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Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Doc's, part two

Then there is Dr Tom. Dr Tom and I have fought like a married couple. Mark and I have had stages with Teale that were wrecking us all, but one in particular put Dr Tom and I at odds. Dr Tom is Teale's psychiatrist, but quite frankly he might as well be the family psychiatrist. At one time or another he has helped with each of us. He doesn't bill for all our care, but he is a smart, caring man and he gets that we all live this, not just Teale. He knows Mark and I need to stay stable and healthy to live with our challenges. He knows Beau and Gwenn struggle with loses of normalcy too. He has seen us all demonstrate post traumatic stress syndrome in stages of Teale's mental illness when being on our guard constantly is our only defense. Dr Tom is empathetic and extremely intelligent. He knows the options for care out there and he understands the medications he prescribes with amazing insight. When Teale was about three years old the behaviors started escalating. I was pregnant with Gwenn and all of our world was crashing. Teale had become defiant and explosive, her sleep sporadic and her behavior exhausting, unpredictable and often violent. Luckily for me, I was on the search committee for a new minister at our church. The woman we had appointed as the chair of the committee was a counsellor and a personal friend of Dr Tom's. As God often does in my life, I was in the right place at the right time. I was sharing our struggles with my friend and the chair of the committee one night after our meeting ended. She listened with care and then said she would contact her friend Dr Tom for me. Within days I had our first appointment. I often wonder where we would be today had Dr Tom not come into our lives. He and Dr Dave work hand in hand to help Teale. They are a dynamic duo and when I am in trouble, as in, when Teale is in a rough patch, they are both there for us. Texting them is common in this relationship, they have both come to respect my opinion and know that I will not pull them in unless I am truly struggling. Dr Tom and I had had about three years under our belt when Teale's most intense mental break happened. She was in the first grade and stopped sleeping. I know most will find this hard to believe. Many will think I am over exaggerating the truth, but I kid you not, Teale went from sleeping 10 to 12 hours a night, to sleeping two or three hours a night. After she woke for the night, she was "ON." Mark and I were fried by a couple of weeks of this. We had a daycare to run everyday for ten plus kids and we had Beau and Gwenn too. The school was finding it tough to believe what we were telling them, after all Teale was fine at school, her usual full of energy self. Thank goodness Dr Tom and Dr Dave didn't doubt what we were saying. We tried every sleep aid safe to a 6 year old and many that were questionable too. She was taking adult prescriptions like Ambien, with little to no relief. Dr Tom prescribed and we kept hoping the cure was coming, but every night was the same. Teale would sleep the first hour to three after putting her to bed and then be up the rest of the night. I never felt like Dr Tom or Dr Dave doubted us, but after a month of such little sleep I was becoming doubtful of myself. My mental state was skewed. I was not sure what was real anymore and my very core ached for relief. The school finally started to see it too, Teale's behavior was escalating and she was having spells that looked like seizures. The day I told Mark "I know I won't do it, but I'm as close to suicide as a person can be." Dr Tom and I fought. We had been in touch with both doctors multiple times a day. The exhaustion was simply overwhelming. Our extended families were not there for us and our friends did not know how to help us. There was no relief in this nightmare. Mark and I against the world and quite frankly, the world was winning. Then Dr Tom and Dr Dave saw what needed to be done, the solution was to hospitalize my six year old, severely disabled child. We were to take her to emergency and have her admitted into the child psychiatry ward. Teale, who needed sign language for understanding, who wore a leg brace and a hand brace to help with her cerebral palsy. Teale, who had hearing aids that cost a fortune and unless you knew the signs, she would try to destroy in a rage. Teale had GI issues and her speech was not easily understood, her frustration escalated with misunderstanding. Teale hates being touched, so her personal hygiene was a challenge to work through. She took many medications and often those meds had to be administered in a forceful manner. To have strangers, who did not know and love her do this, scared me. These were just some of the thoughts going through me. Dr Tom was asking me to hand over my daughter to "the R wing" as it is commonly referred to. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest went through my head, would Teale be restrained, would she be locked up into a padded room? What monster would suggest this as the solution to my 6 year old's sleep issues? But her seizures also scared me and that was the deciding factor. I knew of children who had gotten into seizures that could not be stopped and they had passed. Teale needed sleep or her seizures were sure to get worse. So while Dr Tom and I fought over this decision, Mark tried to calm me and help me see it was our only option. I was mad, no I was FURIOUS. God was letting me down and I could not understand why my daughter suffered so much. What God would allow this? Why us, what had we done so wrong?   ~to be continued~

