Making Choices

I have been having a lot of discussions around depression and medications lately with various friends.

In my entirely humble opinion, as that of someone who has *NO* medical training and my experience comes *ONLY* from having had chronic depression for years, as well as observing other people with depression issues… there are two types of people who need meds.

1.  Those who have a permanent chemical imbalance in their brain and will require medication for the rest of their lives – similar to those who are insulin dependant diabetics.

2. Those whose depression is situationally triggered.    Medication is a good kick-start to righting the temporary imbalance in their brain, while they use counselling/therapy to acquire tools they can use to make the emotional changes needed to live healthier, happier lives.

I fit in catagory 2.  I know this, because I have been on and off meds for a long time, and usually there is *something* that precipitates my depression.

In 2009 it was fear of losing my job – my boss would randomly fire people without warning.  Scared the crap out of me that I was going to lose my job because I didn’t know if he would do that to me.    And I was the primary breadwinner.    At that time, I went on stress leave, took meds, got some counselling, learned some tools, went back to work, went off meds, and then lost my job.  And you know what? I was able to handle it, no problem, without needing meds or any other supports – I already had the tools.

In 2012, my husband got sick.  My stress levels went through the roof, my depression and anxiety kicked in and I went on meds.   I figured my husband would get better, and I would then apply the tools I’d learned and I’d go back to work and all would be well.

He died. (just in case you didn’t know… see? I still have a sense of humour – its just kinda macabre now)

This is not something I know how to deal with.

But at the same time – in the 6 months he was sick and in the hospital, and then the 4 months since he passed away, I’ve been using the tools I learned in 2009 to manage.  People keep telling me I’m so strong, but the reality is that I am NOT, I just have tools to use to handle the severe stress and anxiety I’ve been experienced.  I don’t know if there’s *new* tools to learn, or if I just need to further put into place the tools I already know… and learn to accept that I am a widow.

One of the tools I’ve learned is choice.  It sounds silly… but sometimes I have to consciously make a choice.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes it will work until a certain point but if not used before that point, it’s too late and it won’t.  (Kinda like bungee jumping – you can back out until the point of stepping off the platform – after that point – you have no choice in the matter anymore)

Today, while I still could, while I was able to recognize that I needed to make a choice, I did.  I texted a friend of mine and asked her if she had lunch plans.  I needed a reason to get dressed and leave the house… otherwise, given where my day was going – I was heading towards the platform and once I got to a certain point in the depression – I would have been falling with no way to move out of the depression.

We went for lunch – and it was something that was absolutely needed.    I feel more able to keep going with my day.  I don’t feel lost in the depression or like I’m falling.   I’m still sad, and today was a day where I spent a lot of time crying, but overall – making the choice to reach out… I staved off what could have been a lost day.

Some days – its about making choices – and today I made the right one.

Distractions

I have been distracting myself.

There’s a couple schools of thought on distractions… one that it’s a good thing – it allows me to function; the other that it is avoiding the pain that I will inevitably go through regardless.

When I stop distracting, the pain comes rushing in.  The memories flood my brain and the feelings of overwhelming loss hit me again.

It’s Halloween.  Last year he had a blood vessel burst in his eye and he used it to make a really cool costume.

It hit me when I thought of that… we’re coming up on 10 months since he was at home.  10 months since he was a part of our daily life.

And 4 months since he died.

Distracting works, sometimes, but today I think I need to immerse myself in the memories… allow them to wash over me… move through me…

And remember that the distractions will always be there.

 

Their Pain…

I can’t take away their pain.

I raised my older two kids to be strong, independent and self-reliant.

I forget, sometimes, how very young they still are.

At 22 and almost 21, my oldest children have lost not one, but two fathers.

Their biological dad died when they were 5 & 3.      I married my husband when they were 7 & 9.  We had been together a year and a half at that point… so he had been in their lives since they were 5 &7.

My husband may not have been their biological dad – but he was *dad* in every way that counted.

Last night, I got a glimpse of my son’s naked pain.   He does a very good job of hiding it, but if you listen to his music, you can hear it.

I got to hear it in a way I don’t think he expresses very often.

And I wanted to take away the pain.  I want to heal the hurt.  I want to make it better and show him that it really can be ok.

He’s going to move through this… but it breaks my heart that he has to.

As a wife, I’ve lost my husband, my partner, my soul mate.

