Thursday, December 31, 2015

Latest Kveller

http://www.kveller.com/this-is-what-a-6-year-old-and-18-year-old-have-in-common/

Monday, November 2, 2015

I'm a Bitch

I'm a bitch...at least, for now. My depression has made me very irritable and I snap quickly at the two people who mean the most to me, my husband and daughter. I hate it. I watch it as it happens and I simply can't stand myself. This week is a slow week as I only have one ECT on Friday. That is good, but we are still trying to figure out the meds. I am feeling slight improvement, but I mean slight. I continue to feel tired, sad and lonely. When someone describes depression and mentions feeling lonely, it is a loneliness that is unimaginable. It is a feeling you would not wish on your worse enemy. It is just horrific.

The similarities to last year's depression include feeling guilty, for putting my family through this again, emotionally and financially. It is such a horrible feeling and is not helped by my irritability. I have said this many times, but I will repeat myself...depression is a terrible illness. I'm full of many feelings right now: mostly negative but I hold a small piece of hope that the positive will outnumber those negative thoughts soon.  They have to.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Week Two

Week two has begun. I will have ECT three times again this week. My blood pressure was quite high this morning and the nurse repeatedly told me to take deep breaths. It doesn't seem to matter that I have done this many times before, I still feel very anxious right before each treatment. I am lucky. I have a whole team of family and friends on my side. My dear friend who drove me down to New Haven today is like a gift. She made me laugh and she ensured that I felt supported. I feel so lucky and yet at the same time I feel sad, irritable and angry. So many emotions felt all at the same time. I wish I felt better than I do at this time.  I pray there is a dramatic difference by Friday's treatment. I pray my daughter will feel my presence more than she has in the past weeks.

Depression is truly a horrifying disease. This course is quite different than what I suffered last year. I have been tired, more tired than I have ever felt which I did not feel last summer. I feel more sad, if that is even possible. It's hard to look to others for reassurance and support when feeling this low. My therapist told me she would "hold the hope until I am able." This came after I told her "this is a terrible existence." Just as I am lucky to have my family and friends, I am blessed to have an amazing therapist. I count on her just as I count on my family and friends for support. While it is a different relationship, in a sense, one that I pay for, she is my doctor, and she takes care of me.

I pray I get through week two with the integrity I held on to during week one.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Blessing of a Sister (-in-law)

When they began dating, I was 16 years old, an obnoxious adolescent who could simply not fathom why she was at all interested in my brother. But as time went on, she cast a spell on him and made him into a real mensch (still in progress!).

The truth is, she is the real mensch. We've always hated the term "in-law" as sister felt more appropriate. Between last summer and the past week I would much rather say "sister," for only a true sister would drive 8 hours to help out when I am ill; to be there to entertain little girl and hold me up when I do not have the strength to do so on my own. This decision to come came after little thought. Certainly having teenagers makes it easier to leave for a few days, but it's a long drive.

I wish upon everyone a sister like Jenn. I only hope I am half the sister to her that she is to me. I feel blessed and extremely lucky to call her family, a true sister, the one I have always wanted.

Now, she is a real blessing.

And So It Goes

This has been an incredibly difficult week. I have one more ECT to get through this week on Friday and I can't wait until it is done. Today, just like on Monday, I got on the gurney and the tears took over. And again, the nurses were so warm and caring, providing words of encouragement. When asked what was wrong I simply said, "I do not want to be here." I cannot say enough about these nurses and doctors at Yale. They are caring and I actually feel that they are on my side. One nurse, who knows me from last year, just said that this will help me feel better and it will be over before I know it. She was correct about the latter. I woke up and had to question in my head whether they had already performed the treatment. Today's appointment was scheduled for 11:30am but they were running an hour behind. This only added to my anxiety. I was lucky to schedule Friday's appointment for 9:45am. I could not endure another late appointment.

Everything is hard right now. I feel exhausted from the treatments and the medications. I miss my baby girl as Ken has to pick her up today as I cannot drive on treatment days. I'm holding on and praying I will begin to feel the benefits of the treatments soon. Right now I am simply thankful for my family and friends, those who check in on me. It makes all the difference.