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Doc's

A doctor visit with Teale can be a challenge. She may not cooperate with the directions, she may explode at just the idea of walking into a doctors office. Simple tasks like taking her blood pressure, weight and height can take much negotiation. A doctor not giving Teale the time she needs to process what the doctor is asking her to do or a doctor touching her without fair warning, can take us to square one and the appointment may need to be abandoned and rescheduled. I go to appointments knowing we may not accomplish what we hope to. I have many, many memories of appointments gone bad. Teale and I  have been seeing doctors and much more than the average person, since before she was born. From that first ultrasound where the discovery was made that her stomach had not closed in utero, there have been many specialists in Teale's life. Doctors are people, there are good natured ones who click with Teale and there are ones that I wonder why they chose the profession they did. Luckily for Teale, we have two very special doctors in our life that have mostly managed Teale's care. Her pediatrician from birth was a great guy, he was bold, outspoken and caring beyond measure. His love of children was evident and his management of care extended to the whole family. He always made me feel like I was an important part of my children's team, even in the areas I had very little experience in. He valued parent's input and taught me advocacy from the start of my children's lives. So when he called me one day to tell me that he and his wife were moving out of state, my heart broke. I seriously wondered how I would ever replace Dr Matt? I even joked with Mark that maybe we should follow him to his new location. After getting over the heartache of his leaving us, we stuck with his recommendation and started working with his replacement. Dr Matt had told me he picked this young, smart, caring guy and he thought we would work well together. At first, I wasn't sure. I liked him well enough, but he was green and Dr Matt had been seasoned. My life was complicated medically for my daughter Teale. Dr Matt had been there through my pregnancy with Teale. He had been there at the horrific birth and knew the pain we had endured. He had watched Teale grow and seen the work we put into making her life all it could be. I just couldn't imagine someone new grasping what we had gone through in those first three years of Teale's life. But as life has a way of doing, it has all worked out. Dr Dave came into our life and his ways, although quite different from Dr Matt's, have grown on me. He is not nearly as in your face as Dr Matt was, he's gentle and kind. Dr Matt was rough and direct, but that is much how I am, so I appreciated his blunt honesty. Eleven years have passed, much like a blink of the eye and in those years Dr Dave has become my children's pediatrician and an intricate part of our team of medical support. We don't hang out together or have double dates with our spouses, but he is there for me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, much like family should be. I can text him when I'm worried and something is wrong with one of my kids and he will answer. We have built a trust and he knows I seldom overreact or pull him in unless I am truly concerned and rightfully so. He has stuck by us and given us hope in even the most hopeless times of our life. Dr Dave has managed all the doctors in Teale's life with professionalism and grace. He has calmed Mark and my fears, he has helped us find solace and he has prayed for our peace. Dr Dave has been more than just my children's pediatrician, he has been a dear friend. We work together well and our trust in each other is much like a marriage. We count on each other to put together the pieces my children's physical and emotional health. He is the type of person everyone looks up to, calm, caring, loyal, thoughtful and smart. I feel blessed to call him our children's pediatrician, not everyone finds someone who sticks by then in thick or thin, but Dr Dave has and for this alone, I am forever grateful.         ~to be continued~

