My Mind Is My Battlefield

This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live. ~ Omar N. Bradley

Depression is an issue that has been getting a great deal of press lately, particularly in the parenting community. The Parenting Magazine article Xanax Makes Me A Better Mom shows just how pervasive and controversial this issue is: according to the article, parents are more than twice as likely as non-parents to experience depression, and the comments section illustrates just exactly how harsh and judgmental people can be about it — whether you’re taking pills or not, whether you’re in therapy or not, as soon as you use the word ‘depression’ someone stands ready to condemn you for something.

I’ve been depressed for my entire life. When I was 24, I first heard the wordΒ dysthymia: chronic, mild depression that lasts for years. It was a diagnosis which has made me view my entire dry, pessimistic personality as suspect. I’ve suffered repeated bouts of double depression as well — dysthymia paired with an episode of major depression. It makes for a thick psychiatric folder and a lifelong struggle to feel even the most basic joys.

Photo courtesy of sxc.hu

Photo courtesy of sxc.hu

I took medications (many, many medications) for five years. I’ve been in therapy with psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, and counselors for eleven. I’ve used all the conventional methods to treat depression, from SSRIs to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I know what works for me and what doesn’t.

Last summer, I went once more into a deep depression. Years of therapy had given me tools that helped me to deal with my dysthymia, and I had been functioning quite well without drugs for years. The scary thing about this depression, beyond the fact that my own mind was once more threatening my life and happiness, is that this time I’m a mom.

I have a son. I have to raise this child. I have to get up early every morning, put his needs before my own, and provide him with a safe, healthy environment. More than that, I have to teach him how to live in the world. How can I do that, if I’m mired in pain? How can I teach him to love life if I’m thinking of taking my own?

Baby face_edited-1

My son, just by existing, has raised the stakes on my healing process. I MUST GET BETTER. For his sake, for my sake, for the sakes of all the people with whom I come into contact. I cannot refuse to do the things that I have to do to get better, not out of fear or shame or any other emotion that may weigh me down.

A recent article by The Bearded Iris was titled “We Are Only As Sick As Our Secrets”. It’s a saying which is common theme in therapy. Being open about our pain, about the reasons behind our pain, alleviates that pain. It allows us to live more fully in our skins and to have more honest relationships with people. Though it may be hard and frightening, talking about our inner fears, hurts, and suppressed angers is a necessary part of healing.

Though it’s hard, I’ve been working to come to grips with my past — to expose my pain to fresh air and sunlight. Therapy has taught me a great deal about myself, about the things that made me the way I am, and about what I need to do to become the kind of person that I want to be.

When it becomes too hard, when it hurts too much and I face too much judgment and condemnation from my loved ones (who would be very happy to see me medicate the pain away, in spite of the fact that I know that drugs are only a superficial panacea for me), I think of my little son.

I think of him at seventy, or eighty, or ninety. I think of him telling his grandchildren about his life, and that of his parents. I think of him telling them about me.

If I give up, if I choose not to do the hard work of grappling with my pain, his story will be one of his own pain. It will be a story of feeling disconnected from his mother, of watching her shrivel into herself until she was completely unable to function. It may be a story of losing her altogether, and the terrible toll that had on the rest of his young life. I can’t bear to think of that.

If I don’t give up, if I do what needs to be done to face my demons and stand up for my own mental health, I can hope that his story will be one of pride and admiration. It will be a story of a strong, courageous woman who did not let life, stigma, condemnation, or her own mind keep her down. A woman who fought for what she loved and who raised him with the courage to do the same.

That’s the story I want to leave my son with. That’s the woman, the mother, that I want to be.

So the fight continues.

Battle_of_barnet

If you find yourself relating to me a little too closely, or you know someone who would, there’s lots of help available. Please don’t suffer in silence. Seek help. A basic Google search for “depression help” turns up an unbelievable 240,000,000 results. You owe it to yourself, and even more importantly to your children, to get treatment.

Let’s make sure that all our children have truly inspiring stories to tell of us.

336 responses to “My Mind Is My Battlefield

  1. wow how open and honest very raw and real… i related to a lot of this… i just had a daughter at 32 weeks… i get postpartum pretty bad mix that with my fibromyalgia depression/anxiety well its a cocktail I need not want nor take! we are first moms and its beautiful your child inspires you to pull through.. keep that attitude up πŸ™‚ its the best one to have!!!! My daughter my children are all the motivation I need to heal … thank for sharing

    • Hello lady, I hope your son has inspired you, at least open your eyes so that you can see you are not alone, the moment I saw this topic I knew I had to read it. Depression is a disorder I have been battling since the seventies, when I received my calling into the gospel ministry, my wife told me she didn’t want a preacher for a husband, at first I played it off by saying well you better divorce me then, not realizing how serious she was. I truly loved my wife, and somehow I saw her slipping away from me, with my then three children. I fought depression, at the same time trying to hold on to my family. I went from tranquilizers, vistaril, now zoloft. I’ve been to the edge, and had enough faith hope to reach out for the Lord God’s hand. My story is too long, so be patience, love your son , just like I did, you will find that reason to go on.

      “Thank you for your story, you’ve blessed me”,

  2. DFTFTB,
    Courageous and stunning post. Thank you. I’m sending this one to the Freshly Pressed gods…
    Eric

    • Thank you! Being Freshly Pressed would be fun, although with this one I’m more interested in making sure that it’s seen by people who need to see it. An awful lot of parents, particularly moms, struggle just like I do, but without the family support and the creative outlet. I just want them to know that they’re not alone. Thanks so much for the love, Eric! I haven’t been following your adventures in a while … I need to catch up!

      • Kathy,
        Don’t worry about it… I have also neglected your blog. It’s all good, and my apologies for that.

        Being FP’d in itself is sweet, but when it can promote a story like yours, one that my wife also felt very close to when she read it this morning, it’s even better.
        Eric

      • Well, the Le Clown seal of approval means a lot to me too! Thank you, and thank your lovely wife for me.

      • AND. A little birdie tells me that you Tweeted (Twittered?) about me, and that I have you to thank for being Freshly Pressed. Thank you! You truly are magnificent!

      • Kathy,
        My pleasure… But don’t tell anyone.
        Eric

      • Kathy,
        And you got yourself FP’d… I was just the messenger.
        Eric

  3. Some of the best humor comes from pain. You are an incredibly talented, funny woman. Kudos to you for opening up, talking, and fighting.

  4. …speechless…wordless…

  5. You are already a brave courageous woman. Thank you for sharing your struggles so openly. May the resources you need, always be at hand when they’re needed.

    • I do have a lot of resources, and I’m really lucky in that. I worry about people who feel this way but don’t know about all the resources they have available, or don’t have the support they need in order to make use of those resources. Without my Loving Husband coming home from work early now and again to watch the baby, I wouldn’t be able to go see my therapist. And that would be very bad.

  6. Competitive/Contemplative

    You’re a rock star for writing this and sharing it. As someone who hopes to spend my life working with people struggling with their own mental health through pregnancy and parenting, I have to say that I’m really inspired by this post and proud to say that I know the strong, brave woman who wrote it.

    • Thank you! To be clear, this isn’t post-partum depression. I was outside the window for that when it struck, so people weren’t watching for it in me the way they were just after I gave birth. I think that’s a dangerous thing, that we stop watching for depression issues as closely once the risk for post-partum becomes less. Being the parent of a toddler seems like a pretty major risk factor to me!

  7. Thank you for this, Kathy. You are a brave, loving soul for writing this and having the compassion to help others. I struggle with depression, too, and this time of year is especially difficult. I am grateful to have read this. I was tossing around the idea (in my head – not such a good place to toss around ideas, actually) of starting up therapy again or seeing my doctor since it seems that I need to attend to it, yet again. I think your post has ensured that I will do that straight away. I’m sure it has helped a lot of others as well.

    • Yes! Therapy is the best thing. Take meds if you have to, go to group sessions, whatever it takes to get yourself back on track. You’re not alone, but it’s easy to forget that when you’re not talking about it. Depression is an evil beast that whispers lies in our ears, and nothing shuts it up better than some outside perspective. Feel better soon!

  8. Kathy,

    Can I just say that I’m so proud of you? It’s one thing to share your secrets with a psychologist, and quite another to share it with your readers. It tells me how serious you are about being healthy for your family – and I can’t think of a more important reason than your son.

    It’s heartbreaking to hear that people condemn you or judge you for doing what you need to do to take care of yourself. All I can tell you is that they clearly don’t understand. There is mental illness and depression in my family, so I know that people who suffer from depression can’t just “snap out of it.” Wouldn’t it be awesome if it were that easy?

    I’m so thrilled to hear that this post is being FPd! You have deserved this distinction for a long, long time. I think it’s quite overdue. You are such a wit and a talent. I figured it wouldn’t be long before the rest of the world caught on. πŸ™‚ Although I love you for your biting snark and funny stories, I’m glad that this post showing such a sensitive and thoughtful side of you is what caught the editors’ attention. It’s just one more affirmation of what a phenomenal lady you are.

