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Posts tagged with: depression

A Tale of Two Sisters

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My sister and I have not always had the best of relationships.

All though childhood, we fought like cats and dogs. We were not close AT ALL! One of my best childhood friends will laugh recalling memories of when we were 10-years-old and my little sister (then 6-years-old) and I would get into huge physical altercations. Like, ripping each other’s hair out and rolling around wrestling. And not in a cute or nice way either. It wasn’t pretty.

We were four years apart and, at the time, the gap felt as wide as the Grand Canyon. I felt like she was so young and immature and I wouldn’t be inconvenienced to let her hang around me and my friends. Due to our age gap and timing of birthdays, we never went to the same middle or high school at the same time. We had wholly different interests, friend groups, and even physical locations due to the different schools we attended.

Then a funny thing happened. After I graduated high school and moved out of my parents’ house, my sister and I started talking more. Then when she graduated high school and moved out, the frequency of our interactions picked up even moreso. We became friends. And then…best friends.

It’s now been a full 15 years since I graduated high school. Even though we weren’t close growing up, we made up for lost time in the 15 years since moving out of our patents’ house. And there’s been a lot of LIFE during that time. We were each other’s’ maid/matron of honors for our weddings. We’ve seen each other through good times and bad, through pregnancies and childbirth, through moving cross-country (twice). Through fun sister-trips to Vegas and tough funeral-visit trips. We’ve been there for each other truly during both the best and worst of times in each other’s lives. We haven’t lived in the same city for over a decade at this point and, even with all the miles between us, she’s still been my best friend.

But something has happened to our friendship that’s been tearing us apart.

In August 2015, my Dad was diagnosed with dementia. Since he had no spouse or partner, we became his primary caretakers. First, the bulk of responsibility fell to me. He was living in Utah at the time and due to my proximity (in Arizona), I was making frequent flights back-and-forth for doctors’ visits, to help pack up his house, and eventually to meet with realtors and get the place sold.

At that time, my Dad moved to Texas and since then, my sister has had the bulk of “caregiver” duties thrust onto her. I’ve tried to help as best I can, being a thousand miles away. I’ve taken over handling my Dad’s finances while my sister has taken the day-to-day/medical/hands-on stuff. Undoubtedly, she has the bigger burden. Without question. I knew the load on her would be hard. It’s not easy to be a caretaker to one’s parent. And though I haven’t shared specifics, none of us were ever close to our Dad. He was not a large part of our lives growing up. So, the burden feels double, or even triple, being that we’re caring for a person who never even really cared for us (at least in a physical sense). A person who was never really a significant part of our lives in our youth nor adulthood.

It’s been hard. Really hard. I started going to therapy, initially, for issues related to my dad’s dementia.

But then things got better for me. As we’ve moved my Dad to higher and higher levels of care, things have gotten easier and easier. Now that he’s in a locked memory care facility, we have no more emergency phone calls from police or social workers (which, at one point, were literally a weekly-occurrence). He’s well cared for, fed, and groomed. All his basic needs are met and none of it requires work or effort from me or my sister (or brother for that matter). My sister still has the bulk of responsibilities – she still goes to visit nearly 3 times a week, takes “groceries” (all food is provided, but he likes snacks in his room), takes him to doctors, delivers his prescription medication, etc. etc. etc. It’s still a lot.

Having a family member with dementia is a lot. For everybody. And for my sister most of all.

Slowly, over time, I sensed a strain in my relationship with my sister. Nothing specific that happened. But things were tenuous. I think things reached a boiling point over summer when we moved my Dad from his independent-living facility into the memory-care facility. My sister had to handle most of the preparations (touring new facilities, scheduling movers, getting things boxed and ready, etc. etc. etc.). I went out and helped with the actual move, but I had to come back to Arizona shortly thereafter. She was left to handle the aftermath. Though things went well with the move (even better than we’d expected), things did not go well between my sister and me.

And so, as things seemed to deteriorate between us, I went back to therapy again. This time with greater frequency, too. Not only was I dealing with issues caused by my Dad’s illness. Now, it felt like I was also losing my best friend. It was heartbreaking, to say the least.

If you notice the timeframe of the sister-breakdown, it occurred right at the same time that our finances got out of control. Coincidence? Well, yes and no. Some of our financial issues just happened to occur at the same time – like the ending of my part-time job and hubs’ closing his business.

But it’s so easy for our finances and spending to get wrapped up with psychological issues, isn’t it? Much of my spending during and since this summer has been for things I might consider therapeutic, even though they seem like superfluous “fat” in the budget. Things like happy hour with friends or yoga classes to center my mind. Oh yeah, and I’m still going to weekly talk-therapy, too.

