Running To Remember

As journalists, we are part of a strange phenomenon.  The nature of our job is to witness and report; we talk to people, we listen, we watch, we learn and we share everything we take in with our vi…

Source: Running To Remember

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Just Call Me Henrietta Hashi

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This is my new med box. I’m a 40-year old mother of two teenage girls, taking medications and supplements that would equal that of an 80-year old grandmother, one would think. I’ve recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto-immune disorder in which my own body attacks and destroys my thyroid gland, causing my long-standing hypothyroidism. Who needs a stinking thyroid anyway, right?

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Every case is different, but I’ve suffered from over half of these above listed ailments for several years…silent symptoms that some have said “it’s all in my head” and “looking for attention”. My new diagnosis has given me the baseline to begin a new life. A small ray of sunshine that life doesn’t have to be dark. I’m just a little less crazier than already thought to be…maybe.

General everyday life and behavioral changes are already in the works to enhance what thyroid function I have left through diet (Gluten and Dairy Free) and additional supplements, as well as new medication changes that will take some time (possibly months or years) to reach optimum levels.

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Until the excessive craziness, mood swings, “tummy troubles”, frequent fatigue with long naps and handfuls of hair loss left in my wake subside, please be gentle and patient with me. I should return to “normal” with time, whatever that turns out to be. Normalcy is soo overrated, right?!?! 

Until I reach my ‘normal’, I will be grateful for the life I have been given to live with my family and friends and the lives I continue to impact on a daily basis, personally and professionally.

This disease is not a quick-fix problem; it has no cure. As I gain more knowledge of medicinal and holistic ways to improve my life while living with this pleasant auto-immune disorder, I will continue to live my life the best way I can, while continuing my journey as a seasoned RN, wherever that will lead me, and the other therapeutic self-employed occupations I enjoy. I hope to regain energy to enable me to participate more in the activities I love, including more family time.

My current motto: “Autoimmune Disease: because the only thing tough enough to kick my ass is ME” -Unknown

Love and Laughter, Always!

Just Me.  ~Kasey

My New Year Non-Resolutions

Happy New Year! Welcome, 2016! The past year of 2015 has been full of ups and downs and the still lingering unknown, personally and professionally. I’ve never been one to make new year resolutions. No worries; I don’t indend to start now. Although, there is one I should make and stick to…I suck at blogging, and this needs to change. I’ve previously found myself more creative in the writing department while working night shifts. I must find time, muse and snarky, charming expression during daylight hours. As just mentioned, I suck at it, but I’ve found that I love it. I miss it and find myself thinking that I should definitely write. It’s a therapeutic, enjoyable activity for me to express myself in ways I’ve never thought I’d see or imagine myself practicing, albeit minimal, at best. So, okay, ONE “resolution”, but for my sanity and avoiding the chore of thinking of a new blog title, let’s just call it a GOAL. Due to my nursing personality, it needs to be measurable and attainable. For now, I shall set a writing goal for myself at once a month, although, I would like to increase my frequency to once a week. Daily: At this current juncture, unattainable. Anyone who works full-time with family, pets, needy teenagers and husbands, outside of the blogging world, who finds time for writing, PLEASE feel free to comment your suggestions.

Beginning my year of non-resolutions, my goal is to simply strive today, as well as each and every day, week, month and year to live a gracious, grateful, overall happy life. I hope others to follow, in their own special, unique ways. What a better world in which we’d live.

  1. Be Grateful. Bad days, sad days, life, in general, happens. I read a quote recently that pretty summed up that there are people in this world that would love to have one of your bad days. True, although, honestly, I’ll let have someone have my second to worst day. The worst day of my life was the loss of my son; that I wish upon no one. Grateful. Grateful for my two beautiful biological daughters and young-adult daughter we’ve adopted into our lives, needing a place to call home and peeps to call family.
  2. Be Present. Now that I’ve conquered the goal of being present physically, when I’m home and during the rare moments the teenagers or husband are as well, I need to learn to love, laugh, live in the moment. I’m beginning to realize the day will come, sooner than I’m willing to admit, that I will be living in an empty nest. I have yet to begin to even think about that one.
  3. Laugh and Dance! More of it required. Much more.