    Congrats!

    xo

    Miss Snarky Pants

    • It seems that you forgot to put on your Snarky Pants today and put on your Sincere Skirt instead! Thank you for being so loving and supportive — you’ve always been so kind, and I’m glad I got into blogging if only because it led to meeting you.
      The Freshly Pressed thing won’t go live until … well, I don’t actually know when, but I got the email and it was enough to send me over the moon. I’ve put a lot of myself into this blog, and this post is only part of that, but it’s awfully nice to be recognized! But the poor readers, lured in by this post — they’ll come to a bit of a different vibe if they read back to my Ode To My Breasts and other such nonsense!

      Love to you!

      • Well that’s just about the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me in the blogosphere (other than, Can I mail you a bottle of top shelf vodka?). Yes, Miss Snarky Pants has a sincere alter ego, but she usually keeps her locked in a closet with nothing but water, saltines and an copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Good thing.

        I think your new readers will be happily surprised to discover that they can get the best of both worlds from your blog and Miss Snarky Pants will attest to that. Kathy is hilarious, people. There is NO reason to NOT subscribe and read her blog. Unless you’re a douchebag. If you’re a douchebag, don’t go away mad, just go away. Kathy is too good for you.

        xo

        MSP

      • BUT. If you are a douchebag, or know one (and who doesn’t?) here’s a link to a little piece that you will find of interest: https://dontforgettofeedthebaby.com/2012/08/15/douche-not-just-for-the-ladies-anymore/

  9. And my hope is to keep working with people through the early years of parenthood for that exact reason…because postpartum gets screened for, but once your child gets a little older, people stop paying attention to the signs that you still may need extra mental heath support around being a parent, and a person just trying to live her life! Also, I think as women with depression (which I am as well) we are extra susceptible to the ups and downs of life, and anything I can do as a provider to support people I hope to do. I shared your post with my classmates, because I think it’s incredibly relevant to those of us training as mental health providers. Thank you again for sharing!

    • I’m so glad that you feel that way! I had been thinking mostly of helping people who are feeling this way themselves, I hadn’t thought about helping people who want to help others dealing with this! You’re going to be a wonderful counselor, D. You were always a warm and supportive friend, and I know that you’ll bring that to your patients. Thank you for all your kind words!

  10. Kathy, you are missed. I think many women go through this and your being brave enough to write about it will hopefully help someone who may be going through the same thing as you. Good luck and my hope is that you have brighter days ahead and soon. Be well.

    • Thank you, Brigitte! I feel like I’ve come through the worst of it this time, though it’s still a long road before I find myself in a really good place. Thank you so much for reading, and for your kind words!

  11. OMG! OMG! OMG! Freshly pressed!?!? Awesome. You earned it with this one.

    • Thanks! It won’t be up on the FP page until tomorrow afternoon, but when I got the email I almost did cartwheels. So excited! (I didn’t actually do cartwheels, though. What’s the fun being Freshly Pressed if you have to spend the whole time in the hospital?)

  12. I recently went public with my lifelong struggle with clinical depression after many years of hiding it. Some days I regret telling the world (via my blog), and other days I feel liberated. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • I suspect that someday I will regret it, for one reason or another. But right now it feels great to have it out there, instead of weighing me down with the pressure of upholding some sort of ‘normal’ facade. Thanks for reading!

  13. this sounds so much like me it’s scary. the difference is that I only did therapy and pills when I was forced as a 16 yo post-suicide attempt. I went for the longest time without major depression after my kids were born, but I must say it’s back with a vengeance. I have many excuses for not seeking help, but I won’t list them now. the biggest reason is that I know it’s not going to be a cure. sometimes I think that as hard as it may be for them if I died, it would probably do them less damage than if I were to continue raising them. it’s a vicious cycle and I know I am the only one that can break it, it just feels so comfortable in my pit of despair, like home.

    • Sometimes I feel the same way, that it would be better for my family to be free of me than it is to have them weighed down by me and my sadness. But my better self knows that’s not true, that my son will be better off raised by a mother who struggled and fought her demons than he would be with the shadow of my suicide on him. There’s no real ‘cure’ for depression, but there really are things that can help. I don’t know what all you’ve tried, but I’ll tell you that the things that have helped me most have been talk therapy and group therapy. Medications have their place, too, especially when they’re combined with therapy. It’s so scary to get out of that ‘pit of despair’, and I know how it feels safer and more comfortable to just stay in what you know. But please, please try. No treatment is going to work unless you want it to, and I can’t imagine that you don’t want to be happier. Please get help.

  14. Raising your son in a home where there is no shame in self, but rather bravery for what might be is a gift. By example your son will grow into a more compassionate adult with a genuine appreciation for others’ vulnerability. Beautiful!

  15. What a really well written post. I know first hand what depression can do. I hope your tomorrow will be a better day. Congrats on being freshly pressed. Thank you for your incite and for sharing. Angelia @ http://dixielandcountry.com

  16. I wish you all the best in this.

    Get better soon.

  17. What a wonderful blog about family and mental health. Thanks for sharing.

  18. This was incredible. Thanks for sharing your story!

  19. You know JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels, suffered from depression for a time, but her daughter kept her from goin over the edge. If she can do it, I bet you can as well. Good luck, and I’m rooting for you.

  20. Thank you, because I was a little bit too close to dying today. I think I will live to see tomorrow.

    • Good. Don’t die. Get yourself some help. And a pint of really good ice cream. I know how it feels to be going day-to-day, and I also know that it’s easier to get help when you have a pint of Cherry Garcia waiting to reward yourself after you’ve made the appointment. Much love to you — you’re not alone.

  21. Well written, very honest, relatable, and I commend you for sharing.

  22. Thank you for sharing! You are a very brave woman. Keep fighting!

  23. Amazing…no one is alone. You are to be commended for taking a chance.

  24. I completely understand what you’ve been going through. I have dysthymia and major depression since I was 15. It’s been almost 20 years and I still go.through it but not as intense as before. I think for me, my hobbies, my passions, my family and children play a huge role in keeping me balanced. Stay strong and keep fighting, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  25. What a fantastic post.
    We need more people with views like this; after all, mental health is such a taboo, which only makes it worse.
    Googling ‘reasons not to commit suicide’, I was unfortunate enough to come across something about how it’s so selfish of people to take their own lives, when there are people with cancer trying everything to hang on for just a bit longer.
    What people like that don’t know is that suicidal people are trying to. It takes so much energy to keep going when you have depression, and trying to hang on for just a bit longer is exactly what suicidal people are doing.

    • There’s also the fact that depression is a life-threatening illness, just like cancer. The scary thing is that people with cancer can hope, they can motivate themselves to fight, they can see that life is worth living; depression takes away your ability to hope, to motivate yourself to get treatment (or even to get out of bed), and to see the point in bothering — after all, if life is nothing but pain, why fight to keep on living? That person’s ignorance and misunderstanding of depression as a disorder contributes to the stigma that keeps so many depressed people silent. Talking about your illness is scary when you know that you risk people telling you that you’re wrong or misguided for being sick. It makes me angry, and it makes me want to tell them EXACTLY what I think of their idiocy. Which may not be helpful, really. I’ll have to think about that.

      Thank you for commenting! It’s given me a lot to think about.

  26. I hope your fight gets easier and you manage to keep going. Wonderful writing about such a moving topic, one that isn’t talked about enough.

  27. Great post! You tackled a subject that many want to avoid which in turn just make the problem of depression worse. Being the parent of two college students I understand the struggles, challenges and joy (the most important of all) you are facing. Hang in the and keep moving forward. Life is good!

    I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.
    I can choose which it shall be.
    Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet.
    I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.
    -Groucho Marx

    • Thank you for your kind words. I wish that it really was as simple as choosing to be happy — what I can choose, though, is to get help and to keep on fighting. I can’t choose not to be unhappy, but I can choose to survive and to keep myself going until I am happy again. Thank you so much for your words of support! They are truly appreciated.

      • I know how difficult it is to be happy and find joy because I too suffer with major depression along with chronic stress and some PTSD just to round things out. Some came about due to my wife’s battle with breast cancer and the rest from two spine surgeries 16 months apart. My counselor pointed out to me recently that I have been try to solve problems that can’t be solved (I solve complicated problems for a living so it happens naturally). She suggested that I work on being thankful for the little things which would help to change my focus…and I found it to be true but far from easy. Thanks for starting this great discussion!

      • The things that we most need to do are always the hardest things, it seems like. I had to do something extremely hard not too long ago, something I had been avoiding for a long time. My therapist felt, and I agreed, that it was necessary if I was going to heal. So I did it. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and I still don’t know how much healing will happen as a result. But I try to take the long view, and do the work that is needed. At least it’s DOING something, right? I feel good that I’m doing work on myself, rather than just hiding in my house and feeling bad.

      • I found staying in the house only makes things worse. I applaud you for stepping out to confront your difficult task. Taking the long view is the right thing to do and over time we do make progress. The most difficult thing I did for my wife during cancer treatment was to shave her beautiful red hair off as chemo was taking its toll (a vivid memory 4 and a half years later).

      • I’m sorry you had to go through that. I can’t talk about what I did, specifically. But I’m certain it was necessary. Now I’m working on moving past it and seeing where I go from here. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one struggling with my past and how to get unstuck from it. Good luck to you!

      • Thanks! My hope is that with time and the support of your family, friends and medical team, the battlefield of your mind will be transformed into the tranquility of a high alpine meadow.

