Monday, February 8, 2016

Oh I feel like I suck right now

The pitfall of having *me* as the homeschool 'leader' whatever thing I'm supposed to be, is that I forgot I have an entirely different email I'm supposed to be checking.

75 messages from teachers. 75.

If I could remember to check the dang thing, I could remember to push/remind/do my freaking JOB.

Granted, I cannot make the child's choices, but ohmyholycrap, I feel like an immense failure right now. What kind of mother stays oblivious to attempted communication from teachers?????

One more alarm I need to set on my phone as a reminder. Well, assuming the worst doesn't happen. Oh, I can't even tell you how bad it will be if the worst happens. On the plus side, grades are currently pulled up in all but two of the classes, and one of those is waiting for assignments to be graded. If you knew my daughter, you'd know why I was stressing over this. It's a very big deal. And don't tell me public school would be better. Just don't. Again, you don't know my daughter.

this is what my phone looks like:
*alarm: Take your meds
*alarm: get out of bed and shower for work - or heck, shower for hygiene.
*alarm: make dinner
*alarm: Hey, feed yourself lunch/breakfast
*alarm: it's time to read to kids
*alarm: bedtime for kids
*alarm: did you do your writing today?
*alarm: did you do your sketching today?
*work alarm: Break's over. Lunch is over. (timer set for 15 or 30 mins)
*new alarm: Check the homeschool email
*new alarm: check assignments (fridays) - because it's my JOB. And not only do they check child's work, they check to make sure I am being involved and helping.

Alarms because I can't remember a damn thing because my brain doesn't function anymore. And the aphasia, that's annoying, too.

*sigh* The best I can do at this point is try to do better. I can't fix the past. No one can. But uuuuuugh my new brain is frustrating. How am I supposed to be an example of responsibility when I can't remember basic things without reminders?

I KNOW the depression is going to take this and make the guilt and feeling of failure even worse. And if I don't deal with it soon, the anxiety will kick in. I know I'm going to have to stay on top of that so it doesn't spiral down. But I guess right now I'm allowed to feel that way for a few minutes or however long until I handle the guilt and use it as a stepping stool instead of a holycrapISUCK!!!!!

And trust me:  consequences. Oooooh consequences. I may never let this child out of the house until she's 30.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

I have no idea how to title this. Grief? Death?

When I was 7, my great-grandmother died. My mother's grandma. I wanted to go to her funeral, but was told I was too young. I was so angry with my parents. I wanted to go say goodbye to the softest, huggiest, smiliest great-grandma that I had. the *only* great-grandma that I had. But nope, it was determined that I wouldn't be able to handle a casket and a dead body. When my mom came home, she hugged me said she wished she'd taken me. That made me even more angry.

When I was 13, my grandma died. My dad's mom. She was in the hospital for a week or so, an hour away from where I lived. I wanted to go see her, to hold her hand. I was told, again, that I would not be allowed in her hospital room because it would traumatize me. Again, I was angry. The grandma who played "My Koala" with my brother and I, the grandma who cooked fresh-caught fish, who loved camping and fishing, was gone. At least I was allowed to attend the funeral that time...

When I was 16, my dad's only sister, my Aunt Rita, passed away. Hers was a closed casket funeral due to time of death vs time found. Aunt Rita had lived with us when I was little. She loved to play dress-up with me, do my make-up and curl my hair. She had a raspy voice from smoking, and I loved to hear her speak. I still have the last birthday present she sent me. A pound puppy.

When I was 20, and 8 months pregnant with my first child, my grandfather passed away. My dad's dad. Grandpa was an ornery old guy, fighting lung cancer, liver issues, and emphyzema. I always made it a point to go visit him whenever I was in Pocatello. If my school took a trip and we ended up at the mall, I'd leave, cross the main roads, and go knock on his door to say hi. I visited a lot less when I moved to Utah, but I always wanted him to know that he was important to me. He was often grouchy, but that was ok. I didn't mind; in fact I think I loved him all the more for it, because he didn't feel a need to protect me from the truth of his life. I never doubted that he loved me.

Now that I'm 42, my dad's youngest brother, my Uncle Randy, has passed away. Yesterday. When I moved to Utah, I felt like I'd lost nearly all of my Idaho family. Not long after my grandfather's funeral, my dad and Randy had a falling out, so I lost touch with him completely.  About six months ago, I reconnected with him over Facebook.

