Spark In The Darkness…

I remember last year clearly.  How could I forget?  Facebook likes to remind me daily what occurred this day over the last few years.  I did not need the help of the magical Facebook fairies to tell me what day T moved in with us.  It was a Sunday, October 26th, 2014.  Overcast but warm for a fall day.  I can easily picture T and Sophia playing with the leaves on the deck as Jimmy raked them.  T was having a blast throwing leaves up and watching them fall on top of him.  What 2 1/2 year old little boy wouldn’t?  What I didn’t remember, but what those stubborn FB fairies did remind me was the anxiety I had from day 1.  I didn’t sleep.  I didn’t sleep because I didn’t think T would sleep.  I didn’t sleep because I was nervous how T would do the next day, his first day of daycare in his life.  Maybe I should have paid attention to those signs, but the dream of having a son, a 2nd child, were too strong and pummeled the anxiety in my head down.  My nerves didn’t take over for another 2 months.

I now continue to suffer daily from a Depression so soul sucking that after going on holiday for a few months, it decided to move back into that empty spot in my head and not only reside, but take over.  It brings constant images of T back then, Sophia back then, Jimmy back then and the horror of myself from back then… a year ago.  It causes me to hate myself, to think of myself as worthless and undeserving of love… undeserving of my husband and my daughter.  It brought back that guilt I felt because it was me who had the anxiety and panic that caused T to leave us.  It brought back the blame game… the blame that I feel toward myself because I am the one who is Mentally Ill.  It brought back the anxiety attacks, the crying fits, the desire to want to remain in my bed and not move.  I am immersed in it.  I fear the next few months but hope my new therapy will make it somewhat bearable.

Deep in this darkness, though, I am reminded of something my CBT therapist would constantly say to me… “Look what you did for him in those 2 months.”

2 months, 60+ days, 1440+ hours… What I (okay Jimmy and Sophia too) did for him… A Spark in the midst of my current darkness…

1)  He began to eat food – In T’s former foster house, the one he was in since birth, his former foster mother gave up with trying to feed him food and decided that several 600+ calorie shakes of rice cereal, milk and banana was the way to go.  It was difficult for Birth To Three and us to get him to eat.  On Halloween of last year, he wouldn’t even drink.  It was scary, so scary, that I didn’t eat.  I feared him dying from it.  After a few days he began to eat and would try anything we placed in front of him.  He began to LOVE food.  Within a few weeks, he became a typical toddler and started to reject anything that was vegetable in nature.

2)  He began to talk – ALOT!  At first it started out with a few words here are there.  It mostly revolutionized into repetition of certain objects he would label, “Pumpkin!”, “Penguin, Penguin, Snowman!”, “Christmas Tree!”.  In between this there were several melt-my-heart sentences including, “Look!  It’s a Mommy!”, as he would point at me.

3)  He began to interact with his peers – T was extremely sheltered at his former home.  Although there was another child there his age, his foster mom was honestly too old to be handling 2 toddlers with Autism diagnosis’.  Whether she took them out of pity and fell in love with them or just did it for the extra money, who knows.  The 2 boys barely interacted together and most of the time they were each alone in their own rooms.  There were no play dates, nothing.  T started daycare on his first weekday with us.  He learned to play with these kids and realize that was what he was supposed to do.  Toward the end, he learned what to do with toys and how to interact with them with his friends, family and teachers.

4) He began to love – This one truly pulls at  me.  I am grateful we could teach him what it was like to live in a typical family, where hugs and kisses were a multiple-time-of-day occurrence.  I cherish the fact that he finally got to experience a true Thanksgiving, sitting at a table surrounded by family engorging himself on turkey and acorn squash.  He got to meet Santa.  He experienced a true Christmas morning, learning how to open presents from under the tree.  Throughout it all, I held his hand.  I would kiss his cheek goodbye when I left him at daycare.  I would hug him when I picked him up.  He never felt unloved by any one of us.

I hid my issues well with him and Sophia.  Jimmy knowing my history and living it several times before knew there was something going on but there were so many factors stopping me from getting help and admitting I was in trouble until it was too late.  In my heart, it truly feels as if I have lost a child, as if he died.  Even though he is alive and well, he is not with me anymore.  I still don’t quite understand these huge emotions as he was only with us for 2 months but I am starting to dissect them.  I am starting to realize that as I suffer, I still have this spark of light amongst the constant darkness of my Depression.

Reflections Of My Daughter… Take 2

Because I am human and accidentally erased the text and then deleted the “Reflections Of My Daughter” post from a couple of weeks ago, I am going to try to organize my thoughts again…


9 years old and full of compassion, love, humor and sass.  You are an amazing child.  When I was pregnant with you, my heart swelled with love to a point I thought it would burst.  I didn’t know it was possible to love someone so much before ever meeting them.  I had so many hopes and dreams for you.  So many traits I wanted you to get from your father and from myself.  When you were born, my love, I stared at you, my daughter, my baby girl.  At that moment I could see what things you may have inherited.

