How 1 Family Struck a Chord

Hello world!

Stacy’s Flutterings is back! I took a hiatus from the blog because, in all honesty, I thought the blog had run its course. That was then. This is now, and this 1 mom is back. It hasn’t run its course. Rather, it has just begun. I want to share what we have been up to as a family because what we are doing is so different than the norm, and I’m extremely proud of that fact. And what brings it all together is our unconditional love for one another and music, yes music!

If you are just now joining us…

I started the blog back in August of 2011. That year, for me and my family, was a time of healing. We had experienced the near fatal suicide attempt of my daughter Kim, and we were learning how to cope with the ramifications of that. We were also learning how to support her on her journey to wellness. Also, about a year prior to her last suicide attempt, she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder so we were busy learning how best to support her during this time as well. She likes to say that I was her voice at a time when she struggled the most with her illness. Fast forward to today, and she is doing remarkably well. I’m thrilled, and thankful, as her mother, to say that she has her voice back in more ways than one. She has always been known as our songbird, and once again she is singing too and pursuing her dream of becoming an established singer/songwriter.

Now that I’ve shared a little about how the blog started…

I’d like to share with you why I stopped blogging back in 2016. I felt that my daughter was doing so well that it was detrimental for me continue the blog. I was worried that I was somehow defining her with the use of the blog. I also felt that it was time for my girl to fly as an independent young woman. I didn’t want to stunt her growth as an individual. My thinking was that the blog had served its purpose, and the last blog post that I wrote, titled “An Open Letter to My Adult Child, Now a Mother Herself, Who Still Lives at Home,” marked the end of Stacy’s Flutterings as I knew it. No longer did this beautiful young woman need her mom to speak for her. I set my daughter free. This was an extremely significant time in my life too because after finding her after her last suicide attempt, that ended with her on life support, I clung to her because I feared that I could lose her, literally. It took a lot of healing to get to the place that I was the day that I wrote what I thought would be the last blog post. What I didn’t know was that the last blog post wasn’t the last.

What is different now is that…

it’s not just 1 mom writing, it’s 1 mom and 1 daughter. Kim has decided to join me, and I couldn’t be happier! We are 1 multigenerational family making it work, and music really is at the heart of what we are doing. Don’t get me wrong, mental illness still is a part of our story, but we’ve learned, and continue learning, how to cope individually and as a family with the challenges that accompany mental illness. Mental illness does not define us. We define us. And what’s really cool is that Bill, my husband and Kim’s dad, has joined Kim on her singing journey as her guitarist! I took the picture above last week while they were loading the Jeep with equipment for a gig Kim had that evening. She was actually teasing Bill and pretended she was helping him load the Jeep, when in all reality, he loaded the Jeep! I’m excited to share that he’ll start performing with her at her next gig!

The blog has a new look and vibe as we begin this next chapter…

and we hope that you will follow us as we chronicle our unique family story that involves mental illness, mental wellness, awareness, support, the ups, the downs and ultimately, phenomenal music by Kim and 1 cool dad!

~ Stacy (1 Mom)

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The Sound of Silence

Do you know what depression or mental illness sound like? Can you hear depression in a friend’s voice? Do you recognize it in your significant other’s cry? And if you could hear mental illness, what exactly would it sound like? Mental illness has a few different sounds to me. It’s a whisper so quiet that only those paying full attention can hear. Even the ones who are paying attention sometimes miss the whisper, and it fades until it is unrecognizable. Mental illness can also be a yell. It can be a yell so loud that those around are frightened and try to avoid the sound as it pierces the sky.

Whenever I’m depressed, I go silent. My body aches, and I feel like I haven’t slept in far too long. Depression can be draining and so can mania. I once spent a whole year barely speaking to my friends, family and boyfriend at the time. It was easier to stare off into the distance and imagine I didn’t feel as bad as I did. It would be easier to not speak words than to simply say how I felt. Admitting I was depressed was easy. However, trying to find the courage, strength and energy to say any words was exhausting to even think about.

