A Letter to My Children

 

HI kiddo,  how are you? I want to talk to you for a second because life isn’t always puppy dogs, sunshine, and smiles — because my life is rarely those things— and I want you to know why.

After all, you deserve an explanation.

You see, Mommy suffers from an illness. It’s different from other illnesses. It’s a mental illness — that means it’s an illness that lives inside my brain.

Of course, I know this doesn’t make sense. I mean, I’m not laid out. I’m not throwing up, and I don’t have a fever. I look normal. I sound normal, and I seem normal.

I appear to be A-OK, but not all illnesses can be seen, my child. Not all conditions come with a cough or congestion, and “sick” doesn’t always mean what you think it means (my disorder cannot be fixed with snuggles and soup).

But I am sick, my love. Sick with a mental illness.

“De-pres-sion?” you ask. “What is depression? Are you okay, Mommy? Do you need medicine? Are you going to be OK? Are you too sick to play?”

Well, yes and no. No and yes.

You see, these are good questions. Good questions which deserve an answer. Unfortunately, depression is muddy — very, very muddy — and the answers you seek aren’t always cut and dry.

They aren’t always black and white.

But I will tell you what I can when I can. And right now, I can tell you this: Depression is an illness which affects your body and your mind. You can’t catch it, like pinkeye or a cold. You can’t pass it through a kiss or by sharing straws, and depression can be treated.

Thanks to my medicine, most days are asymptomatic. (That means mommy feels fine. Most days, Mommy is good. She is OK.)

However, sometimes my depression acts up, and when it does, I am achy and sleepy. Weepy, short-tempered, angry, and sad, and I don’t want move. I don’t want to eat. I don’t want to stroll through the park or even to the playground across the street because I don’t want to do anything.

I want to hide in bed or lie on the couch.

And it is these days which hurt you most — it is these days which affect you most — because you are young, and you don’t only need my attention, you want my attention. You yearn for my attention. You beg for my attention, and yet I don’t give it. Not fully. Not completely.

I am with you, but not present. I am beside you, but my mind is missing. I am not truly there.

And for that I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.

Make no mistake: I’m not sorry for my depression. I cannot be. It is an illness like any other, and it is beyond my control. But I am sorry for how it hurts you. I am sorry for how I have hurt you, and I am sorry for how it has affected you.

I am sorry if my apathy has ever made you feel neglected, unwelcome, or unloved.

I am also sorry for the “little things.” For the canceled playdates and the “not tonight” dinner dates. For the “mommy’s napping through breakfast” breakfasts and the cold cereal suppers. I am sorry for the games I haven’t played, for the puzzles I haven’t done, for the pictures I haven’t colored, and for songs I haven’t sung. And I’m sorry for the trees I haven’t climbed, and for the picnics we haven’t had. I’m sorry for the baseball games I missed and the school parties I didn’t attend.

Because if I’m being honest with you, there have been days in which I’ve been too sick to play. Where I’ve been so lost in my mind and consumed by sadness, fear, anger, and self-loathing that I cannot function, but I can only imagine how that makes you feel.I can only imagine how sad, disappointed, and rejected you feel. And I can’t help but wonder, as you scuttle away with your eyes turned down and your head hung low, if you think this is somehow your fault.

If you think the anger, the apathy, the tears, or my “no, not now, dear” answers are your fault. And that crushes me.

It guts me to the core because it isn’t true. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

So listen, little one: While I know this depression thing is confusing — while I know it is hard to explain, and even harder to understand — I want you to know that I’ll keep trying to be better and to get better. I’ll keep talking (and working) to explain it to you better, and I’ll do whatever I can to be a good mom. A healthy mom. To be the loving, present mom you deserve.

But there will be bad days and sick days and days when my depression will win. And on those days, please remember that I love you. I will always love you, and no matter what happens — no matter how many tears I may shed or naps I may take — my moods are not your fault. My feelings are not your fault. My erratic thoughts are not your fault, and my illness is not your fault.

My depression is not (and never will be) your fault.

Love, Mom

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on June 13, 2017.

Parenting with Mental Illness

Mild anxiety and depression have always been a part of my life. I hid it well in my younger years; coping by using eating disordered behaviors to ease any feelings I didn’t like. I purged my food after binging while alternating that with periods of restricting my intake of food.

