Tag Archives: depression

Isolation

Standard

tree-738816_1280I just got home from spending 6 weeks in CA: it started out as a trip to be with my kids for their middle school and high school graduations, then turned into a longer trip in order to go through my storage and try to find a way to get some things back up here to Utah.

I do a lot in order to not feel isolated and lonely, but I think it might be an inevitable part of being disabled. I have two blogs, I have lots of friends, I try to get out every day even if its only a walk to the store or pharmacy. I try to take the bus different places. Being in CA was less isolating for the most part because I had a car and was really busy trying to both get through all the boxes in my storage unit (which I managed to do) and sort them, donate things, etc. I didn’t get to spend as much time with my kids as I would have liked because I was expending a lot of energy on the storage task, and my kids are teens now and busy doing lots of other things. Then they left on a cruise for two weeks with their dad and step mom and two step sisters. Their step mom graciously asked me to dog sit/house sit for them so that I could also have a place to go through my storage.

I was good for about 10 days, I thought. I knew I was beginning to struggle, but I also didn’t want to have to spend much on gas, as it just seemed like a good idea, and as I was having huge struggles with my step mom who (it seems) seems to think I could just throw away everything. Anyway, I’m trying to get over my anger on how she dealt with it.

So for over a week I sorted and sorted and filled more than half a city owned residential recycling trash can with paper and plastic. I was pretty proud of myself. It also felt very cleansing. I started out my divorce with enough stuff to fill a 10×10 storage unit, and over the years it’s gone down and down, depending on where I’ve lived.

In some places I didn’t need a storage unit. I have most of the family photos that were taken prior to 1980 when my mom passed away. My sister has never had room for them and my brother….I dunno, he probably could have kept them. I’ve been kind of the “family historian” since I took a class on it in college and majored in history and have made it a hobby to know about family history preservation. Anyway, the storage unit fit into my monthly allowance and I’ve economized on purpose so that I could keep it. When I moved from CA to UT, I got to Utah via a ride with my older sister’s family to my niece and little sister graduating from college. I couldn’t bring much. I still don’t have much stuff here. When I moved from one apartment to the next, everyone helping out kept saying, “that’s all??”  Didn’t take very long to move me.

phone-160428_640So I’m getting off topic. But it does relate. I was so focused on the storage unit that I didn’t do much else other than go to the pharmacy and grocery store. Then around day 10 of my time dog-sitting a huge wave of depression came in. I don’t get that depressed very often: more often it’s the bad anxiety. It was very very deep, though. The positive side was that eventually I realized it was happening and remembered that I could probably at least call friends and try to talk it out. I think being away from my doctor and therapist for that long (6 weeks) was probably also not a good idea for me at this time, but getting to be with my kids was. The day before they got back the depression started to lift. The phone calls helped a lot. Doesn’t hurt that one of my friends is a therapist. I try not to “use” him for that, but he’s gracious enough to help if I need it. Sometimes my therapist isn’t feeling well herself due to a prior injury from a car accident, and (such is life, she can’t change it…) sometimes I really need to talk to someone when she’s not doing well.

So, the end of my 6 week stay was really really nice. I got to spend a lot of time with my kids. They and the rest of the group told me all about their cruise and vacation and showed me photos and videos. We spent time with some of my friends on one of my last nights, and then wandered around a farmer’s market. It was exactly what I needed.

