Tag Archives: marriage

Adjusting to Britain

So, I haven’t written in a while. Again. Sorry. I’ve been pretty busy so I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  :)

I am now officially a “migrant spouse” living in the UK! It’s been a whirlwind 4 weeks (whaaat? FOUR WEEKS ALREADY!?!?!) but it’s also been an amazing journey.

We’ve been tested in so many ways. My children have been amazing-super-troopers and have withstood said tests. My marriage has, so far, also withstood said tests. We celebrated our 9th anniversary last week, sitting on our couch paying bills, ordering delivery groceries (my entire grocery list delivered for 4 quid? Yes, please.) and celebrating our newly installed wifi. And we were both so happy.

On the Tube!

On the Tube!

People have been asking me, “What been the biggest adjustment?” Well, in short, the biggest adjustment has been for my children. They’ve slept in 4 different beds in as many weeks (5 if you count the airplane?), experienced an 8 hr jet lag, been traipsed through a foreign city via buses, cabs, the Tube and their little feet were blistered and sore from all the walking. They’ve learned to drink from adult cups because there’s no such thing as “kids’ cups” at restaurants here. They can’t always understand the other kids at the playground. (“Hi, my name is Jennifer!” said one little girl. Tori replied, “Hi Jannika!” lol.) The Bubble Guppies have British accents. And. The. Big. Deal: THERE IS NO BLUE BOX MACARONI AND CHEESE IN THE ENTIRE BLOOMING COUNTRY.

New habit of using fingers instead of pacifier...

New habit of using fingers instead of pacifier…

We’ve seen the effects of the stress on them. Anders still uses a pacifier (we had deliberately put off weaning him from it until after the move) and during the first two weeks of being here, if he didn’t have his pacifier, he’d put his fingers in his mouth at all times. He’d never done this before!! Thankfully this habit has stopped, but it certainly was a sign that he felt stressed, poor guy.

Crying all the way home from the market.

Crying all the way home from the market.

Tori has shown her stress in a more verbal and behavioral way… Lots of tantrums and acting out, and random-to-us bouts of major tears. She’s expressed sadness about being away from her friends and family, and gets easily offended if a child won’t play with her at the playground. We’re in the (stressful) process of finding a school for her, which I think will help quite a bit. It will get her into a routine, will give her an outlet for play and learning, and will, hopefully, reinforce some of the behavior training we’ve been teaching her. (For example, it’s not ok to call anyone, especially a grown-up we’ve just met, “poopy face” and then stick your tongue out and spit. Sigh.)

The most stressful part for me, so far, has been seeing my kids stressed! It’s amazing how many of my thoughts and actions are centered around trying to make them comfortable, even more than before. I’ve questioned my ability as a mom, I’ve questioned why I even bothered to have kids in the first place. My heart has been broken time and time again as my daughter weeps uncontrollably on my shoulder.

But. BUT. I have not once questioned whether we made the right decision in moving here. AJ and I both have a sense of right-ness, for lack of a better word. These adjustments are exactly that: adjustments. With, in theory, an end. It will take a little while but we’ve come so far. We’ve been loving our location, in a north-eastern borough of London, where everything we can possibly need is within a few blocks walking distance. There’s a playground or garden literally around every corner, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of seeing all there is to see here. We’ve been thoroughly enjoying exploring the city and chatting with the local mums and dads on the playgrounds.

Exploring London!

Exploring London!

I think next I’ll compile a list of the things we’ve found surprisingly different here; that’s the other big question people have been asking me: “What are some of the cultural differences?” So stay tuned for stories of creamer in yogurt containers, trash collection, burnt out electronics, peeing on the playground, and ham. :-)

Cheers!

To say or not to say… 7 ways to talk to someone struggling with depression

Offering advice is not the best thing to say to someone with depression!

Offering advice may not be the best thing to say to someone with depression! :)

I started this blog about two months ago. In that time, more than half a dozen women have approached me and told me that they, too, have struggled or are struggling with some form of true depression. I am so grateful that these women have felt comfortable enough with me to share this! It means a lot to me, and it is a big step for them.

I love hearing from people about the topics I write about!

What I find fascinating, though, are the silent ones. The people who I know are reading my blogs, and I know had no clue about my struggle with depression, and yet when I see them, make no mention of it.

