Tag Archive | childhood

Huh. I thought feelings of despair weren’t supposed to kick in until right before finals.

Until I was 21, everything I did was because my sister did it first.  She taught me how to talk–my first words were “Hi Sister!”, and she taught me how to read.

I got my first tricycle after Sis had hers for a year, and the same goes for my first bicycle.  My whole life, I’d watch her do something, like learn multiplication tables, or learn to drive, or get her first job, and a year later, I’d do the same.  It wasn’t until she got married at the age of 21, and, the next year, at the age of 21 I went on a mission that our paths diverged to any real degree.

I don’t know if that has anything to do with anything, but I’m blaming it on being so lost and depressed these past two days.

I mean, really, Sis, the least you could have done was taken a few classes at UVU so you could then show me the ropes, right?

Yesterday and today have been awful.   I think I knew they would be, but was hoping that I’d get right back into the swing of things.  As it stands, I’m self-conscious about my age, and am hating being around all the other students, and am so lost as to where I’m supposed to be.

And that’s just from my institute classes.  My “actual” classes start tomorrow–and the one tomorrow is the one I’m really worried about–English 1010, Introduction to Writing.

So, here’s the thing, it’s not the writing thing that scares me–I love to write, (obviously) and, as long as I do the work I shouldn’t have any problem with it.

I should know, this is at least the third time I’ve taken this particular class.

I didn’t do the work when I took it at USU, and so, failed it.  I took it at the for-profit school I went to and passed with flying colors–but those credits won’t transfer.

What I’m worried about is this is a required class.  And I know it’s going to be filled with the little 18-year-olds that I’m so anxious about being around as it is.

It doesn’t help that I have only a vague idea of where the building I need to go to is located, and the way you’d normally get there is blocked by construction.

So–is that true of all college campuses?  Is there always construction?  There was when I was at Utah State, and now it’s followed me to Utah Valley.

Anyway…

I hope things get easier as I get used to my schedule, and when the “week of welcome” is over–I hate all the noise and confusion and people trying to get you to sign up for stuff that may or may not be pertinent to your success as a student.

All I know it I’m depressed and frustrated.

And Then the Rains Came

I learned an important lesson over the past two days.  Namely, while it is nice to open all the windows and air out the house on the warmest day of the year so far (as long as you’re in April), if the warmest day of the year also comes with a high wind warning, the windows should stay firmly closed.

My allergies have been going crazy the past couple of days.  I’m allergic to, well, everything, and spring, though pretty, is my least favorite time of the year.

I remember waking up as a child and not being able to open my eyes, they were so crusted with gunk, and swollen from allergies.  Memorial Day, our mother thought it a good idea to teach us to be good citizens, so we would go to the cemetery to watch the various ceremonies honoring veterans.

The cemetery in the center of a bunch of farms growing alfalfa.

The cemetery where rye grows volunteer, and blooms around Memorial Day.

Guess what my two big allergies are?

Also, when I was about 6, my best friend’s family ran over my dog on the way home from the cemetery on Memorial Day.  Yeah, not my favorite holiday.

Anyway, moving on.

The last two days my allergies have been as bad as they had ever been in my adult life.  I’ve been sneezing, coughing, my nose wouldn’t stop dripping, I had a mondo sinus headache, and I couldn’t wake up. It was so bad, it affected my voice.   I was thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t live in the South, where the pollen is so bad that the whole city of Atlanta is coated with a visible greenish-yellow layer of dust.

Just when I was figuring out the pros and cons of going into hibernation until June, it started to rain.

I’m a desert girl, and grew up in a farming family, so a good rain is always appreciated.  Unless it turns into a flash flood.  Or the hay’s been cut and is drying in the field.  Or a little dog needs to go potty, but doesn’t like to get her feet wet, and I wasn’t smart enough to grab a jacket.

Rain has always been something of a wonder to me.  It calmed and cleaned the air, removing the dust and pollen that was afflicting me. (if afflicting too dramatic a word?  I’m gonna stick with it anyway)  It seems to calm the world.

Except the other little dog who was so determined to get out of the rain that he forgot to poop, then decided 20 minutes later that he couldn’t wait any longer and insisted we go back out.

Rain is a reminder for me that life goes on.   It wasn’t a big thunderstorm, just–rain.

This morning, I woke up to the sounds of running water and the sight of melting snow.  The air was fresh and clean (and blessedly low in pollen) the sun was shining, and the birds singing their little hearts out.

I’m feeling better today, both physically and emotionally.  A good storm will do that, after it passes, it leaves clear air and clear hears.

Responsibility vs. Limitation

I remember, as a young child, hearing a grown up say that they wish they could be a kid again.  I couldn’t figure out why.  You can’t DO anything as a kid.  You (or at least, I) can’t choose what TV shows to watch, what or when to eat, when you go to bed, when to get up… adults, it seemed, could do anything they wanted, but kids had to do what adults tell them to.

