2.10.2020

Love

For many reasons that I won't explain now, this last week has been really difficult. The darkness of depression has been unbearably heavy, and I have once again battled for my life. As with so many times when I am in that scary, lonely place, there were miracles that saw me through, not the big miracle of having the struggle magically disappear, but little miracles of strength and light that allowed me to be okay, even when the struggle remained. I realized this morning that all of these miracles had one thing in common, and that thing was LOVE.

--There was the love of my husband who willingly came home from church early with me yesterday because that's what I needed, who patiently listened to me share the heaviness on my mind for the millionth time, and then who reassured me this morning that I am deserving of his love and kindness.

--The love of several good friends who were willing to share with me personal, powerful truths for why they choose to live and what gives them hope.

--The love of another wonderful friend who brought clarity to my mind about something that has confused and hurt and tested my faith for so long. It suddenly made sense in a way that it never has before, and my faith was strengthened.

--The love of yet another kind friend who rearranged her day to spend time with me. When she told me that she had changed her plans so we could be together, her love instantly broke through the thick walls of my mind, and I remembered that I am worth someone else's time and love.

--The love of my kids who are always willing to hug me and who consistently remind me that they want and need me just as I am.

So, if you're wondering how to help someone you know who is struggling, someone who is going through something unimaginably difficult, the answer might be simpler than you think. Just show them you love them.

1.20.2020

One Small Victory

Lately, I've been frustrated, because I see little bits of progress in my depression, but they are slow and seem so very small compared to what I wish for. I know I have to be patient, and thankfully I have good people around me who help me focus on how far I've come vs. how far I have left to go, but it's still hard wanting to feel better than I do.

Today, though, I saw a leap of progress, and I'm counting it as a win! This may not seem like a lot to anyone else, but to me, it's huge.

Last March, I had to make cupcakes for a young women's activity. I bought a cake mix and frosting, because heaven knows I wasn't about to make them from scratch. I told myself that I could do this, I had agreed to do this, and it shouldn't have been that hard, but I was in the middle of trying a new medication that made it nearly impossible to get out of bed or function, so the thought of adding a few ingredients to a cake mix, baking the cupcakes, and then frosting them was literally beyond my ability at that time. I felt dumb. I mean seriously, who can't make stupid cupcakes from a box?! After fighting and fighting and FIGHTING myself to try to make the cupcakes, I finally opened up to my friend Kristina, probably in tears, and told her how I couldn't make the cupcakes. She immediately invited me to come to her house, and she kindly baked and frosted the cupcakes for me.

Last week, I was at Walmart and saw a cute unicorn cookie cutter in the Valentine's Day section. I thought about Brooklyn and how much she would love making unicorn cookies, so I bought it and promised her that we would make cookies soon. But things have been so hard lately. The depression is still very much a part of my life, as well as pretty severe anxiety now as a result of this new medication, so I kept putting off making the cookies, hoping for some good day to come along. That day still hasn't come, but since she didn't have school today, I decided that today was the day, regardless of how I felt. I pulled together all the strength and motivation I could find, made the cookie dough and frosting from scratch, and we decorated cookies. I DID IT!!!

I don't know why life is so hard sometimes or why the littlest of tasks can be nearly impossible to accomplish, but I find hope in moments like this that tell me I will get there. Someday. Little by little. One small victory at a time.

1.05.2020

Brave

I haven't wanted to write this, because I haven't wanted it to be real. While this new medication I've been on for the last month has helped with some of the lowest lows, it has also made me incredibly anxious and emotional. I cry for hours every day and worry incessantly about everything. What if Kyle gets sick of my crazy and decides not to come home to me after work one day? What if he dies in a car accident on the way home? What if one of my kids chokes or stops breathing or gets kidnapped in the night? What if my doctor stops believing me or thinks this isn't real or tells me I need to find a new doctor? What if everyone I love stops caring about me and I'm left all alone? What if this medication never helps and there is nothing out there to make me better? And then I worry that if I tell someone all of these things, they will feel burdened or think I'm exaggerating or stop loving me.

This is day in and day out for the last couple of weeks, except for a few good hours. It's exhausting and irrational. Sometimes I can see how irrational it is, but that still doesn't take away my racing heart and shaking legs and tightening throat. So I cry, mostly alone, and wonder where and when I will find peace.

Right now, we're sticking with this same medication, trying to be patient to give it the best shot at working, and desperately praying for better days to come. There have to be better days ahead.