Important to note, I’m not the only one in my household that lives with depression. My mom also experiences depression. Since she is intimately familiar with depression, I asked her what she thought of this blog post, knowing that she’d be honest with me. With her permission, I’d like to share what she had to say:

“First, thank you Kim for asking me how I feel when I get depressed. No one really has ever asked me,  probably because I’ve never shared that I experience depression from time to time. I’ve only shared this with you and dad, and Paul and Katlin. When I think about how I feel, when depression descends for awhile, immediately a song comes to my mind. That song is “The Sound of Silence,” but it’s not the Simon & Garfunkel version that I’m talking about. It’s the remake that the rock band Disturbed did. When I hear the first 12 words,  I feel an eerie sense of familiarity. Those 12 words are painfully familiar to me. It sounds silly maybe. I can’t believe that words alone can have such an affect on me, but they do. If you decide to share my thoughts with anyone, don’t tell them the words. I’d like to invite them to listen to the song, especially those first 12 words. I think the words have a way of getting to the core of silence somehow. In silence, depression resides…”

Silence is not the only sign of mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides a helpful list of signs and symptoms. If you’d like to learn more, click here: Know the Warning Signs. I hope that you find this blog post to be helpful, if not for you, for someone you care about.

Until next time…

~ Kim (1 Daughter) and Stacy (1 Mom)


References

D. (2015, December 08). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Dg-g7t2l4

Help With Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression

Know The Warning Signs. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Know-the-Warning-Signs

Parekh, R., M.D., M.P.H. (2015, November). What Is Mental Illness? Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-mental-illness

 

 

 

The Truth About Empathy | Do We Really “Get it?”

I imagine that you’ve heard the word empathy. However, do you know what it really means? The truth about empathy has escaped many people, but there are those that know its true meaning. I’ve had a reoccurring thought lately that gets to the heart of empathy. What is this thought?

Do you ever have reoccurring thoughts about what others might be thinking about you…

especially in regard to how you orchestrate your life? I sure do. Even though I know that this type of thinking isn’t helpful, I still have moments where I think that I know what someone else is thinking about me. When I have those types of thoughts, I try not to linger with them for long because I know it’s self- destructive. Also, I try not to take these thoughts too seriously because I think it’s just part of our nature as humans. Even though I know what others think of me and what I do doesn’t matter, lately, I’ve had this reoccurring thought that perhaps others might think that I’m looking for sympathy through writing. It seems so strange to actually write out this thought. And by writing it out, I see how silly and unjustified it is.

Regardless of how silly and unjustified the thought is that others might think that I want sympathy…

now that I’ve shared this thought with the world, I find that I do want to clarify it. Maybe if I do, the thought will disappear into oblivion. The realist in me whispers, “No, it won’t.” I’ll give it a try anyway. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or my family. This would be sympathy, and I’m not seeking sympathy. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. And I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to change what has happened. To do so would invalidate my experience. Without my experiences, I wouldn’t be where I am today. What I do want is for other to “get it.” To me, if others could “get it” then we’d make tremendous strides in erasing the stigma of mental illness, providing the highest quality of care possible for persons living with mental illness and preventing suicide.

Without empathy, to me, it’s a hard sell.

How do I know? Because I’ve been there. Before my experiences with my loved one, I didn’t think about mental illness or stigma. I didn’t have to, and therefore I proceeded with my life as if it didn’t exist. If it didn’t exist in my life, as I knew it, why would it matter? However, once my life was impacted by the mental illness of one of my children, I took notice, and suddenly mental illness and stigma mattered. By the time it came to matter in my life, I almost lost a child. Let’s not continue to risk losing one another because we don’t “get it.” Let’s come together to share, talk and listen. Let’s come together and put aside our viewpoints. Let’s try to see things from the other person’s point of view. Let’s examine our attitudes. Let’s ask what the other person would do. Let’s walk in each other’s shoes so to speak so that we can make the world a better place for those we love and those around us. Let’s “get it” together.

Growing Happily Beyond Our Expectations

I imagine that you, just like me, have dreams, goals and aspirations. However, while striving to fulfill your dream(s), did you ever think that you just might achieve it and actually exceed it? Here at Stacy’s Flutterings, we are doing just that and growing happily beyond our expectations. And I have great news to share with you. In addition to writing my next book, and blogging here on Stacy’s Flutterings, I’m now a contributor over at Lose the Cape, an online magazine for busy modern moms! This is such an important accomplishment for me, and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating this good news.

How joining the Lose the Cape team as a contributor surpasses my expectations.

