Emotional Journal

While it’s still New Year’s Day and we are in the mindset of changes and setting new goals for the year, I finished my second year of a writing a journal. Emotional Journal is available at http://www.lulu.com/shop/stephanie-lindstrom/emotional-journal/paperback/product-23933478.html

This 12-month journal makes it easy to track your daily moods, record factors that contribute to moods (like sleep, exercise, screen time, and social interaction). Each day also includes a space to journal notes for the day. Get control of your moods and make it easier to talk to your doctor or therapist about how you feel.

Changes from 2018 include: the weeks are numbered and not dated (it can be purchased at any time of the year, not just in January); at the end of each week is a space to record your week’s accomplishments; I included a recommended reading list; it is less expensive even with shipping; lastly, the journal is in a coil spiral format.

Upon purchasing – please review it with feedback. Thank you so much!

New Year’s Day 2019

I’m kicking off this year by blogging, publishing the second edition of my Emotional Journal, and establishing better health routines. I plan to take some health classes to become a health coach.

I went to college for communications and worked as a receptionist, a non profit fundraiser, then returned to go to cosmetology school. I worked as a hairstylist for almost four years, before adopting two children. I became a stay at home mom and loved it. Until November 2009.

My CHD (Congenital Heart Disease) came back to haunt me. I was in heart failure and it affected my blood vessels to my liver.

To summarize late 2009-2013, I had open heart surgery with a mechanical valve and a pacemaker, rerouting the blood flow. This surgery was successful for 18 months. My medications started to fail, I was retaining liters of fluid, and eventually I needed to be on oxygen 24/7. September 2011, I was listed with UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing). I needed a new heart and a new liver. I waited at home until May 19, 2012. I was hospitalized as I declined and contracted several viruses in CCU. My renal system failed and I needed dialysis. In the eleventh hour, I received a heart, liver, and kidney on July 12-13, 2012. My recovery was longer than most and I went between the hospital and home for the next year.

It has been 6 years, 5 months, and 20 days since my transplants. My life has turned out so differently than thought it would. Physically, I have good days and bad days; I have chronic pain, painful side effects, peripheral neuropathy and a low immune system. Emotionally, I struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

I hope to encourage others and bring new information through blogging.

Showing Thankfulness, When You Are Struggling to Live One Day At A Time

You’ve made it through Thanksgiving (maybe you have the in-laws or another Thanksgiving celebration to go to this extended weekend). Between the food, friends, family, football, and Black Friday, everyone seems happy, joyful, delighted and thankful. In the depths of depression, it is difficult to join in and there are times, I feel like I am performing and even though I can be surrounded by people, I can be lonely.

This is the time I have to write out what I am thankful for and sometimes we write it out as a family. It can start out simple – air. After being on a ventilator, I am VERY thankful I can breath on my own and eat and drink whatever I want.  Clean water – access to it all the time. Medicine – even with side effects, medicine daily saves my life. My doctors. Shoes. Hair (after the transplants I lost my hair) and it’s grown back Heat. Clothing. Running water.

Then I go to the people in my life. then, most importantly, to my God and Who He is and His unchanging character.

After my transplants or any significant event in your life (wedding, birth or loss of a child, surgery, moving, a marriage separation or divorce, etc.), there seems to be an acceptable amount of time society thinks you need help, prayers, one on one visits, your grass cut ( you get the idea) and you should be recovered.

However, a mood disorder, that is something most people dismiss or don’t know what to say. Some people do, and will remain faithful in keeping up with you, holding you account spiritually, socially, and making sure you are taking care of yourself. Cherish those friendships, invest time and care into them, make time to pray with them or ask them to pray for you when you are too depressed to pray for yourself.

Don’t try to fake it so much, holidays are not all joyous without drawbacks, But you can start making a thankful list and see how blessed you are. Take advantage of the sunshine, give to others and push yourself to make your thankful list as long as possible.

