My best friend suffers from depression.

When I read the news of Robin Williams passing away, a surge of panic fluttered through me.

I don’t suffer from the lying disease of depression but it does affect my life. You see, my best friend Kim suffers from sometimes debilitating depression. Some weeks are better than others, but I’ve learned to recognize the signs of when she is in a dark place. She knows what they are too. She gets short-tempered and withdraws from everyone. She even tries to withdraw from me. She doesn’t blog, use social media, or text me as frequently as she normally does.

I hate depression. I hate what it does to my friend. I miss her when the sadness birds take hold of her heart.

After reading about Robin, I immediately sent her a love note on Facebook.

I just want you to know that I KNOW that you battle depression and I PRAY for your every single day. I just read that Robin Williams passed away probably due to suicide from severe depression and I IMPLORE you to always tell me when you are feeling down (like you did last week.) So that I can check on you and be your family. PLEASE know that you are loved NO MATTER WHAT. I need you!! xoxox

Everyone needs to feel needed and loved. Everyone needs to be told as much.

And then, I started thinking that you probably love someone with depression too. I told Kim about this post that just kind of materialized and asked her to share some advice with people like you and me who love someone who is battling this disease. The following ideas are hers with my 2 cents (okay, more like at least 5 cents) sprinkled in. We are not certified experts on the disease, but we can offer you some real life, tried and true advice.

 

Loving Someone with Depression

 

Discuss the suffering openly.

Check in with your loved one regularly but especially when you know they are having a bad day. Let them know that you’re concerned about them and thinking of them. Silence does not mean things are okay. Sometimes messaging and phone calls are not enough. Sometimes you have to show up and knock on the door. If they are on medication, don’t be afraid to ask if they are taking it.

 

Offer to listen. Maybe even rescue. (Even if it’s only 30 minutes.)

Last week Kim mentioned to me that she was napping in the middle of the day and that’s why she didn’t respond to one of my texts. I jokingly told her that I hate her happing because I need access to her at all hours of the day and night. (If you know Kim personally, you know what I mean by this. She’s the best.) She responded seriously letting me know that she had been having two severe depression days in a row.

I immediately invited her to get out of her house and just come sit in the car with me while I made an airport run. And then I offered to braid her hair because I knew it would make her laugh. (I have no sisters, no daughters, and my mother has shorter hair than my dad. I have zero braiding skills and no one knows this better than Kim.) Sadly, it turns our she couldn’t escape with me due to schedules.

And then I didn’t hear from her for a few hours. I texted to check on her. I texted again to invite her to go to Target. I texted again that I was on her doorstep and no one was answering. A few minutes later she thanked me for checking on her and told me she was at a family party. I breathed a sigh of relief and told her, “When you say you’re in a dark place, I gotta come find you.” She responded by confirming that it was very dark and nothing was helping. We kept the conversation going that evening and then hung out for the better part of the next two days.

This is what it’s like to love someone with depression. Kim doesn’t look sad, but her heart sometimes get too heavy.

Depression doesn't look sad.

Remind them that they are not alone. 

According to the CDC, 1 in 10 adults reports depression. This disease is real. It’s not made up, although the disease is lying to your loved one. Kim says we need to encourage our loved ones to get help. She also says that, at least for her, the disease is hard because it’s not easily fixable. It usually takes time and medication.

 

Ask how you can better support your loved one. 

I regularly do a little emotional inventory with my husband and ask him what I could be doing to make his life better or help him through a difficult time. I usually say, “Is there something that I can do better or something that needs to change?”

I’ve never done this with a friendship, but man, it sure does seem like a good idea. This is a new one, but I like it. Last night as I picked Kim’s brain for this post, I asked her what I could do to better support her in her battle. Her response was perfect, I think just being aware and acknowledging the dark times is so helpful.”

 

Here’s to being more aware and to being a better friend to those that are suffering.

Remember, all great things take time. And you are more than great! You are far more precious than rubies. You are a work in progress. Be gentle with yourself. Have hope.

 

xoxo,

Lindsey and Kim

 

What Jean ValJean taught my husband about being an adoptive father.

A couple of months ago, I took my husband to see Les Miserables at a theater in-the-round.

I’ve seen it on Broadway and was even been in a production while in college, but this was a whole different ballgame. There’s something incredible about an in-the-round experience. It’s so personal.

My husband despises musicals with the very core of his soul, but in a grand gesture of his love for me he agreed to go …and he even went with a happy(ish) attitude. This story runs through my veins and is deeply personal for me. I know he knows that and that’s why I think he makes the effort.

Les Miserables and Adoption

As the music began and the lights started to dim, the Beatles Mania that had been brewing all evening just about boiled over into tween-like screaming and selfie taking. This story is a spiritual experience for me every single time. My husband (who had never seen a live production of it), was in for a treat.

By the ending scene, he was wiping his eyes and I knew the magic had touched him too. Mission accomplished! The next day, an unsolicited email with the following post popped up in my inbox along with a little note that said, “I sent a similar message to the boys’ birth moms too.” That man is so full of heart. I am a lucky lady.

 

What Jean ValJean reminded me about being an adoptive father.

