Last year’s been a crazy year, full of unknowns and they are sill there, for the most part. A close family member has been struggling with depression. The kind that has debilitated her, almost completely, for now. We don’t know what’s wrong, don’t know to to help her and don’t know what the future is going to bring. I’m having big frustrations throughout all of this though and learning some important lessons on life as well.


Top 5 Frustrations

Here are my top 5 frustrations so far:

1. I have to make sure her bills get paid.

She lives three hours from me, one hour from my brother and 6 hours from my sister. She also gets a ton of mail. No wonder she’s stressed. The bills come flowing in every day along with several requests for donations (Apparently widows get hammered by non-profit organizations asking for money donations). We have a crazy process down where an extended family member is helping me get and sort her mail, throwing out the junk and sending me the rest. I then sort through the non-junk and make sure her heat doesn’t get shut off. It’s a pain, considering I have all of my bills automated and could go weeks without checking my mail. Managing her mail is a big job.

2. I have to make sure her house doesn’t freeze up in the Minnesota winter.

My brother helps me check in on her house. We turn off the water, turn down the thermostat and hope for the best. This year’s mild Minnesota winter is a blessing for our family. It keeps the bills down and keeps me from worrying about this person’s house freezing up. Yay for blessings.

3. I can’t do much about the situation. It’s not in my control.

I like to be in control of things. When this all started, I put a ton of energy into trying to fix the situation. It was quite hard on me. I let myself get all anxious and a few times, smoked over a pack a day (while I was a 1/3 pack/day regular). That made me feel so terrible and actually increased my anxiety. I missed work to try to fix the situation and spent all kinds of time and energy being anxious. It took me several months to learn to relax and let go of control. Being a person of faith, I had to learn to let God have control again. It was hard. I’m still working on that one.

4. This isn’t covered by her insurance.

Most of what she is getting treated for right now is not covered by her insurance. Apparently, mental health treatment isn’t covered by mainstream health insurance. She’s receiving very expensive treatment right now and I don’t know when she will be through with it. Scary.

5. It’s hard on my relationship with my brother and sister.

We’ve had to learn that sometimes we need to not talk about this person. That topic seems to dominate our discussions, which can lead to burnout and us yelling at each other. In order for us to maintain a healthy relationship with each other, we need to block it out sometimes and trick ourselves into thinking life is still normal. Things have gotten better as time goes on with us on this. I have a new niece or nephew coming any day now BTW :). I’m excited.

Top 5 Lessons

Here are the top 5 lessons I’m learning:

1. Life is full of ups and downs.

Life is going to be rough. It’s so tempting to ask the “why me” question and get into the self pity mindset. I keep on the positive side of that because I keep in mind all of the good things that I have in my life as well. I had my most successful year professionally AND personally in 2011. I’ve noticed this before but I seem to thrive during big challenges. They get me fired up to get off my butt and do something. I believe that the hard times make you stronger. I try keep a positive attitude on it as much as I can. Life is definitely going to be rough at times. I feel for those who haven’t had these rough patches yet. I’m almost scared for them. I know now that I can handle them.

2. I have to balance my needs with the needs of others.

My mom has needs, my sister and brother have needs and I have needs. I have to balance them all. I can’t put all my energy into fixing this. I will end up destroying myself that way. I can’t completely turn away from helping either. That will result in major guilt and hard feelings against myself. Balance is the key. It’s a hard thing to find, but I think I’m doing okay at it.

3. I need to always keep pushing forward.

I think there will always be anxiety for me, always be hard things I have to do, and will always be rough situations that arise. I know I’ve got to keep going. Giving up is not an option. So I won’t do it.

4. I need to keep bettering myself.

Doing great things financially, professionally and personally makes me feel great. If I keep working on those things, it’s almost a vaccine for feeling down because of the crap that’s going on in my life. I’ve had to tell myself many times (as recently as a couple days ago) that, “I’m not letting this family issue bring me down”. I’m just not going to let it. I have goals to accomplish, things to do and people to spend time with. Continuing to better myself is probably the best way to keep me focused on the positive and not on the negative.

5. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

I need to look into my insurance and make sure I have appropriate coverage for possible illnesses like depression. I know I have a low end policy. I’m procrastinating on it but know I need to look into it and take appropriate actions to be prepared just in case. I don’t want all of my hard work becoming financially fit to be thrown away because of this loophole, like my person’s might be.

We all have the unknowns. It’s a struggle to get through them but there are lessons and character changes that come out of it. This is how we all grow to be more wise. Thoughts?