With all that are in my plans for more positive living, physically, emotionally and spiritually, these are just small, simple beginnings.

Never underestimate the therapeutic power of loud music whilst rocking out in your rig!

Much love, always.

Just me. ~Kasey

 

Practice What You Preach – Lesson Learned on Priorities

I’ve been a nurse for 14 years, working nights, graveyard shift, if you will, mostly traveling long distances from my family, my girls, my life. As a seasoned ICU nurse, I’ve perfected, mastered the skill of prioritization in my career. I’ve professed that my family always comes first…but in reality, I’ve learned that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In my mind, convincing my heart that I had always done what’s right for my family, did what I could to provide and make ends meet, financially, what my girls, my husband, my health, my life NEEDED this entire time has been simply, just me.

When my oldest daughter was born in 1998, an Aerosmith song was very popular, my heart dubbed it my personal anthem, my song to her, “I don’t wanna close my eyes…I don’t wanna fall asleep, cuz I’d miss ya, babe…and I don’t wanna miss a thing.” It was that same year I decided to begin nursing school, to grab ahold of an education I had deprived myself for years and to better provide for the tiny life that lay in my arms for so many hours of the day, all the while to strive “not to miss a thing”.

I’ve fallen short of that goal to both my girls during their toddler and younger school-age years, my current husband of 5 years and most likely, my ex-husband, married nearly 12 years, now divorced for 8. Sadly, although I’ve never wanted to miss anything in life, my impeccable work ethic seemed to always prevail. Now, Jacey, ready to spread her wings and fly into adulthood, and Ally, with two more years left of high school, I’m running out of time, running out of moments to share, hoping to make up for lost time that I should have been spending a long time ago.

What do I have to show?? Too many hours worked, too many days lost in catching up with sleep, a divorce, and unnecessary crankiness and irritability taken out on the people I love the most in this world. The people I’ve “worked” so hard for. Yes, I have mastered the skill of prioritization, in my career, but failed to prioritize my LIFE…until now.

It’s a well-known fact that nurses spend countless hours of time and care in taking care of others around them: patients, family, friends, random strangers, but fail to take care of themselves or their own health. Consider me guilty. I have suffered from Hypothyroidism and Depression/Anxiety for many years and diagnosed 2 years ago with Shift Work Sleep Disorder. Yes, it is an actual diagnosis, requiring treatment with medication. These compiled diagnoses do not make a pretty combination. It leaves me fatigued, unmotivated, depressed, anxious and needing constant sleep. This is not the life I pictured for myself or my family. Even when home and not working, I find myself unattached and not present in the simplest of moments with my girls, husband, family, friends.

Just two short days ago, I was awakened by my eldest with symptoms of dehydration and possible heat exhaustion with rapid heart rate, dizziness and twitching. I was 100 miles away, unavailable and helpless. My wonderful husband was called, left work immediately and took care of the situation, rushing her to the ER for treatment. My heart tells me that person should’ve been me, even though I was in my vehicle, making my way home where I was needed the most.

I’ve been left with some serious, deep soul-searching, making decisions so very imperative to my health and my family. I wasn’t prepared to start my “Traveling RN” career so soon but found an agency that is able to accommodate my needs for my health and family-time, keeping my travel assignments close enough to be home every night.

I’ve been criticized many times in my nursing career, working such far distances from home by colleagues, so-called friends, family members, frankly, people whose opinions have no frame of reference to my life, people who need to MYOB…or attempt to walk a short block in my less-than-perfect, very much worn shoes. Yes, this change in my life should have probably occurred YEARS ago, but I am here today, making that decision, a decision that can only be made by ME. I could beat myself up for the days, months, years I’ve missed being an “appropriate mother and wife”, but honestly, what good is that really going to do?? I’m already riddled with guilt, anxiety and depression on a daily basis. Dwelling on the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s is pointless and unproductive, not to mention additional time lost in the moment.

What I can do is start from right now, today, and lavish in what childhood my girls have left and start enjoying the company of my husband and my girls in this moment, moving forward to a much more positive future, leaving behind a past that woulda, shoulda, coulda been but isn’t and never will be.

