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.

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

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…” (mentalhealth.com).  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.

The Parent…

Last Saturday, my husband, my daughter and I went to BJs for our monthly shopping of meat (mainly).  When we first walked into the store, my daughter, Sophia, recognized right away the song that was playing.  Knowing that this song, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’, triggers me into thinking about Tyler and last winter as a whole with my Anxiety and Depression, she took her index fingers and stuck them in my ears.  She kept them there until the song was over.  This action of protection… is something a parent would do.

I realized after this event occurred that in a way, I was no longer the parent.  Sure, I yelled at her at times, checked her homework, made her bathe… but when it came to protection, she had the control.  Reliving this event in my head after my shower on Sunday, had me wrapped in a towel, sitting on the bath ledge, crying.  I am supposed to be the protector.  With tears rolling down my cheeks, I realized that this was not the first instance.  She has been protecting me since I left the hospital in January.  A little girl, only 8 years old, became Mommy to her mother.

I am the first to admit that what Sophia witnessed last winter most likely freaked her out, especially with her Generalized Anxiety Diagnosis.  I was scaring my mother, so yes, my daughter must have been frightened.  First she had to witness my delusional talking when under numerous anxiety attacks.  She then fell victim to my many crying spells.  She was at the dinner table when I said I was too nauseas to eat and she saw my fear about sleeping in my room.  Then she lost her brother when he went back into DCF custody, as I was spiraling into a dark hole.  After the unthinkable happened, she had to live without me for 5 days while I was in the hospital.  Five days she couldn’t hug me, kiss me, or cuddle with me.  She couldn’t even see me.  Our only contact was over the phone and there was a time limit.

I believe within those 5 days she came up with the plan that to not lose Mommy, she needed to protect me.  When I arrived home after my hospitalization, she would watch me with eagle eyes.  She would constantly want to be by my side.  She would repeatedly ask me, “Mommy, are you okay?” if she saw tears in my eyes.  When I would honestly respond no, I could see the worry in her face.  That’s when she started to bring me things.  If I were crying, she would bring me a box of tissues, sit with me, hug me and say, “It’s alright Mommy, it will get better.”  Just like a mother would say holding her sick child.

At some point in these last few months, I eventually asked her why she was so worried about me.  Her response:

“I don’t want to lose you, too.”

I’ve asked her if she misses her brother, as I am the only one who sheds tears over this still (hence my recent PTSD diagnosis).  Her response:

“I don’t want a brother anymore.  I just want my Mommy.”

I am angry with myself over this.  I will tell her over and over again that it is not her job to take care of me, that it is my job to take of myself and her.  She still doesn’t listen.  She is my protector right now.  In a way I am grateful that she has become such a caring and loving and understanding person, but then I remember she is only going to be 9 years old.  Protection is not her job.  Her job is to be the child, carefree, happy, exploring.  Instead, she has already inherited the adult trait of protection.  I am at a loss on how to correct this, so for now…

I tell her, “Sophia, it is not your job to take care of me.  It is Mommy’s job.”  And I hug and kiss her.

The Real Life Of A Manic Depressive…

Some things I will hide.  A fake smile has become such a staple in my closet of Depression, I am an expert at it.  Sometimes my smile is true.  Unfortunately, most of my friends and family can’t tell the difference.  I’ve hidden my feelings even from my therapist at times.  Not wanting to share my pain…  I avoid eye contact for fear that if someone looks into my eyes they will see my inner turmoil.  The internal part of Depression… the reason why the stigma exists.  How do you know it is real if you can’t see it?  If you can’t take a blood test to prove it?

The Real Life Of A Manic Depressive…

My medicine bin.  Last night as I was refilling my pill containers I realized this is the part of Depression that most people do not see but proves that this disease is real.  Countless medications.

The medications to the left in this picture are the many meds I have tried that did not work since this past January…  Trazodone, Klonopin, Xanax, Zoloft, Celexa, Belsomra…

The medications to the right are the ones that are currently working for me that I take daily… Lexapro 20mg, Wellbutrin XL 150mg, Ativan .5mg, Seroquil 100mg.  These are the medications that make life livable.  Without them, I would be a mess.

In addition to my pills there are more medications that need to be taken for the side effects of the antidepressants, anti-anxiety & anti-psychotic.  This is my life.  I live like someone who is Diabetic.  I live like someone who has MS.  I live like someone who has Cancer.  I did not chose to have Depression, it chose me.  I did not chose to have to take 4 prescribed meds and over the counter meds but I need to, to function.