Recognizing Depression

The topic of depression is talked about often in our society. Prescription drugs to fight depression are advertised on television, magazines, and pamphlets in physician’s offices. News stories are easy to spot at all major television networks, print, and online. Even our children say they are depressed after a day at school when they have been teased or bullied.

I started showing signs of depression in 2003, years before my heart failure. I didn’t know these signs and was suffering for a while before I could get professional help. My family misunderstood me and it would cause conflicts and many hurtful words were exchanged on both sides. Meanwhile, a lot was happening physically, chemically, and emotionally inside of me.

There are many depressive disorders, also referred to as affective or mood disorders. Researching these with the guidance of a therapist and a psychiatrist helped me tremendously. Some common early signs of clinical depression can include: mood of sadness, despair, or emptiness; the loss of the ability to experience pleasure (Anhedonia); low self-esteem; apathy, low motivation, and social withdrawal; excessive emotional sensitivity; negative, pessimistic thinking; irritability; suicidal ideas.

Some depression facts include: Suicide rate for patients with major depression is 9%; 18 million people per year suffer from major depression in the United States; the incidence of depression ratio of women to men is 2:1; Only 50% of Americans who suffer a bout of depression will seek treatment. Treatment can be effective up to 80% of depressed patients. *

When I started seeking help from my primary care physician, it was a catastrophe. I highly suggest seeking help from a medical professional – a therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist or a combination of a therapist and a psychiatrist or psychologist.  Therapists and psychologists cannot prescribe medication. However, a good therapist will be well versed in psychotropic medications.

If you suspect you or someone close to you may be suffering from a depressive disorder, seek professional help right away.

 

*Handbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for Therapists, 6th Edition

How Not To Help A Sufferer

If you experience any type of mood disorder, I can pretty much bet that you have heard all kinds of advice. I live in the Bible Belt of the United States, grew up in a Baptist home, attended a conservative Christian university and all too quickly people are eager to throw out Bible verses to me.

I truly believe the Bible is inspired by God, the authority on His redemption plan for man, and teaches how Christians (those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and follow Him). However, I ALSO believe the best way to combat depression or mood disorders is a 3 pronged approach: (1) Christian based therapy on a regular basis (2) Regular help with a psychiatrist or psychologist (3) Medication when the exam shows the need for it, especially if the brain or heart has been disrupted.

Below is a link from the Christian Coalition on How Not to Help a Sufferer. I have had all of these comments said to me by either family members or close friends who at the time, did not understand one thing about depression.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-not-to-help-a-sufferer/

 

Christmas Calamity and Christmas Peace 2015

I would have never put calamity and peace together. We still have a lot to travel on this journey. A lot to learn, to wait, to sift through, mountains and valleys. Psalm 23 comes to mind easily.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I SHALL NOT WANT.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He LEADS me beside still waters.

3 He RESTORES my soul. He LEADS me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

On Wednesday, December 16, my niece, Melissa Johnson, was driving to pick up her employers from the airport. She hit a pole, lost control of her  truck, it flipped twice, injuring her badly, leaving her without breathing. She was wearing a seatbelt, headed to pick up her employers, then to prayer meeting. 19, first semester finished at Indiana University South Bend, gifted with children, loved Minions, three older brothers.

25 Days later, Melissa’s condition remains unstable. She is out of ICU, breathing on her own. Her body will heal (broken leg has been operated on, bruises are fading), but how much of her mind and her cognition will return remains unanswered.

Joel, the kids and I drove to Indiana for Christmas to be with his sister, Kay and brother in law, Dave, and our nephews. Melissa did not wake up when we were there, but we wanted to be there to support the others.

This was a difficult time for me to face an ICU unit. The sounds, the IV beeps, the ventilator, the nurse suctioning her mouth, positioning her body. The smells of rubbing alcohol, the gloves, the IVs – yes, they each have an aroma.  I left each night GRATEFUL I could stand up and walk out, because during my transplant experience and relapses, I would shrink further into the bed every time my loved ones would leave. I would cry endlessly. I would watch the clock and listen to the clicks, listen to all the IV beeps in the rooms surrounding me.