And so it goes...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Major Depressive Episode

I have severe depression...again. It crept back in slowly and then it struck me down so fiercely and so abruptly, I can barely catch my breath. More medication trials that do not seem to be working and now I am scheduled for ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) this Monday morning. I tried to get better without it, but nothing is working and my therapist told me "this is no way to live." I have to believe her as I trust her implicitly. You see, my thought process is not very clear so I am stuck in my own misery and believe I deserve this. There is a very small piece of me that wonders if this is true and this is what I have to hold on to.

Depression is something I find difficult to define for myself. It is a pain I can't thoroughly describe as it feels as if my internal self is being stabbed and maimed over and over again. It is a sadness that overtakes me at any moment. It is a pain that brings endless tears. It's a feeling of utter loneliness even when I am sitting next to my husband, my love. This loneliness is carried throughout every waking moment. It's a feeling that no one cares and no one should and at the same time all I want is to be with those I love: my family, my friends. I want my therapist to continue to offer reality testing even when I am having trouble believing her when she tells me that I do not deserve to suffer and she does care about me.

This is a pain I was hoping never to experience again after last year. This hurt and throbbing actually feels worse than last year, if that is even possible.

So, please do not retreat, even when I do. Check in. And please, send your prayers for healing. Even though I have done ECT before, I am truthfully terrified for Monday and would appreciate your support. Please, just be there for me and my family. Thank you and love to you all.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Here Comes the Rain Again

Here comes the rain again
Raining in my head like a tragedy
Tearing me apart like a new emotion

Annie Lennox is narrating my life right now. Indeed it is raining again and it is a tragedy. It’s back and it’s taking me prisoner. It came on slowly and calmly in the late spring but the past few weeks have solidified it and named it for what it is: severe major depressive episode.

Biology is an interesting thing and I am learning much about my own. Each hour I can feel the anxiety, fear, sadness, guilt and solitude and these feelings are strong and they are real. I am sick…again. Different from last summer, but just as incapacitating. Let’s try this med and decrease the other, oh wait, now you are having akathisia (restlessness and agitation) so we need to stop the other new med. I feel like I have danced this dance many times and it feels just as frustrating and scary as it always has.

I am lucky to have invested treatment providers and, of course, my family and friends. I kept quiet for a while because I did not want to make it real and I did not want to disappoint anyone that I could not maintain myself.

My mind is full of negatives and fatigue. How to help someone like me in this situation? Please do not ignore it. You can ask how I am feeling. You can ask if you can do anything to help. You can simply be with me, offer a hug (I may or may not accept, so please do not take it personally!). I need that cheering section to offer its voice, yet again. I need prayers for health and I need your positive wishes.

I hope to have a better plan tomorrow. Weekends are difficult especially during this transition in terms of changing my meds. I can make it through today with the promise of tomorrow. Good thing there is  no rain in the forecast for tomorrow.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Atonement, Regret and Hope

Who doesn’t have regrets? We wouldn’t be human without them. Rosh Hashanah has already passed and Yom Kippur is on the horizon and I have been thinking of some of my regrets. I made a decision in college that was certainly appropriate at the time, but now, I regret that decision and wish there could have been an alternative. I attended the joint program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Once completed, you earn two bachelor’s degrees, one from each institution. This program was rigorous and required taking more classes than if you were only attending one school. I worked hard, pushed myself through difficult times, emotionally, and realized in my senior year that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had enough credits to graduate Columbia but would still need another year at JTS to obtain that degree.

I took responsibility for myself and met with my dean at JTS. She was aware of my struggles and appreciated my situation. She respected my decision to leave JTS and move forward to obtain my Master’s in social work. I was thankful to her.

I was aware of what I would be missing as a result of not completing JTS: a philosophy class with Rabbi Neil Gillman (truthfully, I was terrified of taking a class with him, but knew I would be missing out), another Talmud class with Professor Kalmin who treated me exactly the same as other students who attended Jewish day school and therefore had more knowledge of Talmud than me. I would lose out on more history classes and more importantly, the community of friends that was so special and so familial.

At that time, I was proud to move on and ready to further my education in a different area. My regret now is that I lost that sense of completion when working toward a goal. I am not sure I would do it differently, if I had the choice, but there’s a part of me that wishes I stuck it out for that last year as I worked so hard and struggled with so much.