This is the Real Life Of A Manic Depressive…
(who also has Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a mild form of PTSD)…

Some Dreams Just Don’t Come True

We learn at a young age to follow our dreams, that all our dreams will come true… our parents encourage us, our teachers encourage us, our friends encourage us.  There are so many inspiring quotes out there about it “never being too late for your dreams to come true.”  I’ve tried to listen.  I’ve tried to believe this.  But…

… some dreams just don’t come true.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a mother.  I saw myself having 3-4 children.  I even had names picked out for them that changed through my childhood years.  I was anxious to have kids, to see if they would look at all like me, act like me. 

I met my husband young at the age of 16 at our first jobs.  A quiet shy boy at the time.  My father wondered aloud, “You should date that studious looking boy.”  Honestly, he wasn’t my type.  I was interested in another boy but being that that relationship wasn’t going further than friendship with that other boy I went on a date with my husband.  This was back in 1996.  I found him mysterious and intelligent and grew more and more to loving him.  We talked long before our wedding in 2004 about kids.  He is an only child and actually enjoyed it.  My mother was an only child and hated it. 

I never wanted an only child.  Ever.  Only 1 child was not in my dreams.  I always dreamt of more.

We talked and talked and he eventually convinced me that 2-3 was the way to go.

Our beautiful daughter, Sophia, was born in 2006.   One month later I was in short term psych with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

My husband then decided 1 child was enough as he became a single parent for 12 days of a newborn while working full-time over an hour away.  He would not budge from this decision for a few years.  As the recession hit, I agreed for the time being.  We couldn’t afford another child.

But dreams sit in your brain…

As we recovered from the recession and as I saw friends having babies, I wanted a 2nd child.  My husband was against me getting pregnant for fear of suffering from Postpartum Depression once again.  We had discussed adoption before since we both had close relatives that were adopted.  He agreed and we went to an open house at DCF on my birthday that year.  After a few weeks of classes, a few months of waiting, we received our license.  All we did was wait for our child.

Only about 2 months later we were matched.  I was finally going to have my 2nd child.  The family I always dreamed of.  And, he was perfect to me.  A toddler full of energy (and responsibilities), curious, wanting to be loved.  My love for him was instant from the first day I met him.  I called him my son from that moment on.

… then the anxiety came… then the depression came… then my son was removed.

… some dreams just don’t come true.

Almost a year later and I’m still blaming myself, blaming my illness.  It’s all my fault.  I am still grieving losing him to my mental illnesses.  I am still grieving losing myself to my mental illnesses.  I am still grieving losing my dream to my mental illnesses.  My dream… the children I won’t have.  The many hugs and kisses and laughs… envisioning 3 rambunctious kids jumping on me.  Watching them all play together and fight together.  My dream, stolen from me by myself, by my Depression and Anxiety, my mental illnesses.  A dream I have had for decades, since childhood.

Now, I am the mother of an only child, something I never wanted in my wildest dreams, and I love her deeply to infinity and beyond.  She is my rock, my reason for pushing through every depressive episode.  She is my funny, loving, sympathetic girl.  But…

… some dreams just don’t come true.

It’s The Most “Wonderful” Time Of The Year…

Facebook likes to remind me of things… happy events, people’s birthdays, anniversaries, hanging out with friends and loved ones… and then there are the reminders of a year ago:

“Can’t wait to see my boy again on Friday.”
“Going to see my boy with Sophia.”
“Is exhausted, but had a great time with my boy.”

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… the time of the year where I felt so happy and was slowly dying inside.  The time of the year that is now causing me almost daily trauma of memories I treasure but do not want to relive.  The time of the year where I will wear a veil daily to hide my true emotions.  The time of the year I hope to mentally and emotionally get through on my current medication…

Yesterday, the 3 of us went Apple & Pumpkin picking, a yearly event at our favorite orchard.  The instant we got there, I masked the sadness in my heart.  The images of a year ago showed up once we parked.  Getting out of the car I could visualize Tyler running around on the grass, him holding an apple to his upper lip, carrying him when he refused to walk, and seeing him placing sticks in the big metal pumpkin.  My boy, my son.  When we arrived home, I was so irritable and sad about this.  I yelled at Jimmy for miniscule things.  Everything was an annoyance to me until I started to get ready for my parents to come.  At that point these treasured but hurtful memories went on a day trip.

