The Distant Mother

Now that I am a parent I am learning how different my childhood was. Not in the geographical sense or socioeconomic sense.  I grew up in south jersey in a typical middle class neighborhood.  I mean in the presence sense.  From a young age I remember coming home from school and just being alone.  Alone to make my own snack, alone to play and then engage in homework.  And it wasn’t because a parent wasn’t home.  Almost always mom or dad would be there.  But dad worked from home or was busy avoiding mom.  And mom, well, she was closed off.  Literally.  She would hole herself in her room for days at a time and would only come out to make us some dinner or tell us to go to bed.  Now as an adult I know it was due most likely to her mental illness issues but as a kid it was my normal. This behavior would roll into the weekends.  I have a sister and I remember us just going to play in the basement with our toys for the entire weekend, left to entertain ourselves and later on, feed ourselves.

Weeks would go by where this behavior would go on. And then all of a sudden mom would resurface – full of life and energy and interest.  My sister and I would lap up this attention like puppies.  But then all of a sudden she would retreat, back to her room and the silence would envelope the house once again.

Mom never got a proper diagnosis. Over the years I theorized everything from Bi-Polar to Borderline Personality Disorder.  She died two years ago so I will never know.  And in the end it doesn’t matter.  She was the only mom I had and knew.  It was my reality.

But now? As a parent I see how crazy this behavior was and how different I am trying to be with my son. To not repeat the past.  To make it different for him.  I worry I will become her.  And I know that is crazy.  But this is me being honest.  My fear to repeat the past haunts me at nights.

I remember one time mom opened up to us and admitted she moved when we were little to be closer to her parents because she realized she couldn’t do it. Be what we needed as a mom.  And she was right.  Our “Omi” became our mother.  When my grandmother died I cried like I had lost my mother.  The grief was so intense.  It was not that way when my mom died.

For those of you out there that have had similar experiences know you are not alone. For SO long I thought what I went through was mine alone.  But now that I am older I have met so many others that have experienced absent parents.  Mental illness is the silent struggle in many families.  So many people had no clue what was really going on behind our house walls.  We looked like your average middle class family.  We even had the dog and picket fence.  But inside was silence punctuated with either violent outbursts or overzealous love.  But those stories are for another day.

img_7138

Repeat this affirmation daily – No One is you and that is your power. I am my own person, and I am blazing my own path.

Choosing Joy

Lately I have found myself in the why vortex. You know, where you question all the “wrongs” in your life. We all do it at some time or another. And I know from grieving the deaths of both of my parents that in order to move on you have to graduate from that vortex. Because in the end you either choose to be happy and celebrate what you do have or you will forever be stuck in that pit of “why.” I came across this quote yesterday and it hit me hard. I needed the reminder that I can choose joy. That joy is always an option.

Celebrate Life

See a few weeks ago I got to visit some friends from college in the city I moved to when I graduated – Philadelphia.  It has been 8 years since I had last been there.  It was so much fun seeing friends and eating delicious food (seriously Philly is a foodie heaven – I could spend DAYS eating my way through Reading Terminal Market.  I literally ate the biggest Pastrami Sandwich ever for breakfast and it was divine).  But what I didn’t anticipate was the flood of memories and emotions from my childhood.  I grew up in South Jersey.  We used to come to Philadelphia for this or that and honestly I think just being in such close geographical proximity to my childhood home opened in me a jar of emotions that I try to keep buried.  Regret that my parents are dead.  Pain that I missed my grandmothers funeral due to life circumstances.  Mad that life was not turning out how I wanted.  Painful memories I had buried for so long were fighting to come to the surface.  I stood on the lid and tried to hammer it back in but it wasn’t working too well.   And then I came home to a child sick with the stomach flu.  Talk about cortisol levels spiking!  I started to feel myself sinking into that pit of depression I fight so hard to stay out of.

So these past two weeks I have been consciously choosing joy.  Getting back into a rhythm of life that brings me happiness.  My essential oils help immensely of course.  Read here how they have helped my anxiety and depression the last two years.  In the end though it is mindset.  I am choosing to celebrate my life with all its dents and scratches.  We are all works in progress.

So choose joy today people. There is always something to celebrate.

img_6968

 

 

 

My Journey with Depression and Anxiety

I have an overwhelming empathy for people who are suffering from depression and/or anxiety.  Whether it is the “winter blues” that come your way every season, a mild listless feeling you have that anchors over your spirit during certain periods, or a debilitating poison that eats away at your soul, I get it…. I’ve been there.

My struggle with depression and anxiety, severe at times, impacted my life in seemingly insurmountable ways.  I was embarrassed, frustrated, lonely, and didn’t understand why I just couldn’t “snap” out of it.

Anyone who has struggled with these things also knows there are ebbs and flows with it. I never wanted to take prescription meds for it because in my “mind” I wasn’t that bad. Looking back now, it was that bad at times. After years of this I turned to natural supplements plus lifestyle changes to heal myself. It worked. I feel 100 pounds lighter mentally. I have passion again. Purpose. I feel happy and at peace with myself. FINALLY.

