One Year Later

I can’t believe that is has been a year since Melissa passed away.  Today is the day that she official died and to be honest it is still as raw as it was a year ago.  I have tried to write this post for weeks and since I can’t seem to write it I am going to leave links to where you can read some of her writing.

Here is a post where people wrote some memories of her and I post it on my blog.  Also she was a regular guest poster on my blog and you can see those post here or here.  Also here is her obituary if anyone wants to read it or see it.

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Grief-Melissa

I was going through my archives looking for a post to post about Melissa and I found this post.  I am not sure where it came from or why I had it as a draft and never published it.  I actually think she posted it on her blog but I know that we all can learn something for her while we are mourning her passing.

Grief Has Taught Me A Few Things

Until I began experiencing grief as a result of dad’s death, I never realized anything could feel as emotionally and physically painful as depression. In fact, they have felt so similar that I became confused, and had a difficult time distinguishing the difference between the two. At one point, I even convinced myself that I was heading toward a depressive episode.
I went to my psychiatrist, thinking she was going to raise the dosage of my depression medication, because of how badly I was feeling. Instead, she told me what I was feeling was normal grief, and while it hurt just as badly as depression does, it was not the same thing. She told me to be patient. She told me the worst of what I was feeling would pass in a few weeks. She was right.
She did give me a word of warning, telling me that with my history of depression I would have a greater chance of my grief turning into a depressive episode. Her solution was not to raise my medication dosage, but instead watch me a little more closely than usual.
Now that the pain of dad’s loss is not so intense, I can see the wisdom in what she said. I can also identify some of the differences between grief and depression, as well as acknowledge that I have learned a few things from this experience.
Both grief and depression include symptoms of sadness, tearfulness, disturbances in sleep, decreased socialization, and changes in appetite. In most cases, that is where the similarities end. Usually, after the first two to three weeks of the grieving process the person is – in most cases – able to carry out most of the obligations and activities that come with daily living. However, a person with severe depression will lack the ability to function for many weeks, months, and in some cases years. In addition, early morning awakening is more common in depression.
One of the biggest differences I have noticed between depression and grief is what my mind has focused on. During my severe major depressive episode I spent a lot of time thinking about myself – in a self negating way. Some of my thoughts during that time were that I was “worth nothing”, “a burden”, and “unlovable”. Nothing could penetrate my thoughts of despair, and my inability to have hope. Eventually, the only option I felt was left to me was suicide. In my grieving process, I have been in emotional pain, but there have been no feelings of despair or hopelessness. Nor have I had any negative thoughts about myself or suicidal thoughts.
There is no question that feelings of loss and sadness are a significant part of grief, however, those feelings are distinctly different than feelings of loss and sadness in someone with depression. A person with depression will usually experience a constant and overwhelming feeling of sadness, while someone grieving typically experiences sadness in “waves”. Most of the time, it is in response to some reminder of their loved one.
For me, these painful memories of dad are paired with positive feelings and memories. For example, when I began the process of trying to organize things in the garage I became overwhelmed with grief. Dad’s death was the reason I was having to organize the garage, and get things ready to move. That hurt. I sat down and cried for an hour. When I was able to calm down enough to get back to work one of the first things I found was dad’s coonskin hat. So in the middle of that emotional pain I found something to laugh about. During my depressive episode finding that hat certainly would not have made me laugh, in reality it probably would have caused me to cry even more.
While there have been plenty of times when I have wanted to be alone in my grief, I have noticed that I have not gone to the extremes I did during my depressive episode to isolate myself. I have maintained social contacts, and even reached out to friends and family when I felt overwhelmed by my grief. I have allowed myself to be consoled, something that would have been impossible if what I had been feeling was depression symptoms.
I still miss dad, and I know I always will, but at least I have a professional sport team, my mother, real friends, and online friends to help me through my grieving process.
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Musical Monday Week 4 & Mondays With Melissa

If you would like to play along with this new meme all you have to do is:
  • Grab the button
  • Write a post that includes a song and why you like that song
  • Come back and link up!

 This weeks song is by a group called Karmin.  They are doing a cover and lets just say everything I hear this song I am amazed that she can rap like that.  I hope you all enjoy it!  Also after the video is Melissa’s post for this week!

