Dealing with anxiety and depression; no easy answer.

Depression and anxiety are rampant these days and with good reason, with all the tragedies happening around us, combined with us all wanting more than we need because of what marketing and the media have cramed in our faces everyday helping us to feel less than when we don’t have it all. When we cannot do it all, as we are told we should. ADD, ADHD, Autism spectrum disorder (varying levels now) too many more mental illnesses. Breast cancer, Leukemia, Alzheimer’s and devastating childhood Cancers. So much we deal with, we look at but are told to be positive, don’t cry, you don’t want to make others uncomfortable, so instead we show off the people that we are not on Facebook, we Instragram the meals we pretend to cook daily, we Tweet our ‘heroes’ for attention, sadly they are famous people(not the scientists, doctors, army veterans that it should be) that do nothing helpful to the world(some do) but encourage consumerism by showing off all they’ve acquired, with glossed over, highly filtered shots that hurt our minds and grow our insecurities. People that suffer from anxiety tend to have suffered a traumatic event in their life, events that can range in degrees of harshness but are nonetheless traumatic to the recipient. We don’t learn how to cope with PTSD or the ensuing anxiety, we do learn to pretend, to be positive and when we cannot pretend we want to hide and isolate ourselves and unfortunately some isolate themselves to the point that they lose touch with reality or with society, trapped in their evil mind of negative thoughts. They venture to a doctor brave enough to tell someone they are not coping, only to be prescribed a deadly dose of mind numbing chemicals that in the end cause dependency, just a temporary solution instead of simply encouraging exercise, a better diet, two things which are proven mood lifters, they help with sleep and connect our body to our mind. Not our mind to drugs that in the end worsen the brain and the problem. I wish there was a magical cure for all those that suffer from depression, isolation, anxiety, I do think if our young were encouraged to go get fresh air when upset or go for a walk when frustrated or angry, if we could teach simple coping techniques; like meditation when feeling scared or confused, how better off we might be. When I feel so trapped inside my anxiety all I can do is ride it out. Knowing I am stronger than the thoughts that cause me this pain. I often wonder how much worse it would be if I didn’t exercise daily. When I was fourteen I tried to take my life. I was an undisciplined, (felt) unloved, labeled some terrible names at school because of untrue rumors that I was constantly running from. My parents were divorcing; I had no rules, no goals, no forced values or concern. No one would miss me, no one needed me, I didn’t understand the point. I went into the bathroom and took what was left in a bottle of Tylenol, about 20 pills, I figured it would be enough to do something, and went to bed. As I lay there crying I eventually started to think of the future, of what I wanted. What I hoped might happen one day. I got back up went to the bathroom and made myself throw up. I never again got that sad, sad enough to think I should be dead or not care enough to live. Not until my daughter died almost twenty years later did I think death would be better than living, one reason that I didn’t seriously consider it was because of my other two young kids, the thought of them losing their mother after their sister was a hard one, but I knew they’d be fine, they had an amazing dad, so every night after I’d wake up from a nightmare filled with dread or survived another panic attack because they were not home, I considered more and more the reasons I didn’t have to keep going, the only one that kept me alive in the end was the thought of my husband, who was suffering more than anyone cared to pay attention to or notice but I saw his pain every day, I felt his sadness, and watched his mind disappear and become numb with every drink he poured, I thought how he would be ruined if he lost his wife right after his daughter I knew my kids would be fine as long as they had their dad, but saw that their dad wouldn’t be fine and for that reason, my love for him, is why I decided to keep going. Why I have kept going. For them to have him. Now four years later I keep going for myself, to see my kids become adults, to maybe meet my grandchildren, to do what I can to make the world a better place for them until then. It is so easy to question the world, to hate your life. But if you can think of how people will be hurt because of  a selfish decision, it can be eye opening. I don’t know what made me throw up the pills I took that night when I was fourteen, but maybe it was to get to this day, because god knows the hardships that followed were more than a lot deal with, but as they say, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and for the longest time that was my mantra. I became hard, I am not very sympathetic to people with champagne problems or self inflicted issues or self imposed isolation. Go outside. Take a breath of fresh air. Remember what you have that some don’t.

I strongly believe that life is suffering; we need to feel the pain to feel the strength, esperience the hurt to see the happiness when it comes.

I wanted to share this not for pity or sympathy but because so many people assume only the ones who hide away, suffer or have suffered; only the ones on pills are truly understanding of mental disorders, but that is not true because all of us suffer at some point in our lives, it is just how we pick ourselves up and decide to keep going that makes a difference.

We need to keep going, to keep hoping.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste.

Sheri.

3 years.

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My daughter Lily was born still.

That’s what would have been my statement had we waited any longer. She was born blue and was resuscitated; because of her beginning without oxygen she suffered brain stem damage, she was frozen for 3 days to help heal her brain damage, the first time I held my baby girl she was 4 days old. But she was alive so I was grateful.

