|Self Portrait taken by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All rights reserved | www.bonnie-rose.co.uk
“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” (Albus Dumbledore)
Day 16, Thursday: Something difficult about your “lot in life” and how you’re working to overcome it.
This prompt made me think for a while on what to share due to the fact that right now I feel very content in life.However it has not always been this easy, nor have I felt this happy. Although this is not something I am currently having to work to over come, it is the first time I have ever talked about it online. Mental health still seems like a taboo conversation by many and I hope by sharing we can break the stigmas and help people so they do not have to go through it alone.
The first two deaths in my family were sad but not life impacting. My mum’s brother died while I was in high school and my dad’s father died while I was in University. I felt more sad for my parents and their loss because I had only been around each individual a few times when we visited the US. I experienced loss as a Third Culture Kid (TCK) with no sense of ‘home’ and having to continually say ‘goodbye’. However death had not affected me as much as it would a few years later after I have had two kids. On August 14th, 2008 I realized my marriage was falling apart fast and hours later I got the call that my dad had been run over on his bicycle. My life shattered into a million pieces.
It was not just the sudden loss of my dad that we were all dealing with in Arizona. We were dealing with the police department, the reporters, the hospital over my father’s missing rings (still missing), the funeral arrangements in both Tucson and for his funeral at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, the memorial service at his school, the memorial service at church, the ghost bike, and the correspondance pouring in from all over the world. Though I was not really speaking to my husband at the time, he was a rock for my family taking care of so many details. However I felt I was going through this loss all on my own while my sister and mother both had people to help them through the process.
When it was time to leave after the funeral I decided to stay at my mum’s for a while. While I should have fully had my husband to support me through the loss of my dad, I equally should have had my mum to support me in my broken marriage. But how could I dare to even bring it up when she just lost her husband. I would be lying now if I said I was not still somewhat angry at the girl who decided to be high when she hit my dad in that truck. I’m equally still upset at the the Tucson Police Department for doing a shoddy job on the scene and in the police reports, as well as never charging the driver for the death of my father. Tell me again how someone ‘struck from behind’ on a bicycle yields to someone in a truck? It is much more subdued now but you can understand the anger, pain, sadness and confusion that would come from that initially. Before I left to go back home to Hawaii, my mum urged me to see a doctor about medication as depression ran in our family. Thats what I did.
I had seen therapists before and I realized after the first couple of visits that my psychiatrist more incline to subscribe me medication and less to hear me talk. I had wanted to take the same thing my mum was on and for whatever reason my doctor decided against it. Since I was also dealing with anxiety at this time of my life he put me on Klonopin (clonazepam). I think it helped in the beginning for when I really felt anxious being in public or when it just hurt to much about the loss of my dad. I remember once being out with a mummy and kids play group on base and my best friend looked over at me and could tell I was having a panic attack. I remember how comforting it was to know someone understood and taking my klonopin helped so much.
There were issues with the dosage while I was taking it as they tried to find the right amount over the course of my treatment. After getting my dosage raised once and still taking it in the morning, it would knock me out so quickly. I would not even know I was getting tired until I was fast asleep. It was more than that it was the way it took away the passion and the heart of my personality. I may have not been myself with dealing with everything going on in my life, but I was definitely not me on Klonopin either. My emotions felt very flat and if I was needing to take another pill I could be really irritable and upset. I remember just wanting to be alone a lot of the time. Being around my in-laws at all brings on a lot of stress and I just sat in a closet once during the Christmas holiday to find some quiet and past out amongst the coats and the darkness until my husband found me. There did not seem to be an end to this tunnel because it was masking the problems. It was not fixing the loss of my dad or the cracks in my marriage.
During the summer my kids went to spend a few months with my in-laws on the mainland. I had just taken a new job at a salon across town and had decided it might be best to find a new place to live while we attempted a trial separation. We had tried marriage counseling though we mostly talked about my issues of loss, my need to move ‘home’ to Europe, and whatever trivial talk my husband and the counselor brought up about life. Nothing seemed to be moving forward when it came to us. It was in my new job that my boss found out about the Klonopin. He could not medically advise me to stop taking it, but he told me he didn’t think I needed it anymore. As a life coach and mentor, he helped me to start working out again. I began doing crossfit and yoga every week with my coworkers. I started making sure my diet was better, meaning making sure I ate enough calories and not relying on fastfood since I was now renting a room with college students. I started to slowly change back into myself.
That makes its sound like it was almost easy to stop relying on the medication and that life was now blissful. It is too much to add to this blog post but at that time life was just as hard. My marriage was now going through the beginning stages of a divorce. My in-laws were orchestrating a deal with a lawyer so my husband could push for full custody of the kids, giving me a clean break so I could leave for Europe. Obviously anyone who knows me knows how much my kids are my life and that no deal would ever come between us. At that time I was floating through new acquaintances with no real support system of friends. I realized how much of a gossip pool the military circle can be hearing untrue things about me circulating about me from people I had never met. Everyone has an opinion when others are dealing with hardships. I will say my mum, though at the time our relationship was not doing to great, never said a bad thing about my husband. It is something I am going to remember when my children get married especially in comparison to everything my in-laws have said or done up till last summer.
So life was not easy. But I was now dealing with it without medication and not covering up the sadness, the pain, the anxiety of feeling like everyone was focused on me. I ended up moving back in with my husband when the kids got back from their summer vacation. It took three years but my husband and I are doing better than we have ever been.
I still no longer take any medications. I honestly dislike to have take anything for a headache until I complain too long about it and cave. I am more incline to go the homeopathic route for myself and my family. My dad has been gone for almost five years but I have been able to work through the stages of grief. The last two years living as expats in England has really helped my marriage flourish and strengthen. When you live in the military world where divorce is so common, I find that a major accomplishment especially through everything we have been through. There was a time in my life where I felt so angry with God because he had ripped everything from my life and left me alone in the broken pieces. I have come out of the ashes again to be able to look at all the beauty in life.
***I will end this by saying that if you do take medications and they work for you, awesome. They only made things worse in my life. In a better situation I would have had a better support system to work through the problems. Honesty and communication could have helped so much. I saw a friend have to come off of a different drug and the side effects are scary. I honestly feel that clean eating, exercise and homeopathic resources should be the first way to combat an issue before taking any sort of drugs. My previous sessions with therapists have been by far more beneficial.***
*photographs found here either belong to Bonnie Rose of Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved | www.bonnie-rose.co.uk