Sunday, February 17, 2013

24 Valentines

This week was Valentine's Day and I celebrated my 24th one with the love of my life. At twenty one years old I started dating Mark. On our first Valentine's Day together he asked me to marry him. We had been dating less than two months, but as cliche as it sounds, when you know, you know. Celebrating that day means much to me, as it was the start of my life with a man I still find extrodoary. Mark is kind, patient, smart, loving, talented, giving, loyal and beyond a shadow of a doubt, my rock. He lifts me when I'm down, he makes me laugh and shares my same twisted sense of humor when things are tough. We are steady, even and consistent in our love and in our friendship. We barely ever argue or even quarrel. He is the person I choose to be with when given the option, I enjoy his company and have grown more fond of him as we age. We worked together for over fifteen years running our in home daycare. We raised many people's children and then also our own. I can honestly say I enjoyed working with him immensely and still miss those days. Mark is a hard worker and we share the same priorities in life. Our marriage has always come first. He and I need to be strong to care for our complicated family. I have often said to people that "we are selfish." We work hard at staying connected, at staying friends and enjoying life beyond our children. My God has always been first, but Mark is my close second. Our relationship is a covenant with God, we are in our marriage with Him. So as we age and things change in our life, my God and Mark are the only sure things I count on. My children are growing, our oldest son applied to five colleges just this past week. He will be moving on and living his own life. Of course I expect and hope our son will stay close and always be a part of our life. But children grow and the ultimate goal is to raise them well, so that they are contributing parts of society. So if we reach that goal and the children move out to start their own lives, what is left? I have seen the breakdown of many marriages. Couples who suddenly seemed to have nothing in common after the child raising years. Couples who slowly grew apart and just couldn't get the spark back. Couples who thought life would be easier or more fun with someone new. We have purposely worked hard to not become any of those couples. We have been creative in our dating each other, even when times were tough. Even if our middle daughter Teale was spiraling and could not be left in the care of others, we would find a way to steal precious time together, just the two of us. Many dates in bad times were at home, a nice dinner, our Wedding china, candlelight and music in our own dining room after the kids went to bed. Daydates, where we steal a date together while the kids were in school became the norm after we closed our in home daycare. Respite was used too, people who truly could handle and be trusted with Teale in our home or in the community. We also would date after hours, putting the kids to bed ourselves and then leaving them in care of someone who would call us if anyone woke. Our cell phones became a way to get some freedom and see a band that started late or just go sit someplace different and talk about anything but the kids. We built a good support and as Teale got older and "easier" our nieces also often helped us. We forced ourselves to use overnight respite. As strange as it has always been for me, Teale has gone to a local respite home here or there since she was about five years old. Our marriage hasn't been easy because we are just lucky, our marriage has taken  work and we made it a priority. So as we planned our Valentine's Day date, I looked back on how we have evolved. We were once a young, happy couple with the world to conquer ahead of us. We may not have conquered as much as we hoped to, but when I look at my life with Mark, I am proud of what we have been to each other and I just know "the best is yet to be...."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Unseen Plan

