When Depression Returns

For quite some time, I did really well.  I took my Cymbalta regularly and lost weight, I didn’t need the anxiety medications, and things were going great.  Then for some reason, I forgot the Cymbalta.  I felt awful, dizzy, foggy-headed.  I couldn’t figure out why.  I kept forgetting to take the medicine.  I suffered terrible withdrawal symptoms before I finally figured out what was going on.  It really didn’t take that long… maybe a week or two, but it felt like a lifetime.  

I started the Cymbalta again, at the dose I was taking a couple of weeks prior.  It proved to be too much.  The symptoms were similar to the withdrawal symptoms.   I couldn’t take that high of a dose, so I made an appointment with my doctor.  He was a new doctor for me, not the original prescriber.  When I asked him to re-start my prescription with a gradually increasing dose, he would not do it.  He wanted me to start taking St. John’s Wort, and would not budge on the issue.  

St. John’s Wort… may be a wonderful option for some people, however it never did work for me.  I had tried it in the past, and it didn’t work then.  I was hesitant about trying it again.  But I did after he assured me that there were options available for the St. John’s Wort that would not require me to take a dose multiple times a day.  I have yet to find these options.  Most available OTC forms of this herbal supplement recommend taking the supplement three times a day.  I quickly gave up on this, and decided that I was feeling okay.  I could never remember to take capsules three times daily.  I was always missing a dose, or two doses.  If I was feeling okay then maybe I didn’t even need it. 

All went well for almost two years. Well, looking back, maybe almost a year, and then the symptoms started creeping back up on me.  Slowly, I was sinking back into the place that I had worked so hard to get out of.  It’s back… full fledged attack on my happiness and my functioning.  Little hope surrounding me, seeing all the negatives and not the good, drained of energy, snapping at my dear little family…. I am, yet again, nearly at the bottom and clawing my way up the sides of this dark pit.  

I am trying different things this time around. Hopefully I can get out of this place without the medications.   I am not opposed to them, but I think there has to be a better way than being dependent on a chemical alter my body’s function.  

The plan?  

  • Exercise – this is probably the hardest one for me, so I will be starting out slowly and working my way up
  • Counseling – I found a wonderful person who I am comfortable with (have never had this in a counselor before)
  • Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, etc.
  • Searching for myself, finding things that make me happy
  • Looking for a positive (at least one, but hopefully many) each day
  • Meditation 
  • Journaling (frequently, but maybe not daily) and Blogging! (When I can, which seems to be less often these days)

Of course, this isn’t set in concrete or even discussed with a professional, but with my bi-weekly counseling I feel safe in this decision.  

Still looking for other things to help me through… but want to find something that can become a good positive habit that will last a lifetime, and that I don’t have to worry about missing a dose, withdrawing from, or paying for every month.  

So far, the meditation is free, the exercise is free, finding positives in my day is free… I will keep going to the counseling sessions as long as I can afford to.  This has been a tremendous help already. I’m not sure how often the alternative therapies will be a viable option for me, but maybe it will even be a treat occasionally.  

What are your experiences with overcoming depression? Have you found any alternatives to prescription medications? Homeopathic remedies, alternative therapies, meditations, etc.?  

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A Letter to Mom

Mom, 

As I spend my days with my children, who you do not know and probably never will, I remember the good days with you.  My girls are so sweet, loving, smart, enthusiastic, full of life.  The are trusting and naive, they are curious and adventurous.  These are things I used to be, before you let me down. 

I remember when I could be care free and trusting in the world.  I also remember that somehow that changed… you changed.  I don’t understand what happened to you. Sometimes I think I might want to ask you, let you explain everything from your point of view. Other times, I know in my heart that you will just be the victim again, see how you were hurt and how you still hurt, but discount the things that I went through. 

I remember when I believed in fairy tales, the way my youngest daughter still does.  I thought that parents stayed together, that love was ever-lasting, and that your family kept you safe.  I wish I could still believe in that, and I am working hard to make sure that my girls never have to experience the way it feels to know that the one person you rely on the most has abandoned you. 

That’s how I felt, mom…abandoned. I was abandoned by you when you quit keeping me safe.  Abandoned when you quit taking care of me. Abandoned when you no longer cared that the man you brought into our home came into my room at night and touched me, mollested me, raped me.  Abandoned when you told me straight out that you didn’t want to hear about it. 

