Sunday, February 24, 2008

Just gotta get through the rain

I don't think it's possible for us to have challenges one at a time. In my short life [HUGE PLUG FOR MY BIRTHDAY! I'LL BE 29 ON THE 26TH! HOORAY FOR ME!], I have witnessed how difficulties, challenges, and great big disasters always seem to come together. For example:
  1. Last year, we didn't just have a baby, accept a new job, and move two states away (all within 3 1/2 weeks). We also had extensive flood damage in our basement because of a frozen pipe. (If you really want to know, you can read more here.)
  2. Then there was that time that Brandon lost his job and we had a baby 3 weeks later. And had purchased a brand-spankin'-new Tahoe 3 months earlier. And we didn't get a permanent job for 6 months.
  3. Or that time I developed heart arrhythmias from my asthma meds, and so we forced our cat to be indoor/outdoor (long story) and we lost him for 4 days, only to find him in our neighbor's yard near death.
  4. Oh, and remember that time (1997) when we lost Princess Diana AND Mother Theresa in the same week!? What was that all about?!
  5. But a good friend of mine takes the cake. Last year, her sweet (and severely diabetic) husband was in a car accident with their three oldest children (all under 7 years old) while she continued to suffer acutely from her fourth pregnancy (she loses weight when she's pregnant; in and out of the hospital, etc.). The miraculous blessing from that accident was that they all were unharmed. But talk about trials! All at the same time! And yet I never heard her complain. Not once. That could be a topic for a different post, though. I would entitle it: "The most Christ-like woman I've ever met". But I probably should get permission first. Huh. But I digress...
  6. And now? For me? My PPD doesn't seem to be PPD anymore. It might just be D. Or PMSD. Is there such a things as PMSD? Or maybe it really is just PMS. My MIL warned me about this, though... Anyway, I'm struggling with these emotional/mental problems, and, of course, it's right at the time when we're planning on more change in our lives. More BIG change. Figures, eh? The worst part is what a monster of a mother I've become. I'm forgetting my responsibility to raise righteous children by being righteous myself! I'm forgetting that if I expect my children not to yell and belittle, then I cannot yell and belittle! I absolutely hate how I act --and so I'm changing it (keep reading!).
Well, I could go on and on and on about how "when it rains, it pours", and I'm sure you, dear reader, have stories on the tip of your tongue. But instead of focusing on all these negative things, I'm going to list some positive things about the above trials:

  1. Our insurance paid for almost everything and we got a brand new wall, brand new carpet, and new window wells, not to mention the fabulous experience of living in the Bay Area this last year. Oh, and our baby rocks.
  2. Our marriage was strengthened ten-fold and we learned about patience and respect.
  3. I saw what I needed to do to be on top of my health; I learned to love my body; I learned to really love our cat.
  4. I learned that Mother Theresa deserved ten thousand more coverage about her life than Princess Diana. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Di fan, but hello? Mother Theresa was...Mother Theresa!!
  5. Whenever I feel bad, I have to remember that it could be worse. And if it is worse, I have to remember how the Lord has blessed me, and know that He will help me get through it all. I also know I have such wonderful examples around me of those who struggle but never lose faith. I never want to lose faith, and so I cling to these experiences.
  6. I will probably struggle now with Depression for the rest of my life and now I know it's triggered hormonally. But I've found some things this last week that has helped enormously with my PMS problems:
  • An understanding husband (go HERE to see the funniest clip ever!)
  • Not speaking what I'm thinking/feeling in the moment I think/feel it. If I wait and let the rise of freakishness pass, I do much better.
  • Reading my scriptures. At our Stake RS Enrichment night, I went to one of the best classes I have ever attended. It was about daily scripture study. I learned how reading the scriptures daily will make my life better --something I have heard constantly since I was a child. And yet, it never occurred to me how desperately important it is for me, as a mother, to read the scriptures on my own. I'm not sure why or how, but the Holy Ghost knew that I was ready to listen this time, and here I am, a mere three days later, testifying to all of you that reading the scriptures daily will improve your lives. It has to! And it will.
  • Sincere prayer. I'll tell you, that RS enrichment night just rocked! There was this fabulous skit by a sister, kneeling and saying her prayers, and offstage, you heard the "voice" of Heavenly Father. She was just going about her repetitive prayer, and HF was asking her a whole bunch of questions, which took her off guard. The point was that we need to make our prayers sincere and conversation-like, since when we do pray, we are actually talking with somebody. This isn't some Rameumptom we're sitting on, here. God knows us each individually and He wants to hear from us individually. I learn this each time I take the time to pray with purpose. I testify to you that God hears our prayers and He answers them.
  • Remembering: I just have to remember that I am strong and that I get through my PMS episodes each month without fatalities. I have to remember that my children are amazing creatures and need their mother to be healthy and kind. I have to remember the charity my husband is showing toward me when he lets me berate him and holds me when I don't deserve it. I have to remember.

