Words have a powerful effect on people.

I read a great article today on facebook. It talks about what a SAHM needs from her husband, and how they can better support each other and create a ore loving, thriving marriage. I want to share this letter with you, in the hopes that it can help spark a talk, or a notion that can help you in your relationship.

I read through this letter, and thought, ‘damn!’, I really need to take this to heart. I rarely take GNO because I don’t think I need them…but I feel so much better when I do go out with the girls. And I don’t give my husband enough credit for having worked a long hard day at work, I expect him to come in right away and be family man. I think it would help our relationship out dramatically if he decompressed for half an hour or so before coming home on especially rough or tiring days. I also wish I could be responsible enough to cook a dinner and have it ready every night, but it just seems like that will never happen *sigh* And it’s too much of a hassle for Josh to work a 9 hour day, commute home, and then cook for the family…so my family is suffering a bit on the nutritional side of things until I get the cooking thing down more. I also wish I was more appreciated for the things I DO actually do. The way this woman describes a trip to the pool with 4 kids is spot on, and my hubby seems to think it was just a walk in the park. I sometimes wonder if he thinks that they don’t actually run wild and screaming all over the place and that they really just sit quietly on their chairs and read the Bible while each other child gets a turn in the water.

And about the secretly loving the attention your spouse hands out…it’s true…after having 4 children ripped out of my body, it’s nice to know someone still finds me attractive. I won’t say anything about the non-sexual touch, because I’m the one who wants it more often in my relationship, lol, so no need to touch on that…and then the talk about trips versus vacations..of so true!

We go on family vacations and come home more tired than when we left! I’m dying for the kids to get a little older, and we can leave them with a sitter and feel less guilty about it,. Then we’ll  get a ‘real’ vacation, one with a hotel, and no kids, and us getting to do exactly what we’d like for a day or two. I’m grateful for my children and all, but eventually one day they’ll leave and go on their own way…I’m still going to have my husband, so I need to nurture that relationship just as much as I nurture the relationships I have with my children.

And some of these things I definitely need to vamp up in my own life. I need to stop comparing. I need to look forward to dates with my husband more often. I need to not dump all my day’s problems on him the minute he walks in the door. But I also need more praise. I like it to be noticed when he mentions something and I take note and it’s done without him asking. Like I’m willing to bet you money he won’t notice the sheets on our bed have been washed and put back on for him, just because he was complaining about how dirty the bed was this morning. I do it because I love him, but I’m a lot more motivated when I get praised and noticed for the hard work I do put in, even though I have my personal struggles, I do try and put in effort and I like to be noticed for it. I probably need to work harder on praising Josh as well, so one more thing for me to improve on as well.

And the very last part…about there being no one other person I’d rather be going through these struggles with…so true.

It’s been 7 years, and it’s still just as true today as it was those 7 years ago.

I often hear young moms complaining about their needs not being met.  About things they wish they had, wish they received, wished their husbands did…  And I realized…  not all husbands “get it.”  Some take longer to learn their wives than others.  And some wives don’t help the situation at all.  We play games.  We expect much but express little.  Today, I felt compelled to write a letter.  On behalf of stay at home moms.  If you’ve never said it.  Or he’s never “gotten it.”  I hope this helps.

To: My Husband.

From: Your Stay at Home Wife/Mom.

I used to think it would be so romantic if you just knew me so well, that you knew exactly what I needed.  I would never have to verbally share with you my needs because if you really loved me, you would know what they were, even before I did.  You, my love, were to be nothing less than a mind reader. It sounded fabulous and romantic.   However, we’ve been married awhile now. And reality has set in.  You are an amazing man.  An incredible husband.  But I must tell you: You are horrible at mind reading.  And it’s not your fault.  I now get it.  It’s physically impossible. There’s nothing you can do to acquire this superpower that I wish you possessed.   So today, I am declaring that I am letting you off the hook.  No more guessing.  No more expectations unmet.  Today, I lay it out.  I’m giving you a peek into me.  But once you know, you are responsible for that knowledge.  No more playing dumb.  No more acting clueless.  You can choose to stop reading here if you enjoy the guessing game.  Ah, you’re still reading?  Awesome.  I love that about you.  You’re IN.  I knew it.