  28. I don’t know how to start what I want to say… I have experienced this pain we call depression… It just sucks life and fades colour from its canvas. I have gone through alot and looks like for nothing. Apparently life has offered my all that ticks conventional boxes of a sound life: money, life partner and a very adorable daughter.. Yet things put me down, broke me into pieces.. Anyway, in my experience, apart from clinical remedies, one thing that can help you the best n fastest is the genuine care and support of loved ones. Half of your problems solved if you know that they know and understand what you going through.. I missed on that…
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns.

  29. Wonderful post. I hadn’t even heard of dysthymia and I’ve been on an SSRI for 6 years now! I applaud you for helping to educate others. I wrote a post about mental health:http://suburbanprincessteacher.com/2013/02/14/why-i-cant-get-cocky-about-my-mental-health/
    I’d love to get your take on it.
    Take care of yourself. Your son is lucky to have a mom who is willing to do whatever it takes to be a good mother.

    • Dysthymia is a bitch, and no mistake. I would never have heard of it if I didn’t have a psychiatrist who was willing to discuss my diagnosis with me. Not all of them are. Are you seeing a therapist? In my experience (which is not universal, by any means, so please don’t take this the wrong way) medication is only really effective if paired with counseling. Without counseling, I found, medication may dull the pain but it doesn’t solve the root cause of the pain. Sort of like applying a balm without first removing a splinter from your finger. It might hurt less, but it won’t heal. I’ll be sure to read your post!

  30. You are most certainly not alone in this.A lot of Mothers feel the same way. And shame on those who judge and tear other Mums down, they are only filling the void of their own inadequacies.

    • Thank you. It does seem like moms spend an awful lot of time tearing each other down, about one thing or another. We all have to try to hold our breaths and bite our tongues until our better natures set in, rather than just spewing out the first judgy things that pop into our heads. I don’t always succeed at that, but I do try πŸ˜‰

      • Since you used the phrase “better natures” …I really love this quote:
        “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” – Lincoln.
        My philosophy is to always set the bar higher, so that there is always room for improvement to be a better person. I used to judge, and I use to try to justify my actions when being judged. The best thing I can do is just be true to myself and raise my beautiful kids my way. Haters be damned. πŸ˜‰

      • Amen to that, sister.

  31. I find it hard enough dealing with depression and dysthymia in my own selfish way, I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must be to be a parent. In my eyes your an incredibly strong women. Stay Strong.

  32. @”A recent article by The Bearded Iris was titled β€œWe Are Only As Sick As Our Secrets”. It’s a saying which is common theme in therapy. Being open about our pain, about the reasons behind our pain, alleviates that pain. It allows us to live more fully in our skins and to have more honest relationships with people. Though it may be hard and frightening, talking about our inner fears, hurts, and suppressed angers is a necessary part of healing…”<<WOW , you said more than a mouthful with what I've quoted you on! Your struggle is to be admired; and shared by many. Furthermore, there are folks suffering from or dealing with depression; that have yet to identify that it is a form of depression they're dealing with. Knowing oneself/learning oneself/what makes one the happiest/what makes one experience sadness or depression/what can cause one-self(for lack of a better term) to down-spiral into depression; is a MUST. And quite frankly in doing that it is my belief folks can do without medications..Depression has existed long before we became a society that needed a "quick-fix"(such as pill popping); however, having said that there are SEVERE cases of depression and other mental issues..that folks need meds until therapy can be sufficient. Even self-help..it is a tough, tough topic. And one that needs to be discussed openly and without shame..Too many incidents of awful things happening for our society to be so close-minded about this topic. Denial of an issue or avoidance; doesn't mean the issue doesn't exist! BRAVO and KUDOS for your searing honesty and I wish you much good luck and blessings in all of your days. Kiss & hug that baby boy for me..and you've gained a new follower. Hugs!

  33. Francis Philip

    Kathy said, “Though it’s hard, I’ve been working to come to grips with my past β€” to expose my pain to fresh air and sunlight. Therapy has taught me a great deal about myself, about the things that made me the way I am, and about what I need to do to become the kind of person that I want to be.”

    VERY GOOD!! πŸ™‚ You are not alone, even when you feel you are in the darkest place. For EVERY valley there is a plateau with lots of Sun and many are willing to help you get there! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much! It’s hard to remember the sunny plateau when you’re so deep in the valley that you can’t see it. That’s why I need my family and friends so much, to keep reminding me of the sun. I couldn’t do any of this without them!

  34. you’ve very courageous! You know what you need to do and you’re doing it, your son is lucky to have a mom like you! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! I like to think that he is. But I couldn’t do this without him to be brave for. At the moment, he mostly considers himself really lucky to have a talking Grover toy.

  35. So much bravery and honesty here. So much it hurts. As the adult daughter of an at times severely depressed mother, I want to say you don’t have to hope that your child will appreciate your fight to be well. He will. I do. It was hard, at times unbearable but we made it through as her children because she chose to make it through as our mom. She is mentally, physically, emotionally, at the best that I’ve ever seen her these days, which is so great because it means that my boys get the best of her. Thanks for sharing. Really beautiful stuff.

    • This means so much to me, I can’t even say. I want my son to be proud of me, and to understand the struggles that I’m dealing with. Your pride in your mom gives me hope that my baby will understand, and that he’ll be okay. Thank you!

  36. What an amazing post. Sharing your story in such a positive, inspiring way will make a difference to someone. I can’t understand the negativity that’s come with the Parenting story you talked about. I hope you only find support. Congrats on FP. Well deserved.

    • Thank you! I can’t really understand the negativity on that story either, but then, I don’t understand why some people get so angry at me for not taking drugs, and other people get angry that I talk openly about my problems. I think maybe people feel really threatened when they see people making choices other than the ones that they’ve made, and so they lash out. I try to rise above it, but it’s hard sometimes. Thank you so much for your kindness!

  37. Great post. I have been having a tough time myself lately and sometimes feel that since I am fairly middle of the road with the symptoms I should just suck it up. I take meds but stress, kids, pain from an autoimmune disorder, and etc. often take their toll. Thanks for reminding me that I need to take care of myself irregardless of the lack of support at home (hubby thinks anything can be changed by a choice..sigh).

    • Middle of the road is bad enough. You’re not happy, right? Meds are great, but they’re only one part of the puzzle. I don’t know if you’ve tried therapy before or not, but I really can’t speak highly enough of the benefits of psychological counseling. I’m not well yet — but I’m on the upswing, I think, and it’s because of my work with a therapist. And if your husband thinks that you can just will yourself out of depression, then maybe he should check out pretty much any reputable research that’s been done on depression in the last twenty years. You need his support, not trite cliches. Take care of yourself, get the help you need. It will get better.

  38. Reblogged this on Finding Amy and commented:
    It’s an epidemic

  39. Stay strong. Your child will guide you through it.

    • Hmm. I’m not sure I trust him to guide me anywhere other than to the nearest dustbunny. Kid has an unerring radar for all things “fuzz”, as he calls it. I call it “dirty things that I’d rather you didn’t eat, you silly child”. (All levity aside, thank you so much for your kind words. They really do mean a lot to me!)

  40. You are so brave. Just reading what you wrote I have no doubt in my heart that you are capable of beating this. I myself did suffer from depression and I know how hard it can be.
    Writing here so openly about it is your first step towards healing. Keep it up, beautiful!

  41. Just finished reading (will make sense in context of email I just sent). Powerful stuff. Great message. Glad Cherri FP’d this (she’s good taste). Keep fighting. Or loving, rather; fighting seems gratuitous. And keep writing. These words of yours will surely help other lonely crazies find some form of solace in some way or another.

    • I hope so. I can hardly believe the outpouring of love and support that this post has generated. Won’t all my new followers be surprised when my next post talks of nothing but poo? Anyway, it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who’s trapped in her own head.

  42. Wow, what a great post! Kids are tough under “normal” circumstances, so god bless you for for raising a boy with your own demons to slay still, so to speak. You sound more amazing, strong and intelligent than most parents I’ve ever met, myself included! I predict your child will grow to be successful and remember his mother as an integral reason for his success. Best of luck to you!

  43. Brave post. I hope your depression does abate – as mine seems to have in my thirties. It has been a wonderful surprise.

    • I had a doctor tell me once that I may ‘grow out of it’ in my thirties. That may still happen, I’ve a ways to go before I hit forty. But I’m not going to wait for it to happen. I need to get myself under control before then. You’re very lucky! Congratulations! Now, if only we could be sure that all of the little surprises that come with aging could be so pleasant, eh?

      • No doctor ever told me that. At some points I wondered how much more I could take. But here I am: calmer, appreciative, often happy even. All the best to you.

  44. Hopefully this helps:
    http://learus.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/something-to-think-about-walls-were-made-to-be-broken/

    This article talks about how to recognize and break those walls that can cause depression. There are 4 articles total.

  45. Lol, well, if clairvoyant means idiot, then yes, I am. πŸ™‚

    Seriously though, best of luck to you and you really do sound like an amazing mother/person.

  46. Kathy, my mother did not continue to fight. She left my brother and I behind when we were teens. I too sought therapy and medication and ways to manage my own depression. I am a mother now too. I wrote a blog this week about parenting and depression and taking the time to be honest about it too. I appreciate your honesty and courage.

    http://libraryandgarden.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/my-mothers-garden/

    • Thank you for sharing that. I hope that, no matter how complicated or difficult our relationship may end up being, my little boy never has to miss me the way you were missing your mom when you wrote that. That’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid. I don’t want him to have to grow up weighed down by that kind of loss.

