A new exciting opportunity for me!

I was contacted today by an employee of Wizpert to sign up and place a button here on my blog that will allow me to speak with individuals on things that I am an expert at. You can choose 4 different categories that you think you are an expert at to share your knowledge with people that might just need a little extra support and really just to chat with someone. I am excited by this opportunity because it means that I can help someone who is grieving, someone who suffers from depression, someone that is new to the depression and anxiety world and is scared. This is one step in the direction of where I feel my calling in life is, to share my story, to help others conquer there feelings of doubt, for people to hold their head up high and say “I have depression, but like any disease I am living my life with it.”

So from now on in my posts you will see a little button at the end that you can click on to speak with me if you are struggling! I really want to be able to reach as many people as possible so don’t hesitate. Everything remains confidential, I will never share your story here on my blog unless you ask, and I will never divulge any information shared with me to anyone else.

Let’s chat!

Call Me

 

Live, Love, Laugh

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Strength in Numbers

The thing that I struggle with a lot of the time, is shutting people out because I don’t want to hurt them with my anxiety or depression. I don’t want to bring down people, or be a burden on them emotionally or physically. So I close the doors and don’t let the real feelings out until I get to a point that I just burst and they come flowing out of me uncontrollably. If you ask my husband he would attest to this.

I have to constantly fight my mind set, these people in my life, my husband, my daughter, my family, my close friends they stick by me because they love me and they want to see me triumph over the depression and anxiety. They don’t run away at the first sign of a tear. They don’t crumble themselves and take on my problems. They stand around me in a circle of strength constantly cheering me on. 

Depression is torture because it makes you want to curl into yourself and shut out the rest of the world. It makes you not want to express your feelings and to hide from people. Depression coupled with anxiety is an even more vile mix. Leaving my house is a struggle on good days, on days where I am feeling very low and the anxiety is very high its impossible. When I was in California and I pushed so hard every day. Everyone was so proud of me, but at the end of the day it had taken so much out of me I couldn’t barely walk. The chest pains and the tears wouldn’t stop. The good news though, is that my family supported me and cheered me on so I got up and did it again the next day. 

Coming to the realization that depression and anxiety is something you are always going to have to deal with is hard. Once you realize that its a part of you, and who you are though it gets easier to learn a new way of life. The journey I am on has changed a lot from the one I thought I would be taking, but that doesn’t make it any less joyful or full of blessings. Every day I vow to wake up the next day with a clear mind and take on that day for what it is. Not to dwell on how yesterday was bad, or how there are bad days in my future. Just to live for that day, the moments it will bring me, and the support I know I have. 

It is why I come here to write out what really happens when you have depression. It’s to help people that might be feeling alone, know that I am cheering for you. Every bad day you have put to rest and start out the next day, whole, renewed and refreshed. 

There is a lot to say for strength in numbers. When you get low there is always someone to talk to, to reach out to, to find comfort and peace in their words or actions. If you don’t have that in your life, and you struggle every day reach out. Reach out to me if you want, I can be your cheerleader. Together we can concur the world, if we just surround ourselves with the people that can help us. The only way is to lean on people, to build your circle and to love who you are. 

Love who you are no matter what mental illness you have. You can’t change that anymore then you can change the color of your eyes. Be you, every single day. Believe that tomorrow is a chance to conquer the low days. 

I’ll be rooting for you! 

Live, Love, Laugh

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Courage to make a stand

It has been a difficult couple of months for me and my family. Last time I wrote I was hanging my hopes on my sister being the key to filling and unlocking my heart to be able to get past my grief. Turns out I was right, being with her, being close to her, knowing she was sleeping in the next room, being able to laugh with her, chat with her, it was the best feeling ever! I have very near and dear friends, but nothing can replace your sister. We are a lot alike, and a lot different at the same time. Now that we are both mothers its so much fun being able to parent with her. But…at the same time I was there, I was very aware of Tiffanie not being there as well. Her missing presence was like this huge hole, I suppose its always going to be that way, but its a shock all in the same. I held her ashes and my heart sank. Thats my sister in that urn, I won’t be able to see her smile, or hear her laugh for a very long time. The hardest part though, we 3 sisters aren’t ever going to be able to raise our babies together. I can move back to California and raise Maddie with her cousins, which would mean the whole world to me, but Tiffanie won’t physically be there to be a part of it. 

She always talked about being a mom. She was rough and tumble, a tom boy most of her life until she became a fashionista of course. She could still tumble with the best of them but she was going to look good doing it! Getting ready to go in for her C-section she flat ironed her hair and put make up on. Memories like that make me smile. Seeing Nevaeh and how much she is exactly like Tiffanie makes me smile too. She is rough, and tumble, I can tell she will always stick up for Dallyn if someone comes after him. She is quick to anger, but oh when you see that smile with the dimples just like her mommy its almost magical. She acts like her, she talks like her, her mannerisms are the same. I think its Tiff’s way of telling us she is there too. I could feel her presence there, especially as July 31st neared. 

