Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ray of Light- Monsters!

This evening I was gone at a book group.  Upon arriving home, my husband told me I had to go downstairs to see the sign that our son made him put on his bedroom door.

It just made me laugh.  Of course I'm sad that he's scared of ghosts, monsters, and bad guys (his father is the one afraid of solicitors...maybe he should have included the IRS as well), but I love how a sign made him feel confident that he was safe.  Oh, the innocence of youth.  I love it!

P.S. Apparently after Ryan had written the note, Bradley realized they hadn't said anything about aliens.  Ryan asked him if good aliens were okay, and after they'd established that good aliens make cookies, even though (according to Bradley) they don't have hands, he was okay including the bad aliens in "bad guys." 

P.S.S.  This is my 100th post!  YAY!

And the winner is...(drum roll please)

So as some of you may have noticed (or maybe not...who knows), I was given the "One Lovely Blog Award" by my sweet friend, Lara of Overstuffed. I was truly honored to get such an award from her because if I had to assign this award to any blog, her's is the first that comes to mind.  She has been friend of mine since we were in a ward together over 5 years ago.  I love her wit, wisdom, and beautiful blog.  WELL worth the time to check out.

In addition, to being given this lovely award, I too get the chance to pass it on to 5 truly lovely bloggers.  Okay, so this was WAY TOO HARD.  I seriously have stayed up at night trying to decide who to pick and I REALLY didn't want to offend anyone.  Seriously, all of the blogs I have listed are so great, but I had to narrow it down.  The big kicker was if your blog was public or not.  I figured if I'm going to post these blogs, then others should be able to go look at them.  I also, had to think about what my first descriptor of your blog would have been, and although lovely is definitely true for most of you, sassy, or funny, or informative came up first for some.  BLAH!  Okay, so you can totally see this is stressing me out, and with depression that's not a good idea.  So just know I LOVE all of your blogs and I just had to choose so NOTHING personal if I didn't pick yours.

And the winners are (in no particular order)...

Lori of Pursuits of Happiness.  Lori is a truly lovely person. We met when I started working at Deseret Towers.  I admit I've often felt intimidated by her beautiful writing, but then I felt bad about that because she would never want me to feel that way.  So if you want to laugh, cry, smile, think, or just plain have a good read, visit her blog.

Heather of Scatter Joy .  Heather and I met when we were co-workers in college.  Those were some crazy days, but I have fond memories of them.  Heather has always made me think of sophistication and beauty and her blog is no different.  She also occasionally contributes to the Sassy Mom Shoppe which is a lovely blog as well.

Kenna of Kenna's Corner. Kenna is one of my newer friends.  We just met a few months ago, but I already love her blog.  She is a wonderful person with a beautiful heart and I feel so blessed to know her.

Anna-Lisa of Rantipoling About. Anna-Lisa and I met when I was working at Deseret Towers.  We've been through a lot together and we're only stronger for it.  Her blog is filled with her life, like most of ours, but I love the wit and humor she uses, especially as she describes the life of a newly-wed, grad student. 

And last but not least, Vicky of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Vicky and I go WAY back (i.e. Junior High) and thanks to Vicky we've kept the friendship strong.  She too, is a truly lovely person as is her blog.  So I was going to say what I loved most about her blog, but I can't decide which I love most, so here are some things that I love about her blog: (1) Her blog has such a truly upbeat and uplifting vibe.  Just like the title of her blog, she sees the best in things and people and portrays that in her writing.  (2) She is constantly blogging about the amazing people in her life.  She could just be self focused, but she is SO other focused.  (3) She has a strong love for God and she is constantly showing that in her blog.  I love that she isn't afraid to share what she believes. 

So to all 5 of you truly lovely bloggers, thank you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ray of Light

Okay, so I have another Ray of Light for today...the internet!  I love the internet for many obvious reasons, but specifically today for online tax preparation.  We've successfully e-filed and should receive our refund in less than 2 weeks!  YEEHAW!  It's SO much easier than it was when I first started filing.  No mailing, etc.  Love it!