      • You already have one major thing going for you that my mother did not and that is insight. You are aware of what is happening with your mind and body and that is powerful knowledge. Wishing you well.

  47. I can relate 100%. I too suffer and have suffered all my life with depression. I have 3 young children. I decided medication was going to becoming part of the solution when I moved from my family and friends and into a completely new town. Depression was a new animal without my support system around me. Therapy was also a part of the equation. I worked on becoming more mindful. Meditation, Depak Chopra, Ekert Tolle were my sources of new thinking. But most importantly, my creative expression through painting gave my pain, my rage, my love and my life a voice. I encourage a creative outlet. It’s like giving birth to oneself. Start small. Start by imaging yourself painting. Paint an emotion, a feeling, a moment in time. It doesn’t have to be literal. Just paint without inhibitions. Bring your childlike adventure to the canvas. Focus on the love and good life you have. Now visualize it in colour, line, shape, texture, space.
    You sound like a wonderful person. You’ve made so much progress in the way of self discovery, keep going. The fact that you are so aware of your senses, you are one step further than most. Your children are truly blessed to have a mother so deeply intune, sensitive and conscious of the world, you can teach them like nobody can. Focus on the good you can do, and not the damage.
    I feel for u sister. I know all to well. Anxiety, stress, life will come at you like a freight train. But you’re already armed with knowledge and awarenesses. Now, channel your anxiety into positive creativity. I promise, it works.

  48. I can totally relate to this post because I suffer from bipolar disorder. Honestly, I am grateful that I don’t have kids. I don’t know if I have enough strength. You’re so brave. Facing my demons have been very hard for me.

    • I wasn’t particularly depressed when I decided to have kids — at the time, it seemed like a reasonable risk to take, that I might become depressed again once I had a child to look after. Now, I’m amazed that I had the courage to even try. But now I also have a little person around who worships me and wants nothing more than to be with me, and I love him so much that the love cuts through the pain and reminds me of what I have to fight for. He makes some aspects of healing harder, but he also is the best motivator I’ve ever had. Good luck to you in facing your demons — it’s hard, and scary, and generally awful. But I think it’s not as bad as staying depressed.

  49. Thank you for writing this. It was about the most open and honest story I have heard on the topic of depression in a very long time. I too have had my battle with depression, Mine began when my best friend in highschool committed suicide at my home over 26 years ago. He was depressed. No one took anything he said at face value until it was too late. Well.. no one in his family that is. They took him to doctor’s who thought it was best to just medicate him. It didn’t help. I have spent 26 years fighting depression because I blamed myself for his death considering he was at my house when he died. The one thing he wanted was to not be medicated and to talk about his pain. Too often people get medicated and from some of what I have seen, the medication adds to what ever is making the person depressed in the first place. That’s why there are disclaimer’s on commercials for anti depressants now. Your post has pointed out that how you feel is not uncommon. I am so glad you have your son to think about. You are an amazingly strong person! Thank you for sharing that takes a huge amount of courage!
    Eonadelphia.

    • I don’t think that antidepressants are necessarily bad, but I do think that they are a tool to be used in conjunction with therapy, and that they are not a long-term solution. I think they’re also over-prescribed. But I’d be the last to condemn anyone for taking them — I took them for years. I’m trying to do without them now, and I think I’m succeeding, though I do have some loved ones telling me that I need to start taking something. But they’re not people who really know the intricacies of what’s going on, and every case of mental illness is as unique as the person suffering. I’m so sorry about your friend, and that you’re suffering now because of his pain. Suicide is an awful thing, and it hurts so many people. I’m trying very hard to avoid it. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  50. It’s heartwarming to read words that could very much been one’s own; I’m so glad you made it to Freshly Pressed! I’ve been raising my son, crippled by depression, for nine years now. Whether by my doing, his mother’s, or his own will, he has grown into a very strong, compassionate and caring young boy.

    One thing I made sure to do was to explain to him, very early on, what was wrong with me. That everyone’s brain is made of cells that communicate with each other, and for me they don’t communicate in quite the right way. i think – I hope – that this has helped him understand that despite my depression and the behaviors he observes, and that it’s not his fault. He will even comfort me when he sees that I’m particularly bad.

    You’ll do well, I think. You seem to know your strengths and weaknesses, and that knowledge is the most important thing you can have. It’s like a filter that your every behavior filters through; sometimes the ugliness will break through, but you’re aware enough of yourself to know it.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed; congratulations on being a mom, and congratulations for being so open.

    Take care of yourself and your family.

  51. my children suffered a lot. I am bipolar and was deeply deeply depressed and even had suicide attempts. I was in and out of institutions and actually had one horrible hallucination where I terrorized and humiliated my entire family’s dignity. this was my children’s mother until they were 24 and 26. a year ago. I finally with the help of many things…faith…the right medication..I know I will lead a normal life and be a mom finally to my kids. I have a lot to make up for. its not too late. we have an awesome camping trip coming…your life can be awesome too…have faith an fight!!!

  52. It is difficult to deal with these things especially because of the stigma that is attached to depression or any other disorder so many people deal with everyday.
    It is good to hear that you are trying to find inspiration to fight for yourself and your loved ones. I wish you all the best!

  53. How lovely and how inspiring your post is. But then, being a parent does tend to affect you that way. I wish you well, dear Kathy

  54. I took a quick look at the FP page and BAM there you were front and center. Just scrolling through the amazingly supportive comments is proof positive you’re doing so many things right. =)

  55. And congratulations on getting Freshly Pressed!

  56. Pingback: My Mind Is My Battlefield | Honestly_Sassy

  57. I know too many people who suffer from this disease. I’m sorry. I wish the best for you and your son. There’s a lot of sh** in this world, but a lot of beautiful stuff, too. Many people close to me have used antidepressants and they’ve been a big help. I agree not a long-term solution, but there are those silly chemicals in the brain that they *can* help. Thank you for your vulnerability in this post. People can relate to you. People love you.

    • Thank you! Medication absolutely can help. It’s not for me, though, at least not at this point. But I did have a long and beautiful relationship with Wellbutrin, and I won’t speak ill of it πŸ˜‰

  58. I was raised by a depressed mother and now find my self in the same situation with two kids. Your post is insightful and your son is lucky to have a Mom with such perspective. Love that little boy and he will help you learn to love yourself as well.

    • Thank you! He is helping. I never thought of myself as particularly special or good, but the way his face lights up when he sees me … well, it puts things into perspective a bit. He’s such a joyful little bug, it’s hard to be really unhappy around him!

  59. Reblogged this on chemical5292 and commented:
    Inspiring others can also be expressed through writings. Such a courageous woman. Never gave up and keep on fighting not only for herself but also for her son. This work of art for the celebration of WOMEN’S Day! πŸ˜€

  60. I don’t know you, but I’m proud of you. For saying this, for doing this, for living this. I’m just proud of you. ❀

  61. For you to speak so open and honestly like that is really brave.
    I haven’t been diagnosed with anything but I certainly feel like I’m fighting a daily battle with myself.

  62. The power of a Mama is so great it can make the struggles harder but the reward so joyous. You are a beautiful mother, woman, human. Raw and vulnerable. Thank you

  63. Thank you for your honesty. If you teach your son that, the world will get better for those who suffer as you do.

  64. We need more honesty like this regading mental illness AND parenting. Thank you for opening up. I teared up several times reading it. I believe in you.

  65. Brave and honest and fighting hard. Keep it up. You can win and get to the other side. Been there, it so sucks. ❀

  66. northernmalewhite

    Yes a mind that can filter would be a wondrous thing.
    thanks.

  67. Happy International Women’s Day to you, and what a fantastic post. I’ve suffered from depression too, and have found a combination of treatment including drugs and therapy to work very well. I wish you well on your journey, and may you be blessed with some happiness. I’m sure the very presence of your son will bring a whole new meaning to your life.

    • It does. He reminds me that every moment is important, and that I can’t just wait for life to happen. It’s happening right now. He’s like a tiny, noisy, rambunctious motivational poster!

  68. The hardest part of living through a depressive episode is believing it will ever get better. Remember that. It always gets better. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but eventually it will. Keep fighting, keep sharing. Despite your depression, your son will know you’re a strong woman, and he will seek the same in his future wife because you woke up every morning and chose NOT to end your life, but to keep fighting. You’re an inspiration. Keep telling your story.

    • Thank you. As long as he picks a mate that is deserving of him, I’ll figure I did pretty well. He deserves everything good and loving and wonderful.

  69. susieslittleinspirations

    At last I have found someone else who describes their mind as a battlefield! My mind has been at war for the past 14 yrs on and off but more often on, ever since my father died. Every time I get a grip on reality my hands slip plunging me back into battle. I to am on medication, have tried counselling, pysch help etc but nothing seems to help.

    • Maybe you need to change medication, or see a different counselor. I’ve had a whole bunch of different psychologists, due to moving around a lot, and I’ve found that each one focused on something different and used a different approach. I think that was helpful, getting at the problems from a lot of different angles. Good luck!

