Which is it?

I wrote a few days ago about grief and depression and how they are both twins that accompany my days right now. I have been giving it a lot of thought these past few weeks – how do I tell what feelings and thoughts are depression and which are grief…or are they so intertwined that it’s impossible to separate the two…or does it even matter?

 The fact is that I am searching for the answer to this because in my mind it gives me a glimmer of hope that I will be “better” eventually…that someday I won’t have a mind filled with thoughts that I shrink from…thoughts that fill my mind’s eye with images and memories that turn my insides into a fire that hurts so badly.

 If this is depression, then it can be “fixed”. There might be a magic bullet that will make it go away. Maybe a certain yoga, the right running route, a tea, a meditation or something, anything, that  will make this all easier . Depression is a mental illness and mental illnesses can be cured – or at least managed. This is my thread that I hold to. As hard as it was to admit that I am depressed and need help, it’s now become a life raft for me to hold to that will bring me to a safe place where I am ok again and I can see live my life without this weight.

 Grief on the other hand… if this pain and this trudge everyday to put one foot in front of the other is grief… then what hope is there? The grief may get easier to live with as time passes but it won’t ever be gone. Willie will never be not dead. No amount of time will ever change the reality that Willie killed himself.

 So I wonder and I vacillate between hope and despair, sometimes moments or seconds are all that separate the two extremes. I hold to the platitudes spoken or written to me by well-meaning loved ones that I just need to embrace my “new normal” and try to not lash out with the anger that sits just below the surface as I lack the belief that any semblance of normal will ever be mine again.

 I don’t know who I am anymore. I struggle with a feeling of loss of my Self as I try to navigate my life as it is now. The “Me” I thought I knew is replaced with someone that I don’t understand and I don’t much like most of the time. Has grief changed me into this person for good or is this a transitory stage on my way through healing? I don’t know and I don’t have faith that I’ll learn the answers any time soon.

Unending questions without answers.


Home is…

I have a plaque in my house that I’ve had for a number of years. It’s a square ceramic plaque that hangs on the wall and has the saying “Home is not a place, it is people” inscribed on it.

We moved a fair bit during the period from 2001 to 2012. From 2001 to 2006 alone we moved 5 times. It was always within a 2km radius though and the boys never changed schools so it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. The moves were always to a bigger place or a better place so they were happy moves. Up until the 2010 move after the ending of my marriage and the sale of our house that is – but even that was a “good” move really; a divorce may be hard but when it’s the best decision it is a good thing.

The tradition with the plaque was that it was always the last thing down in the old place and the first thing up in the new place. A small tradition but it was something that was important to me. I grew up moving often and having consistency is something that I know first-hand helps you feel like you’re “home” when home keeps being someplace different.  On moving day, the plaque would stay up as we emptied the house and packed the moving truck… I would take it down from the wall in the empty abode and carry it with me, in my car, to our new place. There, before we moved the furniture and boxes in, I would toss a nail in the wall and up would go the plaque. To me, it was symbolic that no matter how different the place felt, it was home…the kids could see that plaque and know that there was continuity and consistency. That poor plaque was almost knocked off and had more than a couple close calls as it was battered by furniture and people moving but it always made it.

When I moved into the little suite that was for just Connery and I in late January 2012 it was very hard to hang up that plaque. Willie had just moved in with his Dad and Christopher and Ben had moved into a basement suite together the same day that Connery and I moved. I felt like my entire life had fallen apart. We were just coming off of 2 months of dealing with Willie’s mental illness and while he was finally out of the hospital, it was clear he wasn’t better and we were struggling to find him help while watching him give up. The move was hard physically and emotionally. I had no one helping other than myself and Christopher and Ben and it was a long day – moving them first in the morning then Connery and mine belongings in the afternoon. It had snowed the night before; we were all just exhausted and worn out from the previous couple of months. The last thing I felt like doing was hanging up that plaque. But I did. I did it because Connery still needed that. Even though all of his brothers had moved out and he didn’t really understand anything that was happening, he needed that; and so did I in a way.

