Depression and Love

I may have mentioned before that I was sent to a child psychologist  when I first arrived at my cousins’ home when I was 10. This was just to make sure there wasn’t any irreversible “challenges” that the parents could not deal with. I was informed years later that the Dr. said I was fine but that I would probably be back when I was between 13-16 years old. He was good.

Like clockwork, When we were in Hawaii, I was about 13 or 14, and I was discussing my lack of appetite with my Aunt and I asked her if I could go see that doctor again.  

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I was not anorexic because my body was in charge and I loved food. I just got this bubbly feeling in my throat at the smell of food and just could not eat. This would only happen for a day or 2 then like magic it would be gone and I could eat all day. I knew it was bad when I could not even eat chocolate at  times. After a few months of talking about everything and anything,  We discovered that it was depression. My sub-conscience would take over and not allow me to eat. I just had to take the control back. So why was it happening? Like the SNL parody with the “shrink” — Tell me about your mother, well It was because somewhere in the depths of my mind I believed that my mother was still coming back. 

See my grandparents, in all their wisdom and love for me, never let me go to see my mom or let me go to the funeral. I never had closure. So, the good doctor gave me a tool to use whenever those “bubbles” came in my throat and it worked. Just state what you are upset about or what is on your mind. “I am depressed because…. ”  As silly as it sounds, it worked.  Then when I saw my  first “love” the depression disappeared all together and I didn’t have to see the doctor any more.

 

Love is amazing! It can hurt you and heal you. 

So, why did I get this depression? To help others later in life. I remember when I was teaching at a  small christian school in NJ. I had this student who was always happy and did her homework and earned A’s and B’s. I started noticing she wasn’t so happy and she missed a homework then another. I had to give her lunch detention. Her grades were slipping. The other girls in the class stayed one day to talk to me. They noticed something wrong. I told them to keep an eye on her for a week and let me know if she was eating. A week later, they were really concerned because she was not eating. I went to the principal and told her my theory and why I believed this girl was in a depression. The next day the principal asked me to her office and said I was right. There was problem at home with the father leaving in the middle of the night. The mother was going to start her with family therapy. The mother was thankful I may have saved that girl’s life.  I was not looking for any reward . I just thanked God for giving me the insight.

Again, Love trumps depression.

I pray that anyone going through any problem and reads blogs and articles like mine, will see their own problems and head them off before they become bigger problems. The point is to acknowledge that you suffer from depression and don’t go straight for the big name pills. Go to a doctor who is willing to use other things first like yourself, God, or St. John’s Wort.  Depression doesn’t go away completely. It’s like that neighbor that watches you, you can ignore them but they will always be there waiting for that weak time to ask you for something that they won’t return. 

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Places to Go, Things to See, Memories to Create

I was very blessed by this family who took me in and made me study, and learn and look outside of myself. They also loved to travel.

When Grandmother and Grandfather had their 50th Anniversary, They took all 16 of us on a cruise to Bermuda. How beautiful that was. The pink sand, the colorful buildings, and the mopeds. One memory of the trip that stands out is when we went on a picnic. The adults, 18 and over, rented mopeds and us children got free rides. We found a tiny park where we ate and watched our 2 year old cousin be a 2 yr. old. I remember that we all had sunburns from the day before. Then someone put an ice cube down the 2 year old’s back. Being a bright child he retaliated and put a cube down his mom’s back. Then his eldest aunt called him over, seeing her opportunity to teach her nephew some new fun, and gave him a cube and whispered in his ear. The 2 yr. old innocently walked over to a cousin who was talking and not paying attention and put the ice cube down his back. It was on! soon everyone was putting ice cubes down each other’s backs, laughing and howling, running around just having fun.  I had never experienced this type of family. I loved it!!! What none of us loved was the pain we were in afterwards. Grandmother and Grandfather were on the ship watching the 14 of us walking up the plank like we had starch in our shorts and chuckling. Our sunburns were flaring up due to all the fun we had shoving ice cubes down each other’s shirts.