Be You; Be in the Moment; Just Be…the Best Version of YOU that Only YOU can BE…

As Always, Much Love!

Just me.  ~Kasey

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I’m Not Old Enough to Have a Senior in High School!

Hello, My Friends…

The day arrived; the first of many lasts of my oldest daughter’s final year of high school. Her final year of childhood. The first milestone of being a senior…Senior Portraits. We spent weeks picking out the perfect outfits, of course making last minute wardrobe changes the morning of! The morning was also spent combing through my plethora of wedges, heels and jewelry. Once Jacey was satisfied with her choices, she did some last minute “prop” shopping, while I bathed, groomed and clipped the nails of our beloved 12-year-old Bulldog, Biskit, who early in her life chose Jacey as “her human”. Senior pics would not be complete without her, clad in her blinged collar and pink tutu!

With hair and makeup complete, outfits, shoes and jewelry orgainized and packed, Biskit in the vehicle, ready to go, my daughter and I made our way to the studio. Bittersweet feelings, mixed with excitement and pride filled my head and my heart. So proud of how hard she’s worked and how far she’s come, already planning to graduate high school early and attend the same college, same nursing program I once had, when she was just a baby, and my baby, at this moment in time, is no longer. I will admit, being the emotional person I am, I did tear up just a little bit, but I didn’t cry. Part of me probably did, just seeing her so beautiful and so grown up. It seems just yesterday, I was dropping her off at Kindergarten and taking her younger sister, Ally, to Preschool. It’s true…time just flies by when your children hit school-age, and there’s no way of slowing it.

Four outfit changes, multiple locations, the impossible task of getting a stubborn Bulldog to cooperate with treats, 2 hours and 300+ shots taken, Jacey’s time in the spotlight was over. The beginning of the school year is nearing, just a few weeks away; just as fast as it is approaching, it will end just as quickly in December, the spotlight of her short-lived high school years dimming. Just as she so carefully chose the perfect outfits, changing them only when her photo shots were perfected, she is choosing and carefully planning her not-so-distant future, changing out of her little girl life and into her new, exciting, big girl, adult life. Although this mom isn’t quite ready to let her little girl go out into the world, I will always be there, as I was for preparing for her senior portrait session, ready to assist her with all of life’s wardrobe changes.

“When you look at your mother, you’re looking at the purest love you’ll ever know.” – Unknown

Much love to both of my girlies, always, no matter what… MU-WAH!!

Just me. ~Kasey

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This Girl with Many Titles, Including Ordained Minister

Hello, My Friends Near and Far…

Since a very young age I’ve had two parental influences who taught me (probably without knowing) the importance and necessity of working hard. Both of my parents have always been hard workers, either working hours upon hours of overtime or working multiple jobs. I saw that early on in childhood and have sometimes not-so-gracefully followed in their footsteps. There have been times throughout my life, especially as a mother, that I’ve taken it further than necessary.

This summer marks my 13th year as an RN, first gaining the title of LPN for a short year. This coming August  is also the third anniversary I obtained a title I never thought I would have the privilege of owning, Ordained Minister. I went online to the first site I saw, American Marriage Ministries, signed up, and simple, easy-peasy, it was done. What has started out as favors to friends and family has grown into my very own business of A Touch of Love.

This one job that has taken up very little of my time and energy, along with bringing in the least amount of income, is actually my most beloved. Even after the blood, sweat, tears, licensure fees due every two years, and tuition money still owed from obtaining my nursing license, this little job I do “on the side”, not even earning enough to count as a second job, brings me absolute joy.

My name is attached to multiple “Happily Ever Afters”. I get to be the first to announce a new Mr. & Mrs. I get to see a blushing bride straight-on as she approaches me, as well as the groom’s first response as he watches his bride approach him. Everytime, without fail, my body tingles; my arms form goosebumps; my eyes well-up with tears, if only for a moment. These moments give me emotion. These moments give me the feeling of being a part of something bigger, those moments in life not to be forgotten.

