterized by feminine stereotypes such as warmth and collaboration") and as such tended to ask no one for help. The study conjectured that this was because Arab cultures believed that their lives were dictated by outside forces (like God and/or fate) and that problems should be handled within families first in order to avoid embarrassment. The study also pointed out that because of the patriarchal nature of the Israeli Arab culture men were less likely to have an emotional support system.

This really struck me because the Israeli Arab view seemed remarkably similar to the way I have heard people describe men in the LDS culture. We do believe that our lives are determined by God--although for us God is not the same as fate. We always have a choice as to how we will react; God will never take away our agency. Also, we believe problems should be handled in families first. When a person needs financial help they are to look to their family first, not the Church, right? Those two ideas can isolate us. I don't think they have to (I think it's the first lesson of bishop-ing: tell them to call a therapist!), but they can.

I also wonder how the idea or priesthood leadership and of a man being the steward of the family makes men feel like they have to be invincible. I remember what an epiphany it was when a lit. theory professor pointed out that chauvinistic patriarchal societies are as limiting for men as they are for women. After all, in a typical (not LDS) patriarchy men aren't allowed to be weak. They must always dominate. That has to get tiring.

Of course, our LDS concept of male leadership is not chauvinistic or traditionally patriarchal (at least not in the way feminists use the term). Men are not supposed to be Peter Priesthood Ken dolls. They are sojourners on this earth like the rest of us and entitled to failures and the resulting relationship with Christ just like all of us chicks.

I don't know. I've gotta ask the men, how have these issues played out for you. Have you struggled with the worldly definition of what it means to be a strong man and what the Church's definition of a strong man is (i.e. you SHOULD ask for help!)? Is it different because you are a man? I hope all my male readers will respond because I really do want an answer :)

Depression Profile: Kelly "Depression can't be fixed, it can only be managed"

Name: Kelly (name has been selected from a random name generator. Well, not really. But wouldn't one of those come in handy?)
Age: 33
Location: Utah

1. Have you ever been officially diagnosed? How do you classify your depression? (i.e. post partum depression, anxiety/depression, clinical depression, etc.)
I have been diagnosed by my doctor with clinical depression and anxiety disorder. I also suffer from post partum depression.

2. How long have you been depressed?
I remember being sad and having anxiety since I was about ten. I remember contemplating suicide often during my teen and early adult years. My symptoms became the worst after I had kids. When my life is overwhelming, then my symptoms become worse.

3. What are you like on your worst days?
My mind won’t stop. I think about way too many things in a very negative way. Everything sucks…Everyone sucks…The world is out to get me. I have the type of depression that makes it so I don’t stop moving and worrying about everything (versus the type where you stay in bed all day). On my worst days I am running around like a mad woman while I stress and freak out about everything around me. My body can’t keep up with my brain. This is frustrating to the point of me yelling and screaming and panicking over everything. I cry a lot, and feel so alone.

4.What are you like on your best days?
I am calm and can think things through reasonably. It occurs to me on my good days that this is what “normal” feels like. I can accomplish things. I am not annoyed by everything. I smile and mean it.

5. What kind of treatments have you pursued?
I have taken Lexapro and Zoloft without any great results. Lexapro made me gain 60 pounds so I decided to go get off it. I tapered off it slowly, but the withdrawals were still unbelievable. I came very close to killing myself while in the withdrawal stage. It was one of the darkest periods of my life. I decided, after that experience, that I didn’t want to be dependent on medication again. While initially it helped, and I am not against medication for anyone with depression and anxiety, it just isn’t for me.

Since then I have tried to take a more holistic approach. This approach takes a lot more time and effort, but the benefits have been positive for me. I exercise at least two hours a day and I take a combination of B vitamins, vitamin D, and a supplement called inositol. [Laura's note: Hi Readers--sorry to interrupt. I have never heard of inositol before. Drop me a line or comment and tell me what you know about it. I plan on doing a more in depth post on it in the future and would love your input.] I also get at least 20 minutes of sunshine/outdoor light a day. While I still have really bad days occasionally, and every day is a little bit of a challenge, all of these things I do make it better.

At one point this last year I was walking 12 miles a day and this made me feel better than I ever did on medication. But of course that kind of commitment is hard to continue on a daily basis.

I have also tried therapy and I have not found many benefits to this for me personally. I suppose I just haven’t found the right therapist, though I have tried several. I feel like they want to fix me and move on. Depression can’t be fixed, only managed.