12.23.2019

Kootenai Hospital

Kootenai Hospital holds many memories for me this year. First, I went there in August when I started bleeding while pregnant and was told that my baby looked great and was most likely going to be fine. Second, I went there in September to have a D&C after losing that sweet baby. Third, I went there at the beginning of December to be admitted to the psych unit after fighting through two of the darkest months I’ve ever experienced. And fourth, I went there today to take all the fuzzy socks that everyone donated to that same psych unit.

Going to this hospital brings a rush of emotions and memories now. There’s sadness for the loss we experienced after feeling hope, for the memory of waking up from surgery and being told that I cried out to the nurse, “All I wanted was to hold my baby,” for the rock bottom moment when I knew that I had to be admitted but not knowing if I could ever be okay again. But it’s not all sadness. There’s also the tender, happy, relieving memory of hearing my baby’s heartbeat (the only time I would get to hear a healthy heartbeat before there was barely a heartbeat and then no heartbeat anymore). There was that first memory after waking up from surgery of the nurse wiping away the tears that were falling down my cheeks and rubbing my hand to comfort me, even though she knew I wasn’t fully awake yet when I started crying. There was the beautiful compassion of a friend who gave up a few hours on her busy Saturday to sit with me in the ER, listen to what was on my mind and heart, and cry with me. There was the loving example of one nurse in particular who greeted me with the most beautiful smile when I first got to the psych unit and reassured me that I was going to be okay. When I thanked her later for being so kind, she said, “I just try to imagine what it’s like to be in that position. It must be scary and overwhelming, so I look at everyone like that and make it my job to fill them with love.” There was the hopeful moment when I met with the hormone psychiatrist and realized that it was still possible to find healing, because we simply weren’t on the right treatment plan yet. There was the emotional memory my husband visiting several times during my stay and feeling all of his love and support surround me. And then there was today, the healing, grateful moment when I could take all the sadness and heartbreak that this last year has brought into my life, and with the generosity of so many people, give a gift of comfort, warmth, light, and encouragement. All I wanted was to give 16 pairs of socks, one for each potential patient in that unit on Christmas, and I was able to give 54! I can’t even put into words how much that means to me and how much it has helped my heart find peace.

As I reflect back on my different experiences with this hospital in the last year, it all strengthens my testimony of Jesus Christ. Because of Him, there is no darkness, no pain, no heartache, no grief, and no sorrow that can’t be overcome. Because of Him, there is the chance to rise again when we have fallen, there is someone who understands through experience everything we go through and feel, and there is always hope. This Christmas season has been really emotional for me for lots of reasons, but through the love and kindness of so many people and my testimony of how the birth of Jesus Christ impacts my life, I’m slowly but surely getting back up from the dark place I was in and finding the strength to begin healing.

12.16.2019

Uplifting Notes

This morning, I couldn't stop crying. There were so many things on my mind-- how hard this last year has been, how hard it will be to fully heal from the things I've experienced, how confusing it is that we had to lose a baby which has caused a lot of this increased struggle and now have to wait so long to have another, how scary it is wondering if this new treatment plan will work, how hard it is to accept that sometimes our lives just don't go the way we thought they would, etc.-- and it all came out in non-stop tears. I dropped Brooklyn off at school and then drove to the store to make copies of the notes that will go inside the socks for the hospital. I sat in the parking lot for a good 10 minutes trying to pull myself together but with no luck. I finally decided to just get out and go, hoping my eyes weren't too red and my cheeks not too tear-stained.

I went inside and asked for 50 copies of each page on bright colored paper and then waited. While I was standing on the other side of the counter, I saw the woman making the copies reading each of the little notes. After she got done, she turned around and asked what this was for. I told her and watched as her whole body visibly melted and softened. And then she asked if she could make an extra copy, because she knows someone who without a doubt needs these words right now.

I started to cry. I couldn't get out the words, but what I wanted to tell her was that these are all words people have said to me in times when I have needed them most, and I'm simply passing on the love and kindness that others have shown to me. She was touched by hearing who would be receiving these uplifting messages and gave me a discount on the copies.

I walked out of the store with a smile on my face. Without knowing it, this woman lifted a huge burden and reminded me, once again, that there is some good that can come from darkness and pain. She warmed my heart today!

I wanted to share these notes with anyone else who needs them today. You are loved!




12.09.2019

The Hospital

This last Saturday, after five days of a depression so severe that I could hardly eat or drink anything, my body and mind were weak. The suicidal thoughts had raged constantly for days, and I had very little strength in fighting to overcome them. I texted one of my biggest supports over the last year who suggested that I go to the hospital to be admitted. I have considered this many times in the last two months as things have been so incredibly difficult but have never gone out of fear.