Ray of Light

Friends.  What a difference good friends make in your life.  Over these past few months I've developed a great group of friends and it has made all the difference.  We have regularly planned activities that we meet to do each week and that is SO good for me.  Both the regularity of the events and the adult contact has made such a difference in fighting my depression.  So you great know who you are...thanks for making a HUGE difference in my life.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Myths and Facts

As I mentioned in my last post, DBSA has wonderful resources.  One of my favorites is just a simple one page sheet listing some myths and facts about depression and bipolar disorder.  I felt it was important enough to be worth listing here.

Myth 1: Depression and bipolar disorder are just states of mind.  A person just needs to "think positive" and they will go away.
Fact: Depression and bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) are real, treatable illnesses that affect the brain.  They can't be overcome by "snapping out of it."  Asking someone to "think positive" is like asking someone with diabetes to change his or her blood sugar level by thinking about it.  People with mood disorders (depression & bipolar) can feel better with the right treatment.

Myth 2:
Treatment is a cop-out for people who are too weak to cope with day-to-day life.
Fact: Seeking treatment is a smart choice that takes strength.  Mood disorders are not flaws or weaknesses.  Seeking treatment means a person has the courage to look for a way to feel better.

Myth 3:
Talk therapy is just whining about problems.  It doesn't help.
Fact: Talk therapy has been tested clinically and found to be effective.  In some cases it works as well as medication.  Good talk therapy helps change behaviors that can make a person's moods less stable.

Myth 4:
Medications that treat mood disorders are habit-forming.  They can change a person's personality.  A person can't be "clean and sober" while taking medication.
Fact: When properly prescribed and used, medications are not addictive and do not change a person's true personality.  Medications help a person's mood become more stable and even.  They are not "happy pills" and should not be compared to street drugs.  They do not cloud a person's judgment or give a false sense of courage.

Myth 5:
People with mood disorders can not get better.
Fact: When correctly diagnosed and treated, a person with depression or bipolar disorder can live a stable and healthy life.  Millions of people already do.

Myth 6: Symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder in young children or elderly adults are normal.  They are just a part of growing up or growing old.
Fact: Severe mood changes in young children or older adults should be taken seriously.  Recent studies have shown that children may be affected by mood disorders as young as infancy.  Older adults are also at a high risk for depression. Younger and older people should be given complete physical examinations and treated according to their individual needs.

Myth 7
: People with bipolar disorder or depression are dangerous.
Fact: Research shows that people with mental illness do not commit significantly more violent acts than people in the general population.  However, people with mental illness are twice as likely to be victims of violence.

Myth 8:
People with depression or bipolar disorder should not have children.
Fact: People who have been treated for mood disorders can parent as well as anyone else.  They are also more likely to recognize symptoms, treat their children early, and understand their children's struggles if their children have mood disorders.

Myth 9
:People with depression or bipolar disorder are not stable enough to hold positions of authority in fields like law enforcement or government.
Fact: People with mood disorders can and do hold positions of authority everywhere.  When properly treated, a person's mood disorder does not have to affect job performance.

Myth 10:
Suicide is not a problem in the United States.  Only a small number of people take their own lives.
Fact: Suicide is a significant problem that needs to be addressed.  Suicide deaths in the U.S. outnumber homicide deaths three to two.  Each year, over 30,000 people in the U.S. take their own lives.  More than 90% of these people are believed to have have a mental disorder.
Source: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance  * 

By no means is this an exhaustive list of myths and facts, but to me it's a great start at addressing some of the basic questions/concerns when it comes to mood disorders, like depression and bipolar disorder.

DBSA Support Group

As I've mentioned more than once in the past, I LOVE my DBSA Support Group.  I had a friend ask me the other day, "So what do you actually do at the group?"  Truly a good question.   We're not nearly so formal as AA or something like that, no 12 steps or anything (I am not making fun of AA my ANY's a great program, I was just simply stating that we're not quite the organized), but I think for what we need to be, we're just perfect.  

Unlike AA or other such programs, no matter how much we talk about our depression or bipolar, it isn't going to go away.  So the purpose of the group isn't that.  The purpose is support as we struggle to figure out how to live with our disease.  