Each evening we left the trauma center I had panic attacks beginning, quick breathing, tightening of the chest, pain down my arms, severe headaches. Guilt. Thankfulness. Growth, Recognition of what Joel, my parents, and my caregivers at Emory did for me.

Most of all, I left with an enormous amount of thankfulness for my donor’s family that gave me a 2nd chance on life. After 3 and 1/2 years, I finally wrote UNOS (United Network For Organ Sharing).

The first year, they don’t allow you to write. It’s too raw, too hard for the donor’s family and the recipient. The 2nd year, I’d had a relapse and had to go through rehab again.

We started family therapy, marriage therapy, I was depressed, had suicidal thoughts, was lonely. Many friends and even family members began to desert me, thinking I “should be over this, “or I “wasn’t thankful or joyful enough.” My second year was tough as people expected me to be the mom, housewife, homemaker, get back to exercise, fitter, stronger, faster — I had a heart that was 20 years younger. I should be a powerhouse!  But I wasn’t. Through the year, I progressed, our family progressed, and God revealed more of Himself and His Word.  He also blessed me with physical recovery.

It took seeing Melissa in a trauma unit for me to write to UNOS, having them to contact my donor’s family with my letter of thanks. I don’t know what, if anything, will come of it.

But I wanted them to know how grateful I am and how much it matters to Joel, Chloe, and Jack.

 

Why does everybody keep giving my kids junk food?

  
 In a society with impatience, instant gratification, entertainment, rewards, everywhere we go someone is eagerly trying to give my kids, 9 & 7, junk food.

  • Read for 500 minutes a month – earn a personal size pizza at Pizza Hut with 620 calories & 67 carbs, courtesy of Book It, a program encouraging young students to read daily.  
  • Say your Bible verse at Sunday school, earn a fun size of M & Ms , 75 calories, 3 grams sugar. 
  • Complete a music lesson, receive a kid’s handful of skittles (or comparable) for 25 cal or 4 grams of carbs. 
  • Study hard for 9 weeks at school, receive an Oreo milk shake, courtesy of Applebee’s at a whopping 840 calories and 100 carbs.  

Throughout the year, let’s take Valentine’s Day ( which used to be cheap little cards), Easter baskets, Halloween, Thanksgiving (or Bust A Gut Day), Christmas ( candy canes, candy, cookies, hot chocolate), birthday parties with grab bags filled with sugar. Really? This is how we reward ourselves and our children?

Every mom wants to be the mom at school who brings in “treats” because it’s a pick me up, it makes the kids happy, gets in good with the teacher. It doesn’t help a diabetic child, or a child struggling with their weight. It sets them apart even more than they already are.

Sugar is everywhere. The checkout line, the school, the church, retail. Has the entire country gone insane? Hot chocolate and donut holes at church while singing Christmas carols? A Christmas party with cookies, brownies, candy & juice boxes?

What would that same parent say if I offered their child a cigarette ? But it’s a “ treat” to give my children a full sized Oreo milkshake because they worked hard for their grades? Why are we rewarding with things that will ultimately destroy their bodies when it’s not a “ one time thing?” It’s every place we go.

And a 9 year old and a 7 year old cannot make long term decisions. That is why they can’t join the military, sign a contract, get married. They cannot understand long term effects.

With the epidemic of childhood obesity, please consider non food based rewards and treats like games, puzzles, dollar store items, certificates. For functions with food, such as a birthday party, offer cake or ice cream, not both, water bottles to drink. How about encouraging words? Instead of a personal pan pizza, credit to a book store?

Just like most people wouldn’t give out food containing nuts because some kids might have nut allergies, be aware that some kids may also have medical issues with sugar.