What the mind can't hide.
|What the mind can’t hide. By Michelle Klear|
Sept 23, 2006
Depression is a family illness that I know well. I never thought it would affect me because I have been running from it my whole life. At age 11, I started writing in a journal to express my emotions. I used my journal as a way to escape and it helped me deal with things I had no control over. I was going to write about my childhood and my personal struggles with my older parents, but I am a part of a large family, I am the ninth child and my twin brother is the tenth.
My parents are in heaven now and my brothers and sisters do not want me to talk about the dysfunction of our household. They do not want my parent’s reputation tarnished. After all, they were doing the best they could. I need to hand it over to God and move on. So out of respect for my siblings, I will avoid the history lesson and go straight to my personal struggle with my depression.
Oh and now I have the extra pressure of writing a book about depression and being positive, because we do not want it to be too depressing or no one will want to read it. Right, but depression is sad, not happy, not fun and most of all not something that can be controlled with wishful thinking. However, to soothe the egos of those who love me and want me to be happy; I will do my best to write about my growing concern for others who suffer from this most strange and dangerous illness.
In June of 2006, I lost my mind. I went crazy; I lost perspective and wanted to be someone else.
On paper, I look like my life was served to me on a silver platter. I have an incredible, wonderful, and fun husband who is also my best friend. I have a daughter who came straight from heaven and four years later my son, who was bouncing around on clouds in heaven before he found us.
My kids are normal, healthy, and cute. I can say that because to me it is true. It is also the one thing that gives me my greatest challenge. I am a stay-at-home mom. My husband and I agree 100% that is the most important job I can have.
When I was a child, I was left alone, and I had a twin brother that I fought with after school. I needed to have someone protect me, from him, but, I was left to fend for myself. I dreaded coming home to an empty house and I would never do that to my kids. Because, I need to be here I have no way of understanding of why I want to run away. Why now do I want to run away from the responsibility of caring for them?
The depression has changed the shape of my brain and has made me look at things in a different way.
My life before June was slowly going downward, I was tired and irritable, and I was not as easy going with my friends. I had personal issues that needed to be addressed and my therapist was helping me uncover some problems. Then one day I woke up and I wanted to run away. I could not put a sentence together in my head that made any sense. I did not want to be a parent, a wife, or a house cleaner. I wanted to escape and start all over. What would I be? Who could I be? I did not run but I wish I would have. I wrote a 250-page novel. In four weeks. I ignored my children and I was angry with my husband. However, he never knew because he was working out of town and had no idea that the woman he left was losing her mind.
He was clueless and had a rude awaking when I called him one day after I dropped my children off at my sisters. I could not care for them. I wanted nothing to do with them and I ended up staying in bed for over 24 hours. I was not the mother I wanted them to see. I was no longer a person I wanted to be. Who or what was happening to me was so unusual, that I could not explain it. I felt like my brain was scattered in a million tiny pieces. If people saw me, they would see that I was not whole. They would know my dirty little secret and be disappointed in the once bubbly and fun Michelle.
I stayed in my house and used every excuse I could find, to stay away from having fun with my kids and doing things. I even stopped shopping; which should have been the first clue to my husband that something was wrong. I love to shop! However, even stopping all that did not alert any one that my mind had gone away. Now I did feel alone, lost, and went inside my head to feel loved.
When I think about love, I go back to age 17. I dream of the perfect summer vacation when I met a wonderful sexy man and fell in love for the first time. No other memory takes the place of this one. No matter how I try to replace it, I never can.
So, I dream of all the things that I cannot have and cannot change. That does not make me happy and for some reason it does not make me sad either. I have had the memory for so long, I love it just the way it is.
However, I had to explain that to my brain and say that it is okay. I am loved. I love myself but for some reason not enough to stop the “I want to run away” thoughts. I cannot control the darkness of the depression. I cannot get out of the heavy burden of not liking myself. Therefore, step one is always increase the medication you are on. If that does not work, change it.
Then I had my first ever-manic attack, and did not sleep for four weeks. You need sleep when you are raising kids. They are little energy suckers on a good day. It was getting harder all the time to focus on what was important and I was scaring my kids and myself.My husband was concerned, but with his work schedule, he had the luxury of ignoring it when he traveled. When he came home he was hit full force with the problem and he has been supportive. I am very lucky that he cares as much as he does, but like me, he is helpless to change something he has no control over.
