A year and two days ago

It’s been a year and two days since my daughter tried to take her life. It was on a day like today. It happened while I was sitting in the same spot I’m in today, writing my post oblivious to what was happening a couple rooms away.

It came out of nowhere. I blamed myself for not noticing something was wrong. Me, the hyper-vigilant one. I was focused on other things, other problems.

There was a fight between my daughter and our foreign exchange student Estelle. Before then things were great between them, better than I could’ve ever expected. Arabella and Estelle were best friends. We even signed Arabella up to be a foreign exchange student hosted by Estelle’s family. Then there was the fight. Arabella accused Estelle of trying to steal her friends. I thought it was temporary, petty even. They would work it out themselves. But a few days later my daughter tried to kill herself.

She tried to OD and laid down in her bed to go into a forever sleep. She was filled with horror and threw up the pills she ingested. She reached out to her friends, then she reached out to me. That is when she found me writing my post on a day just like today. She came into the room sobbing hysterically. I literally thought someone had died. She said it was a mistake and it wouldn’t happen again. I don’t know why I believed her. We were na├»ve and new to her mental health struggles back then. We didn’t know what to do and certainly had no idea what would happen next.

One of the first feelings I felt was enraged. I screamed and kicked the garbage can across the room spilling its contents everywhere. I can’t remember a time of such anger and uncontrolled rage in myself. I wanted to punch a wall or through the glass in the door. Looking back it seemed like an unusual response because I usually suppress my anger. But that is what happened.

Sometimes I wonder what it would’ve been like if she succeeded that night in February. Succeeded, what a horrible word to describe something like that. I don’t think I would’ve made it through to share my story. My demons could have me. I just wouldn’t have the fight to run from them anymore.

For a long time after that night, I would awake in the middle of the night to see if she was still breathing. I would watch for the rise and fall of the blankets. Sometimes I couldn’t see and would reach out to touch her gently as to not wake her reminiscent of the early years when I checked on my sweet baby to see if she was still breathing after she stopped crying out for me in the middle of the night.

Now there was a new fear that robbed me of my peace both day and night. Will my daughter choose life today? I rejoice that it’s been over a year and she is alive!!

It was the start of a new journey. I was no longer just a sibling of someone with serious mental health issues, now I am a mother.

Gratitude week 55

  1. Although this was something I was initially upset about, I’m grateful that I made a wasted trip to the psychiatrist with my daughter a week earlier due to a scheduling error. Arabella was not doing well the day of her rescheduled appointment which lead the psychiatrist take my concerns seriously. He thinks she has more serious mental health issues then he initially thought. Then he told us he was retiring and couldn’t help anymore. The appointment was devastating on many levels, but at least we are closer to getting answers.
  2. I got a hair cut and my nails done today. I feel like a new person.
  3. My husband and I are still planning on taking the vacation I planned several months back. We are flying out this week to Arkansas and spending a few days in Hot Springs then traveling on to New Orleans. From there we will be staying on the Alabama coast and flying out of Florida. I have been conflicted about this trip. I booked it before I knew how serious things were with my daughter. As of now we are going. We have been pretty burnt out and could really use a break.
  4. I’m grateful we have trustworthy and reliable people in place to take care of things at home while we are gone.
  5. I’m grateful I finished the series about my dad. It was one of the hardest things I had to write about. So much so that I considered not even doing it. But as it is a personal blog, I am hoping to write about the good and the bad things in my life. After we get back from our trip I am going to lighten things up a bit and write about our travels. Then I am going to dive into another deep topic, having a child develop severe mental health issues during a pandemic. I’m hoping to post one more time this week. So don’t worry if you don’t hear from me for awhile!
  6. I’m grateful that my best friend picked me up and took me out to brunch over the weekend.
  7. I’m grateful for a good conversation with my mom yesterday.
  8. I’m grateful to realize that I need to take care of myself once in awhile too.
  9. I’m grateful to be travelling with Paul and for the adventures we will have. We’ve had a lot of stress and so many plans fall through this past year.
  10. I’m grateful to have had some tests done today to continue on my path to seek health. I’m hoping with this trip it won’t feel so long before I get the results back.

