This is for the suffering mother. This morning my little Elsie Jane alarm clock woke me up whispering “Mommy…Mommy…” you know, how they do. And I groggily came to and whispered back, “huh?” or something lovely like that. Then she started in, like she’d been waiting for so long to talk about something very important…   It went like this: Why is there a thing that goes way inside the tennis shoe and comes out and you can pull on it, it’s a tongue…and we have one in our mouth too and then there is gum that we can chew and also the gums where our teeth come out, why are they both gum and tongues?   So we talked about that.   I was there to talk about that.   This is my truth: Part of the reason I can strive for a perspective that sustains my spirit and attitude is because […]

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Just Write {195}

September 29, 2015

They used to think the earth was flat and long, dropping off at some point, past the horizon. If this was the truth, last week I may have tried to walk there, to the edge. I may have just continued to walk. That sounds terribly dramatic, but this is what it’s like to be a person with depression and anxiety. It ebbs and flows with no warning. I wake up some days and just know. Oh no…it’s here, so heavy…I want to start walking…but no, I can’t. That’s too hard. It’s like waking with an itchy sore throat, a full chest and head. A cold. No cure, so common. Arriving out of the blue and staying until it feels like going. This week it is gone. Just like that. Poof. I feel…good. I wish I could explain the sporadic nature of this coming and going, follow its course to the edge and back again, […]

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Just Write {194}

September 22, 2015

The light is different when autumn comes. It is less heavy on the air, and more sideways. That might only make sense to me, but that’s okay. We are looking forward to the colors changing, and they will, all of the sudden, when we’re not looking. We do this too, you know, you and I…we change all of the sudden when we aren’t looking. If you stare, it won’t happen. Or it will, but you won’t be able to tell. Look away, go and do, the change will come. I have had the feeling of floating through, and not in a good letting-go kind of way. This is more of a stunned silence. Only a creaking on the stairs, or a heavy fog over the water, no light cutting in sideways. I want to come through to the other side now. It has been a long wait. When you are the depressive type, you can […]

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Just Write {160}

November 4, 2014

Everyone had the look of sleep-deprivation. Dark circles and an accidental or on-purpose perma-frown. We all have eyes that glisten with the soft glow of just waking up, even if we’ve been up for hours. We got to set our clocks back. Our bodies are confused about this. I ran into a friend at Goodwill and she said she normally wakes up at six, like clock work, pun intended. And now she wakes up at five. Or that is what the clock says anyway, and so the day is just so long. It’s darker and longer. Winter’s slow and then fast arrival feels foreboding, and I told another friend that it settles in on me, and I have no choice but to keep thinking of spring. Sara Groves says “hope stands in defiance” and I like that because I like to think of hope standing there with hands on hips, and maybe I’m […]

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Don’t worry, I won’t pretend to be an expert on depression or any mental illness or addiction for that matter. I could try to do that, telling you I have a degree in Psychology and ten years experience working professionally with people struggling with mental illness. I could tell you that I have struggled myself, with both depression and addiction and I am sober and I’m better. That I know how it feels. I could tell you how many people I’ve known who have taken their own lives. In a way, I guess I’m telling you all of that. But none of it matters, so let’s not focus on it. Nothing makes any person an expert on another person’s pain, mental health, life, or death. And yet there sure are a lot of self-proclaimed experts out there, especially on the Internet. And lately I’ve been so immersed in life that I am very […]

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Just Write {63}

November 26, 2012

My feet won’t warm up. Today I learned how to make a water warmer for the chicken coop; a thing to set under the water so it doesn’t freeze. Now I just need to actually make the water warmer for the chicken coop. It looks so easy and the post even said it takes less than ten minutes. It’s getting so cold, the water freezes too fast. I’m in and out, trudging across the backyard with my puffy coat on, hood up, to bring fresh warm water that will freeze in about an hour. But I keep doing it, because chickens get thirsty too. So back and forth I go. We went to buy a warmer in the store yesterday but it just felt like there were so many hurdles. The price, the kids asking questions and going into other aisles and then wanting suckers. The farm store always has them asking for […]