He waits it out with me and prays that the medications start to work.Slowly they do. The clouds get swept away and I see clear again but this time I am forever changed from the experience. I never want to go to that place again. I really do love my life. I have everything I need to make me happy right here in my home. However, I am still looking for that love. I have started writing romance novels, hoping that I can create the perfect story of love and I don't have to do something stupid myself. Not that finding love is a stupid thing. I have learned there are many forms of love. What perfect one am I searching for? That I cannot answer yet, but I will when I can.
Sometimes we are not able to answer all our own questions. I am just happy that I can start looking again at my life, like I like it. Why, do I keep looking back? What is hiding in my past that is keeping me from moving forward? I understand that the past is over; I cannot fix it or change it. It all happened for a reason. Is it to help me publish my book that I want to do some research on the loves that got away? Do I want to answer the mystery of romance and innocence together? Who can tell me what I want more than I can?
When do I start trusting myself again? That is what this is about. How can I trust myself when my mind betrayed me? I no longer believe what I used too. It has made me question everything and everyone. Especially, if I am capable of being a stay-at-home mom, or even a mom. I do not do well on my own with my kids. I am recreating my own childhood, with a mother that was untouchable. I know that all parents have moments of blowing it... Of doing or saying something that scars the child. We are only human and are parenting in moments of emotions. But my emotions are betraying me.
I no longer believe I should be doing this. How do I get past this? I really don’t know. I can ask God to walk with me and help me, he gave me these kids to raise, he thinks I know what I am doing but I think he might be wrong. I am clueless. Can my own depression and insensitivity to my kids cause their depression someday? Will they too be running from it? Is it already too late?
I asked a question about finding something in my past. I want to go back and understand the rejection. All those lost loves rejected me, and now I think my work will get rejected too. It has tossed me backwards. I get it but what do I do about it?
If I don’t trust myself, then whatever I find might not be true, or will it? Only time and the words of friends are going to see me through this. I am not sure what is real but I am going to be getting some answers soon and my book with have more clarity. I do believe that what I find will help me feel better. God please walk with me.
Everyone needs someone to help him or her through the pitfalls of depression. People and relationships with others can help us go in the right direction, as long as they are supportive. Some people still believe that we can actually talk ourselves out of feeling depressed. That we can stop the merry-go-round of our thoughts and get off on happy land. It sure would be nice, but it is not likely to happen without the care of a professional. Doctors and family members need to work together to assist the person who is depressed.
Knowing that someone cares and will still love you when you are down is wonderful. My doctor is so sensitive and he reassures me that I will get better. Time is all it takes, and the right combination of medication working in my system.
I have gone too many years undiagnosed with depression. I would blame it on any thing else but what it really was. Why? I did not know that it was a brain chemical that was mis-wired. I actually thought I was doing it to myself and I could get better by ignoring how serious it was. Without my faith in God, I am not sure I would have made the right decisions in my life.
I have been lucky my whole life and God has kept a watchful eye on my behavior, He always brings in the right person to brighten my outlook. I always wanted to find a lover. I found many but they never lasted long enough, just enough to give me hope again and feel good. I like feeling good. I think that is what it is all about. Feeling good. Being happy with our decisions in life and having a circle of people around us that contributes to our feelings about ourselves.
When others are down, I tend to be much more supportive now. I do not worry that my friends will take their own life. It is more about respecting ones feelings.The world is starting to understand that depression is a mental illness. Not a result of something bad happening to someone. I have had post traumatic stress disorder that resulted from an unhappy and tragic childhood. I saw a therapist to help me with old repressed emotions.
I have a twin brother that was very abusive toward my parents and me. I was consumed with my brother’s life. It was very different from mine and yet he had a way of haunting me, and making me travel with him in my dreams. He took me to his crack house and I would see him get abused and beaten, and do drugs. All in the comfort of my bed. It was a horrible time for me. I was being torn apart by drugs and I was not doing them. It took me several years to disconnect from my brother. I had to cut our twin connection. I barely feel it today.
I know that if he were in serious trouble, I would be the first one to know. He has changed and his past still haunts him too. However, he has more hope and vigor for living than I do. He cannot understand how I can be unhappy when I have everything. To him I live the perfect life. Choices I have made when I was younger are the choices that support me now. I have built my life on a solid foundation so that if it all came tumbling down, I could still build back up.
