18 September 2011

Sometimes prayer just isn't enough

I've sort of touched on this before in my post titled Just decide to be happy but I want to focus on the spiritual aspect of this, for lack of a better way of putting it. Often times, Christians will tell a fellow Christian something along the lines of "You just need to pray more" or "Stop wallowing" or "You need to really believe that God will heal you". They say this about everything from a cold to cancer, and within that spectrum falls mental health problems, specifically (from my experience) PostPartum Depression. I know it happens with other conditions, PPD just happens to be the arena that I have some experience in so that's the angle I'm addressing it from.

I personally can attest to the fact that God answers prayers. I grew up hearing the old church adage "God always answers prayers: Sometimes He says "yes", sometimes "no", and sometimes He says "wait". I think there's something to add to that when it comes to health problems (physical, mental, emotional, any variety), he sometimes (read: often) says "You need flesh and blood help". Yes, God answers prayer, but sometimes prayer on it's own just isn't enough. Sometimes, we have to take action in this world as well.

Going to a psychiatrist, admitting that you need therapy, going on medication, none of these things mean you are a bad Christian, they don't mean your faith is lacking, they don't mean you need to pray more/pray better/rebuke the demons better/pray the Prayer of Jabez regularly/get blessings from more Priesthood holders[1]/pray in tongues more often/anything else. Sometimes, we really do have to use the resources God gave us in the form of modern medicine.

If you're a Christian who knows that someone is struggling, DO NOT tell them any of these things. (1) It's not true (2) You're probably making them feel worse. Think VERY VERY carefully about how you respond to them because regardless of how good your intentions are, saying something that even has undertones of that variety can cause a lot of damage. One of the last things a Christian needs when they're already struggling with the myriad of feelings and thoughts that come with PPD is to then feel like those who are supposed to lift them up are judging them, or to question their faith. I know when people told me this, I thought "I pray all the time, if this could be dealt with just by praying I'd have been all better a long time ago."

Sometimes, prayer is enough in some situations. I have seen people healed of various illnesses, maladies, conditions, etc. I know people who have witnessed drastic infirmities instantly healed. I do believe that God can and does answer prayers with yes... sometimes. Sometimes, prayer on it's own is enough. But sometimes it's not, and that's okay.

[1] For my LDS readers

17 September 2011

Do You.

I have had an epiphany. The last few days, I've been thinking that I needed to get an emergency appointment to get my thyroid levels checked and possibly have my meds adjusted. I wasn't feeling suicidal or like hurting anyone but I was feeling so incredibly frustrated and overwhelmed by everything that's been going on, as well as being tired from having trouble sleeping, I felt like I just couldn't cope. Between YumYum not feeling well, Lizzie-bear being whiny and rebellious, tripping over boxes that I feel like will NEVER finish getting unpacked, and all the frustration and stress from the craziness of dealing with the movers from San Antonio and the JPPSO office there, as well as throwing in a little dash of homesickness and some family stuff just to spice things up a little, I was sure that PostPartum Depression or Anxiety had kicked in, my thyroid levels were off, something.

Happily, that does not seem to be the case. I have a monthly membership at Massage Envy and it's been a few months since I was able to go in, I finally called and scheduled an appointment. For a whole hour, it was about ME. No baby crying wanting to be fed, nobody saying "Mommy lap? More grapes? Piiiiizaaaa!!!" and throwing temper tantrums. I came out of there feeling so much better physically that it was amazing. I even felt less tired AND was interested in having sex!

What I needed wasn't a dosage adjustment. What I needed was, partly, some physical relief from muscle pain and sciatica, but even beyond that, I needed to take care of myself. I needed to be pampered. Why do we let ourselves forget how important this is? For some reason, it's almost like as soon as a baby pops out, there's this switch that gets triggered that says "I have to take care of everyone else, and there's no time for taking care of me. It's selfish to focus on myself when I should be focusing on my kids. They have to come first.". That's not true. While it is correct that we have to put our kids first in many ways, sometimes to put them first we have to put ourselves first. We have to take care of ourselves to be able to take care of anyone else and far too often we lose sight of that. I remembered while driving home that my therapist (during my bout with PPD after Lizzie-bear was born) had told me that part of getting better would be doing things to take care of myself.