  70. Thank you for this post. I used to see a psychiatrist and they put me on anti-depressants. I took them for a year. & then I stopped. Everyone treated me like I was sick. Like there was something wrong with me. I was just sad about my life. I couldn’t explain the reasons why I felt the way I did. sometimes I didn’t even know. I felt as though I had no one. My family was there but I couldn’t see that. I only thought I disappointed them. I thought I disappointed everyone. My mind set was maybe if I had a baby to take care of I’d have a reason to be here. (i know, probably not the best reasons) But that’s what I told myself. So years later.. I had my daughter. I have a reason to try. I have a reason to be careful when I go out on the roads because I don’t want my child to live without a mother. sometimes I still get down. Other times I hit an all time low again, but when I look at my daughter and see her smile. I pick myself back up. Thank you for sharing, because now I know I’m not alone. Others feel this way. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you for commenting! When I wrote this, I had no idea how many people would tell me that they felt the same way. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one ever to go through this.

  71. Thank you for your “rawness” not sure if that’s a word…

  72. This post really spoke to me. I’ve spoken about the stigma in mental illness before, on my tumblr, and how we are almost brainwashed by media to be wary of those struggling with mental illness. It makes us terrified of admitting to our pain and, thus, unable to reach out for help for fear of people finding out. You really put it into perspective for me, though I’m not a mother. I am an aunt and a sister and a daughter and a friend. Those people who make me those things are just as worthy of my being a person who doesn’t give up on herself. Thank you for sharing this.

  73. Beautifully written. I have danced with depression all my life also. Add a healthy dose of PTSD and I make for an interesting conversation piece in the therapist office. I have been through all the meds and therapist and even a psych hospital for thirty days and finally seem to have risen out of the ashes. I am fifty four years old now and am totally surprised every morning when I wake up. I was certain that I was going to kill myself either outright or by my self destructive behavior. So you stay strong and LIVE one day at a time.

  74. Thank you for telling your story. You are so right, getting the message out about depression is crucial. I lost my daughter to depression, and it has been so very important that everyone I know who has struggled, get the help they need. How much more all the people we DON’T know? I know that this will reach some people that would otherwise not see what they needed to see. Well done.

    • Thank you. I hope that it may help some people. Just writing it helped me, and the overwhelming response from my readers has been a wonderful experience. Getting the message out and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues is vital.

  75. Claudia, Solange, Francine...whatever works for you

    An irony I’ve discovered is that in the void provided by depression there is, at times, an inability to even perceive how bad I’ve felt. It is a brutal disease. And doing battle to fight against it, everyday, is the only approach that works for me to keep it at bay. I saved a sketch my oldest daughter drew of me during one bout, she was 2.5 at the time. It is a circle-face with 2 gigantic, pupil-less eyes. When she gave it to my husband and he asked her who it was she replied: It’s Mommy in an alien place all by herself. Mommy is sad.’

  76. I think you helped a lot of people with your post. I emailed it to a friend who I know has been struggling with post-partum depression, and don’t have the experience to give her the advice she needs. Your words are just what she needs to hear right now to know that other people are there with her. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you for reading, and for sharing! I’m glad to know that I’ve been able to help people, or at least to give them something to think about.

  77. Good post – your perspective on “fighting back” is interesting, myself, I view the resolution to any depression is allowing it to subside naturally, so you can continue to get on with your life.

    If you interested, I wrote about it here:
    http://thoughtcrack.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/drawing-a-blank-page/

    • I think it’s important to remember that everybody experiences depression differently. Medical professionals will tell you that true depression will not simply go away without some form of treatment — meaning, your symptoms may subside, but they will recur. You have nothing to lose by seeking treatment, and if your friends and family are concerned that you may hurt yourself, I should think that getting help would be good for you. I know what you mean about not feeling anything, I’ve been there. It’s hard to care enough to make a phone call and set up an appointment with a psychologist, and virtually impossible to stir yourself out of your room to go see them. But you have to do it. Maybe you should task your family to help you make sure you make it to your appointments.

      • I’m not actually in crisis, I am mildly depressed at the moment but the post was partially a retrospective – certainly the comment about my mother.

        I have tried counselling and antidepressants, neither have made even a tiny difference. I have also been rejected multiple times for treatment because I have been assessed as not being depressed – I have in major episodes been described as “resilient”. Honestly, I don’t have the trust in me.

      • I think you should keep seeing different counselors until you find one who can figure out what’s going on. Twenty years old and unable to feel? That’s not right.

      • Thank you for your concern, but please don’t presume to advise me. I deal with it in my own way, I have tried counselling and it doesn’t work for me. I don’t have the inclination to try it again.

        I’m not “unable to feel”, I am simply describing the emptiness I do feel when I am depressed.

  78. Thank you for sharing this with us. It sounds like you are fighting a long and harrowing battle, but there are many people out there who understand what you are going through, and take strength in that. And your son! Everything in life is worth it for him.

    I have a hearing condition where I hear high-pitched noises and a high-pitched whine all the time. I’ve learned to tune out to it most of the time. And that’s kinda what I try to do with depression as well. I’m not saying I avoid it, but I move on to other stuff if I can and filter that droning undercurrent of darkness out. (Although at one point, I told my counselor it felt like a midget was sitting on my brain and pulling back… that feeling was a little harder to ignore, although my counselor did have a wee laugh at that mental image!)

    As we say in New Zealand, kia kaha (stand strong), and thank you for sharing this! A blog that is written truly from the heart.

    • I love the image! It makes me giggle. Thanks for reading!

      • My poor counselor. He said to me once that he looked forward to my appointments because I’d make him laugh. His favourite was, “My family put the ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunctional’.” It’s from a show or movie or something, but I don’t think he stopped laughing for about 3 minutes. Hey, you gotta make light of a bad situation sometimes! I’ll be back to read more soon! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  79. Very inspiring and touching. Wishing you and your sweet baby the very best. πŸ™‚

  80. Amazing.. great post.. Thanks for this one..

  81. your story has brought about many emotions in me……i am not a mother nor a father but i can relate to how u are feeling. With bipolar disorder which I have I feel that pain and that longing to fight on and become the person that fits well into society…….its about controlling and having ur own life at the end of the day!
    I wish you all the best in life, you surely do deserve it …. xXxx

  82. As a person who lives with the advantages and curses of being bipolar, I can empathize with your situation, and admire your ability to put this all to words in such a meaningful way.

    No doubt this will be read and found beneficial by many.

    ….and congrats on being freshly pressed.

  83. Wow, that’s a lot of responses! I’m not surprised; well written, freshly pressed and a lot of people in a similar boat. I won’t bore you with my story other than to tell you this. After battling for several decades with the inevitable recurrent episodes, I tried once more to talk to someone (else). Drugs tip me right over the edge so talking is my only hope. This person was/is different. She had the courage to suggest that I might want to admit to myself that I am not going to be able to beat this thing! If you knew me you would know why I put in the exclamation make. I never give up. It’s just not me. My mum nicknamed me ‘spider’ from the Scottish legend of ‘Bruce and the spider (look it up it’s a great story).

    She went on to suggest that I make a small place in my life where my depression can live (hopefully quietly).

    Her reasoning was that if I stopped fighting so hard I might have some energy left for other things (like writing a blog). She was right. It has helped. I’m in the middle of best and most productive time in a very long time. That’s not to say that there have not been bad times, because there have, it’s just that I’m a bit more relaxed about the whole thing.

    For me it required that I consider something that I would NEVER have considered without this person’s suggestion.

    It meant that I had to find her and then trust her and then actually listen to her.

    In the end it was a small shift in thinking that has made a big difference in my life.

    Be well, and good luck with your battle, I’m sure you will be an excellent mum as life has shown you a lot of things.

    Terry

  84. I teared up a little bit as I read this. And then re-read it. Even though you know others struggle, sometimes you just need to hear that you’re not the only one fighting these demons. As a new mother myself, and struggling with managing my bipolar disorder on top of a baby, I want to thank you for sharing your story!

    • Thank you so much for commenting! I guess we’re none of us alone. It’s just a matter of finding others with similar experiences. I find that very reassuring!

  85. Thank you for sharing your experience. I know a lot of people will indentify with you and they will receive your message of hope.

  86. outstanding blog. its amazing how so many of us suffer silently. so important to never pass judgement. thanks for sharing

  87. I understand how you feel. I suffer from bipolar one disorder, and it’s a constant battle.

  88. Kathy, you are very brave to fight your mind every minute of the day. Am sure your baby will see your love and understand your pain.
    Motherhood paves the way for fighting and warding off all pains to bring happiness for their kids. Am sure you’ll fair well.
    Good luck and god bless!

  89. thank you for sharing! πŸ™‚

  90. Hello Kathy,
    Have you considered of trying Ayahuasca? I heard it was halpfull in dealing with depression, please read the following link (Aya experience):
    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/0603/features/peru4.html
    Cheers!

    • I had heard of it, and it looks very interesting, but it is illegal in the US. If I should find myself in South America at some point, I may give it a try, but I can’t risk being arrested. Thank you for commenting!

      • In Peru for example is legal. In the Netherlands and Brasil also.
        I know that in many countries (including my country of residence) Ayahuasca is illegal, but that’s why I am planning a trip to Peru this year πŸ˜‰
        Wish you the best of luck!