Yes, when it rains, it certainly pours. But you see, after the rain comes green growth, renewed resolve and sweet, sweet reserves of fresh water. Nothin' but optimism here, people! (for now, anyway).

Okay, folks. Since this isn't just about me (even though it is my blog!), I want you to tell me how you respond to trials in your life. How do you get through the pouring rain?


Summer said...

Thanks for this posty Cheryl. I need a good example right now of optimism and choosing the right even when you don't feel like it.

Rozla ~ but the name I like best is Grandma said...

Every thing you said Cheryl is so right on. If we could only remember those things when the sun is shining in our lives, then when the rain comes it wouldn't seem so dreary! Here is a thought from our Sunday School class today...Lynn and I teach the Marriage and Family Relations class. This particular object lesson is about when our children stray but I believe it can be of benefit to all areas of our life when we struggle with something.

Take a pebble and hold it in front of your eyes. Focus on it. What do you see? The following analogy is from Elder Richard G. Scott...
"When I take a small pebble and place it directly in front of my eye, it takes on the appearance of a mighty boulder. It is all I can see. It becomes all-consuming-like the problems of a loved one that affect our lives every waking moment. When the things you realistically can do to help are done, leave the matter in the hands of the Lord and worry no more. Do not feel guilty because you cannot do more. Do not waste your energy on useless worry. The Lord will take the pebble that fills your vision and cast it down among the challenges you will face in your eternal progress. It will then be seen in perspective. In time, you will feel impressions and know how to give further help. You will find more peace and happiness, will not neglect others that need you, and will be able to give greater help because of that eternal perspective."

Remember Cheryl there is always a rainbow after the rain!!!!

Love ya!

makakona said...

a friend of mine recently cracked me up when she said, "when you have ppd and your baby is 18 months, maybe we can just call that depression and move on." i struggled with ppd after baby #2 and prenatal depression (it exists!) with baby #3. i'm hard-pressed to take tylenol, so anything else is usually not even an option for me. it finally got to the point where i had to do something, anything, because i was losing patience with the kids and it wasn't fair. well, it wasn't fair to muself, but that's the least of a mom's worries sometimes, you know? it was a HARD decision to make, but i started taking a very mild med and WHOA. ch-ch-ch-CHAAAAANGES! i wish i didn't have to take them, but i do it because it makes me a far better mom.

if you're not willing to go that route, try taking four grams of fish oil a day and getting outside as often as you can. but for me, the meds were a little slice of heaven. i am so grateful that i had a great group of girlfriends who were honest about their struggles and who they were and for helping me to be less afraid of what was going on in my life.

oh, and that "pmsd?" yeah, it exists. it's called pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (pmdd) and it's very real!!! thank goodness i've been cycle-free since may of 2006 (hooray for pregnancy and breastfeeding!), so i haven't had to approach whether or not that will be a part of my reality.

i'm getting ready to take my blog public. i'm soooooo nervous. was it a big deal for you to be so public about your life? i've always treated mine as a journal and no one has ever read it. nerves, nerves, nerves!

anyway, hang in there, mama!!! (((hugs)))

Katie said...

It takes a lot of courage to just admit that something is not right and it is not necessarily your fault. Take care of yourself. Depression is a crazy thing because before you know it, you are in it. It is hard to watch the triggers and avoid them or do something about them. Sometimes I have to literally pray to just be able to get up and go on with my day. Sometimes simple things like bill paying is a struggle and I avoid it and get way to anxious about it. So, you'll be in my thoughts and I am glad that you can see both sides of the issue. That helps a lot.