OK wait.  Before I express my needs, let me explain something that might be difficult to understand:

I love our kids.  I love my role as a mom.  But honestly?  It’s tough.  And here’s the tricky part – those 2 things DO co-exist.  One doesn’t trump the other or cancel it out. I love it – And I’m tired. It’s an honor – But it’s exhaustingly hard work.  I’m fulfilled – And I’m drained.  Get it?  Me either.  It’s tricky and complex.  But it’s called Motherhood and I’m in the thick of it.  OK, so in light of that, here’s what I need.  Or want.  TomAto….TomAHto. Here’s the reality in no particular order….

1) I need to refuel.  And it’s not by grocery shopping with only 1 kid instead of all 3.  I need to get out of the house.  Alone.  I need to ride in my car and listen to adult music.  I want to use the public restroom in the small stall. The one without the changing station.  Alone.  I don’t need extravagance.  [I mean, I won’t turn down extravagance, of course.  But I don’t need it.] 😉 You know what I’d love?  To wander the isles of Target for an hour.  Or to sit at Starbucks alone for 30 minutes.  Or to walk in a shopping mall without pushing a stroller.  It really is that easy.  Will I come back completely changed and ready to conquer the world? Honestly?  Sometimes yes.  But mostly, no.  But what I WILL come back with, is a little more life in me.  I will have a spring in my step.  It’s a little shot in the arm.  I reeeeallly need this.  When you ask if I want it, and I say, “I’m OK.”  I need you to tell me to go anyway.

2) Please don’t call and ask what’s for dinner.  If anything, call and ask, “Do we have dinner plans?  If not, can I stop by the store and pick anything up?”  I love you.  And I love providing nourishment for our family.  But when I have spit up running down into my bra and a toddler who just learned to take off his own dirty diaper, The Call adds that little extra pressure in my day that just makes me want to accidentally change the locks on the front door.

3) When I take the kids to the pool, please know that I didn’t spend the day poolside with a cocktail.  Sometimes I feel like that’s how you view the life of a stay at home mom.  In reality, every 2 minutes, I’m doing roll call to make sure everyone is above water.  “1..2..3..…1…2…3…” over and over and over and over.  I’m changing poopy swim diapers on hot concrete and peeling wet swimsuits off tiny bodies because they have to go potty AGAIN.  I’m schlepping towels and sunblock and swimming goggles and dive toys and flippers and water shoes and cover ups and diapers and wipes and snacks and drinks.  I have one child who has no fear of water and is jumping into areas he’s not allowed to, and another child who’s deathly afraid of the water and is leaving claw marks in my arm.  Blood has been drawn.  A walk in the park is not a walk in the park.  It’s chasing, and counting, and disciplining and refereeing.. A day at the pool is all of that, in a big hole of water.  Attempting to avoid death.  For real.

4) I’ve been nursing a baby all day long.  My “nursers” are over stimulated.  The last thing I desire when you get home from work, is to have one more person perusing the “food court.”  Those are not yours right now.  They are on loan to the person they were actually created for.   Your time will come.  It’s just not today.  If you will understand this and not let it become a point of tension, I’m certain you’ll get extra rewards in heaven.

5) However, when we’re home and you walk by me in the kitchen and grab my butt, and I swat you away, I don’t mean it.  I secretly love that you still want to be playful and frisky.  The timing may not be right, or I just don’t know what to do with your playfulness because my brain is counting the number of loads of laundry waiting for me.  But please don’t stop.  I need to know you still like me.  I understand this is confusing in light of the point above.  I can’t explain everything.  I’m just informing.  I’m complex like that.

6) I need a Girls Night Out every once in awhile.  While we both know you rock, I  need some time with girlfriends as well.  Unless, of course, you would like to discuss bikini waxing, my period and the latest fashion trends with me.  No?  Cool. Girl’s Night Out it is.

7) I need non-sexual touch.  I know you don’t quite understand what that is.  Just pretend it’s valuable and possible.  The grabbing mentioned above is fun and all, but sometimes I just want to feel your arm on my shoulder, without it slowly moving a few inches south.  I need your physical affection without motive.  I need to know that you like to just be with me.

8) When you walk in the door, let’s make a deal:  You won’t walk straight to the family room and collapse on the couch with the remote… And I won’t greet you at the door with all 5 kids, dump them on you and clock out.  When you come home from work, let’s do it together. Share the load.  If you need to decompress from your day at work, please take the long way home.  Drive around the block a few extra times if you need to.  Just don’t walk in and disconnect.  You are my Knight.  I love knowing you’re coming home.  I can’t feel like I have another child to care for when you walk in the door from work.  I need my partner.  My teammate.