You were stubborn since birth.  We could have used someone in the house who wasn’t stubborn but you had 2 strikes against you with your father and myself.  Your stubbornness led you to taking your sweet time to come out.  It led Mommy to taking over 2 1/2 hours to push you out.  You were also impatient since birth.  A characteristic I wish you didn’t inherit from me, but you did.  This impatience made you decide you didn’t want to wait until your November due date, October would be your birth month.

I didn’t think of these 2 traits when you were born.

I was dreaming of creativity from myself, which you have;
An ability to see people for who they are on the inside, which you have;
Athleticism… not so much;
Loyalty… too much just like myself;
An ability to love, which you have.

But with these my sweet girl, you inherited a few things that are not dreams but more like nightmares and I am sorry for this.  I never wanted you to suffer from anxiety, but you do.  When you change, like a flick of a switch, my heart breaks.  The catastrophes you live in your head, I have lived them too.  The amount of tears you shed, Mommy has shed them too.  The thoughts of not wanting to live these emotions, you’re not alone.  The pure exhaustion you feel after coming out of your anxiety attacks, Mommy has felt it often.

My Sophia, as you enter the world of Preteen-dom, just know you can always come to me.  I will not turn you away for I understand.  I’ve lived it all and more, far too many times.  I will be your biggest advocate, your biggest fighter, and your biggest supporter.

I love you, my Sophia Faye, to infinity and beyond.


Ugh… not quite worded the same as the first post, but my points are there.  Wish I didn’t delete it.  The perfectionist in me is yelling at myself for deleting such and important piece.

I Abandoned My Children…

At the request of my psychiatrist, I have started an alternative form of therapy called EMDR therapy.  In a upcoming post I plan on explaining EMDR further and if I see any positive outcomes from it.  For now, the therapist and I have only completed my intake and documented that my eyes can indeed follow his fingers (this latter function is a major step for EMDR).  The first week was mainly an introduction.  After all, we have never met before.  It took me weeks to find an EMDR therapist in my area that had an opening and took insurance other than Medicare.  He made me feel comfortable and hopeful in this new form of therapy so I decided I would stick with him.  Where that leaves me with my CBT (Cogitative Behavioral Therapy) therapist is a question that will remain without an answer for awhile.  Luckily for me, unfortunately for my CBT therapist, he is getting a hip replacement and will be out of commission for awhile.

Week 2, this past Monday, I arrived right after seeing my psychiatrist.  It was a “Stephanie REALLY needs her head examined” type of day.  Going to my psychiatrist already works me up as I pass so many triggering landmarks to her office from work… DCF, the way I would take to Tyler’s daycare, the hospital, the ER entrance to the hospital…

So, I arrive already full of emotion.  ”Today,” he states, “We’re going to target certain memories that are the most powerful and that yield the most feeling for you.  These will be used when we start the actual EMDR step.”  Okay, no problem, I got this.  I start explaining the last day with Tyler for me.  Tears were forming in my eyes.  I was getting choked up.  I began to stare off at his orchids.  Glancing back at my therapist, I could see he noticed how triggering this was.

His response, “Perfect.  This is definitely one memory we will use.  Can you think of any others that you think are intertwined with this one?  Maybe you might not realize it yet.  Try to think of one.”

My whole memory of my last day with Tyler… myself in constant tears, shaking, tensing muscles in my hands, rocking back and forth, delusionally talking to myself… seeing me at my worst or what I thought was my worst… then admitting defeat, that the only way for me to live would be for me to remove myself from the house, led to a whole other set of emotions for leaving my children.  Leaving my biological daughter of 8 years at the time and my foster-to-adopt son that was only 2 1/2 years old and utterly clueless why his new Mommy was leaving him.  This ultimately led to me admitting a feeling, the worst feeling a mother could have for her children… Abandonment.  I abandoned him that night.  Yes, it was ultimately the best decision for everyone, but for me, as a mother, I felt that I abandoned him.  In my mind, I feel as though I didn’t try hard enough to keep him with us.  Even though I was on the verge of losing myself completely, abandoning him led to the deepest Depression I have ever been through.  A Depression that like Hurricane Ivan in 2004, re-spawned itself recently.

A mother never abandons her child!

And then I did it again.  I abandoned Sophia when I put myself in the hospital a couple of weeks later.  I left her without even saying goodbye.  Upon realizing I could not see her while staying at the hospital the abandonment feelings came full force and my tears could not stop.  I was crazy hysterical.  Those were the 5 longest days I’ve had most recently.  My daughter is one of my biggest sources of strength and I was without her physically for 5 days.  I abandoned her… AGAIN!