Three years ago, almost to the day, I was admitted to the hospital in Iowa, and it was a horrifying experience to say the least. I felt much more like a prisoner than a patient and vowed that I would never put myself through that kind of torture again. And yet, here I was, considering the thing that scared me most and knowing my life depended on it.

With hardly enough strength to talk, I called an angel of a friend and asked her if she could take me to the hospital so Kyle could be home with our kids. She dropped everything to come to my aid and stayed with me in the ER holding my hand, comforting me, and telling the nurses the things that were too hard for me to say.

After a few hours and a bag of IV fluids, the admission process was complete, and I was taken to the psych ward. I didn't know what to expect or feel until a kind, loving nurse greeted me. She treated me like a normal person with a big, hard problem, and I knew in that moment that I would be okay.

To make a long story short, I was able to meet with a psychiatrist who specializes in hormones, and she provided me with long-sought and earnestly prayed-for answers. We immediately stopped my previous medications and started a new treatment plan. Now I am waiting to see if this is the solution that can finally bring lasting relief.

Right now, I am cautiously optimistic and hopeful. I have been through a lot of dashed hopes in the last 3 years, so it's hard to feel completely sure about this one yet, but I'm holding onto faith in better days to come. I am also overwhelmed (in a good way) with all the love and support my family has been shown in this difficult time. We are beyond blessed and humbled to see the goodness of people all around us. I'm thankful to be home with my family now. We need each other. This painful road is not over yet, but I know that I'm not alone and will continue to be carried through my darkest days.

Kyle Avery shared this poem with me during one of his visits at the hospital. I could never do hard things without his love, support, encouragement, and strength.


12.04.2019

Joy

I read this quote this morning and it really touched my heart. I wanted to share in case it could touch or uplift another heart.

"Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place." ~Rumi


12.02.2019

Kyle's Christlike Example

When I think of someone who gives Christlike service, many wonderful people in my life come to mind. But the greatest example of Christlike service I will ever know is my husband. He has supported and loved me as we have weathered the storms of life together. Last week, I had a really really rough evening and cried far into the night as Kyle held me and I told him what was weighing so heavily on my heart and mind. The next morning, I woke up to find little love notes hanging all around our house. I don't know many people who would be so loving, kind, and patient through the hell we've been through in the last year, but Kyle has always been there. He may not understand what I feel, but he is willing to listen and comfort me and will repeat to me as many times as I need to hear it that he loves me and needs me just as I am. He gives me the strength to stay.

11.30.2019

Home

One year ago, we packed up our little apartment, left all of our Iowa friends and the comfort of a place we had called home behind, and traveled across the country to make a new home. I cried much of the three days and nights we drove as the anxiety of making new friends and adjusting to a new place felt overwhelming. I prayed a lot in those three days (actually it was just a continuation of many prayers I had prayed in the last month since finding out we were moving) that there would be people prepared to help our family face the darkness of depression that was just beginning to surround me again after delivering Garrett. I felt fear and loneliness as I wondered once again if anyone could love someone in a situation like mine. I worried that no one would understand me or care about me or be available to wrap me in their arms when my heart felt like it was breaking.

But I moved forward in faith knowing that this had felt right when the opportunity first presented itself and that Heavenly Father was aware and would take care of me and my family.

Little did I know at that time what wonderful people Heavenly Father had prepared for us-- people who would listen to countless hours of me explaining what my mind and heart felt, people who would ask questions because they really wanted to understand, people who would drop anything to sit with me while my world was dark, people who would repeat to me as many times as I needed to hear it that this struggle does not make me any less loved, people who would wrap me in their arms and cry with me when there were no words to say, people who would help me get the medical help I desperately needed, and people who would save me in the hardest year I have ever experienced. It brings me to tears when I think of the selfless service and kindness that has been shown to our family in the last year.

And now this place is home.


11.13.2019

Enjoy the Good

Every time I am manic (which is usually once a month for a day or two, maybe even a few if we are lucky🤞) Kyle says, "We know the next 24 hours will be good. What do we want to do with them?" I love having him by my side to spontaneously make the most of the good days and to help me get through the ugly days. We'll have to see what wonderful adventures tonight holds for us. I'm sensing a random trip to the thrift store to celebrate 😂
#EnjoyTheGood #SoHappyTogether #ThriftStoresRock #ManiaRocksMore