Meghan Tells It

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When Death Shakes Your Own Soul November 9, 2016

Filed under: Thoughts — Meghan Hamilton @ 4:00 pm
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Yesterday Craig and I attended the funeral of a 48 year old man. We weren’t super close to him, but he made a significant impact on Craig and we are both better people for having known his kindness.

Despite not knowing him well, his death has hit me hard. You see, he struggled with his mental health. On several occasions, his wife and I would have impromptu group therapy sessions in the grocery store or wherever we happened to run into each other, because being married to someone with a mental illness is hard. Though they had different diagnoses, it was similar enough to feel safe talking about it with each other.

So as I thought about this particular death, I knew it could just as easily have been Craig’s funeral. The thing that people don’t like to acknowledge out loud in front of other people is that mental illness can be a terminal illness. Whether a person takes their own life because the pain inside has become overwhelming, or they do something utterly stupid in the throes of a delusion, death is not uncommon. It can feel like it is waiting at the periphery of our lives on a daily basis, looking for an opportunity to snatch away our loved ones.

Those of us married to people like Craig find ourselves wondering if treatment will be accepted. Then we wonder if it will be effective. It’s not always effective. The man who was buried yesterday fought valiantly for his sanity. He loved his family deeply. I doubt he wanted to hurt them with his exit from this life. When my friend was presented with the flags involved in the military ceremony, I heard her weep. My heart wept with her. I can only imagine her pain right now. I hope to never feel it for myself. But I’m not counting on it.

Craig fights every day. Still, there are days that I wonder if he’ll arrive home safely after he goes out. There are days I wonder if I’ll arrive home to him still in one piece and the house safe from a kitchen fire. There have even been days that I wished it would be over so that I could stop wondering. Those are the most terrifying days and the ones no one wants to acknowledge.

Today I still have my husband. Today I will tell him I love him because I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to tell him tomorrow.

*Note: I don’t wish to ignore or minimize the impact of mental illness on the lives of other family members. But my experience is that of a spouse, so that is my focus today.*

 

No Rest For The Sane September 9, 2016

Filed under: Family,Thoughts — Meghan Hamilton @ 3:14 am
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I’ve recently seen a primary care doctor for the first time in about a decade. He was clearly unhappy that I hadn’t seen anyone for any kind of checkup since my son was born over eight years ago. Here is my explanation.

Caregiver Syndrome or Caregiver Burnout.  My husband has a serious mental illness and I’m trying to raise our child, homeschool him no less. I have many of the symptoms. One of them is spending more time coordinating the other person’s appointments than your own. Guilty.  Really highly totally guilty.

Something that this country (maybe others, but I haven’t looked) has started to do well is to offer respite care for elderly folks in need of care. Nursing homes will take on a temporary resident so that the family can go away on vacation. Adult day cares are popping up so that adult children can work and live with their parents. Or they can have a day off to take care of their own appointments.

What we lack in America is such programming for adults with mental illnesses. Single adults may qualify for a permanent group home type situation. But what of us spouses who remain married to mentally ill men and women who need regular care? What of parents of mentally ill adults who have chosen to allow their children to remain at home? I’m sure there are others too.

My husband is currently willing to take his meds and take care of himself. But he is completely scatter brained and often forgets. Daily pill reminders. Daily reminders to do his part of the housekeeping. Daily checks of the schedule to make sure he doesn’t miss an appointment with one of four doctors. Daily scrutiny of behavior for symptoms flaring up. It never ends.

So I neglect myself. I overeat junk food to sooth my stress. I only get a break when he is in bad enough shape to warrant a hospital stay. I don’t wish that upon him. Even that though isn’t total freedom for me. There are calls and visits to the hospital. Childcare arrangements need to be made because young children aren’t welcomed in such facilities and visiting hours are strict and never at a convenient time.

