The Other Side Of Depression

In my last post, I talked a bit about my parents and their recent struggle with one another. That post made me think about a topic that I haven’t covered but semi-relates to the previous post; depression.

However, I’m not going to write an article that articulates the warning signs of depression, or what it’s like being depressed. Many of you have probably read those articles, or, if you have a family member or friend that’s experienced depression, you’ve witnessed everything first hand. What I am going to write about is what it’s like for those on the other side of depression; the family members and friends (such as some of you reading this) who sit in the emotional sidecar and get pulled every which way. I’ve been there, and I’m hoping that if there is anyone out there with depression that this piece can help demonstrate what it’s like for those that love them.

1. My Mother: I never knew that my mother was prescribed anti-depressants until about a year ago. If you’ve ever met my mother, you’d think she was one of the sweetest, nicest people in the world. When I found out about the anti-depressants, my heart sank. Thoughts of, “am I a good enough daughter?” ran through my mind constantly. I worried that if I caused her trouble or made a rude comment that she would have an awful day and rely on her medication even more.

I felt so lost and I didn’t know what to do to make it better. Should I be spending more time with her during the week and on weekends? What if I volunteered to cook a few family meals? Do the laundry? Wash the dishes a few times a week? Would any of these make her feel less burdened, happier, healthier?

When she retired to care for my brother and the house full-time, I knew she was happy at first, but her joy quickly faded. As if she didn’t think her life was exciting or meaningful before she quit, now, her daily routine consists of household chores and running errands. She was and is lost. She wants to go back to work, but she doesn’t think she has any skills. I constantly worry that one day she will just up and leave because she’s sick of doing the same thing day-in and day-out.

I try to get her out of the house and go on adventures as much as possible, but nothing changes. She’s still lost; I’m lost. I don’t know what to do to make it better. I don’t know how to help her, and every time I ask, I get the same response, “nothing.” But, she’s living in a state of ‘nothing,’ and ‘nothing’ can be a dangerous thing.

2. My Boyfriend: Meeting Matt, you would have no idea that he used to severely suffer from depression. He was a freshman in college and I was a senior in high school. We were living in different zip codes (something we’ve gotten used to) for the first time, and he wasn’t making as many friends at school as he would’ve liked. He had also lost contact with a lot of individuals from our high school, and he felt more alone than ever before.

Almost every night of my senior year was spent sitting by my computer with a TV tray off to the side. While I did my homework on the TV tray, I would be talking to Matt via MSN messenger. The conversations went back and forth for hours. But, the conversations were the same every day. Every day he told me that he had an ‘ok’ day and was feeling worthless. He felt that he didn’t have any friends and wasn’t good at what he was doing. He would then advise a plan to get more friends, or to reconnect with the old ones, and it would fail…miserably…for no good reason!

It was hard watching him struggle. I told him over and over again how much I loved him and gave him advice on what to do about his extreme sadness, or reassured him about his plans for the future. We saw each other almost every weekend, and I even tried bringing a few of my friends to visit him..but nothing worked. On multiple occasions, he brought up suicide. Even though he said he wouldn’t do it because he loved me, I stated that I was the only thing keeping him on Earth. How could I give up on him? What could I do? I thought I’d tried everything.

This pattern continued on into my first year of college, but it got better. I was still on messenger with him every night, but it was hard to see each other every weekend. Eventually, we broke up. But, when we did break up, he was at least on his feet. Of course, we’re back together now, and he’s doing much better.

For both of these beautiful people in my life, I had no idea what I could do to make it go away. I tested multiple ideas, did what I thought was right…what THEY wanted me to do…and no matter what, meds or not, I couldn’t get through to them. It’s something that they need to overcome on their own, but they need help just as much as the rest of us do with our daily lives. Talking to specialists or reading articles can work, but only so much. To those that are depressed, we love you, and we’re hurting because we see you hurting. Communicate with us, help us help you.

Granny Smith – over and out

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Love Runs Out

My parents…lord love them. They’ve been married for almost 26 years and have been through a lot of shit. A disabled son, a crazy daughter, two houses, multiple cars, family members passing, you name it. My parents have always had a nurturing relationship, but lately, something has changed, and I don’t know what to think of it.

