Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saturday February 27 – Bad Thoughts

This is the first weekend that I am not with you. It’s hard not to be by your side but I try calling you through out the day.

Juanita, Wayne and the children went to see you this afternoon while I stayed in Truro. There wasn’t much to do on call, so I busied myself at home. I cleaned and organized - my standing prescription for anxiety that I can’t address directly.

You had a bad day today. Bad thoughts consumed you. When you get like this, it’s as if your mind is trapped on a negative thought and you can’t shake free of it. Your mind circles around the thought and periodically you dive into the middle of it with desperate pleas to end your suffering. I try to get you thinking about other things but it’s hard to think of things to say when I feel your pain. It seems that my efforts to help, can occasionally stop you from diving into the middle but I fall short when I try to stop you from circling and obsessing on a thought.

Juanita was upset about leaving you. The children felt your despair today too. Juanita did her best to help you past your bad thoughts while Wayne tried to distract the children. It didn’t work. Tara ‘s (and I suspect Quinn) keen ears overheard a lot of your fears and thoughts. She doesn’t understand why you say those things.

When they got back to Truro, Tara called me. I was on the phone to you at the time. You were crying. I ask you to wait while I talk to Tara and Quinn on the cell phone. Tara is upset and needs to talk. She gives me a detail description of how the day went. She is hurting … and almost angry. She felt ignored by you.

Tara and I talked. Tara is struggling with your despair. I tried to explain that when you are in a very sad mood, you are not yourself. I pleaded with her to try to think of something good that happened today. She couldn’t think of anything.

Quinn also felt your pain. Several times on the drive home, he tugged Tara’s ear. When he talks to me on the phone, he is crying. He can’t tell me why. Quinn is so empathetic. He picks up your bad feelings and absorbs them.

Because I’m on call tonight, they are spending the night at Juanita’s. I tell them that I’ll be right over to tuck them into bed. When I get there, Quinn just wants to be held and hugged. I don’t know how to help them through this except to follow my instincts. I realize that our whole family is going to need some sort of counseling if the children are going to get through this emotionally healthy.

My heart is hurting too. With my whole family feeling sad, I feel doubly sad because not only am I failing at getting you to feel better but also I wasn’t there to protect the children when your bad thoughts bounced off them.

I have written before that when you have a bad day … I also have a bad day. Now I think we have to expand that to the children. I can protect them when you are in the hospital in a controlled and time defined setting. But when you get home … it’s going to be much harder.


  1. Dear Gwen,

    You are so right that, in a family, one person's emotional state affects everyone else's. We've certainly experienced the trickle-down effect of severe depression, and witnessed its effects on the children. But the good news is that even difficult emotional states can be learning experiences - positive experiences, even - if they get framed appropriately, and if the originator of the negative emotions is eventually able to take ownership of the effects of those emotions.

    Something that has helped us IMMEASURABLY - especially in terms of becoming more aware of and at ease with thoughts and emotions as they arise - is meditation. For B, meditation techniques have given him (and us) much more equanimity, and much more ability to see emotions before being overwhelmed by them.

    Meditation techniques are easily learned (there are likely teachers in Truro), and also help lower blood pressure. There's even a wee bit of evidence to suggest that meditation supports the brain in rebuilding connections. It's also something you can do as a family.

    We're slowly building it into our lives... and it does help. As for the children, you're right to be aware - but don't worry too much. They have wonderful parents and support systems. The up front and honest approach seems to me to be a good one, and you've always been great at giving your children good emotional tools.

    If you want to talk about any of this, please call. We love you.

  2. I'd Love to Talk to you about this - Who are you? Email me at
    thanks Gwen