I was young and naïve during my college and post-college life. I thought I had all of the answers. When one of my closest friends asked me to be in her wedding, I said no. Because I thought I knew it all, I did not think she and her then fiancé should get married. We were all young but I ended up sacrificing an amazing friend and I ask myself, for what? I am not even sure I can answer that almost 20 years later. I regret this decision and have regretted this choice for all of this time. This was a friend who visited me in the psych unit during my junior year in college and who made me laugh constantly. It was my loss and the tears I have shed as a result of this have still not brought me peace. I openly apologize to her for making a mistake.

Regret is a funny thing. We do not have the power to turn back time and start again, however, we do have the power to move forward by using the energy that regret gives us where we can move on in our own way. How can I do this at this point? I hope to take some classes in the future where I can study more Talmud and philosophy. I also hold my memories of an amazing friendship and only wish her happiness and health.

Have I completely forgiven myself as a result of these regrets? I wish I could say I have, but I am still not there yet. I am very hard on myself but I pray with time I can give myself a break.

Life is not easy and we constantly travel on a narrow bridge (Kol ha’olam kulo Gesher tzar me’od - The whole world is a very narrow bridge) where we may veer off course and fall. The important thing is to travel with hope, strength and confidence (Vehayikar lo lifached klal - And the essential thing is not to fear at all). Then we are doing the best we can. These are the things I can do to cope with my regrets: active, meaningful and respectful acts, not only toward others, but toward me.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Message for My Niece Before She Goes to College

Dear T,

I have been privileged to watch you for the past 17 ½ years, learn, grow, laugh and love. I am excited to watch you move on to this next chapter of life where all of your amazing qualities will continue to shine.

You have much ahead of you. Don’t let this senior year pass you by without actually experiencing it. Know that the stress you feel right now with college applications and the daily work required by your classes will pass.  Also know this, you are a young woman who is smart, strong and who is destined for greatness. Your choices will not define you but how you manage yourself as a result of those choices, will. Know you are a leader and that others look up to you and use that knowledge to make change, not just any change, but meaningful and momentous. Make choices that feel right in your gut. Be kind to yourself in every possible way. Don’t forget who you are or where you come from.

Be strong, keep your sense of humor, always ask questions and be open to others. 

I love you,
Auntie Risa

Sunday, August 30, 2015

First Day of Kindergarten

It's been building for weeks and yet I did not completely recognize it. I was so incredibly focused on my daughter's anxiety about beginning kindergarten that I was not fully aware of my own. Change is hard, no matter your age. She is excited and nervous, curious and tentative. For the past two days, I have required my trusty prn of Ativan which I have (gladly) not needed in a while. The anxiety would come over me and I was not always aware that that's what the feelings were. I waited, thinking that I couldn't be that anxious about her starting kindergarten in a new school. That seems silly! But, alas, I gave myself permission to feel whatever comes to me, to welcome it and manage it the best way I can. I needed those prns but I do not feel guilty about it. I will not waste my time punishing myself for having feelings. That was my modus operandi before, I certainly cannot go back to that.

So, I am nervous for her to walk into her new classroom, nervous for whatever tomorrow may bring. I am also sharply aware of how lucky I am to be here for this moment; to be here with her; to share it and be a part of it. Depression may have taken me down, but it did not take me out. I am so glad to be here, to be alive and present for this moment and all of life's moments that are part of everyday's existence.

Just as I sat sobbing during her end of preschool celebration, so thankful to witness such a milestone in my girl's life, to simply be alive to witness it, I am equally as thankful to God to be here today; to accept my anxiety and excitement and to support my girl on this evening before beginning her new chapter in life.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Judgments and Yoga Clothes

http://www.kveller.com/i-stopped-judging-other-moms-when-i-started-wearing-yoga-clothes/

Monday, August 10, 2015

Aging, Starbucks and Semantics

When did I become a “ma’am?” According to some of the employees at the Starbucks near me, I am one. In all due respect, I know that cultural norms advise people to respect their elders but I don’t consider myself a “ma’am,” not yet. I have recently begun my 41st year on this earth and have never felt so healthy, but am I now old since I have become a "ma'am?"

I have had the genetic gift of going gray very early (age 19) and while highlights covered it for several years, I was still in my 20s when I had to move on to single process coloring. When my roots show, or as my friend calls it, “the landing strip,” it is quite noticeable due to my dark hair. Maybe I would understand the title of “ma’am” if I was greeted in this manner only when my roots are apparent, but it has occurred at times immediately after my hair has been colored.