So, coming home was nice (it’s home) but leaving my kids again is always hard. I’m realizing how isolated I am here a lot of the time, too. I keep hoping that after my disability hearing that I’ll be able to get a used car. Sometimes I think about it too much, I think. It was so much easier in CA to not be discouraged a lot of the time because even if I was tired I could just get in the car to run my errand or get where I was going. My fatigue doesn’t have to be a 10/10 to make it difficult to take the bus sometimes to get where I’m going.  Upside of the bus? I love watching everything go by and being able to remember a lot of what I see, which is more difficult in a car. I also love to walk distances, so walking from the stop to my destination is kind of an adventure, even if I’ve done it dozens of times. I always see something new. Downside again: if I’m fatigued, it can be really difficult. Dora

I feel like I could do so much more if I could just get out from under needing my parents’ help. I found out today that even after the disability hearing, a decision could take 1-4 months. I’m so tired of dealing with my sm and her impatience. It’s a miracle she’s “let” my dad help in the first place, so I’m grateful for that, but I can’t wait for this all to be over. I don’t even want to think about the possibility of being denied. If the judge could spend a week living with me and seeing what my health is like, I don’t think I’d have any trouble. I wish that it wasn’t so complicated, but it is. It could take a full three years from the time I applied to when the decision is finally made.

Advertisements

Many, many blessings

Standard

Huntington_Pier_TerminusMy anxiety over the wait for my disability court date (which decides if I receive disability or not) has been wreaking havoc with my body and my mind, but it’s also given me an opportunity to dig deeper, have more hope, and see more blessings: not to mention come to terms with some emotions that have been buried pretty deep. This blog has been lots of serious, so today I list the positive. (My sense of humor still seems a little broken tonight, so that may not make it in. We’ll see.)

  1. We had snow yesterday! Utah is in a drought, and my home state of CA has been in a drought: we had snow, Huntington Beach and Long Beach both had so much hail that people built little “snowmen” out of the hail. I love the snow. It make the cold more bearable. Watching it from my window was magical. Getting to go for a walk in lightly falling snow a few days before that was also very healing. I love walking, I love nature. It’s amazing. I also love that these days we can see what’s happening in other parts of the world with a click of the mouse: beach covered with hail! I didn’t have to miss it.Orem_Campus_Winter_Shots_(2312922549)_(2)
  2. I had my first ever SimplyHealed™ session with the extremely talented Katie Buhler. She had a drawing for a free session, and another friend of mine won it, then said that she wanted to give it to me. So kind of her. I’m still trying to decide what kind of fun thing I want to do for this friend as a thank you. I did not know what to expect for the session. I’ve read about the Emotion Code, which is similar: and several people have recommended SimplyHealed™ to me. It was quite the experience, and difficult to describe. I’ll be doing more sessions with her for sure. *When* I get disability. I’m going to get it. I’m putting that “out to the universe.” I highly recommend Katie. Her sister in law, Holly Buhler, also does SimplyHealed™.
  3. I have had an interesting life when it comes to trials (like everyone….). One thing I have been very blessed with throughout most of my life is kind, amazing friends. I had amazing friends in high school that I’m grateful that I can still hear from on Facebook. I’ve been able to reconnect with college friends since moving to Utah. Friends from when I was married and my ex was in grad school are also still easy to get a hold of and catch up with. Friends from my most recent ward (church congregation) are also easy to catch up with on Facebook. What did people do if they had to stay at home a lot before modern technology?  🙂  They say that Facebook makes people less happy with their lives, and I’ve caught myself feeling that way a few times, but mostly it’s been a good reminder to me of the people I’ve been blessed to interact with and that life isn’t always hard.
  4. I’m grateful that I love to be around people. I can be sensitive to a lot of noise, but I usually love company. Once a week our single’s group has a volleyball/game night. I was playing a fun game last night with friends on the stage at church while volleyball was going on. The game was an app you can get on a smart phone, and you choose a category (animals, 70’s stuff, 80’s stuff, celebrities, movies…) and put it on your forehead similar to the game Hedbanz and have others describe it and see if you can guess it. Some of my favorite, most relaxed, easy to get along with friends were there playing: one of those “small things/huge blessings” that you want to catch in your memory and remember for the harder times. If I wasn’t willing to reach out and trust others, I wouldn’t have those small but significant blessings that come from good friends. I was also able to talk with a friend early yesterday evening over some things that were bothering me that I had a feeling she was uniquely qualified to be able to help me out with. We are all so different and have such unique abilities in the ways we are able to connect with and help heal each other.
  5. My kids are my greatest blessings. My greatest trial has been to not be able to take care of them and be around them like I want to. Heavenly Father has made this turn out in ways that have been unexpectedly positive, but it’s certainly not what I ever would have wanted. But watching them learn and seeing them be okay while living with their dad and step mom has strengthened my faith that Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be okay.
  6. And what have I learned from having PTSD? A whole lot of patience in learning how to wait for answers, how to search for answers, how to ask help from others: seeing that scary things can happen and that people come out the other side, and that I’m far from alone. I’m still in this process and probably always will be. I imagine that someday, when I’ve processed this all a lot more, it will be easier to write about. I love that I’ve met so many people who have been through difficulties who are so different from mine, and yet we have a connection, even though it may have come through things we’d never want to go through again.

