Thursday, December 28, 2006

Are You Hurting?

I realize that this is a long post but please read through to the end.

Around the holidays some people may become depressed for various reasons. This sometimes passes but can linger. Others may suffer from depression all the time but it can worsen around this time. I write about this today because depression is a horrible illness. How do I know this you may wonder. I have first hand experience with is as it has been a part of my life for years.
Surprised? I have recovered from it but it took hard work.

Years ago while pregnant with number 2 I was sick all the time. Morning sickness all day for all but 3 weeks of the entire nine months. Every routine test I had done while pregnant came back abnormal. If you've ever been pregnant or the significant other of a pregnant woman, you know they do many tests. I had one blood test for some sort of protein that came back high and they had me do it again. Still high, meaning there was a decent chance of a baby with spinabifida. (Too low and possible down syndrome.) We were offered genetic counceling but refused. We wouldn't abort the baby but would love what came.

A long story short, in the end both number 2 and I almost died during delivery. Happily all turned out well. He weighed 5lbs. 4 oz. but grew up to be a fine young man. He just got his PSAT scores back and he is in the 95 percentile; meaning he scored higher than 95% of the students in the nation that took the test. I'm sorry, I had to brag just a little.

After he was born my hormones were beyond messed up. I felt like I had an extreme case of PMS 24/7. I was on edge and angry all the time. I didn't understand why when I had a husband that loved me, 2 great children, a house and a comfortable life I wasn't happy. For a few years I buried those feelings, no one knew I felt that way. I was a great actress but it was killing me inside. Over time I felt my heart turning to stone. Nothing mattered anymore, if I died the next day, so be it. I didn't care about much of anything. I felt that no one cared about me, I didn't deserve to be loved or even liked. Why and how could anyone care about me? My self esteem was in the toilet to put it bluntly. My life sucked.

What finally put me over the edge and made me realize that I needed help to get better was one day I thought, "what have I done bringing these two children in to such a miserable world? They should never have been born." That scared the shit out of me. The next day I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with clinical depression and started treatment. With counceling and zoloft I got better. It turns out I may have been mildly depressed for years and didn't realize it and the high risk pregnancy tipped the scale.

With clinical depression you have low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that controls a wide range of functions such as balance (at my worst I would stumble a lot), sleep/wake cycles, mood, appetite and hormonal balance. I had lost all interest in my life. If I could, I would have stayed in bed all the time. I only wanted to sleep. I couldn't smile, my face actually felt unable to do so. I sometimes slurred my words. I just felt so hopeless and empty and worthless and sad. I couldn't make a decision to save my life. Just going to the grocery store to get food for dinner, I couldn't do it. I didn't have any hope for the future. It not only affected me but my husband and children. It's no fun living with a depressed person. Nothing made me happy. I suffered with this for 4 years. I remember the first time I knew I was getting better. I was sitting outside and heard a bird singing. OMG, I had not heard the birds singing in years. I began noticing the colors and textures of life again. Today I still take meds and will never stop taking them. I never want to feel that way again. Sometimes I have nightmares that I'm going through that and wake up terrified. My motto: Better living through chemistry. It saved my life.

For many years I didn't tell anyone I suffered from this. It has a stigma attached to it and I didn't want anyone to think I was crazy. I understand now that it is an illness, you can't control it or "snap" out of it. I'm just happy that I'm a success story.

Today I am happy with myself and my life. I live each day to the fullest. I love my family, friends, job and myself. I have the "glass half full" outlook in life. My heart breaks for those that suffer with it as I've been there.

I tell you all of this because if you or anyone you know is suffering from depression; get help. It's not a personal weakness, you didn't bring it on yourself and people that love you want the old "you" back. No one should have to go through this.