What I do not understand is that I actually do not look my age. I have been told time and time again that I look much younger. I would be lying if I said these comments do not affect me. I hold on to them with all of my might. It’s not that I mind being 41 years old, I am obviously very open about it. I simply do not want to be seen as “aging.” Who does?

I celebrate each birthday with excitement and never shy away from an excuse to celebrate. It could just be semantics but I do not mind aging; what I do mind is being seen as aging. That feels more sad and finite.

I spend my time trying to keep up with my 5 year old daughter and that certainly helps to keep me “young.” I wish that those Starbucks baristas who see me could do so with the same pair of eyes that I use to see myself. They may see a woman who only drinks decaf coffee and is always friendly. I see a woman who is working hard to maintain her health, both physical and mental; and I also see a woman who feels she has so much more to accomplish in life.

Do not call me “ma’am.” Not yet. I am not mentally there and I am not sure when or if I ever will be. And really, it’s just Starbucks and you’re going to ask for my name for my cup anyway, so use it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

One Year

One year. 365 days. It was one year ago today when I voluntarily checked in to a psychiatric hospital. I ended up being admitted again and for 12 days last July, I lived in the hospital. I slept, ate, walked, received treatment and cried too many tears to count. It was terrifying and at the same time, I felt a safety I hadn’t felt during my illness. When you hit bottom, there really is no way but up. It was not possible for me to bury myself any deeper than I already was and with that, there was that small glimmer of hope.

It has been a difficult year (understatement). Even as I started to feel better over the fall, there was still so much work in my treatment. There was still ECT and there was still the hours in therapy to help me piece myself not just back together, but into a better version of myself. There have been ups and downs and my journey continues. I have been lucky to be on this journey with my loves (husband and daughter) and the rest of my family, my treatment providers, as well as amazing friends, who have become my best cheerleaders.

So, I am happy to mark this day and check it off. I am ready to continue moving forward with life, including the early wake up by a sneaky 5 year old, spilled milk, too much laundry, dirty dishes, play dates, spontaneous dance parties, date nights, GNO (girls night out) and the countless everyday happenings. What blessings. I am grateful and thankful for my incredibly precious life. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Enjoying the Pieces

It’s a toll house cookie kind of day.

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions for me. The anxiety has, at times, felt unbearable. My mindfulness practice has been no match for it and I go for the anti-anxiety med rather quickly. The side effects from the med adjustments have been horrible and I have had nightmares that would terrify even the strongest person. I am tired, nauseous at times and have felt a bit disconnected.

My therapist told me I will get back to how I felt a few weeks ago and she has assured me of this. It is this that I hold on to. I must feel that again. I worked too damn hard.

So far today, I feel pretty good. After seeing my med guy yesterday and forming a plan, I felt relief. After sobbing on the ride home (crying and driving is akin to driving and texting and I should not have done this!) for reasons still unknown to me, the anxiety built in the evening but today, I am okay. I am happy to have a plan to follow for my meds and I am more focused on feeling well again.

I am well aware that the date is approaching of the year anniversary of my hospitalization and this may be a piece of what is going on with me currently. It’s a big trigger and the memories have been flooding me at times. Again, it’s the trauma of being so severely ill that can be haunting. I think I need to get through these next weeks using mindfulness, when I am able, and using my voice in order to garner support. For now, it’s just one day at a time and I am going to enjoy the pieces I can. 

The treat I will look forward to for later today will be those toll house cookies.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Asking for Help

Here I am, closer to the end of my recovery from severe depression than I have been before and I feel horrible. It started over a week ago when I experienced more irritability than I do normally. I didn’t think about it much but it continued and has now grown to random bouts of severe anxiety, trembling and terrible fatigue. Working with my doctor, she believes I may be toxic on my meds. Since I am doing so much better, the dose of my meds may need to be adjusted as a result. I went for a blood test to see what the levels of my meds are but need to wait at least another week for the results. For now, it’s a guessing game. We are decreasing one of the meds slowly and then will look at the others. 

While I know this is actually a very positive thing, I am stuck in the rut of not feeling well, physically and now suffering the emotional piece. I feel sad, not terribly sad, but enough to worry me. I have to exert all of my energy on convincing myself that this will pass and that this is not a recurrence of the depression. It is difficult to do this though when the feelings are so similar. The bonus is that I am now wired differently and can grab onto my strengths, even if it feels as if I am holding on for dear life.