Is there a point other than to say this life is hard? I don’t know. I often simply wish that there were respite care for people in my situation. I want someone else to take the load once in a while so that I can rest. I’m absolutely sure it would make a positive difference in my life, thus in our relationship.

 

Snapshot of a Fleeting Childhood August 3, 2016

Filed under: Family,Thoughts — Meghan Hamilton @ 11:41 am

 

Jpeg

Alex Being His Goofy Self

My son is eight years old. This fall he will be a third grader for those of you keeping track. My aging body woke me up in the wee hours of the morning with a variety of minor ailments that conspired to keep me awake. Usually when this happens I feel irritated and angry. Today was different. I contemplated the sleeping child beside me.

Alex has gone through a number of changes in the last year, in the last months even. He no longer snuggles up to me during the day. You see, he’s far too busy living his own life. Whether he’s playing video games at home or disappearing into a friend’s back yard for hours on end, he no longer needs my body as security the way that he used to.

Yesterday I hardly laid eyes on him. We spent the morning in separate rooms of the house. Then we went to a birthday party where he played outside while I chatted with the other moms inside of the house. We then went to a park. He disappeared to the far edges of the property with his friends. They explored wooded paths and created their own adventures. He came close only long enough to guzzle some water and complain about a situation before he was back at the business of play.

So this morning, as he snuggled close in the cool morning air, I wondered how many more nights he’ll need to sleep at my side. A couple of months ago he shocked me by choosing to sleep over both a friend’s home and his grandparents’ home without me. A year ago this would only happen if I made him do it.

He has always been on his own timeline with his development. He walked after he turned one. He finished potty training at age six. Reading finally became somewhat comfortable at age eight. Soon, he won’t want to sleep close to me. He’ll  see the advantage of that bedroom he’s had since birth. So when sleep eludes me, I will savor the sleepy snuggles while I still can. There will be time for me to feel cranky about it later.

 

Small Town Life – Escaped Horse December 8, 2015

Filed under: Thoughts,Uncategorized — Meghan Hamilton @ 6:37 pm
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On Sunday I got a call from a friend. She and her family were about an hour outside of town and they had received a call from the police. One of their horses had escaped. The police had the horse safely tied in the area, but they were having difficulty getting by the dogs. So could I drive over and help get the horse back onto their property?

I immediately headed over. Upon arrival, a policeman and the animal control officer were standing in the driveway, the horse on a stick lead dancing around, dogs barking at the two strangers in their yard, and the animal control officer trying to not get stepped on by the horse. He is a miniature horse, but you still don’t want to get stepped on or kicked.

The dogs noticed me and formed a wall between myself and the two strangers on their property. I reassured them that it was OK and we got the horse back into the paddock. Apparently he was upset that the family had taken a couple of the other horses out for the day and left him behind. He managed to open the gate and go looking for them.

Given that the horse wasn’t run over, the dogs didn’t bite anyone, and all ended well, it was pretty comical. That got me thinking. It was probably the most exciting thing that happened to any of us that day. For that, I am grateful. We live in a world where some people are eager to hurt others. My area isn’t immune to such things. But that day, I was safe. My biggest worry was getting a friend’s horse back where he belonged.

 

 

Stop the Maybes October 1, 2015

Filed under: Opinions No One Asked For,Thoughts — Meghan Hamilton @ 5:06 pm
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Yes. I am on another rant. I am coming to have strong feelings about the word “maybe.” The more maybes I encounter, the less I use that word myself. People like to hid behind it as a way of avoiding hurting or disappointing others. They use it as an excuse to avoid confrontation. How do I know? I’ve been guilty of it myself.

As I look back on my life, I realize that I’ve come to more disappointment by way of someone giving me a “maybe” as opposed to a “no.” When you tell me maybe, I have my hopes up that you will tell me yes. But more often than not, you simply don’t show up or follow through. If you had just said no in the first place, I would have gotten over my disappointment quickly and moved on. But you strung me along with your maybe.