Within the last nine months, I’ve witnessed more fighting and just an overall lack of displeasure with one another. Almost every day they’ll get into a tiff, and almost every day, both of them come to me with their side of the story and indirectly ask me to play mediator. Part of me wishes I could shout, “take care of this shit yourselves; you’re adults!” But, I want to be there for the both of them because I know they have no other outside party to turn to but me.

Most nights, I hear my mother complaining on the phone about my “crabby father” to her sister or her mother. And, most days, you can find them mocking one another behind the other’s back. Usually, in situations like this, I don’t take sides. But, something tells me I have to go with my father. My mother tends to be fairly harsh on my father, getting irritated about his hearing, complaining to his face that’s he’s too angry or too particular, that he takes too long at the store, and the list could go on and on.

At dinner, she’s very short with him, but when he leaves for work in the evening, she always gives him a kiss. Unfortunately, that kiss in the evening is my only reminder that they still love each other. In times past, you could always find my mom laughing at whatever my dad said, curling up to him on the couch, you name it. Now, she prefers to not spend any time with him. Even on the weekends, the only time my dad is not providing for our family, she doesn’t seem to want to be around him.

My father, one of the silliest human beings on the planet, is one of my most favorite people. One day, many years ago when all of my mother’s siblings seemed to be getting divorced, he told me in all seriousness, “divorce is absolutely, positively out of the question. Unless your significant other is beating you, cheating on you, living a double life, or damaging you in any other physical or emotional way, put on your adult pants and work it out. I know that he would never leave my mother. He’s even told me over the past few months, when times have been rough, that no other woman “could ever love an asshole like him.”

Divorce is such a complicated, messy thing. I don’t know what I would do if my parents split up. I know there are plenty of other individuals out there who have experienced divorce themselves, or have had parents or close friends go through it. So, what do you think? Are my parents headed for splitsville?

Granny Smith – over and out

Autism Awareness

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If you don’t know already, the month of April is Autism Awareness Month here in the United States. And seeing how the month is almost over, I thought I’d dedicated this post to those individuals with Autism, my brother, specifically.

My brother was three years old when he was diagnosed, and my family’s life hasn’t been the same since. I can’t tell you how many countless hours my brother has spent with therapists working on his speech and cognitive ability and how many days he was in the Special Education room at our high school only for us to realize that he isn’t so different after all. He’s still a typical boy who has his own likes and dislikes, he just can’t express himself in the same way we can.

For years, my family has gotten stares and weird looks in public places when my brother has cried out, hummed, or even danced near complete strangers. Even tonight, we went to our local YMCA for a swim and a young boy (probably only about 10 or 12) told my brother to hand over the ball he was holding because he was supposed to use it to shoot hoops not hold it! Of course, I glared at the boy and flipped him the bird…in my mind. But, we carried on, business as usual.

When I was younger, I would get so embarrassed half the time because my brother would have to use the ladies room with my mom if my dad wasn’t around so that someone could help him in the bathroom. We even stopped going to church because my brother loves to laugh, hum, and cry out during inappropriate times. Whenever someone looks at him, all they can see is his age, so they’re completely confused as to why he’s behaving “in that way.” Nowadays, I don’t give as many shits. If he cries out, he cries out. If he decides to dance in the middle of the grocery isle, let him have at it (as long as he’s not in anyone’s way)!

I’m not saying that I’m completely fine with his outbursts and that they never embarrass me. Of course, I still get agitated with him every once in awhile. But he’s my brother, and that’s what siblings do. If anything, he’s made me more of a tolerant person. Yes, people mess up once, twice, three times even! But, because I live with a boy who constantly needs to be reminded to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom, or to take his shoes off before climbing into bed, I’ve never gotten into a heated/screaming match with anyone. No one has ever pissed me off that much…because, it takes A LOT for me to REALLY show my frustration.

Like my dad says, “everyone should have at least one disabled child so that they know what it’s really like.” And, I completely agree. There’s too many government officials trying to cut funding for those with disabilities and it brings me to near tears when I think about how much those with disabilities have already been shafted in life, how many limitations they have when it comes to things to do, places to go, or people who will take care of them, and now this? My father actually has a friend who works for the government and has a disabled daughter, and because of that, he makes sure that he knows every law and is able to fight that much harder for her rights. He’s actually helped a lot of families (mine included) knowledgeably advocate for their disabled child. And, never would he have become so involved if he didn’t have a daughter with a disability.