The trauma of my illness haunts me and I spend my waking moments fighting this and doing everything possible to keep busy. Luckily I have a lot of work to finish up by the end of the month, so that is helpful. I have trouble being still (this is called akathisia: from the meds), so in a way, it is good for me to walk more than I usually do. I hold on to my loves and this helps me tremendously.

Sometimes I have a hard time asking for help but this is definitely a time when I need some help, more support than anything else. I just need to know that people are on my side and cheering for me. When I used to hear the Rachel Platten song, Fight Song, it would empower me in a meaningful way as I would belt out the lyrics while driving. Now, I feel heavy and burdened and I am left wanting to feel that strength again. That strength felt so good.


I know I will. I have to be patient. I have to keep fighting.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

So, This is 41

So, this is 41.

A year ago I was quite eager to turn 40. I know, that seems strange. I thought, though, that turning 40 would help me feel better and alleviate my symptoms. I was grasping for anything positive at that time.

I will be honest. The past year sucked. 40 was awful. 40 was horrible. 40 was painful. 40 was sad. I would be lying if I said the entire year was a nightmare, for the past few months have been filled with those silver linings, they just happened to occur at the same time as my pain.

A year ago, I honestly did not know I would make it to 41. There was no light at the end of the tunnel of hell I was trudging through. I couldn't even fathom a future over 40 as it was so painful and difficult.

I am forever thankful to my family and friends who stood by me, helped me, chauffeured me to appointments and did so with no judgment and with humor. There's nothing like a girls road trip to go to ECT! I am thankful for the care I received, in every possible way, at Yale. I believe I was meant to be treated there. The pieces fit together so nicely, from the hospitalizations to ECT, to the MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) group. I am proud that the medical director (who was my doc while in the hospital and through ECT) has all of his medical residents read my article about ECT. And yes, I'd like to be called a Visiting Professor at Yale!!

These days, I am beyond thankful to my therapist. Words cannot do justice to my feelings about my work with her but I will say that I would not be who I am today, this person who I am just learning about, without her hard work with me. I simply feel lucky.

So, this is 41. I am 41 years old today and I can move on in my life in a healthy, healing and peaceful way. I think I'm going to like 41.

May God heal me, body and soul.
May my pain cease,
May my strength increase,
May my fears be released,
May blessings, love and joy surround me. Amen.
-R. Naomi Levy

Thursday, May 28, 2015

#SILVERLININGS

I was just inspired to write about something that may seem counterintuitive. I am sure we have all heard the phrase, silver linings, at one time or another from someone possibly wiser than us in order to pull out a positive from a negative.

When I first heard about silver linings from my therapist when I was still quite sick, I thought she was completely off the mark. I could not understand how anything good could come from my illness. The truth is, there are so many silver linings for me, I am not sure I could list them all on one page. I was severely depressed, (which astounds me each and every day as I continue to fully realize just how ill I was) had several medication trials with unpleasant side effects or no effect, was hospitalized twice within one month, began electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and was involved in therapy where I was peeled and sliced open in order to work through the depression and all that came with it.

As an outsider reading this, I am sure it sounds daunting and terrifying. Trust me...it certainly was and sometimes still is.

The funny thing is, since July, every now and then, there are realizations, epiphanies that I have that sometimes make my heart race, my eyes tear and the excitement I feel is indescribable. These are the silver linings. I began to notice and understand them shortly after I began ECT as I "woke up" from my illness. They are now constant and it is sometimes difficult to keep up.

I now have the ability to feel love in an intimate and deep way unlike I have ever felt it before. I am able to practice mindfulness where I can focus on the present moment and not focus on other worries or life events. Now, my relationship with my husband and daughter runs deeper than I ever knew was possible. I learn of silver linings every single day right now and I feel like the luckiest person in the world.

If someone had the ability to take away the past year and a half, my depression, the medications, hospital, ECT, all of the difficult and painful work in therapy and I could simply go on as I was before this nightmare, I would say, "absolutely not." I would beg that person to leave it as it actually happened. If I had the choice, I would do it all over again, the same exact way. I would do anything, endure anything in order to live in these amazing silver linings. Not only did I gain my health, I gained myself in the process.

