Raising Elves

As wild as nature. Myself, parenting and natural remedies blog.


Leave a comment

Trauma, depression and children.

Thinking back, in conversation with others, about the phases my eldest has gone through, has spurred on a serious whirlwind style re-cap of the last five years since I became a mother.

At first, I was seeing it all in a self-centred way. Phrasing it like I was a victim (although sometimes it did feel that way, I fully admit it was/is a self absorbed, immature kind of way). How I labelled her third year the traumatising threes. Then I’d go on and think about how I did not even have those fantastic fours which was the pep talk to get me through those threes.

You’d swear she was a tyrant. Which she wasn’t. She was normal.

These days, I see snippets of who she is becoming and she is just so wholly beautiful my heart swells. She is nearly 5.5 now. Still whinge-y and wild but I’m so proud of her. She has come a long way, through social anxiety, intense shyness and of course, this tiny little person has lived through her mothers depression. A trauma of its own.

And it is this sudden realisation where I stop in my tracks. A big dead heavy STOP and my breath sucks in deep and I hold it for a long moment; only for it to slowly stutter out of my lungs as if there were clumps of earth in my trachea. The kitchen tears away from my psyche and suddenly I’m standing out on a dirt road in a bland desert. The twisted crunch of dry hard stones under my boots has a grating echo vibrating through my body. The air is hot and dry, suffocating. There is no wind. No sound. No leaves rustling. An empty void giving me the space for this realisation to take hold.

 

3296470751_3a9a861d1f

 

She is here five years and I was severely depressed for the first 2 years of her life and then (milder, thankfully) again after I had her sister.

There I was. So deeply stuck in my own crippling, heavy, world of depression that I never even took stock to measure how this little one was suffering too. I was so focused on my own surviving that I disassociated from hers.

Imagine coming into this world to a mother who fights daily, those thoughts that are trying to take her out of it.

I only heard it there recently, for the first time, a new narrator in my head.

It said ‘I want to be alive’.

What a smack that was. To hear, for the first time in… as long as I can remember, a new inner voice. One that actually wants to be alive.

That is intense, I know. In recent months I’ve been working to find the root of this and it seems to all fall back on the car accident I was in when I was ten. I had what some might call a near death experience. Or, well, a death experience. I just remember being sucked back into my mind and waking up, instantly alert, to give people my home phone number.

A fearful memory that subsequently has led me to teach my eldest my phone number, back when she was just aged three.

It’s since then that I’ve had this overriding feeling. Was it fear? Is that what suffocated my will to live? By live I mean to live, not just be alive. I’ve mastered staying alive through depression. I have never shared this aspect of depression with you before. That way of thinking lives on the shameful side of the depressive spectrum.

Really though, what I really came back with, was premature self consciousness. Self consciousness and an immature mind do not live well together; and I think that is what they mean when they say, ‘let kids be kids’. Leave them in their ignorance, for that is peace. I lost that peace, violently, when I was ten.

There are worse traumas; war, abuse, grief. So in one way I struck it lucky. On the other side of that coin, though, it was left for a long time because it was easy to dismiss once the physical healing took place. I never looked at it as a trauma. It was just something that happened. Once my physical body recovered and I started, as a coping mechanism, living as if a chameleon, it was easy to forget the psychological, emotional and spiritual trauma of the experience. It didn’t help that I never verbalised it. How could I? I came back into my body in survival mode. I didn’t trust life. I didn’t trust myself. I had lost faith. Everyone around me was clueless because my coping method is silence. Pretend everything is under control. Blend in.

***************

The voice that says “I want to be alive” does not mean that I have been saying that I want to die all this time (although there have been times, during my darkest hours). I’ve just never wanted to live. It was like, staying alive was a battle enough, a burden. To actually LIVE always seemed out of reach and much of my living has revolved around the quest to be healed.

Finding the originating factor of the depression has been a blessing. I’ve been able to see that before that time, the accident, my hazy memories are happy, content and easy going. That who I was before the accident was a settled, secure child; well protected, loved and supported.

It is easy to blend in through childhood and adolescence because you’re busy. You’re busy being directed into adulthood by guiding hands. It is only when you become an adult that the shit hits the fan because, well, you are alone. No matter how much support you have, you are alone when navigating your inner world. Until then, you’ve been told what to think, what to feel or, more aptly, what not to feel; and what to be.