I’m still kicking

Standard

something will grow
I may have mentioned that for some reason I have had pretty bad depression and anxiety the past couple of weeks. At first I attributed it to

  1. Not getting to be with my kids for Christmas because I had the flu (would have been a two week trip)
  2. Getting to finally see them for one day during a quick three day trip (one day traveling there, one day with them, one day back) and then the subsequent let down
  3. Realizing that I’ve been here (a couple states away) almost four years when I thought it would be 6 months to 1 year
  4. Waiting on my disability hearing, which is supposed to happen this month….but I’m thinking it may not. It’s been a two year wait. I just want it over. I have a lot of emotional work to do on this one, I’m realizing, and I need patience badly.

My stomach has been hurting for days, I got my days and nights all mixed up last week (but not in any kind of “regular “order) and yesterday I just couldn’t eat anything. I didn’t sleep at all the night before, and I was hoping that would get my sleep schedule back in order (something people who know me really well have probably heard 100 times, especially before I got put on sleep meds). I fell very happily asleep early last night, after a fun singles home evening at our place. I woke up at some point to use the restroom in the morning, then slept fitfully with lots of nightmares until….5pm. Yup. I will do another post sometime about my fatigue and sleep issues over the past 23 years. It could be a long one.

So, between not having eaten much yesterday and then sleeping for a really long time, I woke up with really low blood sugar and unable to speak much. A good friend brought me McDonald’s (I eat the hamburgers without the buns….gluten free) and it helped a lot. I had no desire to try to go anywhere, but my roommate came home and said that she was going to volleyball/game night at the church and was only going to stay to play a few games. With as little as I saw anyone last week, I figured that maybe I should go. It was perfect. No one had turned on any music during the amount of time we were there, so it was quiet, and I was able to just sit and watch and realize that the world is still moving along and that I’ll be okay. I joke with people that my brain isn’t functioning enough to do certain things sometimes, which of course people laugh at because they relate, but I need to say it less often, I think, because it’s so very true for me so often. I didn’t try to play board games because I knew that I couldn’t. There was no way I was up to volleyball. I can just imagine the ball coming towards me and me ducking and saying, “Help!” which is kind of funny but possibly a little disturbing.

One of the PTSD support groups I’m in was rather helpful today. There can be so many posts in that group that it seems like most of them go unanswered, but in reply to someone asking a question, someone replied with this great post on a website that is a lot more informative than most that I’ve been on. It seems like most web pages about PTSD (or other mental illnesses) are really general and don’t give any hint of how complicated each illness/category is and how everyone experiences it in so many different ways. I’m going to use it for another post that explains more how my PTSD is the same and different from some of the things they mention. It really made me happy. I feel like it was the direct result to a prayer, as well.

I have so many blessings, and it can be easy to forget them when I’m experiencing things that just seem way too much. My home teacher mentioned a few days ago that that’s when he needs to look at the past for all the ways the Lord helped him then, so that he remembers that things will get better again, and that he’ll get through. Such a good reminder.