Years ago, actually the year 2011 to be exact, I started this blog. It all started when I was talking with fellow volunteer Pat at the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build in Ottawa, Kansas. We had been talking about mental illness which was the theme of that particular build and episode. During our conversation, I had shared with her our family’s story and how bipolar disorder and suicide had become center stage in our lives by then. As we conversed, she shared with me that she thought I should start a blog. Honestly, I hadn’t heard much about blogging up until that moment. My curiosity was peaked though, and I asked her for more details. Once the build was over, and Bill and I headed home, my blogging days began. I did my research, discovered WordPress, built Stacy’s Flutterings blog, and started blogging about how mental illness had impacted my family’s life. In addition to being therapeutic for me as a mom, the blog provided me with the means to reach out to other parents going through a similar experience and a way to advocate for the eradication of stigma. However, it’s now become so much more. It’s become a landing pad for half empty nesters who happen to have an older child, who lives with mental illness, still living at home. Here at Stacy’s Flutterings, parents can find inspiration, credible resources and hope. As you can see, Stacy’s Flutterings has wonderfully exceeded my expectations.

Why being a contributor for Lose the Cape is important to me.

I’m so thankful to Alexa Bigwarfe for bringing me on board as a contributor. This is an important accomplishment for me as a writer but even more so as a mom. She’s given me a voice as a mom of a half empty nest, a nest where mental illness is a part of my story. This is such an important milestone to me because this normalizes me as a mom. It makes me human thus my daughter is human. And you know what? That means that all moms who happen to have a half empty nest, with mental illness as part of the fluff, are normal and human too. We have so far to go in regard to erasing the stigma, but we are making strides, and this is one example! I truly have grown Stacy’s Flutterings happily above the expectations I had for the blog in 2011. I’m thankful for the continued support from my readers here at Stacy’s Flutterings, and I do hope you’ll come visit me on Lose the Cape as well! Until next time…

Growing stronger…

Remembering Our Mental Wellness

Tea Pot ImageHave you heard?

January is Mental Wellness Month! I can’t imagine a healthier way to begin the new year. And It’s important to remember that, even though the end of the month is near, awareness of our mental wellness doesn’t end January 31st, especially since it encompasses everything we do. We need to tend to our mental wellness throughout the year. To give us an idea just how encompassing our mental wellness is, let’s look at a definition of mental health. According to the World Health Organization, “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (World Health Organization [WHO], 2014). As you can see, our mental wellness touches on every aspect of our lives.

How do I care for my mental wellness?

I don’t know about you, but for myself, since mental wellness is all encompassing, it can be easy to forget about my mental well-being. As a wife, mother, grandmother, etc., I find that the last thing I usually think about is my mental well-being despite the importance that I do. It’s hard enough to find time for myself let alone take the time to think about my mental health. However, I realize that if I’m going to continue to effectively care for my loved ones, and fulfill my responsibilities, then awareness and care of my mental wellness is a must. How do I care for my mental wellness? Below are a few examples:

  • I try and take a quick daily mental inventory: Each day, I try to intentionally spend a few moments taking note of what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. Self awareness helps me adjust and make changes to whatever challenges lie ahead throughout the day.
  • I exercise: I’ve had a health issue so I’ve gotten away from my daily walks, but I’m starting my walks again.
  • I get plenty of sleep: This has taken persistence on my part. I live with chronic insomnia. It took me awhile, but I finally found the courage to talk to my doctor about it, and she’s been very helpful. We’ve finally found, after several trials of different medications, that Ambien helps. Reducing my caffeine intake helps as well.
  • I communicate with others: I talk to my spouse about how I’m feeling, especially if I’m not feeing well. I’ve discovered that talking to someone that you trust can help. It provides us an opportunity to problem solve together.

What do you do to care for and strengthen your mental wellness? If you’d like more ideas about how to care for your mental wellness, check out Mental Health America’s Ten Tools to help you feel stronger. I especially like #8 – Take care of your spirit.

Are we getting the message out?