As my family prepared for the 2 year anniversary of my sister passing, another tragedy befell our family. My cousin Greg just 35 years old, was in a car accident and went to be a star in heaven just 2 days before the 31st. I hadn’t seen him in so many years and I always thought we will visit PA to see my family soon. The only problem with putting it off so long is sometimes you don’t get that chance. The things that his friends and his close family wrote about him reminded me so much of the few memories I do have of him. When we were there visiting back when I was 12 years old and Greg was a teenager, he still made time to hang out and do fun things with my sisters and I. Which really makes me smile to think about. He left behind a little piece of himself as well, the very adorable Braedon who is 4 years old. I cry for my Aunt and Uncle because they lost such an awesome son, I cry for my cousins because they lost such an awesome brother, and I cry for the lost time that our families never got to have together. 

I struggle with handling this grief because its one of my worst fears coming true. I haven’t been able to drive because I am absolutely horrified of getting into an accident. It makes me nervous when anyone drives because I am afraid that they are going to be hurt or even worse. 

The panic attacks would come out of no where when I was in California and I would always try to hide them from my family. They were worried and constantly asking if I was ok. I felt like I had to be ok, so that they wouldn’t worry. A few times I couldn’t stop them from coming when they were around, and I hated that. I hate anyone having to see me in that state. The pressure of doing so many things I hadn’t done in forever was a bit overwhelming most of the time. When we were in Las Vegas, I would sit in the bathroom sometimes for 45 minutes just crying quietly or running the shower so no one could hear me. 

Adding to the anxiety, depression and grief was the fact that I hurt my knee before we even left Canada. We stayed at a hotel the night before we were going to fly out to California, we got in the pool, it was those ladders to get in. Now I am in no way shape or form a small girl. When I went to get out of the pool I wrenched my knee and my back, making me fall back into the pool. It was 2 hours before I could push through the pain and have Cherise behind me pushing me up. It was such a horrific experience, but it made the trip so unbearable from the pain. I had to be pushed in a wheel chair some of the time in Vegas because I just couldn’t walk. I felt like a burden and a bummer all at the same time. (see crying in bathroom above) 

My depression, my anxiety, my grief are all on over drive right now. Plus the pain I have in my knee and back is excruciating. My Dr gave me ibuprofen to help with the swelling and wants me to go to physical therapy. Only thing is we can’t afford to pay up front and wait for the insurance to pay us back. Because…

As a welcome home gift my Long Term Disability decided to cut me off. It seems there is a clause in my insurance policy that states I am supposed to contact them to get permission to leave Canada if I am going to be gone for 4 weeks or longer. My case worker was horrendous to me, while I am on the phone collapsing from a panic attack. I told her I had to go, she said “well you better call me back”. Yeah after I can friggin catch a deep breath and actually talk. The panic attack was the longest I have ever had, I was sure I was going to pass out, I was so dizzy and couldn’t stop sobbing. I scared Maddie, Trev couldn’t come home from work, so my other mom Brenda came in to give me some hugs. They had been trying to get ahold of me while I was gone to set up rehabilitation for going back to work. I was excited about getting into that to see what they could help me with. So the day I got home, I called them back to let them know why I had been gone. That is what got me in trouble, if they would not have known I had left the country then I would still have my long term disability until February. So in my appeal letter I state the obvious, why would I intentionally shoot myself in the foot if I knew of the clause in my policy? So still waiting for that to come along with the appeal. 

All that to say, I am falling apart. I feel like I took 2 giant leaps backwards. I called to set up an emergency appointment with my Psychiatrist when I got home too, the soonest he can see me is September 11th. Everything about this situation and what I am going through is so disheartening. Its hard to have hope that I will see the other side of this depression and anxiety. I fought so hard to get to wear I was and now I just rolled right back. 

I did write a letter to the insurance company stating that I needed a new case worker, preferably one with patience, understanding, and that doesn’t treat depression as a non issue. It is a disease and I shouldn’t be treated as if its no big deal. At least I had the courage to make that stand. It will never be ok for insurance companies, Dr’s, or anyone to be little or judge people based on mental illness. I am not about to stop fighting for the cause even though I feel like all I want to do is crawl into bed and cry. 

I am struggling, I am praying, and I am leaning on my husband. Something has to give. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. 

 

Live, Love, Laugh

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Sorry for the Silence

Life can be confusing and hard sometimes, and the words just won’t come. 

 

I am excited to announce that I will be in California in just 10 days. I will be with my mom, my sister, my brother, my niece, my nephew, my future brother in law. I will get to see my friends. Also very important that my best friend will be traveling with me, and I get to show her where I grew up, and get to share in the memories of Tiffanie while we are there. It promises to be a pretty exciting trip and although my anxiety is trying to make me fearful of the trip, I am still standing strong that I can overcome the anxiety. 