If you're reading this and you're a mom, make sure to do something to pamper yourself or take care of yourself on a regular basis. Whether that's a massage, yoga, a new book, a pedicure, mimosas on the beach, or coffee with a girlfriend, don't fall into the trap of "There's no time for me, it's not important". In the space of an hour, some pampering changed my entire attitude and outlook on life. Do you. You can't afford not to.

11 September 2011

Reflections on 9/11

10 years ago, I woke up thinking it was just another ordinary school day in the beginning of my Senior year. Mom drove me to school and we heard on the news that a plane had hit a building in New York City. We both gasped and said "Oh how sad, I wonder what happened?". She dropped me off and I went to class and discussed it with the other people in my class. A few minutes later, another classmate came in and said "A plane hit the World Trade Center, they're calling it terrorism". We said "Yeah, we know" and he said "No, a second plane". We turned on the tv and saw the images that were burned in the minds of the world for forever.

Oh dear God. What has happened? Nobody knew anything but that two planes intentionally flew into the two towers. We watched in horror as the news replayed footage of the planes veering and crashing. I think it was at that point that everyone migrated to the band room to watch the nightmare unfolding live on the screen before our very eyes. The entirety of the 7th - 12th grades and all our teachers were in there. Yeah, it was a small school... 

The nightmare only got worse. A plane ran into the Pentagon. A 4th plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Speculation abounded from the reporters and anchor-people as to whether there was more to come, especially since there were reports that although all planes had been grounded, some were still accounted for. Were they headed for the Capitol? The White House? Our school? Perhaps it seems silly now, looking back, to even consider wondering if terrorists were intending to take out our little private school in Cedar Park, TX but the Pentagon, the very center of the military, had been hit, clearly nobody was safe.

We watched as the towers fell. The second one we saw live as it happened. Most of us at school were a bunch of jabberwockies, and we had a few teachers who were pretty talkative too, but in those moments, I think you could have heard a pin drop, even with the floor being carpeted. We cried. I was having a rough year, I didn't get along with some of the people at school, but that day our petty differences were put aside, teenage squabbles forgotten, grudges left by the wayside. I think we knew instinctively that the world has just changed. Our sense of safety and security was shattered. I remember the first time I saw a plane go overhead after that day, I watched in fear, sure it was going to turn and dive for a building. The terrorists had done their job. Beyond killing people, they had shattered a nation's sense of security. They had struck more than a blow at our economic infrastructure or the hub of our military, they had brought fear to our hearts. Nothing would ever be the same.

And yet... did they? Even as the masterminds responsible must have surely sat there congratulating themselves and celebrating, telling themselves that they had struck a mighty blow at the Great Satan, the infidels in the west, my countrymen and I were banding together in prayer, in good thoughts, coordinating blood drives, heading to New York City to help with the relief efforts as crews rushed to try to find survivors while the world looked on holding it's breath, hoping against hope that by some miraculous intervention there would still be people alive in the rubble. We drew together, united by our love for one another, standing hand in hand to say to those who had lost family and friends, or who still didn't know where their loved ones were, that we were here, that we would stand vigil with them. Over the next days, we celebrated with the few lucky who had gotten the most wonderful news that their loved ones were still alive, and we mourned with the many who had no such consolation. We went from paralyzed with fear to burning with anger at such a cowardly act in the name of Allah, and started looking for the culprits and determined to bring them to justice, to serve vengeance. We went to war even as we went to funerals and we said that we would never rest until those responsible paid the price for all that they had stolen. We were united in sadness, anger, fear, love, friendship, and perhaps a ray of hope.

As the days went by, stories of bravery and courage emerged. It was brought to light that the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania crashed because the passengers found out about the other three planes and determined not to let their flight be used in another attack. They made the choice to die fighting, to sacrifice themselves so that others could live. Firemen, police, EMT's responded to the disasters and ran in to save lives, knowing there was a good chance they wouldn't make it out alive but determined to give their all to try to save others. They all died heroes and even today, their bravery is remembered and recognized, memorialized in the eyes of the world as shining examples of heroism and selflessness, as reminders that good does exist in the face of evil.

