Thursday, May 31, 2012

Each Life That Touches Ours for Good

The minute we enter this world we are surrounded by people. Many of us are blessed to enter loving families. As we grow and become more independent our network of people grows to include friends, teachers, extended family members, etc. As we grow we learn that some people are in our lives to stay for a long time while others make their impact and then exit our lives whether that is by miles, choice, or leaving this world.

I have been greatly blessed to be born into a family with loving parents and wonderful siblings. I have been greatly blessed by a huge supportive extended family. I have been greatly blessed by some amazing teachers that have changed my life. One in particular is my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Fuller who I now refer to as Aunt Myra. I have been greatly blessed with many good friends through the different stages of my life. Some of those friends have come to feel more like family, and I know that even though miles may separate us that our friendship will continue on.

One of the things that I have learned over the last seven months as I have struggled through the hardest time of my life is that our loving Heavenly Father places people in our lives at certain times when we need their talents, love and support to help us carry through. Maybe to even save our life. How grateful I am to Him for blessing me with so many loving hands that have helped me to push through over and over again. I have been blessed greatly with many who have touched my life for good.

The hardest part for me is when it is time for some of those loved ones to take their exit from my life. I knew this day would come for almost a year but I didn't realize then how much it would hurt. I know that God opens doors and then sometimes they close. I know that new doors will open but I also know they will never replace other doors.

Little did I know that a new door was opening in October of 2010. A door that would touch my life and meet needs that I didn't even realize that I had. That door brought two little people into my life who I love so much. Bryce and Josalyn have brought me so much joy. Their mother Paige has taught me much too and has been a wonderful example of a loving mother and a woman who carries much strength as her life has been changing and will continue to change. It is hard to picture my life without them.

As I look back over the time spent with Bryce and Josalyn I can see how much they have grown and changed. Bryce was only four and will be turning six soon. Josalyn was 10 months and now she is two. I have many memories to treasure, photos to return to and even a couple of videos (which Tom is willing to share with everyone). Tom and I both have treated and loved them like they were our own even knowing that they aren't.

In the beginning I would call Jos my baby girl and she would call me Mama. It has been quite some time since she has called me that since she now understands who her Mama is and what that means. She calls Tom Thomas (probably because that is what Bryce calls him). I have been nameless for months. I have coached her over and over again trying to teach her my name or any nickname that I thought would be easier for her to say. I've come to learn that little kids have a hard time prouncing 'L's. Bryce still usually calls me Mewissa. I had pretty much given up hope of ever hearing Josalyn say my name since they would be moving very soon.

Yesterday I took a bike ride and was almost home when I felt that I should keep biking, so I started back from the beginning of my route. As I passed their backyard I noticed that the kids were just getting home from school, so I stopped by. Back in October of 2010 I created a game called Trick-or-Treat to help Bryce get prepared for Halloween. It has evolved over time, and he still loves it. We were playing it yesterday while Jos was on my iPod Touch (a.k.a. Monkey) playing some games downstairs. Well she started to make her way up the stairs. I'm not exactly sure what she said since Bryce and I were being noisy, but I heard her say Bryce and then another name. I help up my hands to Bryce and paused wondering if I had really heard what I thought I had heard.

The last time Tom and I had hung out with the kids I tried to get Josalyn to say my name but she wouldn't. Paige told me however that once I left, she asked where Mewissa was. It was true. I heard Josalyn say my name. My heart stopped. I know to many of you it may seem like such a simple thing, but it was a huge gift to me. Later Jos and I were playing and I kept hiding just so I could hear her ask, "Where is Mewissa?" over and over again.

I have already shed many tears, and I know they will continue as I think of the fact that they won't live within walking distance anymore. That I won't be able to entice Josalyn to sit with us during Sacrament Meeting. That I won't have those tiny arms wrap around my neck and squeeze me in a hug. Or to hear Bryce's laughter and eyes light up as I tickle him. That they won't be there.

Even though my heart is breaking I am so thankful that Heavenly Father brought them into my life for they have truly touched my life and Tom's for good. They will always have a special place in my heart no matter how many miles seperate us. Even when the time comes that they may forget our time spent together. I will always love them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

So Long, Farewell?