So there I was, lost in my inner world while this little one went on about her traumatising threes, ferocious fours and so on. Being born onto a depressive is a trauma. It is not war, or abuse or grief. Although, maybe grief lives there at times, especially in more severe lifelong cases.

They have a right to be angry, or insecure. Or both. It’s a good thing. When they stand up and fight. When they moan, scream and whine. It means they’re safe. They know they are loved. Coming from my perspective, it is the silence that is worrisome. Silence comes from fear.

 It is a natural process, those terrible twos, threes, fours, fives and beyond.

There is a whole person evolving inside this tiny being, trauma or not.

It is precious.

I am truly grateful for the honour to bear witness to it,

and to live for it too.

 

 


3 Comments

Every depression is valid

Sometimes it’s acute.

Sometimes it’s chronic.

Sometimes it’s severe.

Sometimes it’s mild.

Sometimes it’s just depression.

Sometimes it’s depression and anxiety and paranoia and ocd

maybe mania alternating with severe lethargy,

or suicidal ideation

or suicidal

and millions of other symptoms that there are no words for,

that have to be labelled as a condition beyond depression.

Sometimes it’s just depression.

Sometimes you can get out of bed, strap a smile on your face and nobody,

NOBODY, can guess what you are hiding.

Sometimes you just can’t hide it.

Or get out of bed.

Sometimes you’re nuts.

Sometimes you’re sane.

Sometimes you can’t control yourself.

Sometimes you can’t stop controlling yourself.

Sometimes you have it once.

Other times it doesn’t go away and is a chronic illness, you need to manage.

Depression is a wide, infinite, spectrum.

Every single experience is unique.

It’s genes, it’s receptors, it’s environment, it’s lifestyle, it’s trauma, or, it just is what it is.

No matter how severe, or mild it is,

whether you use prescriptions or exercise or counselling,

or everything.

Or nothing.

EVERY depression is valid.

 

 

My Random Musings


19 Comments

Wave Riding (when depression ends)

It’s no secret that life is tidal.

Up and down, back and forth.

Always moving, sometimes crashing.

Some of us handle it better than others.

Some are riding bigger waves.

But we’ve all had to learn to ride them.

Some are natural born wave-riders.

Others are swallowing buckets of salt water and barely reaching the surface for air.

Magnificents were born deep under the water but found their way out and won life over.

Then there were those of us who were born wave-riders but trauma set us back.

****************

That is me. I was born upright, skimming those waves on fearless feet.

But I got hit.

Literally.

***************

By a car.

When I was ten.

I left my body.

I came back into it.

Changed.

Fearful. With a hole inside of me.

When I recovered, I built myself a ship. So I could ride the waves of life, protected.

Although I was protected behind this hard steel shell. I was dry.

This ship floated from destination to destination,

I stayed dry while I watched others surf, and fall.

Then surf and thrive.

Inspired, I might have dived back in again.

Only to quickly swim back to ship because I’ve forgotten how.

Then after a while, you realise your life is stuck.

There you are, sitting on your empty ship, listening to the ominous creeks,

trying to remember,

when you used to be wet,

and alive.

So you work on a way to dive back in.

You tie a rope around your waist and dive in, only to pull yourself back up.

Unfinished business.

You keep trying. Waiting.

Waiting for the clouds to lift.

You experiment with chemistry to see if they’ll go away.

All kinds of tricks.

Everything. You try everything.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, you find the formula.

Sometimes there is no formula but you have to find a way to just ride the storms.

Bring your crazy to the ocean because those clouds are going nowhere.

****************

When the depression lifts and you feel like your real self again…

It’s magic.

I’m ready to cut that rope and dive in.

To clear, fresh moments and cloudy aspirations.

Coming up for simple, deep breaths, for no reason.

Not to relax or unwind or to become mindful.

Just me right there, breathing that air, with no need for a reason.

Or an explanation.

Or a purpose.

Just being.

***************

Of course, I have to start from the beginning.

I have to relearn everything- joy, peace, survival.

There I am, in the deep with unborn souls, babies, kids and the plenty of adults who,

like me,

delayed.

For whatever reason.

My arms are weak but they keep going. Once I get afloat I’ll find it.

My wave.

And I’ll f*cking own it.

You will see me soon, at the shore, and we will ride alongside one another.

And I’ll realise that there is room for me on this Earth.

