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    By Amy and Bernadette
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All right, I’m giving in to a little moan.

Having experienced seasonal depression for several years AND having lived with my husband’s depression for most of our marriage, I’m recognizing some ugly signals in myself today. Exhaustion, lack of interest in things I care about, extreme irritability, generally a “meh” attitude.

I’m pretty clear on where this crap is coming from. An emotionally challenging, wringer of a week last week. Some disturbing news regarding my husband and the new career he loves so much – something that’s been dealt with for now but could create disaster at any point in time. A huge bombshell when I got to work this morning, which will lead to an unimaginable change from here on out (not tragic, but still – change is hard).

A Mother’s Day that mainly served to underscore the fact that my family is moving on. Which they should, of course. They’re turning into mature, healthy adults. But I’m painfully aware of the seismic shift in my role.

And, not least of all by any means, an unintended Mother’s Day surprise yesterday that completely knocked the wind out of me – a crying jag by my husband, the likes of which I haven’t seen for a few years. I walked into our bedroom yesterday afternoon to find him sobbing. Expecting to hear that something devastating had just occurred, I went into crisis mode. The real story: He’d come across a cache of notes and artwork created by our children when they were very small. And, as has happened many, many times over the years of his depression, he was instantly filled with regret and remorse for the many years of deep depression that – in his mind only – kept him from being a present and engaged father.

I’m working hard to process all this stuff without freaking out. I’ll do some deliberate damage control by getting some exercise and much-needed sunshine this afternoon. I’ll work to get a handle on some big projects looming at work.

But still, I’m a bit shell-shocked. Depression casts some long and heavy shadows.


Happy Mothering Day!

 My mother had eight children.  Much of her time was spent in taking care of the household, seeing that laundry was done, food was on the table, and everyone was doing what they were supposed to do.  As Mother’s Day approaches, I realize that she also dealt with one very depressed and very sick husband.  She became one of the principal bread earners and because of that, went to school, studied nursing and graduated.  She worked evenings, was home in the morning to get us all up and off to school, slept when she could, did my dad’s physical and mental therapy, and then went off to work for the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.  

 There are a lot of caregivers out that that have to do that and more, trying with all their resources to help the situation.  And in all those situations, the caregivers have to find time for themselves, for their own emotional health – my mom went off with a friend each Monday to have coffee and go to church for the weekly novena, finding enough there to feed her soul.   

 So as Mother’s Day approaches, I want to acknowledge all the “mothers” out there – those who are actually mothers and those who become “mothers” when brain illness darkens the doorsteps.  They are the ones who are on the front line fighting to keep depression from swallowing up their families.  Without them, so many families would be aimless, caught in the bog of emotional upheaval. 

 Hats off to all of you.  And our Mother’s Day present to each of you is a simple soup recipe that tastes great and can be done with a minimum of work.  Remember, taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do when fighting brain illness and part of that caretaking is eating well.   

 Happy Mothers’ Day! 


Amy’s Potato Soup Recipe

 Cut up and boil 5 baking potatoes and one chopped onion in 4 cans of chicken broth. When fully cooked, reduce to simmer and mash the potatoes in the broth with a potato masher. Add one 8-oz. package of cream cheese, cut into small squares. Mix with a hand mixer and cook until cream cheese is melted. Add salt and dill weed to taste. Serve with shredded cheddar and bacon bits as a topping. Serves 6.

 – Bernadette