Sunday, March 24, 2013

I must confess

The view from my desk. :)

I have had some comments lately congratulating me on being such an amazing person, so I feel I must confess that I am really not amazing at all. First of all, after the severe crisis in my life that had started me taking antidepressants, I figured I didn't need them after all and decided to quit. But I didn't. I had only taken them for a couple of weeks, never even got up to a full minimum dose, but I started cutting them back to every other day. Then one day I was sitting at my desk at work and I got this overwhelming feeling that I just couldn't do it, just couldn't keep going. So, I started taking the antidepressants again. (It's Celexa, for those who are curious.)

And I have to say, I think they help. They don't make me deliriously happy. They don't make me optimistic. In fact, I think they flatten things out a bit. I don't react so emotionally. I will see a sad movie or read a sad book, and I will think, oh that's sad, but I won't cry. I'm not sure, actually, that I like this reaction, but we will see. Bad behavior from other people doesn't push me over the edge as it once did. I certainly think how bad it is, but I just don't really care. By bad behavior from other people, I basically mean people who act like jerks toward me in one way or another. I don't mean rapists and kidnappers and the like. But with personal affronts I am able to step back from it in a way that was more difficult before. So this is helpful in doing what I have to do and getting through life.

I have never taken antidepressants before because I have never classified myself as being depressed. In fact, I have always characterized myself as being unusually optimistic, especially considering the things I have been through. But I recognize that the thing is, the pain and suffering have been there. It's just that I have always been determined to make sense of them. They always served an ultimate purpose as I have honestly believed, and still believe, that they are stepping stones on the pathway to becoming who I am meant to become in this life, to accomplishing whatever purpose I came here to accomplish. The pain could not defeat me because I embraced it as part of the journey to where I had to go.

And I do still believe that, in every fiber of my being. What might antidepressants do in this scenario? Are they cheating? If they dull the pain, might they make it harder to get to where I am going? Well, at this point, I am in my fifties and I have had a child missing for going on 25 years. That last statement implies far more than looking for a missing child, missing her, worrying about her. That statement implies an entire mountain range I have had to climb through as it has affected every part of my life and my love. In addition to losing my daughter, I have watched my mother die. I have watched my other children each suffer their first, and sometimes second and third, broken hearts, and that is really a far more painful experience than it sounds. I have experienced and internalized all these things. They are a part of me.

Perhaps now it is time to stop wallowing in them and to climb out of the muck and start doing what I am supposed to do to fulfill this purpose I have felt behind everything. One of those purposes is writing. I have known this since I was six years old, that my destiny was to write. I have a book I have been "working" on for awhile, but quite honestly there has not been a lot of actual work going on. Although it is fiction, it is based on Michaela. It is about the mother of a missing child, and while I toyed around with fictional missing children, my heart kept returning to my truth, to my own true love, my daughter. But I also was avoiding it, because it was so difficult, so painful. In the last couple of weeks, though, I have been able to get to work on it again. I have been able to take out those tender memories and hold them in my heart and my hands, and feel their beauty without falling apart. So perhaps I can do something with them. Perhaps that it what today is about.

There is something I have discovered, however, in going through my memories, and that is that I have suffered from depression before. Most shocking to me was the recognition that I suffered from quite extreme post partum depression, with both my first and second children. When I look back at those times now I can see a really deep darkness embracing me. The interesting thing is that I didn't recognize it at the time because my babies, Michaela and Alex, were such terribly bright lights in my heart that they dazzled me, completely blinding me to the darkness that was surrounding me. I've always said that I didn't understand how people could suffer from post partum depression because it was such a wonderful time in life, but I guess I don't have to wonder anymore. And I don't know what caused it. I don't know if it was from hormones, or from fear of the intensity of the love I felt ... Or if it was from my life situation, moving into a relative isolation as a stay at home mom. But it was very real.

As for some of the other stuff ... the really hard stuff (for me anyway), the healthy lifestyle ... I still have not got a firm grasp on that. I get it, and then it slips away. I have lots of reasons, primary among them being the fact that I have a very demanding job and a long commute, and on top of that I have to do every thing that gets done around the house (well, except for taking out the trash), because I have failed to train anybody else in the family to do this stuff. Also, my mind demands so much more of me than my body. It wants to read, it wants to communicate. What it really, really, really hates to do is to be still and to listen to itself, which actually happens during exercise. And the food? Well, this has been a lifelong battle for me, and although I have maintained a winning stance here and there for relatively long periods of time, it requires a concentration that is hard to maintain while spending the majority of my time dealing with the outside world. Anyway, excuses may be good but they are still just excuses. I need to get a grip on this. I'll let you know if I come up with a good method of doing this!