I have made some good choices in my life and I have decided that I deserved good things. I deserve to be treated well. I looked for a husband who could support me financially. That was very important to me in my search for the perfect husband. I wanted to give the emotional support to him and I wanted his money to buy my house. I found the perfect man for me. He takes care of my finances and I take care of his needs. We work very well together, as long as my medication is working and I am not trying to run away.
He understands that I have something that he cannot control and he loves me just the same. He is thrilled that I write romance novels as long as he is the main character. He is my hero in many ways. However, he is just a man, I am just a woman, and we are still imperfect people. My imperfection makes me unique and special and has helped me out of more rough spots than I care to mention in this book. I am still looking and I will not stop until I understand that my mind cannot hide what it wants. What does it want? It wants to chase dreams that cannot come true; it wants to find something in the past that will not ever happen again. I learned today that you could not go back if you want to move forward and if I want to be happy now, I need to accept myself right now and right here. I do have everything and my mind needs to catch up.
I am one of the lucky ones in a family with mental illness, but no one wants to believe that. I have a brother and a sister that have been diagnosed with bipolar disease. My doctor is very concerned for me and prays that my jumbled mind will not go down that bumpy road. I pray that will not happen either. I like being on an even level. I have noticed, that the things I said yes to over the summer, have come back to haunt me. I have made some mistakes that I do not normally make. I am having a lot more trouble keeping my day uncluttered. I find that I am agreeing to do things that I do not really want to do, but people rely on me, so I say yes. Soon this year will be over and I can move on in the right direction. My book of poetry is going to be published. I can hardly wait. I will ship it around the world. I want to be very successful. I need to finish my first novel. My dreams will keep me going and knowing that depression, however, it rears itself to me again will not suck the life out of me. This time I will be ready. I am living out the passionate life I want with God, myself, and the ones I love.
Recently, I spent some time with some very special and beautiful woman friends. We call our group of six the "Sista’s" it used to be the sisters of the traveling skort. However, that got too long and we all have not had sex with our skorts on so we nixed it. So now, we are just the Sista’s. We try to meet as often as we can; we find that husbands, kids, jobs and life can get in the way. When we get together it balances it all out and we walk away able to face the life we have chosen. The reason why I mention my sisters is that this gathering was to celebrate my birthday. We have a wonderful tradition of giving presents. Not only does the birthday girl get gifts, we are responsible for filling a basket full of goodies to give out to everyone. Therefore, everyone gets to open a gift. It is a fun time and the amount of joy it brings to each of us is amazing. The whole give and get thing. Ok, so it feels good that we get gifts but more than any present that can be given is the amount of respect we have with each other. I am blown away by God’s creativity.
That he can create so many wonderful women. Each one is unique and beautiful and adds so much to my life. I could travel to the moon with each woman and I know we would never run out of things to talk about or discover about each other or ourselves. Thanks girls, for giving me so much hope and making me feel normal; when that really is the last thing, I think I am. Normal, that really is the last thing I would ever say I was or for that matter anyone else. Normal is too ordinary and safe. It does not take into account all the depth that humans have. We are capable of so much emotion and fire. I am Italian and love the whole bigger than life image that Italians are known for. I also know that the mind can hide so many things.
Our minds, our thoughts, our feelings, our whole life we get to play out day by day sometimes minute by minute. In the darkest days of summer I would live minute by minute, now I am going more day by day. I like that better. I am spending a lot less time inside my head and more time looking out at the beauty around me. It has been six months since I have lost my way. I do not want to run away but I would take a trip to a warm beach. The only lover I am looking for now is the one that is across the room from me. He is getting ready for bed and he is giving me the look. Yes, things can work out if given enough time and enough love and we believe that God does want us to be happy.
I want to be happy. I worry that I will forget that I am blessed. I pray I never get that old or that I never lose my mind completely.
Now I will tell you that change is all around me. I just found out that my husband would only have his current job for the next six months. So come April his career will be different. I find it interesting that I am the one desiring to change and he actually has it happen to him. Funny how God can listen to half of my prayers but still make them come true. I truly believe that whatever happens is for the best. I know that my home is next to Brian and wherever that is I will find peace.
