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Gratitude Friday...EAP

I am deeply grateful for my employer's Employee Assistance Program.

Recently we have learned that, like her older sister, our younger daughter also suffers from clinical depression...at age 14...my heart aches for her. But I am immensely grateful to have a program like our EAP...I had called them a few months ago when I started feeling that M needed to talk with someone, I felt that she had more going on inside than the cliched "teenage angst". I gave the EAP rep some background (including cross reference to mine and Sara's files because we have sought help in the past through this program), and asked them to find someone for M. A day or two later, we were connected with a wonderful clinical therapist. M really clicked with her, which was such a relief since M hates sharing her feelings. Long story short...M appears to have moderate to severe clinical depression. We have a referral into a pyschiatrist, who has put her on a priority list, which is heartening. But even though things are moving with relatively rapid speed (given the state of our mental health system) it is a long and difficult wait...

But certainly one made easier with the help of EAP. It is so great to have this resource available. They are there 24/7 to provide support for almost everything under the sun. NS Gov EAP staff are available during working hours, plus evening, weekend, and holiday EAP coverage is provided through a partnership with Health Canada's Crisis Referral Center (CRC). And the program is for employees and families, so my girls could even call directly if they want.

From the website:

Here are just some of the issues EAP can assist you with:

- Family - relationships, couple issues, parenting, separation/divorce, etc.
- Psychological - grief/loss, stress, depression, anxiety, abuse, anger, etc.
- Work Related - conflict, environment, harassment, performance issues, etc.
- Addiction - alcohol, drugs, gambling, prescription medication, internet, etc.
- Other - critical incident, elder care, financial, legal, etc.

So...for this amazing program, I give thanks!

I am grateful too for friends like Mark and Valerie, with whom Dave and I can share both the joys and the pain of parenthood. They are themselves parents of three teenage daughters...which means they inhabit the same parental world we do, and there is something very strengthening (for all 4 of us) in walking a common path. Last Friday after school, I was dropping M off at their house for a sleepover with K, and then was heading down to the camper for the evening (Val was already there, and Dave, Mark and I were going to trickle down and join her as schedules allowed.) Thursday had been an evening from hell, which Mark knew. When I walked in their house, Mark didn't say anything, just stood and looked at me with infinite empathy and compassion in his eyes, and then opened his arms wide to enfold me in a hug. It is an image I will carry in my heart always. It is such a blessing to have best friends with whom I can...be broken and not feel the need to pretend I am ok...be uplifted by finding something ridiculous in the blackest moments and not feel the need to suppress my laughter. I give thanks for these dear friends, with whom I can just...be.

And as always, I am grateful for my faith...in a way, times like these are when the rubber hits the road, so to speak. When I am on the verge of despair, I can let myself fall into the arms of God and be filled with a certainty that I will get through this. And frankly, my faith also gives me a way to vent my negative feelings too...I can rage at God all I want, and I know God's not going anywhere, there is no fear of rejection. I don't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings, I can literally spew aloud all the rage in my heart and oh, doesn't that kind of purging feel good sometimes?! And when I'm done ranting, I can bask in the certainty of God's unconditional love and let myself be comforted and strengthened...and my heart begins to lift once again...


A belated nod to Mother's Day...not to go off on a tangent, but this sort of flows from the above thoughts...

Last week a friend had emailed me one of those sappy Mother's Day poems. It seemed to be written with the new mother in mind, since the language was all about the infant and toddler stages. It overflowed with that beautifully naive, bursting joy of new parenthood, and ended with this: I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much, before I was a Mum.

It evoked some wonderful memories for me, but...I confess I also find myself wondering what words this mother will pen when her adorable baby turns into a teenager...because the teenage years are when we are really put to the maternal test! The trials and tribulations of midnight feedings and immunizations are halycon days compared to surviving the drama and raging hormones and mental anguish of teenagers.