I have a place.

Then we’ll meet on the beach, light a fire, laugh.

We’ll look at the stars,

and I will feel the universe in my belly,

again.

And for the first time, in a long time,

I will want to be alive.

***************

Radical Face: Welcome Home

 


25 Comments

Depression is not Dirty Laundry

I find it incredible, the reactions I receive from some folk after I have written about depression or shared posts about depression on my Facebook page.

For the most part, friends or loved ones might mention, the next time they see me, that they read it and ask how I am doing. Nothing huge. No big deal. Just a gentle reminder that they care for me.

Some might say nothing at all- and that is perfectly OK too as they might not have anything to say about it, or might just not know what to say. But they acknowledge it in other ways through simple acts of kindness.

Some might be uncomfortable letting me know that they read my blog, which I understand.

Very occasionally, I find a small number of people change.They may be hostile or passive aggressive- I don’t know what airing my depression triggers in them. Embarrassment? Are they embarrassed that someone else might read or know about it? About me? Some may post on Facebook about how people should just get on with it or how we all choose to create our own happiness. The folk who react like this are minuscule (and of course they may actually not be reacting to me, because, I know it’s not all about me), but I need to be clear when I say this:

finaltree

I don’t care for attention. I don’t care for pity. Let me tell you now, I would much rather FEEL the happiness and joy that is in my head.

And although I cannot always FEEL my joy and although, sometimes, there is a chemical cloud suffocating my joy, I will never stop talking about it.

Why?

Because there are people out there who suffer in silence. People who have depression and don’t even realise they have depression. People who end up causing serious harm to themselves at this time of year. People who commit suicide just to get away from the pain that many people simply cannot fathom to exist. But it does.

Why do I risk being seen as a person looking for attention, or airing their dirty laundry or simply not behaving the way you want me to behave?

Because I CARE about those suffering in silence. I want them to know they are not alone. I want them to know that although I may not be capable of empathising with the depths their depression takes them, I can say to them that they are not alone, that it is nothing to be ashamed of and that even if there are a few incredibly stubbornly ignorant people out there who seem to think depression is something you choose, I understand.

And I have hope. I have hope that one day people will feel brave enough to own it, and find ways to pull themselves out of the gutter or to even just survive while they are down there. I have hope that one day people who have never experienced depression will see it as yet another physical illness- because it is.

It is physical. It is debilitating. It is the loneliest place you will ever find yourself. It is the worst pain. The pain you can’t escape. The kind of pain that makes you wish for death.

Depression is NOT a choice.

It’s the cards you’ve been dealt.

And I have no problem exposing all that is flawed within me to the world.

HERE.I.AM.

FLAWED. IMPERFECT.

DAMAGED GOODS.

I am more than that, though. Much more. But those things aren’t as important to talk about.

Nobody suffers being a good mother. Nobody suffers being a caring, empathic person. Nobody suffers being good craic. Nobody suffers being accepting of others. That is not suffering.

I don’t need to tell the world how fucking amazing I am and I sure as hell am not going to lie.

I need to speak to those suffering in silence from a physical disease, in a world that seems to think it’s a ‘makey-uppy’ excuse for feeling a bit sad.

Depression is a debilitating illness that has serious consequences if it continues to be brushed under the carpet with ‘You’ll be grand’ or ‘Sure aren’t we all a bit down sometimes, and don’t we all just get on with it’.

So, if you have found this post and it is relevant to you I implore you to please not take offense. I implore you to hear me. I implore you to not respond to a depressive with a suck it up, or a lecture on choosing happiness. If you don’t know what to say because you don’t understand it, you can stay silent, you know?

Or you could just be honest and say:

I really don’t understand depression, but it sounds really awful. You really don’t deserve that and I hope you get better soon. (Optional) Is there anything I can do to help?

Watch this: (Many thanks to Emily in comments for this recommended watching) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

 

 


21 Comments

Those sh*t mornings where you fail at being a mother

Well. Here I am again.

Sitting at the table waiting on the consolatory tea to be made.

With that heavy sh*t feeling in my chest.

Wondering if I’ve set her up for a really sh*t day,

All because you couldn’t just keep your sh*t together.

Failure.

Failure.

Failure.

The word that goes through your head.

As you put her tiny face in your hands and look into those eyes,

and say,

with conviction,

‘Have a good day;

I Love you’.