As many of you know I have been on the Creative Design Team for Sketch Support for the past year. It has been a HUGE blessing in my life. I could use any product I wanted and was given creative freedom. It pushed me to actually scrapbook. I don't scrapbook as often as I think some people assume.

A little over a month ago the Creative Team was notified by the leader and creator of the Sketches, Allison Davis, that Sketch Support would be taking a break. We would not be getting new sketches come May 1st. I was devastated. Sketch Support is one thing that I've been holding onto for once I got back on my feet. Allison told us she wasn't sure how long the break would be and that there is the potential that it could be the end. She made the official announcement on the Sketch Support blog this Sunday.

I haven't been actively participating as often as I did in the beginning because of the depression and anxiety. Allison was understanding and said to do whatever I felt up for. I was open with her about what was going on in my life. Even the fact that I went to the Johnson Unit. She was awesome to work for! I truly hope that this is not the end but just in fact just a break. But only time will tell.

I originally created this blog because we were encouraged to share our projects via blogs. Of course lately I've been sharing more than my creative endeavors which have been few and far between. I can't help but wonder how much I'll scrapbook now. My whole second bedroom is dedicated to this hobby but with the depression I have lost the motivation to scrapbook. I'm sure it will eventually come back.

My last project for Sketch Support was for card week at the beginning of this month. I had planned on doing more this month but I just wasn't up for it. Little did I know that this would be my last project for Sketch Support for some time.

"You Make Me Smile" card
Supplies - Patterned Paper: We R Memory Keepers; Ink: Colorbox Fluid Chalk Ink; Circle Cutter: Creative Memories; Other: Pop dots

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Johnson Unit

Tom just brought it to my attention a couple of days ago that it has been a little over two months since I was in the Johnson Unit. Two months! It took me be by surprise as well as my therapist. How did so much time go by? In some ways it feels unreal that I actually spent time in a psychiatric unit. Does that make me a nut? I hope not. :o)

I had thought of admitting myself to the hospital a couple of different times. It was an option when I visited the ER for the first time in January. Tom did not like that choice, so we let it pass by. Every time I had what I refer to as an episode I always wondered if it was time to make that choice. Tom was against it when anyone suggested it.

In the beginning of March it was brought to my attention by a close and trusted friend that I perhaps needed to reconsider admitting myself to the hospital. She has the gift of getting to the root of the problem and then asks the hard questions. I love her for that. As unknown as the experience would be I felt that it was time. Tom at this point was at a loss of what he could do to keep me constantly physically safe and was supportive. I needed my space and it needed to be safe.

My dear friend made many phone calls in my behalf and off we went to the ER (my second visit). Unfortunately for me they told my friend she needed to leave because of safety reasons. Later it was suggested that I should have referred to her as my sister. I'm not sure if she would have gone along with that. So I found myself sitting in the odd room by myself for hours. I had a lot of blood work done and had a urine sample taken. They were looking to see if there were any drugs in my body. I eventually was told that everything came back clean (big surprise there) and that someone would be picking me up around 7:30pm to take me to the other hospital where the psychiatric unit was located. More waiting. Then a trip in a secured car.

My ten days in the Johnson Unit were not easy, but I sometimes find myself wishing I was still there. Then I remind myself that the showers were not fun, I missed having face wash, q-tips, chapstick, and access to all the comforts I was used to. I even became sick my second day there. They are very strict about what they let in and for good reason. All garbages were lined with paper bags and we were never given plastic knives to cut our meat with. If I did it just right I could make my spoon work pretty good.

So what makes me sometimes long to be back there? I think it was the people. I honestly didn't have a lot in common with the other patients except one who also happened to be LDS. I think I was the only patient there with a college degree. I don't drink and I don't smoke. I also don't do drugs. And yet we were all there for similar reasons. To seek help. To seek safety. To seek space. Some of us were there by choice, and others were there because the law got involved. I actually was on hold for five days which meant I wasn't allowed to leave unless my psychiatrist released me even though I voluntarily admitted myself.