As I got older, I began self treating in other ways. I would abuse prescription pain medication that was given to me for a chronic arthritic spinal disease. I abused my anxiety meds by taking whole bottles at a time so I could spend the day in bed.

Being a mom is hard and brings a new, additional set of challenges. Dealing with my mental illness has not been easy. But, I learned to give myself grace… it was the only way I could, and can, keep going.

My children have been to the sterile white walls of a psychiatric hospital to visit mommy. They knew only that mommy was sick and not the exact reason why. They have visited me in residential treatment where I spent 30 days away from them getting an accurate diagnosis and trying to find a treatment that would make me able to function.

I love my kids. With every hospitalization (which now is over 70 days total spent in a psychiatric facility) I have had to deal with the mommy guilt. As if there isn’t enough guilt with parenting all on its own, I had to learn to tell myself that I was doing what was best for them by helping myself. I told myself that over and over and it took years for me to accept it.

Life is far from perfect now. I’m more stable and my suicidal ideation has dissipated for the most part. I no longer look for ways to hurt myself. But, I still have my days where depression looms and I want to hide away in bed for the day. I know my children are always watching. So I try with everything in me to push on if for no other reason than to teach them strength and resilience.

I want them to know that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t want them to stigmatize others or feel stigmatized themselves should they ever have any sort of mental illness. They know I go to therapy, take meds and have ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) twice a month. I’ve talked to them about mommy being sad sometimes and that it’s ok to have down days.

I want them to know that I fought for myself and for them. That I fought to be here for the little moments and the big moments. That I gave myself enough grace to accept the bad days and embrace  the good ones.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on June 13, 2017.

Slipping

I read an article today written by someone whose mom committed suicide and how Mother’s day just isn’t the same without her. In my heart I felt a sting. Because that’s one of my biggest fears- how my suicide would impact my children.

My mental health has quietly been declining and yet I can’t seem to find a way to talk about it. Six weeks ago, I saw my therapist of 6+ years for the last time. I haven’t met with my psychiatrist in as many weeks. A change in my mental health care coverage has shorted me the ability to take care of myself.

See, I had managed and been able to balance my mental health a little better when I was seeing my team of professionals knew me and were helping me. But, my insurance- or lack there of- denied me my mental health coverage at the facility that had saved me from myself. This facility helped diagnose and treat my bipolar, an eating disorder, severe anxiety and other symptoms/illnesses. They gave me personalized care that covered every aspect of my well being. I had a dedicated team there that helped me both inpatient and out. I felt like I was at home there.

Finding a new facility feels like too big of a task to tackle.  I don’t want to deal with the daunting task of going somewhere else. It was exhausting enough going to the one place I felt comfortable with as it is.

I don’t have it in me to start all over.

And because of that, I feel as though my life is slipping away.

I don’t want to be another statistic. I don’t want to become the reason people put a support ribbon on the back of their car. I don’t want my family, friends, children or husband to have to bury me. But a lack of medical coverage, and the inability to pay the large cost for mental health care out of pocket leaves me feeling helpless and even more hopeless than before.

I’m trying. I really am trying. Tears stream down my face as I try to convince myself to get up every day. This isn’t self pity or anything like that. It is this inability of being able to fight an illness(es) alone and feeling so isolated and exhausted. It’s not having the treatment from people who really “get it” in my life anymore. It’s the pain I feel like I’m causing everyone around me as they pick up my slack becuase I can’t function.

I’m so grateful for the people who gave me over half a decade of care and love and help. I’m sorry that I’m slipping away- or so it feels. I hope I can fight on.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on May 14, 2017.

Illness is hard

I try to be positive on my site, but I’m going to vent for a moment.

I’m more stable now then I have been in many years. An accurate diagnosis can be a glorious thing. But, with that hunt for an accurate diagnosis came more medication changes and trials/ errors than I can even remember. Psych meds, more than half the time, cause weight gain. As someone with an eating disorder, it’s hard to accept the 90 pound weight gain in exchange for mental stability. I hate my body and everything about how I look. I avoid reunions and hanging out with friends because I’m so embarrassed of how I look. But, at the same time, I’m less of a burden on these people now that I’m mentally stable and not in and out of the psych ward every couple months.