Signs of Depression
*Persistant sad, anxious or "empty" mood
*Changes in sleep patterns (wanting to sleep all the time or can't sleep)
*Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
*Loss of pleasure and interest in once enjoyable activities including sex
*Restlessness, irritablility
*Persistant physical symtoms that do not respond to treatment such as chronic pain or
digestive disorders
*Difficulty concentrating at work or school, or difficulty remembering things or making decisions
*Fatigue or loss of energy
*Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
*Thoughts of suicide or death

Less than half of the people that have depression seek treatment.
Females suffer from depression more than males.
Men seek medical attention for depression less than women.
Untreated depression costs about $44 billion a year in lost workdays, decreased productivity, sick days and other costs.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable Chirstmas Day. My family and I had a good one but somewhat unusual. It started at 8:00 when we went over to my sister's family's house for opening gifts. We all received many nice ones and it made me happy that I gave generously to the Toys For Tots campaign. I would have felt even more guilty for receiving so many nice things.
I made my egg and sausage casserole for breakfast and baked it in my sister's gas oven. No problem. Later when she turns it on to get it ready for the turkey; it won't light. The menfolk played around with it, took it apart; nothing. It was either go out for Chinese or cook the turkey elsewhere. Sean and I packed up Tom and left for home. Fours hours later we returned with a pefectly roasted turkey. We missed Chirstmas afternoon when we all play games that were received from Santa but it could have been worse.

Don't you love it when the gift you give to someone turns out to be the favorite gift they receive? We got my niece and nephew each an i Dog. You plug an MP3 player into it and its a speaker. Plus the dog's face does a little light show to the music, moves his head to the beat and wiggles its ears. They LOVE it.

Number one son loved the North Face gloves and Timberland boots he got since it's cold and wet walking around on campus.

Number two bought himself a Wii last month and got a new game for it yesterday from his aunts. It was a hit. Then he opened a Playstation 2 game we got him, Guitar Hero, and has been playing that since. I'm rather tired of hearing it but he loves it.

Sean couldn't decide on a favorite but then said that by just a millimeter he picked the flash drive that he got from Number 2

My favorite gift came from Number One. He got me this sweatshirt blanket at school. He knows I love hanging around with a blanket in the winter and this is very snuggly. I think what I love the best about it is that it's really a perfect thing for me, he picked it out himself without any ideas from anyone. He bought it with his own money and wrapped it himsef.

The evening ended on a downer though. My sister's dog bit my father on the knuckle. We took him to the firehouse to have the medic look at it and they said he needed to have stitches. Sean, me, number 1 & 2 along with my mother went to emergency to have it done. Dad is fine after 3 stitches but the dog...well grandpa is the 3rd person she has bitten. Their dog has been seen by a "dog whisperer" and that hasn't helped with her temprement. She has become more aggressive as time goes by. She is just 2 years old. They called the vet today who is awhere of the history and she said that she needs to be put down. My dad feels bad because this bite was the last straw and while he is glad that she bit him and not one of the kids, it because of this the dog has to go.

My last thought for today is that I am very blessed to have the children, husband, family and friends that I do. I couldn't ask for anything else.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

I held out hope for a white Christmas but it will be green. That's okay, it's the spirit of the day that is important. It seems like when I was a child we would get more snow and the holiday was always white. I did some research and in my city over the past 50 years we had snow for Christmas 60% of the time. At least the sky is blue and the sun is shining.

To me, Christmas is always associated with snow. If you watch holiday TV shows, most of the time, snow. Many Christmas cards feature snow and holiday songs sing about snow. So I wonder what Christmas is like for people who live in down South or in tropical places where snow flurries never fly. Christmas lights on palm trees? Very foreign to me. Warm balmy weather? Very unchristmas to me.

Twenty four years ago we went to Bermuda on December 12 for our honeymoon. It was in the 60's and sunny. We walked around in shorts and sometimes sweatshirts but the locals all were in fur coats, leather boots, gloves. For us that was warm. The island was all decorated for the holidays with colored lights but it made me homesick for the Christmas season that I know and love back home. Sean, why did we pick December to be married in? Yes, I know, I picked that date. What was I thinking?

But in the whole scheme of things, it doesn't matter where you are for Christmas, it's what's in your heart and the people you love.Many people for different reasons can't be with the ones they love for Christmas so I will say a prayer for them. To all of my wonderful friends that I met, no matter what you celebrate, I wish you peace and health for the holidays and in 2007.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas; NOT

It looks like we will have a green Christmas up here. It will be in the 40's this week, too warm for snow. This snow was about 2 weeks ago, it melted and haven't seen a flake since. I'm not a snow lover but don't hate it. It can snow all it wants until Dec. 25 then I want it to melt until next December. Somehow that never happens. One Christmas Eve it started snowing that beautiful fluffy snow and when we awoke on Christmas morn we were greeted with 2 feet of the white stuff. Speaking of snow, I haven't had a snow day off from school in 3 years. There is nothing like getting that phone call at 5:30 am telling you that school is canceled. Although that means there's a lot of snow out there.