I’m not offended by this; it’s just interesting. Why are people afraid to talk about depression, even when I have made it clear that I’m okay talking about it?

Perhaps they, like many people, don’t “believe” true depression exists. Or perhaps it’s just easier for them to ignore it.

OR, perhaps it’s because people feel unprepared or ill-equipped, fearing that they might say the wrong thing?

So I come to you today to equip you, to give you a few insights (based on my own personal experience) on how to talk to someone who has admitted they are struggling with depression! So read on, and fear not!

1. You cannot make someone’s depression worse or better. It’s not about you.

Find relief in this! It is not in your control. Depression is rooted solely in a person’s mind, either chemically or psychosomatically, or both. So, unless you’re telepathic, psychic, or a psychiatrist, you’re in the clear. :)

Therefore,

2. Do not say, “What can I do to make you feel better?” because, see #1.

DO say, “Want to talk about it?” And if they say no, say, “OK, please know I’m here to listen, and I promise to give no judgements or advice.”

3. Do not say, “Maybe you need to pray more.” Even the most devout person who truly believes in the healing power of Christ can suffer from depression. [More on this soon to come.]

4. Do not say, “Oh man, I know exactly how you feel.” Cause, well, you don’t. Even if you’ve struggled with depression before, you don’t know exactly how I feel!  (Even I have made the mistake of saying this before!)

DO say, “I’m so sorry you’re struggling with this. If you ever need to talk, I’m here for you.”

Do say, "I'm here if you need to talk."

Do say, “I’m here if you need to talk.”

5. Do not say, “I can’t believe I didn’t know about this; I’m such a bad friend/parent/sibling.” Because, again, it’s not about you! (No offense) :) I’m realizing that many, many people suffer from some form of depression and NEVER TELL ANYONE. If I haven’t even told my husband, why would I tell you? (Again, no offense!) :)

DO say, “I’m sorry you’ve been struggling with this for so long. I’ll be praying for you as you begin to work through it.”

6.  Do not say, “Think about all the wonderful things in your life!” One of the biggest feelings in depression is guilt. We know we have wonderful things in our lives. We KNOW it. And that makes us feel even worse because we can’t understand why we are depressed. It makes no sense.

Do say, “It is so great that you are finally talking about this! Hang in there, and fight the good fight.”

7.  Don’t say, “Let me know if you ever want to hang out.”  Because, honestly, we won’t ever let you know when we want to hang out. Because a huge symptom of depression is wanting to be alone.

Do say, “Let’s get together this week. I’m free Tuesday at 9:30, does that work for you?” Sometimes we NEED someone to take the reins and kick us out of our house. :) So making definitive plans can help!

Are you getting the gist? Basically, someone who is struggling with depression needs encouragement. Pure and simple. Encouragement to seek professional help, to talk about it, to continue in taking control of the situation.

And once they’ve started on that journey, they need more encouragement to keep it up, and congratulations for getting as far as they have!

I hope this helps even one of my readers to understand a little more about how to talk to a loved one suffering depression. It’s so complicated. Even my husband, to whom I confide everything, can’t fully understand what I’ve gone through. But he’s a huge support; he gives encouragement and congratulations, and that’s all that matters. :)

For some great links on dealing with depression in your life or a loved one’s life, see my resources page!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV. The comments and opinions expressed in these articles are merely comments and opinions. Please seek professional medical advice before making any changes to the diet, exercise, or medication of yourself or your children.

Check Your Pockets!

So I was being a “good wife” and folding my husband’s just-out-of-the-washer-and-dryer gym shorts when I found his iPod. IN THE POCKET OF SAID SHORTS. Needless to say, the iPod is now dead. Gone. No longer able to let AJ tune in to ESPN while enjoying his daily run. SIGH.

If this had happened a year ago, I would have started crying at the helplessness of it all. This one incident would have caused me to question my ability to be a good wife, a good mother, a good ANYthing; if I can’t even check the pockets of the frigging LAUNDRY then how am I supposed to take care of my entire family?? Just one more example of what a failure I am… what’s the point of it all, anyway, if I’m just going to ruin everything I touch??