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    If I Could Do Things Differently

    At one time or another, most – if not all – of us have uttered the words “if I could do things differently…”. I think it is natural for us to look back on parts of our lives and wonder what things would’ve been like if we had made different choices. For a long time, I viewed this activity as nothing more than an entertaining daydream, or something I used to beat myself up with. It was a game with no practical value.
    My thinking about the “if I could do things differently…” scenario recently changed due to something I read in a great devotional I own. It is called Inspiration for Girlfriends, written by Ellen Miller. She has a section in the devotional titled Getting a Do-Over. The first time I looked at the title I thought “yeah I’m going to skip this part”, and I did. I didn’t even bother to skim through that section until I had almost finished the devotional and was running out of things to read in it. What I finally began to read it, I was very surprised to see that the author did not start the section off with how healing it is to think about past events and vent away about them, or think about the past and try to figure out whose fault it was that we made a poor decision. Instead she started the section off with how much we needed mentors in our lives.
    Basically she presents the idea that regardless of our age, how successful or unsuccessful we are, whether we are single or married, we all need successful men or women who have walked ahead of us. Basically, they have “been there and done that” stories, and are willing to share their insights. The author calls these stories Do-Overs, and explains them like this:
    …do overs are experiences to which, had they had a mentor they might have acted or reacted differently – even though they wouldn’t change their lives today.
    I found the concept of this amazing! Here was a way for me to take negative parts of my past, and turn them into something that might benefit someone else. What a wonderfully, positive way for me to view some of the not so wonderful things in my past that I was not exactly proud of. The truth is we all make our own mistakes, and I daresay that very seldom do we choose wisely. However, I think the wisdom, insight, and the benefit of another person’s experience will at least give us something to think about before we commit ourselves to a course of action.
    There is healing that comes with NOT rewriting our past, but sharing it as a way for someone to make better decisions about their future.
    In the very near future, I hope to share a few of my Do-Overs with you. I hope you take the time to share a few with me and Margaret.

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    I Can’t Believe I Did That

    Here is Melissa’s post for today.  I want to let Melissa know that I am so thankful that she writes for my blog and that I am so glad God put her in my life because she has taught me so much.  I look at her like she is a my mom and hope one day her and I can meet in person!

    About this time last year, I got really frustrated about never being able to find a purse big enough to carry all the things I have to carry with me – this included my diabetic kit. So I got this wild idea, why not buy a diaper bag? It certainly would be big enough, not to mention it would have plenty of compartments so I could be better organized. I picked out what I thought was great one. It was brown and green, and it did not have any decorations or words on it that indicated it was a diaper bag. I really thought no one would be able to tell that I was carrying a diaper bag instead of a purse. I was proud of my purchase – at first. After I got it home, I started feeling a little bit of regret about buying it. No matter what I initially thought, and no matter what I put in it, the thing still looked like a diaper bag. Not wanting to admit I had made a mistake when I purchased it, I used it. A few short weeks later I replaced the diaper bag with a purse, and quietly stuck the diaper bag someplace where I did not have to see it. I regretted buying it, and I was relieved when I could hide it away.

    Whether it stems from something not working out the way we thought it would, or because of our own poor moral choices, regret is something we all have in common. What sets us apart from one another is how we choose to deal with it. Some of us can appropriately manage our regrets, but then there are quite a few of us who make the mistake of wallowing in regret. Getting bogged down by the should’ve’s, would’ve’s, could’ve’s of our past mistakes prevents us from being able to learn from them, and move past them. I know it would be really nice if we could just throw our mistakes away, but we can’t. Our mistakes are part of who we are.

    What we can do to prevent us from getting bogged down by feelings of regret is quietly put our mistakes away somewhere, just like I did with that diaper bag. We should not get rid of them, because there may be a time we may need to call on that experience in order to keep us from making the same mistake again. Or to share our own experience with someone else to prevent them from heading down the road we already traveled.

    I believe God wants us to live a full and meaningful life – even if you did buy a stupid diaper bag. Put it away.

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    About Kindness

    Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. ~ Samuel Johnson

    In all honesty, the LAST thing I want to do is treat someone kindly when they have been rude or disrespectful to me – even when it’s my own family. I find myself thinking “I’ll show them what rude really is.” or”Pfft, they look like they’re in a bad mood today, they cannot even be bothered to smile, well then neither can I.”

    There is something about someone treating me disrespectfully that makes me feel as if I am not obligated to be polite. I know this is a petty mindset, and I cannot behave any old way I want. I believe it is my responsibility to be kind in such situations, even though any feelings of fondness for the person are absent. However, I do try to remember that kindness/being polite must not be confused with giving someone carte blanche to treat me like a dormant.