10 years have passed and I remember it like it was yesterday. I can still hear the gasps and sobs in the bandroom as a bunch of scared kids watched the news in horror wondering how this could be happening. I can hear Nina crying, I can feel the fabric of Austin's uniform pants as I leaned against his leg. A decade later, I wonder what the world would be like, what I would be like, if 9/11 hadn't happened. I reflect on all that I've done and the person I've become, and I am grateful that my name isn't inscribed on the newly unveiled memorial in New York City. I am reminded that life is fleeting, that there is no guarantee of tomorrow. Only a few of the people who got on those four planes knew that the would never see tomorrow. All but those responsible thought that they had time. It serves as a reminder that life is fragile, and that the actions of a few can change the course of history for the world.

10 years later, thousands of people have died, but I am not one of them and by the grace of God, neither are my husband, my cousins, my brothers. 10 years later, I reflect on who I have become and I thank God in Heaven for His mercy towards me and mine. Today, I do more than just remember 9/11. I pay tribute to the memory of those who died in the attacks on our country, to the responders who rushed in looking for lives to save and gave their own in the process, to those who survived and live with the scars of that awful day, to those who lost a loved one, to the thousands of troops from our military and the militaries of our allies who have gone to war on the orders of their superiors since that day, to all those who have died in a decade of aftermath. I am a better person because of every single one of them.

I challenge everyone reading this to join me in honoring their memories by choosing to live your life to the fullest, to make the most of every second you have been given, to never take even a moment for granted. Let us stand united against intolerance, let us spread truth to fight ignorance, let us use love and forgiveness to combat the anger that fuels the fires of hatred that burns within any who would seek to destroy the world through acts of terror. My we never forget all those who died, and may we live in such a way as to eternally honor their memories.


10 September 2011

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Some people say that suicide is a cowardly and selfish act. For some, that may be so. But I don't think it's that black and white. I don't think there's anything about suicide or mental/emotional health that is black and white other than that there is nothing black and white about it. And unless you've been there, been on the brink, you can't really understand, not 100%. Heck, even if you have been there, struggling with the decision of whether or not life is worth living, with whether or not to take your own life, you don't always understand. I don't. And that's okay. Contrary to what society seems to believe about everything, it's okay to not understand and to admit that you don't understand.

I don't really have any deeply profound thoughts or anything, but I want to take this day to remember all those who have committed suicide, pray for their loved ones, hope that the ones who are contemplating suicide reach out for help and find a reason to go on living, and honor those who have gone on living even when they didn't want to. If you are one of those people who has chosen to go on with life, the world is a better place with you in it. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for wrestling with your own feelings. There is NOTHING wrong with struggling with your emotions, with feeling overwhelmed. Heck, even if you attempted suicide, don't let anyone judge you. If you know someone who has attempted or committed suicide, don't judge. Judgement is for God and God alone. And if you don't believe in God, it is still not your place to judge the emotions, feelings, and choices of another.

To all those who feel alone, you are not. To any who feel hopeless, there is always hope.

09 September 2011

Crashing Waves

I started to blog this from the beach but it was getting dark and I got chilly so I chickened out and went home. :) The pictures speak pretty metaphorically to how I've felt recently with all the stress going on. Interestingly enough, staring out at the ocean, while the tide came in, the waves crashing and spraying, actually made me feel a little calmer. Almost like I let the waves take some of my frustration maybe? Definitely something to keep in mind for the future.


06 September 2011

I don't know how to be just me

I am coming to the realization that I don't remember how to be just me. How to be pregnant? Definitely.How to be a mom? Check. Well, as much as anyone can know how to be a mom. I still don't think it's something you can master. Anyways, moving on. Out of the last 36 months, I've spent 18 months pregnant, almost 8 months nursing, 8 months fighting PPD without knowing the culprit was my thyroid, about 13 months on antidepressants, and the entirety of it I've been a wife, 2 of the years I've been a mom. I don't really remember how to be just me, how to be an individual outside of my role as wife/mom.

I think it's time to rediscover myself. Take up a hobby again (other than selling Scentsy, haha). Get back into scrapbooking, take a Yoga class, get into Nursing School, find a volunteer position to involve myself with. I know there have to be other moms who have struggled with losing sight of themselves as individuals, I want to hear from you. What do you do to keep that from happening?