Suicide From Stigma

Standard

Very well put, on the subject of stigma. ” Stigma is a mark of social exclusion, causing further harm to some of the most vulnerable members of society.”

Social Health

isolation

“Nothing in my life has ever made me want to commit suicide more than people’s reaction to my trying to commit suicide.” ― Emilie Autumn

The stigma surrounding mental illness contributes to the risk of suicide. As Goffman states, the stigmatized individual is asked to act so as to imply that their burden is not heavy; stigma makes every person their own jailer. This causes separation from society and the feeling of loneliness. As Mother Theresa said, “loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” Jules Verne said, “Solitude, isolation, are painful things and beyond human endurance.” Lastly, as Jean Vanier stated, “to be lonely is to feel unwanted and unloved, and therefore unlovable. Loneliness is a taste of death.”

In Why People Die By Suicide, Thomas Joiner argues that a sense of thwarted belonging, perceived burdensomeness, and a loss of hope causes suicidal ideation. Stigma…

View original post 177 more words

Fixing the Thinking

Standard

***PLEASE NOTE: I am not trained or qualified to diagnose or give medical advice on any type of psychological or psychiatric condition.*** The purpose of this blog is simply for me to share my experiences.
lamp-432247_640
I always experience a downer when I come back from visiting my kids. I live in Utah because I came here to try to finish my degree, which didn’t work out due to my health: then I ended up staying because my parents are helping me out until I get disability (hopefully) and Utah is cheaper than California. It is quieter here than the L.A./Orange County area, and the pace of life is blessedly slower, but….my kids aren’t here.

Not getting to spend Christmas with them thanks to the flu has given me the opportunity to work harder on my thinking patterns. Now, as a warning, I’ve heard several different terms applied to what I’m going to talk about: and not being a professional, I don’t think I can adequately distinguish between them. Years ago I was taught “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” then about 8 years ago “Dialectical Behavioral Therapy,” or “DBT,” and I have a friend who is a therapist who refers to it as cognitive distortions, or thinking distortions. I’ll have to ask him again.

So, how to make this short…

22 years ago I was loaned a copy of the book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns. I highly recommend it if you have issues with anxiety or depression, or really just for anyone. He talks about distorted thoughts and shows a method to work on getting rid of them by writing them down and then identifying what types of “distortion” they are according to a list he made (which was very handy) and then writing next to each thought what the reality really is, which is almost always better. It helped a great deal, once I stopped beating myself every time I caught a “distorted thought.” I was pretty much the queen of hard on myself at the time. I’m a lot better at it now, but I still struggle.

Just after my divorce, I became a patient at an anxiety clinic at a university that I love, but won’t name here, due to a bad experience I’m mentioning.  I would see a resident there (who was great) and then one of several supervising psychiatrists. One of the doctors didn’t seem happy that I was seeing my own therapist (who had specialized in anxiety for her dissertation), and seemed a bit upset when I mentioned my religion, and that my therapist was also that same religion, and that someone close to me had been addicted to pornography. He didn’t seem to think that certain addiction was possible. It had been the source of a great deal of trauma to me and my kids, mostly because of how this family member had acted because of it: increased temper and less of an ability to be aware of the feelings of those around him.

