This sweet face now stares up at me every time I open my laptop. Her eyes portray pure love and call out to me, “Are you doing what you love, are you writing?” The emotional response helps me focus, think before I act and choose how I spend my time. Instead of wasting hours on Dragon Merge, Redecor, solitaire, Tangle Master, Toy Blast, or whatever game has caught my attention, I think about what matters most.   Writing about parenting is my passion. Writing and being a mom is what matters most to me.

I remember the baby and toddler years so vividly, waking up with this sweet face smiling up at me. My youngest, my third child. I waited a long time for you. We waited because I wanted to be able to spend more time at home and despite the financial challenge, I choose to stay home your entire first year of life. I used to feel guilty that I didn’t return to work sooner. I wondered that if I had returned to work sooner, maybe it could have prevented some of our financial troubles. Don had sold his business and had a full-time job with a salary when we decided it was time for our third child. Three months into my pregnancy, he lost that job, just when our finances were looking up. And little did we know, there were more challenges that lay ahead in the years to come that would further tax us both financially and emotionally.

I no longer regret staying home that first year of her life. The guilt for not working is gone. I chose my family, I chose my new baby. I had more time with all my children. At the time of this picture, my wonderful teachers were ages 12, 7 and 11 months old. This picture was taken 11 days before her first birthday, nearly a year at home full time with my children, something I had craved since I returned to work in February of 1998, leaving my 3-month-old baby with my husband to return to work full time. I was the breadwinner. My husband was building a business but we had yet to see the fruits of his labor.

When I found this photo and choose it for my screen background, it brought tears to my eyes. Tears are a welcomed sight for me, a sign that I am truly feeling. Depression for me is not deep sadness, but more like the lack of emotion.

Numb, lost, withdrawn, emotionally unavailable

These words best describe what depression is like for me

Yet, not in a constant, 100% of the time, manner. More like waves that swallow me, recede for a brief time, maybe for a week, several days, or even just an hour. It is not until I have sunk further into the depression that I can even see it clearly. The first time I really saw it was after I had swung out into a wonderful hypomanic state and then had slid back with the tide into the waters of darkness. I could not see the darkness until I had been in the full shining light. I only saw the extent of my depression after several months out of the depression, fully engaged and involved in my life. This is what bipolar depression looks like for me.

My medical record lists depression, yet I am convinced that I really suffer from Bipolar 2, which I thought is what was meant by bipolar depression. As I research, I am reminded of Cyclothymic Disorder which is a milder form of bipolar disorder. As I think back on my life, I could easily have been diagnosed with this in my early adult years, possibly even as a teenager.

I analyze. It’s a part of my personality. In college, studying psychiatric illness as part of my Occupational Therapy program, I learned about self-diagnosis and how easy it was to become absorbed in identifying mental illness traits in yourself. This was in 1990 before the internet and WebMD.

Yet, between long discussions with my brother who is clinically diagnosed with bipolar 2, along with my own research and discussion with my psychiatrist who has had me on a mood stabilizer for well over a year, I think it is clear that my depression is bipolar 2 disorder.

Before I get lost in a discussion of mental illness, I would like to return to the beautiful picture that initiated this blog entry.

It helps to have something to remind us of what truly matters in life. For me, a trip to the beach invigorates me, rejuvenating my spirit and reminding me of why I am here, my soul’s purpose. When I return home and back to day-to-day life, I can easily slip away from all the insights and intentions that I found standing in the sand with waves crashing before me.

This picture of my child has done this for me. She pushes me to be a grander version of myself. To dig deep and return to what is truly important to me.

I came to the beach for several days to immerse myself in writing. I brought my childhood journals to delve into my true self and to draw forth the book within me that has been so eager to emerge. Over the years, book titles have come to me with inspiration for a book. I feel as if there are a dozen books within me. I have a number of notebooks/ journals filled with writing along with numerous digital entries, some of which I hope to be able to locate and recover from an old laptop and pen drives. Then, of course, there are my blog entries here and on my first blog: Ginaslifejourney.

What is your passion? Have you felt a grander purpose or desire to do something?

Maybe you have yet to discover what you truly enjoy. Finding the time to explore your interests and time to sit quietly in a place of contentment: the mountains, a park, near a lake or a stream, or a favorite room in your house, is essential!

We must take the time for ourselves. It is not optional. For our own mental health. If we do not, as we care for others, we will deplete ourselves. The best way to nurture and care for others is to also nurture and care for yourself. Not only as a way to restore your energy and your sanity but also as an example.

Writing at the beach is my joy.

Find your joy and share it with those you love.


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