But, I am just really not an awesome amazing person, and it is completely embarrassing for people to make that leap from the things I write. I am trying to prop myself up, and quite honestly by writing about my battles I hope that I can help others to prop themselves up. Perhaps others will take what I say and do a better job with it than I am doing, and hey, then you can tell me and I can learn from you. I am a long way from where I need to be, from where I want to be.


  1. Thanks so much Sharon for sharing your heart with all of us. Thanks for your honesty also.

    To me you are very amazing and awesome because of how you speak your feelings and the truth.

    I know what depression is like. I've been battling it for quite a few years and I have to take medicine for it. I always thought I wasn't a depressed person for a long time not realizing that I was. The medicine really does help me.

    I know how you feel about being a long way from where you need to be, and from where you want to be. I know I want to smile, laugh, and be full of energy like I used to and have a better outlook on life. Maybe I'm asking for too much but that's how I feel and that's what I want.

    I pray for everything you need in your life!

    You, Michaela, and your family are continually in my prayers.

    Hugs from
    Thelma Mandera :)

  2. Well, I think you're amazing and strong. I love reading your blogs. I hope Michaela is safe wherever she is.

    1. I agree with you

  3. on the subject of antidepressants, i've really struggled with this over the years. especially as a Christian who has decided to not only be active in my church but also attend a Christian college (when i was healthy enough to go, i spent 3 years there), there are some who say God should be enough. but many people don't realize there are 2 distinct categories involving WHY people need antidepressants: conditional & chemical.

    conditional, obviously, is when your depression is caused by the conditions you are experiencing. in your case, the kidnapping, in my case, my own abuse & abduction/being held in mexico that month against my will while being abused, it can be anything that you need help working through. most people will have a time in their life where they need help with something, and sometimes the answer is medication. however, in this type of situation, medication is not indicated for permanent or even terribly long-term use; it is more of an aid to help stabilize you while in crisis so that you can work through what's happening. i was on antidepressants starting when i was hospitalized for being depressed & self-harming, and got off of them about a year later after i'd worked through what was causing the depression.

    then there's chemical - this means there is a physical, medical problem in which your brain's chemicals become imbalanced. this results in depression which no amount of therapy or "working on" will truly help. in fact, there often isn't anything to go to therapy for or work on other than the fact that the person is depressed. for me, this began in college. many people said i needed to go back to therapy, assuming it was linked to my previous issues, but i knew in my heart & in my mind that it was COMPLETELY different! my life was great at that time, some of the best days of my life up to that point, and i had absolutely NO reason AT ALL to be depressed! i had worked through what happened to me and was GENUINELY at peace with it, knowing God had a plan and had healed me. in fact, i was grateful for it, because God used me to help others, and i loved that.

    in cases where you are truly not depressed due to circumstances in your life, chemical depression is a medical condition. it's the same thing has if you have, say, diabetes - your body isn't making enough of one substance, and it's making you sick. there's a social stigma attached to mental illness, but in these cases, the illness is as much PHYSICAL as it is mental! and in these cases, medication is BY FAR the most effective treatment! in my case, i resisted medication because it hadn't helped me before... but failed to take into account that when i'd been on medication during my conditional depression, i was not suffering from a physical problem, it was all mental. once i realized that & started medication, i was ALMOST COMPLETELY CURED within a month! with ZERO THERAPY! because the problem was chemical; it was medical, and i took a medication to fix it.

    i cannot overstate the importance of knowing which (chemical or conditional) is the reason you are on antidepressants. although the answer may seem obvious - such as when people assumed i was depressed in college because of my past - only the person experiencing the depression can say whether or not circumstances are causing their depression. if they can honestly say they aren't, there's a good chance there is a chemical - medical - problem. statistics show that approximately 90% of people on antidepressants would benefit more from therapy than medication because they do not have an imbalance in the chemicals the medication is designed to balance out. for that other 10%, although therapy may be helpful, it will NOT be a cure and some do not need any therapy at all once on medication.