As a mom, I have to watch my children navigate life without their father.   The older ones were blessed with being raised to adulthood by Mark.  The younger ones?  I’m going to have to figure out their teen years without his guidance.   And it breaks my heart that they will miss out on the amazing person he was.   He had a way with the kids that I don’t.  He was their confidante.  He was the one they knew they could talk to.   He was an amazing role model.

I want to help them… but the older kids won’t let me.  They don’t want me to have to hurt more than I am.   But I hurt knowing what they’re going through.

 

Changing Wills

Once upon a time, Mark and I made a smart decision.  We created wills that outlined executors & guardianship of our children and it made my life SO much easier this summer.

Our wills basically said the same things:

Spouse inherits everything.
Spouse gets custody of children.
Spouse is the executor(ix).

Simple and easy and (in our minds) a bit of a waste of money since we were going to have a 50th and at that point in our lives… we didn’t think any of that would be applicable.

We were wrong.

So now I have to change my will, because my life has changed.

The plan was that grandparents would get custody of the children should both of us die and other grandparents would be the trustee of any monies.

Now, with grandparents ageing, and their lives having taken them to various parts of the country and travelling, things need to change.

I’ve asked Mark’s brother to be the boys’ guardian should I die.   I will ask someone else to be the executor(ix) but I haven’t had a chance yet so I’m not going to name that person :p

Once I have everything in place – I’ll go out and update my will.  The idea of my passing is something I *don’t* want to face, but without doing these things – my children will end up in places I don’t want them, and life will be more difficult for them.

Everyone should have a will.  Even if it’s just to appoint someone to deal with the aftermath.

Do you have a will?

Damn Doctor

“How’s the new prescription working?”

“I’m crying more often.”

“Good.  It means you’re in touch with your emotions and not disassociating as much.  Let’s increase the dose and see if it works better.”

Yeah.   Because I want to cry more.

I get it.   I need to feel the feelings.   Feeling them more often is good.  Being in touch with them is good.

I just don’t like crying.   I don’t look good when I cry.

So this feeling thing.  Happens a LOT.   And I really don’t like it.

Apparently it’s good for me.

Damn doctor.

It Didn’t Kill Me

Although I almost started crying when my piano teacher played a couple things out of the songs I brought.

My choices of songs to learn for now:

Moonlight Sonata – Beethoven
Goodbye My Lover – James Blunt

And a few others.  The focus for the moment will be on Moonlight Sonata.

But my piano teacher thought that playing the James Blunt song and doing some improvisation on it would be a good idea…. and tears threatened to flow.

I’m a bit of a masochist – but I think learning to play that song will help me process, a bit.

What I didn’t expect was how Moonlight Sonata would affect me.  It was almost as emotional as the James Blunt song.   And my teacher plays it beautifully.

It’s romantic and beautifully evokes emotions.  It speaks of love and longing and loss.   And I didn’t expect that.

Both songs force me to feel my emotions instead of pushing them aside.  Have I mentioned I love music?

It feeds my soul…. allows me to feel and to process my emotions.  And I look forward to when I can play the songs with the emotion I feel when I hear them.

Unexpected Perspective

I’m paying for piano lessons.

I’ve wanted to take piano lessons for a long time.  I took them as a child.

So I’m paying for them.   I want to learn piano.   I want to have the ability to teach piano.

Since Mark died… the thought process that life is too short to not realize my dreams.  We kept talking about getting him a motorcycle… next year.   Next summer.  Next time.

 

It became too late.   Too late for Mark. Too late to realize his dream. Too late for him and I to travel across the country on motorcycles.

So I decided to follow my dream.

I enrolled in piano lessons.   I took one lesson.  I paid for more.

And then I promptly ignored my piano.

The books are sitting on my piano exactly the way they were when I got home from that first lesson.

That was 4 weeks ago.

I think about practising.  I want to practise.  But every time I start in that direction – something distracts me.

Laundry.  Dishes.  Vacuuming.  Kids.  Panick attacks.

And I’ve managed to miss EVERY. SINGLE. LESSON. since that first day.

The next lesson is tonight.

Last night, my oldest kid and I were hanging out.  He was playing guitar and we were chattering about this and that.  And I was ruminating about my piano lessons.

Kyle, being the person he is, tried tough love… “GO.  Practice.  Now. ” and I started panicking.

I mentioned to him that I was panicking, and almost absentmindedly asked “I wonder why I panick when I think about piano?”

“Because it means you’re moving on”  he said.   It was an off the cuff conversation, with a quick and easy answer.   Something I hadn’t considered.

I’m afraid of practising because I am afraid of moving on.

It was an unexpected perspective.

Now – I just have to figure out what I’m going to do about tonight.