Most girls that I know look up to their mothers, want to learn things from them and be like them.  But, dearest Mom – I want nothing more than to be your opposite.  I want to take care of my children for the rest of my life.  Make sure they are safe, prevent pedophiles from being around them, give them a safe person to talk to when they need it, and let them know that if there is ever a problem, they can count on me to be on their side. 

Not a holiday goes by that doesn’t remind me of you.  The hardest ones are Mother’s Day and Christmas.  I want so badly to be able to say I spent holidays with my mom. But I cannot say that, because I don’t trust myself to be around you.  I would probably say things that would hurt you, or things that would hurt me.  But mostly, I cannot say that because I don’t trust you to be around my family.  You are incapable of making good decisions.  You only care about yourself, and cannot see that the welfare of others is something that you are responsible for when you are caring for children. There were five of us that you let down.

I do love you, I love the memories of you before you changed. I love that you brought me into this world, and now I can make sure that my children are the happiest, healthiest, safest children possible. 

I am still hurt, and I don’t know when I will get past that.  I should have been able to count on you.  I should have been able to tell you the ugliest of truths and know that you would take care of me.  

What I found out is that I have to take care of my self. And that is what I did.  I got past the abuse in many ways.  I graduated high school.  I earned an associates degree.  I had two beautiful children.  I earned a bachelors degree.  I became a leader in the field of nursing.  I earned my Masters Degree.  I have worked very hard to be successful in life and not let my demons hold me back. It was hard. So damn hard.  I almost fell captive to those demons several times, and I am afraid that I am not completely free.   

Do I owe my success to you? NO.  I take most of the credit.  And I give a lot of the credit to my sisters, too.  Without them as role models as people who can overcome abuse, I may not have ever seen the way out.  My life may have been much different. After all, in your care I got to experience not only abuse, but drug use, alcohol use, etc. 

May you find your way out, and maybe find that it is totally worth looking after some one other than yourself.  It is so rewarding to be the one that your children want to be like.  

I hope that in the years that have passed since we last spoke, you have found happiness and peace.  

I hope that one day I can forgive you, and tell you that in person. 

Until then, I hope to be the best person I can be, the best mother I can be, and that you may finally love yourself. 

Sincerely, 

Your daughter. 

Repressed Memories

I have started watching the documentary series The Keepers on Netflix.  This show so far follows a woman, who later in her life, remembers horrible acts she endured as a teen.  The memories disrupt her life, and she tries to do what she believes is the right thing.  She struggles with the knowledge that she didn’t do anything about the abuse at the time, and is trying to rectify her suppression of the abuse.  

I can recall so many things about my own abuse.  But I know that there are so many other things that I do not remember.  I have trouble recalling events in relation to a time line.  The fear of my family being hurt for me saying anything, the fear of the death of family members who I loved very much.  The fear of my own life being taken.  These are all things that I dealt with as a thirteen/fourteen year old girl.  These are things that a typical young teenager does not deal with.  For that matter, these are things that anyone living an abuse-free life, no matter what age, does not have to deal with.  

Threats were made to me in a manner which I believed them, and they scared me into being the submissive young girl that did not fight back.  A girl that laid there in bed at night escaping in my mind to a place where nothing was happening. A girl that didn’t care about herself any more, everything was done now to protect other people from the hurt that would be my fault for speaking up. 

I vaguely recal a bullet, shiny brass with black magic marker writing scrawled on it, being shown to me.  The implication was clear, and not much had to be said by him.  The name written on the bullet was the name of my brother-in-law, who was working for a local sheriff department and in training to be a police officer.  I loved my sister, her husband, their baby.  I loved them very much and it terrified me to think that if I said anything, harm would come to them.   So, I didn’t say anything for a long time.  

I don’t know what it is like to not remember the abuse.  I do remember, and it is painful, but I have been able to work through it. I do know what it is like to not remember details.  I don’t remember… I just don’t remember it all.  There are times when I try to remember and I just find myself more confused.  Do I really want to remember?  Not really.  I want to forget that it ever happened.  But then I would be forgetting a large part of my life that shaped who I have become.  