6. How do you feel your depression has affected your spirituality? How would you describe your current relationship with the Church?
I once had someone of my faith tell me, “You’re kids deserve a happy mom.” It was said in a judgmental way. That sums up my feelings about the Church. Mental illness is misunderstood. I feel judged by most people of my faith. I also feel like the Church has way too many expectations to meet, and it is impossible for a depressed LDS person to meet all these expectations. This leaves me feeling less than whole and guilty and not quite up to par.

I have also been told to pray harder, read my scriptures more, have more faith. It is funny that these things are not told to people with physical illnesses, only mental illness. Sometimes this makes me feel bitter and lonely.

I hope to someday have the faith I need to make it through this life without being angry and feeling misunderstood. I need to look past other people's weaknesses and insensitivity. However, right now in my life I need more people to lean on and it seems there doesn’t seem to be many who are willing. Where is the Christ-like attitude we are all supposed to have?

Sometimes the thought of going through this illness every day is overwhelming to me. I lose faith, I become angry at God, I don’t understand why I have to deal with this lonely disease that very few people understand. I also see some signs of mental illness in my children, and this makes me angry that they will have to go through this, and I had a part in it.

So to be honest the last couple of years while my depression has been at its highest, my spirit and faith have been at their lowest.

7. What do you wish other people understood about depression?
The thing I wish people mostly understood is that depression and anxiety are real. They can be just as debilitating and life threatening as a physical illness. And for the most part depressed people just want someone to talk to without judgment.

I want to thank Kelly for this. I really appreciate her honesty about her relationship with the Church. There are so many demands on our time and energy and there are a lot of individuals who don't understand how consuming mood disorders can be. All that makes it so difficult to remember that we go to Church to worship the Lord and reconnect with our Savior--not to tell others what to do or judge them. Some Sundays, when I'm depressed, a spiritual experience feels impossible. I want to commend Kelly for persevering through this. She is woman of real inner strength.

If you would like to share your story (as anonymously as you'd like) please email me at lolapalooza AT hotmail DOT com. Please put "depression profile" in the subject line so I know you aren't a spammer.

Monday, December 15, 2008

LDS Publisher's Christmas Story Contest

Christmas Graphics

Hi friends!
I just wanted to let you all know that I entered a story in this year's Christmas Story contest over at LDS Publisher. Here's the link to the contest. There are two categories: published authors and unpublished authors and you can vote for two stories in both. I can't tell you which story is mine (nuts!) but I hope you'll go over and vote. A lot of these stories are touching, some are fun, and all are worth reading. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Support Where You Need it the Most! (part two)

I'll spare you another bizarre bra picture, but yes, we are still talking about building a support system. But, you know, if you really stop and think about it a bra is a good analogy for how to build a support system.

Okay, I'm kidding.

Here's my real point: One of the hardest things about building a support system (besides being honest with others and yourself) is actually calling in that support system. Case in point: me.

When I was preggers with baby #3, J, I was justifiably nervous about the postpartum period. Given the fact that I pretty much fell apart after the first two babies (we were lucky if Mommy quit crying and sleeping and yelling long enough to get everybody dressed and fed--housework, cooking, and laundry were nowhere on my radar), I knew I needed to make some serious preparations for when J would arrive.

So I started cooking. I made several lasagnas, shepherd's pies, and chicken broccoli casseroles and stuffed them in the freezer. Then I made quart after quart of soup and jammed those in too. Next I organized the house. I tore apart all the closets and cleaned them out. I inventoried our food storage. Then I scrubbed everything from top to bottom. Then, while I was weighing the merits of disposable dishes during a session, my therapist asked if I had any help lined up for after J was born.

"Well, my mom's coming out for a while," I stumbled.

"Okay. What about after she's gone?"

"Um. My husband was going to try working from home a bit." I was starting to get uncomfortable.

"What about nights when he's at school?"

"I don't know."

"Okay. What are you going to do on days that you just need a break?" My therapist paused. I squirmed. She continued, "Now, I just want you to consider this. You don't have to decide now. Just consider. What about asking someone to come in and visit once or twice a week and helping with the kids? You could hire someone or you could ask a friend. Just think about it."

I didn't just think about it. I started to argue about it. I listed all the reasons why that just wasn't feasible: money, the need to pay back favors, my kids wouldn't like the person, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But, as the pregnancy came to its end I began to wonder if my therapist was right. Maybe I could ask someone for help.