I have watched as my Mother in law has become a shadow of her former self. I have heard her struggle with words, the thoughts just won't come. I have worried that this disease will someday take grasp of my husband, taking away the dream of our golden years together with grandchildren around us. I have seen her become fragile, childlike even. Her strong, independent, colder personality gone. This woman is warmer, kinder and more appreciative of my care as time ticks on. When I first met her I was hurt by her distance toward me. She didn't seem to want to connect. Mark was apologetic, I remember him calling her "a weird lady." Mark had a girlfriend before me that was very intelligent, in her masters program and obviously an independent woman. She was planning on pursuing a career before anything else. I  remember feeling like I was a disappointment to to Mark's Mom. Education was more important to her than it was to me. I had chosen to leave college to be a Nanny because that was where me heart was. My Mom was disappointed also that I left college, but knowing I was happy, she soon supported my dream of opening up an in home daycare. My Mom allowed me to run the daycare in her home, the sound of happy children filling what had been an empty house, once again. The children called her Grandma & for many of them she was. I worked long hours, but I loved my job, kids had always been who I wanted to be with. I love the way children are hopeful, full of life and promise. I loved caring for people's most precious gifts from God, knowing in my care they were safe and loved. It meant the world to me when friends or family would ask me to care for their children. In turn, I was also hurt when friends did not seek my care. I took it very personal, I knew I had chosen this career for just that purpose, to love and care for family and friend's children. I was helping to build self esteem, creativity and give children what every child deserves, a place that was fun, loving and kind. I wanted "my kids," the daycare kids, to enjoy their time with me. As the parents said goodbye, I wanted them to know that their children, although they would prefer being with a parent, were in good hands. I built relationships with families that to this day still exist. I have ex daycare children in their twenties and thirties who still connect with me. Watching them grow and become productive people in our society is a real kick. Some don't even remember their time with me, as they were too young to have memories of it, but their parents have kept me alive in their hearts. I worked with children because I knew that was where I belonged. Older people I did not feel I had a gift for. My grandparents were a different story, my Grandmother was one of my best friends. But as a younger person I found the end of life cycle very sad and hopeless. I could never imagine working with senior citizens. But here I am, my Mother in law is 85 years old and quit frankly declining. Her Parkinson's and dementia is taking it's toll on her aging body. She has been with my family for two and a half years. It is amazing to me that as a younger person I could have never imagined me as her caregiver but in many ways, it has come to me very naturally. Mostly because she is very childlike, she needs much care and encouragement. I have joked with her that I had always wanted a forth child, but I always dreamt my forth child would be a baby boy. I think the parallels of children and senior citizens are incredibly similar. I could not have seen this coming though, moving my mother in law in with us was truly a gift of heart. I knew my husband needed it, he needed her to be in my care because he knew I would go above and beyond for her. That was the biggest compliment of all, his trust in me to care for his aging Mom. When people ask me how we do it, how I do it, my answer is the same, because I love Mark and this is what he needed. He is loving and appreciative of my being here for his Mom. He knows she and I were never very close in the years we could have connected. The years Mark and I struggled, she barely reached out to help us. I never saw her try very hard to build relationships with any of our children. I remember feeling sad and disappointed at her lack of interest in especially Teale's life. But as time marches on, as she has become part of our immediate family, she has healed much of that pain I felt. Her connection with my beloved Teale is sweet and their abilities are very similar as Mom declines and Teale matures. There are even times Teale helps my Mother in law. The two of them can enjoy an American Girl Doll catalogue for over an hour, discussing the details of the dolls and what each of them likes. My heart has opened more to my Mother in law because hers has. No, she is no longer independent and strong. She no longer can  relieve some of our stress by helping us, that opportunity has passed. Really, we can no longer even have conversations to build our relationship. She is mostly stuck in silence but Gods plan has worked, we now have a love, that I will feel forever.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Stuff

Working through stuff is never easy. I've learned we are never really done working through the pains of our past. Some people are better at letting things go and moving on. Some hold onto anger and loss with both hands, holding it so close to their hearts they are rotting inside. For me personally it depends how much the stuff still effects me. I look at my daughter everyday and I still wonder "what if?" The trying to come to grips with what her life is and how it effects my life is quit frankly, a constant. Whether it is in a formal setting, like a counsellors office where I am sharing my deepest feelings or it is in my own head. I regularly debate ways to get through to Teale and help her more effectively. I am often occupied with how to improve her quality of life. I work through feelings in informal ways too. Talking with my husband or with friends, who can empathize and help me come up with solutions or rejoice in an accomplishment or a blessing. The loss of what Teale's life should have been is always in my face, therefore I am always working on it. The losses of my childhood have faded. I remember the good, more than the bad. I worked through that stuff so long ago, it barely ever haunts me now. I believe that is mostly because I have built a good support network and am surrounded by much love and caring. My own marriage is strong and fulfilling. I feel safe, loved and secure in my life with my husband. Sure, I go through times when I'm questioning if we are really as happy as I think, but I have found I go through those times when an outside factor has crept in and corrupted my sense of security. When friends and family members have divorced, I have become insecure and clingy. I know this about myself and Mark has learned to live with it too. I may ask him if he loves me, if he will always love me, if we are really going to "make it" several times in a day. He has learned to just reassure me and help me work through these times with love. The feelings pass faster with more hugs, than with criticism for my sudden strange fears. Mark knows my father's infidelity comes out when I hear of a couple whose marriage is in trouble. Especially if the marriage is ending in infidelity. I may even question Mark's loyalty to me in such a time. Even though, I know in my heart that Mark is faithful and good. He has learned, it's not about him, it's about what I have lived, therefore he is not hurt or angry. I believe that has been a lesson Mark and I have learned well. Often it is our own "stuff" that creeps into our marriage and causes us pain. Mark has never caused me to doubt him in our marriage and I think he would say the same about me. Stuff creeps into good because your memory of bad is so strong. I have had many more good experiences in my life with Teale, than I have had bad. Unfortunately the bad sour the good so intensely. I often can't recall the times someone was loving and compassionate toward us. Ironically, I can instantly recall the grocery store meltdown & the person who treated me like a bad parent. The people who were cruel come to mind faster than the people who stood by our sides with compassion, empathy and love. This frustrates me about myself. Why do I seem to have to work harder to remember the good stories. Maybe this is a skill I have yet to master, empathizing the good in my life. Stuff, stuff creeps into our hearts and hardens us if we let it. It makes us remember things we wish we had forgotten. That's why we don't want to work through our pain, working through it can make it hurt more before you finally release it. I have had my fair share of stuff to work through though and in the end I always find it is easier to feel it and release it, than to let it rot you from the inside...