The ‘Jane Doe” on the Netflix series, who tried so hard to make it right after twenty-something years, had shaped her life by suppressing the abuse. When it did come out so many years later, she lost who she was.  She suffered more after trying to help herself and possibly help others.  This is just not right.  It seems that there is a stigma about people who have memories resurface after so many years pass by.  What do people understand about this who have never suffered anything so traumatic that they at least want to shut it out?  

 So I encourage anyone who feels that they are remembering any kind of traumatic event in their past to find someone to talk to.  Remembering events like this can feel shameful, embarrassing, painful, hurtful.  Remembering such events can bring on emotions that you do not expect.  Remembering is difficult.  
There are always people who want to have faith in everyone they know, who do not want to believe that someone they knew and looked up to could be guilty of such terrible things.  There are those who will just not believe you, who will think that for some reason you must be making it up. 

That doesn’t matter.  For every person who doesn’t believe your story, there are others out there who will.  Others who can give support, lend an ear, point you in the right direction.  There are support groups available. There are legal resources, and safe houses, counseling, and hotlines.  If you are remembering abuse, feel trapped or alone by these memories, find some way to help yourself. 

Creative Therapy for Depression? 

Writing can be a release of pent up emotions.  Writing can free you of thoughts yet to escape your mind.  When there is no one to talk to, there is paper waiting patiently for words to take an inky form on its smooth surface.  

Still, those emotions, thoughts, memories can bubble up and linger in your mind after they have been released.  

Some of these blog entries have been extremely hard to get out into the world.  Some of these memories I have shared with no one until WordPress came along and gave me an outlet.  Liberating as it has been, it has also been one of the most difficult things I have done for myself. 

My last post addressed the time I was so low and hopeless that I contemplated suicide… no one ever knew about that.  My husband still does not know.  I haven’t shared this blog with him, he knows that I have been writing and also knows that I am not quite ready to share my writing with him.  

The last week or so, that last blog post has sat as a draft on my site.  I finally decided it was worth sharing, because it happens to many people.  Many people don’t get interrupted in their attempt, many people do not get the chance to keep going when they feel so hopeless.  I did – and I am forever grateful that my family came home early that day.  

Depression may not ever go away for me.  This has been a lifelong struggle, one I continue to conquor just to have it reach back up from the depths of my soul to drag me back down.  I am currently feeling pretty low, and sometimes I don’t notice it until I have lashed out and hurt my family with my mood swings and crotchety ways.  I hate what I become when depression rears its ugly face.  

Working hard to get back out of it, I am focusing on things that make me happy.  Writing being one of them, and my daughters the main happy-provoking things in my life.  I have began another site, What Wendy Writes, here on WordPress.  This is going to be a place for my creating writing, a place where I can focus on the happy writing- not the therapeutic delve into my past.  

I hope you can check it out, and I look forward to sharing many things with you 😉

One pill, two pills, three pills,…More

I was supposed to be cleaning.  The dishes hadn’t been washed in days.  They lined the counter, piled layers high.  The food stuck on and dried. The sink was full of hot, soapy water, some dishes soaking to loosen the bits stuck on them. 

Everyone else had gone into town.  I was left home to clean as a punishment, “grounded” for trying to stop him from making me have sex.  Except that wasn’t the reason verbalized to anyone… it was just something I knew in the deepest part of my heart.  Control.  It wasn’t enough to have alienated me from my sisters, from any family that was willing to talk to me or be a part of our lives.  It wasn’t enough to have stolen my mom away.  It wasn’t enough to take any innocence that I had once had.  Control of everything.  

It had become a nightly occurrence.  If I fought, I got grounded for something.  It didn’t really matter what it was, somehow it was my fault.  A reason to punish me, and then at night, he would sneak back into my room, mutter some bullshit about if I didn’t fight I wouldn’t be in as much trouble, and well… sometimes I had fight in me and sometimes I didn’t.  

This particular day, I felt that there was no steam left in me at all.  I didn’t know how I could keep living.  I was numb, void of emotion, I was in a dark, dark place.  All I wanted was out.  My mom didn’t seem to care what was happening to me, and if my mom didn’t care, then who out there would?  

Sitting at the kitchen table, not feeling anything but hopeless, I emptied the contents of one of my mom’s pill bottles on the table.  I counted them and determined that there were no where near enough to do anything significant.  I put them back in the bottle, emptied the next one on the table.  This one had plenty.  Then I thought, I will just take both bottles.  So I emptied the first one again, out into the pile of pills from the second bottle.  I stood and walked to the sink, numbly filled a large glass of water, and went back to the table.  I sat staring at this pile of colored tablets in front of me for a while, I don’t know how long.  