Here is my story of what I went through and what worked for me. And what is continuing to work for me.

My situation

When I started having fertility issues seven years ago it was the nail in the coffin. As someone who already suffered from high anxiety and worry, it threw me into an internal tailspin that quickly turned into depression. Thoughts of worthlessness, internal conflict and loneliness clouded my days. I became obsessed with my situation and thought I was alone and no one understood how awful I felt and how helpless I felt. It affected my friendships. It affected my marriage. I started avoiding people. I woke up every morning exhausted from the restless sleep I had the night before.

And then my mom had a stroke. She needed help applying for disability, finding health insurance, getting on programs that would help her and sorting out her finances. It was hard and I struggled with the fear and responsibility I felt for her and her situation on top of my issues.

What was at the time just depression turned into an anxiety fueled debilitating illness. I developed severe insomnia to the point where I ended up taking prescription sleeping pills that reacted badly with me and made my depression worse. I felt alone, terrified of the future and clueless on how to proceed.

I knew I needed to do something. But as with a lot of depression sufferers, I lacked energy and the purpose to take action. After a few months of this I pushed myself and decided to join a gym. They had water aerobics classes and I thought exercise might help take my mind off of some things. What a blessing in disguise. The women in my class were  wonderful. So friendly, so easy going. They chipped away at the barriers I had put up for what I thought was protecting myself from more hurt. They got me to talk. About the infertility. About mom. About my fears, hopes and anxiety. I started healing.

I decided then to try and live healthier. I starting watching what I ate. Less sugar, more protein and vegetables. I took antioxidant supplements and drank whole food shakes (Love my Vitamix blender by the way-worth the investment). It helped. I started feeling hope again. This went on for a few months.

And then my husbands dad died. At our house. It was awful. Those first few months afterwards were bad. It left the whole family in a state of shock and wondering where do we go from here? My depression kicked back in.

Six months later my husband took a new job in Florida. When we moved I saw it as a new beginning. I was determined to find my joy again. I was blessed to be able to take my time to find a job that was actually in my field of study. I continued to exercise and started doing yoga and took meditation classes. I started acupuncture. And then as you have read in another of my posts, I got pregnant. That dear readers, was the best antidepressant money could  buy me. I know it is cliché, but Bryce truly has helped heal me. Children give your life instant purpose. Your life path suddenly becomes crystal clear. You are there to raise and guide your child in this crazy thing called life. He has brought me SO much joy.

This past summer was hard. My mom died suddenly in July. I could feel myself getting sucked down the path I have known too well. I was introduced to and purchased a Young Living starter kit at the end of July. People, these oils are helping me feel more grounded than I have in years. I can’t tell you why they are working. I do believe aromatherapy is a benefit. Scents have a very powerful effect on our emotions and mood.  And Essential Oils contain the concentrated beneficial compounds of the plants, seeds and organic matter they come from. All I know is that I have found a natural way to continue to control my anxiety and depression and I feel liberated. It is working for ME.

My Routine

In the beginning I began using the oils that came in my starter kit and honestly did not have any particular plan.  I just began diffusing different oils at different times, inhaled them directly and placed them on my body.  One of the best ways I found to use the oils is by diffusing them. I love that the Premium Starter Kit includes a diffuser. I love mine and use it everyday. It has been a huge blessing to my family. Below are the oils that are working for me.

Oils I Use

Joy

I honestly did not like the smell of this oil at first – it is very flowery – but I put a drop of this oil on my wrists and over my heart every morning before I walk out the door. It really calms and uplifts my spirit. I notice more bounce in my step in the morning and now I love the smell.

Peace and Calming

I diffuse this one quite a bit at night. It seems to help everyone in the household relax and for me helps quiet the mind. Plus, it helps put Bryce to sleep and that dear friends, is reason enough to use this oil. lol.

Stress Away

This oil is a favorite of many – I like the lime and vanilla scent – it really is different but so relaxing.  If things get a bit cranky for me, this goes in the diffuser and/or I apply it to the back of my neck.  (This oil comes in the premium starter kit). It really helps relax me. I have put this in a rollerball that makes this very convenient to apply.

Lavender

Oh Lavender, how I love you. It is called the swiss army knife of essential oils for a reason. You will find this diffused daily in my home.  If I am not sure what to diffuse, I go with Lavender.  It has such a calming fragrance and it just settles my mind.  I also have made myself a night-time roller bottle sleep blend and this is the main ingredient. This oil alone is making everyone in my family sleep better. This oil comes in the premium starter kit

Valor

I saved this for last for a reason. This oil has helped my anxiety the most. I put two drops on my feet before bed every night and instantly feel relaxed. More centered and happy. It is considered a grounding oil and I see why. It seems to melt away my anxiety. Since I have been using this oil, I feel renewed. More energy, more joy. Just more. I always have a bottle of this on hand. It is that good.

Your Journey

If you are in need of emotional support, please get help. Whether that is through therapy, medication, or natural supplements like Young Living. Do it. Life is too short and you deserve to be happy. I have been there. I know it is hard. But believe you can. You can and will get better.

Have hope.