Anxiety and depression – My son’s story

Some of you know and have supported Logan and I recently so I’m sharing this with you in the hopes that someone else will be helped.

Depression doesn’t always make sense and many people don’t understand it. I’m sharing because of that too. Thank you for your support whether you’ve understood or not. I’m happy to chat anytime.

Please share with anyone you think will benefit from knowing.

I’ve copied and pasted an email I wrote to some people who knew more of this earlier, in the middle of 2014, so it may not all be relevant to you, but the info and sentiments are.

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Because we’ve spoken about this before and you are aware of what’s been happening for Logan, I want to keep you updated on Logan’s situation. I’d appreciate it if you could continue to keep your eye on him, like you’ve already been doing, and let us know if you see any changes.

I took Logan to a psychiatrist on Wednesday and she agreed with my ‘mum diagnosis’ of chemical depression within 10 minutes of us all talking. After a thorough discussion, she’s prescribed him a 12 month course of daily Zoloft, which she will monitor closely with us. She believes that we will see, and Logan will experience, positive change within 3 weeks. All going as expected, he should be functioning normally within three months and in six be back to where he ‘should’ be. This is wonderful, prayed for news, which is exactly the outcome I had hoped for from yesterday’s appointment. Thank you for praying with me.

As with any medication, there MAY be some side effects and although these are mostly minor, we want to be onto them. Especially these next two to three weeks, Logan might be more tired (not sure that’s possible); have slight headaches; have more ‘body irritability’ like jumpy legs, unable to sit still and tightness or clenching of jaw or grinding teeth. None of these presents a problem, it’s just a settling in period. As I said, she’ll be monitoring him every few weeks in person to make sure that’s all. After the initial few weeks, most people have only positive change and because we often don’t see small changes from so close, you may see these more than Logan does at first. I’ll be noticing every tiny thing, I’m sure, which will be a nice change to noticing the decline, but I’d love your feedback too. Logan knows that you are aware of the continuing story and is, even now, willing to talk to you about it all. He has briefly mentioned his anxiety to his friends, but has trouble knowing what to say. As you can understand, some people have negative perceptions in relation to psych-anything, so he’s nervous about judgmental reactions.

This next is probably the most important part of my explanation today and what I hope will help others. It’s only due to my first hand knowledge of chemical depression that I’ve seen beyond what often presents as grumpy, ’emo’ teenager,Neanderthal behaviour and really known he wasn’t ok. It took a close friend’s amazing transformation recently from severe, self harming depression to normal, functional, and finally happy person, for me to seek a psychiatric referral. The psychiatrist had worked with my friend’s medication over months to achieve this and it’s been a miracle. It’s the best discovery I’ve made. I’ve been diagnosed, and improperly treated for, various types of depression for the past twenty years. I’ve been to multiple GPs and referred to counsellors and psychologists and have attended each session feeling like a fraud and a ‘mental case.’ I rarely had anything to discuss and my catch cry has been, “There’s nothing wrong with me; why is there so much wrong with me?” Why did I still feel so hopeless, helpless and lacking in any energy or motivation?

I have tried a number of anti-depressants with varying degrees of un-success, prescribed by GPs who have tried. When one suggested post natal depression when Toby was 4 years old, I wondered if I really was in the ‘too hard’ basket. My latest GP, just prior to finding out about Theo, was the first and only person to use the words, ‘chemical depression’ and she told me it wasn’t psychological, but my body’s inability to manufacture Seratonin, among other things. She said I’d likely have to be on anti-depressant medication for life and likened it to some diabetics having to inject insulin. I felt such relief at that, finally having an answer that wasn’t a mental issue. She’s been amazing, guiding and supporting me through what’s been a rough few years with pregnancy hormones and true postnatal symptoms. I’ve taken my medication as prescribed and have been ok; but only ok. Theo’s nearly two and I’m still only ok. I am so used to being flat that I’ve only really recently realise that I’m probably operating at 75% of what’s normal for me. My head’s above water, but it’s easy to go under. With the change I saw in my friend, I’ve self-referred to this same psychiatrist Logan saw. I’ll see her next week but through the tiny bit of my information I gave her today as background for Logan, she’s already determined my medication is wrong for what I have and that I have been improperly diagnosed and treated for 20 years. She has said that most people can be treated for chemical depression like this in a relatively short, finite period, easily with the right prescription; which is a psychiatrist’s specialist area. I’ve never felt such relief and frustration and anger at the same time!