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September 26, 2012

I’m sad. Which makes very little sense considering I’m excited and happy. I spent the day with my cousin and her groom on Saturday, taking pictures. Their wedding took place at a beautiful camp on a beautiful lake surrounded by beautiful fall leaves. My cousin, she is almost strangely similar to me. She’s creative and sensitive, giggly and anxious, friendly and maybe a little scared. Her eyes are the brightest blue; they matched the lake in the background. She is many years younger than I, and her youth shines from her skin and her smile and her hair is the most beautiful blonde flowy hair.  When I was her age, I downed Dr. Pepper like it was water and furiously chewed the left over ice cubes. Amby does the exact same thing. I’m working on editing some of the pictures from her day so I can send them to she and Michael before […]

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I avoided discomfort for most of my life. Now I’m learning to sit in it–to walk through it, not around it–but I still had the idea that discomfort would only come in waves. Ebb and flow. Easy then hard, then easy then hard. Like life was like a carousel moving slowly with the scenery changing from good to bad. It seemed like people take their turns, you know? That their seasons are marked with Joy or Pain, one or the other. It looks like that, when you’re a child because you hear about the Big Things but adults don’t really talk to you about all the constants. And it looks like that as an adult because we compare a lot and comparing makes everything seem big and black and white and one way or the other. I’m finally learning, since I can’t escape it anymore, that discomfort is there all the time. Of […]

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March 5, 2012

{this post was inspired by my own story and also Maggie May’s post Anxiety: A Plague, Years of Wonder. Her words help me more fully understand myself and for that I am always grateful.} It feels ridiculous sometimes. I am a grown woman and my husband is holding my hand and taking me to the doctor, carefully. I sit there, child’s pose and Dr. M. says my face looks brighter, better than the first time. Yes, I’m feeling a little more like I can see myself. She increases the dosage of medication that will hopefully round off the corners of some of this anxiety and depression. She says the medicine will at first make the symptoms worse and then better. I hate that I need a medication that is so confused about itself. She was right. I can’t sleep because of the all the drunk monkeys in my head, pounding around, my eyes flying […]

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Just Write {24}

February 28, 2012

It was a hard afternoon. Sometimes I’m just struck with the heaviest feeling, my whole body going kind of weak and I’m just done. I was sitting on the bed with Asher standing next to me. He was looking up at the wall at a vintage print we have of a boy going fishing. I was sitting hunched and staring at him, taking him in and I said, Asher, I love you. He didn’t seem to hear me because he looked right at me suddenly and very seriously said, How come you can’t see God? That’s a good question, honey. Mommy. Lift your head up. Look up. And ask Him. So I did, kind of awkwardly, God, why can’t I see you? and it kind of made me want to cry. I told Asher that I think I can’t see God because He’s a mystery, a good mystery and that what we find out about Him is always about love. […]

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Oh friends. I’m sitting here overwhelmed with gratitude for the way you’re taking your time to email me with your stories and/or your willingness for me to ask you some questions if you’ve had your tubes tied. (See part one about the aftermath of a tubal ligation.) Writing about this here has been so eye-opening, and that’s a complete understatement.  What I know for sure is that doctors a) don’t know enough about this and/or b) don’t take it seriously by way of blaming other possibilities for the symptoms. But I know, I just know, that there’s no way that it is a coincidence that this many women would be experiencing the same thing after having had their tubes tied. Many of you are asking what my symptoms are and yes, I’m willing to share. The only reason I didn’t in my first post is because I didn’t want to lead people to believe […]

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a different thing

February 17, 2012

That kid’s song says, “it’s alright to cry, crying gets the sad out of you” and I always thought it might be a lie. It doesn’t seem like it’s alright. So I would sing it as a kid and it would choke me up right there at school with no reason. It still makes me cry to sing the crying song, especially lately because this anxiety thing is wearing out my body and I’m so damn depressed. You might be wondering why in the world I would listen to that song, but I don’t know, it just came on with the ipod on shuffle because there are a lot of kid songs on there. It takes all I have to give to walk over and turn the power on, make the music start to change the house song, to keep going. But I did the hokey pokey. Miles watched with such intensity waiting […]

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it’s electric

February 1, 2012

  {photo credit} Everything was too hard yesterday. Like how the dish rag was in the bottom of the sink under all the dishes that were filled with water. Uncovering it and rinsing it out and ringing it out would just be too hard so I walked away and left it all there. By three o’clock I was so tired of my own tired with pressure behind the eyes, so I decided to be good and cheerful by making cookies. Except by making cookies I mean the pull apart kind but even then, they kept pulling apart not along the lines so there were big and small ones after baking even though they were supposed to be all one square-gone-round size. Miles thought they were taking too long. Ten minutes from start to finish. Cookies. Done. Not too long. But I understand, I want start to finish now now now, too. We can’t […]