Each ceremony I perform is different, catered to the couple I am performing it for. I don’t consider myself the best in the business, but I do like to add a little bit of my Kasey flare and personality. In my own liitle way, making my mark on the world; making my POSITIVE mark in this cynical, money-hungry, mostly negatively impacted world.

As I earlier mentioned as a little project to help out family and friends, through word of mouth, has turned into a little business. Luckily, I’ve had wonderful couples around me who have recommended my services, whether simply performing a ceremony, providing music, or decorating. So far, I have felt nothing but “Much Love” and so appreciated after each marriage I’ve performed. God willing, I’ll be able to keep doing this for years to come, long after I’ve burnt out of my nursing career.

This past weekend, my daughters were able to accompany me to a wedding, one daughter running my make-shift music system, made up of my iPad, music playlists and portable Sony speaker. Luckily, this works for a small-scale wedding. By next year, I’ll be performing a marriage with 100 guests, needing a PA system for music and a microphone so all guests will be able to hear the ceremony. Onward and upward… Back to my girls watching me do what I love brought on a feeling of pride, not that I want my daughters to follow in my direct footsteps but to desire to be a part of something positive and doing something that they love to do, making their own mark on this world.

I urge all of you, no matter how crazy the idea or talent, follow your heart, and do what you LOVE!! For you all, I wish all the happiness and success life has to offer.

“You are here for a reason. Use your gifts.” ~ Demi Lovato

Much Love Always

Just Me. ~Kasey

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Car Pool or Chauffeur Moment??

Hello, My Friends…

Proud Mama Moment…we can’t stop our teenagers from drinking and hold their hands 24/7, keep them little and respectful and obedient and lavish us with hugs and slobbery kisses, as much as we’d love to. C’mon, the majority of us ‘back in the day’ had embellished ourselves with a drink (ok, beer) or three. It’s bound to happen to our kids…as much as we wish it wouldn’t. But if we’re honest with ourselves, honesty and keeping an open mind IS the BEST policy when talking to our teenagers. Hopefully, honesty and trust from them is what we’ll receive in return.

I’ve ALWAYS drilled into my girls at early pre-teen ages, now ages 17 and 15, no matter what, no matter where, no matter what time…CALL ME!! I’ve preached, nagged, begged, insert preferable verbal parental annoyance…DO NOT DRINK & DRIVE and DO NOT ENTER A VEHICLE OF SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN DRINKING! Along with “Buckle Up, Buttercup” “Be Good” and “Be Safe”!

I got the call, ALMOST asleep. You never expect that call. I’ve never made that call. First, the feeling of fear swells, thinking something bad has happened, but hearing that cheery slurry voice on the other end calms those fears, turning to annoyance. Now what?? My oldest, Jacey attended a rodeo (attached to it, a campground) out-of-town, earlier in the evening, her friends drinking, she as the DD. My social butterfly walked from camp to camp, seeing and socializing with other kids she knew. Her group of ‘friends’ left her. Stranded. In a strange place where she’d never been. Pissed Mama. You have to understand, Crystal Springs is a “bowl” in the middle of a pasture, in the middle of nowhere, 25 miles from where we live in town, down two different highways and two different country backroads, but close to the small town of Clear Lake, SD, the town in which I was born. When she learned of their departure is when she started to drink alcoholic beverages. Happy and sleepy to say, I got a call at 1:30 AM to pick her up. No questions asked…I usually don’t have to, as she tells me everything.

Annoying?? Driving all that way and waiting for her to slowly meander her way toward the camping check-in, then driving another 25-30 miles and half hour home with her yackety-yacking…ABSOLUTELY! But so blessed she wasn’t afraid to call her mama in a pinch, and I got my baby girl home safe and sound! I thank GOD she didn’t get into a car with teens who’d been drinking, then deciding to drive. Thank GOD no one was hurt THIS TIME.

I feel compelled to share, knowing the stories out there with not-so-happy endings. Our kids DO listen to us; they talk to us. They’re living life as we once did. I just want to make a positive impression on my girls, let them know I’m ALWAYS here…no matter what, no matter where, no matter what time. No matter your ages, you’ll always be my little girls, picking you up, as I did in the car pool, even when in reality, I’m more of a chauffeur. And lastly, I will ALWAYS LOVE you both!