We had no idea that 10 days later Willie would commit suicide and our lives would be altered forever.

A few months later when I left to move to Victoria I took that plaque down, the last thing to come down as I was clearing out the suite that Connery and I had shared for just a few months. It was so painful to take that down…the anger I felt that no matter where I went, it would mean nothing to me was palpable. I put it in my car and left it there until almost 5 weeks later when I moved into my new apartment in Victoria, where it was hung on the wall, the first thing in the apartment. As I hung it, I struggled with the decision. Over that first week I put up and took down every picture that I had brought from my old life. The memories they held were too painful to have them up. They felt “wrong” somehow; from such a different life that they just couldn’t exist here. So they are down and in a tub under the bed. I have finally brought a few pictures of the boys out and have them displayed but even they are many times conflicted in my mind over whether I want them out or not.

Now, just a little over a year later and I have decided to remove the plaque. It was hanging in my entry way and every time I came home I would see it first thing as I entered the apartment. It would almost mock me with the glaring betrayal of my life now versus what I have lost and the hurt became too much.

The inscription of “Home is not a place, it is people” screams to me that my reality now is that I have no Home based on that. My people are scattered, no longer close and one lost forever. As much as I love this apartment it lacks a feeling of Home for me – a feeling I don’t know if I’ll ever have again. So the plaque goes into the tub with the other pictures, a part of a different life.

Freedom of Information?

As some may know, I am having an interesting time trying to acquire copies of my son’s medical records.  There are a number of places that my son was either treated at or that referred him for care. Amongst those places there are the Ministry of Child and Family Development who saw him for therapy sessions both before and after his hospitalization, 2 separate hospitals that he was an in-patient at, another counselling office (private but receiving government funding) that he saw after his hospitalization and his family doctor who received copies of all treatment records and he was also my first point of contact for help.

So, as is obvious from this list, there are a number of locations that I am seeking records from.  I have been pleasantly surprised by one place by their quick and complete fulfillment of my request.

That’s one out of five if you’re keeping count.

I have, to date, had no response from either hospital…in spite of repeated written requests for his information.

The family doctor, when I asked for his records in March 2012 (in person) told me to wait a month and come back and ask – he felt I was emotional and didn’t “really” want to see his records. I was beyond frustrated but went away and came back exactly one month later and, after much back and forth, was begrudgingly given a copy of his medical records. Copies that I later realized were incomplete. It wasn’t until months later when I remembered a visit with the doctor in January 2012 where he was holding the hospital report and was explaining that he didn’t agree with and I recall him reading from the report…that report wasn’t in the copy of his file that I received from the doctor. It took almost a month for them to call me after I asked, in writing, for a full and complete copy – explaining that I felt some records may be missing. That resulted in a heated phone conversation with his staff- in which they admitted there was a hospital report but refused to go over what else was in the file. I was told that the doctor would only discuss this with me in person and when I explained that I lived in a different city now and requested he call me she ended the phone call by telling me that it was up to him whether he would return my call but she didn’t think he would. I never did receive a call back but did get a copy of that hospital report by mail a week later… but nothing else. So, I have no idea what else, if anything is missing.

The one counselling location he saw which is a government ministry service is the most difficult to navigate. I am still hopeful that some resolution will come. My request for his records from them has been denied by the Freedom of Information office; file closed. I can – and will – appeal. I also have a meeting in 2 weeks with a representative who seems understanding and I hope to have something come of that meeting.

It’s going to be a challenging meeting but it is a step towards resolution, or at least closure of some kind.

I’ve learned that I can’t let go like I’ve had some suggest. What will make a difference is getting Willie’s story out … to be vocal…not in the sense of blame or finger pointing but in a way that looks back to be able to look forward and see how other Youth can be helped more pro-actively and with better results.