Bingo!  Apparently my demons from my Postpartum Depression and Anxiety days were not all buried or squashed.  I spoke to the therapist, “I abandoned my daughter.  I abandoned her when I had Postpartum Depression and Anxiety exactly one month after she was born.  I was hospitalized for it and was there for 12 days.  Even though I was allowed to see her, I still abandoned her.”

I spoke up again, “I missed so many days of her life at that moment.  She was only 4 weeks old when I admitted myself and I was there for 12 days!”

It doesn’t matter, in my head, knowing this is what I had to do.  I had to “abandon” both her and Tyler to get better.  Instead, my brain continues the flow of abandonment with what if Sophia was a foster child, would I have given her back too?!  Would I have abandoned her permanently?!  Even worse, I did in fact have a plan to leave.  If I had a place to run to, I would have been gone. I would have abandoned her and my husband.

The therapist spoke, “These two situations are definitely linked.  You have some powerful emotions linked to both of them that are the same.  Can you dig further into your past and come up with something from your childhood that you think could be a possible trigger for both of these?”  That is where the story ends.  I thought for awhile but I had a relatively happy childhood.  I never felt abandoned as a young child.  I replied to him by shrugging my shoulders and saying, “No, there is nothing else.”

He explained that this was okay.  If there are old hidden memories, they may come up during the actual EMDR therapy.  I wonder if there is anything else there I’ve made myself forget.  I don’t think there is.

I left his office completely emotionally drained.  I had not been home in roughly 12 hours.  I walked through my front door looking straight at my husband and my beautiful daughter, and yet I still had strong emotions that I did abandon her wondering if I will ever forgive myself.

It Finally Happened…

It finally happened… a day I haven’t seen in awhile even though I have been suffering from this sixth episode of Depression for almost a year.  I can’t even remember the last time this day occurred, but today it did… the day I couldn’t get out of bed.

I couldn’t get up.  I didn’t want to.  I just wanted to sleep and mope the day away with some tears and Netflix binge watching.  I didn’t want to get out of bed and face the world, face my husband and child.  Heck, I didn’t want to face my cat.  I just wanted to live in the warm bubble of my bedroom with the weight of my blankets caressing me, cradling me.  Rolling over, I looked at my clock.  The big hand was on the 4, the little on the 9.

9:22 am.  I should have been sitting at the dining room table chatting with my husband while he cooked our weekend breakfast.  I wasn’t there though.  I was still in bed.  Rolling onto my back I stared up at the ceiling.  Emptiness.  My only thought, “Wow, do I need to dust the fan blades.”  Some how I dozed off once again and awoke to my cow clock reading 10:22am.  The cat has just opened my door and walked gracefully to the head of my bed.  She jumped up and sniffed my face, rubbing her head against mine.  I could hear my husband and child conversing in the dining room about breakfast.

I still didn’t want to get up.  I was not in any mood to face Sunday.  Just let me stay here in my bed.  Don’t make me move.  Jimmy approached my room and asked me what I wanted for breakfast, “Waffles or French Toast?”  I didn’t care and relayed that.  I really didn’t.  My eyes closed, opened, closed, opened, and closed.  At 10:50am I was told breakfast was ready.  Ugh, I have to get up?!  I moved slow, like a turtle to the kitchen, sat down and hunkered over my plate.

“Did you not sleep well?” asked Jimmy.

“I slept fine.  I’m just having a very off day.” I mumbled.

He knew what that meant.  He knew that meant his wife was far away in a non reality world.  He knew she would be mopey, sad and distant the rest of the day.  He knew because he has seen this so many times before.

At the end of breakfast, I schlepped upstairs to change.  I forced myself to brush my teeth and hair.  I threw on jeans and a hoodie and moped.  I couldn’t function today.  I just wanted to sleep through the whole day.

Then the following words were uttered forth from my mouth, “I don’t want to be alone.  Don’t leave me alone.”

Scared at what I had just said, tears began to well up.  I remember the last time those words exited my lips.  I wound up putting myself into the hospital again for a few days.  It worries me.  Am I that person again?

As a family we then ran a few errands.  Sophia whined occasionally as she didn’t want to stop at such boring places as Whole Foods or the liquor store.  Jimmy slightly scolded her.  And I, I just wished I was back in my bed, warm, passing the day away with Orange Is The New Black, some wine and some word searches.

Stop The Stigma

I just realized that it is almost the end of Mental Health Awareness Week and I have not written a post.  How could I, a person with Mental Illnesses, not blog for this?!  Crazy!  I was sitting here thinking what would be the best topic for this special week…

I’ve decided to discuss the stigma and how I too have believed in it.