  4. (continued from previous...)

    whichever the case is for you, do NOT judge yourself or allow others to judge you for taking medication. it is NOT "cheating" to have help balancing your emotions, especially when you've experienced so much! perhaps some could say it would be cheating if you lived a perfect life with no troubles at all and still turned to medication to sort out your emotions, but that is not the case with you. take care of yourself, regardless of what other people say.

    sorry this was so long... i'm just really passionate about it, and want to make sure you understand the issue as best as possible. you may already know all of this, so sorry if that's the case. maybe someone else will read it & it will help them, who knows. i can tell you that before i started these meds, i was not only depressed & suicidal but COMPLETELY irrational and incapable of thinking clearly. i was self-harming ALL the time to the point where it became an addiction (which i'm happy to explain or answer questions about but won't add here as it's long enough already). i believe that God gives us the intelligence to come up with medications and that using them can be His way of healing us. if someone disagrees with the use of antidepressants for chemical imbalances, they should also disagree with the use of insulin for diabetes or chemo for cancer or antibiotics for infection, because it is just as physical a problem as any of those things!

    you are in my prayers, as is Michaela & your family, as always. :-)

  5. Michelle I don't feel at all guilty and certainly nobody has tried to make me feel that way. I am absolutely a believer in the brain chemistry as a cause of mood disorders. In fact, as I recall the theory is that once you suffer the situational trauma that causes depression, it a actually alters your brain chemistry, which leads to a pattern of depression. When I said cheating, it was really tongue in cheek. Thanks.

  6. Sharon, you've convinced me that you're not perfect (which I suspected anyway) but I still think you're amazing. You can stumble in the face of life's challenges and still be amazing.


  7. Please don't sell yourself short,Sharon. You are an amazing woman. I have gained inspiration by reading this blog and as jaded as this world and life has made me,its hard to find truly amazing people in it. But you are. I pray every day for you,your family,and Michaela. Thank you for letting me into just a portion of your world via your writing.

  8. Perhaps the antidepressents are not holding you back, but propelling you forward. They flatten and shrink many of your mountains, your issues, into littler mountains, hills, and bumps. With each mountain or hill you pass over, you are making yourself stronger. So the antidepressents are actually making it easier for you to be stronger, and even if you stop them, you still will have accomplished so much. I think that with all the mountains and hills you have passed over in your life you are a strong woman. Strong women pass over the hills, and believe me, you have passed so many hills and so many mountains. Weak women can't pass over the mountains. They stop at the first slope they see, and say that it is too much. You are definately not that person. As for the amazing part, I think that people use it for lack of a better word. You are more so admirable than amazing. I believe that everyone who reads your journals and your experiences knows that you've accomplished a lot and they admire the way you keep going, and want to be like you. It is much easier to say "amazing" rather than "admirable," to make another point. Do not doubt yourself, Sharon. Every worthwhile person in the world believes in your abilities to do these *admirable* things.

  9. Thanks, and I hope you are right.

  10. Greetings, Sharon. I was age thirteen when your beautiful baby girl, Michaela Joy was taken. :/ I lived in Pinole at the time. Not far from Amber Swartz-Garcia in fact. I recall the panic & fear for us young bay area girls. And to think...those were the innocent times?!

    Michaela Joy may not physically be here with you now. But that does not mean we can not talk about her. She won't be forgotten because we won't allow it. Michaela Joy is so cute, Sharon! She has a cute smile and an upturned nose. Adorable. :) I used to tease my hair like she did! That was such the style. I remember seeing her poster & thinking how cute she is.

    I can't imagine the pain you've endured. But I do, daily. I've had anxiety that something bad will happen to my own children, since I became a mother.

    Its 2013 and life is flying on by. You're in your fifties. I'm nearing forty. Were still praying Michaela Joy will be brought home, where she belongs. Some things change. Others do not.

    You are not weak for using anti-depressants. Cymbalta & Seroquel have both enhanced my life & made tremendous changes in my daily mood and behavior. Like night and day.

    Sharon, I know this sounds a bit cheesy. But recently Ive began to really believe in life after life. I believe that life on earth is so short in comparison to time in eternity. So when I feel crazy and when I feel I can not take the pain the world hurls at me, I remind myself that this time is fleeting. That when I get back to where I came from, heaven. That I will feel total comfort & peace. :) And you will, too.

    I am praying for you & for Michaela Joy as well. One day you WILL be reunited together and you'll be bathed in complete love, protection and comfort.

    God bless you & your "babies," Sharon. <3

  11. Sharon: Just wanted you to know that Audrey Leinoff who's been missing since 1988,was recently found. After 25 years of being a lost child she's been reunited with her family. I'm not certain of all the details surrounding her case but there is still hope for Michaela. Please keep that hope because every day is another day she could return to you. Praying still and sending love your way.

  12. Hi Sharon,

    You've been quiet lately. Just want you wish you strength. I hope you're finding some peace.


  13. Hi, Sharon. I just wanted to offer you some peaceful, healing, loving vibes & energy.