Friday, March 22, 2013

Because military children are the true unsung heroes...

     There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Adam is one of the few people I call a hero. I could go on and on about his accomplishments, but that would be the world's longest blog post. The other day it hit me - Addison, all 13 years of him, is also one of my heroes. Not just because the chicks dig him and his blue eyes, but because of his strength and resilience, all honed through all of his years of being a military child.

     Every mother knows how awful they feel when their child is sick or in pain, and there's only so much they can do to help them. When dropping Adam off for his latest deployment, I watched as Addison clung to Adam, and would have continued to stand there forever if it meant his father didn't have to go to war yet again. I know as a wife what that feels like, but as a child, I can't even begin to imagine what goes through his head and his heart.

     I've done my best when Adam has been gone to be both a mother and a father. I've taken him fishing, played baseball, and tried to do everything they enjoy doing together as father and son. I can't replace Adam. I know it's not the same for Addison, and I am grateful he isn't squeamish about taking a fish off the hook for me. He's good about humoring me.

     Addison knows what it's like to not have his father there for his birthday, his first day of school, a whole season of football and baseball, Christmases, etc. And yet, he is still well-adjusted. His sense of humor blows me away. He makes me laugh every single day with his own unique way of looking at the world.

     I don't know what it's like to see your father go to war again and again and again. Addison's life, since the age of two, has been this way. He doesn't remember the first few deployments. He will always remember Christmas of 2004, when he was five, it was Adam's first Christmas overseas, and he and my best friend played Super Mario Bros. all day long together. He may not remember how I tried to paste a smile on my face all day for his sake, yet was crying on the inside.

     He makes me stronger, makes me want to be a better mother, and gives me a reason to get up every single day and try even harder. I'm so incredibly grateful for him, every single day. We all know our servicemembers and veterans are heroes, but so are our military children, who live lives quite unlike other children.

     Addison, I am proud to be your mother, because you make me proud as my son. I couldn't do this without you. We are a great team!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Because I wish everyone understood...

I wrote about my depression awhile ago, and got a huge, overwhelming response of support and love from friends and family. I basically "came out" and let everyone know that I live with depression. Yet, there are always those who don't understand, and don't make the slightest effort to try to understand. So, here I will peel back more layers and let you know what it's like to live with depression.

"Can't you just stop being depressed?" I've heard this many times. Don't you think if I could, I would? If you don't understand something, ask. There's a wonderful resource called the Internet that has more than Facebook and porn on it. When I hear that question, of course I get angry, but I do realize that mental illness is not very widely discussed. I don't show up at parties and tell everyone, "Guess what! I have dysthymia and take a pill every single day! I'm first for a keg stand!" I've been embarrassed and ashamed for so many years, and I would only let a select few friends know about it. Now, I just don't care who knows. Why should an illness be a secret?

Depression happens in the brain. Chemicals are messed up. The medication basically goes in there and tells the chemicals, "Straighten the fuck up, this chick hasn't done laundry in two weeks." I'm not sure exactly what the meds say, but that's my best guess. No one 'chooses' this illness. I'd love to be able to be what society deems 'normal', but I'm not. That's society's problem, and it needs to stop. Would you say to someone with leukemia, "Can't you just stop having cancer of your blood cells?" That's what it feels like when someone suggests I just get over it.

I've been to the very bottom of depression. I don't ever want to go back. Some days are better than others. Just because I take a pill every day doesn't mean I'm cured. I'm simply living life better through the use of medication. It doesn't make it go away, for me, at least. Others have periods of depression that are controlled with medicine, and others live their entire lives with it. I've lost friends who don't understand that some days, I'm lucky that I got dressed, and that socializing just isn't in the cards for that day, or week, or month. My brain tells me to do something, take a baby step, and sometimes, that's the hardest part, just putting one foot in front of the other.

Mental illness can afflict anyone, at any time. No one is immune. Unless you've had depression, or loved someone with it, you have no idea what it's like - same as with any other illness or disease. I'm more than happy to share my experiences with anyone, if it educates just one person, or helps someone who doesn't want to appear weak or crazy get to the doctor. There is nothing wrong with being mentally ill, and I will speak out every chance I get to let people know this.