I am told that usually the Johnson Unit is often filled to capacity - at least the Open Unit where I stayed. During my visit we were a small group. You either got up and took part in the different classes and activities or got really bored really quickly. My favorite place was the art room. I spent a good amount of time there and hit it off with one of the Recreational Art Therapists (I can't remember her exact title). One of my favorite memories is when our close knit group was in the art room and spontaneously all took part in making an interesting peice of artwork. One that was supposedly going to get hung up somewhere in the unit.

It was also the staff that made my stay more enjoyable. They did 15 minute checks and so they knew what each one of us was doing all day and all night. I had a psychiatrist assigned to me that I met with each day. He mainly was there to adjust medications and he is the one who ultimately set my release date. There were the nurses around the clock. I had my favorite two male evening nurses who I spent some time talking to. I could be open with them, and they were just as open back. And then there was "my" therapist. He actually wasn't assigned to me, but I didn't click very well with the other. He checked in on me every single day he worked. He even spent time talking with both Tom and me. He asked a lot of hard questions and got right to the center of things. There was no beating around the bush. As scary as that was sometimes it was also a relief to share some things that had been on my mind for quite some time. And the biggest plus of all is that he is the husband of my therapist outside of the Johnson Unit. He was then able to share with her what we talked about so that once I left she would be up to speed. It wasn't until later that I found out that most patients only meet with their therapist maybe one or two times their whole stay.

And of course my visitors and the cards and letters that I recieved were a HUGE blessing. I would always save them for after visiting hours at night when I would feel the most alone. Thank you to all who came or wrote words of encouragement or even both. I'm not sure I would have made the most of my time there if not for the encouragement and support of loved ones.

Two months later and I very often feel like I came out of the Johnson Unit stronger and braver than I find myself now. To be honest as the depression and anxiety linger on I have a more difficult time keeping the hope, faith and trust that this will not last forever. That I will come out a stronger person. But one thing for sure I will know what it is like to be in a pscyhiatric unit. And you know what? I will always be thankful for that experience even though I never imagined that I would experience anything remotely close to it.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Hope has been one of my most favorite words for a long time. I can't remember why it spoke to me so strongly in the beginning, but it continues to warm my soul...that is if I let it.

With depression comes hoplessness. A feeling that the despair, darkness, anxiety, etc. are here to stay. I can honestly say that I have had my fair share of hoplessness over the past five months. Why just this morning I woke up overcome with a feeling that this will never end. That just getting out of bed every morning will be taxing or even having the fear that the next morning I won't. It has happened.

As many of you know I am an avid reader or at least was. One of the first concerns I brought up to my therapist was the fact that I was having a hard time reading and had only read two books this year. Two! She thought that was wonderful until I went on to tell her that I had read 78 books last year. There is a huge gap between two and 78.

I can officially pronounce that I finished reading a book today! It is a book I have read before and it is one of my favorite newbery honor books. It is called "Hope Was Here". It is about a 16 year old girl who legally has her name changed from Tulip to Hope when she was twelve. She lives with her aunt and they move around quite frequently. At each place she leaves she writes somewhere Hope Was Here.

"I took out my blue pen and wrote Hope Was Here in tiny letters on one of the boards. Hope is my name. Whenever I leave a place I write this real small someplace significant just to make the statement that I'd been there and made an impact."

Now Hope doesn't live an easy life. She has moved around quite often and has only met with her mother three times. She has made friends and has had to leave them behind. By the time she was fourteen she had been to six different schools and lived in five states. She knew life was never meant to be easy and yet she hoped to live up to her name. To provide hope for others. To make an impact wherever she went.

As I read this book this time around I am seeing it through new eyes. Finding myself relating to it more than I ever have before. Life never was meant to be easy. But that is no reason to give up hope. Hope that my depression and anxiety won't last forever. Hope that I will be able to meet and overcome the other trials that I will find in my path. Hope that as doors close that new ones will open. Hope that things that used to bring me joy will once again excite me. Hope that even in the moments that may feel hopeless that there are others helping me to hold on for just one more day, or one more hour, or one more minute. Hope for the future. Hope that my trials will one day be helpful to someone else. Hope that my life will make an impact.

For what would our world be like if we didn't have hope?