  91. Brave and honest, such a rare combination these days. Keep fighting and make your son and generations after, proud.

  92. Reblogged this on blogerb and commented:
    Brave and inspiring

  93. Beautifully written. Sometimes getting it all out is enough therapy for me.

  94. It’s very touching to know some parents are still willing to thrive for there children.

  95. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post! I have a young child with severe mental illness and so I do in some way understand your struggle….but though I cannot know it completely, please hear that there are people out here who will fight alongside you to help you navigate motherhood and life. Personally, I am happy to chat with you anytime you need a fresh strangers ear to talk and cry into. Hang in there!

  96. Kathy V.,

    I loved your post!
    I have recently found out that someone I know is having a difficult time with their depression. This is someone who is many years older than me, and I have no idea how to help them. She tells me that medications are not enough, but I see that she is struggling to get better. I don’t know if there is anything that I can say to help her in this difficult time?

    • I’m not an expert. I’d say that probably the best thing you can do is to be there listening. I would also try to get her to go see a therapist, if (as I’m gathering from what you wrote) she’s been taking medications but not pursuing psychological counseling. Medications are great, but they don’t solve the underlying problems that cause depression. They’re a useful tool, to make you functional enough to get psychological help, but they’re not a long-term solution or a cure.

  97. I love this. I have been struggling with depression as long as I can remember. So many people ARE suffering in silence because of those in their life who don’t believe in it. I am lucky because I have others in my family who either have depression or are bipolar. We support each other. Those out there that have no one need to see they are not alone. I think you are wonderful for putting yourself out there to help others see that.

    • Thank you! Not everyone has a support system like yours. You’re very lucky.

      • My husband is an addict. I thought I was alone in my feelings. Didn’t know what to do, where to turn. Family couldn’t help they weren’t going through it. I went to a support group and I found there were others just like me. I cried. I felt so free knowing I wasn’t alone. What you are doing, what you are saying, you are giving others that feeling. There is no better feeling than knowing you are not alone. Thank YOU.

  98. Reblogged this on En el JardΓ­n de los Elefantes and commented:
    Poignant. True. Real Life.

  99. Thanks for sharing. It is true that talk about our demons often makes us feel better. But It’s never easy. I’m trying to fix the issues in my head before having babies and i’m scared that I would never finish doing that, but you give me hope. Keep going!!

  100. This is great – thanks for sharing. My mom suffered from depression for many years after battling cancer and never got the right treatment. It really affected my sisters and me and runs in the family. Now, as a parent myself I know it is so important to make my wellbeing a priority, especially for my kids. I know you are doing the same and hope you never give up. Good luck in your journey!

    • Thank you! Depression runs in my family too. I’m hoping that I can teach my son how to think well of himself and see the lies that depression whispers in his ear for what they are. Hopefully, he’ll never feel the way I sometimes do. Thanks for the well-wishes!

  101. This was a very poignant read and thank you for your brutal honesty. As an individual who suffers from PTSD caused by war (and living with it for five years now), I can relate to your circumstances to a degree. In my opinion, being open and honest about things such as depression as you are (the same as I am too) helps to heal as well as possibly help others.

    • I think you’re right. Being open about it helps me to feel less ashamed and alone. Plus, anything that can be done to reduce the stigma around mental health issues is something that should be a priority. Good luck with your PTSD, and thank you for your service! You’ve fought the enemy for all of us. Now maybe we can all help you to fight the demons as well.

  102. I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Yeay you! The award is on my blog: http://bodyprinciple.wordpress.com

  103. Am new to world of blogs, and am very happy to see someone discussing depression so openly. I’ve had major clinical depression in cycles since my early 20s. On meds now for years, and am doing well. My daughter inherited the disease, and she attempted suicide at 15 and she was a cutter. She’s 17 now and on meds, and after a year and a half of daily, intensive therapy is doing well. Thank you again for your bravery!

  104. Kathy such a brave and honest post very inspirational you should be very.proud that you can admit to your problems, you may not think it now but when your son is older and understands the battles you have fought to be a good Mum to him he will be very proud xx

  105. I love this blog post right here…honest and it hit me spot on.

    You see, I lost my father to cancer more than a year ago. His passing was abrupt and it hit us like a train wreck. Two months after he was diagnosed with end-stage cancer, he passed away on my watch. I was his “caregiver” with my mother, we never left his side. I was there when he was fast deteriorating and I knew we were losing him but I just didn’t want to give up the fight then. The trauma haunted me even after he passed– I remember the time when he was sick and he’d tell me how badly he wants to get better and how he might not see my niece and nephew grow up. He told me his thoughts and that’s what hurt the most. And then on the day he died the doctors and nurses frantically tried to save his life and I watched them pump his chest and insert tubes and all in him to revive him. We bade goodbye to him in the ICU after he slipped into an irreversible coma. The life support was all that was keeping him alive.

    It’s been almost two years now this year but I feel like I’ve been clinically depressed although days are getting better. I’m still grieving, still healing. Lucky to have my family and my husband beside me all throughout.

    I wish you well and this blog post touched so many lives, I hope you know that you are not alone.

  106. Kudos for such openness with your struggle. I, too, have dysthymia — which a therapist described as “being like a low grade fever that doesn’t go away.” I’ve tried a couple of anti-depressants but — despite the requisite 1980s recreational drugs I enjoyed in my 20s — the side effects and daily messing of my brain chemistry were just too daunting.
    I of course did years of therapy, following in the classic neurotic footsteps of my film idol Woody Allen, and it is helpful to pull back the curtain on dark feelings from the past stuffed way down deep. But I’ve recently learned that process in itself can be a bit of a trap. One can only pick at the garbage for so long — eventually it’s a game of diminishing returns. The fields of cognitive psychology and the more recent positive psychology are showing significant results in helping people with depression. For me, it’s been helpful to stop picking at old scabs and start focusing on the good. Not sure of all that you’ve explored, but thought I’d put that out there for you and others to explore.
    Great writing… cool avatar… good luck!

  107. a very interesting blog, I can see myself using this for future reference as a 25yr female with depression.

  108. Yes your mind a battle field. There a Christian author out there called Joyce Myers she has a book on that subject.really great read check it out its called battlefield of the mind… With that I wish u safe travels through this thing we call life… God bless

  109. Kathy, I have just discovered your blog with this post and look forward to reading more. I was undiagnosed as having Major Depression for years growing up in England. Mental health care was not even on the radar screen. My issues came to a crisis when my children were 2 and 5. I began therapy because I discovered a rage that I didn’t know I had, and I discovered that I didn’t know what the boundaries of safe touch were: I didn’t know how to bathe my boys or how to teach them personal hygiene, I became too scared to touch them in case I inadvertently did something inappropriate.
    My husband had to take over bath times. Needless to say there was much I had to confront. Years of sexual abuse I had long ago decided was not important to look at because it was in the past.
    I suffer from recurrent bouts of major depression and have been on and off most of the available drugs over the years. I struggle with suicide.

    My beautiful son Malcolm took his life at 24 and I asked myself if knowing about my abuse and watching my struggles made his life too hard to bear. The truth is he had his own issues and at least I was able to show him that it was possible to function and slowly heal. He refused medication and refused to open up in therapy. He wanted to conquer his demons on his own.
    The truth is also that even before I started therapy I had been emotionally removed from him. So, as hard as it is, facing my issues and fighting to hang on was the best thing I could do as a parent. It meant he didn’t have to believe he was the cause of the pain and depression he had already identified in me. We were able to discover his fears about that only because I entered therapy, went into hospital and told him that I had been hurt as a child. Only then did he admit he had thought my depression was his fault. He was 8.
    I’m rambling; it’s his anniversary next week. In sum…whatever you can do to face your demons will make you a better parent in the long run and remove some of the burden from your son. Because without you getting healthy he will in some way eventually end up carrying your pain. You won’t have the power to guarantee his happiness but you can be an example of how to fight for it.
    Blessings…
    Mona
    I’ve written about my son on: “Surviving a Loss” on WordPress.

  110. What a powerful post. When you get some time, come on over and check out our blog–we’ve battled similar demons and dilemmas. Your strength inspires us!

  111. hi
    i wish you the best for you and your son.Many years of happiness and joy i wish to both of you.

  112. this really struck a chord with me. I too have depression and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. I love how clearly you explain in this post the turmoil you face. I wish you all the best in you future, your son is beautifulβ™₯

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  114. I would not presume to comment on your condition but wish you every ounce of strength to deal with it. I have a sneaking suspicion that – far more often than not – a mother’s love can be the greatest force in the universe. Your son needs you. That alone is motivation to achieve the best you can. I am a gregarious, ebullient, madcap person but depression strikes me, too. Never thought it would be possible but it is. I just send you good thoughts and sincere best wishes.

  115. I don’t know you but I just wanna give you a hug πŸ™‚

  116. I wish you and your son all the best. It takes a lot of strength to be a good mother, and a lot more to be one who lives with depression as well.

  117. I am so glad I found this post. I have recently been diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. I think what surprises me the most is how common it actually is. I have a beautiful 19month old boy. It’s been a battle but my family and I are working through. Thank you for being so open and honest about it all. Total thumbs up from a fellow blogger and parent. Keep up the good work and keep spreading the word. Hopefully one day depression will be openly talked about like other disease and drop the stigma associated with it.