Gratitude week 53

  1. Yeah, 2020 is finally behind us!!
  2. I’m grateful for my best friend. She had her birthday this past week and I did something I haven’t tried since I was a teenager. We went to a shooting range. I was really nervous about it, but it was a lot of fun.
  3. Paul decided to quit drinking. Here’s to 5 days sober! Yes, he made it through New Year’s Eve. I’m grateful for the positive changes he is making in his life, in our life together.
  4. I’m grateful for the snow that blankets the ground. We had our first real snowfall of the season this week. It is really beautiful.
  5. I’m grateful that my routine mammogram came back normal.
  6. I’m grateful that my daughter Arabella will start attending outpatient tomorrow as we wait for residential care. I’m hoping this will be beneficial for improving her mental health.
  7. I’m grateful that my son will be getting his wisdom teeth removed tomorrow and will no longer be in pain.
  8. I’m grateful that I have all the holiday decorations cleaned up and put away.
  9. I’m grateful to get out of the house and go to the movies with my daughter and her boyfriend. We watched Promising Young Lady and it was pretty good.
  10. I’m grateful for clean sheets and warm jammies on these dark cold days.

Gratitude week 52

  1. Here’s to a whole year of gratitude! Cheers!
  2. Everyone in our house thought this was one of the best Christmases in years. The kids were happy with their gifts, everyone worked hard to get along, we played games, and there was even a dusting of snow on the ground.
  3. This has been a crazy Christmas season, but somehow we made things work. We didn’t get together with the extended family this year, but there was less stress and busyness. I’ve heard a lot of crazy things…some friend’s family members were invited for the holidays and others were not because some were a higher risk of COVID. Other families weren’t getting together because others couldn’t afford to have a gift exchange because their income was cut due to COVID. How petty! It seems this year that more people celebrated the holidays with their chosen family instead of their given family.
  4. After my son went to the ER and had a lot of testing done, he still has neck pain. Well, the weekend on call dentist was wrong saying it wasn’t his wisdom teeth over the phone. Maybe I’ll send her the bill for the ER visit and CT scan. My son went to the dentist this week and the pain he is experiencing is coming from his wisdom teeth. So, thankfully we found out where his pain is coming from. Now he just has to wait another week to get them removed.
  5. I’m grateful to spend Christmas Eve with friends having a good meal and going to the candlelit Christmas service.
  6. I’m grateful to be able to help someone in need this Christmas. A mom of one of my son’s friends is having a hard year. Her husband left her for a younger woman, then she lost her job. She is struggling with kids at home while we have food on our table. Paul and I decided to give her a gift card for the grocery store. I said it is not real giving if we give pocket change. True giving should make you feel a little uncomfortable. I feel grateful that we were able to find someone in need and help them this Christmas.
  7. I’m grateful for the gifts I received. I really needed a new pair of slippers.
  8. I feel grateful for Christmas lights.
  9. I’m grateful for great Christmas food. I did tons of baking this year…two pies, four batches of cookies…plus my other favorites like deviled eggs. I think I need to do a detox diet in January in the years to come. I’m afraid to step on the scale.
  10. I’m grateful that all my kids are living at home. It’s always so busy. If they all move out within 6 months like they all want to, it’s going to be way too quiet. Thankfully they all want to stay within the area.

Gratitude week 48

  1. I finished writing the census series. I did forget a couple of stories. I was required to wear a mask, but one day I forgot. I had to cross a busy street in a downpour to go to an apartment complex that was always locked. But that one time the door was open. I went upstairs and knocked on the door. It sounded like someone was home. I was mortified because after I knocked I realized I had forgotten my mask in the car. That was a time I was thankful no one answered. I’m grateful to be able to share my stories with you.
  2. I’m grateful that I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving this week with my best friend and her family. Apparently she called her parents to wish them a happy Thanksgiving and found out that her siblings were invited over for the holiday but she was not. She works at the hospital and her parents consider her high risk for COVID so she is not welcome for the holidays this year but her siblings are. They didn’t even tell her. I’m grateful that we could get together to celebrate. I feel hurt by my mom as well. She considers us high risk but she still gets together with other people. We could really use her support right now. I wonder how many other families are dealing with this.
  3. I am glad that I have 2 days left on my detox diet. I am saving the pumpkin pie my friend made for the morning I am done. I told my daughter Angel to please not make deviled eggs otherwise I would crack. We’ll save the devil for Christmas.
  4. Yesterday my husband and I found the perfect Christmas tree. Every year I try to pick a theme. It has been difficult this year because we aren’t in any shows. Sorry, but quarantine is a sucky theme. In a couple weeks, it will be the 20th anniversary of my grandpa’s passing. This year I decided to dedicate our tree in tribute to him. If it wasn’t for my grandparents there is a good chance I wouldn’t be telling you my story today. I put 20 candy canes on the tree and decorated it with the pine cones my grandfather made many years ago. I feel like I was directed to the perfect tree in remembrance of him. I’m grateful I have some good memories to pass on to my kids.
  5. My daughter Arabella is in the hospital again. This is the third time in the last four months. She has been diagnosed with Major Depression with Borderline traits. The suicide rate for Borderline is 10%. I can’t imagine what it is combined with depression. I’m grateful that for now she is safe. This year has been hell for a lot more than COVID. I am going to start a new series tomorrow that will explore this past year.
  6. As I was decorating my tree yesterday I was very dismayed by the selection of Christmas music, so I made my own Christmas playlist. It includes both sacred and secular songs. I have over 8 hours of playtime and have hit every single genre from opera, traditional, rap, reggae, polka, pop, rock, metal, instrumental, funny….
  7. We have entered the season of light. This has been such a horrific year that I decided to decorate my house with every single strand of Christmas lights I own. I am going to be grateful for Christmas this year even if I can’t leave the house.
  8. I am grateful I was able to see my craniosacral massage therapist this week.
  9. I’m grateful for the classic Christmas movies. Last night we watched It’s a Wonderful Life. It makes me wonder how I have impacted other peoples lives. What would the life of others be like if we were never born? Wow, that is deep. I really should watch a comedy or something.
  10. Yesterday I cleaned out Arabella’s frog cage. I’m not sure how it even happened but her frogs escaped in her room. I asked Angel to help me catch them but she is afraid of frogs. She just ran around the room screaming. I’m grateful I caught them. The cage is clean and everything turned out alright.
  11. My son and I ran into his old piano teacher at the grocery store. She was a very instrumental person in his life throughout his difficult teen years. It was wonderful to see her again and find her well.