I think we can all relate to the idea that we've had experiences that no one could understand unless they'd been through it.  You might try with everything in you to get others to begin to glimpse what you're going through, but even if they are open minded and try their best, they still fall short of really understanding.  That's how I often feel when writing this blog.  I'm trying to help as many people as possible at least get a glimpse of the struggling I'm going through, but it's no the same as having actually been there yourself.  That's where my support group comes into play.

It's so liberating to meet with others that have truly contemplated suicide and know the darkness that you can only feel in those moments.  It is so cathartic to laugh with others about the totally irrational thoughts you've had, but in the moment you thought were TOTALLY normal.  It's so cleansing to cry with someone who knows how hard it is to wake up EVERY day struggling to do the most basic things.  It is so uplifting to see others just like you who are succeeding in life, despite an illness that might otherwise rule your life.  In a special way, I am truly at home when I'm at my support group.  At home in a way that I can't be with anyone else.  

But DBSA is even more.  The emotional side that I've just described is what I think really keeps us coming back each week, but DBSA is about sharing information too.  We talk about our struggles with various medications.  Talk about (in a general specifics allowed) what meds have been good for us.  We talk about life style changes that have made a difference for us.  We talk about readjusting our reality to make our life work.  And DBSA has so many reference materials available for free.

It's truly an amazing program.  If you or someone you know needs this kind of help or support, go to the DBSA website to find a chapter near you.  Or if you'd like to contact me directly, leave your email address in a comment and I'll be happy to contact you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Ensign: A Blessing From the Lord

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publishes several monthly magazines.  The Ensign, The Liahona The New Era, and The Friend.  All of them are filled with inspiring and uplifting messages of hope, faith, and doctrine.  I love reading my copies each month, but sometimes I find articles that are especially touching and poignant to me.  In the Januaryedition of the Ensign there were 2 articles (of the ones I've read so far) that I felt were written for me. 

The first article, Bipolar Disorder: My Lessons in Love, Hope, and Peace, was SO good for me to read.  No, I don't have Bipolar Disorder, but as I've mentioned in the past, there are many similarities between Bipolar and Depression.  We struggle with many of the same stigmas, we fight many of the same feelings, and in many ways we suffer together.  I thought the article was beautiful written and such a positive thing for me to read.  I would recommend this article to anyone struggling with a mood disorder, for anyone that knows someone with a mood disorder, or for anyone that cares to understand more about mood disorders.

The 2nd article that was especially meaningful to me was titled, Peaches, Pruning, and Spiritual Progress.   An short summary of the article reads, "Like pruning away the unnecessary limbs from a tree, we need to prune away those activities that might weaken our testimonies or lead us astray."  I definitely believe this to be true in relation to testimony, but as I read it I felt as if this could apply SO well to what I'm dealing with in relation to depression or really for general happiness in life.  We all must find that balance that creates a healthy life and what, although in many senses may be good and wonderful, when added to everything else, makes our life unhealthy.  That has become ESPECIALLY true since depression entered my life.  As my sweet husband first said to me many years ago, it's all about balance...SO TRUE!

Again, I would strongly recommend both of these articles to any of you.  They are well worth your time.

Finding "Rays of Light" even in the worst times

Yesterday, my sweet little Braeden got sick and was throwing up.  Thankfully now about 24 hours later he seems much improved, which is a "Ray of Light" in and of itself, but a bigger "Ray of Light" comes in the form of a cuddle. 

Even though my sweet little guy was not feeling well and I can't say I enjoyed cleaning up the multiple throw up instances, but I wouldn't trade holding Braeden in my arms for anything.  There is nothing quite like being there to comfort your child, especially as they grow up and hugs and cuddles become what they want less and less. 

So even in some of the worst, sleep-deprived and yucky times, there are "Rays of Light."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Christmas Doll

From the time I can remember my father always created a doll to give to my mother for Christmas.  It was always the last gift given and the most anticipated of each year.  He would make them from all sorts of materials.  From pop cans, to palm fronds.  He's truly a gifted artist.

Well Ryan knew how much I loved that tradition and so each year he has faithfully made me a doll.  I know this isn't something that comes naturally to him.  He doesn't have this crazy creative mind like my dad, but I think that might make his efforts that much sweeter.