That winter, Grandfather died. He and some other people had contracted Hodgkin’s disease, from a hotel in the Virgin Islands, which neglected to clean the filters of the air-conditioners. I remember when they came back from their trip he was coughing a lot. Four months later he was gone. So the Next summer, our family was planning a cross-country trip. We bought a CB, a mattress for the back of the station wagon (for napping), and a “ex-cargo” bin to put on the top of the wagon. We also decided to encourage Grandmother to join us, since Uncle Michael had to stay home to work and could not join us for a week or two. So, we started in NJ, went north to NY, then headed west, hitting all the great states and stopping only at big historical places like the “Big Mac” bridge in Michigan,  Mount Rushmore, SD, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Cody, WY where we picked up Uncle Michael from the airport. We talked to truck drivers and one even hit on Aunt Judy. He asked, “what’s your handle little darling?” she answered counselor. He said “like you could counsel me?” and she answered, “No, Counselor as in 4 kids and my mother are with me.” Dead silence on the CB and roaring laughter in the wagon. None the less he asked to meet us at the next rest stop so we did. Turned out to be a very nice man who thought it was really funny too and had to see for himself who he had been talking to for  a few states. We learned our states and their capitals along the way.  It took 4 weeks to go from NJ to the west coast and back to NJ.

That fall, all 15 of us went to Hawaii. I don’t remember much. I did not know it at the time but I  went through a depression during the trip. One of my many goals in life is to go back.

Due to that Hotel in the Virgin Islands getting sued by several families who lost loved ones due to their neglect, Grandmother came into quite a bit of money.  Instead of just giving us money, she took us on elaborate trips. Like when she took some of the family to Israel and Germany. I had a chance to go but I was still not out of my depression at those times so I figured if I wasn’t eating here I wouldn’t eat outside of the country. Then there was the trip to Alaska. Cousins were getting married so we had more people. We went on a tour of Anchorage and Juno. We had a snow ball fight in short sleeved shirts. We went to Vancouver then took a cruise to Seattle. It was fun. In ’88 we went to Africa. That was the best. We had to have 9 shots before we went then take Malaria pills while we were there but it was so worth it. The people, the animals, the experiences, it was all just great.

There were more places that I have traveled to but there is not enough time.

Traveling is one of the best educational experiences that any child should have. You learn how to behave around others, you  learn about yourself, your family, and your state/country. I pray that more parents travel this beautiful country with their children or nephews/nieces. Technology can not replace experience and memories.

Blessings

I can look back and see all the different ways I was blessed. I was blessed to have such a big family. I was blessed to have my brothers, all of them. The fate  of my Mom and Dad was a blessing too. All of my life experiences were blessings.

Most people would wonder how 4 miscarriages or my husband losing his 3 fingers or my mom’s death were blessings. Well, it’s like this: If my mom lived we would have had to live with an alcoholic parent, my brothers would have run “amuck” and Lord only knows what would have happened to me.

My husband going through that tragedy of losing his fingers and even now with his dislocated shoulder has actually strengthened our marriage. It shows how strong I am to help him through all this.

And the miscarriages, well with our jobs, it’s better that right now we don’t have any other human beings to care for. Maybe in a few years God will send us a child who is already potty trained to us. But until then, we are fine.

So, I wake up in the morning, kneel on the floor, and give greetings to God. Then thank him for all the blessings from yesterday and pray that today is a good day or just help me get through it.

Always count your blessings. You will soon see that there are more blessings than not.

Quick Thoughts For Fathers

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Just some thoughts I had for families with or with out fathers. Some may ask, “where can I turn to become a better father?” “I never had a father, so how can I learn how to grow to be the best man I can be?”

I know a few men who did not have fathers around and grew to become good fathers. One is in the picture to the left of this paragraph. Another 2 or 3 are in the last picture on this blog.

 

 

our family 2012

If you have any faith, turn to your pastor or faith leader. They should be able to guide you in the right direction. If you don’t have any faith, get some. It’s the only way. If you notice, the best fathers are ones who are a part of a church, a synagog or a mosque. They realize they can only become the best fathers they can be with help outside of themselves. (So, this would exclude any terrorists or satan worshipers since they can think of nothing outside of themselves. )

Another resource would be a movie called “Courageous”. It is a Christian film however it is good and inspiring about how to become a better man and a better father. Also how one selfish action can ruin a life.

I pray that all the fathers who read this will create wonderful memories with their children.

 

Have a blessed Father’s Day. Make everyday a day to be the best father you can be.

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My God Given Fathers

I know, I already talked about my Dad. However, Father’s day is on it’s way and I need to talk about dads and fathers.

I was blessed to know my Dad. Even though, when I knew him he was not the same man that other people new. The dad I knew was protective of me, loved me, and seemed to communicate to me in a way that others could not understand. As much as I loved him and he loved me he could never be the father he wanted to be. He could not be there for us when our mother died. He could not be there when we were sick, sad, or discouraged. I always believed there was a part of him that knew that, and it depressed him.

To be a father, means to be there through it all with and for your child. My brothers proved to be wonderful fathers. I have watched each of them, John, Sparky, and David, become fathers who show love and discipline with God’s guidance . My brother John once said that he learned that a good father is one that keeps asking questions on how to be a better father.