Fast forward 20 years, and I understand what that grown up was talking about.  Yes, adults can stay up as late as they want, and eat ice cream three meals a day, but it comes as a price my childhood self didn’t understand.  Being an adult means responsibility, paying bills, cleaning house, and having to take care of yourself.

Looking back on my life, it seems that responsibility and limitation are at the opposite ends of a sliding scale.  At one end, you have everybody doing everything for you, like an infant or an invalid, but with no freedom even of motion or possibly cognizant thought.  At the other end, you have a fully functioning individual, who is looking out for themselves and quite often other people.  As the scale moves from one end to the other, and possibly back, there is payment from one end to the other.

Despite what advertising executives and credit card companies want you to believe, there is no freedom without responsibility.  There is no such thing as a care-free life.  And, as much as I would like someone else to take care of me at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Disney really needs to fire its ad executives.

If you have spent any time at all watching TV shows or movies on Hulu lately, you probably have come across a long-format commercial for Disney Blu Ray.  The tagline for this commercial is “Create New Memories”, and it directs you to this website.  I tried to find a version of the commercial that I could post in my blog, but, after diving into the equally scary worlds of Disney and YouTube, this video was the closest I could find.

I should probably mention that I came across this ad repeatedly while watching anime that is rated–oh, wait, my parents read this blog–let’s just say it’s rated a bit higher than the standard family friendly fair.

So, here’s the thing.  I grew up in the age of the VCR.  I remember watching movies with my family and friends, but I don’t remember a single instance of watching a particular movie in a particular location with anybody in particular. Wait, that’s not true, I did insist my parents rent “The Princess Bride” every time I got to choose the movie or we had a sleepover, but that’s only because my Mom put her foot down and said no more.

I do remember playing outside, or playing dolls/dinosaurs with my friends. (Amber was always a dinosaur when we played Barbies, her choice)  I remember reading books, like Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, The Little House on the Prairie box set, Island of the Blue Dolphins and A Wrinkle in Time.  I even remember reading more obscure titles, like The Diamond in the Window or I Spent My Summer Vacation Kidnapped Into Space .  And those are just the titles I can remember off the top of my head.  If I thought about it, I could come up with a much longer list.  I remember family vacations, including a road trip to Bear Lake via Wendover. (For those of you unfamiliar with Utah geography, Bear Lake straddles the Utah/Idaho border, and is very close to Wyoming.  Wendover straddles the Utah/Nevada border on I-80. Basically, we started a road trip to points east by driving 120 miles west.)  I have fond memories of singing songs and playing games, but not of watching movies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Disney movies, especially the animated ones that were released during the 90’s.  I remember walking to the movie theater to see “The Lion King”, but it’s not one of my top 100 favorite memories.

I know that Disney is all about making money under the guise of family entertainment, but please, don’t reduce the American family to a group of individuals who does nothing together except watch TV. (Yes, I am aware there are families like that.  Leave me alone.)  If the memories of the rising generation are all about watching “Up” or “Cars” on Blu-Ray, than we as a society don’t deserve to continue.

I have never once waxed nostalgic about watching “Alf” or “Punky Brewster” even though those were my favorite shows as a kid.  I don’t remember a single movie of my early childhood (except Princess Bride), even though I now know there were some amazing Jim Hansen kids movies put out during the early to mid 80’s.

Disney, please re-think this ad campaign.  “Create New Memories” is a great tag line–please use it for one of your parks. Movies and TV do not equal memories.

Christmas time is here, Happiness and Cheer

Fun for all that children call,

their favorite time of year

Wait, what?  I was stuck in a Vince Guaraldi loop there for a second.  I’m better now.

Ah, Christmas, that cat-torturingly wonderful time of the year.   Wait, that’s not right.

Seriously? That was the best cat ever. She could bring down jackrabbits, but let us hold her like that.
seriously, best cat ever. She could bring down jackrabbits, but let us hold her like that.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I was flipping through my parent’s photo albums and found that picture.  I was looking for an excuse to use it on this blog.

Being unemployed this Christmas season robbed me of my excuse to stay away longer gave me the opportunity to come to my parents house a few days earlier than I normally would.

I shouldn’t make jokes like that.  I only have about four readers, and two of them are my parents.  Yes, Mom, it was a joke.  I was really excited to come down.  Really.  I was.

Anyway, when I walked in the door carrying all my stuff, it felt like Christmas to me for the first time this year.  I’ve been trying to keep my spirits up, but dangit, it’s seemed especially hard this year.

Growing up, Christmas was always my favorite time of the year.  I dare you to find any kid who grew up in a house that celebrated Christmas that would say otherwise.   Go on, find one.  I’ll wait.

Oh, you’re back?  Couldn’t find one, could you.