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November 3, 2011

Maybe happiness is a choice just about as much as it is not. I guess having half a choice is better than nothing. I would prefer it handed over on a silver platter me with all my excuses and no work just ruminating. It doesn’t happen like that and I know it. But I forget. Sometimes it’s hard to even make the choice to try or to work at anything at all. Sometimes the sad and tired makes you think things that keep you so very stuck. That’s me anyway. Then I do this forgetting. Forgetting that I’m putting most of my energy, my choice, into imploding. I’m focusing so hard on the bad bad bad that I’m searing it’s shape right into the very core of my brain and then it wants to travel to my heart and soul. I’m so thankful that I have people in my life who cut it […]

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Strong Start Day ~ 2011

October 5, 2011

I am not shy about my uneasy truths. I think it’s because truth gets covered up in grace when it is spoken, not hidden. Even if it’s a long road to grace after the telling comes. I struggle with anxiety and depression and it gets worse after I grow a baby and then have a baby and then feed a baby. This is so common, but like alcoholism, we mothers don’t talk about it very easily.  And then we wonder if we’re the only one feeling this heaviness, this cloud of melancholy that has nothing to do with whether or not we love our babies. Being online has made it possible for us to start talking if we’ve had no other way. If this talking is not happening in our mom groups or at preschool drop-off or with the ladies at our places of worship or on our blocks, we can find it […]

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My Dad asked about postpartum depression yesterday. He asked when it usually sets in. I couldn’t clear my head to answer the question because I don’t sleep enough to have normal conversations. I don’t know exactly what I said, but what I meant was something like, “as soon as the baby comes out…or anytime after that. Or even while you’re still pregnant.” I don’t know if it’s happening to me. Again. Maybe it is. It’s hard to tell without sleeping much at all. What I do know is that this is hard and that I cry a lot. As much as I don’t want to cry, as much as I just want to constantly feel joy, that’s not my reality. Sometimes I cry because I sing to Elsie when she’s crying and I just can’t hold it back. I’m a horrible singer and I really really mean the words… There you go with […]

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again and again

January 8, 2011

Everything keeps coming out wrong. I try to write what this week held and I just can’t. I feel that way about going downstairs to change the laundry, too. I think of doing it and then I just can’t. I walk to the bed and lie down instead, like it’s the only option in the world. That’s what I do sometimes. I suppose it’s pregnancy hormones or the winter blues. It just feels extra cold and dark in every way lately and then when hard things happen, they feel extra hard. My thoughts get too heavy behind my eyes and then I just can’t pick up the book or the phone or write it out or play slap jack again. Or go downstairs for the laundry. Something strange is happening though, because I don’t feel like a horrible person or even a horrible mother over it. This is new. Usually I’m very very […]

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Rewriting my name

September 13, 2009

If a weekend could take human form and walk around, mine would be a haggard and shuffling old man. As I sat on the floor and rifled through old boxes of letters and journals from my past at my parent’s house this weekend, I knew I was taking a risk. You see, my past is definitely tainted with things that bring me pain, things I won’t name here, things that still sit in boxes, waiting to be healed. They are ugly things, some that were out of my control and some that were in it. So I ran down memory lane instead of strolling, holding my breath and leaping over pot holes, eyes scanning the pages in a bit of shock. At one point, I tripped. I took a sharp curve and landed face down in the dirt of my own mistakes and the mistakes of others in my life. And there on […]

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Passing the Bed

July 31, 2009

He has asked so many questions that don’t have answers and I’m just so tired. I ask him to help his brother. I say, “He’s going to get hurt, can you help him?” He asks, “Why will he get hurt?” I answer through gritted teeth, “He just will! Just help him!” Then he sighs and his big blue eyes look sad and I wish I could find the strength for more patience and less surprising anger. When I walk into my room to get dressed, I pass the crumpled bed and want to get in it. I want to curl up on my side and cry. I’m not sure why, but I want to do it. I start to walk that way and then I see her, the me in my mind’s eye, on her side in the bed where I am not. She looks like she’s repeating history. She is carrying this […]

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