9) That trip we took with the kids was awesome. We created family memories.  We had fun.  But that’s exactly what it was – a “trip.”  I now need a “vacation.”  A vacation is like a trip.  Just without the diapers and wipes and baby food and high chairs and primary color toys.  Oh, and without the tiny humans that come with those things.  Don’t get me wrong, I love those tiny humans. But a break to refuel, refresh, clear my mind, etc..is invaluable.  I have no way to explain what a true vacation will do to me. Other than to say hotel room sex is fabulous.  The end.

10) When you come home to a clean house, be assured it didn’t look like that hours earlier. There were crackers smashed on the floor, toys everywhere, food smeared on walls, 8 outfit changes from our preschool daughter strewn around the house…  If you come home to a clean house, please notice.  Please say something.  Acknowledge that it obviously took superhuman powers to get it to the state it is.  It sounds silly and needy.  Maybe I am.  But you know that “atta boy” you got from your boss at work that made your day?  Ya, I need that too.

11) When we go to a restaurant, sometimes I need you to offer to sit next to ‘the kid.’  You know, the one that needs extra assistance.  The one that cries and grabs and throws and needs.  When I say, “No, it’s OK. I’ll sit next to The Child” I need you to gift me with the break anyway.  I’m not saying every time.  But we both know that going to restaurants with The Child is difficult. I’d so appreciate sharing that load with you.

12) I need to go on a date.  With you.  I need to wear clothes that don’t smell like any type of child’s body fluid.  I need to order food for just me.  I need to eat it while it’s hot.  I need to look into your eyes.  I need to hold your hand.  I need adult conversation.  And while the topic of kids might creep into our conversation, let’s commit to keeping that to a minimum.  We spent so much of our dating years getting to know each other. Asking questions.  I was your student and you were mine.  A lot has happened since then.  You and I have changed and grown. Let’s learn about each other again.  Re-discover who we are today.  Let’s know and be known.   Let’s date.

13) Let’s commit to not comparing.  My friend might be prettier.  Or a better homemaker.  Or parent with ease.  Her husband might be more romantic.  Or more successful.  Or a more engaged father.  There’s always going to be someone who does what we do, but better.  Or so it seems.  Let’s commit to not comparing.  Comparison will steal our joy.  It will take the wind out of our sail.  It will make us feel defeated.  Or frustrated. Or angry.  Or all of the above.  Let’s be honest – everyone else is just as messed up as we are.  We just see the beautiful, shiny outsides of them that they put on display, and tend to compare it to the dysfunctional, broken insides of ourselves that only we know.  Let’s just be the best “us”we can be – keeping our eyes ONLY on OUR path.  I love you.  I chose you and you chose me.  Let’s be in for US and US only.

Thank you for hearing me.

You may not understand it all.  I don’t even know if I do.

This season is glorious and difficult.

And in all the uncertainty, the only thing I do know is there is NO ONE I’d rather do this with, than you.

You are exactly the “who” I need.

The other stuff is just the “what” I’d love from you.  I ask you to just try.

And if you’re willing, I’d love a list like this from you in return.
This is a tough season for us both. I know you have needs you rarely express as well and I’d love a peek into those if you’d be willing to share.

I love you and love that we’re living in what we’ll someday call “the good old days.”

You have my heart forever.

I’m giving credit to Deanna Rischer Ramsay because that is the page this was shared from. I don’t know where she got it from, but it is awesome.

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Wrestling the demons within me

I woke up so depressed this morning and I can’t even explain why. I was just drained and life had no meaning. It was even worse because things had sucked yesterday, but I was able to function, ya know? This morning I couldn’t even get out of bed. It’s days like this that make me hate myself even harder because I couldn’t take care of me, let alone my kids. Elora dressed herself and I didn’t even brush her hair before she went off. Liam went in what he slept in, but I did dress and change Olive, for one. Once she was out though, she kept whining so much that I finally put her in her playpen with a bottle so she whine there and I’d know she was safe…and I fell back asleep.