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Lessons

Fishing with my Dad is one of my favorite memories. He never treated me like a girl, I was just me. His caring and teaching side would come out on those adventures. We sat side by side, quietly waiting for the big one to bite. He liked how I wasn't squeamish about hooking the worm or taking the fish off the hook. I liked the smell of his pipe and the way I felt sitting next to him, safe, loved and peaceful. The good times with him were the best. He was funny, caring and patient. My favorite fishing memory was when I went ice fishing with him. The fish seemed to bite at every drop of the line into that dark, cold hole. The memory of the fire he built me to keep me warm still clear. The thermos of hot chocolate just for me, hot chocolate never tasted as good. His friends were there too and they seemed to get a kick out of my Dad bringing me along. I was bundled up in a bulky snowsuit, extra mittens packed in case I got wet. He seemed prepared to make sure I was warm. We had a sleeping bag I could slip into also. I was his youngest, his forth girl out of five children. I looked much like him and was a tomboy in his presents. I think I always knew it had been a disappointment I was not a boy, but that was overcome easily as we became buddies. I also knew I was a big surprise, five years between me and my next sister. Dad was sweet to me, liking having another little one as my older siblings were becoming more independent and well, teen agers, with attitudes. He paraded me around like a prized possession at times. I felt special to him and loved. We both enjoyed nature and animals. He would often take me on hikes through the woods to just catch a glimpse of a deer or a pheasant. He taught me facts about birds I still retain today. He was an avid bird watcher and loved teaching me the names of the birds. We always had bird feeders and I still have one he made out of redwood 40 years ago. He hunted, something I had no desires for learning, but had I, being a girl would not had been an issue to my Dad. Somehow I knew my being a girl was never seen as an obstacle to him. He was not sexist and that made it easy to like being with him and learning the things my Dad knew. He taught me how to fix things, how to be independent and not need to rely on a man. He taught me strength and in the good times I knew his love for me was infinite. Those are the memories I hold onto. I dream of him healthy and whole, sitting by a stream waiting for the big one to bite. Someday I hope to sit next to him again...