Uncle Randy was always willing to play with us when I was little. He always had a smile, and was always so gentle and sweet. He came to my wedding and took 90% of the pictures that day. He blew some up and put some in photo albums and mailed them all to me. He was so very giving.

I don't know what the difference is between this loss and the losses I experienced 20+ years ago. I am so sad that he's gone. I recognize that I am in a different place emotionally than I was back then. I understood that death happened, I was both sad and angry over the first two - so much so, that even now I feel reverberations of that anger. But I didn't feel the impact of loss, just the shock that they were gone. Grandpa O was finally out of pain. Grandma O had tried to pass in her sleep, but they brought her back and put her on life support until the family pulled the plug. So her death felt right and timely. Not painless, don't get me wrong, but it was still more peaceful than it could have been.

Rita's death was much more of a shocker. She'd just graduated with her bachelors in Culinary Arts, had a job as a chef, and then bam, gone. The worst part of that whole thing was the awful awful way the things she left behind were handled by -- well, I probably shouldn't name names here. But it was so bad I was embarrassed to be there, having to help with what felt like a smash-and-grab. I think Rita would have been absolutely pissed at how things were handled. I will say this, though. My uncle Rudy was so sad, so filled with grief, and yet so solid at that time.

So here I sit, contemplating the grief and sadness I'm feeling at the news of my uncle's passing. I don't feel like there's a hole in my heart. I feel regret that I didn't make it up to visit him, to introduce him to my children. To give him a hug. I think he needed lots and lots of hugs and I regret not being able to visit him and share hugs with him.

Part of me is jealous, I will admit that. Why did it get to be his time and not mine? Why didn't he come and get me and take me with him?

Part of me simply misses him. I miss knowing that he's there, reading my goofy meaningless FB posts and sometimes commenting. I miss the idea that I can go visit him the next time I drive up to Idaho. Instead, the next time I drive up it will be for his funeral and that sucks.

Death sucks. It just does. I know it happens to everyone. Every single one of us will die at some point. And I believe in a life after death, I believe we'll see each other again. That doesn't make death any freaking easier to take.

This time there's anger as well. I'm angry that it happened so soon after we'd reconnected. I'm angry that due to his family circumstances he didn't have any next of kin on file. No next of kin on file. NONE. That is horrifically sad, because he felt neither of his brothers would care if he lived or died. Well **I** care, dammit.

There's been a clumsy mess of finding relatives to take care of the funeral and all the other fun arrangements. Again, yay for facebook and yay for my sister who pays attention to his page. I'm angry at the falling out of dad and his brothers, because now there are only the two brothers left and neither knows how to contact the other. I'm angry that my dad's side of family - including me - doesn't stay in touch with anyone.

On Thursday I told a gal from work that I would pick up her shift tomorrow because she's attending a funeral. How ironic. I don't have a clue how to stand there tomorrow morning and smile at people. How to help them with feedback on clothes, where to find things in the store, and just generally be cheerful. How does one fake it that much? I hurt. My heart hurts. So much sadness, so much wrongness.

I grieve.

In fact, here, give a listen to Peter Gabriel's "I Grieve" because it's appropriate.

There aren't really any right words to say. I know, because I've looked for them when trying to comfort others who have experienced loss. It's okay to just say anything.

Well, except to ask me if I'm ok. Don't do that. My husband keeps asking me that, and that is probably the dumbest question on the planet. Because NO. No, I am not okay. My uncle just died and I hurt inside. I am going to cry and be sad, because it hurts.

I may be on drugs because I'm depressed and bi-polar, but I am still allowed to be sad. So don't freaking ask me if I'm ok. The answer is no. I'm sure I will be eventually, but not today. Or tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Therapeutic Homework

Saw the doc this evening. This time the homework sucks. *sigh*

Sometimes I feel it would be so much easier if he said, "Oh honey, I just can't believe you'd be expected to blah, blah, and blah. And Persons B and F should know better than to *insert verbs and scenarios here.* You're so picked on; here, have a pass on any accountability for the next year or so."

Pbbbbth.