I am in the fun (said with sarcasm) uncertainty of trying to find a new psychiatrist. The one I currently see has stopped listening to anything and is just throwing different medications at me. I can’t stay on this roller coaster forever. I will need to be able to do some kind of job, my disability ends in February of 2013, which seems like a lot of time to most people, but to me it feels like I am backed up against a wall. We need the money that I bring in to meet our bills and at this point I am just searching for any sort of job that I think I can do with my anxiety. I need an environment that is comforting and understanding. I am so scared I am not going to find that, it is a constant worry now and my anxiety is running wild with that. Its always on my mind and I am constantly searching for any little hint of what I could do with my life. This seems like such a huge decision, yet I don’t feel at all mentally equipped to handle this. So when I get back from California, I will be searching for a new psychiatrist and a therapist that I can get into before March of 2013. These things mean I will have to go through my private insurance and not the free health care. I am nervous, but I am confident that I can find someone that is willing to listen to talk, to calm my fears, to help me get on the right road. 

With the impending travel to California, my mind has been so much on Tiffanie. Last time I was in California was when we were putting her to rest. We were all in shock then, so we just moved through the days without grasping anything. Now my heart knows that the loss is going to be felt. I am going to be very aware that she is not physically there. My mind has known the reality for these 2 years, but I think my heart just held onto hope it was a bad dream. Its like facing reality that you have been running away from. Ill be there for the 2nd anniversary of the day she passed away. We will be celebrating her life, but to be honest I don’t feel ready to face that. This pain of losing my sister is never going to go away. Its always going to be there in my heart. Those that have lost any of their loved ones know what I mean. Its that lump that forms in your throat when you don’t know what to say anymore, the point where the only thing you want is a hug.

I had another tarot reading, this time with the angel deck. It was interesting and enlightening as well. I got 3 inverted cards out of 5, those cards represent the road that my life is destined to take but is being blocked by something inside me. I know its because I am afraid, its because I worry something is going to happen to another person I love so much, I hold me back because I am too scared to see where the future goes. Its also the part of me that holds Tiffanie grounded to this earth because I can’t let her go. I don’t know how to let go, if I want to, or what it means to make that first step in the right direction. I feel like I am a holding pattern in my grief right now, stuck in this point, like moving on is not cherishing her life the best I could and I think deep down I feel selfish. 

The things I want and the things I am capable of doing right now are not lining up. It makes me mad at myself. It makes me feel worthless being at this stage of grief still. It’s like jumping on a bike, riding for a few hours wondering why you aren’t moving anywhere only to release you got on a stationary bike. Its exhausting to just stay in this holding pattern, ramming my head up against a brick wall. Its a wall that I built though, I just don’t know how to take it down. I need help, but I don’t even know what kind of help will do it. 

I am hanging my hat on the supreme hope that seeing my sister Kassie will help with this. She is the only other person in the world thats knows what it was like losing our sister. I am hoping to hold onto her strength to push me forward. 

It is hard to feel without hope, without determination that this will get better. That my depression, that my anxiety, that my hopes and dreams are going to be mine. I just stare at the heavens today and try to imagine that my life can be ok. 

I can do this, I just need some help. 

 

Live, Love, Laugh

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Tarot Card Reading

I know that this topic can be pretty controversial at the best of times. Especially in matters of faith. My faith lies in God, but I also believe in the spiritual connection that people have to each other. I also think that some people are definitely more in tune with this spiritual connection, between here and the after life. I believe in spirits and feelings transcending the great beyond.

I had been contemplating this for a while and was actually going to get a tarot card reading done in person if the opportunity presented itself to me. The opportunity did come around, but not for an in person tarot reading, but one done over the internet. Now I at first went into with no high expectations because I couldn’t see this person, nor could they see me. Then the further I went on that line of thinking, the more I thought, well she doesn’t know anything about me, she doesn’t know me as a person, she doesn’t know my story, and she asked very little personal information before providing me with my 3 card reading.

I don’t know her, I have never spoken with her. She might know me from my shop around etsy but that would be the only interaction and she would have.

The information she asked of me was my first name, my zodiac sign, the town I live in, and a question (if desired). I provided all the information and my question which was “is my sister resting in peace?” A little while later she sent me back a picture of the 3 cards that she had drawn for me, the standard meanings and how she interpreted it to my question.

I know when you are grieving its easy to grasp at these things, to believe what you want to believe. To pull meaning out of things that might not have any meaning at all. The cards that came up with the standard meanings, the order they came up in and the connection she put together with my question gave me goosebumps though. I believe in what came out of this reading. It made me smile.

A sisters love is an eternal bond. I feel guilty every day because I think she died mad at me. This made me believe that she isn’t mad, she misses us as much as we miss her, that I will see her again, and that all that is in her heart is love.