In January of 2007, I discovered even more of what my mind cannot hide.. I have finally found my home, what I have been looking for. It was a long journey and a very painful one. I had many tears and thoughts of escaping my current life for a fantasy one. Fantasy cannot replace what I found and no one can make me feel something that is not real. Sometimes that real feeling is the one that we need to feel, even if it is painful and it takes us someplace we should not visit. I have to say I was unprepared for what I found and what I felt. However, it was worth the trip.
My journey took me back to age 17, when I did experience love and I felt my wings spread. However, when I returned home from that trip my spirit was crushed and my wings were clipped. To please my father who was mad at me for falling in love and growing up, I had to pretend it happened to someone else and not daddy’s little girl. Therefore, I hid my sadness and repressed my independent feeling for the security of my father’s love and to depend on his protection and safety.
My parents did not give that to me. Once again, they left me alone.
One dark and dreary fall morning when I was home alone getting ready for school, a man walked into my house wanting me to fulfill his sexual desire. He was in my house for hours and I was unaware. I ignored all his signs. He shut my radio off, unplugged my phone and was about to come upstairs to my bedroom when I found him downstairs playing with himself in my kitchen. You can imagine my shock and fear when he walked towards me and I ran out the side door to wake up the neighbor and call the police. When the police and my father arrived, he was long gone and the police were sure he was a thief after our valuables. It took me a while to explain that he was not a thief but a pervert and he was after me. You know what my dad’s response was; “well nothing happened, I will drive you to school now”.
I went to school and I had to act as if everything was fine, when inside I was scared, shattered, and full of memories of the morning. I remembered the sound of his footsteps on the roof and his whistling. I pretended it was the wind and blamed the electricity when my music got shut off. I was sitting in Astrology class with silent tears running down my cheeks because my parents could not take the time to comfort me, or let me stay with them at work that day. One day, just one day, to tell me that I was ok. They could not give it to me and I realize right now as I am typing this, that this memory is what has haunted me all these years. I deserved to be treated better than that. That they could have taken the time to hold me, and not abandon me. How could they hurt me like that? How could they be so insensitive to my feelings and what I needed?
The biggest help I had getting past all the pain and fear was from my religion teacher, Mr. Jack Snow. He loved my journal writing and encouraged me to tell him everything by writing in my journal. Then he would write back and tell me that God loved me and it was a test of my character. He kept my head above water that year with his constant praise of my writing. He wanted me to take every creative writing class I could. I think he would be very proud of me if he knew that my future is in my writing.
I am sitting here at my kitchen table in shock. I really thought it was discovering my long lost love that made me feel better about myself. Instead, I have discovered that love is what gave me the strength to go deeper to find the truth. I have been hiding from myself. All this time I missed my opportunity to tell my parents how disappointed I am in them for not being there. For letting, them get away with treating me so poorly. I have no doubt they did not know the severity of this pain or they would have helped me. Maybe they thought if we did not talk about it, it would go away. It obviously went away if it has taken me this long to express the emotion of that day.
For a long time, I kept looking back, knowing that something was keeping me from grieving and saying my final goodbye. I thought it was connected to my first love and my book of poetry. However, I realize now it was so much more. I needed to feel real emotion, open up my heart, and let it breathe! I had a great roller coaster ride with my first love. I felt all those feelings, memories and desire to be together. He returned to me my soul, and I will be forever grateful that he was as open with his feelings. Now I have even more to thank him for.
My mind is clear again to think and believe that I do know what is good for me. I can move forward now and forgive my past. I can take the knowledge and the pain and put it behind me for good. I will no longer be looking back. I am done with that. All I have is the future and what great things I have to look forward to. Thank you, friends for taking the time to let me heal, to encourage me on this trip to hell and back. I feel stronger then I have in years and I am coming back to my wonderful life.
During this entire book writing and my personal struggle with depression and grieving is a secret that is tearing me apart. I am part of a nightmare that I cannot talk about because no one believes me. I am watching with my own two eyes the development of bipolar in my son Jackson. His anger and frustration at me is growing and I am growing more distant from him. I can no longer hold my reactions together; his fits of displeasure at me are unraveling the last pieces of the sanity I had left. I have known from the time Jackson turned three that he was showing early signs but I wanted to ignore them and blame myself for being a bad parent. All our trips to see his therapist for parenting tips and discussions were helping but not enough.
No Jackson needed help with his behavior; I needed to trust that I could do the right thing but it was getting hard for me. I read the book “Indigo Child” and learned a large lesson on respect. I needed to respect him and understand that he is driven to behave this way.