My brother and other individuals with disabilities that I have spent time with over the course of my life thus far have helped me get a better perspective on what really matters in life. Not only that, but they’ve also taught me how it’s important to treat individuals with the utmost respect, say what you feel, and do what makes you happy.

If you’ve never had the chance to spend time with an individual or individuals with a disability, I encourage you to volunteer for the Special Olympics, or for a disabled group home. Even if it’s just for an hour and only one time! Make some sort of interaction with these uniquely talented and special individuals, and I guarantee your life will change for the better.

Granny Smith – over and out

There’s More to Life Than This

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Hold on, kids because we’re about to get spiritual! Now, if you’re like me, your parents or guardians told you growing up that you should NEVER talk about religion or politics with acquaintances!! It’s just out of the question. And for me, it still is…but not today!

I recently started reading “There’s More to Life Than This” by the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, and I’ve got to say, she’s completely pulled me in and I’m fascinated. First of all, I love her show and believe that the gift she has (talking to those that have ‘crossed over’) is real, so I don’t feel the need to question the stories or descriptions that she’s written in her book.

The truth is, I’ve never been a religious person. My mother grew up in a very Catholic home and my father’s mother and family had a high respect for God, but I’ve never read a single sentence in the Bible, and I can’t really tell you much beyond who God, Jesus, and Mary are, but I’ve been compelled recently to discover that “religious side” of me that I’ve never dived into.

Basically, there are a few things we need to understand regarding when we die and I’ve listed them below. According to Theresa:

  1. When we die, our soul leaves our body and is greeted by our loved ones that have crossed over. We are almost immediately at peace.
  2. When we get to Heaven, we meet with our spiritual “guide” that has been with us throughout our entire life. Everyone has one. Here, we’re basically given a performance review. We watch what we’ve done in the physical world, but most importantly, we see how it affected the lives of the individuals who were on the receiving end of our actions. With your guide you talk about the life lessons you learned while on Earth, how you did, and what your soul needs to do in order to grow and evolve.
  3. There are many different “levels” in Heaven and God is on the highest level. Your guides and God place you at a specific level based on how you acted in the physical world. You can either select to work on achieving higher levels and learning “life” lessons in Heaven, or, you can select to reincarnate and go back to Earth and continue to grow and learn those valuable life lessons. Sometimes, individuals even select to become guides or teachers on the other side once they have truly evolved and learned all of life’s lessons.
  4. If you select to go back to Earth, you more than likely won’t be reincarnated into the race, ethnicity, or even gender that you are now. Your body will be different. You may even have a physical disability. But, while you’re on the Other Side getting ready to start your new life, you can select (with the help of your spirit guide) who you become in order to help you learn those life lessons you missed in your previous life. For example, if in your previous life you made fun of individuals with disabilities, you may select to come back in your next life as someone in a wheel chair to help your soul grow and evolve.
  5. God and spirits don’t look a certain way. God is a massive white light with gold trim.

It all sounds completely ridiculous, but because I believe in Theresa, I almost feel that what she writes is very real. And if it’s false, I mean, she must have a lot of time on her hands to make up these elaborate stories! And, the book doesn’t stop there! She’s written so much about God and our loved one’s that I’m only half way done with the book and I’ve already learned this much.

However, one thing that I do want to address is in regards to my last post, soul mates. I originally didn’t believe in them, and I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept. But, Theresa says that our loved ones continually live with us in our next lives. So, say you have a husband right now. Your husband will probably be your cousin in your next life. You might have such a deep connection with the cousin he’s become in your next life and not understand it, but that’s because your bond was so crazy great in this one! Theresa used an example that in her previous life, her now daughter was her brother that she saved from a burning building!

Now, you might be thinking, Granny Smith, you’re posts have been pretty great up until this point..why did you have to go and ruin the fun? I know, I know. This isn’t something that everyone likes to talk about and these ideas haven’t existed much before Theresa. But, I find it fascinating and I thought maybe you might too. After all, maybe her words give us something to believe in if we don’t believe already…

Granny Smith – over and out