As you can see, mental wellness is vitally important. Interestingly enough, in spite of how important tending to our mental wellness is, I wonder whether or not we are getting the message out to the public and to employers to name a few. I discovered something that surprised me. Last Friday, when I shared with my daughter Kim that it is Mental Wellness Month, she said, “Wait. Now what is it?” After I shared again with her what month it is, she said, “I didn’t know that!” Without knowing it, she brought up an extremely important point, and that is, even though there are those trying to bring about awareness pertaining to our mental wellness, it seems that many are not getting the message. To my surprise, when I did a Google search of the words “mental wellness,” none of the top mental health organizations that I’m familiar with like NAMI and DBSA came up. However, when I typed in the words “mental illness” several organizations came up such as NAMI, Mayo Clinic, Web MD and other organizations as well. This is interesting to me. Shouldn’t these prominent organizations come up when I type in “mental wellness?” I also discovered something else. Many of the sites that I looked at had outdated material as well. This is an interesting discovery and one that I thought that I’d share with you. For now, the focus of this blog post is mental wellness so I’ll revisit my findings another day. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn about the history of Mental Wellness Month and learn more about caring for your mental wellness, check out Sovereign Health‘s article  “January is Mental Wellness Month.” And if you haven’t thought about it before, I do hope that you tend to your mental wellness. May we all have a great and healthy week!

Growing stronger…


World Health Organization. (2014). Mental health-strengthening our response (Fact sheet No. 220). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs220/en/

The Number 1 Reason Why I Started Stacy’s Flutterings Blog

DSCN5688As I get familiar with the landscape of Facebook, as Stacy’s Flutterings page manager, I find that I’ve been thinking about content and where to begin. Yesterday, I finally came to a decision. I’ve decided to repost one of my first blog posts so that I can share with you the number 1 reason why I started Stacy’s Flutterings blog.

Briefly, the blog post below was first published on September 25th, 2011, and it was originally titled, “Flutterings.” Goodness! That was years ago! I hope this repost sheds some light on why the blog was born. And another thought, I want to share with you that we’ve grown immensely individually and as a family since, and I think it’s important to remember where we came! Why? Because it shows growth of course and illuminates positive light where there appears to be none! Enjoy…

Throughout the years, I never really gave much thought to the special things that occur around me. I was so wrapped up in the big picture. However, last summer when Kim came back home for a spell, I noticed her looking at a rose bush Bill planted for me in the front yard. I saw her take pictures of the bright, magenta roses. I saw her look at the roses with great interest. I finally asked her one day what she was looking at. She said, “Haven’t you noticed? That rose just blossomed!” I was amazed it had just opened its tiny petals, and I had missed it!

I found myself wondering what else I was missing. I started listening to Kim as she pointed out butterflies gently swooping by almost as if they were floating by on a breeze to say, “Hi!” I started to listen when Kim said, “Mom! You won’t believe it! A hummingbird just flew by and stopped right in front of me!” “It just stayed in place looking at me and flapped its wings!” These moments became significant to me because days prior Kim’s heart had been fluttering from SVT’s after she had made another suicide attempt.

Kim’s sightings got me thinking about all of the times when she and I are together and the song “Apologize” by One Republic plays on the radio. Just last week when we ran to the gas station that song was on again! Wow! For some reason over the past four years, when I am with Kim, that songs plays! When we hear the song, we both look at each other as if we are saying, “Really?” I have taken notice.

When I was in Ottawa, Kansas, volunteering for the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition show, I saw large, brilliant blue dragonflies flying low around the crowd during the reveal of the Hill’s new home. I took notice. Also, while in Ottawa, Bill was out in an empty field picking up trash from the week’s event, and he found something that you would think would be impossible! He walked into the catering tent, where I was busy cleaning, to show me and said, “You won’t believe what I just found!” He reached out towards me with his hand holding something tightly. He unfolded his fingers, and in the palm of his hand was a dime! You see, Kim and Bill have had a running joke about a dime for years. Every time Bill finds a dime he gives it to Kim. They don’t recall how this started. Wherever Bill travels, if he finds a dime, he gives it to Kim. What a special dime this one from Ottawa was! I took notice.

When my kids come home to visit on the weekends, including my beautiful granddaughter, my heart flutters! I have taken notice. When my husband gets home from work my heart flutters. I have taken notice. When I think about mental illness and awareness my heart flutters. To me fluttering means:

  • life
  • energy
  • movement
  • fragility

Stacy’s Flutterings blog signifies my vulnerability as I continue to open up and speak about mental illness and awareness.

And that’s the reason I started the blog, simply to bring awareness to an oftentimes shunned topic: mental illness.

Growing stronger…