His sense of self was so defined. He had a real knowledge and acceptance of what he needed from me. When I was falling short, he would talk to me and get angry with me and point out my shortcomings. He really could tell me what he needed and if I took the time to listen to him and follow what he wanted he was well behaved. If I challenged him or tried too hard to get my own way, he would become increasing angry and defiant. Listening to his fears and respecting him helped for some time but as the school year progressed, he started having problems with a bully in his classroom. His behavior at home became worse and I became his target. I saw something in him that looked truly evil and it was wearing me out, I could not get anyone else to see it and I needed to run.
Brian’s acceptance and understanding of bipolar is very limited and he kept telling me that I was labeling him, and wishing that upon him. No I just knew what I was seeing but Brian was not ready for that. I booked a plane ticket to leave town, I was willing to throw my entire life away to get some help. I could not do it anymore; I had too much in myself to heal before I could take on Jackson’s healing.
I left for five days and I was not ready to return but I had to come back, Brian needed me. Oh, how he needed me. The five days I was gone, Jackson hit bottom and Dad got his first taste of his illness hands on. I have to say that is what I wanted. I needed Brian to experience Jackson from morning to bedtime with no break, just as I had been doing for the past five years.
I have been home and I did not have an escape like work. I had girlfriends and parties to go to but no 8-hour a day job to keep me from seeing the truth.
While I was gone, Jackson had an ear infection and our pediatrician convinced my husband that he needed to be tested. At school, the principal kept Jackson in her office for one whole day and told my husband that this boy needed help. He finally understood that we could no longer go on with letting him act this way. He needed help and fast or we were all going to go crazy. Finally, someone was going to listen to us. Our first call was to the Oakland Psychological clinic in Milford, Michigan. The second call was to the University of Michigan Child Psychological clinic in Ann Arbor. Oakland could see us first so we started with a therapist named Beth. Beth immediately connected with Jackson.
It was a great start but we still needed to have him see a Psychiatrist. They were full and we had to wait three weeks before the appointment. The University of Michigan was also a three-week wait but we were able to get in to see a Therapist but it did not work out well for Jackson. She misjudged his behavior and would have sent on us a wild goose chase had I not been so strict with Brian and said enough. I was not taking any more chances with his treatment. Everyday he was telling me he wanted to get a gun and kill me. Whenever I did anything that a normal mom does for her child he would call me stupid and tell me he hated me. I could no longer even get him food; it was insane what was happening to our son. I could see he was miserable but we had to wait for the Psychiatrist to see him.
His appointment was set for March 26, 2007. Finally, he saw Dr. Vora the Psychiatrist. Jackson’s behavior was out of control at the appointment. He was all over the map, crying, kicking yelling at us, calm then he was jumping from the furniture. At one point, he tried to run away. It was a nightmare and I sat back and enjoyed the show. The Psychiatrist said very bluntly that our son needed to be hospitalized. He was extremely dangerous to himself and us. He was showing clear signs of mental distress.
The doctor said there are codes of treatment that all doctor’s must follow to insure the safety of their clients, one if they are suicidal, homicidal or unable to take care of themselves. Jackson is only five so that did not count but his homicidal wishes towards me where to be taken with the strictest respect. It was not a game and we had no choice but to help our son get treatment. He referred us to Havenwyck Hospital and sent us on our way. The next morning I called and the following day we were bringing Jackson in for a tour. He started the program, Friday, March 30 at 8 a.m. and stayed in school all day by himself until 3:00 p.m.
He called it the anger hospital and said he had a good time and would like to go back on Monday. Jackson never once complained about being at the “anger school”. He got up early and was gone all day and he never said anything about being tired or upset. You could feel his relief. He wanted to get better, he knew that saying he wanted to kill his mom was wrong.
He confessed that the green robot named Alex was making him do it. They started him on Risperdal. He stayed in the program for the full ten days. The max allowed for our insurance. It was long enough to start the medication and long enough to get rid of the robot. Jackson said, “Alex is sleeping”. I would have liked him to say he was gone but by the following week, he said, “Alex must be in someone else's head I don’t hear him anymore”.
The journey for Jackson and his bipolar will be the path that I will walk with him for the rest of his life. I believe that mental illness is something that can be treated with respect and love.
Thank you for reading my personal journey, I welcome your comments.