I feel peace and understanding. For the first time I dreamt about her last night, she was smiling and she was laughing. I think the whole time she has been resting in peace, but for me to remove the cloudiness of what my vision was I had to see it from someone else’s perspective. I needed someone who doesn’t know me, didn’t know my sister, and didn’t know the circumstances to tell me, it really is ok.

Whether the tarot card reading holds any truth to it or not, it gave me the freedom to let my mind go to a place where my sister is peaceful. Where she feels nothing but love. It allowed me to find peace in my heart from the guilt I suffer for pushing so hard on her. In a way it has set me free from harsh feelings and let me go beyond to something that just feels plain better. So real or not, I would have paid a million dollars to come to this peace of mind.

The sun shining on my face, the whisper of the wind, and true healing have begun!

Live, Love, Laugh

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Grief: Year 2

The months since I have reached a certain age (over 21) have flown by. After the birth of my daughter it seems they started moving at lightening speed. Since my sister passed away everything just kind of blurs together. Major Holidays (like Easter) sneak up on me even though I try to start preparing months ahead of time. My birthday this year, came and went. The whole week leading up to it was a nightmare, I don’t know if anyone else who has lost a sibling goes through this, but I am sure its the same for a lot of people. I don’t understand why I get to be another year older and Tiffanie doesn’t. Why I get to enjoy cake and presents, and why I don’t get to hear her voice on the other end of the phone singing to me. I know there is a reason, I just struggle with not being able to know that reason.

My wish as I blew out the birthday candles always used to be the same, that I would open my front door and find someone from my extended family on the other side. The wish has changed though, now its always, just one more moment with Tiffanie, just a smile, just a laugh, just a second to squeeze her and tell her how much I love her. I know wishing for something you will never get is silly. It doesn’t make me stop wishing for it though.

Sometimes I feel like the world has forgotten her, moved on and closed up the gap where she used to be. For my family and I, I know thats not the case. There is this huge hole where her personality used to take up space, where her spunk, sparkle and shine used to be. I don’t want to forget her, I don’t want the world to forget her.

Being here so far away from the family that knew her and loved her like I did, has been extremely difficult for me. Being away from my sister Kassie and brother Jeramie tears at my heart every single day. With my anxiety and depression, I constantly worry that something is going to happen, sometimes so much so that I just can’t think about anything else. Its like dangling on the edge of a cliff holding on for dear life to reality, knowing that Tiffanie was sick with something no one knew she had. Knowing that Kassie and Jeramie are not sick, and are both quite healthy and happy. Suffering with the illness’ I suffer with mentally doesn’t allow me to make that connection sometime. Sometimes all I can think is “I am never going to see them again”.

I had hoped that I would be able to go with my daughter to California this July to help ease some of that worry in my heart. It doesn’t look like that is in the cards for us finically right now. Which is reality, they live far away, getting to them is not easy. Have you ever just needed something so bad though? Needed to just hold onto some dream or hope so bad, so that you wouldn’t be swallowed by the blackness? I am missing my nieces life, and for some reason that makes me feel as though I am not being true to my sister. I feel I have an obligation to be there, to see her grow and to love her with all my might.

My whole adult life has been this way though, its a trade off. I got to marry my best friend and the love of my life. I had to give up big family holidays and being able to see my family whenever I wanted though. I know it kind of sucks to think about things like that, in that way. I wouldn’t trade my marriage or my daughter for anything. It just sucks that I can’t have it all. I suppose everyone struggles with those types of feelings though. I hate to think of myself as a selfish person, where I need everything to be perfect in my life or I am not happy. I don’t think thats the case, I just think my world crashed to the ground when my sister passed away, and since then I feel like I am standing in the center of a crowded room spinning around.

I am blessed more so then a lot of people ever dream of being blessed. I have love from every corner, and people far and wide that root for me on a daily basis. I still struggle though, with wanting more, with wishing that Nova Scotia was right next to California. Needing my family (even though I know they are just fine without me) and being stuck in this depression that won’t let me out of its clutches.

If I opened my door tomorrow and one of my family members stood on the other side, I wouldn’t ask for anything else for a very long while.

Grief doesn’t get easier, it just hides and attacks when you least expect it.

Live, Love, Laugh

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Beauty and the Beast

Most people would agree that in life there is a light and dark side to most things. Grief is no exception to that rule. Now everyone stares quizzically at their computer screen trying to figure out what the light side of grief could possibly be. Bare with me while I explain…

The light for me is going through the worst possible thing I could have ever imagined in my life, standing on the other side of it, mostly in tact and gaining strength from the grief.  If you lose a loved one that is so near and dear to your heart, there is no way you can come out the other side not feeling stronger. It forces you to face things inside yourself, to face demons, to face your own mortality and to feel that huge hole in your life where that person used to be. It takes a long time, well it did for me anyway, to feel like you were actually strong. I don’t think I was ever the strongest person to go through this, my mom has me beat by 10 fold, but I feel a sense of gratitude to my sister for showing me that when you hit bottom, you don’t have to stay there. That is the beauty or the light.

