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

 

 

 

Oh! How We Have Grown Through the Support of Organizations like The Balanced Mind Foundation!

Today marks the beginning of the Chase Community Giving Program!  They are donating $5 million to local charities across the country!  Wow!  This is exciting news!  And you can participate!  All you have to do is vote for the charity of your choice!  It’s that simple.  Voting is open Thursday, September 6, 2012 to September 19, 2012.  All it takes is 5 minutes to vote!  Before you vote I encourage you to read on…

I know who I am voting for, and I’d like to tell you a little about them…I am proudly voting for The Balanced Mind Foundation (TBMF) formerly the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF).  They provide resources and support to families and children living with bipolar, depression and mood disorders.

I aligned with TBMF a little over a year ago when I met program manager Nanci Schiman in Ottawa, Kansas at the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build for the Hill Family.  I was familiar with TBMF based on my personal search for information months prior regarding the bipolar illness of my daughter.  You see, when my daughter was initially diagnosed I had very little information if any to go by.  There I was…a mom dizzy from the events that led up to my daughter’s diagnosis.  I had been in survival mode.  Once we had a diagnosis the question became, “Now what?”  Thank goodness for TBMF!  After researching their website I knew that I had landed in a virtual treasure of abundant, credible and reliable resources.  I learned that I am not alone, and I had at my fingertips information that I could trust.  You can imagine how excited I was months later to meet Nanci at the build!  I am happy and proud to share that now I am an active volunteer with TBMF!  I love it!  It is one way that I can say “thank you” to them for all they do.  And if affords me a wonderful opportunity to help others on a similar journey and to let them know that they are not alone.

I invite you to check out The Balanced Mind Foundation website if you haven’t already.  And please take a moment and vote for The Balanced Mind in Chase Community Giving!  Your vote matters!  Let’s help The Balanced Mind Foundation continue to provide vital information and resources to children and families affected by depression, bipolar and mood disorders!  By voting for TBMF you will help to ensure funding for their support programs for the next year!

Check out The Balanced Mind Foundation flyer for instructions on how to vote!  You can also vote using Facebook!  Just go to fb.chasegiving.com/charity/view/ein/36-4302941.  You can also go to chasegiving.com to vote anytime during the voting period.  Happy voting, and thank you from the heart for supporting great organizations like The Balanced Mind Foundation!  Together we can make a positive difference, and we are!

Growing stronger…

Cascading Doorways of Life…

It’s funny how life works.  Friday, I went to a simple hair appointment.   I didn’t realize at the time, when I walked through the salon doorway, that I would later walk out of the same doorway feeling a sense of renewal and connection with the world.  I felt renewed, not only because of a haircut and fresh hair-color, but because of the person who did my hair.

Why was that simple hair appointment so important?  Well…I have been feeling really down lately due to the constant, unrelenting pain of early onset arthritis and an old shoulder injury that possibly needs repaired.  And of all times my allergies are at an all time high.  Sleep seems to elude me.  Physical movement seems to be whittling away as if my joints were weathered and worn driftwood being slowly reshaped into some foreign, static shape and feelings of being trapped are settling in.  I can no longer pick up my beautiful granddaughter which pains me even more.  One of the cruelties of arthritis is that no one can see what is going on within.  On the outside I look healthy.  I know that I am not trapped.  I know that I am just simply experiencing the aches and pains of getting older, but it has affected me.  It seems that I have lost my creative edge and consequently I have found myself writing less, reading less and interacting with people less…and then I had that hair appointment.  I walked through that doorway…

You may be wondering why I am focusing on doorways.  After I left my hair appointment, feeling once again optimistic and energized, I started thinking about the seemingly infinite doorways we walk through on a daily basis as we journey through life.  And as we walk in and out of doorways we move forward with some new experience.  Some experiences of course impact us more than others, but we experience something whether it is positive or negative.  Oftentimes we take with us new friendships and new connections.  And some of those connections grow then fade, some never begin and some flourish.  I think of connecting as simple as a glance, a smile or a head-nod as we pass by people in our daily lives at work, school, the doctors office, the vet…you name it…we are connecting somehow, someway.  Even a snide comment or look is connecting.  I try my best to always connect with people in a positive manner.  You might ask, “Why?”  I think it is because I want to feel that I matter so how can I receive that?  I can know I matter by being genuine with others and in someway letting them know they matter too.  That is what happened as I walked through the doorway into the hair salon.  Actually, I realized that I not only open doors or walk through doorways on my journey through life…I open my heart.  My heart is yet another doorway…