My Dad

After my suicide attempt, life went on and I didn't think too much about it. I know I shared it with a few close friends, but I'm not sure when or how I told them. It was tough admitting. I felt weak,  embarrassed and scared that people would lose any respect they had for me. That was 28 years ago and much has happened since that time. As a teen I went to counseling, trying to work out my issues surrounding my dysfunctional family. As an adult I have gone to counseling much, checking in from time to time. Mark and I saw someone after finding out about Teale's gastroschisis in 1998, as there was a 30% chance she would not survive. But the two times I worked the hardest were long before I was pregnant with any of our children. As a young adult before meeting Mark and shortly after my Dad died in 1992. My Dad's death was a surprise and I struggled to accept the finality of it. I had all but lost contact with him in the years after meeting Mark in 1988. My husband never met my Dad. He had been in a very bad stage of his mental illness and quite frankly I was taking a break from his sickness and therefore also from him. He displayed classic bi polar symptoms. I'm not sure he was ever officially diagnosed, but now after being Teale's Mom and learning much about the illness, I can see the similarities. His second wife, the one he left my Mom for was much younger than he. She was always nice to me, but I still found her tough to like, after all she knew my Dad was married when the affair began. As fate would have it, soon after their marriage, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. The timeframe of these evens are unclear. As I remember she fought the cancer after surgery and it went into remission for sometime, but soon after came back with a vengeance. Linda went into a vegetative state and was placed into Monroe Community Hospital during one of my Dad's bad stages of bi polar. He could barely care for himself, much less his ailing wife. It was sad to know my Dad was failing and I had no control, but risking the good thing I had found with Mark was not something I was willing to do. I stepped away, thinking there was time to work things out with him. I stepped away knowing I could not solve his alcoholism brought on by his bi polar. Had I had the knowledge I do now, I may have had a mental health arrest done on him. His behavior was erratic, sometimes I would call him to check in or stop by and it would be pleasant, other times it was painful, hurtful and sad. I was well aware that he was just sick. I accepted it was not him, it was not his fault he had this awful disease but I also knew I had no control. I attended Alanon meeting from the time I was young. It is a philosophy of Alanon to accept that you have no control over your loved one who suffers with alcoholism. I had worked hard at letting the alcoholics in my life not destroy me. Mark and I started dating in December of 1988, by Valentine's Day 1989 we were engaged. We set our Wedding date for August 12, 1989 and I made the decision to not invite my Dad. I would have my sister's husband walk me down the aisle. My Dad could easily show up drunk and belligerent. I just didn't want my Wedding to be filled with drama. So in 1992 when he died from a heart attack (brought on by alcoholism) with a drink in his hand, in his favorite chair, by himself, I should not have been surprised. Funny thing is, I was, I was heartbroken inside. Outside I was strong, barely any emotions. The call came from a stranger to me, his neighbor found him dead and somehow knew how to reach me. I had to call my siblings. Being the youngest of the five, Dad had been in my life the least. I have good memories of him. I know he was a good man who loved us all very much, but his illnesses took him over. Telling my siblings and then subsequently dealing with his funeral and the loss I experienced was all pushed down, deep into my soul. It was tough to grieve the loss of a man I had not even invited to my own Wedding. I had guilt and regret and instead of feeling my pain, for the first time in my life I started eating for comfort. Mark and I had bought our first house in January 1991, but after my Dad died, my cooking seemed to turn to comfort. I started gaining weight and was not seeing the connection to the loss of my Dad. Suddenly one day I had an epiphany, I was stuffing my feelings. I told Mark what I thought was going on with me and that I wanted to seek counseling. Mark understood and supported my feelings, so I found a counsellor and started the heavy work of finally grieving the loss of my Dad.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sometimes

Sometimes the purpose is unclear
The time goes by and the dreams vanish
The love you want to share gets lost in everyday struggles
The people you want to see are not there
The words you wish you said, disappear
The things you thought you would accomplish, are unreachable
You age, wisdom is found, youth is gone
Regrets fill your head
Love fills your heart
You hope for second chances
You hope for dreams lost, to come true
You hope the pain of reality lessons
You hope burdens ease
You see suffering and want to help
Your purpose is unclear