So, Lindsey “gave me the opportunity” to go to Les Miserables at a local theater last night. I’m actually pretty bad at going to things that I know I won’t like (never seen a Nicholas Sparks movie–but I did get close once) but when it comes to Les Mis, I try to suck it up for a night every once in a while. I’m pretty sure I only made like 3 negative comments about it all night.

Musicals just aren’t my style. I find the stories rushed and I think you should only sing when it’s a REALLY good song and not just because you feel like a song is needed. Luckily Les Mis doesn’t have any dancing. Seeing cowboys doing pirouettes in Annie Get Your Gun a few years ago crossed a line with me that I can never cross back over.

Anyway, there was a scene in Les Mis that got my eyes a little wet. It was a moment that reminded me of my own position as a father of children that were not mine initially.

As ValJean is dying, he hands Cosette his confession and says (well…sings), “It’s the story of those who always loved you. Your mother gave her life for you, then gave you to my keeping.”

Now, our kids’ birth mothers are very much alive but they DID give a part of their life for their boys and they gave them to me to be their father. In that moment in that theater, I recalled the joy and the weight of that fact. I try to remember it every day–that 3 incredible women decided that I should be the one to protect and provide for their boys, to be the one that made sure they knew safety, happiness, and love. It’s an awesome responsibility. One that I don’t know I would have understood as well had I had children biologically, one that I don’t take lightly. I’m not a perfect father but I know that I’m just a little bit better because I understand what sacrifices where made to get my children in my care and that I will answer to God and their birth parents for how I guarded that gift.

The R House, Open Adoption

With Jackson’s birth mother and birth family at one of Josh’s football games.

 

So, I gained 2 things last night:

  1. Brownie points with Lindsey (lots of them)
  2. A reminder of how great my life is and how great my responsibilities are.

Now, if we can just find ways to do that without having to sing EVERYTHING.

 

 

DNA, Leaning into Joy, Reasons for Placement, and Identical Magic | Adoption.com Round-up

 

As Editor-in-chief of Adoption.com, I have the privilege of reading almost all of the content that we publish. It’s so refreshing to read about different perspectives and experiences than my own all while being uplifted, inspired, and educated.

 

Adoption.com Editor's PicksEvery week, I am especially touched by a handful of articles that I find myself thinking about even when I’m not at ‘at work.’ Articles like these are why I love my job so much.

AdopteeDNA-25

This piece was written by Tom, one of our Staff Writers who is also an adoptee and advocate for adoptee rights. I was especially interested in his experiences connecting with his biological family with the aid of DNA. We recently did that for our oldest son using 23andMe. I’m pretty much a sponge when it comes to reading about the experiences of individuals who were adopted in hopes that it will make me a better mom to my boys.

For me, it was validating to find out what I was sure I already knew. Somehow, it just helped me to tie everything together.

For adoptees who don’t have any information about their roots to begin with, I can only imagine how powerful and significant receiving their results would be.

OpenYourHeart-15Oh this piece hit really close to home for me. (Maybe even a little too close.) I was enthralled in Megan’s description of bringing home a newborn baby placed with her in a foster care arrangement. I often find myself in awe of and learning from families involved in foster care. I am sure being foster parents is in our future somewhere. Her words about not missing an opportunity to celebrate a child’s life were totally validating as we tend to wear our heart on our sleeve over here.

From the start of our family-building journey, people have acted like I am not careful enough. I know they mean well. I know they are trying to protect me. Some told me I shouldn’t get my hopes up. Some have said I should be more careful or I will be too attached if our foster child has to leave. However, I have always thought that being too careful would take away some of the joy of celebrating life, whether in the case of foster care or adoption. Over and over, I have felt the truth confirmed as I have allowed myself to, as Dr. Brené Brown (researcher and author) says, lean into joy. Downplaying the chance for happiness in the name of practicality or in hopes of preventing disappointment is robbing yourself and your family of possible joy!

TrueLoveAdoption-17

You can practically feel Tiffany’s strength jumping off the screen in this piece. Reading the reasons why birth parents chose adoption for their child will never get old for me and I believe it makes me a more empathetic adoptive mother with a stronger conviction to keep open adoption promises.

I believe true love is when you forget yourself entirely and completely and offer everything you have to someone else. I think that title encompasses all moms, but especially those mothers who make the ultimate sacrifice and gain the title of birth mom.

That true love is the real reason I placed my son for adoption. That love gave me courage to make the decision to place myself in a situation full of pain, grief, and heartbreak so that my son would be in a situation full of happiness, love, and joy.

3rdChildBio-28

This one is pure magic. Confession: After hearing Kira tell parts of this story, I knew I needed her to be one of our Staff Writers at Adoption.com. Tears pouring down my cheeks, you guys. The following quote just sums up all the warm fuzzies I have about open adoption.

The big day came to deliver my baby. I was in the hospital nervous and having contractions. One of the sweetest parts of labor was the texts I kept receiving from my children’s birth mothers. They had experience with labor and delivery and were able to give me loving advice. Texts telling me how to breathe, encouraging me that I could do it, and telling me good luck. We were also able to joke about some of the unflattering parts of childbirth, and it lightened my mood while going through the pain.

I can’t wait to see what I’m going to learn next week!