This time I'm not telling what my homework is because I don't like it and I'm all pouty faced about it. Not even kidding. He told me my face would freeze like this if I didn't stop it.

Probably doesn't help that I am going to have to do some serious brainstorming and personal evaluation to come up with some answers for this poopy, poopy, poopy challenge in my development. This whole thing is covered in poop.

Tell me again why I want help? Why I want to get better??

I think my can-do attitude tried to get up and go, but slipped on the ice on the viaduct, froze when it connected with the chain-link fence, and then shattered as it dropped onto a passing semi.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Chores

My doctor says I have to try to make my life less overwhelming. Part of that is making sure my kids do household chores to prevent my surroundings from feeling... chaotic? out of control? or yes, overwhelming.

Over the years we've had chore lists. For the most part they're effective. With child #2 leaving for college, my breakdowns, and life havoc, we haven't made a new one to account for our familial changes.

So.

I made chore lists. (Typo's everywhere. Please pardon those, as I honestly have a hard time finding right words and letters while I'm thinking. Even proof reading more than once, my brain says it's correct. My kids know what I mean, though, and I'm not wasting paper printing new ones.)

Wahoo.

These designs are somewhat creative and somewhat drearily-burn-your-eyes-out boring. I'm fairly certain my Typography teacher would roll her eyes at the gazillion different typefaces I used. There's no color. Because no color printer. blech. BUT, we have crayons and colored pencils and markers. The kids have each decorated their own chart, so they're much more fun in real life.

This one goes in a picture frame with dry-erase markers so it can be reused all year long. They can track the dates for each week, what their Sat job is, and what reward they're working for.

Some days I honestly cannot summon the energy to make the kids do their homework and chores. Therefore they each pick a reward, I buy it, and they know they can claim it at the end of the month. I need the rewards to be visible and believable so the kids aren't working for an empty promise.

I don't know if this will work. If not, I get some My Little Ponies, KreO Transformers, and a Barnes & Noble gift card at the end of January. I'm claiming them if the kids don't earn them. I think. Not sure, really, how we'll handle that. If they'll roll over to the next month, if I save them for Christmas or birthdays or something?

Not really sure how I'll handle missed days, either. If there's a mulligan, a pre-set of days they can miss, or something? Maybe I can hand out mulligans as a reward for extra awesome behavior? I have no idea.




This may or may not make sense if you look at it. On our calendar, sundays get marked with the A-F, and Saturdays get marked with the 1-6. That way everyone knows what they're expected to do during the week and what their Saturday job is. This is posted next to the calendar. And yes, mom and dad are on the rotations, too. We all live in the house, we all have to pull our weight. 




This page tells the kids exactly what is expected to consider their job done.  My 9 yr old suggested that Kitchen include wiping out the microwave. I am wondering if I should have added vacuuming off the couches to the vacuum chore. This is posted next to the graph that details who has what job on what week. That way no one can say they didn't know.

My son can read, so even he can't say we didn't tell him. And at the age of seven, yes, he CAN clean bathrooms. He may not do it perfectly, but he CAN do it. I refuse to have a child head off to college or live on their own and not know how to care for themselves, their home, or their bathroom. ICK.


And this. This one is for me. I am super forgetful, and I tend to avoid things that are good for my mental health and self-satisfaction. So here it is. Me talking to me. I have put a sketchbook by my computer, by my bed, in my backpack, and am planning on putting one at work. I need new ones, most of mine are full or almost full, but I am attempting to make that happen. The writing thing shouldn't be impossible either. I am addicted to my computer and sit here all the time. In fact, I hung my job chart right here on the wall next to me so I can see it and not forget.

Now that I think about it, I need to figure out a dinner schedule. Who makes snacks for after school when I'm at work, who makes dinner on what days, and what days I am expected to crock-pot.That feels extra complicated right now, so I probably won't do that yet. But we need it. Dinners are the hardest thing after cleaning house.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I'm Not Ashamed Of My Mental Illness

Let's be honest, it's not something to be proud of, either. It's not like someone with Diabetes or Muscular Dystrophy goes around saying, "Hey! Look at me! I have an illness! Look at me, look at me, I'm so cool!" I'm not saying that.

What I am saying is that having a mental illness makes me determined to be open, to talk about it, to discuss what I go through.