Where we used to deal with temper tantrums when the little ones didn't get their way, we are now faced with the full out rejection of hearing our teenager say through gritted teeth "leave me alone, stay out of my life". Yeah, we know they don't really want us out of their lives, but it sure knocks the wind out of our sails in the moment. Our teens assert their independence in ways that baffle us and stretch our patience thin. I read an interesting article a while ago in which a psychologist said when faced with a choice of breaking parental rules or looking uncool to peers, most teens will go with the crowd and engage in the rule breaking behaviour...the reason being that they know their parents will still love them, even they break our rules...whereas they are far less sure of their friends' acceptance. That was a lightbulb moment for me, it made so much sense. Couple that understanding with the knowledge that teens simply don't have the maturity to fully appreciate the consequences of their actions, and it becomes easier for us parents to navigate the rocky road of teenage rebellion.

Ah but just when you think you are learning, and managing, and doing ok with this whole parenting gig, along comes the unimaginable twists that come with clinical depression...and you really find out just how much you are capable of feeling...a mother's heart can feel broken and tender and scared, swollen with grief and love all at the same time.

Motherhood. It's painful. It's frustrating. It's confusing. It's also the biggest blessing imaginable. It's a mysterious, marvellous and joyful journey. It is unconditional love.


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As always, each Friday I invite you to click over to Diana Strinati Baur's blog and check out the other Gratitude Friday Club blogs...

Comments (8)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Anne, love, family, friendship and faith are all wonderful things to be grateful for. I'm sorry to hear that M suffers from depression. But it's good to hear that Canada has a wonderful EAP system to rely upon for assistance.

I love the photo of you and your girls. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Wishing you a belated Mother's Day and sending you virtual hugs today and for all the days when you could use one.

Your friend,
Kathy

Anne:

Thanks Kathy, I have really been in need of hugs this week. The EAP isn't part of Canada's universal health care, unfortunately. It's an extended health benefit, like health & dental or long term disability coverage. I wish it was available to everyone, but seems to be only the larger employers who offer it. Fortunately that includes both my current employer (Province of NS) and my future employer (United Church of Canada, if my call to ministry does lead me there).

Thanks again for the hugs, my friend, and hope you are having a great weekend!

Sorry for your aches but happy that you and your family have the assistance to support you through this journey. A wonderful photo of you and the girls. Your words ring true with me- motherhood does make you understand unconditional love ... it's great therapy for me too. m

Anne:

menehune, I honestly can't speak highly enough of our Employee Assistance Program. It would be so much harder having to find our way through mental illness without the support of this program.

And must add that the joy of unconditional love truly is uplifting, isn't it! It's an amazing gift to be both giver and receiver of such love as a parent. (And as a child...my own mom is still always there for me, even though I am her 46 year old "baby" now!)

sandrac:

Anne, what a beautiful photo of you and your girls. I am so sorry that your family is going through all of this. But it sounds as if you've found an amazing resource in your EAP. (I thought ours was quite good, but yours sounds even better.)

Where would we be without good friends? As you put, the kind where you can fall apart in front of them and not feel you have to keep up a facade that everything is okay.

And without our faith? I can't imagine life without it.

Thanks for sharing this. I, too, am sending you virtual hugs.

All the best,
Sandra

Anne:

Thanks Sandra, I'll wrap myself right up in those hugs! Glad to hear you have EAP too. M's therapist commented on what a good program we have. I sent a (rare for me) feedback letter to EAP to let them know how helpful was their service, and that of the therapist they referred us to.

That photo is one of my all time favourite photos. Just looking at it lifts my heart

sheri:

Ditto what everyone has already said,Anne. Just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you! I can so relate to your thoughts about Mothering. I used to get so angry when people told me that Babies were easy compared to what lies ahead.Life was so much easier when they were small!!

Anne:

Aw thanks for thinking of me Sheri, I appreciate that! :)

Kids...glad mine are turning out so wonderful and amazing, especially with the added burden of depression etc. Makes me think we must be doing something right as a parents!

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