For me, Christmas is about family, and remembering the past.  Yes, it’s the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but, unfortunately the reality is, that’s just a backdrop.  I once took a folklore class in which we talked about how every culture has a big festival or celebration when the winter is coldest, and, had the climate of Western Europe been more like that of Utah, we’d be celebrating Christmas nearer to Valentines Day.  When Constantine decided to create the Holy Roman Empire, he usurped the local festivals and slapped a Christian theme on them, and that’s how we got Christmas and Easter.  And Halloween, for that matter.

Wow, I’m really on one today, enough with the detours already!

Like I was saying, for me, Christmas is all about family and children.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in the middle of nowhere, away from the crowded malls and angry shoppers and drivers, but the Christmases I remember, even into my teens, center around family and being together.

I can only remember one gift of my childhood Christmases, and that was a fish tank shaped like a bubble gum machine–I don’t even think that was my ‘big’ gift that year.

I do remember the love, and the excitement, the fun of searching for the perfect tree, either up in the mountains or at the local tree lot.  I remember the smells and the lights, the fun of the family parties.  And Santa Claus coming IN PERSON to our house on Christmas Eve, and giving us TWO bags of candy EACH, and telling us he’d be back later with the rest of our gifts.My best Christmas, though, happened after I was an adult and had moved away to college.  I had taken a job at the soul sucking factory Convergys in Logan as a collections agent.  I had been hired on as a customer service rep, but, between my hire date and the day I started training, they decided to switch that call center only to collections.  Well, asking people for money is apparently easier than trouble shooting their phone problems, so my training was cut short by a week, and my first day on the call floor was Christmas Eve.

I called my parents in tears to tell them that I wouldn’t be able to come home for Christmas, and explained the situation.  My parents and sister, being the wonderful people that they are, loaded their car with all the gifts, and drove four hours to take a room in a hotel, all so we could spend Christmas as a family.

While I was working on Christmas Day, feeling sorry for myself (I remember one caller getting mad at me for not turning her phone back on without payment by snapping “It’s Christmas!” to which I snapped back “Yeah, and I’m at work instead of with my family!”  Okay, not really, but I wanted to.) My mom prepared a dinner of cornish game hens in my crappy little apartment kitchen.  Convergys, probably not wanting to pay holiday wages to someone who had really only been working for two days, sent me home after half a day.

I’ll never forget the love I felt from my family that day.  That day, more than ever, is when I first realized what Christmas is all about–loving your family and your fellow men.  That is why we celebrate Christ’s birth.  That was his mission, and that is why he did what he did for us.

Loving your fellow men, and having a good place to hide when the extended family got overwhelming.

Fighting the beast

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 10 years old.  At the time, my parents didn’t tell me.  All I knew was that my teacher saw me daydreaming and starring off into space, and, because she knew of my family history with epilepsy, thought that I was having petty mal seizures.  I went to a lot of doctors, had a lot of tests, then, finally, someone suggested to my parents that I might be depressed.

Mom, Dad and I went up to Salt Lake City to Primary Children’s Hospital, where I met with a child psychologist.   As strange as it sounds, this is one of my happiest memories.  We only made it to SLC maybe twice a year, so it was always a treat, and the fact that I was there alone with both my parents made it doubly so.

My parents didn’t put me on medication at that time, which was probably a good idea.  This was the early 90’s, and anti-depressants for children hadn’t really been studied.  I did see a therapist every once in a while, but he changed specialties, and I stopped seeing him.

Years passed.  My family participated in a failed experiment (which, I may or may talk about later, we’ll see) which put additional strain on our family and my mental health.  I did start taking anti-depressants in high school, and have taken them on and off ever since.

While I’m writing this, I’m waiting until it’s time to go see a psychiatrist to talk about the medicine I’m currently on.

I’ve fought depression for nearly 2/3rds of my life, and have no delusions of winning, at least in this life.  I think of it as a beast that lives inside my head (in a totally non-crazy sort of way.  Er, at least, in a totally non-schizophrenic type of way) that feeds on my happiness, self worth, and love for myself and others.  The beast gives me, in return, sadness, loss of hope, irritability, anxiety and shyness.

There is a stigma attached to depression in our society, being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this seems to be worse.  I served a mission, and, naturally, being in such a stressful environment, the beast reared it’s ugly head.  My companions thought that I was sinning, and needed to repent in order to slay the beast. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.  What sin could a 10 year old commit that would leave the rest of her life in such shambles?  Especially a 10 year old who was raised a faithful Christian, taught to love herself, others and animals and nature?  On my mission, I thought of my anti-depressants as ‘spirit pills’ because taking them allowed me to fill more fully the power of the Holy Ghost.

I’m convinced that depression is really a disease of the spirit.  And yes, it can come as a result of sin, or the result of trying to take on too much, or trying to be too perfect.  It also comes as a chemical imbalance in the brain, that, in my case anyway, persists throughout life.

I don’t like being depressed.  I hate the beast, and would do anything to be rid of it.  I don’t expect to be able to give up the fight any time soon, though.  All I can do is work with my doctors, work with my church leaders, pray, study and remain faithful, and maybe, I can keep the beast at bay enough to live a normal life.

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