I think things with my sister are slowly getting better. I’ve been working hard in therapy, developing coping techniques and skills, and surrounding myself with things to bring me joy and happiness. We’ve been talking a little more. I’m hopeful for our future.

But I’m not going to lie. The past few months have been some of the personally hardest in my life. And not because of any specific “event” (no cross-country move, wedding, or childbirth). But just because of the psychological stressors of the entire caregiving situation with my dad and the fallout it has caused between me and my siblings. I hadn’t realized what a source of social support my sister had been for me until I felt like I had lost her.

I’m not perfect. Our family finances are still in need of triage. We have so much work left to do.

Right now I’m considering myself a “work in progress.” Both in terms of my financial habits and just my general psychological well-being. But I just wanted to provide some additional context and background for why it may be difficult for us to turn things around as quickly as we had back in March 2015 when I first started blogging. I’ve been lucky to never struggle with mental health prior to these most recent years. And now that I know the struggle from the other side, I know how truly all-consuming and debilitating it can be.

If you have time and are interested, I’ve linked to two videos about dementia that have been personally moving to me:

I know this post is a little different than the traditional get-out-of-debt blog post, but I felt compelled to share a little piece of myself with you today. I hope you can take it and remember that everyone has their own inner demons and battles that we know nothing about. Especially in this holiday season, let’s do what we can to uplift and encourage others and to promote kindness and empathy for others.

I’ll be back soon with a more traditional get-out-of-debt blog post, too! <3

~Ashley


Hope’s Weekly Budget – Week of 10/15

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This has been a very hard week. I mentioned previously how my kids have been struggling. One in particular has been seeing a counselor for some time now. Between the big move, the sudden change in our lifestyle, some of my parenting choices and teenage years, in general, led to a battle with depression and a very tumultuous home life.

To be honest, I wish I had the time and resources to see a counselor myself. Life has just been slamming us!  I don’t feel like I have time to take a breathe between emergencies. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we work toward a new normal, and I work really hard toward being a better mom, creating a more regular schedule and being more patient.

Celebrate Adoption

That being said, we have a lot to celebrate this month. Six years ago this month, the twins were placed with as as foster kids and three years ago today, their adoption was finalized.

Job Loss

In addition, it was two years ago this coming Monday that I lost my job. Our lives changed forever then. It has been hard, but we have so much to be grateful for. We have had so many new experiences that we would never have experienced without that push. We got to experience Tiny Living, Glamping and then a big move to a new tiny town. October is a big month for us.

Next Week’s Budget

I am more and more committed to becoming debt free, creating some security for my little family and getting healthy mentally. I must keep moving forward for my kids if for nothing else.  Without further ado, this is our budget for this next week:

Gas 16-Oct-17 -35
1099 17-Oct-17 150
Groceries 17-Oct-17 -25
W2 19-Oct-17 1786
Debt Pymt 19-Oct-17 -83
Gas 20-Oct-17 -35
Allowance 20-Oct-17 -100
Utility 20-Oct-17 -154
Cell Phone 20-Oct-17 -286
Car Payment 20-Oct-17 -400

We have been much more successful in our No Spend Month this week. We didn’t even spend our grocery budget last week. I am really excited that I have found a way to cut my cell phone bill a bit beginning next month. I am also excited that I am starting to pay for my new car, and am already anticipating paying it off by 2019. Debt update getting published this weekend…finally!


I’m Still Here

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I don’t even know where to start. I really crashed this summer emotionally, like really.  Thank God for my kids.  My obligations to and for them are the only thing that saved me I think.  I know it’s still kind of taboo to talk about depression, and I never would have expected it as I tend to be a glass half full kind of girl.   But I definitely have been going thru some major depression, borderline suicidal times this summer.

I pulled the kids from just about everything and hid in the bed as much as possible.  Self sabotaged a bit with work, and just generally cried ALOT!  I was just overwhelmed and could see no way out.

Not much has changed financially.  We are still living for free and barely scraping by with my two part time jobs.  I can’t think about the future without getting just overwhelmed with it all.  But I have started some new routines to try and shake my “blues.”

My new routines include:

  • Spending time in God’s word EVERY morning, first thing.
  • Focusing immediately, every time I find myself spiraling down in my head, finding something to be grateful for: air conditioning, a working car, our health…and I’m working on this with my kids as well.
  • Lists, lots of lists.  Things I need to do, things I want to do, things I need to think about doing.  Mostly to get things out of my head at this point, rather than putting them into action but that will be next.
  • Giving myself permission to just stop, breathe and most importantly say no.