The dark side is obvious for many reasons. The dark side is the black hole that tries to swallow you. The one that doesn’t want you to go on living because you don’t know how to do it without your loved one. I didn’t know how to live without my sister. I have lived far away from her for years, but I didn’t know how to live in a world that she wasn’t a part of anymore. In those early weeks and months, thinking of her was like a punch to the gut, a lump would well up in my throat and the light at the end of the tunnel was snuffed out. The beast was taking over my thoughts and forcing me into this corner. Being in the dark side of grief, can and will swallow you if you let it.

I never really knew how much pain my heart could stand with me still being able to live. Minus the depression and anxiety of course. I can’t say that I ever truly wanted to learn the weight I could bear on my heart. Now that I have, I realize that grief is something like a relationship you have to work at. You have to talk about it (everyone knows I am great at talking) and you can’t pretend it didn’t happen. It is kind of awkward for people on the other end I would imagine. “How many siblings do you have?” “I am the oldest of 4” “what are their ages?” “my sister Tiffanie passed away in 2010 at the age of 27, my sister Kassie is now 27 and my brother Jeramie is 20.” People get so apologetic and weird when I say it like that. It’s almost like society wants to force me to omit Tiffanie was one of my siblings simply because she passed away. Well that’s not going to happen. I am sorry if it makes people feel uncomfortable to know that I had a sister that passed away, but she is and will continue to be a part of who I am.

There are 2 types of response to mentioning I have a sister that passed away at a young age. “I am so sorry for your loss” they drop their head and you know they are done with the conversation and they want to flee like a bird migrating. Then there are the people that I like, “Oh I am sorry to hear that, what happened?” These are the people I get to tell about my sister, I get to share her life with them, and for one brief moment I get to be proud and puff out my chest. I know its hard to be that second person, because we have been so conditioned by society and main stream media that feelings and sadness are the plague. When I talk about my sister there might be tears that spring to my eyes, because she was awesome, and now I get the very great honor of carrying on telling her story. I don’t want to make others feel awkward, just simply to let them know that I don’t mind if you see me cry. I don’t mind the hugs or the kind words. I don’t mind talking about my sister, and I don’t mind you wanting to know more about her.

I am still on the journey of grief. I learn new things everyday. Learning about the beauty of grief is a fairly recent discovery for example. I don’t plan to stop talking, to stop reaching out, to teach the world its ok to be sad. Sadness leads to being humble and more self secure.

If you are out there right now and you need to talk, I will listen. If you are missing someone and you feel no one understands or wants to hear it, I will listen. If you think your life can’t go on without your loved one, I will show you how it can. Don’t suffer alone, in the corner trying to fight the beast alone. Let me help you find the beauty.

Live, Love, Laugh

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Stages of Grief

Psychology has always been fascinating to me, and from a young age I always wanted to be a child psychologist. I thought creating sound minded kids would translate into sound minded adults. Seems a simple theory I know, but it is logical. A lot of life circumstances have been put between me and that dream. Now I don’t pretend to know what is going to happen in the future, at this juncture in my life my goals are mostly short term to work into longer term goals. Going to college is definitely on that list!

Saying all that, knowing I am no professional and have no basis but my own experience, and my observed experience of others, the five stages of grief is a bunch of bunk. No offence to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross intended of course, but I just don’t see how grief can be simplified and put on a scale of straight forward emotions. I like to read so I have been doing some studying in my free time of grief and therapy related to certain levels of grief (I know I know, I am a party animal!), The Kubler-Ross model that is so often used even today in therapy was brought about in 1969. To say that a lot in the world has changed since then would be a huge understatement. A lot of the theory and research was done based on people that were dying from a terminal illness and not on people that had actually lost someone to death. That in itself tells me that having an umbrella of just 5 stages is far to few. The theory does state it is not a linear experience and not all people will experience things in order, or can come back to things they had previously already gone through. Which is true. It is more like a roller coaster (which I think I have discussed previously.)

So laying out the 5 stages of grief: 

Denial- I believe I still somewhat bounce back to this one far more often then people in my family would. It’s easier to be in denial when you live 3000 miles away from someone that passes away. I saw her once every 2 years for the last 8 years of my life. We did talk a lot on the phone, and through e mail. Denial is like the warm blanket of grief though, when you are just so weary and can’t fight it anymore. You climb into the clutches of denial for a little bit to rest your weary heart before diving right back into it.