Although I knew psychiatrists could prescribe medication, I had the mistaken, but disturbingly common, view that psychiatrists were the top of the mental health hierarchy: the more crazy you were, the further up you went. The thing that’s perpetuated this myth and given me what I feel are wasted decades is that no one, not GPs, counsellors or psychologist – NO ONE has ever suggested I seek a psychiatrist’s help – and they SHOULD HAVE. If they had, I’d have done so. If they’d suggested amputation, I would have gone there too in an attempt to feel ‘normal.’ I tell you this because I know I’m not the only one in my situation and although I’m finally going to get this all sorted starting next week, I’m angry at such wasted decades. The only thing I can see that makes it ok is that God has a plan for this knowledge and experience. Because of it, I’ve been able to get help for Logan early and not shrugged it off as grumpy teen. Because of this, I may (and hope to) direct others to seek the right help. And you’re some of the first I’ve told. Maybe you can pass this on to help someone else.

I so appreciate that I’ve been able to honestly share this and my experiences with you all individually over the past few years. It seems trite, but isn’t, to say thank you so much for your support and observation and care of both me and Logan. It was so good to know others saw what I did in him and cared enough to tell me. Thank you for continuing to pray for us. Please ask about and share my journey with anyone who needs it and WATCH THIS SPACE! for new and improved Ross’. Bit scary, hey?

Veritas, Eski

Tough life!

It’s a tough life!

I’m on an excursion today with my Year 11/12 English Communication class. We are here because we are learning about persuasive speeches. Yes, really.

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I know, it sounds unlikely. But despite appearances, this is a valid excursion. I’ve tried something new with my class this term. All the info I gave them was that we had to complete a persuasive speech for our assessment and they planned the term in a way that they would like to learn. Of course, they were quick to point out that they’d NEED to visit a theme park at some point.

“Persuade me,” I said.
“We could write about which is the best ride or theme park,” they said.
“Ok,” I said, “I’ll try.”

So I spoke to our Head of School, explaining the importance of the students taking control of their learning and being inspired to learn. I think I was a bit surprised when he said yes! The condition was that I have the requisite paperwork in the very next day and that I make use of MY persuasive skills to write the letter to parents. I’m pretty impressed with my efforts…

Excursion – Wet n Wild
This term, 11/12 English Communications are involved in the creation and monitoring of their term plan. During the first lesson of the term, students collaboratively developed a Term Overview and detailed what they felt they needed to learn in order to complete the assessment during the exam block. To motivate and inspire them to write an interesting persuasive speech for the exam, they decided to spend the day at Wet ā€˜nā€™ Wild on Thursday, 22nd October. Due to the in-class nature of the planning, this is an optional activity which is not included in our excursion schedule. We encourage you to allow your child to attend to encourage them as they take responsibility and ownership of their learning.

What do you think?

I sent some of the photos above to the HOS with the message,
“Wish you were here?” He was thrilled. This is the message I received in return,
“It’s important, she says…It’s for the students, she says…it’s valuable learning time, she says…💩.” Such support! 😜

I also received a few messages from my Year 11 class (or what was left of them; there were a number of excursions today).

J: “theirs only 3 of use that are in english… yay [sic]…do we still have to do today’s work?”
{I reply in the affirmative}
“Oh.”

G: “Here’s my work from today. It’s a bit quiet.”

G: “Hello again, I would just like to point out how creepy the front page of the pdf document is…sorry if I ever look like this in class šŸ™‚ Feel free to add a caption.”

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I nearly fell off my banana lounge with laughter! That kid looks positively murderous! I’m sorry if ANY of my students feel even the remotest reason to look like this in my classes!

Caption away! I’m very much looking forward to what you all come up with.

So there you go. My day; my students; only 3 of whom decided to line up for a ride at the exact time we were to meet, were 42 minutes late and held up the whole bus full of those waiting. And they did apologise. After asking if they had time to grab a quick frozen drink!

And my new swimmers were a great success – to me.

Veritas, Eski

Guest Author – Freaking people out since ….?

I’ve been invited to read a memoir I wrote a number of years ago to our Year 12 English class later today. My previous teaching partner asked me to do so as I’m not teaching Year 12s at present and they’re learning to write memoirs. This was a pleasant boost to my ego. However, I’m not sure the students will feel as excited. Here’s why:

They’ve been told they’re being visited by a “Guest Author” capital letters and all. They have NOT been told it is me.

In my Creative Writing class on Thursday, one of the Year 12s said to me,
“Apparently we’ve got an author coming to speak to us on Tuesday.”

Just before I open my mouth…

“I hope it’s someone interesting, not just some random.”

Well, my dear boy, you have about 10 hours to hold onto that dream. Then, prepare to be disappointed.

Not great for the ego! However, life is full of surprises – for me as well as students – they might like it.

More on the memoir in posts to come.

Veritas,
Eski 🐛

Veritas, Eski

Extreme Do-Over! A fairy story for modern times.

I want to tell you a story. 

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, in an ordinary suburb, a woman – let’s call her Sally.

(Or, to be honest, it is me.)