Just Me. ~Kasey

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Destination Procrastination Delayed…

Well, I guess I shouldn’t be completely surprised. My weekly post has (hopefully temporarily) turned into a bi-weekly blog. Even as I sit here, finishing up the last two hours of my nightly profession as a private duty RN, I have trouble thinking of what to write about with substance, meaning, SOMETHING, as I feel I may get lost in the shuffle of this alien blogging world I’m still becoming accustomed. Subject matter at hand…procrastination!

Ha! I’ve been procrastinating in life for as long as I can remember, even before birth–4 days overdue. The old adage “I work best under pressure…” has been my motto through high school, college, daily life… The irony is I am otherwise your typical, textbook specimen of the first-born child, perfectionist, Type A personality, yet always waiting (unintentionally) until the last minute and usually slightly unprepared, running 5-10 minutes late and a dollar short, which I absolutely HATE about myself. It’s a personal flaw I am eternally, internally, externally aiming to mend on a daily, hourly basis.

I’m a great planner. I write my lists well in advance; I organize my supplies; I prioritize my actions…the execution of getting ready/packing, preparing speeches, homework/housework, crafting for an event, arriving to a destination on time, just FLOPS. I know the WHYs and HOWs but find it impossible to reverse time and start all over from last month, last week, yesterday, this morning, an hour ago…which exempts me from being a ‘flake’/’twit’/’airhead’.

I am most definitely primarily to blame, finding the need for more downtime or more sleep or any other extremely valid excuse. I do feel compelled to mention that working primarily night shifts since the beginning of my nursing career 14 years ago has put a damper in finding and maintaining energy on most days, causing a diagnosis of Sleep Work Disorder.

This blog will (hopefully) serve as my cure. The first step in healing or changing a behavior/bad habit is admitting there’s a problem, right? I have no hesitation in admitting the problem(s) and actually wanting to change that aspect of my personality or life or whathaveyou. With all being said, I hope to find myself sharing my celebrations of improvements!

Leaving you with thoughts of Positivity…

If you MUST be late, at least be worth the wait!

Love and Laughter Always

Just Me. ~Kasey

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The Start of A NEW Balanced, Healthy Life…

Yes, I’ve had bad days. No one said life was easy. An instruction manual would be nice, but I guess what’s the fun in that? It’s a new week, new opportunities, new blogs…

YOGA…I reintroduced myself to practicing yoga this past Saturday. After an almost unbearable week, and an even worse Friday night, which involved my oldest daughter, I nearly skipped my FREE introductory session. I did as I tell others in my life, ‘Suck it up, Buttercup.’ And I went. At least it would be an hour and a half reprieve from the stress, the situations, the yuck! And I would allow that time to be mine. I was actually able to relax and learn for that short while. I now look forward to the free sessions of the week the lie ahead to pick and choose from the variety that will work for me and what I need.

30-Day Arbonne Healthy Living DETOX…I knew it was coming, fast and fierce. It’s here. And I am determined to do this, to feel healthy, to feel good inside, even when everything else around me isn’t feeling so great. My crazy work schedule will pose as a challenge to fit in all my meals, to eat when I’m supposed to, and give my body a 12 hr break from food…not sure that can happen, working nights, but I will work it as best as I can. There’s MAYBE an 8 hr period where I don’t eat/graze, while sleeping during the day, but I’ll tweak it as best as I can to allow my body to do what it needs to do to purge the nasty toxins within. I’m actually quite curious to know all the side effects I’ll endure, aside from the cravings, of course. I’ll be sure to share my experience…the good, the bad, the ugly! Be ready! I hope to inspire myself and others, to jump on this train with me! You won’t be alone! I’ll trudge right along with by your sides; be here if you need me…

In the spirit of new opportunities, change, and happier, healthier lives, I’ll leave you with this to ponder… ‘You will find it necessary to let things go simply for the reason that they are heavy.’  ~ C. Joybell C.