And you squeeze her face too tight

because you want to erase the moment where you were

a fucking asshole.

And I return home to the kitchen,

that I have been praying for silence in,

all morning.

Which is now silent.

Except for a rumbling tummy

and I realise I haven’t eaten.

I think of all the ways I might make up for my impatience,

as I pick at an eggshell.

But then the insurance guy rings and the day begins for me,

two hours after I dragged myself out of bed.

Then I think of all those great parents I know and I wonder why they never talk about these moments.


12 Comments

What do you think when you look at a photo of yourself?

I found a photo of myself recently, from when I was about 16.

wpid-wp-1428848902899.jpeg

The only reason why it still exists is because my old dog is in it.

I hate seeing myself in photos.

Many, many, photos of myself have been torn up, destroyed, burned and thrown out.

********************

Is it seeing myself through a different lens that makes me so… anxious?

I think it is the thought that this is what I look like to the world.

Not what the mirror reflects but what the camera projects.

What do people see when they look at me?

I cannot possibly imagine because when I look at myself in this way I am fully exposed and also so critical and cruel.

I know exactly what is going on behind those eyes, those tense shoulders, that taut jaw.

When we look at others we can only speculate as to the meaning behind their facial expressions and the way they hold themselves. We can never know for sure what is really going on. It is always speculation, no matter how good we think we are at reading people.

When I look at a photo of myself I see the wrung out stomach, the breath holding, the un-shed tears and the conflicting personality.

The silent sensitivity -vs- excessive talking.

The lack of self esteem -vs- self confidence.

The fixer -vs- the brokenness.

I see that unshakable feeling of being so un-likeable yet I still just throw myself out there into the world.

Here I am‘, I wave excitedly and over-enthusiastically while I let myself all hang out without a filter.

I then feel exposed and vulnerable, rejected because I reject myself and like I don’t fit in yet still insist on being there really fucking awkwardly.

Still I throw myself in to the middle despite it all.

I pose for photos (vainly on my good side of course), chat on the street, join clubs and facebook groups. I call for people, organise playdates and actively get to know new people.

Just be yourself is easy to say, but, is the world ready for that? Is society ready for us all to just be ourselves?

********************

When I observe how looking at this photo effects me I wish I knew what people thought of me because, surely, it can’t be as bad as I think.

I imagine that the self-deprecating habit I developed as a young person has become more literate and vicious than what most people would be capable of thinking about me.

As I hear myself wishing that, that voice crops up and lambastes me for needing from others. Needing approval.

Then, when I calm down I realise that that voice feeds off of my sense of rejection and that same need for approval.

If I stop needing approval then I can’t feel rejected. I suppose.

Maybe then that voice will be gone.

A part of me does throw myself out there from a ‘I don’t need approval‘ place but when I do, I just feel weird and alone in my over-enthusiasm and the way I wear socks with my Birks 😉

When I feel this way I pull myself back out by reminding myself that my husband chose me. This man who quietly leaves fools to suffer themselves. He lets very few people in. You can count his complete trustees on one hand and of those people I am honoured to stand alongside them. So that makes me feel better. To be liked by someone like him? For someone like him to actually want my company? The most honest and loving person I’ve ever met? So comfortable in his un-coolness he’s actually cool? That’s an honour.

I realise now that I mustn’t be that bad.

********************

Back to the photo.

What do you think when you look at a photo of yourself?

Tell me I am not alone in the psychoanalyses?


4 Comments

The context with which I write

As a blog reader, I have come to think about how I write and how I come across as I write.

My writing has really evolved over the last year. 

When I first set up the blog, it was to practice writing. I have always loved using writing for self expression and understanding.

I have also plenty of book/story ideas inside that I struggle to settle down and commit to so the blog was the first step in committing to write.

I have learned a lot.

I have learned that sometimes you may not always come across as you want to.

Not only from a choice of words perspective but I have learned that readers are always reading from their perspective so it will be altered no matter what. As a writer, this is something I really need to be aware of. I need to try and see how my words can be interpreted from different angles and if, in anyway, my words might be interpreted with a negative impact.