Anyway, a woman, strategically organised jobs for her family so that everyone was doing their share. She was so considerate that she allowed her family their choice of chores and allocated what was left to herself. Now this woman has never been renowned for her particular abilities in terms of housework. In fact, she reduced her immediate family to hysteria when she landed a Home Ec teaching position. She is possibly one of the least domestic people we know. However, for the short term, the chore sharing went well and everyone was in clean, folded clothing.

A little while ago though, her life filled up more than usual and something had to go. Sighing disappointedly, she removed the self-replicating, rapidly increasing mountain of clean, unfolded clothing from its normal slothful position on the lounge room couch/floor to the hidden confines of her small walk-in wardrobe. What a relief to have this monstrosity invisible to anyone who dropped by. Now she only had to wrestle with it once a day in order to find her outfit. As happens with self-replicating life forms, however, the mountain grew and grew as days passed. Infuriatingly, no housework fairy tiptoed in at night to do it for her. In fact, not even one fairy tale creature crossed her path to offer redemption in exchange for the soul of her first born or her undying affection. Bah, humbug!

More time passed, but the woman knew she would conquer the ever widening pile soon, or die trying. As is often the case in these moral tales, time moves more swiftly that we bargain for and moment is lost. Yesterday, the clouds of the oncoming storm released their deluge upon the home of the poor, unwary woman and her family. (Literally, a pipe from the hot water service blew inside the wall between the laundry and the back of the wardrobe.) For long hours, the storm raged. (Possibly 5 hours til her husband and kids returned home.) The woman’s wardrobe, then (carpeted) bedroom, the hallway, then the (carpeted) bedrooms of the (4) children, the (carpeted) loungeroom and linen press transformed from dry, to damp, to swamp over the space of one afternoon. Upon returning to the dwelling, her longsuffering husband found frogs croaking, dragonflies skimming and a mountain of once-clean washing, steaming in the (carpeted) estuary (2 inches deep) that had been their wardrobe.

In a valiant attempt to stop further damage, said husband attacked the source with gusto. (He turned off the water.) He and the children, frustrated with the limited capacity of their mop, thought laterally and used the already wet washing (towels and quilts first, then everything down to undies) to soak up as much of the excess water as they could. It must be noted that on its travels the water had surged and back washed through the cat litter tray and so these once-clean items were now pungent and aromatic. What a delightful scene greeted the woman when she returned from inspiring the minds of the future. A tired family and a gruff wizard in plumbing kit were still at work determining the source of this evil. Holes were blasted in walls until the copper culprit admitted its guilt. (A 2 millimetre wear in a weld.) Captured and replaced with a sturdier guard, the culprit was wrapped for The Insurer’s inspection and the family once agin bent their backs to shift sodden, smelly piles of washing to the relative safety of the cork floor in the dining room. 

Fearing for their safety, and comfortable sleep, the husband manhandled (cause he’s a man) the thankfully dry mattress to the outside room and they, their youngest child, a couple of cats and an attention seeking dog attempted to sleep whilst still listening out for The Insurer’s promised vacuum wielding water diviner. Who promptly arrived at 10 the next morning while they were out. 

The woman long (3.5 hours) regretted her laziness as she slaved over huge, costly ($85 total), roasting machinery (laundromat). What had once seemed a fine plan now tortured her day off and her slim purse. She knew that laziness was not the answer. When she arrived home she found herself and her family surrounded by towering fluorescent orange dehumidifiers and fans with such gusting power they bellowed throug the hallway like an engine of a jumbo jet. Ah, the peace; the tranquility; the sarcasm!

The woman’s patience was tested further with a call to The Insurer who requested that she provide evidence of ownership of her 10 year old bed frame, two spare mattresses, numerous secondhand bookcases and desks and a, now structurally questionable, MDF toddler bed in the likeness of a well-known, blue, British steam locomotive. 

So, although this vicious attack of liquid was not the woman’s fault, she felt sorely tried by its ramifications. And the washing mountain? I hear you ask. Clean, dry, partially folded and safe.
And still in the back of the car.

Absolute verity,

Eski Caterpillar šŸ’¦

Where is the boy I kissed?

Where is the boy I kissed?

I thought to look for him on Facebook, but I didn’t want to spoil his 14 year old beauty. The deep brown eyes and hair; the baby face he hated but we girls sighed over. Never quite as tough as the black-jeaned, long haired big brother and the wannabe metal band boys my parents nicknamed “The blackshirts.” He was beautiful and silent. Probably with fear, but to my 15 year old self, he was mystery personified. We stopped a game of spin-the-bottle once, this beautiful boy and I, simply by playing. Turn for turn, the bottle spun and lips met. Darkness, excess sugar and a tiny bit of Southern Comfort set the mood and he spun and it turned to me. Game over, baby. And we were both babies, really, but for that next 45 minutes I knew nothing but his kiss. Actually, I did know. I knew we’d stopped the game, but I was more proud than concerned. He was gorgeous; he was sexy; and he was safe. And that was all.