I love a Christmas cactus in bloom, too bad it looks so unlovable the other 11 months of the year. Maybe I'm jealous because I can't seem to keep one alive until the following year. I don't have any luck with piontettias either. They start to drop their leaves about 10 minutes after I bring it home. So I must confess, this plant is not in my home but in Sean's work location. There it is ignored and neglected but still rewards them. I do however have great luck with African violets.

I am finished with my holiday shopping. I actually like Christmas shopping. We save for it all year and I can't wait to get out there and spend that money. I love to buy presents for people, I have always been a "giver". The secret to being a good "Santa" is to keep your eyes and ears open all year long. You might notice someone could use something in the summer. File that info away. They might say something that will give you an idea. People love when you take the time to really think about them and what they would like. Not just buy anything to say you did. Put some effort into it and you will be rewarded with the look on their face on Christmas morning. This picture was taken at the mall last weekend. It was a lovely sunny day and warm too, in the 50's.

After a busy day of shopping I enjoyed a vivid sunset from our backyard.

Sean and I went out for breakfast before work today. While we were at our little place I noticed two men in their 60's each sitting alone waiting for their breakfast. They started chatting and were having a nice conversation. The first one got up to leave but first went to the waitress and asked for the other gentleman's check. He then paid it. I told Sean we can't leave yet, I have to see this guy find out he was treated. When the waitress told him that his breakfast had already been paid for he looked so surprised then very happy. He left the restaurant with a huge smile on his face just knowing someone thought he was important enough to do that for him. We go to this restaurant every Saturday and I decided next time I see an older person eating alone I'm going to buy their breakfast without them knowing. Let them wonder who did it while making them happy. What a small price to pay.

By the way, I always order the same thing, 2 scrambled eggs, bacon, white toast and ice tea. Our waitress just asks me if I want the usual. Sometimes when they see us coming in from the parking lot the coffee and ice tea are waiting for us at a table. FYI, I couldn't find any good looking pics of scrambled eggs and I loathe any kind of egg with yolk not scrambled. Sean orders his eggs over medium and then mops up the yolk with his toast. It's just gross. UGH!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What's the first memory you can remember? As I get older my memory seems to be going. It seems like I don't remember a lot from my childhood. Usually when I do, something has sparked it. If I sit quietly and think, things will come back to me. My sisters are two and five years younger than I but I don't remember either as babies. I do remember that my youngest sister threw up all the time. I'm sure she'd love that I just told you that.

One memory I have is when I was in 5th grade, a boy named Matt would call me on the phone all the time. I would never talk to him, after all he was in 4th grade. But the real reason was that his last name was Knight. I didn't want to be teased and called Summer Knight. Several years later I had a crush on a boy named Tommy Day. I would have loved it if he had called me. I wanted to be Summer Day. Yes, something sparked this memory.

Some memories I wonder if they are mine or someone else's. Like when your mom tells you a story about yourself when you were younger. After you've heard it once or twice or more is it her memory that has now turned into yours? You hear about false memory so I guess it can happen.

Pictures bring back memories. This is one of me when I was maybe about 2 years old. I swear I remember being in this crib. It was at my grandparent's house and when visiting, my 3 week younger cousin and I would share it at nap time. Do I really remember being in this crib or is it just because I see the picture? How's that for a case of bedhead! The second picture is just a bonus, I don't remember a thing about it. :)

I think my first uninfluenced memory was when I was 3 years old. We were moving from Ohio into a newly built house 7 hours away. Several years ago I mentioned to my mother that I remember going to see it while it was under construction. Mom was amazed, she didn't think I would remember that. She had never told me I had been there before we moved in and I described the event perfectly as she remembered.

I had an elderly neighbor that I became friendly with and over time her memory started to fail. I eventually became her caregiver. As she aged she lost her short term memory but regained some of her long term memory. Sometimes she lived in the past and was a happy young woman. Other times she was in the present and somewhat cranky. When I get older, if I loose my faculties, I hope I live in the happiest time of my life. Not as a crotchety old lady with artificial knees!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Tomorrow I will have watched "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" for the 42nd time. I've watched it every Chirstmas since it premered in 1964. Of course for many of those years you could only see it once a year, before the likes of VHS and DVD. I make it a point to only watch once a year at the time it is on. No taping. I know, weird eh? There is something special about seeing it only once and at air time. Sort of like the "olden" days. After all if you could see it anytime you wanted it sort of loses its magic.