Well, J turned out to be a bit of a high maintenance baby (acid reflux disease and possible lactose intolerance. Wheee!) and I suffered along as best I could. There were times, though, that he would just cry and cry. It set everybody on edge. Soon my oldest, N, was having panic attacks and E--who was not even two years old--was throwing tantrums and breaking things. I needed help. And I started to ask for it.

First I found a good child therapist to help N with her panic attacks. Then I attempted letting a friend do my dishes without "paying her back." One day I called my visiting teacher to see if she would fill in when a babysitter canceled at the last minute. I even called another friend late at night to come over and hold my screaming baby while my husband was at school so I could get the other two kiddos to sleep. The thing that amazed me the most: everybody I asked for help said yes. And they were happy about it.

Things are less stressful these days. J is on an acid reducer. N is starting to manage her panic attacks. E is beginning to understands logic and cause and effect so time outs (and hugs!) are effective. But I still have my really bad days--like the one a week and a half ago--and on those days I can't bring myself to call anyone to come help me. I don't want to intrude on their lives. I keep telling myself that if other people can handle the stress of life with three kids then I should too. I am too embarrassed about how lame I am when I am at my worst. I don't want people to see it. I'm too afraid of what they will think.

But, the other day, a couple days after I'd been down, I told my visiting teachers how rough it had been. The offered to clean my house. I said no. They said, "When do you want us?" I said, "NO." They said, "We'll be here on Friday." And I said, "Okay." And they came last Friday and they cleaned my house. It was nice. I couldn't believe how good my kitchen looked. I couldn't believe how much better I felt. Not just because my kitchen was clean but because I realized I wasn't in this alone. I had support. People would show up. People would help. I breathed a little easier.

I gotta ask, am I the only one with this problem? Do you all find it easy to ask for and receive help? What are some of the most supportive things people have done for you?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Support Where You Need it the Most! (part one)

No, I'm not talking about that kind of support (although you all do know how much I love my veggies!). I'm talking about an emotional support system--how to build one and how to use it.

Building a Support System
I think we all know what a support system is and, if you all are anything like me, we fantasize about that perfect spouse/friend/parent/home or visiting teacher who intuits our needs so well that we hardly have to do anything. But building a support system isn't something that is easily done. It takes time and effort. The big thing I've learned a long the way: *Honesty* In order to build a support system you need to be honest with yourself and with those close to you about how your mood disorder affects you. Both of these things can be difficult.

Being honest with yourself is hard because you likely over-estimate your faults and your worthiness. You likely believe you should do things on your own and that because of the way you struggle you don't deserve the love and attention of others. You may even believe it is more righteous to struggle on your own. This is not true. Even in the throes of the bad days, especially in the throes of the bad days, you deserve to have someone there to help. There's a reason God organized us in families and wards/branches. We are meant to help each other out. How else are we supposed to fulfill our baptismal covenants? (See Mosiah 18:8-10)

Being honest with others is hard for a couple reasons. First, you don't know how they'll react (my favorite: "When I get down I know that's just Satan inside me and if I repent he'll go away." Great. So now I'm depressed and possessed. That's super.). And second, you may lack the words to describe what you are going through. The only way to figure these two things out is through trial and error (or as I like to say, trial and effort). Therapists are a really good place to start with this. They've heard it all so no matter what you say you can't weird them out--or if you do you can always find another one! They are also good at aiding introspection. They just seem to know how to help you hear yourself better and the better you understand yourself the easier it will be for you to explain all that to others.

Not everybody you know is going to be the right fit for you. This website has some nice tips to help you figure out who to start reaching out to (disclaimer: I'm not so sure about their tip to include stuffed animals in your support system. I mean, for me, personally, it's hard to talk to a teddy bear when I know my preschooler is doing the same thing in the next room).

Another great idea to aid you in building your support system is one I got from Coffinberry. She got this table from her brother and I think it encourages some good thinking and communicating. It is called "Mad Maps". In a Mad Map, you make a list as such:

*In Every-day Times
Things you should do:
(For example)
Bring me herbal tea
Tell me how great I am

Things you should not do:
(For example)
Give me Caffeine
Make me stay up late

*In Times of Crisis
Things you should do:
(For example)
Help me find a quiet place
Sit with me and listen

Things you should not do
(For example)
Tell other people what's going on

Coffinberry said, "This list would be available for those who wish to support you in times of sadness or crisis. This seems to me like a great tool for care-teams. It helps people to know how to support you, but it also helps you explore how yourself and what kind of support you need. It also gets you in the mindset of building a support network for yourself."