I’m sure this type of reaction either a) is familiar to you or, b) makes you say, “Whoa, that’s a little extreme, don’t you think?”

If you’ve ever dealt with depression on a personal level, those negative thoughts are imagefamiliar to you. All it takes is one incident to cause a huge downward spiral of self-loathing and hopelessness. In hindsight and with clarity, it’s ridiculous. But in the moment, to you, it’s oh, so real.

I’m writing about this because today, when I found that cursed iPod, I didn’t react that way. And that is A BIG DEAL! I’m trying to document the moments when my story turns from survival to victory so that one day, when my kids are old enough, they can know about my struggles and can be aware of their own.

Don’t get me wrong – I definitely had an “Are you SERIOUS?? Did this really just happen??” moment. I had thoughts of “ahhhh I didn’t check the pockets!” and “ahhhh he left it in his shorts!! In the laundry basket!”  and “why do they have to make these things so darn SMALL?!?!” But that’s where it ended, and oh, such sweet relief to have objectiveness of the situation.

A small triumph in a big world, but I thought it was worth sharing.  Have a happy Thursday, and don’t forget to check your pockets! :)

It’s not about the nail!

If you haven’t seen this, WATCH IT NOW! It’s really funny, and it hits home to anyone in a relationship.

Pretty funny video, huh! But… it also peeved me a little, and I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, AJ and I have read so many “marriage” books I can’t even count them. And I agree with what most of those books say: men often try to “fix” something when women just want to verbally process it.

This little video didn’t bother me too much until one day I made some comment about my [very extreme] stretch marks on my stomach.  Like, in the context of my daughter saying “mommy, your stomach is so squishy and striped!” and me saying, “yes, that is one of the permanent sacrifices I made for my kids, haha.”

AJ replied, “Well, I don’t know why you don’t just get a tummy tuck.” I looked at him. For a long time. And said, “yeah, well, maybe one day…”

And then my loving, sweet, faithful husband muttered as he walked away, “It’s not about the nail, it’s not about the nail.”

WHAT!?!?!?! IT’S NOT ABOUT THE NAIL?!?!? Did he REALLY just say that?!? Oh man. That really, um, shall I say ticked me off.  But why? I couldn’t quite place why  I got so irritated about that comment! I can see why he would say that; a tummy tuck would “solve” the “problem” of my stretch marks (sort of). But it still made my blood boil.

As usual, I didn’t launch into a huge argument, rather I stewed about it for several days (while of course glaring at him if he happened to be in my presence while said stewing was going on…) and I tried to internally process it.  I finally came to the conclusion that “It’s not about the nail” makes women look like stupid idiots who can’t solve problems and refuse to listen to good advice.

I can guarantee you that when they “complain” about a situation, most women (and I say most because I haven’t actually met all women) have indeed thought through almost every possible solution to the problem. They’ve run it through their heads and analyzed it from every perspective, and asked themselves the question “what if” a dozen times. They’ve considered their own emotions about the issue, but have also recognized the emotions of the other people involved. They don’t need any more opinions on how to “solve” their problem.  Not really. I venture that what they really might need is advice on how to manage their problem.

The pastor of our church recently made this distinction: “Not all problems need to be solved. Some need to be managed.”  It’s so true! Instead of telling me how to solve the problem, I need my husband to ask me why I have chosen NOT to solve the problem!

For instance, I have obviously considered how to “solve” the problem of my stretch marks. I’ve asked myself hundreds of questions, specifically concerning a “tummy tuck.”

I’ve decided that, for now, I do not want a tummy tuck. (OK, part of me does want a tummy tuck, who wouldn’t?!?) But, having grown up with self-image issues, it is a big priority to help my daughter love herself just as she is. And getting a tummy tuck might, just might, send the wrong impression. Now, when she’s in college or older, it might be a different story. But for now, my “problem” can’t be “solved.” It needs to be managed. I need to know how to handle the fact that I’ll never wear a two-piece again. That every time I look in the mirror I’ll see a stomach that has been literally torn up, all the way past my belly button. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to post a picture, haha!)

So guys, next time you think “It’s not about the nail” realize, of course it’s about the nail! But it’s might be more about how to manage the nail, because sometimes pulling the nail out will just leave a bloody mess! :)