Identity Crisis

The other day I was talking to my sister on the phone and she commented that I sound different.

“I feel different” I responded.

I couldn’t quite figure out why I had felt different when just the week before I was drinking almost every night, not sleeping or eating well and feeling overwhelmingly bleck.

This week I only had two glasses of wine, went for multiple walks with Luke and Gwen, got a pedicure, got my hair cut and colored and bought some new postpartum clothes for when I return to work.

But it wasn’t just the exercise, or the hair or the clothes that made me feel different.

I realized mid-conversation I myself was different.

I no longer felt like Sean’s wife.

 

Not that I solely was defined by being a wife or mother, but when a woman becomes those things, they become a pivotal  part of her identity.

I never thought that I’d have to lose you to help me find myself again.

Charizard, Mario Party and Cheeseburgers

The year of first’s.

First Christmas without him.

First wedding anniversary.

and now the first Father’s day.

As the impending holiday loomed in the future I could see the anger and sadness in Luke’s eyes when I asked him what he would like to do.

After some thought he asked if we could put something at his grave. So we brainstormed things that dad liked and ended up deciding on a Charizard pin since Pokemon was something that Luke and Sean bonded over. He also wanted McDonald’s and to play Mario Party.

So that’s what we did.

 

 

If You Think Suicide is Selfish, Fuck You.

In case you didn’t pick up on the vibe of this entry yet, there’s going to be a lot of “F-words” in this one.

With all the attention surrounding the recent celebrity suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I, like many other suicide widows, have something to say about it.

When I first read the news stories I was disgustingly unsurprised by the comments people were posting. They were similar comments I heard in whispers at Sean’s funeral or that were said outright to my face.

“She had a child, how selfish an you be!?”

“What could he have possibly had to be sad about?”

What. The. Fuck.

That was my first thought. Followed by a lot more “fucks”.

It sickens me that as more and more people continue to kill themselves, the rest of the world watches from the side lines and remains ignorant to the fact that mental illness does not discriminate.

Sean didn’t kill himself because he was sad.

Sean didn’t kill himself because he was selfish.

Sean killed himself because he was sick.

Lemme say it louder for the people in the back.

PEOPLE. THAT. KILL. THEMSELVES. ARE. MENTALLY. ILL.

Please, if you take ANYTHING away from reading this blog- let it be that.

For years Sean had been depressed and while he tried to stave it off, he left it untreated and the burden became too great.

But don’t you dare say he was selfish.

Sean was the most loving, giving person I ever knew. It’s just that somewhere along the line he forgot to stop and take care of himself too.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who you are in the world- rich or poor, famous or not- mental illness does not discriminate.

Because I’m on my second glass on wine right now (and overall lazy) I’m just going to copy and paste some pretty fucked up statistics on mental illness from the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI). Please pay special attention to the statistics in bold and feel free to click this link to read more fucked up stats of mental illness and treatment (or lack thereof).

Prevalence Of Mental Illness

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.2
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.3
  • 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.4
  • 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.5
  • 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.6
  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.7
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.8

Consequences Of Lack Of Treatment

  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.15
  • Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.16
  • Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions.17 Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.18
  • Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14­–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.19
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.,20 the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–1421 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.22
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.23
  • Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.24

https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To My Children

To My Children,

I’m so sorry.

I’m so sorry that I chose a father that would leave you when you were so young leaving you without the loving, hard-working and supportive father you once had.

I’m so sorry that he won’t be there to cheer you on at your sporting events, teach you all that he knew, see you graduate or watch you get married…that he’ll never know the children you will have one day.

I’m so sorry, because there will come a time when something wonderful happens and you will want to tell your daddy. But instead of calling him on the phone or coming to our home to share your news, you will go to the cemetary and talk to his cremated remains encased in stone.

I’m so sorry, because that at times I will not be enough for you. No matter how I try, I am only one person with two hands and I can never truly be both mom AND dad. Some days I will not be the happy, devoted and energetic mother you deserve.

I’m so sorry that this horrible tragedy has robbed you both of your innocence far too soon. I would give anything in the world to take the pain, anger and confusion away from you.

But I can’t- and I’m so sorry.

God Gave Me You

When I was fifteen I had a ovarian cyst the size of an orange that ruptured, causing me immense pain that sent me to the emergency room. It was rather fortunate that this happened, since they also found a potato-sized tumor on my right ovary.

Why do they always compare masses to food for reference?

Anyways.

Thankfully, the tumor was benign, but I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and Endometrosis. I still remember sitting in the doctor’s office at fifteen and being told that it was likely that I would never get pregnant, and if I did, that it would be difficult to stay pregnant.

When Sean and I’s relationship became serious and we talked openly about marriage and children, the possibility that I might never give him children inevitably came up. Instead of fleeing as far away as possible from my potentially barren uterus to greener pastures , he said things like “we can adopt” or “My Aunt did something like IVF, I’m sure we can try that”.

For years I had been preparing myself for heartbreak, miscarriages and countless negative pregnancy tests. But when I got off of my birth control in April I was surprised to learn at the end of August that I was four weeks pregnant.

I stopped drinking coffee and started drinking 100+ oz of water a day.

I heated my lunch meat and avoided soft cheeses.

I took extra walks and got at least eight hours of sleep a night.

Because suddenly…it wasn’t just me anymore.

I now had this little life growing inside of me that I was responsible for keeping safe and healthy.

God must have known that I wouldn’t have Sean very long, because he gave me you.

To force me to carry on even on the days where I just didn’t feel like it anymore.

To force me to care of myself so that I could continue to take care of you.

To save me.

“God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you,” – Blake Shelton

Happy Anniversary

Today would have been my third wedding anniversary. While I have spent the past week speculating on how I would spend this day (see “Three Cheers for Three Years”) I have decided that regardless of what I do, that I will spend it being better, not bitter.

So….today, I will go to your grave and say “thank you”.

For giving me the happiest six and a half years of my life.

For teaching me about DnD and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and a million other things I never would have given a chance otherwise.

For making me laugh and smile almost every single day.

For being the supportive, knowledgeable, loving father to Luke.

For showing me that I am stronger, more capable and independent than I ever thought I could be.

For giving me Gwendolyn.

 

I wish we could have had more time, but even forever wouldn’t have been long enough.

I love you more than there are stars in the sky.

 

Happy Anniversary.