Each year he starts thinking about the doll long before Christmas and often has to search for materials to create just what is in his mind.  Usually the doll has something to do with what is going on in our life or some inside joke...I love it.

Well, as most of you know, he recently started a job where he works out in the west desert of Utah.  The "doll" you see below was made entirely of things he found out there.  He had to specially dry and fold the reeds to keep them in the form of the horse.  I love it!

And again, I think the thing that I love most is the time and effort he puts into making the dolls.  They are truly a labor of love and just like it was for my mom, it's my most anticipated gift of each year.

I love you Ryan!

Frosty Morning

I promised I would post pictures the next time our tree was dressed in frost.  I SO wish you could see it in person.  The images I've posted really don't do it justice, but here they are none the less.  I love seeing mother nature's beauty so up close and personal and I don't even have to leave my front yard!  (If you click on the photos to enlarge them you can almost see the frost crystals shinning.)

As the sun begins to rise.

The moon is peaking through.

Ribbons in the sky.

The heart of the tree.

Beautiful Contrast

Let the sun shine in.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ray of Light

So I realized, that while things have been crazy, that was no excuse for me to stop noticing the good things around me.  So here are a few from the past few days:

*I love the way the light reflects off of snow.  It makes for such a beautiful, bright day.

*Welcome to the new generation...instead of imaginary friends, Bradley constantly has a "computer friend" playing with him all the time, as well as often a "computer bad guy."  I guess he's played enough computer and video games to be used to playing with someone all the time, even when he's really not.  It just made me smile.

*I've GOT to get a picture of it next time it happens, but we have a corkscrew willow tree in our front yard, so the branches are all twisty and curvy...really pretty cool.  But what makes them even more cool is frost.  It's happened a few times this year, but when the branches get a thick layer of frost on them it's the coolest thing.  I'll try to get a picture next time it happens and post it...even though it won't do it justice, at least you'll get some idea of what I'm talking about.

*I was having a pretty hard morning today, and then I FINALLY pulled myself out of it enough to go down and exercise, and I'm so glad I did.  It really does wonders for my emotional state.  It doesn't make everything all better, but it usually allows me to actually function.  Thank heavens for those positive endorphins.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tower of Blocks

I wrote this the other night. I think it describes well what I am going through.

Tower of Blocks

I am a tower of blocks
Standing strong and tall
For all the world to see
Or at least I once was

I am a tower of blocks
Steady and firm
A support to all around
But not anymore

I am a tower of blocks
Fallen and scared
Scattered across the ground
No longer tall and strong

I am a tower of blocks
Tentative and new
Slowly, block by block
Building toward the sky

I am a tower of blocks
Weak where I once was strong
A glimmer of hope for the future
Fighting against the fear of the past

I am a tower of blocks
Now looking for support
Searching within myself
For strength I cannot find

I am a tower of blocks
Shaky, but a tower still
Building slowly, but ever up
Striving to be grand again

I am a tower of blocks
Blown down by a cruel wind
Fallen and scattered once more
Ever weary of the blowing storm

I am a tower of blocks
Looking again for strength
Searching all around
Learning to trust in something more

I am a tower of blocks
Timid and small
Grasping for hope and courage
Building upon others support

I am tower of blocks
No longer tall and strong
But beautiful and true
In my own special way

I am a tower of blocks
Longing for what once was
But learning to accept change
Learning to see the truth

I am a tower of blocks
Strong in a new way
Strong in a way many don't understand
Strong because of my understanding

I am a tower of blocks
Ever smaller than before
But grounded in what matters
Grounded in the truth

I am a tower of blocks
A tower that will often fall
But one that will always rebuild
And be stronger for it

I am a tower of blocks
From which I can see new sights
Sights once overlooked
From way up where I used to be

I am a tower of blocks
Shabby and dull to some
But strong and sure inside
Because of my many falls

I am a tower of blocks
Sometimes scared for what will come
Often afraid of the next big wind
But still lined with hope for the next ray of light

I am a tower of blocks
Standing strong and small
But better for all I've weathered
For all the world to see