    • Thank you! I’ve been astonished at how many people have come out saying that they are experiencing (or have experienced) something similar to what I’m going through. Maybe if we all spoke up, we’d find that the stigma is mostly in our heads. Who knows?

  118. Just want to say never give up. I also had to battle bouts of depression, and I never thought I’d see the day that there’s light in the tunnel. I’ve seen other parents deal with it, even with teenage kids. Life may be rough but I believe the fact that we are here on earth for a reason, and everything happens for a reason. The fact that you’ve been FP’d with this opens up a lot of discussion and inspirational thoughts. I wanna leave you with one true story sent to me via email. There was a house fire and there was a cat with six kittens. The photo with the article showed the mom cat with singed/ burnt ears as she struggled to save her six kittens. Even animals have the strongest force of motherly love in them. What about us more humans, who;s high up in the food chain? Enjoy your baby. Let him be the reason you’ll win this battle. Have faith.

  119. I am so sorry for the suffering you have gone through. I have been battling severe anxiety and panic attacks for 10 years, and my oldest child is 7, so she came at the height of it. I remember how difficult it was to just care for her basic needs on some days, with my mind in such turmoil. The mind can certainly seem like a battlefield, for me it was a torturous prison. I can totally relate to the strong desire to keep up the fight for our children, as I also picture my kids years from now telling someone about their mother, and I want it to be happy and peaceful memories. I also don’t want them to “catch” my anxiety, which is completely possible! I have found a way out of my prison finally, but it does take a sustained and diligent effort on my part. I hope you soon find your way off the battlefield.

    Also it is interesting that you mentioned the recent articles about moms and depression/anxiety. For years I have been very strong in my belief that the construction of our society in America contributes greatly to the suffering of mothers, especially those who care for their children at home. Gone are the tribes, villages, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, husbands, and even neighbors who have served eachother in the past. Now mothers are extremely isolated from the rest of the community, away from daily adult interaction, and without much support. It is a very unnatural way to live, and I believe is in contradiction to the way humans evolved to live. I am extremely passionate about the intentional community movement, but am not able to move my own family in that direction for various reasons.

    Again, I wish you the best in finding peace within.

    • I agree that it is an unnatural way to live, and that it contributes to mental health issues in stay-at-home-moms particularly. I hadn’t heard of the intentional community movement, I’ll have to look that up. Thank you for sharing, and for your kind words!

  120. Great post. Thanks for sharing. I’m a 37 year old mom to one 20 year old, a 17 and 15 year old. I can definitely relate. I truly believe I was saved through my kids. I can honestly say today, I feel joy and most of my days are filled with feelings of happiness and freedom. Freedom of self. Took a heck of a lot of work but my kids kept me focused. Their lives were now in my hands, I was not perfect and screwed up a lot, however, I’m here today πŸ™‚ Thanks again for sharing. It brings so much healing to share it out. I started doing the same through my posts, “Long road here” .
    Glad I came across your blog πŸ™‚

  121. Very candid, very bold, and quite touching, too. I’ve been there, though coming from a different angle. It’s a crippling thing, but yeah, being open with it is a major missile against depression. It’s good to hear.

  122. I’ve been suffering from depression for the last 9 years. I’m 21 now but i started getting chronically depressed since i was 12 because of school and then college pressures. I was put under heavy medication for depression when i was 17 for almost a year.

    All i remember is that those meds made me extremely drowsy and in the beginning, i had trouble studying or for that matter, staying awake. But then, i would never say they were absolutely useless or counter-productive. They were all right but i decided to discontinue with them after 7-8 months.

    And i yet don’t know if it was a good decision or not. I sure as hell lost a LOT of hair because of my depression in the next 3 years but i’m at a better place now without anti-depressants. Working as a journalist and i think it’s under control as compared to 2-3 years back.

    I wish you luck in coping with your depression. I’m sure you’ll fight it with success.

    • Thank you for commenting! I think antidepressants have their place, and can be very helpful. I also think that every person is different, and that they need to have their depression treated in as unique a manner as they are individual. There’s no one correct way to treat this illness, and I’m glad that you’re responding appropriately based on your own needs, not what someone else says you need to do. Good luck!

  123. Terrific post ,are all the responses from other ppl who suffer depression as we do? I think so , it seems very common now ppl talk about it.

    • Most of the comments are from people with depression, though there are a few from people who love people who are sick rather than being sick themselves. It’s been an overwhelming response.

      • terrific well done , once you have the strength to admit it , there is a big weight lifted off your shoulders.To then write about it takes it to another level. I always remember the sun always shines after the darkest, blackest ,storm and its so true. How bad you are feeling is only temporary , you will always start feeling good again.

      • ok yeah and you are not struggling alone , there are lots of others just like you.Feeling just like you do.

  124. You will get through this and we will be right here cheering you on. Hang in there ~ everyone here cares.

  125. This moved me beyond words, I have also suffered from dysthymia, for years. And it’s incredibly difficult for others who don’t have this condition to understand, the effects on your body, mind and your ability to do everyday tasks. And with a child it’s incredibly difficult, for me pregnancy and birth were incredibly traumatic and my dysthymia rose to the surface in such a powerful way, I never want to be pregnant again. Your post is wonderfully written, and beautifully presented. A absolute pleasure to read. Tomorrow is always a new day, new challenge, tackle each day as it comes. Your doing a great Job Kathy V, we’re doing it for our kids!

  126. Your words are very empowering! God bless you πŸ™‚

  127. Thank you for taking a risk and writing this post.

  128. My heart goes out to you. I didn’t realized that I had chronic mild depression until I had an experience after a hypnotherapy session where I came out of it. Having the world look clear and bright (instead of like looking through a dirty window) so suddenly, gave me perspective. At that time, the clarity lasted for a few weeks.

    I had been wondering if what was going on with me had been depression, and even brought it up to my doctor. She blew it (and me) off as having a young child. (I have since changed doctors).What I didn’t appreciate at the time, was the fact that I was dealing with a child with special needs who required a ton of energy to keep up with. And, my hormones never recovered after being pregnant in my late 30’s. My mother was bipolar, and for her, depression was a complete lack of energy. All she wanted to do was lie in bed and sleep. She never spoke of feeling sad or suicidal. If she had been able to share with me what depression looked like for her, I might have gotten help a lot sooner.

    Luckily for me, taking care of hormonal imbalances due to my age and stage of life, and supplementing my thyroid, combined with alternative therapies, like hypnotherapy and other modalities has helped me a lot. Regular meditation helps too.

    Keep doing whatever it takes! I know that having my son was a huge motivation for me.

  129. Very well written Kathy V. It’s funny how our blogs and our lives are complete polar opposites yet I can connect with you on this matter. There is always light at the end of the tunnel and I wish you the best of luck. Remember a thought is nothing until we let it affect us.

  130. What a wonderful, raw, and real post, Kathy! Thank you for having the courage and strength to be open and honest about your struggles with mental health. I, too, have fought with my own demons my entire life, though mine are related to anxiety. And, I, too, have learned my own strength while facing it down, even in my weakest moments (where, yes, I’ve considered taking my own life as well). My family, my faith, therapy, and the blessings that life has yet to offer keep me going. Now, my eldest may be following in my own footsteps (since anxiety is largely inherited [I come by mine honestly with my grandmother, aunt, uncle, and father all having suffered from it also]), but instead of fearing my son’s future battles with it, I choose to fight them with him, head on. I will be a more empathetic parent to him because I will be able to relate to his struggles and help him find the courage to take better control of his mental health. The way I see it, everyone has something, a cross to bear, and this is ours. My children are my reason for being now as is yours and you will be an excellent mother to him. Just remember during the dark times, you are here for a greater purpose – your lovely son is proof. Stay strong and God bless! πŸ™‚

  131. As all the comments make abundantly clear, you are not alone. There is no “worst” thing about depression, it is all bad. What compounds it is shame and isolation. I wish I had blogged and read blogs when I had young ones, it would have helped me feel like less of a failure. Prozac helped me out of PPD and then I got off it, but I have to say that I have never been the same. Hang in there, sister. Have you been to dooce.com ? Heather Armstrong is now dealing with rich people problems (be all super famous) but dig into her archives from when Leta was a newborn. It gave me such solace and a much needed laugh.

  132. I have a friend who is often suicidal. I’ll keep some of these points in my head when he calls. Thanks!

  133. I loved this post. I to have suffered from depression my whole life. Sometimes severe. I’ve been in treatment off and on for years.I tried self medicating. Then I tried medications from the doctor. I wish that I had got a handle on my depression earlier when my children were small. I had to fight with my ex-husband most of my life, just to get my children away from him, he is a pedifile. I didnt know that then but I suspected. Then I had to fight the social services to get my daughter back from them. They are grown now with problems of there on. .

  134. Very bravely written. I enjoyed and I empathize. Good luck.

  135. Pingback: My Mind Is My Battlefield | Marshmallows

  136. I have Major Depressive Disorder. I have been struggling with this since my teen years, if not earlier. My 16 year old son is an invalid due to extremely premature birth. His mind is fine, thank God, but his body doesn’t work. My 14 year old son turned out to be autistic. I feel such solidarity with you, with the idea that we just keep getting up and doing whatever our kids need. We have to, for their sakes and for our own. I admire you and I think you write very well.