For anyone suffering, enduring illness, await the silver linings for they will make themselves known. It is worth it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

I am Present

I hear the birds. I smell spring. I see flowers growing, blooming. I feel the wind rush through my hair. I am here. I am present. In this moment I am sweating after a long walk. On this walk, I cleared my mind and focused on the music in my ears. When lost in thought, I returned to the moment and focused again on the music.

I think of the day, the week, the past month. Change. Change is good. Change is difficult. Change is scary. I've passed the dividing line and now my life is real. I will hold on and brace myself while also taking deep breaths and feel the calm. The calm is new. The calm is good. The calm is scary.

I will practice this daily. I will focus. I will become acquainted with myself. I will start anew. I will learn...one moment at a time.

I am here. I am present. I am aware. I am in my life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Nine Years

Nine years ago today at 2:00 PM, in a Starbucks in Dedham, MA, I met the love of my life. Three hours later, while still sitting in Starbucks, we planned our next date which was the following day to see the movie, Silent Hill. One thing we discovered during those three hours was a shared love of horror movies. And thus began our love story.

Nine years later and I am so thankful for this love, my best friend, my partner in life. What amazes me still is his strength and support. This past year has been hell for me but it has also been hell for him. His support has been unwavering and yet he witnessed his love and best friend endure a terrible illness. I imagine there were times when he felt helpless and alone. But he was and is always there: through countless medication trials, through hospitalizations, through ECT and when I come home from a tough therapy session and hide deep inside myself. He is there ready to share his strength and love to support me.

When life was going well enough, prior to my illness, I fear we may have taken this love for granted. This past year, however, has taught me what love really is, how it feels, how it tastes, how it sounds. I am able to live life with my love and best friend and this is a blessing that rightly revealed itself as a consequence of my illness. I knew I was blessed with him but experiencing something so horrid and personal created a real understanding of this blessing. I am brimming with love, still in awe of how it is possible but quietly thankful that I am lucky enough to experience it.

I am so happy to celebrate this anniversary. It is another milestone that deserves attention.

Happy 9th anniversary of our first meeting, my love, my best friend and partner in life.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Good Night

It was quiet, with the exception of the white noise and the lullabies in the background. I lay next to her to stroke her back. It had already been ninety minutes of calling, "daddy...mommy." We took turns going up to try to calm her and encourage the sleep that was needed. As I scratched her back, her eyes grew heavy, yet they would not close. I thought to myself what a wonderful moment it was, to be with her in the quiet and calm of the night. There was safety and security with her during those moments, smelling her strawberry shampoo on her still wet head and feeling her soft skin. It was a moment between mother and daughter that was full of meaning while no words were spoken. Her heavy eyes would look at mine and there was a shared communication between us. It was about love and care and we both understood. We both felt it and savored it.

After several minutes of quiet communication, I let go, literally and figuratively. I left her, with her sleepy eyes and strawberry scent. She continued to hold onto my love just as I held on to hers as I left her room.

And then, there was quiet.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How Do You Define Yourself?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/risa-sugarman/do-our-illnesses-define-us_b_6874706.html

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Message to my 5-Year-Old Daughter on Her Birthday

Five. It's been five years since you screamed your way out of the womb. Five years since you cast a magical spell over my very being. Five years since my heart felt connected to another human in a way that is indescribable.

Who you are today simply takes my breath away. You are caring, loving, concerned, nosy, curious, polite, stubborn, excited, snuggly, kissable and just a good human being. I am not sure how you have become who you are today, but it amazes me!

Your face is light and your voice is the sweetest sound.

When I tell someone about my daughter, the pride I feel is so great, it is overwhelming. You are my daughter...this wonderful human being is my daughter, my family, my life. I am so proud of you today, proud of who you are and who you are becoming.

Five. Five incredible years of ups and downs and living life. Five years of pure love.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Relationships: Give and Take

As the words came out of her mouth, I gave her a quizzical look. Did she just say what I think she said? We were talking about my baby turning 5 years old next week and she mentioned that Barbra Streisand sang a song about turning 5.
Um, yeah. I know. I know all about it. You don't need to tell me about Barbra. I know about Barbra.

The more I thought about that exchange, the more I wondered, how much does she really know me? As my therapist, she knows things about me I wouldn't share with anyone else. She has truly seen me at my worst. She knows my character, what can set me off and my work ethic. This made me wonder, how much can we really know someone else?