Also, often when I write on a topic I am writing the there and now of it. Because of this, my topics and opinions might chop and change over time. Myinternalworld is just that- my internal world. The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. The clever and the not so clever. It is everything. I am everything- these Alanis Morrisette lyrics come to mind when I think of myself (and people in general): 

“Everything”

I can be an asshole of the grandest kind
I can withhold like it’s going out of style
I can be the moodiest baby and you’ve never met anyone
Who is as negative as I am sometimes

I am the wisest woman you’ve ever met.
I am the kindest soul with whom you’ve connected.
I have the bravest heart that you’ve ever seen
And you’ve never met anyone
Who’s as positive as I am sometimes.

You see everything, you see every part
You see all my light and you love my dark
You dig everything of which I’m ashamed
There’s not anything to which you can’t relate
And you’re still here

I blame everyone else, not my own partaking
My passive-aggressiveness can be devastating
I’m terrified and mistrusting
And you’ve never met anyone as,
As closed down as I am sometimes.

(Chorus repeated)

What I resist, persists, and speaks louder than I know
What I resist, you love, no matter how low or high I go

I’m the funniest woman that you’ve ever known
I’m the dullest woman that you’ve ever known
I’m the most gorgeous woman that you’ve ever known
And you’ve never met anyone
Who is as everything as I am sometimes

(Chorus repeated)

It’s one of my most favourite songs- check it out here if you haven’t heard it before

I have just become aware of how some of my themes might effect people. This awareness came to me after reading a recent discussion about certain negative things that go on online such as ‘Fat Shaming’.

For example, my posts on sugar are never orientated toward dieting or extreme eating. They are just my processing of something that is a deal in my life as a self-aware ‘sugar fiend’ and also as I am carefully monitoring my blood sugars throughout this pregnancy-at the request and direction of the hospital dietician. I think I managed to strike a balance in my last post but I hate to think that I am contributing to the NO sugar trend when I am actually just talking about eating sugar in a moderate, mindful and non-addictive way. Also, I am hyper sensitive to the food I eat- I have a lifelong history with IBS and decade long food intolerances. So, food topics are big, complex issues for me and always will be.  

Another example for context would be my interest in fitness. The context there is that genetically, I have a fight on my hands. Fitness does not come naturally to me and after having worked hard to achieve a personal sense of fitness (not anywhere near fit fit) I enjoy blogging about my journey. This is nothing to do with achieving the ‘perfect’ body. I actually love my very feckin’ imperfect body very much. My commitment to fitness is first and foremost a depression preventative more than anything. My theme ‘A Fatty’s guide to’ is my way of letting you know that I am nowhere near a fitness guru and I naturally carry more fat rather than naturally being on the muscular/athletic side. Even when I am at a normal weight and working out I have more fat on my body than muscle and I have no interest of going to any extreme to get beyond that. So long as I fit into my comfy jeans and can run around after my Elf I am happy. Also, I have no opinion of anybody else’s body/weight/fitness levels. Unless it’s Jason Statham as I might go as far to say what a ride he is. 

When I write about depression I write from the context of this perspective:

My depression was ‘indigenous’ as in: chemical. It was easily fixed with SSRI’s. My depression was mild- I hid/lived with it for years before I was diagnosed. I still have low days. What used to be low weeks are now low days and can often be associated with hormones or if I had been drinking alcohol a few days before. I can also connect my worst bouts of depression with going on the pill. I have no other experiences with other forms of depression or severe depression- so my tips are based on the above points only. Also, absolute truth is that I technically don’t have depression anymore. Those magnificent SSRI’s rebalanced me so good. My perspective is about depression prevention. When you’ve lived with mild depression for as long as I have and suddenly realise that daily life is amazing after you’ve be re-set, you will do all you can to make sure it never happens again.

To summarise, if ever I write something that makes you feel irked, odd, annoyed, bothered or something along those lines, please know that my intention is not to do that. It is just my perspective of where I am at right now. This is my journey. Sometimes, it might flow parallel to yours and sometimes it will go off in the opposite direction. That makes no-ones journey any more or less than anyone else’s. Please just know that I am never trying to be offensive and am not about shock tactics or trying to get a reaction. 

Finally, these things won’t be moving to the new blog. My new blog has an aim and that is to leave my reader feeling happy, nostalgic, inspired or positive. I am moving beyond the topics above anyway but I feel it’s important to be clear as to the context with which I write.

As always, thanks for reading.

(PS. Robotman is sitting down with me tonight to sort out all the technical thingy majiggies on the new blog so hopefully we will see it launching soon!)

Laura