Wishing you Health and Happiness, Always

Just Me.  ~Kasey

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This…

My best friend, Erin, recently told me, I’d be ‘good’ at this blogging thing because I’ve already been doing it for years on Facebook, not afraid to be me and ‘putting myself out there’. True. I’ve learned, or maybe even grown into myself, not afraid to be myself or express myself, and finally force myself be heard (sometimes overkill, I know) after so many years through childhood and middle school, being the shy, quiet, mousy girl, whom I thought no one ever noticed or even heard of or knew existed, being a very small, softspoken (suprising, isn’t it?) ONE out of hundreds more colorful, interesting students. I found my voice the second half of my freshman year in high school, moving to the small town of Gurley, NE with my two sisters, living with our dad and stepmom. Luckily, I already knew some upperclassmen (BONUS), who were friends of my older, already graduated and married stepbrother. The town was familiar, as I had been visiting every summer for years prior, making the move less traumatic, despite an otherwise traumatic situation, previously living with a physically abusive stepdad, whom my mother was divorcing at the time, wanting to spare us girls that unpleasantry after all we’d already endured. I attended school in the next town over in Dalton, both towns consolidated as Leyton, my freshman class with a total of 18 at the time. I believe coming from a bigger, more colorful ‘city’ and being the ‘new girl’, I quickly gained a multitude of friends, a boyfriend (my first EVER at 15), popularity (so overrated), and later on becoming a cheerleader my sophomore and junior years (I later moved back to SD to spend my senior year), which would have been UNHEARD of in Watertown, SD. Although I found my voice and for the first time and felt I finally ‘fit in’ on the surface, while alone, mostly at night, in my room, with just myself and my thoughts, I still maintained and saw myself as that shy, quiet, mousy girl from years prior. To this day, there are people who don’t believe that girl ever existed…or moreso yet, still exists today.

To those who haven’t known me for all those years or haven’t grown close enough to me, this post will be difficult for you to comprehend or believe. I don’t advertise this part of me or like to even show that part of me, as it’s not pretty and would probably find myself with even less friends in my now current small circle. Although everyday more light is shed on the evergrowing numbers of people who suffer from mental illness and is gaining more respect, little by little in the medical and everyday communities, unfortunately, mental illness is still seen as a negative stigma, not even seen as an illness to many, just another reason to ‘pop pills’ to rid us of our so-called troubles. Oh, how I wish I didn’t need to. Without medication (anti-depressant and anti-anxiety), life is dark, ugly, and not worth living. The person I am on medication isn’t perfect by any means. Contrary to popular belief, they are not ‘Magic Happy Pills’ but keep my mood at an even keel, take the edge off of the everyday goings-on that would otherwise keep me home. I have bad days, like everyone else, but my bad days are difficult; the girl I am is difficult…She is best left alone, asleep, in the dark, where no one else can hurt her, because deep inside, she is hurting enough, all on her own. She will do her best to distance herself from everyone around her, and if that doesn’t work, she’ll attemp to hurt you with words, making you WANT to stray from her. There is a dark side of me, not seen and hidden just below the surface of what you see as me, the smarticle, bubbly, absolutely hilarious, snarky, sassy, energetic, TALKATIVE, outgoing girl we all know and love. When ‘the dark’ emerges, it’s nothing that can be ‘just turned off’ or thoughts that should just be ignored and ‘gotten over’. She’s there, and some days, it’s best, in my own mind, to just be alone and sleep…sleep until she retrieves back into hiding, never completely leaving, because although somedays I want to disappear, to not exist, my time here on earth, as painful as it may be sometimes, is not over until I KNOW my girls are ok and on their own, making the most of everything life has to offer, to grow to be better than I’ve become. And to be there for them for all of life’s obstacles (I’ve jumped, ran, hid sometimes, trudged and fought my way through almost all of them). They are my very reason everyday to go on. They are the reason I’m alive today and continue…Am I afraid to die? No. In my heart, I know where I will be…with my son, on the other side. Being a knowlegable, skilled ICU nurse, I have the knowledge and ability to expedite the process in a quick, unmessy, and painless way. Will I do it? No. I know where I need to be, where I am most needed. My girls need their mom more than my son needs me. I know I will see him again one day, and he remains in my heart and is with me everyday. He knows he is not forgotten and that he has a family that loves and thinks of him to this day, and I KNOW that he is ok, coming from a message I received straight from him, as I was a lucky girl of very few, very deserving people who had received a special, rare reading from Theresa Caputo, last November in a stadium of THOUSANDS. A life-changing experience I will NEVER forget or could never THANK enough for…that topic is for another time, another blog…bottom line, Mason is OK; I need to remain here, alive, to make sure Jacey and Ally are OK, or I have failed as a mother. That is one area where I cannot fail…many, many mistakes, YES!, but failure is out of the question. So, I carry on…