What kind of parent does this? And this is what it was like for months before I was hospitalized. I can’t go through that again. I’ve been hypomanic for weeks now and I suddenly wake up hating life and wanting to crawl into a hole in the ground. I resented everything this morning, even my poor little girl because to tend her meant I had to get up and move. I hated on me more because I haven’t felt those feelings of resentment since before I was hospitalized, and I thought they were gone for good.

Sometimes I don’t feel like I deserve the children I have. They are so good and wonderful, and I’m such a terrible mother to them. Why do they have to suffer because Mom can’t do even their most basic needs? It’s not fair to them, and it only makes me feel worse. I didn’t even want to take my meds today, and I certainly didn’t want to take them as prescribed. Thank God we have the safe where Josh is the only one with the code, because today is one of those days where my old coping skills are begging to be used.

It’s just not fair that I have to deal with this. It’s even less fair that my kids have to deal with it. I mean, I was struggling yesterday, but not so much that I couldn’t take them swimming, and take Liam to swim lessons, and go to the park, and then go to Zumba. I was able to do all that, and then suddenly the next day I hate my life so much that I just want it to end? What is wrong with me? Why am I going crazy? Why do I have to cycle so damn hard? Why can’t it be a nice gradual slope or something? Why is it more like a cliff? Does anyone have any answers?

I’ve forced myself to get online and socialize in my support groups today, and it’s helped, but I don’t feel it’s enough. I have therapy today, and I’m dreading it. I feel so terrible and so miserable that I think this is going to be a not fun session. I wonder if a lot of this has been triggered by the most recent homework assignment I was given because since I’ve been working so hard on it, my mood has taken a sudden and severe turn for the worse. Why is that? What is it about getting this assignment over and done with that is wreaking havoc on my life? My therapist swears that writing will help me, but it always seems to push me down lower. I bounce back up eventually, but right now, I’m scared I won’t bounce back up.

That’s the scariest part of these mood swings…when I hit the depression side, I panic. I feel trapped and scared that it’ll never go away again, and I’ll end up killing myself to stop the pain. I can’t hack feeling so terribly all the time. You have no idea what it’s like to hate being in your skin, when just existing every moment is agony, and you’d do anything to escape that. That’s the hell I was in back in February  and that’s a hell I never want to be in again, yet it seems to be coming again…out of nowhere. How do I help me survive this one?

Being inpatient…again and again…and again.

I recently spent close to 3 weeks inpatient psych after 2 suicide attempts. 20 days away from my 4 kids. On one hand it sucked terribly, on the other, I suddenly was forced into discovering ME, and figuring out who Tricia was when she wasn’t being a mommy or a wife. Not that this was my first venture into a psych ward, I had severe postpartum depression after my last child was born and spent 2 weeks inpatient then. I also spent many weeks in the psych ward after a mental breakdown in my early twenties. Not to mention the in and out stays during my teen years. So, back to my most recent visits…

I actually had two forays into inpatient stay, one lasted 8 days, and the other lasting 11. The worst stay was those first 8 days I was gone…I had a terrible doctor who refused to put me on the right medication, instead she opted to put me on Haldol (an older antipsychotic used in the treatment of schizophrenia and acute psychotic states and delirium)which did me no good at all. She refused to prescribe my Concerta, yet continued my Suboxone, and refused and anti-anxiety medication at all, choosing to let Haldol replace any benzodiazepines.  It did such little good because it caused such extreme sedation that I was practically a zombie. I gained no valuable experience from that stay, being unable to attend therapy or groups and whatnot. So after 8 days of no good at all, I was released because I was considered to “no longer be a threat to myself”. This clearly wasn’t true because not even a week later I had a much more serious suicide attempt, thus landing me in a different hospital further away from home and family.

As much as I resented it at first, this actually proved to be a godsend. I had a doctor who actually ‘got’ me, because he understood bipolar disorder. He immediately put me back on the medicinal regimen I had been on  6 months prior to my inpatient stays. He listened to me, he didn’t hide things from me, he was honest with me, and I felt I could be honest with him as well. He respected the fact that I knew my body best and was educated enough about my disorder to know what was effective and what wasn’t. I was back on my Welbutrin, Abilify, Xanex, Concerta and Ambien that day. (After my experience at the previous hospital, I quit the Suboxone and swore off all narcotics for good.) Now that I was in a controlled environment, I discovered that Xanex wasn’t the best anti-anxiety med for me, given it’s short half life, and my extreme anxiety.  My doctor and I made the decision to try Klonopin instead, even though I had not had good results with it in the past, because I was willing to trust him and try it again. Miraculously enough it worked wonders for my anxiety this time, and it lasted much longer than the Xanex.