  137. What a beautiful post. I have struggled with depression that has escalated since I had children, and I fear that when my children see me sobbing or screaming that is all they will remember about me. They are loving empathetic children though and I hope I’ve also taught them to be open about their feelings and to be honest with themselves. Your self-awareness will make you a brilliant mother.

  138. So well written, we have walked a similar path.
    I am 3+ years past my suicide. Many days I struggle, some days pass without effort.
    As much as I hate for anyone to feel the despair that depression brings, it is comforting to know that I do not go into battle against it alone….

  139. Pingback: My Mind Is My Battlefield | rosalita222

  140. A great post, I’ve only just started blogging about my own depression and starting to really evaluate things in my life and I think really just readying myself to properly take the challenge on of not hiding it, facing it and dealing with things in a more constructive way. I want to finally be open and tell my friends but can’t bring myself to do it, and then there’s looking to the future and really thinking, ‘could I deal with the next chapter in my life?’ when it comes to things like children. Previously I always thought about a family, until depression that is and I feel as if all my mental/physical energy is only enough for me. Same with relationships. But you’re doing it, and you’re doing it with fight, grace and determination, the kind of qualities I used to pride myself on and I know they’re still there, deep down. I take great heart from your words and fighting spirit.

    “If I don’t give up, if I do what needs to be done to face my demons and stand up for my own mental health, I can hope that his story will be one of pride and admiration. It will be a story of a strong, courageous woman who did not let life, stigma, condemnation, or her own mind keep her down. A woman who fought for what she loved and who raised him with the courage to do the same.”

    I especially echo the sentiments here.

    Thanks for posting this.

  141. thank you – these things are so hard to put into words. Being a parent changes so much… and includes so many personal battles. I hope you beat this x

  142. ramblingbabbleofafool

    Thank you for sharing.

  143. WOW! What a wonderfully written and poignant post. Thank you for sharing. I normally don’t read much on blogs because I barely have enough time to write on my own. But I stumpled upon yours and the name reminded me of the book written that has the same name “Battlefield of the Mind”. I battled with depression several years ago (I will spare you the details). God healed me of all the depression and everything that went with it. 2 years ago when my Dad died I thought for sure depression would come. But, miraculously, it never came. I was completely free. In fact, I was hopeful and had peace. It was very strange to be sad but have joy at the same time.
    I prayed for you today and I will continue to pray for you. I know the Creator of the universe who healed me is also willing and capable to heal you. If you ever need prayer I am always available you can contact me at isaiah54project@hotmail.com.

  144. Hi Kathy, I love your sense of humor. I thank you for sharing your story… Wow, you are amazing. As I read your story and the positive responses from others it gave me courage. I was a victim of sexual, physical and emotional abuse from the time I was 8 until I was nearly 30, I developed Stockholm Syndrome and I am sure there are others out there with the same experience. I have read so many blogs with negative and rude comments I was afraid to share my story… You are brave and courageous and I know how much it took for you to share your experiences. Thank you for doing so. I’m glad you are talking about it and getting help. Your child is a lucky little one who will be very proud of his Mom!
    I’m a Christian and I have heard of the book Isaiah54project mentioned, “Battle Field of the Mind” it is by Joyce Meyer. She is a great Christian based inspirational speaker. I am reading one of her many books right now it is called “Power Thoughts” I am loving it so far.
    You are right we are having a battle in our minds. We can toss our demons out on their ear or we can let them rob our joy and it sounds like you are well on your way to giving those demons an eviction notice! I know you don’t know me but I am very proud of you! Keep up the great works.
    God Bless and I will be praying for you!
    Kim

  145. Several years ago my fiance committed suicide and last year my daughter threatened it. If this society had open arms for people with depression as they do for people with diabetes or cancer there wouldn’t be 37,000 suicides every year. It’s brave people like you who aren’t afraid to stand up, that will finally end depression being a taboo! =D

  146. wonderful post…I hear you loud and clear and I applaud your perseverance. I have dealt with depression since I was 28 (‘Im now 51). It was the worst after my third daughter was born. I know now it was post postpartum depression. I survived and so did all three of my girls ( who are all now women themselves). Keep going, keep doing and you will never, ever give up…you have your son to thank for that. Blessings!
    ~ Wendy

  147. Thank you, Kathy! And thank you for encouraging others to seek help. Much of what I could say has been said, some of it by you — my own children are now 18 and 22, and the battle continues. Your son may one day tell you that you are a great therapist. I have learned that by meeting the battles head on we gain the tools necessary to help our own children face their own struggles and, if we are lucky, we experience the joy of watching our children reach out to help others who are depressed, anxious or otherwise suffering.

  148. I know that you hear it often…taking care of yourself is the best way to care for him. I have an 11 year old ( where did that time go) and have raised him alone through mental illness, a few bouts in psych hospitals and many bad nights, but the constant drumming on my brain that I am his and he is mine was like chemo for depression.
    A great post…thank you.

  149. Reblogged this on Health and the Human Experience and commented:
    Breaking the cycle of hurt and sadness … a brave new mother’s recount of her ongoing journey with depression.

  150. I love the honesty in your post, the feeling and raw emotion I felt when reading this is not easily felt with words, but I felt it.

  151. I just wanted to say a quick word of support for yourself and the many others out there who feel similarly. I am not a mother yet – but I am clinically depressed, have anxiety and ADHD. Whatever the hell all of that means – at 15 I couldn’t quite comprehend, and I still can’t – I just know what works for me. Like you say. I think the effort to achieve a generally well balanced life makes us all stronger people.

    Keep up the good work! For every moment you feel OK, there WILL be another!

  152. very cool article, I myself have severe depression and yes there are days that is tough to even get out of bed, but I have an 8yr old boy that needs his mother so that is why I am doing the best I can be.. Keep up the good work and God bless. hope you feel better..

  153. Thanks for sharing. I have struggled with depression for many years, but I do not take medication for it…they all just put me to sleep. This year, I have had a hard time coming to grips with my depression and my future. I just got married and I was (and still am) unsure of how I am going to manage my depression and my husband. I love him to death; however, he doesn’t really understand. I have tried teaching him how to (for lack of a better word) deal with me when I am depressed and he is getting better. We are still young, but my biggest fear in life is not being able to be there for my children (when i do have them) because of my depression. This post let me know that, as cliche as it is, I am not alone and that other people have handled it. Thanks.

  154. I cried. amazing! I have battled with severe anxiety and depression my whole life. I refuse to get “medical” help because I know I can be stronger then it! some days are harder then others. I am happy you see your son as a reason to fight, and what a beautiful reason that is! God bless xo

  155. Thank you so much for sharing I relate to all the things that you said and I appreciate how candid you are and look forward to reading more about you and your life.
    Jenness

  156. When I was diagnosed with clinical depression in my forties I realized I had suffered with the disease as far back as my memory went. What causes your pain? I don’t know. I still don’t know, but the therapists won’t accept that so you come up with a story to make them happy. Like so many others I blamed it on my father. He was a full time prick but not enough to bring this darkness upon me. For want of any better, I have decided to blame myself and summon the courage to bear it.

  157. I know its no where near the same but i have suffered from depression since i was 17. I have been in an abuse if relationship and now have finally settled down. However my partner doesn’t understand depression. He has a drink problems and thinks if i expect him to control his drinking i should be able to just come of my anti depressants, I’m not going to lie i am dependent on them now. I’m scared to come of them, to face the real world. Words can’t describe the frustration though when people say ‘ you have nothing to be depressed about’!

  158. We all have a little crazy. We can change our minds. You know, focus on the good things instead of what’s wrong. Takes awhile and effort, but it’s possible and better than doing nothing.

  159. Thank you for your honesty. I’m beginning to find out that I’m stronger than I think I am. I know you are too. ❀

  160. I almost have no words. In my opinion, (as a psych major and previous depressed individual) you’re doing all things right. It takes so much for one to realize it’s only by their mentality and will and belief that they will get better, and you have that. I commend you.

  161. Wow thank you so much for your honesty in this post. I suffered severe postnatal depression so I appreciate your child being the tool to aid you to recovery. A child can be the giver of hope. This is a video of my story http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S36Fm87lraU on you tube.
    http://thestrongestsmile.wordpress.com/ This is my blog about my experiences of sexual abuse and mental illness. x

  162. I know being a man I can not completly understand everything that a woman goes through after child birth but I can look at some of my mothers experences since I’m the oldest of five boys. I applod you in writing this and being so open. Thanks for the experence. It has helped me to dell more with my on and better.

  163. Thank you for sharing. It is indeed scary to know that most of the battles that need to be resolved are in the mind. I had panic attacks after I gave birth and I also took some medications to ease some of the anxiety and tension. Somehow the medication helped, but I think that best thing that I have done so far is being able to maintain a positive attitude and also to get inspiration from my husband and most especially from my daughter. My daughter deserves to have a healthy, loving and inspiring mother and so I strive daily to be that. I wish you well! God bless you!

  164. I too am dysthymic.

    I also have kids.

    For me the answer was found in mindfulness. In viewing the pain as a friend, rather than a foe. In having realistic expectations of life.

    There is a great line in the movie Nixon:

    “Suffering in this life. Happiness in the next.”

    I don’t know how I feel about the after-life but for some reason this rings true. I would never want to be the phony parent pretending because my kids would see through that. Honesty is wisdom. Thanks for sharing yours!

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