Where is the boy I kissed?
Same house. Same friends, almost. Same silly 15 year old me. An older, less safe, less sexy, similarly bedecked young man – for man he was, barely. Not the same sweetness and more driven by lust than wanting to play the game. I was innocent, confident in myself and in romance. Would I like to listen to a new guitar riff in the caravan? Ok. Kiss me. Ok. Where is the boy I kissed? As far as I know, still on his back on a cramped fold down caravan bunk. Just where I left him when I realised I was skin to skin shirtless on his chest as he offered, no, demanded, more. Just two words. Four letters and two letters and, this time, not kiss me. I’d never been so shocked, hurt and angry in my life. And I left, fast. And that was all.

Where is the boy I kissed?

This one is trapped inside a green exercise book in a future my 16 year old self created for him. With me by his side, of course. But he didn’t know about the life I had planned for us. He didn’t know that we were supposed to be looking after 6 children by now. He didn’t know how close I was to saying yes to the same question asked by the manboy before. This one asked more sweetly, more softly, more subtly. But he still asked. He didn’t know how nervous he made me. I guess he didn’t know why I said no. And I didn’t know then, that later, after he stopped asking me, another man asked him. And he said yes. And that was all.

Where is the boy I kissed?

The one who took six months of my none too subtle flirting to realise I liked him. The one who bought me red roses and a pendant to go with my 17 year old birthday outfit to show me he’d realised and reciprocated. Who held my hand through ‘Aladdin’; walked me to his home with our friends who we proceeded to ignore as we kissed on the couch. A lot. The one who patted my back as I cried for no reason. A lot. The one who kissed me despite gross chicken pox. Mine. A lot of them. The one with whom I scrimped – a lot; saved-hardly; screamed; psycho’d and loved. Where is the boy I kissed? He’s here. And that is NOT all.

Where is the boy I kissed? 

There are three. Faces in sequence squishy, soft and scratchy from shaving. I have kissed all of those quickly changing, growing boys for the past 18+ years and I will continue doing it. My boys. My sons.

And that is all.

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And now, as I go to press POST, the nerves rise below my sternum just as they did for the boys I kissed. Not the butterflies in anticipation of sweet lips, but the charging elephants that stir anxious thoughts of your judgement, my friends. 

But as always,

Veritas,

Eski

@eskicaterpillar hits Twitter!

I’m a #GenNext2015 Generation Next – Health and Wellbeing of Young People today and they’ve introduced a Twitter feed. I’ve never ‘done’ Twitter before, and to tell the truth, I still don’t totally understand how it all works. I’m a reasonably tech savvy person, so please comment to help me understand it.

Check out this awesome conference and…

Follow @eskicaterpillar on Twitter.

Veritas,

Eski 🐛

Veritas, Eski

Sensory Overload

I am utterly blessed. In the midst of an overload of senses; no, through them; God has blessed me.

I have a hot little hand on my face as I try to read. It pokes me and twitches at the entrance to my nostril, making breathing odd. If I turn over, I’ll have, instead, little untrimmed toenails in one of two choice spots: kidneys or buttocks.

A short reach away, I hear the thunderous roll of snoring. I prod and suggest turning over and for a moment, the storm abates. But only for a moment. Without any lightning to warn of its advance, the long drawn in breath offers new meteorological mysteries.

Further distant still, the irritating whine of machinery. It’s monotony is broken only by the insidious, regular alarm throughout the night.

Dogs, ours, bark at intruding nothings. Loudly.

If I leave this horizontal plane and venture out, I will likely find lines of light break through the darkness. Here and there, I will hear more cacophony to interrupt my rest. From one doorway, little light accompanies the pings and whirs of levels unlocked by a well known Italian plumber in overalls. From another, brighter light pops out, as unyielding as the so called notes screamed by a boy-man wearing more eyeliner than I ever have as he bemoans his newly single state.

Should I turn and retreat, my hapless tarsal structure is likely to be assaulted by weaponry at floor level. Possibly this time, I will encounter the string of a cheap bamboo bow. As I lightly sidestep the threatened trip, my other foot may find the arrow; or Danish building materials with spiked edges; or an assortment of miniature bovines cavorting without care near an enclosure of even smaller dinosaurs; or a shadowy feline hoping for food.

But despite this risk; this riot; this rude interruption of horizontal calm that I say I’d prefer; I am utterly blessed.

Little fingers and toes are not a blessing all who wish it share.
Snoring means he’s here with me.
The whir of machinery speaks of luxury others do not have.
Lights and music mean my children are home safe. They can be and do just as they wish without fear of persecution, despite my musical preferences.
Even the scattered hazards of a family hall shout freedom, safety and luxury.

I am utterly blessed.

Veritas, Eski