Well, ok, I process externally so I tend to type up most everything I'm feeling anyway. Once I hit the 'publish' button and send it out into the nether to be read or ignored, the thoughts are no longer bouncing around inside my head.

Talking about the onset of my BiPolar Type 2 / BiPolar Depression, Anxiety, Psyche Ward stay, visits with my psychiatrist, and suicide attempt, are ways for me to cope. So really, this blog and my posts aren't honestly for anyone else; it's to help me process.

So why do I make it public instead of private? Because communicating is sooooo helpful. I'm a little strange that way.

I have found that most others who struggle with the same thing or different variations of these illnesses feel that there isn't anyone who understands.

Do you know why they feel that way? Because people who have never had clinical depression or anxiety have NO IDEA what it is like. I know this, because I'd never, ever, ever had it, nor understood it until I went through post-partum depression after my son was born. Two years of post-partum. That sucked. It was wonderful when that was over!!

The year I turned 40, the mad chemist experimenting inside my brain decided to switch things up on a more permanent basis. This sudden onset was/is not a pleasant one. I say sudden because I was privileged to live most of my life of working and having babies with a normal, healthy, robust amount of energy. I have met and know several people who have struggled with depression their entire lives.

THEIR ENTIRE LIVES!!

I cannot even comprehend living with this, trying to manage this while working - sometimes two jobs - finishing my degrees, and having small children.

These folks do it silently, with few people who understand, listen, or help when needed. They struggle with adulting while dealing with the guilt of not being capable of basic things when it's a really bad day.

They are heroes in my eyes. Do you hear me? HEROES!!!

I fell apart after a year and needed to be hospitalized. I was trying to claw the skin off my face because the pain was the only thing connecting me to reality. After another year, I really did attempt suicide. Coping with the onset of anxiety along with the depression was simply too much. TWO YEARS.  Two years, and I couldn't handle it. Still am attempting to manage it.

So these folks who've lived with it for their whole lives? HEROES. I'm not even kidding.

Some are absolutely ashamed to talk about their mental health or their hospitalizations. Some simply cannot admit that there is an issue because they feel like they should be able to control it.

--- This one was me. I spent a good six or seven months convinced it was some sort of early menopause. My doctor ran just about every blood test possible, checking my hormone levels, my thyroid, the levels of vitamins and minerals in my system, etc. I was convinced that I could talk myself out of it or fix it with every naturepathic or homeopathic strategy I knew.

Nope. Depression. After three or four months of therapy and some low doses of temporary meds, diagnosed with BiPolar depression. No more temporary meds for me. Mood stabilizers AND anti-depressants with some Xanex on the side became necessary. In spite of every alternative health trick I knew. Wahoo. Boy, that went over well with my family. NOT. ---

I need you to realize that some cannot talk about it openly because of private personal reasons. And others simply don't feel safe discussing it with anyone.

This one right there? This is horrible and awful and sooo lonely. Understandable, though, because of the prevalent attitude. You know, the one saying that people who are depressed are using it as an excuse to be lazy. Should just cheer themselves up and get over it. Or claiming anxiety to get out of doing something they just didn't want to do.

*frustrated sigh*

I am one of the very few willing to talk openly about my experiences, my honest thoughts, or the massive grumpy days I have. Currently I have been in a horrible mood for nearly two weeks. Everyone frustrates me, I feel like they're all jerks and inconsiderate. Most of that is me, I know, but it's how I'm feeling.

Logic part of my brain says "don't interact with people right now. At least not the ones you love. Just hug them tight and keep your mouth shut. You get paid to be nice to people at work, so the pretend happy face works there. Wish you could keep pretending at home."

Illogical part of my brain says, "Who cares. Everyone can just go to hell. I want to move and live by myself out in the boonies where I don't have to see anyone, hear anyone, or have anyone getting into my stuff, move it around, break it, or whatever else is making me feel picked on."

Am I ashamed of these thoughts? Well, if I were, I wouldn't be typing them up here. Do I wish I could turn them off? oh yeah.

What I *can* do about these feelings that I cannot control is try to interrupt the tape. I kiss on of my kids' neck up and down until they giggle like mad. Or hug them tight for several minutes. I read out loud. I do anything I can to distract myself and concentrate on anything BUT the thoughts and feelings.

