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Saturday, June 23, 2018

More Than a Feeling ****** A Guest Post by Anna Sargent

More than a Feeling

I will start with this- many people will not be able to relate to this post regarding the details. The majority of you who do read this post probably won’t “get it”, why these feelings still reside despite our outcome. If you are reading this, I ask that you have an open heart and mind. After you read it, try to think back and ask yourself if you can apply my feelings to a different scenario that has happened to you, and then reflect on that.


A sentiment that seems to be lacking in our society. My thought is that people are too caught up in details. If situations aren’t nearly identical, people have a hard relating. But we’re more alike than we think, feelings are feelings. They stem from the heart, they’re not always logical, and many try to reason feelings out of their lives, probably because they are not always comfortable to deal with. In fact, a lot of times feelings are extremely painful and time-consuming to process. The paradox of a human’s inclination to push feelings away when the ramifications of repression are so much worse is an enigma I don’t think I’ll ever understand.
A year ago today my water broke. I was 30 weeks pregnant, everything had been going perfectly. Why? Why did this happen? It’s a question I will never know the answer to. This past year has flown by, probably because we’ve been so busy, but no matter how busy I get, the question is always in the back of my mind.

It happened at the end of a workday, on a Friday at 5:45 PM. I felt "off" while I was driving home, ignoring my intuition, telling myself not to start anyone’s weekend off with a task of picking me up from work. I got home, told my husband, and took a shower. As I was standing there telling him I thought something was wrong, the evidence quite literally poured out of me. We were stuck in a moment of terror that seemed like an eternity. So many questions raced through my head, which maybe in a clear state of mind, I would have known the answers to, but I couldn’t think of what to do. We stared at each other with faces of uncertainty, knowing one thing for sure, my water was broken.
Surely it wasn’t time to go to the hospital; we hadn’t even packed a bag. I fumbled through my phone looking for the doctor’s number, “What did I save it under again?” “What’s my doctor’s name?” It was as if someone had scrambled my brain, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the answers to the simplest of questions. Next thing I knew, I somehow had them on the phone and the other end of the line was telling me we needed to get to the hospital.
Hours of waiting, to have a nurse tell me the test came back with nothing, it was a fluke. They didn’t believe me. I was in shock. I asked them to retest after hours of waiting and letting my intuition take control. More hours passed in a tiny, crowded area where I watched my husband sleep on the floor and heard a mother give birth in the triage. They were back, and my intuition was right. Momentary relief for validation shaped into the sinking of my heart and stomach for what this might mean. I was told I would be in the hospital until this baby would either come on her own or in a few weeks when they would induce me for risk of infection. I remember thinking back to my baby app, “How big is my baby now?” “Are all of her organs functioning yet?” “How can she live without amniotic fluid?”
I learned more over the next three weeks of bedrest at the hospital about babies than I had been a mother for 10 years, yet, I felt like I didn’t know anything anymore. I didn’t understand my body, I didn’t know what the outcome of my birth would be. More so, I felt isolated, and mostly I felt guilty.
Guilt for failing my baby. Guilt for not being able to care for my older daughter at home. Guilt for feeling lonely when cards and visitors were pouring in daily. Guilt for my husband staying every single night at the hospital with me. Guilt for his panic attack. Guilt for being entitled and not appreciating the health care I was receiving. Guilt for feeling sadness when so many mothers had lost their sweet babies.

My daughter was born at 33 weeks, pink and screaming, and scored a nine on the APGAR tests. She had a fairly short NICU stay, but I did not get to take her home with me when I was discharged. That car ride home was hell. I left like I couldn’t win. I was going home to be with my older daughter but leaving the other behind. After she came home from the NICU and we were all reunited, I experienced a lot of relief and was able to be happy. It was like my brain had turned off all the negativity and let me live in the moment which I am so very grateful for.

It’s been a beautiful year of milestones and celebrating, but I still have guilt and sadness. I still live at the hospital in my mind sometimes. Some days on my drive to work I just cry. Every day I look away driving by the hospital to avoid seeing the window of the room I stayed in. Most of the time I’m very happy, and I am able to take those moments in stride and keep things in perspective. I’ve learned to acknowledge those feelings and move forward with my life, but they are always there and I don’t think they’ll ever leave me completely.
This experience has opened my eyes and heart to so much. I experienced such a wide range of emotions over those couple of months that have lead me to be empathetic to many people and situations. Happiness is happiness. Love is love. Despair is despair. Guilt is guilt. Despite different situations, those feelings are real and I have been striving ever since to try and level with people who have felt what I have felt. It’s crazy how validating someone’s feelings can change their outlook in a positive way.
So if you’ve stuck with me through this post, thank you for your time. I hope that maybe you can relate to some of the feelings that I’ve shared, and maybe you can attempt to understand someone else’s viewpoint or situation that previously you were not able to in an empathetic light.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 Reflections: I've come a long way!

In thinking about the new year, and everything that is going on in my life right now, I honestly can't believe how far I have come in the last 5 years.