Since number 1 son was born in 1986 we've watched it together. When number 2 joined us in 1990 he continued the tradition of watching. They got to stay up past their bedtime to watch. Over the years as they've gotten older things have interfeared. Rudolph was always aired on the first Wednesday in December. Trust me, I know this because that is Boy Scout night.
(Both are now Eagle Scouts) They would either not go or leave early from scouts. Rather silly but they did it for mom.

Fast forward to 2004 when number 1 son went away to college. I was still trying to get used to him being away from home and feeling somewhat melancholy. Our little tradition of watching Rudolph together had come to an end after 17 years. Lo and behold at 8:00 that night the phone rings, it's our oldest. I asked him if he knew what was on tv at that moment and he said, "of course, that's why I'm calling." We watched it together albeit over the phone. The next year, no phone call. Oh well, they grow up.

We still had number 2 with us though.

Fast forward again to 2006; tomorrow is Rudolph night and number 2 son is not going to be watching with us. He has to scoop ice cream at Ben & Jerry's. The end of an era. It will just be me and Sean. Someday there will be little ones to watch it with again but hopefully not for several years or so.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holiday Thoughts

I'm taking advantage of the solitary moment I have at home to do a post. I'm home sick from school today. So much for sleeping in though. The snowplow started its rounds at 5:00 putting down salt. We use salt on our roads here. It makes a mess on your car, garage floor, boots and dog's feet. You have to wipe them off or else they will lick it off. Next was the garbage truck. Then a bit later the recycle truck. Don't they realize I was trying to sleep. Oh well, life goes on for the healthy. I was sick all weekend but went to school yesterday. Mistake. I've had a very sore throat, a headache, sore, swollen glands that make my neck hard to turn and a rather deep and sexy voice. Now today I sound like Marge Simpson, nothing sexy about that. But then again...maybe. I never saw Marge like that! Those that know me, know I hate to miss school so I must be sick.

We are getting ready for the holidays at our house. The tree is up as well as the outside lights. When it comes to the Christmas tree, I like it up early, after Thanksgiving but as soon as Christmas is over, it's out of here. I've taken it down as early as Dec. 26. I need to have my house back in order. As far as the outside lights, I could keep them up and on all winter. I wish people did that. Nothing worse than a cold February night with the snow and wind blowing. It would look so pretty to still have everyone's outdoor lights on. I hated in the 1970's when President Nixon suggested that the nation forego outdoor Christmas lights to save power and ease the energy crisis. I was a kid but knew then he was a bum.

On another holiday note, one of our radio stations has been playing non-stop Christmas music since before Thanksgiving. I just started listening to it. Don't want to get overdosed. I only listen to the old classic songs with Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Burl Ives etc. I don't care for the newer songs. While I'm not a very religious person I love religious Christmas songs the best. (Maybe there's hope for me yet) A beautiful one is "Silent Night" done by a group called Mannheim Steamroller. Strange name but great music. They do an instrumental version of that song that has wind in the background and is lovely. If I knew how to put music on this blog I'd download it for you but alas...

My most favorite song is "O Holy Night" This song gives me the chills when I hear it. It sometimes can bring tears to my eyes (yes, I can be very sappy). Whitney Houston and Celene Dion both have wonderful versions of it. It takes a powerful voice to sing it right and they've got it. Mostly for me I like it the best when sung by a male singer. Don't know why. Josh Groban has a heart stopping version that Sean downloaded for me on my desktop. What a voice he has. When our number one son graduated from high school in 2004 the chorus dedicated and sang "You lift Me Up" to the parents. Needless to say I needed kleenex.

Our number two son has hair exactly like Groban's, well except for the color, #2 has lighter hair.

I hope you are all having a great holiday season. For me, it is all about the anticipation. I love this time leading up to the holiday. People seem nicer, more polite. Remember as you are shopping for your loved ones there are many children that will receive nothing from Santa. If you would, please think about donating to the U.S. Marine funds, "Toys For Tots" at many mall and store locations and "Toys For Teens" at Best Buy stores. For more information go to

Thanks from Summer