Mental illness or not?

It should not be surprising that I am a member of many facebook groups related to widowhood, young widowhood, suicide survivors etc. A post caught my eye today as I was scrolling through my newsfeed. A woman was stating that she was leaving a suicide support group because she was tired of defending that her son was NOT mentally ill. She attributes his suicide to a medication he was taking and finds it insulting that people would say he was mentally ill. Clearly, I do not find it insulting to use the term “mentally ill” as I use it regularly. Statistics state that 90% of suicides are as a result of mental illness. Am I certain that Alex was within the 90%? No, probably not…
A while back I tried to convince myself that his suicide was caused by something else. I found many supplements / herbal products in his items. I knew he was taking “vitamins” but did not really know what. One of the ingredients had been linked to some suicides, I found after extensive research. Can I be certain that this was the cause? No.. I cannot. Would it make a difference if this was the cause?
I had been told by people in his life that before we had met, Alex was “suspected” bipolar. I have previously written how now, in hindsight, it would make a lot of sense. He fit the description and symptoms to a tee. If this were his diagnosis, it would certainly explain may other things in our life. But again, can I be certain that this is what was the cause? Nope… still can’t.
A few years before his death, Alex was convinced he had a head injury. He kept describing that “something was wrong with him.” Our family doctor stated he had depression.. he denied it and it was never mentioned again. Can I ascertain that the cause was depression? Beyond a reasonable doubt…. no.
My point… Does it really matter? If I knew the exact cause, would it change anything? No.. he would still be gone.
Suicide survivors join to support each other. We have all been affected by a similar tragedy. We all understand the negative stigma associated with suicide and do not want to see our loved ones thought of in that manner. To me, the term “mental illness” is not negative. People do not choose to be mentally ill as much as they do not choose to be ill in any other way. It is a disease… just like any other. It saddens me to hear someone find it offensive. It doesn’t make you any less of a smart, good person.
I’m starting to wonder if it is time for me to move on from these groups. It helped so much in the beginning, now I feel it brings me down. So many people feel they are defined by their loss. Though it is a big part of who I am, it is not everything.

The summer of George

(Please note the Seinfeld reference)
This is the summer of Heather and Alexa. Ok so I do have a job and responsibilities and I’m not single, but still… Last summer I just existed. I went through the motions and attempted to seemingly have fun. We went to the beach once or twice and swam a few times, but just like the rest of the months last year, I wished them away. This year is different. I swore that I learned to enjoy every moment and live life to the fullest. I said that I truly understood that life is short. And I do… And I will follow through. I’m taking every opportunity to enjoy this summer (and I’m tanner than I have been in 10 years!) I’m having fun, enjoying life and and enjoying every day with my little girl. I’m loving watching every new experience. I’ve never been to the beach so many times in a short period. Even growing up in NJ… It’s more fun now. So many moms tell me how tough it is to take a child to the beach… So much stuff to bring and not so relaxing. Well I think they are wrong. It is much more fun with a child! So what if my house isn’t perfectly clean and (even through there was none last week) the clean laundry is piling up again. We are enjoying the sun and having great new experiences together.
I previously wrote about creating a bucket list. Last weekend I got to cross something off. I performed my first wedding ceremony. I was so excited to be a part of this and think it went great. This was the second wedding I attended since losing Alex and I think I did really well. The only sadness I can speak of was watching the slideshow seeing the bride and groom with their daughter. The “daddy/daughter” photos started to get to me. I shed a few tears but still appreciated what it meant to them. It was a great day and I’m so honored to have been a part of it.

I know I’ve been slacking on writing and all and all… I’ve just been busy with my normal life, plus enjoying the crap out of the summer!











Father’s Day

Father’s Day has come and gone and I am finally taking the time to write about it. There are a lot of mixed feelings and emotions here. First, Alexa is not old enough to understand what Father’s Day is or even what a Father is at this point. I’m thankful for this yet I know it will change in years to come. Earlier in the week, I was pulled aside at daycare to discuss their Father’s Day project. It was brought to the attention of the teacher that what she picked would not be appropriate for Alexa since she is without a (living) father. I am sincerely thankful that they thought of her situation, however it is all around awkward. She was ultimately sent home with a bunch of “happy grandfathers day” items for my dad. Again, this was greatly appreciated. The day came and instead of sitting home, we celebrated with another father in our lives. I’m still getting used this whole “blended family/dating with children” or whatever you want to call it. The man in my life may not be my child’s father, but he is a father and I am happy to have celebrated it with him. I enjoyed the day and never felt like Alexa and I were missing out. I will admit to feeling slightly guilty, but her dad is not here, and we need to enjoy our time with the people who are. We had a great day, then stopped to visit Alex. I still don’t know how much Alexa understands, but we brought him a gift, said hi, and wished him a happy Father’s Day. He may not be around to raise her, but he is always going to be her father. Just when I thought I had done great and got through the holiday, something else hit me. I dropped her off at daycare today to find another “daddy” drawing in her cubby. This time it said “Alexa and daddy.” Daddy was then scratched out and changed to “mommy.” I know it was a mistake they attempted to fix, but man it hurt. Chalk it up to another odd experience….
I will close by saying happy Father’s Day to my dad. He has been there with me for the best and worst moments of my life. He’s an amazing man and I am so thankful he’s mine. Alexa is so lucky to have him as her grandfather.



Life moves pretty fast

It has been a busy few weeks! I feel like I’m always saying that though!
The biggest overall thing is that after almost a year and a half, I sold
Alex’s bike. I toyed with the idea numerous times but really didn’t put full effort into it. I knew it would be incredibly difficult to part with. But really, what good was it doing me just sitting in the garage? It was taking up space and going to waste. I won’t say it was the easiest thing on earth to say goodbye to, but it was the right thing to do. It was his pride and joy and really meant the world to him. I’m glad someone can appreciate it and get use out of it. It feels weird to not see it hanging in the garage anymore but really, it did not feel as awful as I expected. The anticipation tends to be harder than the actual event.
Next up… Our wedding anniversary.
I planned a beach day as not to sit home thinking about it. I tried to make it as normal of a day as possible and really it was. I watched the recap video and smiled with tears in my eyes. It was so much easier to get through this year than last. I look back with happy memories. No matter what happened, it was an amazing day and I will never regret it. I liked being married, and though we did not live happily ever after, I have wonderful memories to hang onto and a beautiful daughter that resulted.
This week two years ago, Alexa was still in the hospital and I look back to each day, thinking of what we were doing. It was amazing and scary and stressful and beautiful. I’m glad we shared that experience and of course, so thankful that she is a happy healthy girl after all of that.
I’ve learned to take advantage of each day, live life to the fullest and be as happy as I can be. I guess a huge life changing experience will do that. The term “life is short” never meant so much to me.
This weekend I got to take Alexa to sesame place. I vaguely remember going as a child but I certainly remember the stories. It was amazing. I don’t know who had more fun. I can’t wait to take her back to see her excitement again and hear her shouting “Elmo!” I think for the first time, I wasn’t sad about Alexa experiencing things without him. That’s her life and we are going to enjoy it with the people who are here. No disrespect meant and it does seem a little strange… But I feel like we have a family again, and I like it.




Happy birthday Alexa!

Well it certainly has been a crazy week. My little princess turned two! It is so interesting how I look at all of this now. So many people say to me “wow, time flies!” But does it? Yeah, part of me cannot believe that my little girl is two. She is not a baby anymore! However, looking back on everything we have been through since she has been born puts it into a whole different perspective. It feels like ages ago that Alex was alive. I really feel like it was a lifetime ago, and I haven’t seen him in forever. Seven months… she was seven months old when he passed away and now she is two! A completely different child! And a completely different life…

It was a big birthday party weekend. I rushed around doing a million things to get ready on Thursday. Friday, Alexa’s grandparents came to visit. This is always a rough experience for me as it is a huge reminder that he is gone. I always end up in tears discussing him, rehashing what happened, and looking at the people who raised him. I am so thankful that they want a relationship with their granddaughter, but it will always be a source of anxiety for me. Just as I can’t, they will never truly be able to understand what happened and I will never be able to give them the answers they deserve. I try, but I just don’t have them. I tried very hard to just enjoy my daughter’s birthday, but there was just so much pain surrounding it. I thought so much about the day she was born and the scary but incredible experience Alex and I shared that day. Next thing I knew, Friday was over and it was time to party!

It was an amazing day. Alexa and I had so much fun with friends and family. With the bouncy house, I got to act like a kid again and yet a parent at the same time. I am so thankful for everyone that came to celebrate her. She is loved by so many.

In the aftermath, I am sore and tired. Too much fun!! And cleaning and cooking and hosting lol. I cannot believe it is over! Before I know it I will be planning birthday number three.

I knew it may be hard. I knew some tears may be shed. And I knew there would be fun. It was overall a great experience. I know Alex was there in spirit and I feel great watching Alexa grow up in my new world. I’m doing the best that I can as a mom… That’s all I can ask for.

There is still one more May event to get through… Our anniversary. On Saturday, we would have been married 6 years. I know this may be difficult, but I am going into it hoping to just cherish the memories and move on with the day. No matter what happened, it was still one of the best days of my life.








Spiritual but not religious

What happens when you die? Well clearly no one really knows for sure. Everyone has different beliefs and those beliefs build the foundation of our grief or even our peace with the loss. I try not to push too far when I discuss what my beliefs are though I have eluded to them in this blog before. I believe everyone has the right to their own opinion. What I believe works for me.
So here are some thoughts. I routinely refer to the process after death as “crossing over.” I do not make the determination between heaven or hell, or anything in between. To me, this means crossing over to the spirit world. I have mentioned before that I believe spirits walk among us. I believe they can visit as they wish and can take any form necessary to spark our interest. I believe spirits do not cross over right away and can linger until the time is right.
When it came to Alex, I used to feel he was always with me. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there. Just a feeling I guess. When I needed proof, and asked, he would provide it. Though I never actually saw or heard him. I believe that spirits are able to come through in dreams and I can clearly tell the difference between a dream, and a visit. I only have recollection of one dream which was “real.” I believe, given the circumstances, Alex was unable to cross over until I was okay on my own. I am now… And I believe he has left. This is not to say he cannot check in as needed and visit Alexa, but I no longer need him constantly. As far as I am concerned, he is always welcome to visit her and I hope he does often.
I have been asked before why I don’t write about God. I do believe in a God, yes… However I don’t believe that God has protected me or saved me or got me through this. I did the work. I grieved and WORKED through this. And if “he” is protecting me, why didn’t he protect Alex? He was a good person…and he was sick. But.. What’s meant to be will be and although he chose to end his life prematurely, I still believe that somehow it must have been his time. I know that it is out of my control, and I may never fully understand why or the depth behind everything that happened. The same goes for someone who died of “natural” causes. We will never truly know why it was their time.
I do not have a formal religion and do not feel I need one. Nothing against those that do… Again… What works for you… When it comes to Alexa, Alex was wholeheartedly against raising her with a formal religion and I will continue to raise her with that agreement. Furthermore, I will not raise her in any religion that will teach her that her father went to hell for a mistake he made. Again, I believe Alex was a good man and I do not think a God would turn his back on him, as many religions teach.
Though not a formal religion, I am a minister of the Universal Life Church. What does this mean? Well basically I went online and got ordained to have the ability to perform weddings. I am excited to be marrying my first couple next month. Just as exciting is the idea that this organization promotes equality of all religions and beliefs. We all have a right to what we believe in and to not be judged for it. Everyone is different… No better no worse and should all be respected.
And really… Do we need someone to tell us to help others, be a good person, and have appropriate morals? I don’t think so…

Mother’s Day

So here we are. Another “second” holiday come and gone. I can honestly say that this was my first good Mother’s Day. Last year I was still just “messed up.” Things were still so hard and so miserable. I wanted so badly to enjoy my first Mother’s Day, but I really couldn’t. I was so upset that I did not have Alex to share it with, and really nothing else could matter to me. My daughter does not have a father to help her with a “gift” for me. I debated buying myself something. I didn’t… Understand that I am not looking at this in a materialistic sense, however some small recognition is always nice. Though it is the best thing that ever happened to me, being a mom is tough, and being a single mom is tougher. Two years ago, I was very pregnant and spent the night in the hospital after having a random seizure. This is not how I wished to spend the holiday either. When it came to multiple years prior, I was struggling with infertility and this holiday was a day to remind me of what I was not… a mom. Mother’s Day always seemed to be a “dark” day for me.
This year was happy. I am mentally in a different place and am able to enjoy life (most of the time.) It was a quiet day spent with family (and involved a lot of food.) I was excited to spend time with my little girl (and paint her nails for the first time!) I got a very sweet gift, of which I was not expecting. Nothing major, but wow, major thought put into it and it made me very happy.
As I mentioned earlier, May brings a lot of very happy events, that can bring some significant saddness with them. Mother’s Day turned out very well… I have a lot of hope for Alexa’s birthday being great and I am sure, somehow, I will get through our Wedding anniversary again. Maybe it won’t be so bad…

