Tuesday, January 5, 2010

disjointed and personal.

Originally uploaded by Laura Hartrich
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Tonight I caught the tail end of a show on PBS called This Emotional Life. This episode was about depression, and featured a teenage girl struggling with severe depression. It was compelling. Because I have battled depression as a young person and as an adult, I'm increasingly nervous about the possibility that my children will also suffer. I don't know what to do about this other than educate myself, watch them for symptoms, and then help if I am able.
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I am feeling good lately. Winter is here and I hate it with a visceral hatred, but it helps if I make myself keep moving. Trouble comes when I give in to the cold and curl up in a fetal position under four blankets (unless it's after 9 pm). I sometimes wish we could move somewhere with a more temperate climate, but we'd be giving up a lot of things (or, actually, people), in exchange for good weather, and I don't think that will happen.
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S is doing something lately that is hard to handle. When he gets upset, he says something like, "I hate myself, I'm so stupid, I'm a bad kid, I'm an idiot." It is extremely unsettling to hear him say these things. Part of me wonders if he is putting it on. Maybe mom will stop admonishing me for hitting my brother if I berate myself. But I don't know.... it seems pretty genuine. We have always tried to be very careful about the way we speak to the boys. Never, ever would we dream of using these expressions directed toward them. Perhaps, though, we are conveying these messages through our actions/attitudes (exasperation, irritation, etc)? Unintentionally, of course. When he says this stuff, I ask him gently not to say it, because it makes me feel sad. I also tell him that I don't believe it is true. Sometimes I will leave it at that. Other times, if he seems especially down, I will elaborate, holding him and cooing to him about how special he is to me and his daddy, and naming specific things we adore and appreciate about him. It seems to help. Like I said, I don't know where this is all coming from, but it's pretty unsettling to witness. Do any older parents out there have any experience with something similar?
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Because I do have a proclivity toward depression, I feel driven to work toward happiness. So that my family has a happier woman to live with, and so that my kids can see that it can be done, if they ever need to follow suite. I've become an enthusiastic reader of a blog (now a book!) called The Happiness Project. Small stuff, simple ways to let a little more happiness into my life. You should check it out. It has really helped me grab on to happiness and claim it as my own.
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Is S's costume in this picture not the most amazing get-up you've ever seen? I thought the red jump suit / red cape combination was pure genius. This picture makes me happy.


Colin said...

I want an outfit like that (cough cough, wedding present, cough cough).

I enjoy reading your thoughts as always, Laura. I think that with attention and support Simon knows that he's loved, that's he's not an idiot/bad. Also kids tend to use words that carry a lot of weight with adults but that to the kid don't have much serious depth ----- "I hate myself" being one of those things that's heartbreaking and horrifying to hear, but to the kid doesn't really mean what it seems to mean.

Just an idea, though. Tell Simon Colin says hello and he loves him.

Mama Niccicoco said...

Hope the girls weekend cheered you up last weekend. I feel the same way a lot of the time during winter, like so LOW. Especially when I am alone, I just don't know what to do with myself. So yeah keeping busy seems to be the key. (: You know you can always call me if you wanna talk, chat or gossip.
Jack has definitely been through that stage and sometimes when he is REALLY upset about something those sort of comments bubble up. "I hate myself, I am the worst" or "YOU hate me" that sorta thing. He actually used to smack himself, but seems to have outgrown that. I think it is both a cry for attention AND them expressing real sadness. When they get in trouble or mess up they feel genuinely bad and they are not used to feeling that way, so they are verbalizing it. Of course we comfort him and tell him, we don't hate him we love him, but we don't like his actions that got him in trouble. It's so hard being a parent, but I think that is normal what Simon is going through. That or our kids are quite similar! Can you imagine having a girl. OYE!