    The reality is, I really do not know what is going on in the life of someone I encounter at the store, bank, post office, or any number of other public places. Whatever it is could be contributing to their bad attitude for the day. My kindness – even if it is just a smile – could be the encouragement. In some cases, the politeness I grudgingly extend prevents me from becoming as ill behaved as the rude person I am interacting with.

    Families are made up of people too. They can be just as rude, and mean as total strangers. There are even times when I do not like one or more of my family members. Not liking them does not negate my responsibility in being polite to them. Even in this circumstance, I do not have to allow them to run me over with their rudeness. On more than one occasion, I have had to let a family member know  – politely – that I love them, but I will not allow them to speak to or treat to me inappropriately.

    Why do I feel I should treat people kindly? One reason is I want the impact – no matter how small – I have on a person to be a positive one. The other reason is I think it is the right thing to do:
    Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord for gave you, say you must forgive others. ~ Colossians 3:12-13

    My obligation in every interaction is to be kind, or polite – NOT A DOORMAT.

    What do you think? Do you think we should be polite in every situation? Or are there times when it is okay to be rude?

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    What Would You Do?

    I thought about skipping my guest post this week. My mind certainly is not as focused as I would like it to be. However, I decided to follow through with it. The main reason why is I need the distraction. My father’s death has been very hard on me.

    Usually, I am the one presenting some ideas, and/or quotes – giving you my take on them – hoping you will like what I have to say. What I share is based on my own experiences, and how I have grown, and changed from them. Right now things are different. I am encountering something I never have experienced before. The feeling of loss, and grief from the death of my father.
    I have absolutely no idea what I can do – if anything – to ease the pain in my heart. I am clueless about how I can help ease my mother’s heart wrenching pain. I honestly have no idea what to do.
    I am turning to you, hoping you can give me some advice that might help me get through the difficult days ahead.
    How do other people deal with feelings of grief, and loss?
    How do you provide emotional support to someone who is hurting as much as you are?
    Does the emotional pain go away?

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    Controlled By Fear

    Melissa from Sugar Filled Emotions is a regular guest poster on my blog.  He dad died in is sleep on Saturday night.  Go to her blog and leave her some love because I am know she could really use it right now.  Melissa know I always am here for you and love you!

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    “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t – you are right.” 
    ~ Henry Ford
    For a long time I lived without taking any chances, rather than put myself in a position to fail. The thought of what others might say or think about me – when I failed – was enough to make my stomach hurt, and paralyze me. I have put aside many dreams out of fear of failure, and embarrassment. Fear controlled most – sometimes all – of my life. There is no joy in life when almost every aspect of it is controlled by fear.
    Learning how to let go of fear has been difficult. As much as I hated being controlled by something that made me feel so bad, the thought of not having it around actually made me afraid. I had become comfortable with it and it was as if I was contemplating losing a part of myself. In a way I guess I was.
    With the help of my counselor, I came up with a plan to help me let go of the thing – fear – that was having such a negative impact on my life. The beauty of it is how simple it is. All I do is ask myself “What is the worst thing that can happen?”
    Identifying, measuring, and doing what I can to mitigate my risks allows me to put my fear aside and move forward. My plan boosts my confidence, and creates a handy reference tool when I start feeling overwhelmed.
    I wish I could say I was always successful at working this plan, but I cannot. What I can say is I am getting better at it. There are fewer times when I feel overwhelmed by fear. I can also say that less of my life is controlled by fear, and I have hope that someday soon it will have no control over any aspect of my life.
    I understand, and realize that there is always a chance that my dreams might come true. I know if they do not it is not the end of the world. In the end, the very fact that I pursued my dreams makes me a more interesting, and well rounded person.

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    Be Yourself

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    The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well. 
    Joe Ancis

    In my journey through depression treatment, I have encountered many things that frightened me. One of the most frightening has been getting in touch with who I really am, and putting aside the person I presented to the world.

    For as long as I can remember I have craved acceptance, approval, and admiration. The catch was that I really believed I had nothing to offer. I was also very afraid of being ridiculed – either in my presence or behind my back. The only way I could think of to guard myself against that kind of harm was to create a fictional character. I thought this pretend version of me was everything I was not. Confident, nice, attractive, smart, happy, and engaging. I was wrong. The false version of me was really plastic and shallow. She was not a real person, therefore, she was incapable of feeling any real emotion.

