A Message to my 5-Year-Old Daughter on Her Birthday

Five. It’s been five years since you screamed your way out of the womb. Five years since you cast a magical spell over my very being. Five years since my heart felt connected to another human in a way that is indescribable.

Who you are today simply takes my breath away. You are caring, loving, concerned, nosy, curious, polite, stubborn, excited, snuggly, kissable and just a good human being. I am not sure how you have become who you are today, but it amazes me!

Your face is light and your voice is the sweetest sound.

When I tell someone about my daughter, the pride I feel is so great, it is overwhelming. You are my daughter…this wonderful human being is my daughter, my family, my life. I am so proud of you today, proud of who you are and who you are becoming.

Five. Five incredible years of ups and downs and living life. Five years of pure love.


Reflections on 2014

This past year has been filled with horror, sadness, hurt, pain, joy, happiness and above all, tremendous love. I don’t mean the love where we so casually tell our partners we love them at the end of a phone conversation. I mean love that you feel with your gut, your soul, your entire being. This is a new phenomenon for me as I had never felt that before. I was not able to feel it.  Now I begin and end each day with these incredible feelings, for my husband, my daughter and for my family and friends. I still get tearful as I think of how monumental this is for me, at the age of 40. 
I began this year with therapy and numerous medication trials. What followed was the sadness, hurt and pain that I could never accurately describe. It is a hell that you want to desperately exit, but there are no signs of where to go. The horror was my summer when I was so severely depressed, my thoughts were closed to any possibility of relief. I inhabited my own personal hell where it was dark, lonely and scary. In the hospital, where I needed to be and am so thankful to work with an amazing psychiatrist for getting me there, there was more fear. I had to take ownership of my thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t hide behind the “mommy” mask or the “wife” mask. I was just “Risa” and that was all I needed to be. No pressure from the real world. The focus was on me. My focus was on me. 
And then it was time for a new treatment: one that would literally shake things up. I needed this. I needed something that would give me a rapid response as it was time for my horror to end. I needed to find that exit from the hell I was living. I found it as a result of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The terror that I felt prior to my initial treatment will never be forgotten as it was a fear I had never experienced before. As I called my outpatient psychiatrist numerous times the night before that first treatment, she gave me the language I needed. While I was telling her I was “scared,” she was able to really hear me as she said, “you – are – terrified.” I will never forget that moment. I was able to make the language connect to the feeling. Indeed, I was absolutely terrified.
Countless electroconvulsive therapy treatments later, and still more to go, what has happened in these past months since it began is a true testament, not just to this particular treatment but to medication and therapy, too. I look forward to a new year while I continue this process of recovery. I am happy to feel the space of time since my summer of horror but am also moved by all I went through. I am in awe that I endured so much for so long. I am proud of the work I have done in my therapy, intense and difficult as it is. Without this work I never would have arrived at this point of feeling such love. You can’t feel love as a result of taking a pill or having ECT. Having this new gift is a direct result of my therapy and while I cannot clearly explain how it happened, it did.
The process continues and I have more work to do but I am in a much better and healthier place today than a year ago. 
Moving forward, I hope I can be strong, emotional and loving to and for my husband and daughter. I feel that love…intense, sometimes overwhelming, amazing.

What is Love?

I have learned a lot about love during this depression. I have always known my husband, Ken, loves me, but what I have experienced over the past few months is simply love personified. His patience, trust, respect and commitment to “us” is the most incredible thing I have ever experienced. While I am in my own personal hell, he is right there by my side. He will spend extra time with our daughter when I need a break, he will bring her to birthday parties so I don’t have to cope with crowds, he cares for our daughter one night a week when I go to my psychiatrist. He is not allowing my depression to get in the way; it is only making him an even better husband and father.
While I have always known that Ken is amazing, it has taken these past (almost) 8 years to truly feel it, experience it and live it. Our relationship is stronger today than it was just a few months ago. While my depression is horrible, it is bringing us together in a poignant, loving and incredible way. I could never have imagined this. While I am doing my work in therapy, our relationship is becoming stronger as a result. It is almost like a therapy two for one (we are saving so much money!!). In the past when I have struggled with depression I was single and it was a very different experience, emotionally. I have been worried about its effect on Ken and our daughter but Ken has taken charge and we are working together in the best possible way. We have not been in such symbiotic harmony before and my worry has lessened as a result.
I have to thank my depression for moving my love forward for Ken. Weird, huh? It feels weird to write it but it is true. If I never got depressed, Ken and I would not be where we are today. Things really do happen for a reason. I am a firm believer in that. I knew that Ken was my b’shert (meant to be) when I met him in Starbucks via Jdate almost 8 years ago, but everything we have been through has brought us to this pivotal point.
I thought I knew what love was especially when I fell in love with Ken, but what I am feeling now is so much more. It is a light and it is a gift. While we have had our struggles, like everyone, I would not change what the past months have been in order to get to this point. I am still depressed, still playing with medications, but I am not alone. I have an amazing man by my side, literally and figuratively.