Anger- I had a short stint of anger. I think it maybe lasted a few days. I never came back to it in my cycle as of yet. Anger never was one of my go to emotions even being an emotional person all my life. When anger started becoming a present mindset is actually when I knew I was getting depressed and sought help (this was before my sister passed away, but will show why I don’t spend much time in this stage). 

Bargaining- I don’t really even think I hit this one. Mine was more of if you are going to take her, please take me too so I don’t have to live without her. I have a good happy life, one that without the depression and anxiety I enjoy immensely and feel I have worked hard to deserve (that sounds selfish but keep up with me here.) That is not to say if someone was standing in front of me and Tiffanie with a gun, I would run. I wouldn’t. I’d take the bullet for her, for kassie, for jeramie, for my nieces, nephew, maddie, trev,my parents and grandparents. I don’t think I went through bargaining because I wouldn’t want Tiffanie to come back to the current life she was living when she passed away. She was in pain, she was running in so many different directions, she was sick in and out of the hospital a lot. Bargaining for her to be in that life and me to be taken from the one I have, seems just cruel. 

Depression- Ok so obviously, if you know me or read any part of this blog. You know that my brain lives in Depression mode (well not everyday, I am working on that). This by far is the longest stage of grief that I am experiencing. It is the bottom of the funnel. Denial and Acceptance swirl around and sometimes I find myself flat back in Depression again. I am truly so sad sometimes thinking about my sister that it consumes all of my thoughts awake and asleep. I dream of her, I tear up and sob over missing her. My heart physically aches and I get an actual lump in my throat. I miss her every single day. 

Acceptance- This one was the hardest to get to. I thought for many months I was getting close could see it on the horizon and like a bungey chord depression snapped me back. I have reached some level of acceptance, but still saying my sister died out loud sounds like another person is saying it. This is where I want to climb into the warm blanket of denial and just stay there. Some days I look in the mirror and say “your sister died”. It is always like a smack in the face, but its the reality. Its the finality of it. I know she is gone from this earth, I know I will see her again, and I know she is watching over us every day. Acceptance comes a lot from having a strong faith. From my perspective anyway.

 

I feel like there should be so many more stages in this outline though. Depression should be broken into sub categories itself. Guilt should definitely be a stage. I spent a lot of time in Guilt and still today spend a lot of time in that part of grief. Longing should be a stage. There are so many things that can be added to the journey of grief, the emotions you feel. I think even in cases Happiness is a part of Grief. Am I happy that my sister passed away? of course not! If I had the choice it wouldn’t have happened. Am I happy that she doesn’t have to live a life of pain and agony? absolutely. To think of her whole, happy, pain free is like a blessing for me. It doesn’t mean I don’t want her back because I do (hello denial is that you knocking?) but reality always brings me back. Realization could be another step of grief as well. It is just such a personal journey, no two people will walk the same path or go through the same stages. 

 

I found a passage that just spoke to me today above all others. It is an excerpt from two books,  “Understanding Sibling Loss”, CIGNA; Sibling Grief, P. Gill White, Ph.D.; and Surviving the Death of a Sibling, T.J. Wray.

“The loss of a sibling is a devastating life event. Despite this, sibling grief is often the most disenfranchised or overlooked of the four main forms of grief, especially with regard to adult siblings. However, the sibling relationship tends to be the longest significant relationship of the lifespan and siblings who have been part of each other’s lives since birth, such as twins, help form and sustain each other’s identities; with the death of one sibling comes the loss of that part of the survivor’s identity.

The sibling relationship is a unique one, as they share a special bond and a common history from birth, have a certain role and place in the family, often complement each other, and share genetic traits. Siblings who enjoy a close relationship participate in each other’s daily lives and special events, confide in each other, share joys, spend leisure time together (whether they are children or adults), and have a relationship that not only exists in the present but often looks toward a future together (even into retirement).

Siblings who play a major part in each other’s lives are essential to each other. Adult siblings eventually expect the loss of aging parents, the only other people who have been an integral part of their lives since birth, but they do not expect to lose their siblings early; as a result, when a sibling dies, the surviving sibling may experience a longer period of shock and disbelief.

Overall, with the loss of a sibling, a substantial part of the surviving sibling’s past, present, and future is also lost. If siblings were not on good terms or close with each other, then intense feelings of guilt may ensue on the part of the surviving sibling (guilt may also ensue for having survived, not being able to prevent the death, having argued with their sibling, etc.)”

When I can’t articulate and put into words what losing my sister has meant to me, this is what I would refer to. This is everything I would want people to know and understand about my grieving process. It is going to be different then that of my parents, my grandparents, my aunts, uncles and cousins. It is going to mean different things to me (not making it more important) just different. 

Just like with most things in life you can’t put a big net over grief and capture everything that it encompasses because its different for every single person. 

Maybe someday I will write a book on Grief and call it “No Rules and No Stages”. 

 

Live, Love, Laugh

 

 

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Happy New Year!