Gratitude week 46

  1. I’m grateful that I am halfway through my detox diet. It is getting harder now. I’m not feeling as good as I did before. I lost 7 lbs. in the last 2 weeks. Perhaps after this I will never eat vegetables again.
  2. I’m grateful I was able to find a new car. As the kids are getting older, my cars are getting smaller. I bought a compact car, a Kia Forte. It is a couple years old with very low mileage in my price range. It has some nice features like heated and cooled seats. I really like it.
  3. Clean sheets.
  4. Quality time with the family swimming and playing games.
  5. Having pajama day on a lazy Saturday since my plans were cancelled due to COVID.
  6. I’m grateful this week for our veterans and the sacrifices they made to serve our country.
  7. I’m grateful to the service people who came out this week. It helped us put the finishing steps on getting ready for winter. Today it is very breezy and cool with no sunlight in sight. We finished winterizing just in time.
  8. I’m grateful to be able to learn new things by reading books and watching intelligent shows.
  9. I’m grateful for the stories I wrote and the ones I will write. It’s also wonderful to read about other people’s lives just by reaching for my phone in my own house.
  10. I’m grateful for friends who stepped up and supported us through these trying times.

Gratitude week 42

  1. I got my haircut and I really like how it turned out even though my daughter said I have the same haircut as my son.
  2. My husband motored our sailboat to its winter home. I’m grateful for his safety. The weather turned and he had no choice but to bring it back in strong winds, waves, and icy temperatures.
  3. I’m also grateful he has some pretty wonderful friends to take the boat back with him. Although they wore their winter gear, they got wet and were absolutely freezing.
  4. My best friend’s husband had surgery and is doing well.
  5. My husband planned a surprise date, something he has never done before. It was something simple, a trip to the local museum. But I haven’t been there since the kids were little. We are starting to get used to being able to do things without the kids. It is lonely, but in some ways it is nice. Now we started to plan a monthly surprise date night.
  6. I am in the beginning process of planning a trip this winter. Everything I had planned this year got cancelled or put off so it is nice to switch into planning gear again.
  7. We have been having problems with our 17 year old daughter. She wants to move out and live with a friend. It’s a long story that I will probably tell someday. This weekend we talked to her and set boundaries we are comfortable with. Her behavior has been causing us all a lot of stress, but I’m grateful we won’t continue to let her treat us poorly.
  8. I’m grateful for a supportive best friend.
  9. I’m grateful to have more time to blog.
  10. I’m grateful to feel like I am healthy and strong to be able to handle the dark days ahead.