Then the evening came.  My brain clear of all thoughts, the memories on Tyler returned, as vivid as they were before.  It was as if he was sleeping peacefully in the room next door that was his.  My happy mask was lifted.  The “I’m sorrys” started.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you.”
“I’m sorry I am so irritable.”
“I’m sorry he’s not here anymore.”
“I’m sorry because it is gong to get worse.”

My husband never asked me to say I’m sorry.  Depression causes me to constantly apologize even if it is just for thoughts that occur in my head that I never actually voice.  My husband, having witnessed me so many times, acknowledged my apologies and went on like nothing happened.  He is used to me.

Once I went up to bed, the tears started.  I looked at pictures of Tyler, pictures of Tyler with the 3 of us… so happy, so loving, such a beautiful family.  I cried for the death of that.  “I’m sorry,” I said to his face in these pictures as I traced his jawline.  I kissed these photos.  Photos of my boy.  I cried because the blame came back, “It’s all my fault.”  I cried because I was still not over the grief, the pain, the heartache.  I cried because I knew as the holidays kicked in, my Depression will only worsen, that like Halloween, I will have to constantly mask myself.

It’s the most “wonderful” time of the year… the time for family, love, gatherings, presents…
It’s the time of the year I realize a part of my heart resides in a little boy who is not in our house.
It’s the time of the year I realize that a piece of my heart will never come back and when I heal, there will be a void where that piece once resided.  It’s the time of the year I will feel an emptiness.  It’s the time of the year where I will have daily battles with my Depression, my old friend and enemy.

It’s the most “wonderful” time of the year.

Business Trip Bipolar Disorder

Of course, I worried for nothing.  I woke up with plenty of time to get to the airport even with traffic.  Half asleep I dragged myself through security and even managed to order breakfast at the Dunkin Donuts.  Once on the plane, I took out my Word Search book and my bubble grew encompassing all of me and I was numb to my most fearful part of plane trips… lift off.  No drugs needed.  No nail marks in the arms of the person next to me.

We landed slightly early and I made my way down to baggage claim where I met one of my dearest friends from college.  We chatted while she drove me to the car rental place and I told her I would contact her when I was settled into my hotel room later after my meeting.  Once I got into the car I had barely enough time to take a pass by our new store location before meeting the architect for lunch.  Of course being in Maryland, I had to order crab cakes.  If you want crab cakes done right, do not get them anywhere else but the state of MD!  The architect and I spoke and before we knew it, it was time for our meeting at the store.  Almost 3 hours later, around 3:30pm, our meeting was over. 

Remembering that I told Sophia I would get her something, I wandered the aisles of Five Below only a few stores down from our new location for work.  Shopkins, where are the Shopkins?!  No actual Shopkins, only puzzles, books, lip gloss, erasers…. Grrr.  The lack of sleep and anxiety from the night before was beginning to get to me.  Okay, Monster High Mini Doll 2-pack… which ones did she have?!  Onto the next… a Beanie Boo!  I was about to pick one up when I noticed a couple of Monster High Books.  Bingo!

Now around 3:45pm, I had 15 minutes to kill before I could check in to the hotel.  Swinging by the nearest liquor store, I walked in, found the local section and collapsed on the floor.  So tired, but I had to complete the mission at hand… what 4 wines from our favorite Maryland Winery would be traveling home with me?  After all, that was my main reason for checking luggage, I needed to bring wine home.  I called Jimmy.  He was no help once I told him there was new Blueberry wine. 

“I’m sorry dear but I can’t drive out to Mt. Airy, MD to the winery during my 36 hour business trip.”

Yes, those words came out of my mouth.

After checking out and buying these nifty bubble wrap wine bottle bags, I was finally on my way to the hotel.  Once a prestigious mansion, it was now converted to a hotel boasting rooms with an eclectic flair.  I came in and the first words out of my mouth to the attendant were, “Is this place haunted?”  Being a Ghosthunters fan, I was disappointed to learn it was not.  After much difficulty in locating the keys to the Z Suite, we made our way over to what may have once been the carriage house.  Once inside, the keys failed to give me entrance to my room.  Just my luck.  Here I was overly exhausted, wanting to lie down for a minute and the bed was laughing on the other side of the locked door.  I could hear it, seriously.  The attendant went back and grabbed the keys off the housekeeper’s set.  Success!  Upon entering I crashed on the bed for 10 minutes soaking into the memory foam.  A moment to relax amongst the chaos of the day. 