I was diagnosed with Depression for the first time at age 14.  This was way back in the 90s.  It was taboo to discuss any illness that occurred in your head within my family at that point.  Because of this, the ill teenager (myself), hid therapies from her friends.  I didn’t want anyone to know.  You didn’t want to be considered “crazy” or “disturbed”.  People at that point would jump to conclusions that you talked to yourself or banged your head against walls. 

And then at 18, I sat with a case cutter hovered above my wrist.  God forbid you mentioned the word suicide and then you were deemed selfish.  How could one take their life… didn’t they know they were just thinking of themselves.  Don’t they know how much their parents, siblings, friends will miss them and how much heartache they would cause?  I believed it too even though I was the one living it.  After this incident, I blamed myself.  I felt ashamed.  I didn’t tell anyone for years.

My most recent struggle with the feeding of the Mental Health stigma has to do with medication.  As a strong-willed woman, I hate being dependent on pills.  I assume I will get better and will go off of them.  I have every time before.  This time, I will not be.  It took me a few months to become comfortable with being on 1 of my antidepressants for the rest of my life.  After coming to that realization, I was then blindsided with PTSD over losing my foster son last winter, losing myself, and losing my dream of more than 1 child.  With the PTSD diagnosis came more medication.  For me, with the addition of another medication, the stigma I had returned.  It has taken the last few weeks for me to understand that I am sick.  I have an illness just like others with Diabetes, MS, Cancer.  Like those with physical illnesses that rely on meds, I rely on them too and should not be ashamed to take them.  They allow me to function.  I should not be ostracized because my brain functions differently.  I should not be looked at in fear that I may cause a mass shooting.  I should not have to question if my illnesses affect my parenting. 

No one should. 

Stop the Stigma.


My Biggest Bully

At some time in our lives everyone has been bullied.  From the child with the lisp, to the kid wearing glasses or in my case because my maiden last name is an item of food.  Kids always wanted to know if I was related to Burger King or if they can ketchup with a side of Stephanie Berger.  Silly things.  I was taught to brush it off, that these kids were jealous of something I had that they didn’t.  I tell my daughter the same thing now as she is ridiculed for her height, tall and slender for her age.  Bullying is worse now with the invention of social media.  There is nowhere to hide.  It aches my heart for my daughter.

I have a bully in my life still to this day, my biggest bully.  This bully lies to me, beats me up emotionally and physically.  It laughs at me almost on a daily basis and it has me questioning myself on certain things.  I am never away from this bully as this bully lives in my head.  My biggest bully… My Depression.

I was first diagnosed as a teenager with Depression.  Through the decades, my Depression has grown stronger and bigger like a tumor.  That first episode of Depression morphed through the years to Major Depressive Disorder.  As defined, Major Depressive Disorder is “…Major Depressive Disorder is a condition characterized by one or more Major Depressive Episodes without a history of Manic, Mixed, or Hypomanic Episodes…” (  In my case, we are up to 6 episodes.  Each episode has increased my bully’s evilness, has made me believe I was weak, undeserving, unworthy of love.  Each time I am weakened by this bully before I can get better.

Depression lies to me.  It tells me I don’t deserve to be a mother.  I don’t deserve my friends and family.  I don’t deserve anything good in my life.  It tells me that I am helpless.  I am plankton.  It tells me I shouldn’t be loved, and that no one in fact loves me.  And then it gets to the point where it tells me I shouldn’t live anymore.  I have gotten to this last point a few times.  I have tried to bargain with Depression… if you let me live, I’ll run away so I don’t hurt the people I love anymore, I am not worthy of their love anyway.  If you let me live, I will give in to you and do whatever you want me to, even if that means harming myself.

Depression beats me up.  Emotionally, it has me crying over the blame I have for myself.  It has me foggy and unable to concentrate.  It has me hyperventilate and tense.  And after all that, it wreaks havoc on my muscles, with physical aches in my head, shoulders, back and legs. 

Depression laughs at me.  Seeing my weak achy body, it laughs because it sees victory.  It sees itself as a mastermind, a genius, a god.  I hear its cackle first thing every morning and it still haunts me as I go to sleep.

And this bully doesn’t battle alone.  It has a gang right by its side.  It uses its friends… Anxiety, Panic, PTSD… anything to help it leech on to me longer.  

I am very weak right now.  Worn out.  Tired.  Exhausted.  And empty.  Slowly, I am battling my bully.  Slowly, I am becoming David to my Goliath.  With medication, therapy, exercise.  I will upstage my biggest bully, my Depression, but it will take lots of time, and when that time comes, I know it will still be lurking around in the shadows of my brain as it is always with me waiting, just waiting for the next time.