So whether you start with a therapist or with a Mad Map, take a good look at the people around you and see who you can depend on because as a good friend once told me, "We're all waiting to love you. Just give us the chance!"

Friday, December 5, 2008

Depression Profile: Annalee "It's Not A Made Up Thing"

Name: Annalee (name has not only been changed but been pulled from thin air!)
Age: 28
Location: Colorado
Occupation: SAHM and other part time stuff

1. Have you ever been officially diagnosed? How do you classify your depression? (i.e. post partum depression, anxiety/depression, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, etc.)
I have been diagnosed. i think if i remember correctly i was diagnosed as being moderate to severely depressed, seasonal affective disorder, OCD(I count things. I used to count my fingers to make sure I had 10. And I count random things at least three times), and tendencies of schizophrenia. And I'm a cutter.

2.How long have you been depressed?
For as long as I can remember. Maybe from the age of five. I can always remember hating myself. That is when I started counting my fingers. When I was around 10 I started to count other things. I noticed that I started to count road mile markings and windows on buildings. Right around this time is when the self abuse started too.

3.What are you like on your worst days?
I stay in bed and sleep all day. It's too much work or an effort to shower and I think about how to hang myself in the closet. I'm angry and sad all at the same time. Very short tempered. And I cry very easily. I abuse myself. Mostly with just my hands. In the past, I have cut myself with razor blades, scissors, anything sharp really. But I tend to lean towards the scissors. I also hit my head on things--walls, doors, anything hard that is close to me. I have given myself black eyes before.

4. What are you like on your best days?
You would never know that I was depressed.

5. What kind of treatments have you pursued?
I didn't get help till I was 16. I started on Prozac and it mad me a zombie; no ups or downs. I flat-lined. Then I switched to St. Johns Wort, but heard of long term side effects and stopped using that. Then I went on Zoloft and was off and on this for a few years. I then went to Lexapro and from there I went to Wellbutrin 150. I have always been inconsistent with my meds. I stop and start on my own and have huge withdrawals. It took me awhile to come to grips with my depression. I got in a huge low where I started to see things again and just couldn't function with daily tasks like showering, eating, taking care of the house, family. I then went to a psychiatrist. He is the one who diagnosed me. He started me on Lexapro and Wellbutrin 300.

6. How have those treatments worked for you?
Since being diagnosed I have come to terms with my depression/disorders. I felt for a long time that I wasn't myself on meds. That I wasn't really me. That I was supposed to be an angry person and that's who I was. That people couldn't get to see who I really was, like I was just pretending all the time. Since coming to terms with it I have been so good at taking my meds regularly. I was seeing my Dr. every week for two months and then it went to every other week to once a month to every three. Once I went to every three months I felt like i didn't need to see him anymore. It was a waste of my time and money to go see him to say,"Yep, everything is working just fine. I haven't really had any episodes--only when i forget to take my meds for a couple day can I notice a change. But that happens very rarely." Then he reminds me to take them and sends me on my way.

8. How do you feel your depression has effected your spirituality? How would you describe your current relationship with the Church?
To be honest I don't connect the two. I never really thought of it. I guess that I am more in tune with the Spirit when I am on my meds and doing well. I tend to want to do the right things and everything that I'm supposed to be doing. With the Church right now I'm in a good place. Everything seems to be making more sense now that I have gotten myself to a healthy place.

8. What do you wish other people understood about depression?
That it's not a made-up thing. That people don't choose to be depressed and that we can't just be happy. It's not that easy.

What I really appreciate about Annalee's story is, first off, her honesty and, secondly, how she has been dealing with this her whole life. I see a lot of courage in her. It also gives me hope for the future. Thinking about my depression as a chronic condition is so scary. I can't imagine dealing with this year after year after year. But Annalee has and she is HAPPY. Amazing! Thanks so much Annalee! You are awesome!

If you would like to share your story here (as anonymously as you want) please email me at lolapalooza AT hotmail DOT com. Every story counts. The more we share, the more we learn, and the better-equipped we are to help ourselves and each other.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It was the strangest thing . . .