Anyway, they insisted that I do “DBT” (which is good) but in a way that was just like the lists I’d done from the book years before. They had the resident sit next to me and go through it slowly, and make me think of things to write down. They were already feelings I was aware of and had been working on a long time. I don’t know how to explain why, but it was extremely traumatizing. They weren’t things I needed to work on, and it felt like they were twisting a screw in my back psychologically. I ended up leaving in tears one day. The one doctor that I’d had a bad vibe from, I found out later (when I wasn’t supposed to, but certain people had a feeling it would be helpful to me emotionally/mentally) was dropped from my case. Years later, when I heard that “DBT” was found to be helpful to those with PTSD, I felt discouraged, as if it was yet another things to check off my list of things that I’d “already done.”
psychology-544405_640
Then last year I was blessed to be assigned to a therapist who had specialized in trauma, and to be able to attend a trauma support group. The therapist explained to me that there is now more to DBT than “just” those lists. In the group we learned quite a few techniques that were different from the lists, and quite a bit more helpful to me at this point. Also, up until about two years ago, when my anxiety would be at its worst and I was struggling (like I still do) to talk and function and think clearly, I could name, perhaps, the trigger that got me there, and the overall larger problems I was dealing with, but I couldn’t tell you what was bothering me. Sometimes I could sit and write down what was going on, but more frequently I felt extremely confused and like I just needed some sleep so I could function again.

As the time is getting closer that (hopefully) my disability hearing will come, and has winter has set in, I’ve been having a lot more problems with deep depression than I usually do. I ran into my friend who is a therapist (but not my therapist) and he asked me if I was doing my positive thinking exercises, and I realized that that weekend I hadn’t been. I took it as an important reminder. At first, I realized, the thought came into my head that “but I don’t know what’s bothering me….” but unlike in the more distant past, when I got home and sat down to write, I kept going and going. It just came out. I’m taking this as a good sign that, just maybe, some of this depression is the old emotions, stuffed in down deep, finally coming out and being dealt with. It’s not that I haven’t had to deal with things before, but these are things that came in too much at a time, that I wasn’t ready to deal with, due to trauma, and perhaps this is another step in filing those thoughts and emotions in their proper places in my mind, and healing more.

A few weeks ago, someone also randomly posted on Facebook a link to a BYU devotional by Elaine Marshall, of the school of nursing, several years ago. I really needed this quote and saw it as a blessing that I noticed the link and happened to click on it:

I have learned that healing is a process of restoring and becoming whole. This morning I would like to share six lessons I have learned about the healer’s art.

First, healing hurts. When I was a young nurse in the hospital, hardly a day went by that a patient did not ask, “Will it hurt?” If I had been truthful, the whispered answer would nearly always have been, “Yes, it will hurt.” I have learned that healing hurts. Life hurts. Healing really only begins when we face the hurt in its full force and then grow through it with all the strength of our soul. For every reward of learning and growing, some degree of pain is always the price. Author M. Scott Peck reminds us that if you do not want love or pain, you “must do without many things” (M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978]: 133). I think you would do without dating, graduating, getting married, or having children.

Sometime in your life you will know a crashing crisis or heavy heartache that will threaten all sense of logic or hope or certainty—from which, no matter how you emerge, nothing will ever be the same. Hurts come as unique losses, unwelcome surprises, fading hope, or grief.

apple-570965_640

You mean I’m not okay? Self awareness…

Standard

Today was one of those days. I really needed to mail a package to my daughter. I thought, “If I just get dressed and get going, I should be okay, right? Then I’ll be so happy that I got this done.” So I got ready and got on the bus with my package, got off at the right stop, and made it to the Post Office. The weather was nice for this time of year. I really wasn’t doing so well, though. I’m still not 100% sure what’s bothering me, though. I thought I was doing okay. I don’t know how we people with anxiety (or depression) manage to convince ourselves that we’re all right when we’re not. For me, it usually comes after a day when people who aren’t around me and aware (or sometimes who are, but not usually) are wondering when I’m going to get something done.

So the man at the post office is helping me out, and the first thing he says to me is: “Are you okay!?” “Um, yeah.”
A minute later: “Are you sure you’re okay, because you’re really worrying me. Are you really okay?”
Me (embarrassed, there’s a line behind me): *sigh* “Yes, I have an anxiety disorder. I’ll be all right.”
Then as I leave, he says, “You take care, okay?”