I have many likes and dislikes in relation to many things. How can an other know all of the intricate details of these likes and dislikes? This may be silly and trite but is it really necessary for her to know about my love of Barbra, her music, movies, etc.? Maybe not, but at the same time, it is a piece of who I am. When I drive across state lines on my way to see her, I am belting out a tune by Barbra and am in my favorite place in my head. Is this important information to convey? I think it is.

We cannot fully know someone, can't walk in her shoes, feel what she feels. What we can do is inform. Provide insights to others in your life and describe your experiences. This is giving a gift to that person in your life. You are trusting that person to hear what you have to share and hopefully reflect back some interest and curiosity.

I think we should remind ourselves that we have these pieces that may not be open to others, even when we assume they are. I made an assumption that after a 20-year relationship that this piece of me was already known, but I was wrong. I don't view this as a negative thing or a break in our relationship. On the contrary, here is a piece of me that is fun, interesting and entertaining. What a great thing to share with someone years into a relationship, especially when the focus has been on a horrible illness.


Friday, February 13, 2015

And Just Like that, It was Over

And just like that, it was over. Today I had my last ECT treatment. Originally planned for next month, we discussed my progress and my current state and decided today was graduation day. I had 23 ECT treatments in all which began in July. It seems surreal to me.

What did I feel when this decision was made? Pride, relief, satisfaction and loved. I am so proud of myself for enduring these 23 treatments as they served a large part in my recovery. I am relieved that I can move on from my trips to New Haven. I am satisfied with the stellar care I received at Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and felt so thankful as the nurses hugged me goodbye and we wished each other well. Mostly, I feel loved. I feel loved and cared for by my family and friends and the support I have received from my therapist is simply remarkable. My husband and daughter are my anchors and I felt a calmness this morning as I pictured them in my head as I was given the anesthesia.

I am happy to continue my therapy, and grateful that the ECT brought me to a place where I can accomplish the necessary work in therapy. I will continue my medication regimen and continue to stay on top of my feelings. I am well aware that if I start to feel depressed, I need to reach out to the appropriate people to take care of myself.

Just as I said in my recent blog post, I am focused on moving on. Part of this involves some celebrating. I want to celebrate myself. Having ECT became routine for me but was still a source of anxiety. I am happy to celebrate moving on from this. My focus this weekend will be on my daughter, husband and me. It's time to take a deep, cleansing breath and reflect on all that I have accomplished in the past year, specifically in the past 7 months.

Moving on.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Moving On



In another month I will complete my ECT treatments. I honestly cannot wait. While it has certainly been a huge factor, in terms of saving my life, I am ready to move on. That is my current focus: moving on.
I've been thinking back to where I was a year ago and it broke my heart when I read what I blogged a year ago in February. Here it is:

If I don't smile for an extended period of time, don't take it personally.
If I seem "off" in some way, don't take it personally.
If I don't appear to be listening to you, don't take it personally.
If I don't laugh at your joke, don't take it personally.
If my hand is unsteady, don't take it personally.
If I appear tearful, don't take it personally.
If I yawn, don't take it personally.
If I don't want to be around people, don't take it personally.
If my leg shakes when I sit next to you, don't take it personally.
If I forget something, don't take it personally.
If I need to leave work a few minutes early to pick up my daughter as I ache to hug her, don't take it personally.
If I don't go to your house to hang out because I cannot imagine being extroverted, don't take it personally.
This is Depression. This is my Depression. This is me right now. Don't be put off and don't run away. Give me time and just be there. And please, don't take it personally. 

Wow.
I was really sick. While I remember feeling this way, it is a different experience to read this now when I am healthy and thinking clearly. I remember those raw feelings. I felt an emptiness that could not be filled.  
I am trying to focus on the present now, the positive results of all of my treatment and all of my work. I am finally at a point of self-recognition. I have done a great job of thanking my therapist, ECT nurses, other hospital staff, family and friends for helping to rescue me from my depression, but I am finally at a point of praising myself. No one else could go to therapy for me or have ECT on my behalf; it was me. It was my choice to see my therapist, I agreed to go to the hospital, both times, I agreed to all of the medication trials. I did the work, whether it was using my head, my heart or the rest of my body. It was in my control. I am finally proud of myself. I accomplished so much this past year and I am grateful for my inner strength. I am at a better place, emotionally, and I can't imagine going back. 

I have a bracelet that says: She believed she could, so she did.

I believed I could, so I did.