I still have mood shifts, they just aren’t as frequent. Bipolar II is a wicked thing to have. I’m horribly depressed and unable to function some days, then the next thing you know I’m bouncing off the walls, on a cleaning and shopping spree and then comes the dreaded crash. It’s awful. I never know when I wake up (or even throughout the course of a single day) which mood will come next. I have a hard time planning events for too many days ahead because I never know what my mood will be. Will I be bedridden and paralyzed by fear and anxiety? Will I be manic? Will I be “normal”?

The depression brings such intense anxiety that I literally can’t function. I’ll spend all day in bed attempting to hide from my mind. (If only that worked!) My mind whirls relentlessly, convincing me that I’m worthless, a pain in the butt, better off dead, etc. It’s exhausting and, no doubt, frustrating to not only me, but all those who deal with me.

My latest medicine combo, along with twice monthly electroconvulsive therapy treatments, has me more stable than I have been in years and I’m grateful for it. But, medicine is not a cure. It simply helps to manage the conditions that are present. I’ll be on these meds the rest of my life. I’ll most likely have my brain zapped for many more years to come. All this to just survive.

I write, speak and do a lot to help spread awareness about these diseases that a lot of people think are made-up, not real or attention seeking. It has sort of turned into my life mission. I’m sure I will always struggle. It’s a terrible inconvenience, no doubt. I can admit that right now I’m struggling. I’m in the throws of an ugly depression and I’m just writing to vent about how much it sucks.

Hopefully one day I’ll see not only my own value, but also that maybe this life isn’t so bad after all. I’ve spent six years in search of an accurate diagnosis and I finally have one. I had spent a lifetime feeling anxious and depressed one minute and manic the next and so it’s nice to feel “better”, but it’s hard to grasp that, short of a divine intervention, “better” is my new normal… even if it sucks (albeit, sucks less than before).

Friends, be kind to one another. Show compassion and grace. Accept others for who they are.

Much Love,

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on April 27, 2017.

Dear Reader

Dear Reader,

My name is Lindsay Alyson Ensor. There are a few things I need you to know about me. I am a real, live person. A real person with a real life.

I am a mom, wife, sister, and friend.

I am also a writer, speaker, and advocate for what I believe in.

I am a child of God. I am a warrior. I am a survivor.

I suffer from arthritis and a disease known as Ankylosing Spondylitis that leaves me in chronic physical pain taking chemotherapy drugs to fight its progression.

I am mentally ill. I have anxiety. I have depression. I have bipolar II disorder. I am fighting to gain remission from what has been a lifelong battle with bulimia. I am recovering from addiction to opioids and self harm. I am finally at a point in my life where I want to live and I am not actively seeking a way to die or harm myself in some way.

I am a fighter. I stand up for and fight for the wellbeing of my chronically ill child. I am his advocate.

I stand up for mental health issues. I share my story.

I may not have it all together. I may not have a huge house or a fancy car. But what I DO have is love. I have HOPE. I have faith. I have the drive in me to help others gain knowledge about illnesses so that they best know how to help themselves and/or others.

So, Reader, what I want you to know is this: There is HOPE, there is HEALING, and there is LOVE. I am real.

I will not be silent.

Love,

Me

 

 

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on March 5, 2017.

Working…

… on a new look!

Stay tuned and please be patient with our mess!

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on January 29, 2017.

My Mission

If I look like a fool to millions but help one, then it is all worth it.

 

I think it’s super easy right now to get caught up in the emotion, the frustration and the inner thoughts we all have of what is happening around us. But please, don’t forget to focus on YOUR mission; what YOU are here to do. If you feel called to a greater cause or good, please don’t hold back in your pursuits of that- whatever it may be. Remember that we are here to love, help and embrace those around us.

My mission and purpose is to serve others and advocate for mental health awareness of all kinds. My story isn’t always easy to hear or acknowledge, but I share it because I am not here for accolades or praise. I’m here on this earth to fulfill a greater calling. The quote listed above helps me remember to stay focused, even on the hardest of days when I feel like I’m being judged, shunned or looked at as if I am nothing but a fool.

Be kind to one another today. Love someone. You never know who is fighting the hardest of battles today.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on January 29, 2017.

Midlife

Picture

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on December 29, 2016.

It is well with my soul

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on December 29, 2016.