Amanda said...

The ways that I get through the rain are journaling. I try to blog about happy things but my journal is filled with sadder, angrier things. (I need to get my blog printed so future generations don't think I was some sort of maniac.) I think you are right though, prayer and scripture study makes a huge difference.

My dad has recently come across the benefits of Vitamin D3. Not just vitamin d but D3. You have to get it at the health food store and it is so strong that you only take it once every day but it is supposed to help with depression, calcium absorption and a host of other things.

Anonymous said...

I'm just going to address the motherhood part. I frequently have bad days with my kids--the kind you feel guilty about and wish you could take back. Nothing earth-shattering, but just bad enough to think that it was a shame to have wasted a day with your children when things could have been so much nicer. Anyways, I always try to apologize to my kids for giving them that kind of day, and they always forgive me or at least I'm assuming they do because no matter what kind of nightmare of a mother I may have been on any given day they never go to bed without giving me a hug & kiss & saying "I love you." (And this is at their insistance, not mine.) One time when I apologized for not being as kind or patient or longsuffering as a mother should be my daughter said something to me that has really stuck with me. She said, "We forgive you, Mom. We'll always forgive you." I found that very comforting, and I was so grateful to have a child that could remind me of this great gift of forgiveness.

The thing about motherhood is, the majority of us spend the majority of our time stressed out about our shortcomings and overwrought with guilt. We don't let ourselves be forgiven, and we carry around all our mistakes like a big heavy suitcase that prevents us from being the kind of mothers we want to be. Our kids unpack that suitcase and put it away and even forget the "bad trip" we had together that day, while we continue to haul it around or leave it in the middle of the living room to trip over and
remind us how much we suck.

So, I guess what I'm saying is let go of the guilt. Guilt leads to resentment, and resentment makes it very difficult to be patient and kind when we really need to be (which is basically all the time). Guilt is really only useful when it inspires us to do better, otherwise it's just excess baggage weighing us down and preventing us from moving forward.

And hey, every trial is a potential post--something to write about. Trials keep life interesting, and writing about them is very therapeutic.

Sorry for the marathon post! Next time I'll try to give the RDCV.

Jolene said...

Cheryl - once again you are very brave with the things that you are putting out there. I really admire you for that. I think you should know that you probably are making more of a difference in people's lives than you know. And I promise that with all of the other things that you are doing right, your kids won't remember the bad days.

Several years ago I knew something was not right. I was not myself. I thought I was doing all that I was supposed to do but I was not feeling any better about myself. When I finally got up the nerve to tell my Dr. about it (he was in my bishopric) he told me the most amazing things about how our hormones really do control our emotions and how it is particularly hard on women with our hormone levels changing all of the time.

Then he asked me if I had a broken arm would I come to the Dr. to get it fixed or would I just tell myself that if I prayed more and read my scriptures more that it would get better. Then he prescribed a mild anti-depressant that I only needed for about a year and I got better. And I didn't feel guilty about taking them (my husband called them my crazy pills) because of the things my Dr. had said.

I think the fact that you recognize a problem puts you way ahead of most women suffering in the same way.

P.S. I hope you have a great birthday tomorrow!

The Wiz said...


Jamie J said...

Life does like to throw a huge load of crud on us at once, doesn't it? Your optimistic perspective is great. I admire that.

Cheryl said...

I have to be optimistic because I come from a long line of pessimists. I want to break the cycle. :)

Hey, to those of you who have had meds for depression, who do you go to? Which doctor? Family doctor? OBGYN? Psychotherapists? Where's a good place to start?

makakona said...

any ol' doctor will prescribe them nowadays, but i think it's really important to go see a psychiatrist. they may or may not recommend a psychologist or therapist and you can decide if you want to do that or not, but they'll at least prescribe the meds and you don't have to continually go in to see them. it makes me uneasy to have, for example, a reproductive system surgeon prescribing psychotropic drugs. i'd rather go see someone who's an expert in that field.