Gratitude week 41

  1. I updated my address and am ready to vote. I also helped my son register as a first time voter.
  2. We met with a new doctor for Arabella and we really like him. I think he is going to be able to help her.
  3. I have been struggling with my daughter’s depression and decided to take a drive by myself to clear my head. I headed up north and discovered unexpectedly that my dad was up there alone as well. I said some things I needed to say to him. He did say he was sorry for hurting me and also said he loved me. I think God guided me there and it is crucial for my healing process. I have been fluctuating between rage and forgiveness far too long to be healthy.
  4. I am done working for the census now. It’s been an expected yet not easy adjustment. I’m grateful to have extra time to get some of the back burner tasks done like washing windows and changing light bulbs.
  5. Yesterday I got out my winter clothes. I got rid of a bunch of clothes I don’t wear anymore. It felt good to get rid of things I don’t need and to get ready for winter.
  6. I’m grateful that although I live in a COVID hotbed, so far all of my family and close friends have been safe.
  7. I’m grateful our president recovered from COVID. There is so much chaos and craziness in our country right now that I couldn’t even imagine more…
  8. I’m grateful to finally be able to talk to my best friend. For some reason she didn’t receive ANY of the texts I sent to her this month. I was really starting to worry.
  9. It is absolutely gorgeous outside right now with the fall colors. I really need to try to enjoy each season because I think I am going to be stuck here for quite a while. I think I’m going to have to challenge myself with gratitude in this area especially when things get dreary, cold, and dark.
  10. Arabella’s senior pictures turned out really cute.

Reaching the end

I resigned from my census job today and turned in all my census equipment. I was expecting it to end, but I wasn’t expecting it to end quite as abruptly as it did.

In some ways I feel relieved, but mainly I feel sad. Strangely I feel stir crazy. I feel like I have cabin fever and man is it a long way from March. I have literally nothing on my calendar. If it was a normal year I’d almost have next summer planned already.

Work was the only place I went, the only thing I did. There are a handful of friends that I haven’t even seen since this whole pandemic began. When this whole thing is over will we start back up again where we left off? I miss being too busy, every weekend planned not a second left for spontaneity.

My daughter’s high school just went back to virtual learning. Apparently Wisconsin is a virtual COVID hotbed right now. Everywhere I go, everywhere I look people are fighting about the masks we are required to wear. I went to the store today and saw a guy wearing a Halloween mask. I’m just sick of it. I don’t even care anymore. I hate what we have become and there is no escape from it, from ourselves.

Once again everything is changing almost as fast as the changing of the seasons. I feel kind of blah about it. I don’t want to just accept it willingly. But the good news is that I should have time now to write about my adventures as a census worker and I plan on spending the next couple of weeks doing that. And I just sent out an email inquiring about another job.

Gratitude week 37

  1. I was supposed to leave for a couple of days last week and work the census job in far northern Wisconsin. Maybe it will still happen later this week. I don’t know. I went from working almost 45 hours the week before to working 3 hours last week. Although it was unexpected, I am grateful that the census project is almost completed.
  2. I am grateful that I was able to tackle some extra chores on my unexpected time off such as weeding and washing the dog.
  3. I’m grateful that I was able to spend one of the days off with my mom. Her health hasn’t been the greatest and I have been frustrated that she hasn’t been doing the things she should to take care of herself.
  4. I’m grateful that my son’s friend, whose car broke down in our driveway, was able to get his car fixed after being here for a week.
  5. Although there was a bit of a miscommunication that resulted in conflict, I’m grateful we took our son’s car in to have his exhaust fixed. He got pulled over and was given a warning to get it fixed. He wanted to fix it himself with a friend after getting his first paycheck this week from the auto parts store. The problem was that his friend wanted to weld the piece underneath the car. Neither have experience with mechanics or welding autos. After I found out his car has an oil and gas leak, I told him that fixing it would not be safe. I probably saved their lives after recently finding this out. We then made an appointment to get it fixed while he was at work. My son was angry because he thought the appointment was to fix another problem, not the exhaust. We argued about it since he wanted to fix it himself because it would be cheaper even if it was dangerous. The cost was not as much as he was expecting since he needed to pay for some of it. Later my son apologized for his behavior. This is big. I don’t remember him ever apologizing to me before.
  6. Last school year both my son and my youngest daughter failed (or should I say didn’t pass/incomplete to be PC) their writing class. How appalling as a writer to have children that don’t want to write. Who doesn’t love to read and write?? My two kids I guess. Seriously, WTH?? I can’t wait to have the time to sit down with a book or write. My son is retaking the class and asked for my help. This is another big step for him, asking for help. He never does that. He is maturing which I am grateful for. Part of being a healthy adult is learning to admit mistakes and asking for help when needed. I am still working on that. It was something that was frowned upon in my house growing up. I was taught that making mistakes were wrong. I was to condemn others for making mistakes while pretending I was perfect. It was absolutely from the devil to ask for help. I still struggle but I am working on it as well.
  7. My daughter Angel will be moving home the end of next week!! I know she is not as excited about it as I am. She has gotten used to being independent and that is a good thing.
  8. My husband and I are tossing around the idea of starting up a new and exciting business venture.
  9. We were finally able to make it to church yesterday after about a month.
  10. It was nice to get together with our best friends this past weekend to celebrate my husband’s and his best friend’s birthday. I’m grateful we found another couple where the guys and the girls are best friends. It should work out that way more than it actually does.