This bothers me more than ever because you are often hurting my son’s feelings in the process. As a homeschooling mom to a seven year old, a lot of things I invite people to are for him. When four people tell me maybe they’ll be at the playground, I feel obligated to show up because I am the one who suggested it. At this point, Alex isn’t interested in playing there by himself. Neither is he particularly interested in playing with the preschoolers that are normally there. So, when you don’t turn your maybe into a concrete answer, we’re left with a fruitless trip and a disappointed kid. If you’d said no in the first place, I’d have found something else for us to do that would have been more fun than wondering if anyone was coming. Being left hanging is a far worse feeling than being told “no.”

Given that I can’t count on changing you, I think that I will change my attitude and reaction when receiving “Maybe” as an answer to an invitation.

  1. I will continue working on being a good example and stop using it as an answer. I want to give a concrete answer that means something.
  2. I will not be afraid to ask for a concrete answer. Don’t be surprised if I ask, “Does that mean yes or no? I don’t really want to be left hanging.”
  3. If I can’t get a concrete answer, I will assume you mean no. I am done showing up to things that need other people to make work and being the only one to show up. Don’t worry, I’ll probably let you know ahead that I won’t be there after all.

What about you? Does this word irritate you? How do you deal with “Maybe” as an answer?

 

Pet Peeves: Social Media Guilt Posts March 5, 2015

Filed under: Opinions No One Asked For,Thoughts — Meghan Hamilton @ 1:59 am
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If you’re on a social media site like Facebook or Twitter long enough, you’ll see them.  The Guilt Posts.  Here’s one I saw today:

guilt post

There are others like this:

Put this as your status if you or somebody you know has suffered BABY LOSS or INFERTILITY. The majority won’t put it on, because unlike cancer, baby loss/infertility is a taboo. Break the silence. In Memory of all the ~Angel~ babies gone too soon but never forgotten, and the babies who were not possible but are so loved.

Then there are the snarky ones:

PLEASE put this as your status if you know someone (or are related to someone) who has been eaten by penguins. Penguins are nearly unstoppable, and when hungry, also breathe fire. 71% of people won’t copy this into their status because they have already been eaten by penguins, 28% are hiding in their showers with fire extinguishers awaiting the coming penguinocalypse, another 3% can’t do math, and the remaining 1% are awesome and will re-post.

So, what is my opinion?  Thank you for asking!  I would certainly miss the person who posted the first one.  I know and love people to whom the second one applies.  I may have reposted the third one at one point.  In general, you won’t find me reposting or doing whatever the instructions say to do.

If I am your friend, you know it.  If you are my friend I know it.  If you’re not my friend and would like to be, maybe you could try communicating with me directly so we could actually get to know one another.  Then we might become friends and that would be great!  If you find yourself needing validation from these sorts of social media tests, then perhaps it’s time to rethink how you form friendships and what you expect of your relationships.

I feel very deeply for people suffering from illnesses, ailments, and the sucky things that life throws at us.  I will not repost a status out of the misguided belief that it will better show my compassion.  If a person tells me or writes about a difficult situation they are dealing with, they will receive a dose of compassion and love in whatever form seems appropriate (hugs, kind words, etc…).  If you have a helpful and informative article about a sucky thing like baby loss or cancer, I will probably share that on my Facebook timeline.  I will not, however, go on your guilt trip.

I will not repost these either:

I Asked Jesus, “How Much Do You Love Me?” Jesus Replied, “This Much” And Strenched His Arms On The Cross And Died. If You Believed In God, Put This On Your Status. 97% Of You Won’t Put This In Your Status. What Jesus Did On The Cross Was Because He Was Thinking Of You. 3% Of You Will Stand Up For Him And Put This In Your Status.

It’s not that I don’t believe that Jesus loves me that much.  It’s not that I am afraid to let people know about my faith.  It’s that Jesus came to relieve us of sin and guilt.  I don’t need to add to the tremendous guilt people feel in the name of my religion.  And these numbers are made up as far as I can tell.  I’m not interested in statistics someone pulled out of their butt to try and make themselves look great.  Elevating yourself also goes against what Jesus said.