Not everyday is like today. I’m your average, ‘normal’ 40-year old, going through the everyday joys, despair, the ups and downs, the exciting, the mundane, the ‘normal’ everyday cycles of life, married twice, with two teenage girls I have raised mostly on my own, with the help of my second (and current), most kind-hearted, self-less, loving husband of five years, loving my girls as if they’re his own from the ages of 9 and 7, as being married to me, he will never experience the opportunity of fathering children of his own. How he came to choose me and all the baggage that comes with being me, I guess I’ll never know, but I Thank God everyday he sees in me what I don’t see. Most days are good, but then there are days my depression emerges…and I wait for the day he runs, but luckily for me, he still remains, for now…

Major Depression with Generalized Anxiety, an actual diagnosis I’ve owned for nearly 3 years with proper treatment from a smart, wonderful, completely understanding Nurse Practitioner, specializing in mental health, but have sufferred for decades, untreated or inadequately treated by my Family Practice PCP. They do their best, but sometimes fall short of what could be a better mixture of medications to treat. For years, I thought the numbness and detachment were a better alternative to the craziness going on in my brain and that was as good as is was going to get.  Although currently treated with medication, the diagnosis, moreso defined by the aching, burning, painfully stabbing feelings from the depths of my soul, creeping upward into the more superficial parts of my brain, manifesting itself into physical, very evident, pain…the non-cardiac chest pain, the difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, both usually the physical features of my anxiety/panic attacks, the never-ending tears that form just below the surface of my eyes, causing the burning and the unbearable headaches, everything that gives me feelings of wanting it all just to go away.

Another lovely myth or opinion is that it’s a choice we have to be miserable and spread misery all around us. Yep, I wake up every morning (or evening, as I’ve been a night nurse for 14 years) and think I want to be crabby or happy or suicidal or downright manic and obnoxious…the choice is all mine! No! As I’ve said, the medication keeps the mood at an even level, trying to avoid the peaks and valleys of mood swings that drive me and everyone around me absolutely bonkers!!! Oh, to be a teenager again…  Sometimes situational stressors can trigger the darkness or in my work life, I’m sure my crazy schedules of long stretches away from home, the driving to and from (100 miles, one way), and working mixed day/night shifts hasn’t been of much benefit for my mental health, but I don’t dwell on it, put my blinders on, and just get it done. Of course in the work environment, much like an athlete, I put my “game face” on. Keep personal feelings at “home” and out of the workplace, even when I’m falling apart inside. Of course at home, it’s all a different story. Everything bottled up for too long tends to explode, and unfortunately, it blows up on the ones we love the most. No, it’s not a choice to be miserable or sad or depressed and make it my mission for everyone around me to feel the same pain. It has been embedded in my DNA since conception. This I honestly, truly believe, due to a strong family history that includes my own mother, having attempted suicide twice. Both times during my fragile pregnancies; both times, thankfully, failed. It’s a chemical imbalance that I DO choose medication in which to create more of a balance to allow me to live a more normal life.

