Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Story

I've been working on this blog for weeks now. I've written the intro in my head dozens of times and they've all been great. But then I put my fingers to the keyboard and nothing comes out right. So, I'm just going to try to briefly explain why I'm doing this and what my goals are for this blog.
In a way, I've been working on this for over a year. After giving birth to my second child, I felt great for about 6 weeks and then everything tanked. Postpartum depression hit with a bang and my body just fell apart. It was all I could do to get out of bed every morning and then sit on the couch until my husband came home at night. He took over almost everything--the cooking, the cleaning, the parenting. I just tried to survive each day. I've dealt with depression for several years, so I knew how to get help for that. But the extreme exhaustion stuck around. I began researching different things and then went to the doctor to be tested for Adrenal Fatigue, even though I was already certain I had it.
As I sat in the doctor's office I saw a magazine headline, "How to Fake a Good Night's Sleep". And it hit me--that is the problem of so many of us women today. We're trying to be everything to everyone and of course, coming up short. So, we try to fake it. That's so stressful! And that's why I was sitting where I was sitting. Because I had tried to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother for so long that my body had given way under all the stress. And when I couldn't I felt like I had to make the world believe that I was anyway. I felt like the whole world was watching and judging my every move. If I bought a frozen pizza, I knew the cashier was thinking what a horrible mom I was for not giving my family a home cooked meal. If I walked during a morning run, I knew that everyone driving by was thinking how weak I was for not being able to finish my workout. If my kids didn't look perfect, I knew everyone would wonder what was wrong with me. If my husband didn't have a great lunch to take to work, I knew his co-workers would think I was a terrible wife. And the list goes on and on and on.
Sound familiar? I know it does to some of you because I've talked to you and learned that you feel the same way. And yet, when the tables are turned, I would never judge any of you to be those things. We're all willing to cut each other slack but there's none left for ourselves.
And that leads to the title of my blog--"Abiding Joy". I made that the title because that is my goal. I'm trying to stop wasting my energy appearing to have a perfect life and start spending my energy on appreciating what I really have. I really have a great life, one that should be full of joy. But I'm so busy putting myself down that although I can see the joy in my life, I can't really reach it. It's like standing outside a bakery window seeing and smelling all the wonderful pastries, but not being able to taste any of them. Why can I recognize that I have a wonderful husband, two healthy and adorable children, a great family, and fabulous friends, but I can't always feel the joy that all of those things should bring?
I'm learning things that help and I want to share those things with anyone else who can benefit from them. I also want input from anyone else who has gone, or is going through something similar. This includes depression and anxiety because I think that it is all very similar and connected. I think my lifestyle breeds stress which then breeds depression and anxiety. But I also deal with clinical depression. I have finally accepted that. I also finally accept that it isn't a sign of any weakness or defect on my part. Like someone with diabetes, it's a condition I have. That doesn't mean that I'm depressed all the time, thankfully! But I know that I will have bad days and good days, just like everyone else. But what I want is to not feel so distant from the joy in my life when I am having one of those bad days. And I definitely could feel it more even on my good days.
So, this is just a forum for us to share and discuss and learn to let the joy in and to make it stay so that we all can experience abiding joy.

15 comments:

Andrea said...

I love the idea of women learning from other women's experiences and not judging. You are very intuitive, so many people need an outlet but don't know how to find it. You're awesome.

Anna Cosby said...

okay, I didn't finish reading all of it, but heck, you even tried to go for a morning run. That's amazing. And fyi, Jon's been taking Marie Calendar's for lunch for the past THREE MONTHS! One day, his boss's wife even made him lunch because she felt bad for him. :) How's that for a confession? Surprisingly, I don't feel bad about it at all.

Jen said...

I'm looking forward to reading about what you have to say, especially about depression. This is something that I have never really understood, although I've watched close friends deal with it and felt its fingers a few times too. And, I have to add, that I never make Eric's lunch. EVER. I think it's a habit from when we were both working. Sometimes he gives me a hard time about it, but it's his lunch, he can make it. I make mine. Of course, that doesn't stop me from getting mad at him when he buys himself lunch. I guess we each have our own issues, huh? :) And by the way, I think you're awesome and I love and miss you and your family!!!

Doug and Sharon said...