So with my meds fixed, I should have been good to go home after a few days right? Wrong! This hospital had several different psychiatric units, and I was on a unit exclusively for women who had suffered trauma or abuse at some point in their life. We had a very rigid schedule from 7 AM until around 4 PM, which is when we could finally have some downtime. We spent at least 6 hours a day either in therapy or in classes; learning valuable new skills and learning new coping skills and gaining new insights and perspectives on our lives. The therapy groups were very DBT based, and I’ll never forget some of the practices that were taught. We were given schema diaries, and had to discover our ‘life traps’, which are  negative beliefs about the world that affected how we behave.  I had done the schema diaries before, but never took it seriously until now. This time I was given a starter kit, if you will, on how to proceed with life going forward once I left the hospital.

I’ll never forget the staff there, ever. I’ve never been inpatient anywhere where there was so much true compassion and genuine caring for the patients in the staff’s care. From the head nurse to the therapists, to even the cafeteria staff, these people cared about us and we could feel it. It gave me the courage to actually reach out and allow myself to be vulnerable, and to open up about issues that had never seen the light of day. I actually did the homework assignments, I actually did the workbook assignments, and I actually discovered who I used to be, and who I could be again. It was liberating, and yet terrifying at the same time. I’d spent so many years suppressing my emotions, I had no idea how to handle them now that I was allowing them to surface out. I was in a great place to learn how to cope with them in a safe manner. I also finally had a clear game plan for therapy out in the real world. I knew what direction I wanted to take, and what I needed to work through. I went into that hospital as a broken woman, and left with a sense of purpose and hope that I’d never felt before upon any other discharge. My husband swears that if I ever relapse again, I’ll go back to this hospital because they did me the most good that he’d ever seen.

So how did I end up spending all this time in the hospital anyway? I mean, after going so long on the outside without needing to be admitted? You see, I had quit taking all my meds a few months prior, for a multitude of reasons… which did me no good at all, but for some reason seemed like an excellent idea at the time. I lasted about 5 months without any meds; five miserable months in which I had a few days of functioning, and then many days where I simply couldn’t even get out of bed to properly care for my family. It was a rough time and I feel horrid about how it affected everyone around me, especially my kids. I know they suffered the most by not having mommy totally there. Thanks be to God that I have a wonderful husband who was able to be there too and pick up all the pieces of the mess I was making.

It all really started spiraling downward when my cousin hung herself and left her family behind. I’d been having suicidal thoughts for awhile but couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it because I had my family to think of, right? Yet suddenly here was someone who was able to overcome that and leave it all behind, and if she could do it, why couldn’t I? Not very rational thinking I’ll admit, but what bipolar person thinks rationally when they’ve been off their meds for awhile? No justification there, just an observation. I got more and more depressed, I started fighting with my husband more and more, and there were more and more days that I couldn’t get out of bed and function.

The one who bore the brunt of this, to my shame, was my youngest, who I felt was to blame for all my woes. She suffered the most because she was the most helpless of my kids, the least independent and the one who needed her parents the most. She could sense my disinterest and clung to her dad all the more tightly, distancing our relationship even further, even to the point where I felt giving her up for adoption would be in her best interests because I felt I was doing irreparable damage to her, simply by being her mother. Fortunately, small children are quick to forgive, and also quick to give their love to those willing to receive it and much of the damage I had done has been repaired since I was released this last time. I’m so grateful to have been given a second chance with her and that she has responded so well to my new attitude and sudden interest in her. My other children don’t seem to have suffered as much, they were very happy to have mommy back home, and wanted a lot of snuggles at first, and I made sure they got them. I still make sure they get their snuggles now, in fact.

What was the point of this rambling post? I’m not sure really. Maybe someone will come across it and find some hope in that there is quality treatment out there, that there are good hospitals out there, or maybe someone will feel like trying therapy again, or maybe going to their doctor to try yet another medication again, or whatever positiveness that can be found here. I hope someone can find some positiveness in my little ramblings here because I found hope through what I went through, and I want to share that with the world.