Back to the salon…after years of avoiding hair salons for fear of a bad haircut I decided last year to take a risk and revisit a salon.  You see, it is difficult to find someone who knows how to cut curly hair.  I have had one too many bad haircuts.  But last year, wanting a new look, I stepped out of my comfort zone and went for it.  I am so glad I did!  I met an amazing person.  For confidentiality purposes I am not disclosing her name, but I do want to share with you how she has impacted my life.  It really boils down to the fact that she cares.  She is genuine.  She is a really cool person and very giving.  And she is a lot of fun!  If she finds herself reading this someday she will probably wonder what I am talking about because she is like that.  I don’t think she realizes the positive impact that she has on peoples lives.  I hope after reading this she will!

So a year ago at a hair salon a connection was sparked and grew.  I returned for follow up appointments and then somehow months quickly passed.  Before I knew it I hadn’t visited the salon in quite awhile.  My dear husband Bill and daughter Kim lovingly surprised me by scheduling an appointment for me.  So on Friday, March 30th, 2012 at 1:00PM I walked through a doorway to a fresh, new look and a fresh outlook on life.  I reconnected and grew a budding friendship a little more and left with new connections!  You see, this wonderful person I am talking about invited my daughter Kim to a hair show, since she knows Kim is seriously considering finishing beauty school, and she put in a good word for Kim with her supervisor.  Kim has new connections now too!  In addition to once again feeling connected to life, I felt better.  I didn’t feel as much physical pain.  I felt lighter and optimistic.  And I just simply walked through a doorway…today I am walking through several more doorways…I wonder what new experiences and connections await me as I continue to walk, with an open mind and an open heart, through the cascading doorways of life?

Growing stronger…

Guest Speaker Kim Talks About Strength…

Today, I have a special guest speaker!  Her name is Kim.  She will be sharing her thoughts about what it means to her to be strong, especially during some of the most challenging of times.  Thank you Kim for your insight!  I admire your strength and courage!  It is healthily contagious and to be commended!

“A thought came to my mind today…be strong.  Even though you may be down you can still overcome and pick yourself back up.  The ups and downs may seem like they take over your life, but in reality they don’t if you choose to be strong and move forward.

I have come face to face with my bipolar, depression and anxiety.  I have faced my demons.  And I have looked both God and the devil in the eyes.  Even though I feared both, I chose to be strong and stand up for myself.  My soul is strength.  My mind may contain racing thoughts, but it is strength.  When you choose, you choose either to face down those you fear or back down and let them control your mind, body and soul.  Be strong and live on.  Be strong for you.  For you are worth only what you believe you are worth.”

~ Kim

Reframe

It was a little over a year ago that my counselor encouraged me to re-frame my experience regarding finding my daughter after her second attempt.  You see I was feeling very guilty about what had happened.  I was questioning myself.  “What if I would have done this or that?”  What a difference a year makes!  At first, I didn’t get it.  I couldn’t imagine thinking about the experience in a different light.  Let me say, I feel totally different today.  A year ago I  honestly did not know what to do.  While my beautiful daughter was home recuperating I  fell and broke my wrist, injured my shoulder and had bronchitis on top of all of that.  I found myself spiraling into depression.  What was I to do?  My husband, son and youngest daughter all returned to work, and I went on family leave to assist Kim with her recovery.    A few months went by, and I was not doing well.  I found myself staying close to Kim for fear of another attempt.  My husband Bill creatively and out of total love, adoration and support got me back up on my feet.  Reluctantly, I went with him on a trip out of state.  I had the most difficult time removing myself from Kim.

When we returned from our trip I felt a little stronger, and I actually returned to work the end of July.  Something clicked for me.  I started going to the YMCA and began to lose weight.  In addition to losing the weight, I noticed that I was feeling better and more optimistic.  In relation, I believe, to my increasing positive outlook Kim returned to college and completed her CNA program.  I admire her strength and determination.  What a phenomenal and beautiful person she is!  It’s been a little over a year, and I have lost over 30 pounds.  I have completed my first year of graduate school in a clinical counseling program.  I have become an active volunteer and most importantly I have regained my strength, and I have become a voice and an advocate for those with mental illness.  Additionally, I hope that I have become a healthy source of strength for my loved ones.  I rejoin Bill, Paul, Kim and Katlin in walking this journey together.  May we never give up!  I think I can finally say to my counselor, “Re-frame successful!”