Two weeks ago our theme for Stake Conference was this: "We can be what we are supposed to be even if we cannot do everything we are supposed to do." I loved it. It was nice to finally hear that I don't have to be superwoman to be a great mom. I am putting this quote in my bathroom so I can see it every morning and night and remember that I am awesome even if I didn't accomplish a tenth of the things I think(or any other person thinks) I should have accomplished. I hope you like the quote too. :)

Ketchesons said...

Wow! I can't believe how well you worded everything.
As I flew this past summer to different places with the girls I kept thinking "They are nuts! do they really think that I will give myself oxygen before I give it to my kids??" And as I crashed I realized that I'm dying because I saved them first, the worst part is that my family needs ME, Belky, not supermom and since I crashed, we are both gone.
So, now I am working on getting Belky back, my tip, do something little everyday that I really enjoy ( I now dance once a day) and ask to Heavenly Father to teach me to forgive myself.
As for lunches... I am so bad about them, and Dave will not buy it for himself to save that little body of his!!

Melissa said...

Wow. I have struggled off and on with depression for the past several years...more since Keali was born. Post-partum hit me hard. I think this is a great idea. Unlike you, I didn't feel the pressure to be the perfect everything--I just didn't do anything unless I absolutely had to. My house was always at least slightly messy, my kids dressed in whatever I could find. Heath did so much around the house and with the kids that I literally dreaded when he would leave the house and counted the minutes until he came home. I was terrified of not being able to take care of the kids by myself.
I am slowly working my way out of it, but I love the idea of this blog. I look forward to visiting it often!

Nik said...

Cheryl, thanks for being so candid. Women feel the pressures of perfectionism from so many different angles. It is a beautiful thing that you are sharing your heart with us.

Linsey said...

Cheryl, I think this is great! It is very important for women who struggle with this to have a support group. Depression is something that I have carried with me every day of my life for as long as I can remember. I think that being critical of myself is my #1 talent. Even right now I am thinking that people are going to think I am dumb for leaving this comment.
Thank you for doing this.

TheMerkelFamily said...

You are so amazing for making a blog like this. I too have suffered from depression. I had late onset Postpartum depression with Isaiah and it hasn't gone away since. However, I do find comfort in knowing other people who have had it and I think that a big part of recovering from those bad days is to turn to our heavenly father and prayer, prayer, prayer. As a nurse I know how serious depression is and I commend you for letting the world in on what depression is and all your helpful hints. You are amazing and I look forward to coming back to the blog often.

Kristen Pratt-Canales said...

Hey Cher-bear,
Remember me, your old roommate Captain Pratty. This is a great blog and definitely an important topic. Do you remember Joseph from the Elms ward? His last name escapes me right now but I remember once he said he didn't understand why anyone in the church would be depressed. I didn't understand how he couldn't understand! I have a single friend who recently almost left the church simply because she felt she couldn't be happy, single and mormon at the same time.
I'm glad you're reaching out and I have great faith that you'll find a way to keep the perspective you need.

cinder said...

I am also so proud of you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about this hard and misunderstood topic. I am still learning about it. I have heard that more LDS women have depression than others and I can see why. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. The perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect LDS woman. We should strive for perfection but like Pres. Hinkley said, "just do a little better." You do so many great things. Think about the good you are doing!

Jennifer said...

I think this is a wonderful idea and I look forward to reading it! I hope from time to time I'll also have something insightful to say...we'll see.

Kristen and Shawn said...

It is nice to have support from other women. I look forward to participating in the discussions and getting feedback from others.

april said...

I am not a mother, nor am I married, but still, as a student and a woman I hear you, Cheryl. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in high school, and it has been a huge struggle for me to overcome for the last 10 years. I've finally admitted to myself that isn't necessarily something I can "overcome," but it is something that I don't have to "suffer from." I think it is great that you have started this blog, not only because we all have so many preconceived notions about what women think and who we are, but because we can come together and see similarities in our experience, no matter how different. So, hurray, and hello again!

Aubrey, Josh, and Caden said...

You are so right, I think all moms (myself included) put way too much pressure on ourselves and forget to count our blessings...It's a great idea to have a forum for an outlet. Maybe I'll come on here and lay off the shoe collection for a while! (c;