My God given father, whom I call Uncle Michael, was there for me as I grew. He would get me from school when I was sick. He held me when my grandmother died. He did all the things that my Dad wished he could have done. He even walked me down the aisle at my wedding. It was like my Dad chose Michael to kind of be his “stand in”. Just Like Judy was my Mom’s “stand in” .

I always hoped and prayed that none of the children of the  next generation would have to experience life without a parent like my brothers and I had to. My prayers were short lived. In 2011, on Father’s day, my nephew, Willi, was killed at a party. His best friend/ex-wife, was beside herself with grief and the difficult task of telling their daughter, Jamika. Life was so good for their family. Even though they were not married anymore, Willi was still calling and skypeing his daughter and talking to his ex-wife’s new fiancé . They had a great friendship. So, Jamika, lost a father, Jenny lost a best friend, Susan and Sparky lost a son, Siblings lost a brother, and I lost a nephew who thought I was the best because I didn’t care what color his skin was.

Fathers seem to fill that emotional and educational and spiritual need. A Dad is there for diversity. There are so many children who have dads but not fathers. So, many single Mom homes and so many angry young teens. Children need their fathers. Even if you can not live with your child, you can still reach out and talk and be there for them.

Have a wonderful Father’s Day with or without your children. God is the ultimate Father so maybe everyday should be
Father’s Day. Just something to think about.

What Is Considered a Traumatic Event?

I was told that I was a very strong person for going through so much trauma as a child. Of course at 10, 11, 12, etc… I only thought, “what trauma?” I guess to me it seemed normal to have a father in the hospital for life, to have people die and to move somewhere else when they did. By the time I was 10 I had gone to 31/2 funerals out of the 5 deaths in my family. I was “too young” to go to my mother’s and I was in the parking lot for my cousin’s (that’s the 1/2). Aunt Lily died in ’77 and we went to Baltimore for that one.

The dictionary defines Trauma as: 1. deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

2. Emotional shock following a stressful event or physical injury.

3. 1 the trauma of divorce: shock, upheaval, distress, stress, strain, pain,anguish,

suffering, upset, agony, misery, sorrow, grief, heartache,heartbreak, torture; ordeal,

trial, tribulation, trouble, worry, anxiety;nightmare, hell, hellishness.

As I aged I understood death more and my emotions surfaced more. I believe it was ’82 when Judy’s father died. I was very sad. But one thought kept in my mind was, “these boys shouldn’t have to go through this like I had to.” I didn’t want anyone to have to experience death like me. I was used to it and they were not. I wish I could have protected them from it. Weird for kid to think this? Maybe not.

I never felt like I suffered from a “traumatic childhood”. But each funeral as I grew proved otherwise. Then there was 9/11. I still cry from the pictures. The waiting to hear from family was the hardest part. Going to work and helping children get through an hour of lessons without letting them see me emotional was the second hardest. 9/11 proved that you don’t have to be in direct fire to be affected by a traumatic event.

Moving to a new state can be stressful too. A new marriage is stressful. Financial problems are stressful. Being jobless can be traumatic. Miscarriages are emotionally, physically, and psychologically draining. However, it wasn’t until  after my husband’s accident with the ride on lawn mower that I finally saw  the symptoms of PTSD. We were sleepless, depressed, I cried at everything and nothing. When I saw the symptoms of course I thought, I was never in a war, Or was I?

By 42 years old, I had experienced probably 14 deaths of people ranging from age 21(a college friend) to 97. I had gotten married, moved to a new state 8 hours from NJ, in a different culture, proven I was adaptable, had 4 miscarriages, lost jobs, gained jobs, watched my husband do the same, watched my husband lose 3 fingers, and now suffer through a posterior dislocation of his shoulder and be out of work until that heals (which means more financial problems to come).

So, what do I do when traumatic events hit me? I stay as strong as I can, choose the times to cry, take St. John’s Wort, and observe short term memory loss, sleeplessness, emotional outbursts, depression lasting longer than a month or 2 etc… Then I try to lessen these  through prayer and determination.

What is trauma? It is things in life that happen and affect our emotions, our psychology, and sometimes impedes on us physically. Life and Faith is all about how we handle the traumatic things in life. You have a choice, you can go into a corner and curl up like a cocktail shrimp and hope it all goes away and cry “victim” your whole life OR you can pray and approach the trauma in a more practical and assertive manner. I was taught the practical way and that way is a more active part of life.

Bottom line: I have handled traumatic events without turning to alcohol or drugs and I know that many people can not say that. I am living proof, and so are my brothers, that it can be done. We defied the statistics and so can others.