    My motto was “Fake it till you make it“. That attitude was tiring. I had to keep myself wound so tight – hoping none of the real me leaked through. In my mind, one of the worst things that could happen to me was if I relaxed for one moment, and let any part of the real me surface.That fake person guarded my heart – making it easy for me to keep the world (and myself) from being able to see the real me. No one really knew me, including myself.

    Eventually, I got too weary – soul weary – to keep presenting the fake me. I was so depressed that the person I could have been was still hidden away – underneath sadness and pain.

    We are what we believe we are. ~ C.S. Lewis

    The first person I showed the real me to was my counselor. She was safe. Unlike other people, she is trained to not be judgmental. I did not have any worries about what her response to the real me would be. If I went in and said “I feel like crap today.”, her response was usually “Ok, do you want to tell me why?” Other people – who do not have her training – usually responded with advice like “If you would just get out more you would feel better.”

    Eventually, the real me – that I was showing the counselor – started showing up in other places. Not often, but often enough for me to realize that life was so much easier as the real me. I became determined to do away with the pretender. There were three key things I did that aided me in that process.

    1. I began sharing things about myself with other people. Usually, it was something that I may have not done exactly the right way, however, at the same time it was humorous. I learned that people enjoy hearing some of the silly things I do, and that I do not take myself so seriously that I can’t laugh at myself.
    2. I started listening to other people – really hearing what was on their hearts, and minds. I listened without offering advice – unless asked – and let them know that I cared about them.
    3. I learned how to relax. Not only by myself, but with other people as well. I found it was impossible to build walls up between myself, and other people when I am truly relaxed.

    Who are you? Are you a different person than you allow other people to see? If so, try being yourself for a change.

    Mondays With Melissa – Life Lived With Thoughtfulness

    Melissa from Sugar Filled Emotions is back!!!!  She has had a rough few months but she is back posting once a week.  She is also one of the the people who founded WISE with me.

      
    We should readjust our priorities to be proud not of how much we get done but what we’re able to achieve with a sense of enjoyment. ~ Alexandra Stoddard
    Before my anxiety and depression began I was the chief cook and bottle washer, the taxi driver, and the maid in my family. I had a to-do list that never ended. I constantly felt as if I was overwhelmed, and that there was not enough of me to go around. If I could not get something on my list done, or if I started on it later than I planned, my stress levels increased ten-fold. In an effort to make sure that I could put a check mark next to everything on my daily list I often cut corners. I would not do the best I could on several things in order to complete them as rapidly as possible. There were many days when I got my to-do list done, but I did not feel any pride, or take any joy in what I had accomplished. I equated being super busy to having a fulfilled life. I was placing more value on how much I got done in a day, rather than living with purpose.
    Once my depression, and anxiety manifested everything stopped. I did nothing, I valued nothing. When my depression, and anxiety symptoms started to lessen, and I was responding to my therapy, and medications more, it dawned on me how unsatisfied I had been. Despite how busy I had been, I had taken absolutely no satisfaction in anything I had done. When I was ready, I began doing one or two productive things around the house each day. I noticed that when I could accomplish at least one thing a day I had a sense of pride. I also paid attention to the fact that even though it may have been only one thing I had gotten done, I did it with more thought, and care than I used to. I think it was because I did not feel rushed, or that I had to accomplish a whole list of things in one day.
    It did not take me long to figure out that I feel overwhelmed much quicker than I used to. Long gone are the days when I could multitask – managing many things at one time. That is a good thing. Instead of focusing on a list of things that MUST be done, I am living my life with thoughtfulness. and purpose. I have discovered that less can really be more not only for me, but for the people in my life as well. I focus my attention on things that really matter – my joy, my achievement of excellence, and what I contribute to other people.
    It is as if my brain was a computer that had too many programs running at one time, and needed a reboot. The time when I was so depressed, and did nothing was the period of time when the computer was shut down. Now the computer is back up – fewer programs running, and in better shape. With less tasks for the computer to do, it is more stable, and efficient than it had been before.
    At the end of everyday I ask myself a few questions to ensure I stay on the track of a life lived with thoughtfulness:

    • What did I do today that gave me a great sense of satisfaction?
    • What was one thing that I enjoyed doing today – delighted in?
    • What did I do today that was excellent?
    • What is something I did today I am extremely proud of?
    • What did I do today that will have a positive impact on another person?

    How do you live your life? Is it filled with the hurry, scurry of a to-do list that never seems to end – often making you feel overwhelmed? Or do you live a life with thoughtfulness, having few tasks to do, but doing them with excellence?

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