2011 is packing its bags and saying goodbye. 2012 is checking its luggage to make sure it packed enough underwear for the year-long journey. I am, defurring my couch. I really do love our 2 dogs, but this task is never-ending. You get one end of the couch hair free start on the other end, and turn around to a hair filled couch again. The thoughts of shaving both dogs has come to mind, but we live in Nova Scotia, and that would just be animal cruelty! After all I don’t shave my legs all winter so I can have a nice warm winter coat…hahaha just kidding! Overall I am feeling pretty positive about grabbing hold of my life in 2012 and making it what I want it to be. The shear fact that I am gaining some of my sense of humor back is very comforting to me.

My mom said after talking to me on Christmas it was so nice to hear me laugh. It is nice to laugh! It is nice to know that I am making my family smile when I know they need it most.

I have been getting into a bad habit as of late, letting everyone make the decisions for my care and which path they want to lead me down to recover from this depression and anxiety. Taking a back seat in my own care and just following blindly. I have never been that type of person, it doesn’t make sense to just follow something blindly when it involves your own life. In the end no one is going to know me as well as I know myself. 2011 feels like I was lost in a haze of constantly changing medication and not being able to see my therapist as often as I should have been able to. The fact of the matter is, the medication is not going to make me better. It is going to bring me to even keel, so that I can focus and work on the issues that are holding me back. It is not the be all, end all. I was hanging my hat on the thought that every new medication was going to bring me back to happiness. That is not true, that is not ever going to be true.

I am not cured, but I will get back to you all at the end of 2012 to let you know the progress I have made in the year. I think I need a bracelet that says WWTD, “what would Tiff do?” My sister was no quitter, and met each challenge head on, even the ones that scared her to no end. I am going to take her strength and run towards the goal line. I dove right into the grief and made my way to the other side (as much as you can) and now I am going to do the same with this anxiety. I control my life, I control the things that hold me back. I am not going to be held back by this. I am going to fight back and not just lay down and take it.

I am not going to say that 2011 was the worst year I have ever had. I learned a lot about myself, and about the people in my life. It was another chapter in my life, it has brought me to the point I am now, and I am grateful for that. I am grateful for another year, another year to spend with my family and friends. Those family and friends that have held me up and sometimes pushed me forward. They deserve recognition of the hard work they have put into my recovery as well.

My husband Trev has been my rock. I can’t even describe how truly wonderful this man is. He is the best person I have ever known. His strength and his courage. His holding onto me and telling me he wasn’t giving up on me even if I gave up on myself. His refusal to let me fall or to beat myself up daily has been the best blessing. The amount of dishes, laundry, and cleaning he has done this year would astound most everyone. He works, he takes care of Maddie, and takes care of me. What is even more astounding is that he never complains about it, and does it willingly with a smile on his face. At the end of day when he is clearly tired and worn out, he will sit and rub MY back. He is the greatest support a person could ever ask for, and I am beyond lucky to call him my husband. In our relationship we have overcome so many things, and instead of pushing us apart, it pushed us closer together. He is my best friend, the love of my life, the best father and I wouldn’t trade him for anyone (yeah not even Robert Pattinson!). He made a homemade humus for tonight’s game night which I am anxious to try. I can’t wait to kiss my honey as the clock strikes midnight.

Cherise is my very best friend, and like I told Trev my other soul mate. She is like the other half of me. She is so understanding and so generous with her time and herself. She has cried with me, laughed with me, and understood when the anxiety was taking over my life. She sits in the middle of the movie theatre so I can make a quick exit if I need to, when we couldn’t go see the second showing of Twilight because I was freaking out, she understood. Being around her just makes me feel better, because I don’t have to explain to her what is going on, she already knows. I think we help each other overcome the depression and move towards the future. Of course this last year she took on more than her share, and you can’t really ever thank someone enough for being this rock when they themselves don’t feel 100%. When Trev and I didn’t have plans for Christmas dinner, her family invited us to their house. I do consider them family because they are always looking out for us. It is nice to have that love and support.

Troy and Lenore are wonderful friends of ours. They have a daughter Arianna that is the same age as our Maddie. They are best friends. Troy and Lenore have stepped up and helped us out so much this year. I can’t even begin to thank them for their generosity of spirit and time. When I can’t get in the car to drive, they take Maddie to Girl Guides every Wednesday. They brought me dinner on American Thanksgiving when I was missing my family so much. They share smiles and laughs with me on a regular basis. Being around them is good therapy for me. They give so much of themselves to others, and I swear Lenore never stops going (and she is a teacher!) We are so very lucky to have them in our lives and to call them friends.

Of course there are many more supportive people in my life. I am very blessed to have some of the best friends ever in the world, and family to help me even though they are far away.