Yesterday after I posted I tried a number of things to break up the depressed-thought-cycle but nothing was working. When I found myself standing in the kitchen contemplating my selection of knives I knew whatever I was doing wasn't enough. Since my husband was working from home I decided to ask him for a blessing. When he distractedly looked up and asked, "Why?" he got waaaay more of answer than he had bargained for.

After crying so hard I made my nose bleed (seriously. Who knew you could do that?) and getting the kids somewhat settled he gave me the blessing. As he pulled out a chair he said, "I don't exactly know how to give this kind of blessing."

"What's that supposed to mean? It's just a blessing," I snapped.

"Well, usually there's a little more faith involved. You don't seem to have any right now."

"I asked for a blessing didn't I? That's as much faith as I can muster."

He looked me up and down, took a deep breath, and placed his hands on my head. He started the blessing and I didn't feel a thing. I was a little irked by this but I also kind of expected it. When I'm feeling really down I can't feel the Spirit. It just can't get through the crazy. I took mental notes of what he said and gave him an empty hug when he finished. Then I cleaned the front room. Then I made dinner. Then we had family night and put up Christmas decorations. By the time I went to bed I was quite surprised by what I got done. I figured the day was a bust but I was starting to think maybe it was okay.

This morning I woke up late and remembered that I had a visiting teaching appointment. I was a half hour late but I did get there. My companion had the flu and couldn't come so it was up to me to supply the message. When I finally cracked the Ensign I was surprised to find the quotation from President Uchtdorf:

The gospel of Jesus Christ has the divine power to lift you to great heights from what appears at times to be an unbearable burden or weakness. The Lord know your circumstances and your challenges. He said to Paul ad to all of us, 'My grace is sufficient for thee.' And like Paul we can answer: 'My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.'

Those were the words my husband had said in my blessing. He didn't say it exactly the way President Uchtdorf did but that's what he said. I'm still surprised--and grateful. The Lord gave me the blessing twice; once when I needed it and once when He knew I'd hear it. That means a lot to me. He truly is the God that knows us so well he can number the hairs of our heads.

Oh, also in the blessing the Lord reminded me to reach out to the support systems I've built. So thanks to you all for being a part of my support system and for reaching out to me. Your comments really helped!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Everything is bad

It's been a fairly long time since I've had one of these days. I should have known it was coming. After all, some of these breakdowns are predictable. PMS brings them on--gotta always remember to take it easy during that time of the month. Bad weather pulls me down too. And coming home from trips. The first day back is hell.

Last week we went to Minnesota to visit my sister and we had a great time. We went to the Mall of America, ate tons of turkey, chopped down a real live Christmas tree (the tree farm kept telling us this was so much more environmentally friendly, but I'm not so sure. I mean, come on, trees are the best thing this planet has going for it and chopping it down is good?), and somebody else was always there to help with the kids and clean up the messes. I liked it. A lot.

Now we're home. I was happy to be back to my house with all my stuff--especially the various books and things reminding me of writing projects I've got waiting. I was even happy when I got up this morning. Well, not happy really but not sad either. I was doing all right.

As the day has gone on things have just piled up and I'm remembering why being a mother is the most frustrating thing in the world. It feels like the absolute definition of insanity. After all every day I do the same things over and over (like the dishes, the laundry, telling the children to not scream at each other or hurt the baby) and every day I expect it to make a difference. And it never does. The house is always a mess, the laundry is never done, my children still argue all the time, and I'm always tired. Nothing changes.

I know that people say that this is only a phase of life and I'll miss it when it's gone. I'll wish for these days back. But right now all I want to do is hide. But I can't hide. There are too many other people to answer to. So instead of hiding I yelled at everyone and made them cry. The kids are in their rooms and I'm blogging while listening to John Mayer's version of "Free Fallin'" over and over again. In my brain the song is about suicide and I find listening to it strangely comforting. I am so pathetic.

My husband is working from home today and he hates it when I get like this. He doesn't know what to do and neither do I. I'm so useless.

I've got to snap out of this but I don't know how. The more I sit the more I find myself thinking scary thoughts and wishing my brain wouldn't go there but not knowing how to make it quit. I wish this was a happy blog entry. I wish I had inspiring words to tell you all and say that there is something that makes it so days like this don't happen. But they do. No matter how hard you try the bad days still roll around. And they suck.

Well, I'm gonna get off the computer and call my therapist. I should be able to get an appointment for this week. Talking it out always helps. And after that I'm going to find a quiet corner to sit and tell myself that "this too shall pass" until I believe it.