I was brought out of my thoughtless reverie by the sound of a car outside.  Crap, they were home.  I scrambled to put all the pills back into the correct bottles and act busy.  Why were they home so soon?  I was a bit disappointed, actually a lot disappointed. Another night of hell awaited me. 

That was the closest I ever got to trying to kill myself.  A week or so later, one of my friends in school was absent for the entire week.  Turns out, she had tried to kill herself with an overdose of Tylenol. I had never suspected it to be an issue for her, we rarely talked about anything related to home.  Hearing her story made me rethink what I had contemplated. As hopeless as things seemed, I didn’t want to be gone from everyone.  There had to be another way.   

Suicide should NEVER be the answer to anyone’s problem, there is always hope.  There is always help available out there.  Know the warning signs, it could save a persons life. 


Along for the ride

Riding down the road in the front passenger seat of an old raggedy car, hands folded in my lap and head bent down, I was trying to figure out how to tell my mom that it was happening again.  She let him come home months before after I told her what he had done.  I was unsure of what would happen, but I couldn’t keep going on like this. I had to tell someone.  They say to tell an adult that you trust if someone touches you in a way that you don’t want them to .  Well, my mom was the only adult that I had in my life, so I guess I would try to tell her again. 

Other than the sound of other vehicles racing down the two-lane highway, there was no sound.  No music playing on the radio, no light conversation, nothing.  My hands were shaking. I didn’t know how to say it.  I was embarrassed and ashamed to say the words out loud.  To say that I had let this happen, that I didn’t try harder to stop it.  This time he had taken my virginity.  He raped me.  How do you say that to your mother when it was her boyfriend? 

Just say it.  Blurt it out. That’s what I did.  “Momma, he raped me”…. silence…  I felt the need to say more.  So I started to tell her about what happened, if only to fill the silence when there should have been words.  Before I could say much, she interrupted me

I don’t want to know what goes on in your bedroom!”

Silence…. what could I say to that? The only thought I had was to open the car door and jump out, run away, get as far away as I could from everybody.  As the car rolled to a slow crawl at the intersection, I seriously considered it.  But too quickly, the car sped up and whirred past the stopped cars, turning onto the adjoining road.  I quit thinking.  My body felt heavy, like dead weight. I couldn’t move except to breathe. I couldn’t speak. I was now just a passenger, just along for the ride. 

Sleeping in the Past

I sit up, screaming, panic rising to the top of my throat and threatening to turn into sour bile as my stomach churns.  My heart is pounding in my head, the sound of each beat echoes in my ears.  I want to run, but it is dark and I know he is there.  Where can I run to? My breathing is so fast, my face is tingling.  My legs are instinctually kicking the blankets off of my body and aching to get away. I’m already on the opposite side of the bed…the bed – the bed is different, look around, where am I? 

And then I hear a soft voice “Hey, Honey…It’s me.  It’s okay. Lay back down.”I know this voice, and it brings me back to the present.  I am at my home, in my bed that I share with my husband.  I am safe.  I am safe.

Covered in a fine layer of sweat and heart racing, but no longer thumping against the inside of my skull, I scoot back over to my side of the bed and straiten the blankets.  Trying to make sense of what just happened, I lay there calming my self down.  My husband looks at me unsure if its okay yet to touch me.  I cringe a little as his hand comes towards my face.  I’m not ready yet.  Not yet. I’m at home.  I am safe.  He is not here.  I am safe.  Damn flashbacks. 

I cant seem to make it better for him or myself, time does not heal all wounds.  

Home is where the … Demons live

Some people long to go home, to be in a place where they felt safe and loved, a place where good memories are abundant. The old saying “Home is where the heart is” makes it sound like traveling back to “home” may be one of the sweetest things you could do. There are songs about going home, sung effortlessly by many popular artists (10 Great Songs About Going Home). What a feeling it would be to feel safe at home…

I think many young teens want to escape home. That is a tough time to be living in a world of rules and regulations, oversight and control by others. The teen years are the years when you begin to really develop who you are and shape the path for who you want to become. It’s a crucial time to anyone’s life. Even with all the dreaming of wanting to escape home at such a young age, if you feel safe and secure there, its always a comfort to know that you can go home for love and support.  