I did get a kid free week in July when all four kids attended a summer camp together. (Note: one of the benefits offered with the twins adoption was one week of paid summer camp every year.  Since the twins turn 18 year this, this is the last summer we could use it.)  They loved it and I didn’t know what to do with myself.  And we are now spending three weeks at our family’s lakehouse.  Sleeping in a bed, not having to go outside to go to the bathroom and having comfortable seating…well, it’s been a really nice break from our living situation (not that I am not grateful.)

I have no idea what the future holds, and I’m overwhelmed trying to get back on my feet.  We are spending pretty much nothing, and I’m focused on saving.  Unfortunately, due to my emotional challenges I have ‘fallen off the wagon’ on seeking work.  But I feel better, I think I’m getting back to myself.

I don’t know when I will get back to writing regularly, but I will be back as I can.  I really appreciate those who have reached out.  God has a plan for me, for us, I am clinging to that with everything I have got!

 


How’d Work Go?

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I know it’s not necessarily debt related – other than it’s where I get money to pay down debt – but I thought I’d share how my first week back at work went.

The first day was easier than I thought. I was so focused on getting ready, getting him fed, and packing supplies, I didn’t really have the time to get depressed about leaving. At work, I was overwhelmed with meetings and projects, and didn’t even have time to eat lunch.

The second day was when everything hit. The nerves had settled and I couldn’t make it out the door without crying.

I’ve regretted the decisions I’ve made about money in the past, but nothing makes you more miserable than the realization that your money decisions are keeping you from the things you love most.

BUT, I am so grateful to my husband who works lots of overtime so I have a few months of working part-time. I’m not quite sure how I got so lucky to be married to him, but you can bet both he and baby get lots of hugs these days.


Health and Finances…

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A reader posed the question, ‘What does health and exercise have to do with finances?’

In short? A lot!

A few benefits of exercising (tip of the iceburg)?
Reduced blood pressure
Reduced feelings of depression and anxiety
Helps to control weight
Helps to build and maintain healthy joints, muscles, and bones
Reduced risk of diabetes

What do these have to do with finances?
Have you had to pay for doctors and medication recently?!? Ouch!! Also, exercise helps you sleep, puts you in a better mood, helps your self confidence, and gives you energy – all very important things in the work world where your paycheck comes from! Plus, people with a BMI of less than 22 get sick less often and miss less work.

I’ve been fortunate to have been physically active and healthy for most of my life. Running a marathon is just another way to push myself and stay active. Sure my sore legged walk makes Frankenstein look like a graceful ballerina but it’s important to encourage you to gain control in your finances AND in your health – they are closely connected.

Tomorrow is Saturday, take a walk with your dog, play with your kids, or ride your bike. Take a break from staring at that checkbook and balancing numbers to get some fresh air.

It’s good for you.

Some free sites to help you out?

www.Mapmyride.com
I use this site to calculate mileage and read elevation changes on my bike rides/runs.

www.Mypyramid.gov
This free site helps to guide you on better eating habits.

I’m warning you… these sites can be ADDICTIVE!!

What is your favorite FREE health related site?


Hitting a Low on the Roller Coaster Ride

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For quite a while now, we have been doing great with reducing our debt. There would be times where I’d look at our finances and see how much we can squeeze out to put towards our debt (or savings). Usually, there was some breathing room. That’s not the case right now.

I feel a little helpless at the moment, and I haven’t felt like this in quite a while. I look at our Quicken file and I can’t do anything. Our account is dangerously close to being in the red at the end of this month. Right now I am preparing myself mentally because we may have to pull more money from our savings account. While we have our emergency fund there to help when we need it, that doesn’t make it any easier to have to use it.

As some of you noticed, I took a break from blogging. Part of it was technical (I changed all of my passwords after my blog was hacked and I misplaced the one sheet I wrote all of them down on – doh!). But part of it was the fact I have been debt-depressed. The series of events so far in June brought my mood down. It didn’t bug me too much when I wrote about it, but the next day when I said I was going to dig into our Quicken file to see how much we could put towards savings (but couldn’t) – that was the kicker.

We have also been anxiously waiting for some medical test results for my husband. They called today and all is well. Whew. That weighed very heavily on my mind. I feel bad about not blogging about it, but sometimes I have to step away from things and get my head back on straight.

I’m still not all that happy about our financial situation right now but I do feel better overall. It’s just one of those lows on the debt reduction roller coaster. I hope that means we are going to kick some debt booty once July rolls around. By then we should have some reimbursements for medical expenses we paid out of pocket and hopefully I will have the one payment an advertiser owes me. I was informed Friday that they had email problems and they are responding to emails sent the last few weeks as quickly as they can. So we’ll see how that plays out.

I do feel silly for letting things like this get to me. Things could be so much worse. I really should be thankful for what we have and not dwelling on what we don’t have. If there is one lesson that really needs to sink into my head during this journey – I think it’s that one right there.