I can remember times as early as childhood where I didn’t feel “happy” when i should have or “fit in” with my family, even my sisters (with whom I should feel closest to), my best friends, peers, everyone. I recall as early as my high school days, looking around my classroom or cheering at football or basketball game, wondering if anyone would even notice if I was ‘gone’, even though I had close friends and a boyfriend, ‘popularity’ in a small school, much different from my middle school years of feeling unnoticed, blending in with the dull colors of the painted lockers and painted cement brick walls. Like the lockers and walls, I was dull. In ways, I probably overcompensated and most likely currently do, at times, for fear of being forgotten… ironically, if I really take the time to think about it, why would I really care if I’m remembered or not when I’m dead? I’ll be among loved ones on the other side, happy and perfect. My legacy is the lives my girls create for themselves…their achievements and successes are indirectly mine. My wish is for them to achieve more and be more in life than I’ve ever done. If they succeed in doing that, my role as a parent, a single mother, would be complete and unfailed.

My first real dose of depression hit when I lost my son, due to my inability to carry him to term. Born at 24 weeks, I had no idea of knowing I had an incompetent cervix that would lead to his early birth and death AND the difficult pregnancies of my daughers that later ensued. Although, both were born early, they were healthy and I was able to take them home shortly after necessary C-Sections, again due to the early birth and breech presentation of my Mason. I chose to ignore my depression symptoms; others probably saw me as grieving mother, mourning the loss of her child. I pushed my depression aside, while pushing for another baby. I got what I wanted, obviously, but was hit with colic in Jacey, her constant screaming  that made me cry and feel like a terrible/inferior/failing mother on a daily basis and postpartum depression with both, SHOCKER!! How I became preganant with Ally, I can’t recall to this day, but she sure came by surprise! I just hoped upon all hopes she would be a happy baby and revive the feelings of being a good mother. My Dr. prescribed Sarafem, basically a low dose Prozac, to curb my bouts of balling for no reason and my crazy mood swings that ensued, which didn’t help, so just quit taking it.

I tried treating my depression with just about every anti-depressant under the sun but could never quite get to that ‘sweet spot’ dose of derailing my mood swings or persistent ‘sadness’, ‘blues’, ’emptiness’,  for lack of better terminology. The supposed ‘magic drug’, Prozac, at a slightly higher dose gave me heart palpitations that felt worse than the depression and made me even more anxious. I quit trying after a long period of time until I reached a point where I simply couldn’t stand myself and after growing even more anxious and depressed due to an ensuing divorce, another failure in life, as a wife. Zoloft did the trick, at a very high dose, or so I thought. It did nothing for my anxiety and as far as treating my depression, made me ‘numb’ and basically ‘unfeeling’ and detatched emotionally. At the time, better than the latter. I guess this is as good as it gets. Turns out, when you’re busy caring for others and their needs, as a nurse, you tend to ignore your own symptoms of illness. Funny, a low thyroid count (hypothyroidism) causes depression, worsening if already diagnosed, loss of energy, excessive sleeping, hair loss (FUN! a ball of hair with every shower!) and intolerance to cold. All of those on paper described me to a T!! Anywho, so my thyroid numbers are under control, where they need to be….it took the comment from another Dr, looking at my Zoloft dose, to mention that my depression and anxiety could most likely be treated better with a medical professional who specialized in that specific area….hmmmm, who woulda thunk it??!? Again, the nurse who takes care of everyone else, fails to take care of herself. Currently, I’m being medically treated by a  Nurse Practitioner with a PhD in mental health, who does an EXCELLENT job looking at my entire picture of health…sleeplessness, depression, and OMG, added meds for anxiety. THANK YOU!! And due to my internal clock out of whack with changing day/night shifts and difficulty maintaining a normal family life outside of work, diagnosed me with Sleep Work Disorder…yes, it is an actual diagnosis, with medication to treat the fatigue, giving me the energy and awareness to stay alert on night shifts AND to actually be able to function a normal life outside of work with my OWN FAMILY… Holy Hannah, imagine that!!

Like I’ve said, most days are pretty normal, and I’m just me. Other days….like the past couple I’ve had, most likely caused by little sleep, away from home, and a couple situational stressors, I can definitely do without, but they DO exist, not by choice…but I do the best I can to maintain a positive life and to always be there for those who need me.

Depression and Anxiety don’t define who I am, but they remain and always will be a part of what makes me, me. 

To anyone suffering, you are not alone, as lonely as life feels at times. Stay Strong!

Just Me ~ Kasey

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