05 September 2011

Suicide Prevention Week

It has been brought to my attention that September 2 - 8 is Suicide Prevention Week. In all the craziness of moving, I totally missed that. *slaps own wrist* I don't really have any great inspiration for deeply profound things to write on the topic so I"ll just kind of ramble and post links to some resources.

Several thoughts come to mind.
1. There but for the grace of God go I. I am SO thankful that I was able to get help and get past the crisis point. I'm sad for all the people who didn't. I'm thankful for my life and for the people who reached out to me when I was in a very dark place.
2. Why is suicide such a taboo subject in our society? Awareness and openness to talk about it has come a long way but just as with other mental/emotional health topics, there's still a stigma attached. How many people might be more willing to reach out for help if they didn't feel like they'd be labeled or something?

The bottom line for me is this: if someone you know says they are thinking of hurting or killing themselves, do something about it. I had a situation where a friend of mine and my husband's said she was having suicidal ideations. My husband took her to the hospital. She told the docs he misunderstood. I went and told the docs otherwise and a lot of backstory that had to do with it. She was mad at us, and we ended up with some trouble she caused for us over it, but I wouldn't change either of our actions. We did the right thing. Do the right thing, even if you know you'll catch backlash over it. It's called integrity.

If you are the person who is thinking of hurting or killing yourself, please don't. Know that you are not alone, that there is help, that there is hope. Go to the emergency room, call 911, call a helpline. I'll post some links to some resources.

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Something else to be aware of before I sign off: suicidal ideations can be caused by underlying medical issues, such as thyroid deficiencies or a pulmonary embolism. It's not always the result of "only" a mental/emotional health issue.

This week, make an effort to reach out to someone who is hurting. You could be the hand that saves them. If you're the one who is hurting, please don't be afraid to reach out to ask for help. The world is a better place with you in it. I mean that.

02 September 2011

It's just a game, a joke, right?

If you're on Facebook, I feel pretty safe in saying it's a sure thing that you've seen the various FB status games where there's a circumstance and you tag people from your friends list as certain characters in the situation. I didn't paticipate in most of tem, although I did do the Zombie Apocalypse one b/c, well, it's Zombies. Most of them I just ignored, unless I was tagged in one and then I laughed at being the sniper or whatever. However, there is one that I've seen that bothers me a little

You're in a mental hospital use the first six people on your list on your profile.
1. Person who drove you crazy:
2. Person who signed you in:
3. Your doctor:
4. Person in the corner drooling on themselves:
5. Your roommate:
6. Person who helps you break out:

I think my first problem with this is that there's still such a big stigma associated with mental health problems and being admitted to a psychiatric facility that I don't think it's something that should be made light of and used as a joke. And I think it was Number 4 that bothered me the most: "Person in the corner drooling on themselves". In both my stays at Laurel Ridge, there wasn't anyone drooling on themselves. And if there were, it wouldn't be something to laugh at and make fun of.

I'm sure I'm taking this one personally because I've BTDT. I've been admitted to a hospital twice. I've struggled with the shame, guilt, and fear of telling anyone that I had PosPartum Depression. I've struggled with the shame, guilt, and fear of even asking for help. When I did ask for help, I was terrified that they were going to take my daughter away or get CPS involved and say that until I was "over" the PPD I had to move out of the house and not be around her. I dealt with being upset that I had to stop breastfeeding my daughter at 3 months old because the meds they put me on weren't something I could take and safely nurse her. I've dealt with the people who say "Just make up your mind to get over it". With this last pregnancy, I struggled with deciding whether or not to take Zoloft at 38 weeks as a preventative measure. I'm sure that most people who are posting this aren't trying to mock those who have dealt with mental health problems, but the fact is that things like this do make light of it, and they can be very hurtful to those who have struggled with PPD, BiPolar, PTSD, MPD, etc. I doubt that people even realize that this type of thing can help perpetuate the stereotypes that need to be dealt a death blow: It's something to be laughed at, it's not serious, it's a joke.

Please know that I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad, I just want to try to shed some light on it from another perspective.