So, I decide that I’ll feel better after I eat something. I get my food and sit down and check for a phone call I’m waiting for. The girl working there comes up to me, “Are you okay?”  (This time I’m flummoxed. I really think that I *look* okay, but obviously I’m not hiding it well.)  I realize my head is in my hands. “I’m fine, thanks,” as I quickly resume eating.

After eating, I’m still not feeling great. I sat there for a while, savoring a song that I really like that is playing. I had planned on walking a few blocks north to the Dollar Tree, but I realize on my way to the bus stop that all I want to do is go home.

I much prefer the days where I get dressed and get out and feel invigorated, even if my energy level may or may not be where I’d like it to be: not these days where I’m in denial because I’m tired of not getting things done.

self-criticism-440303_640

Faith to Forgive Grievous Harms: Accepting the Atonement as Restitution by James R. Rasband

Standard

I’m so grateful that I happened upon this talk this morning. My New Year’s Resolution this year is “Peace,” as in “Inner Peace.” While forgiveness may not make my PTSD or anxiety go away all at once, it certainly makes achieving a sense of peace a much easier thing to do, and the process of forgiving other helps me forgive myself day by day as well. When I see it as more of a day to day process, it also helps me recognize the ways I can work on my “triggers,” and gives me more patience. The video is below, or you can find the text here, at BYU Speeches.

Two quotes I personally found helpful, but watch it for yourself to see what you find:

It is critical to understand that forgiving others is not just a practical virtue. It is a profound act of faith in the Atonement and the promise that the Savior’s sacrifice repays not just our debts to others but also the debts of others to us.

And…

In our live-and-let-live society, we may believe that being forgiving is just etiquette and good manners. It is not. We may think that forgiveness requires us to let mercy rob justice. It does not. Forgiveness does not require us to give up our right to restitution. It simply requires that we look to a different source. The non-judgmental worldly phrases “don’t worry about it” and “it’s no big deal” are not illustrations of the doctrine of forgiveness. On the contrary, when a person sins against us, it can be a very big deal.10 The point is that the Atonement is very big compensation that can take care of very big harms. Forgiveness doesn’t mean minimizing the sin; it means maximizing our faith in the Atonement.

My greatest concern is that if we wrongly believe forgiveness requires us to minimize the harms we suffer, this mistaken belief will be a barrier to developing a forgiving heart. It is okay to recognize how grave a sin is and to demand our right to justice—if our recognition triggers gratitude for the Atonement. Indeed, the greater the sin against us—the greater the harm we suffer—the more we should value the Atonement. (see Luke 7:41–43)

Things to do when you’re alone on Christmas Eve…

Standard

elf-ralphie

Unlike a lot of people with mental illnesses, I do usually have somewhere to go for Christmas and other holidays. I do get a little stressed, wondering if I’ll find a way there etc., but things usually work out.

This year, though, I got the flu. So tonight, instead of moping about how I missed my family’s festivities last night in California, I decided to put my sense of humor and other things I’ve learned over the years for just this type of thing. I may still be a bit discouraged, but overall I’m having fun with this.

What to do when you’re by yourself for Christmas Eve and Christmas, my personal version:

I could do laundry in the middle of the night! I probably won’t, but I could.
I already opened all my presents. Ha.
I can pretend I’m in France and stay up past midnight, waiting for the baby Jesus.
I can play the piano in the middle of the night. Even if I do a terrible job, no one will care.
I could work on hitting a high ‘C’ in the middle of the night. I’m afraid my neighbors would hear this one. Scratch that.
I can watch Doctor Who, in the middle of the night, with no headphones on.
(Come to think of it, it’s already past midnight in France, but that’s beside the point…)
I can clean my room in the middle of the night. (Getting over this flu! Woohoo!)
I can turn on all the lights in the whole place, just because I want to. Except my roommate’s rooms, of course.
Come to think of it, I can finally finish putting up the decorations that have been sitting out.
I can throw out my Christmas trash in the dumpsters, and they won’t be full already.
I can loudly quote the movie Elf, just for fun, all I want. (I’m kind of wishing for revolving doors, but I’m not sure that’s such a wise post-flu activity anyway.)
Once again, I can scour Netflix for Christmas movies that I haven’t seen yet. And last but not least:
I can remember all the reason why I love the people in my life who drive me crazy, and use the alone time to read and meditate on being a better person myself.