So as I say goodbye to 2011, it’s a fond farewell even though the year was filled with a lot of personal bumps, it was also filled with some of the most wonderful memories, laughter, love and generosity. I put it under my belt and vow that in 2012, I will grow stronger so that I can pay it forward to those in need.

I don’t usually make resolutions because I believe that everyday you should work to be the best person you can be. That is still my goal for this year, to be the best me, to fight the good fight, and to remember how truly blessed I am even when the sadness tries to swallow me  up.

Here comes 2012….ready or not….Make it your year!

Live, Love, Laugh

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Merry Christmas

This time of year always finds my heart so conflicted. Between the longing for my childhood Christmas and the pushing myself to be in the moment with my daughter as she experiences the spirit of the holidays, its a push and pull routine that finds me conflicted most of the month of December.

My sister Tiffanie, who would have turned 29 on December 17th if she was still here with us on earth, this was always her favorite time of year. Tiff was a rough and tumble kind of person, with a don’t mess with me kind of attitude. At Christmas though, she softened into this contagious Christmas spirit that was awesome. Even as we grew to teenagers and into early adulthood, she would wake us up at 5 am to open Christmas presents. Sometimes she wouldn’t even let us go to sleep she would just keep us up until it was 3 or 4 am then we could open our Christmas presents. As children, she was always the one that would run down the hallway yelling “Santa was here!!!” I think if she was here in Nova Scotia she would be over the moon with the snow, throwing herself in it to make snow angels. Thinking about it kind of makes me want to throw on my jacket and mittens to run out and play in it. She was a big kid with so much spirit in her, she brought something to the holiday, even the ones we spent thousands of miles apart, that I can’t replace. In reality I don’t want to replace that because those memories of her fill my heart with this Christmas spirit that I want to pass on to everyone I meet. She isn’t here to do it, but I am, and I can do it. I can spread enough cheer, laughter, love, and Christmas spirit for the both of us.

Tiff, Dad and I. I believe this was the Christmas of 1998.

My brother Jeramie and I, Christmas of 2000 or 2001.

Sometimes I have to drag my inner child kicking and screaming into the present though. Forcing myself to put away those feelings of hurt and sometimes even anger that my Christmas’ now are different then the joyful time I remember when I was younger is hard. My Christmas’ now are just as wonderful and joyful but in a different way that at first was very hard for me to get used to. Missing being near my mom, dad, sisters, brother, and grandparents for the holidays is just not an emotion I can get to go away.

This year I am hopeful though. I didn’t start crying as the calendar turned over to December 1st. I felt engaged and helping with the Christmas tree. Getting gifts for everyone was a lot of fun for me (even if I did a majority of my shopping online due to anxiety issues). I looked forward to the family traditions that Trev and I have started with Maddie. We went to the Christmas Parade together, we put the tree up together, we went to Maddie’s Christmas concert. Tonight on Christmas Eve we will go get hot chocolate and drive around looking at Christmas lights. When we get home Maddie will be able to open one gift and it will be her Christmas jammies, with a little extra surprise thrown in of course 🙂 We will watch a Christmas movie together (Trev’s favorite is Home Alone), tuck Maddie into bed with wishes, hopes and dreams of the magical kind. Trev and I will spend the time putting together her Santa loot, laughing and enjoying the spirit of the holidays in our own home. I won’t be pretending that I am happy, because I truly will be.

My Christmas’ now are no less jolly and filled with the true spirit of Christmas then the ones of my childhood. They are just different. My daughter Maddie takes after her Aunt Tiffy in a lot of ways. She just makes me believe in the spirit and miracle of the Christmas season.

I would like to tell everyone that the longing for my child hood Christmas’ will become just a fleeting thought in the years to come, but I don’t think it will. I don’t think I long to be back in that time in my life, I think I just long to be present in those memories for longer. To lose myself in them for a bit because thats the only place my sister is alive now. Trying to focus on being a mentally healthier and stable person, means realizing those things. I won’t ever stop wanting to spend Christmas with my whole family all together, but I can wrap that thought up in a nice box with a glittery ribbon on top and store it in the place in my heart it belongs. I won’t let the longing take over my life or my Christmas spirit.

Today (Christmas Eve) my husband is working and my daughter is spending time with my in laws. So I am giving myself permission to walk down memory lane, listening to Christmas songs, remembering what it was like to be at Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve, remembering what it was like for Tiff, Kass and I to get new bikes on Christmas, or Tiff, Kass and I having to pretend we still believed in Santa because Jer was so young still. I will shed my tears because I miss them all so much. Then I will pull myself together, put on my goofy winter hat and get ready to go see some Christmas lights.

I just might plop myself in the snow to make a snow angel for my angel in heaven.

Merry Christmas to all of you that might be struggling to find the spirit for any reason this holiday season. I wish you nothing but peace of mind and strength of spirit to get through the holidays and to find your own piece of joy to hold onto.

Live, Love, Laugh

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