Feeling the urge of Mother Nature I made my way into the ornately decorated bathroom and instantly spotted the Jacuzzi tub… Oooh!  I could go for this.  I decided I needed to take a bath right away.  Being a mom, I never get the chance to actually take a bath and without interruption.  The water took its time filling up but felt nice when I got in.  Although I am a lover of hot water, I may have made this bath a bit TOO hot.  I took a few deep breaths and 15 minutes later I exited my bath calm… and sweaty.

Now 5:20pm, officially up for 12 hours, I got dressed and headed out to see my college friends and their sons practice baseball.  We gabbed.  I met some new people and some old people.  I called Jimmy to remind him to check Sophia’s homework, sign her planner, make her lunch…  Now about 8pm we were on our back to their new house.  I got the tour by the 2 cutest boys, was licked to pieces by their adorable dog and enjoyed a nice home cooked meal.  I loved that I got to see them and only wished I had more time with them and that Jimmy and Sophia could be there.  By 10pm, my eyelids were ready to close.

The hotel was only 10 minutes away.  I couldn’t wait to hit the bed.  My eyelids immediately closed but my brain would not turn off.  Sleep was cumbersome.  Not good.  Second night of not good sleep.  I knew what this would mean.  Enter anxiety and irritability. 

In the morning, I grabbed a quick breakfast, packed up, checked out and went to the local park for a walk.  I knew being outside and getting some exercise would be a good thing.  Before I knew it, I had circled the lake twice and racked up 4.98 miles.  Almost 11am, and with a 1pm flight, I got gas, returned the car and got to the airport into the security line.  I was a Zombie.  Tired from lack of sleep, tired from the walk, I moved as if I were a dead cow in the midst of this very very slow cattle line.  My brain was foggy.  Flying once again was simple as the bubble instantly grew with the Word Search book.  I felt my eyes close a few times.  After landing, picking up my now wine filled checked bag and getting my car, I braced myself for the longest leg of my trip… driving home.  It was long, had some traffic and I was alert but out of it.

As soon as I came home I unpacked.  I didn’t want to do it later.  We had Sophia’s 4th Grade Open House at 7pm and I wanted to just crash when we got back.   I was so tired.  Following unpacking, I made my lunch and breakfast shakes for Thursday and Friday and then climbed into my car and picked Sophia up from school.

I couldn’t tell you what happened after that.  I think I mentally blacked out.  36+ hours running on little sleep, overwhelmed with extreme highs of going back to Maryland, having responsibility for work and seeing friends I haven’t seen in 2 years was quickly followed by a sadden feeling, exhaustion, sarcasm and irritability.  I call it the Business Trip Bipolar Disorder.

Suicide…

As this is Suicide Prevention Week and today is World Suicide Prevention Day, I thought I would disclose something about myself not many people know:

I contemplated committing suicide when I was 18.  A lot was going through my mind.

Below, is an excerpt from my book:

“After one of many arguments concerning an 18th birthday party, the stress of the work at school, the stress of work itself, and the large feeling of neglect, I sat in my bedroom one morning holding a case cutter (from work) in my right hand on top of the skin of my left wrist.  So much was going through my mind. 

Would anyone miss me?

Would anyone notice if I were gone?

Would anyone care if I were gone?

Would anyone cry at my funeral?

Was this the ideal answer to my issues?

Would anyone try to save me?

I sat there, for a good fifteen minutes repeating these questions over and over in my head.  Honestly, I also thought about the huge mess it would leave on the floor.  That led to the feeling that my parents would be angry with me for leaving that huge mess.  Odd what you think of when you are contemplating suicide.”
 
“Once I realized killing myself was not the answer I just sat there on the floor of my room still holding the case cutter to my wrist and started to cry.  It was a huge crying fest.  There was so much emotion I never knew I had in me and it was all coming out.  The crying got so loud that my mother actually screamed up to me, “Steph, what’s wrong?! Are you okay?  You need to leave for school…”  Did I mention it was a school day?!  I knew I had to tell her and at this point I was exploding in tears and words.  I walked down the stairs still holding the case cutter but now not directly over my wrist.  My mom put two and two together and just started crying.”
 
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If you know anyone who is planning to commit suicide or even contemplating it or if it is you yourself, please call the number below:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
For More Information On How You Can Help: