Monday, April 30, 2012


Dave in blue velvet.
Landon's prom was last night.  He came home this morning after the post-prom party saying he had fun at the dance busting out his moves.

It was Landon's first prom.  For Dave and me, it was the fifth time going to the prom's grand march to see our kids on stage.

The grand march is held in the gym prior to prom. The guys are decked out in tuxes; the girls in beautiful evening gowns.

When we went to prom, the girls wore Gunne Sax, cotton dresses with lots of lace. In retrospect, they were a little dorky.
Me in my Gunne Sax.
You have to get to the gym early to get a good spot. Doesn't matter when I get there; I always pick the wrong place. I end up crawling on my hands and knees crouched between aisles to take a picture. I have yet to get one good picture at any grand march. The same thing with graduation. Either the picture is a blur or it's too dark. The worst part is I miss the momentous occasion trying to take a picture of it.
Landon and Josee

This is our last child. I'm going to get a good picture. We arrive early. I sit next to the middle aisle. I figure I'll be right there to take a picture when Landon and his date walk by.

The emcee comes out, welcomes everyone, and explains how the couples will descend the stage and walk around the outside of the aisles. Drat. I'm in the wrong spot. Again.
There are seven pages listing the order of couples' names. Landon and his date's names are on the sixth. I count off each page before Landon's name is called. Finally it gets to page six.

I crawl down the middle aisle. I practice getting the best angle on the three couples ahead of Landon and his date. And then their names are announced. They come through the arch on stage.

I raise my camera and press the button. Nothing. I try again. The screen freezes with the words "Internal memory full."  I can't believe it. I frantically try to delete pictures to restore memory to take just one picture.

I'm missing watching Landon and Josee descend the stage. They reach the floor. I am kneeling on the floor directly in front of them. I give Landon a little wave. Landon looks down at me, smiles and nods.  I raise my camera and pretend to take a picture.

And then they're gone.

I don't know why, but I'm always left with this little ache in the back of my throat the night of prom. There is all this flurry of activity helping your son or daughter get ready. You tell them to be safe and have fun. And then they leave. And you stay behind. With your camera filled with blurred images.

I feel better when Paige texts me later that she feels a little sad for some reason too. She remembers her own proms. And now her little brother is at prom, handsome and all grown up.  She just wants to give him a hug.

Landon will be a senior next year. He's our youngest. There will be just one prom and graduation left. I'm not taking any pictures. I'm going to sit back, soak it all in, and just watch.

Amber and Paul
Matt and Paige

P.S. Notice there are no pictures of the grand march. If anyone got one of Landon, let me know.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The luxury of a nervous breakdown

Two years ago I had a meltdown that was a long time coming.  It was on the heels of four years of various trials. Some were the normal stresses that people experience if they live long enough--minor health problems, the challenges of raising teenagers, caring for aging parents. And there was serious stuff too.

Things eventually settled down. When everything should have been good, I went into a funk that wouldn't leave. I had bouts of depression before, but this was the worst. I slogged through every day and, for the life of me, couldn't think of a thing I was looking forward to. I focused on just getting through five minutes at a time. Spiritually I bottomed out. While I once had been passionate about the Lord, I now felt wooden.

What was my problem anyway?  I figured it was a luxury to have a nervous breakdown, feeling guilty that I didn't have anything to be depressed about. Other people suffered real tragedy. All that I was suffering from was a midlife crisis and selfishness.

When you're depressed the last thing you want is to be around people. But it's the thing you need most. I credit my friend, Terri, for dragging me out for coffee. She'd make me laugh.  Every day I talked to LaDonna, a friend who lives in Washington, who distracted me from my inward angst. My sister, Vicki, who is younger, took the role of big sister and would check in with me, letting me talk and cry  Friends at church, who didn't know what was going on but just knew I wasn't myself, gave me hugs and encouragement.

Dave, at a loss, would tell me I was going to be okay and stepped up with housework. I felt sorry for Landon, the remaining child at home who was trapped with a mom who was an emotional wreck.  It couldn't have been easy for him.

It was obvious even to to me that I needed medical help. I went to our family doctor and balled and balled. She gave me the depression test. It was no surprise that I scored at the top as severely depressed.  She referred me to Psychiatry. With my first appointment, I was diagnosed correctly and was put on two little pills that prevented me from ending up in a corner, wild eyed and licking my lips.

It took awhile getting off the bipolar express, but eventually my whacked-out brain chemistry evened out. I started feeling better. The turning point was when Amber got engaged. My girls both said, "Mom, now you have something to look forward to."

I stayed busy for the next months helping plan the wedding. The day of the wedding was glorious. It's hard to describe the feelings you have seeing your little girl walking down the aisle on her father's arm. While Paul and Amber took communion, I felt such abundant grace. I had been richly blessed by people who loved me through to the other side of a dark time. Life was good again. I felt joy.

With Terri, who keeps me laughing.
P.S. I think most women have times of depression. Depression can be situational, hormonal, spiritual, or biological. In my case it was a combination of all these. Get help if you have depression that is persistent. You're not alone.

What's helped me kick depression to the curb is blogging, laughing with friends and family, not taking myself too seriously, and exercising regularly. And taking those two terrific little pills every day.

Blessings, Jacci