2010 was a HUGE turning point in my life, for many reasons, on many levels.I have learned some really tough, often heartbreaking lessons along the way, but I feel wiser, stronger, better, and more together than any time in my life. Things that used to really upset me, hurt me, and give me heartache no longer matter one iota. THAT is freedom and emotional liberation! 

I can honestly say I am really proud of what I have accomplished in all aspects of my life- what I have learned and the progress I have made. Often I felt discouraged, and it has been very hard work, but I am seeing so many fruits of my labors at this time. It feels REALLY good to be in this place right now. I am so indebted and thankful to all who helped me get here. (THEY know who they are!!!) I am even thankful for those "challenging" individuals who made my life difficult and who hurt me, BECAUSE I overcame and triumphed, IN SPITE OF THEM!

For those who get discouraged and feel like things will never improve/change, BELIEVE ME- they can! Persevere, stay true to yourself, work hard, and ASK FOR HELP! It may not turn out EXACTLY how you once hoped, but you may be pleasantly surprised that it turned out great in spite of what you had initially hoped for! Stay open to changes, DO YOUR HOMEWORK, take chances, and believe in yourself!

Peace in 2015! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How can this be happening? What I learned from my son's suicide attempt

It was November, 12th, 2010, when I got the phone call every parent prays they’ll never get.
It was my 25 year old son, and he was distressed and agitated. He was talking about feeling completely hopeless - in emotional and spiritual pain, and just wanting it to be over. I tried to console him, but he was too deep in his pain to hear my words.

“Where are you?” I asked. He said he was in a park, but would not give me the exact location. He had taken a lot of pills, and he just wanted to go to sleep, forever. 

In that moment, I realized I had to keep my head and try to figure out what to do. I frantically started calling his friends and asking if they knew where he was. I called his dad. In the midst of this controlled panic, I was hoping this was all a misunderstanding, and that it wasn’t as serious as it sounded. But I knew I couldn’t afford to be wrong.

Thankfully, the end of this story was not the tragic death of a young person. With the help of many people, we were able to locate my son, and get him to a hospital in time to pump his stomach, and save his life. It was a wake-up call for our family, and we realized that my son’s depression was a serious, and life-threatening problem. 

In the days that followed the attempt, we all realized we had not understood how desperate and hopeless he had become. It wasn’t that we weren’t listening to him; we just hadn’t understood the signs, and the depth of his despair.

I called my son to ask his permission before writing this blog post and share this important story to help others understand.  I told him it was completely up to him, and that if he didn’t feel comfortable, I would write it in a way that did not identify him. Without hesitation, he encouraged me to write it, and hoped it would help others who have fallen into despair about their lives. Then he asked me if I remembered the Facebook message I had posted the day after he woke up in the hospital. That message said: “I was awakened to a wonderful and blessed sound this morning - the sound of my son’s voice.”

By telling this story, a very personal story, my son hopes that this project can help another family, or person who is struggling. He wants others to know that he isn’t ashamed of what happened and isn’t keeping it a secret. At the time of his attempt, he was in an emotional state that prevented him from having hope. He was in deep pain and confusion. Through sharing this story, without shame or anxiety about telling this important story, he said he hoped someone else could benefit from knowing what happened to him, and that they might realize that suicide isn’t the solution.

As we talked about this post, we remembered that very painful and difficult time, and my son told me that since that day, he has lost a handful of friends, and knows of many others in his social and professional circle, who have ended their own lives. When I started thinking back on people I have known in my own life, I was startled to realize how many there have been through the years.

The stigma of depression and attempted suicide is what leads many people to finally end their lives. It is important to talk about how suicide happens, and how to find ways to help prevent people from taking their lives.
Have you ever heard someone close to you say any of the following things?

“I just want the pain to stop.”

“No one can help me through this.”

“I’ve lost control of my life.”

“It’s too late to get help.”

“Life has nothing for me anymore.”

“I don’t know how to fix this.”
There are situations and events that can bring a person to the point of despair. We’ve all had experiences that have caused us to question the direction and value of our lives. Each event will affect each person in a different way, and if there are multiple stressors happening all at once, it can become dangerously overwhelming. 

 As an example, a person going through a divorce or separation from a spouse may feel isolated, defeated, and hopeless. If that person is not sleeping well, or becomes physically impaired in addition to this emotional strain, they are further at risk for suicidal ideation. If additional problems with finances, children, or employment come into the mix, there can be a breaking point for the individual who is struggling already. 

You may ask, “But what can I do to help? It isn’t any of my business.” Of course it is. Anytime we see someone in our community, family, workplace, or social group struggling, we should do whatever we can to reach out to them and let them know that there is always a way out of a bad situation. It isn’t easy. There isn’t always an immediate, quick fix in these situations. Awareness means being able to recognize when a person is at the breaking point, and working with them to find help. 

There are resources available. Education and awareness is key to understanding the reasons  for suicide attempts. I hope you won’t need to use these resources, but as I found out, it can happen to anyone, at any time. It is my sincere hope that through sharing my story, and helping others become more aware, someone else may be able to save a life.