The things that May brings

I’ve posted before how some days are just covered in reminders… Out of nowhere a day (that seems rather normal) just screams Alex everywhere. Seeing a car like his still stops me mid sentence, though now, it does make me smile. Songs still can have a very positive or negative effect on me. Yesterday was one of those days… I started to wonder, was he trying to tell me something? What was the significance of that day? It didn’t get me down, but it did have my mind wandering. Thanks to my new “time hop app” I realized that 6 years ago yesterday was my bachelorette party. Was that it? I’ll never know for sure, but was my subconscious thinking about it? Based on that fact, I thought about our wedding anniversary coming up. How is that supposed to feel now? Just another day? Will it be sad? I don’t really know. I’m starting to wonder how I should handle that day. I’m guessing it would be a good day for a distraction. Make it a happy day, and don’t sit home. I guess all I can say is… We’ll see. Alexa’s birthday is coming soon. Though it was hard to get through it last year, I’m confident this year will be better. It hurts to look back on where she was when he died, and the child she is now. He has missed so much of her life. But still, I’m so proud of her and will never be able to put into words how amazing it is to be a mom, even with everything we have been through in her short life.
Here are some “time hop” photos from my bachelorette party and Alexa’s two year photos.







Worst days

Do you ever think about what the worst days of your life are? For the sake of consistency and mental clarity, we’ll go with worst days of your adult life… I should really say that the worst day was the day Alex died, but was it? That day is a blur and I can honestly say, after finding him, I no longer was mentally able to grasp the concept of what happened. I couldn’t feel anything.. I couldn’t understand anything. So let’s just say that the days and weeks surrounding it were the overall worst. Next…. Today was one. I watched one of the closest people in the world to me, say goodbye to her mother. I have no idea what this feels like. I know that watching her heartache and agony was so incredibly… Well… Awful. I wanted so badly to take her pain away.. But I can’t. I can only hold her hand (and hair back) and say that this does suck, and it’s not fair, but you will survive. It was a long day. I left at 5 am (2 hour drive) to spend the morning with her, go to the service and dinner, and hold her hand through the emotional experience of “when it becomes real.” Now I may not have lost a parent, but I certainly understand “when it becomes real.” I have vivid memories of watching another close friend say goodbye to her father. I knew that that was one of the worst moments of my life… Just watching the sheer agony on her face. I knew I would face that again today.
Three women… Friends for many years.. And we now have all held each others hands through such experiences. I can think of so many things that best friends are for… This may be the worst thing to experience with a best friend… But it may be the most important.
Next comes the man who lost his wife. The situations are certainly different and I cannot say I know how he feels. But I know the path… I know how hard tomorrow will be when he wakes up and everything is over… Everyone is gone… And his new life begins. I don’t wish that upon anyone. In talking to him, his tear filled eyes looked at me as someone who has done this before (which felt so strange.)The only advice I could offer is “one day at a time, one step each day.” There really is nothing I can say or do to take away this man’s pain. I’ve spent the past week thinking about “where was I the next day… The third day… Etc.”
Today was emotional as any funeral is, and I was thankful to be given the important task of babysitter. I got to focus on this child (about the same age as mine) and what HIS needs were.. And (attempt to) ignore that the sheer idea of what was going on around me brought back horrible memories. Though, as people had asked, I did relive some things today, but it was not about me and I certainly was not going to let it be.
I spent every minute with her that I could and had to get back to being a mom. I was so drained and migraine ridden… I couldn’t wait for the day to be over. I am so thankful to the people who made it possible for me to “escape” and take care of a friend. It meant the world to me that I knew she was safe and happy and I could leave her, worry free. Yet, I missed her and couldn’t wait to see that smile. I have an amazing man who did whatever he could to make today easier on me. I will never be able to put into words how grateful I am.
Still, I know that Alex was there with me, helping our friend in her time of need.

A cat?

I have previously touched on the idea of spirit contact before. I do believe spirits can walk among us and that they can take any form they wish. A dear friend of ours lost her mother to a long illness yesterday. She mentioned this morning that a cat had previously shown up in the yard on a day that her mother was rushed to the hospital. She sent me a photo and said it was watching her. I didn’t really think anything of it. Today, when she said the cat had returned yesterday, I knew it must be a spirit. Both of us wondered, who would take the form of a cat? At that moment… One of my cats meowed and I just knew. It was Alex! Even looking at the photo, I just somehow KNOW. It’s him…. He’s there with her still today in her time of need. Alex held a very special bond with cats and I know if he could choose anything that would scream to us that it’s him, it would be a cat. I’m relieved to know that he is there with her as I am there in thought, but not in person.





 Page 5 of 29  « First  ... « 3  4  5  6  7 » ...  Last » 

Error. Page cannot be displayed. Please contact your service provider for more details. (5)