From the time I can remember, I always wanted to grow up and be just like my Dad. He was not a big man in stature but had a big voice. He was funny but not perfect. He made a lot of mistakes and so have I. He was a good athlete, and had a lot of friends. I started playing sports when I was 5 years old, tee-ball. He was always supportive of me playing sports and was my coach several times. I always felt like he was "there" physically but not emotionally. Emotionally, he was distant. My Mom said when he returned from Vietnam he was a different person. He rarely showed us his emotions. I can remember one time my entire life seeing him cry and it was because of one of MY mistakes. In the family meeting he said, "you think you are so bad? You have no idea of the things I have had to do." he was referencing Vietnam and he broke down in front of everyone. We never spoke about it again. Saying it now makes me really sad. Growing up, I always thought he was a hero because of his time in Vietnam. I tried many times to have him tell me what he did over there, or to tell me about his job. I never got him to tell me anything, other than the night he broke down. He lived with this sadness his entire life and never spoke to anyone about it.
My Dad's health was not the best. My personal belief is because of all his sadness he never dealt with. He had heart issues and some non-cancerous tumors on his adrenal glands, as well as diverticulitis which ruptured his colon. He had to have a colostomy and 2 years later went into the hospital to have the tumors removed along with the colostomy reversed.
He was out of the hospital 1 week and returned to the hospital. I remember him telling the doctor "Doc this feels just like when I had a bad bout of diverticulitis" he kept throwing up and he looked awful. He was in and out of a coma and surgeries for 12 weeks before they said there was no longer any hope for him. He was septic due to the sutures from the reversal of the colostomy coming undone.
The last time I spoke with him was September 11, 2001. I asked him if he saw what was going on with the planes running into buildings he said yes and it was obvious he didn't really want to talk. So I just told him I loved him and missed him. I've never felt the same anguish over the attacks of 9-11 because I was living in my own hell at the time. The person I looked up to, who was a lot of things to me - was dying. I felt nothing when I was invited to a social gathering at the local mormon ward. All the women were crying,talking and crying for a long time, I felt nothing. I remember thinking to myself, don't you all realize my own father is dying right now? Silly, I know.
When my Dad died October 12, 2001, it forever changed my life. At the time, I was 30 years old with two small children, living in Utah. We had just moved to Utah August 1st, 2001.
Death does weird things in a family, especially if the family is dysfunctional. I know every family is dysfunctional to some extent....but you throw death in the mix and it turns crazy. I believe it is because every person deals with it in their own way and is pretty selfish about how they go about doing so. No, I wasn't perfect either but I just tried to keep to myself and stay out of everyone's business....I was trying to deal with my own issues, on my own.
At the time, I'm not even sure I called on God to help me? I can't recall if I did but I did believe there was a reason for his death, I just didn't know what it was yet.
For the 1st 6 months after his death, I didn't sleep at night. The minute I laid my head down, my mind would start from the day of "there is no hope" from the doctors, to the drive home to Utah, 1 week later. I replayed the events in my head night after night. I finally went to the doctor and he gave me some anti-depressants. I didn't want to tell anyone, I was ashamed I couldn't do it on my own. I would see other people dealing with death and not needing meds to cope. Why was I such a wienie? Why couldn't I be like everyone else.
The fact I was comparing myself to others, was the start of my demise down some really dark holes of depression. In 2004, I heard myself saying "Just do yourself in. Your kids could use someone better than you. You will always feel this way and life will never change. You only have a part time job and have made nothing of yourself" I thought about how I would do it and I thought about it a lot. At the time, the only reason I didn't do it was because of a close family friend who ended her life the same way and I felt such intense pain for the children left behind. I loved their family and used to babysit the kids, so we spent a lot of time together. I couldn't leave my children. I loved them so, so much and I just kept trying my hardest to fight the demons, on my own.
In 2010, I found my life in a situation I hadn't planned for myself and the demons were back. I was in the car, in the garage hearing myself say those things again, over and over. I refer to it as slipping deeply into a deep dark hole and trying to claw your way out of the hole. All along, being afraid to look over your shoulder for fear you might just give in and not be able to take it one more day.
People,I'm here to tell you this pain is physical, all consuming and affects every aspect of your life. Your relationships with your family, co-workers and friends. The pain is real.
After the last episode in 2010, I literally ran back to the doctor for anti-depressants AGAIN. I knew at this point, I wanted to stay alive for my husband to be, our children, my sister and her family.
We have to stop stereotyping the mentally ill as crazy. I consider myself mentally ill from the depression and I need to stop calling myself crazy. It doesn't help the situation. If I wasn't so ashamed at the time, maybe I could have talked with someone about it? I holed it up inside of me and kept it to myself, which did nothing for the deep dark hole I was in.
I believe God wants us to fellowship with people, to help us through these difficult times. To not keep them to ourselves because if we do, we are NOT helping anyone.
If I can help one person to feel open enough to talk with people about their depression, anxiety or other mental illness - then my prayers will be answered. I don't want others to feel how I felt.
I know now I am God's daughter 1st and foremost. He loves me like no other person ever would or could. He is the only man who will never fail me. He will always be there for me, through everything. I have faith in Him to give my Dad's death over to Him, knowing He has all the answers.
I just needed to call on Him and believe in Him to get me through it.
Now I surrender daily to Him to help me with this depression. I have faith in Him to know He will not let me get the best of myself. He has already saved me from myself on many occasions. I am so thankful for His unconditional love and letting me learn the hard stuff on my own. If He would have picked me up every step of the way, I would have never learned.
I will never let go of Him.
My heart is for Jesus. He leads me now. if He has done this for me, He will do this for anyone. If you need help finding Him, ask me and I'll help direct you to where He is.....He will save you and make you whole. He will set you free!
Now, I see beauty in everything, everyone and everywhere I look. My dark shades are off. I don't want to hide anymore and everything is brighter. I know He has a purpose for my life and I wanna walk with Him. I feel like a completely different person. I am so blessed. I am so loved. He is my Dad and He feels the same way about you!! Even with all your sins, your deep darkest secrets. He doesn't care, He just wants a relationship with you. What have you got to lose? I promise you nothing!
What do you think we could do to help people more?
Do you believe there is a stereotype we place on mental illness?
Thank you everyone for reading my blog. My story ends happily and I know yours will too!