My Secret

If you know me, you know I believe in God. I believe that He sent his Son for the purpose of saving our souls. I believe that there is a Heaven and all the love ones I have lost are there enjoying an intense love and peace. I believe in prayer and I pray often for many. I believe in destiny and in making your life better by believing in the powers of your own heart. But I'm not always good at these beliefs, I waffle at staying on track. I pray for others but forget myself. My relationship with God has been strong and it has been weak. I sometimes have trouble believing I am important to Him. I have struggled with why my daughter suffers and why God lets her. I have hated God, knowing it is ok for me to, but wondering if I will ever love Him again. God has been a constant in my life. Since I was very little I believed in a God helping me, watching over me, loving me. I think I grasped for Him because I suffered much. My childhood had many challenges, many heartbreaks. I hoped God would help me not live the same heartbreaks as an adult. I saw divorce through my parents, betrayal of love by my father when he left for another woman. I saw my sister suffer through a marriage that had alcoholism, addiction and abuse. Her husband beating her and her forgiveness and the cycle continuing over and over again. The drama of those days, of those months are still clear in my mind. I saw mental illness and depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, sadness, loneliness and despair. There were times life was too much and I felt alone and confused by the purpose of it all. I was desperate for love, wanting to feel cared for unconditionally, wanting to be seen, really seen but feeling like I was a burden and invisable. My family was overcome by problems when I was a teen. Being the youngest of five I watched three of my older siblings turn to drugs and alcohol to ease their eternal pain. My Mom turned to alcohol and although she was a good woman who had a huge heart for others, she seemed to be drowning and I often felt alone. The pain took hold of me one night and I decided my life was not worth it. I decided to end my suffering. I just wanted to die. I had friends who were like family, people who loved me I could have turned to, but the pain was deep and I was done. I truly wanted the pain to end, I wanted to go to God, even if it meant I would hurt many in the process. I barely talk about this, I doubt my son or my husband's family knows I went through this time. My daughters are too young to share this with. Of course Mark knows, Mark is my everything. Mark is the man I was dreaming of when I was suffering alone. He is what I hoped my life would be, loyalty, consistency, peacefulness and most of all unconditional love. As a teen I was lost, I couldn't find my purpose. No one seemed to see me, to care where I was, what I was doing and most of all how I was doing. I lived in a house of drama where bad behavior got attention and good behavior went unnoticed and unappreciated. Three of my siblings were in need of help constantly. My Mom seemed to suffer from loneliness after my Dad left. I felt like the forgotten one, the good one who was invisible in the family. I couldn't help my Mom, my Dad was a classic case of disappointment. He would make plans with me only to break them last minute or just not show. The dream of being part of a family who loved me seemed distant, unreachable. Lost in their own issues, I felt alone in my pain. After many days of contemplating it, I wrote a note saying goodbye and took a bottle of Tylenol and Nyquil. Falling asleep was peaceful and I did not expect to wake up, but I did. I was sick to my stomach and my Mom thought I had a bug. I didn't tell her the truth. Why I woke up I'm not sure, it should have been enough to kill me, yet it didn't. I have thought about that moment much, the desperation of just wanting to die, the feelings of hopelessness. I didn't talk about what I had done, but I think waking up changed me. Somehow God wanted me to live, there was a bigger purpose to my life that was unseen and God wanted me to live it. I have shared this with very few people. Many believe suicide is a selfish act. Many believe it is something only the weak do. I believe I am a strong woman and I have lived through much, but there are times I have debated suicide even as an adult. Even with the love of Mark I have thought about ending my life because the pain of Teale's mental illness has put me over. There have been times Mark and I have felt alone in this world. We have suffered through unbearable mental anguish. Teale has had stages of her bi polar and other mental illnesses where she has all but stopped sleeping, for months. Those times I have actually gone back to that night I took the pills and hoped to never wake up. Those are the times I wish our families were there for us. Times where the pain was so unbearable death seemed like the only answer. I once said to Mark "I know I won't do it, but I'm as close to suicide as I can get." The truth is I shouldn't be here, I should have died when I was seventeen. I took a bottle of Tylenol and a bottle of Nyquil, it should have been enough. I was given a second chance, I was given a chance to see what my life would become. I married the man of my dreams and he has been everything I hoped for, even after 24 years together we still love deeply. But I see the irony in my life too. My hope to pick a man who was not an abusive alcoholic, after seeing my sister go through Hell, happened. My hope to pick a loyal man after seeing my Mom hurt by my Dad happened. My hope to pick someone who didn't have addiction issues happened. My hope to marry a man I would love eternally and who would show me the same love, happened. But, and is there always a but in life? Teale happened. Teale has torn my heart out at times, she has been abusive to me, she has brought chaos to what should have been a peaceful life. There have been times I have actually thought about killing the two of us to give my sweet husband and other two children a chance at peace. I have been sleep deprived to the extent of this sounding like a rational idea. The fact that I can talk about that pain is a strength, not a weakness in my opinion. Because until you live the extreme pain both mentally and physically Mark and I have lived, you will never understand how desperate a person can be for peace. So yes, I believe in God, I believe He is with me and He saved me that night I wanted to die. I believe my life has changed some hearts and I believe I have a purpose. Although still unclear, I do believe I am worth getting to know and love because in the end I believe I am a person of value. After all, God wanted me to stay here and he gave me Mark to get through the tough times with.