Okay, so one more. I can think about all the reasons my kids are having a good Christmas this year, and how they’re such amazing kids, and how they wish for me to get better. I will see them again. Also, I told them that I will start WWIII if they don’t Skype or call tomorrow, because that’s the type of mother with a flu I am. But I won’t really start WWIII.

And while I’ve been making this list, I keep thinking, “I think I should go back to bed…..” But hey, if I wake up in the middle of the night….

Trigger Tales: the Helicopter

Standard

I had been told several times during my twenties that I probably had some form of PTSD, but since it didn’t hit me in the same way as it did war veterans, I took a strange comfort that it wasn’t the “same kind of ” PTSD that I’d heard about. In fact, it’s a common misconception when people hear about mental illnesses that everyone who has PTSD has it the same way, that everyone who is bipolar has it the same way, etc. It makes sense to order it in our minds that way when we’re fortunate enough to not be having to deal with it. Mental illnesses are like any other type of illness in that they manifest in as many ways as the people who have them.

Starting in about Jr. High, friends in one of my classes figured out that I had an exaggerated startle response. In other words, when they would do some sort of game like waving their hands in someone else’s peripheral vision, the person might move a little. I, however, jumped. I’m not sure why I remember this. In some strange way it was comforting to me, because they hadn’t teased me about it (I guess they thought it was some kind of superhuman reflex) and it was also some kind of proof to me that I wasn’t okay, even if my parents tried to pretend everything was normal at home. Jr. High was also a difficult time for me, probably the worst of my growing up years at home, which translated easier into difficulties feeling like I fit in at school. I went from “brainy” and mostly normal to “struggling socially.” Not too different from a lot of kids in that stage, unfortunately. I found out later that out of my siblings, only one enjoyed Jr. High.helicopter-390488_640

I have two kids, about 4 years apart. My daughter is the youngest and was born in Los Angeles not long after 9/11. My former husband and I had gone through a couple really hard years, followed by a small amount of peace (during which time my daughter came to be) and we moved to L.A. for him to finish graduate school. I was going through severe postpartum depression and constantly on myself, thinking I was doing everything wrong. As my ex once put it, “Do you think you’re responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world?”  At which time I realized that I did, and that it was odd, but I couldn’t seem to make the feeling go away.

We lived in student housing next to the 405 freeway, and not far from the intersection with the 10, and about 10 miles south of what they said was then (and still may be) the “busiest freeway intersection in the country.” It was a nice neighborhood. West L.A. is a nice area. It is still L.A., though, and we frequently heard traffic and news helicopters outside. Once I was walking back from a friend’s place in the student housing complex, and a helicopter passed overhead and on a loudspeaker someone said something similar to, “please stay indoors, suspect is in the area, on foot. Police are in pursuit.”  Not terribly comforting. Needless to say I quickened my pace and told my family.

The kicker for me in realizing that it wasn’t “just” Postpartum Depression (which is not a “just” for anyone, of course) and anxiety was when I was feeling overwhelmed, which was what I’d come to believe my life would just have to be like, and my kids were watching tv or playing in the family room and my ex husband was either walking by or sitting there. A helicopter passed nearby, and in a split second a felt a HUGE adrenaline rush, and I fell to the floor and covered my neck like we used to do in earthquake drills in CA in elementary school. It felt like there was a war right there, like the terrorists had come to Los Angeles and we were about to die. Then in another split second I realized what had happened: that I was “okay” and we were okay, and that it was just a helicopter (and I have never been in a “literal” war zone), but I was not okay. I just started to cry, wondering what was going to happen to me.