Weeks passed with so many tests, all with a negative conclusion and after having a feeding tube surgically placed into her gastro intestine we were able to take her home. What gets me is that even though they did 3 MRI’s and multiple other scans, they missed what would eventually kill her. That was her trachea. They were so close too, they found the holes in her heart, they found the valve that pumped the wrong way, all of these would need surgeries to be fixed but she needed to be bigger and stronger to endure them, had they looked an inch higher they would have seen her abnormal trachea.

The night Lily stopped breathing and I performed CPR on her plays out as a nightmare in my memory, for the longest time I wanted to move because every time I looked at that spot on the  floor where she lay, my heart stopped, but then we replaced the carpets with hardwood and I was sad that that was now gone too, so I knew I couldn’t leave the one place she had been. When they found out about Lilys trachea, the doctor phoned and told me she would need a tracheotomy to live- that’s a hole in her throat to breathe, he said she would never have a good life, would never speak, would never taste anything and would have a shortened lifespan because of it. That surgery was on top of the other 4 heart surgeries she needed. This one would now be 1rst though. He said I will do it if you tell me to but even on a healthy baby the chance of survival is slim. What the fuck do you say to that!? We had company downstairs that day, I didn’t go back down.

We went back to the hospital 1rst thing the next day probably our 100th drive then. I suffered from ptsd every time I got into the car after she died. 4 days later we signed a do not resuscitate order, they took out her breathing tube and we held her until she died 30 minutes later at 4:55 pm on February 18 2012. I am forever haunted by this. What if we did the surgeries? Most likely she wouldn’t have died in our arms but on a table. What if we accepted the transfer to Canuck Place? We probably would have had a nicer end of her life together as a family. What if she was born still? None of these traumatizing experiences would have happened, we would have still grieved but differently I imagine. The hardest, what if she continued to breathe, what if she was that 5% that survived.

So as life goes on, as we try to understand the why’s of it all, we want to grow, we hope to learn, we try to accept, we continue to live. We chose to remember.

Nothing is forever- All is Dukkha

When my baby was resuscitated, we followed her ambulance to Children’s Hospital; my eyes were suddenly ripped opened to a new, raw, sad and treacherous world. A world filled with guilt, anxiety, PTSD and loss.

The suffering of so many children, parents of children, siblings, stuck in the hospital, followed immediately by watching the suffering of so many bereaved parents in a support group.

I cannot erase the immensely sad stories of lost children from my mind- not that I want to, I will cherish those stories of those angels that I was blessed to hear about –yes it is ironic and wrong to feel blessed because I also wished I never had to have shared stories with these other parents nor them to me I am sure.

I just cannot imagine my thoughts previously…

Had I ever wondered about sick kids? Or thought about the number of bereaved parents that keep their secret in their heart because there never is an appropriate opening for one to mention their lost child.

Did my mind ever realize all the suffering around me or was I just living day to day not thinking not feeling not knowing? Maybe just pretending.

I remember the summer before Lily was born, the summer before my life was changed forever, my two boys and I were at a park and beside the park there was construction; a beautifully large tree was being smashed over and over by a bulldozers claw- it couldn’t quite run it down, I started crying, it was one of the saddest things and I was witnessing it.

This enormous tree that did nothing but give us free, fresh air was being ripped from the ground, as the claw slammed down over and over I found myself shaking I was so upset at the sight of this. My older son asked me what was wrong. I told him why I thought it was sad humans clear cut forests for development and even though it is sometimes needed, they need to realize those old trees are needed too; that there must be a better way. Especially when all that is re-planted in its wake are dingy, floppy, tinny ‘road trees’ that never grow to the vastness of the ones they tear down.

That tree now symbolizes the beginning of my journey into accepting suffering. My eyes, my heart, being opened to the real world.

All I see is suffering, love, then suffering but I also know I read when I first was intrigued with Buddhism that – “Life is suffering” This statement is supposed to sum up the four noble truths of Buddhism.

https://thebuddhistcentre.com/text/four-noble-truths

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Noble_Truths

However, Buddha didn’t speak English, so he didn’t use the English word, “suffering.” What he said, according to the earliest scriptures, is that life is dukkha.

Dukkha– is Pali a variation of Sanskrit, it means: anything temporary is dukkha, including happiness. And really isn’t everything temporary? The Buddha taught there are three main categories of dukkha. These are:

  1. Suffering or pain (dukkha-dukkha)
  2. Impermanence or change (viparinama-dukkha)
  3. Conditioned states (samkhara-dukkha)

Accepting we are impermanent has helped me accept my daughter’s death. Accepting suffering is life has also helped me to be more empathetic and “real”. Life in North America is very much self oriented; me, me, me, what I want! What do I get! What I think I want will make me happy!

But life is not about seeking material things to make us happy it is about realizing and accepting we are impermanent blips in this universe and ultimately being a good person will make you happy. Helping others when you can, being honest and real all the time but mostly loving those around you- because as the hilarious Louis C.K says- if you’re not in front of me you could be dead.

We must accept our suffering in able to accept our happy moments.

We must understand that everything that lives- dies.

Nothing is forever- All is Dukkha

And that is ok.

Because tomorrow after the rain fades away the sun will show and a new flower will sprout.

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