I never had that past the age of twelve. To me, home was where the demons lived. Home was the last place I wanted to be and I spent many nights laying in my bed plotting ways to escape. At times I had a knife under my pillow and would pray for the courage to either run away or use the knife. I felt abandoned by my mom, alone in my world, and scared to live. The knife was not for myself, though. It was for him – mom’s boyfriend, the father of my precious baby sister, the man who somehow stole the woman who took care of me and made me feel safe at night away. 

I missed my mom. After my dad was arrested for the sexual abuse of my two older sisters, life was hard. My mom worked hard to bring in money to pay the bills. I don’t think she was as successful as she would have liked to be in keeping it all together, because eventually she sold our house and we moved into a small apartment. But she worked hard for us, and I felt safe. Until she brought him home.  

I remember the first night I met him. He showed up at our little apartment on a Harley Davidson, wearing straight leg blue jeans, a white button up shirt buttoned all the way to the chin, white tennis shoes with curley rainbow shoe laces. His laugh was shrill and crazy. He brought candy to us – milk duds I think. My mom had the googly-eyes of a sixteen year old looking at the hot jock in school. She was so happy, it was hard not to be excited for her. But he was really weird, and the idea of change was scary. 
Things moved really fast with my mom and him. Before long, he was staying overnight and hanging around for multiple days. That summer, I was twelve years old, I found out that my mom was going to have a baby. She was elated. I was excited, too. Until I found out that he would be moving in with us.  

Rapidly, my family fell apart. My oldest sister, who had moved out and had a little family of her own, was disowned by my mom. I never really understood why, and missed her so much. But we weren’t allowed to talk. My next order sister eventually moved out and escaped the drama that came with him. Now, it was just my mom, my little brother, and myself…and him.  
It didn’t start right away. The abuse was something that gradually came about. But, the demons were there. One day, he had misplaced a “small baggie of baby powder” and was freaking out over it. We had to look the house up and down, inside and behind everything. I didn’t know at the time that this was drugs that he and my mom had comissioned my help to find. We never found it.  

One night, after he had lived there for a while and we were good and alienated from all of our family, he came into my room. That was really unusual, and I was scared. I was asleep on the top bunk, the bottom empty because he insisted that it was improper for my brother and I to share a room (a small storage closet was made into a bedroom for the poor boy). I lay there as still as I could, pretending to be asleep. He stood beside the bed, reached under my covers, and touched me. Not just touched me, but put his fingers inside me. I was mortified. I was petrified with fear. I dare not move. I dare not scream. I didn’t know what to do. I finally had the courage to at least turn over onto my side, facing away from him, creating as much of a barrier as I could. He left my room, and I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. I cried. 

I told my mom what happened the next day. She seemed shocked and angry, but somehow, it didn’t seem angry enough. They argued. He packed up his things and he left. I was relieved, and felt like it was all going to be better. I went to school the next day feeling okay about things. I remember being happy, and hoping that everything was going to get better.  
When the bus rolled to a stop on the highway outside of the apartment complex, it seemed like my world crashed and I couldn’t bring myself to get off the bus. I was in slow motion. The only thing I could see was the pile of luggage and boxes at the front door to our apartment. It was his stuff. Back at our house. My mom met me at the door. 

“Honey”, she said. “He’s going to stay. But he promises it won’t happen again”.  

Well, welcome home…

It’s not completely my story. 

After my first blog post went up, I was so excited. I wanted to keep writing and share things that I have held onto for years.  I believe this could be an excellent thing for myself… but how would it affect others in my life that were involved as well?

The answer isn’t a simple one.  I have three  sisters and a brother, who each have their own stories to tell.  As much as I enjoy this and can be open about my scars, not everyone can. Some scars will bleed, even for me.  And I’m okay with that.

How do I be open and honest about my life without including others’ pain? Lives have been built and forward movement has been the focus of us all. I am so proud of my little family, each of my siblings, for making their lives better than anyone had projected.

To keep their privacy as sacred as possible, I will remain as anonymous as I am able to. The events related to my own story are from my perspective alone, and may not reflect accurately what my sisters & brother endured during their childhood.

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