I do love humor and snark and will repost  things about ridiculous situations like getting eaten by a penguin.  It also helps if the thing you want me to repost is reasonably free of grammatical errors.  I’m not asking for perfection, but the one about Jesus hurts my head to look at.

 

Feminism? Yes Please! February 19, 2015

Filed under: Opinions No One Asked For,Thoughts — Meghan Hamilton @ 1:32 am

Let me start by telling you what feminism is not.  It is not hating men.  It is not telling women who enjoy being housewives and stay at home moms that they are worthless.  So what is feminism?  According to Merriam Webster, it is:

the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

After many years of women not getting to choose whether they pursue a career or stay home and take care of the house and children, some women are upset when they see a woman choosing that life.  I prefer to celebrate the fact that anyone gets that choice.  I enjoy staying at home with my son (most days).  I enjoy the fact that I’m not required to.  I could wake up tomorrow and start applying for jobs and leave him with a public school, daycare, etc… if that is what will work best for all of us.  Why do I have that choice?  Because women before me stood up and said, “We deserve the same choices men get!  We are people too!”

Education?  Yes!  I had the privilege to learn to read and write and choose higher education.  As little as 80 years ago, women going to college was controversial.  Today’s American women don’t have to fight to go to college based on their gender.  We can base that decision on the same criteria as men do – ability and money.  If you are female and can read this, you have earlier feminists to thank for that skill.  As few as 150 years ago, girls didn’t regularly learn to read.  They had to hope that the classes weren’t too full of boys in order to obtain a seat in school.  And then they had to hope that their fathers deemed their academic education worth their time away from housekeeping and demonstrating what wonderful wives they would make.

I got to choose my husband.  If ever I deem him not right for me, I have the option to divorce him without everyone wondering what I did wrong.  In many places, we still arrange marriages and even expect women to stay in abusive relationships because marriage trumps spinsterhood.  In many places, men are still considered superior to women.  Women are treated as slaves and used for baby making with little to no thought of their dreams and desires.  Because of feminism, I wasn’t forced into my marriage.  I truly appreciate that.

I can vote!  Ok, I’m pretty jaded by the current political system.  But at least I can go to a voting booth and choose the options that make sense to me without worrying about being barred from entry or having to vote the same way as my husband.  American women weren’t allowed to vote until 1920.

Why do we ask pregnant women what they plan to do about work but often assume that the child’s father will continue to work?  My husband was a stay at home dad for the first few months of Alex’s life and I worked outside of the home because it made more sense at the time.  But people asked me what the plan was.  I see this over and over again as other women become pregnant.  Can we change the question?  Maybe ask, “Are you folks looking for daycare?  I have a recommendation.”  Or maybe, “Is one of you staying home with the baby?  I have some fun things to do.”  Take the gender based assumptions out of your line of questioning.

And what about single mothers?  Thanks to feminism, it’s okay to be a single mother.  Some mothers are single by choice, some by circumstance, but single mothers are no longer hidden away and forced to put their babies up for adoption if they wish to raise their children themselves.

Having children is a choice.  I enjoy that!  I can go to my doctor to get on birth control, or require my husband to use a condom, or choose to abstain from sex if I don’t want another baby.  Some women don’t have the choice of telling their husbands “no.”  They don’t have access to birth control.   If I want a large family, I can choose that as well.  It’s my body!  Thank you, feminists, for allowing me to choose how to use it.

In conclusion, I enjoy having choices.  I enjoy what freedoms and strides towards equality that women have made in America.  This isn’t exactly an exhaustive list, but it hits some major points.  Are we 100% equal?  Sadly, no.  But we have far more than some of our sisters in other parts of the world.  I do believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.  So, I am a proud feminist.