You who don't know Depression don't have a clue how hard it is to have to continue to interrupt these stupid stupid destructive thoughts that run in a loop.

Depression LIES, but it is oh so believable.

I need you to understand this. Those of us who struggle with Depression have our super awful bad days. It's such a fight to get out of bed. And some days that's the only battle we win. If our sinks are full of dishes, the floors not swept or vacuumed, it doesn't mean we don't care about living in a yucky environment. Oh, trust me, we care very much.

A depressive's messy house means one of two things: 1 - There are a bunch of kids living there and it's laughable to even think of summoning the energy to reinforce daily chores.

2 - Looking at the mess and seeing all that needs to be done is overwhelming. Knowing where to start is simply impossible and makes us cry. Summoning the energy to pick up a pair of socks and carry it to the laundry basket is hopeless.We feel guilty and horrible because any normal human being should be able to do something so simple. So we sit and stare at those socks and wish we could do it, wondering what the hell is wrong with us that we can't even do that simple little thing.

And anxiety? It's the weight of an elephant sitting on your chest, the pain of drawing in a breath, panic caused by ... ?? something?? People? some thought? Noise? What the heck triggered this?? And then can't breathe, can't breathe, can't breathe, curling up, shaking, then sobbing uncontrollably for AN HOUR!!

Ok? YOU PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER EVER EVER IN YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCED THIS?? Shut up about us folks with these types of mental illness being lazy. Just stop it. Right now.

This is real. I struggle with this.

I am not ashamed of the symptoms of this illness because they're real. Are you ashamed for having a runny nose when you have a cold? Or a raspy voice when you have a bronchial infection? I'm not proud of my symptoms; oh, they are so very frustrating.

Trust me, I'll tell you up front if I'm being lazy about cleaning, or just can't do it. Believe it or not, I DO recognize the difference. One involves the inability to summon motivation and energy. The other is simply not wanting to do it.

When I don't want to do work I hear my grandmother's or my mother's voice telling me "Sometimes you just have to do what you don't want to do."

Being incapable of doing the work means having to tell those voices to shut the hell up, because ranting at myself won't help me feel any better. It certainly won't make the weight of the world go away or prevent the fog of darkness from jumbling my thoughts so I can't concentrate.

Do you understand? This is my reality.

I have received so many messages, emails, phone calls, and visits from people who just wanted to talk about their struggles. Who couldn't believe that I'd talk openly - in church, for crying out loud, or on Facebook - about my constant fight. One woman was having such issues with anxiety that going to church was hard for her. Her husband didn't understand at all, and she was so worried that she was the only one suffering. She cried on the phone as we talked about it because she was so relieved that someone understood.

You guys. It is sad and heartbreaking that people don't feel safe discussing this issue. That we are considered weak. Trust me, we're not. As often as I've complained that I *feel* weak, I'm smart enough to know that because I'm still here, still fighting, and still attempting to be the best mom I can be, that I'm NOT weak.

And hey, dr. laura? I am so very, very angry at you for convincing my mother that my illness is made-up by big pharma to sell more drugs. Thanks for that. Means a lot. (Nope, not capitalizing your name.)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Um, Thanks?

I speak openly about my struggles with depression and anxiety.

Adjusting to the changes in my physical chemistry has seen me throwing temper tantrums, anger at God, anger at the physical imperfections in this body, grief at the loss of control, frustration at the new obstacles in my path and at having to re-train my brain for a new thinking process, acceptance and a determination to see this through, regressions and despair, hope and strength. I am a living dichotomy of emotions.

I have my ups which are awesome. When the meds are working, my thought processes are in line, and I'm not listening to the depressive rhetoric that pops up. I can take on the world and manage those mean curve balls that life throws.

Yes, I'm clarifying that when my meds are working, I can think better. Meds work for me. I need people to understand that.

No, The meds do not solve all of my problems. I am not magically cured. I still have to control my thoughts, my attitude, and the crazy difficulties of life. It is my responsibility to see when I'm getting overwhelmed or over-extending myself, which is a trigger for a down.

But it bares repeating: The medicine takes the heavy weight of the air, the dark fog that surrounds me, and lightens it, letting the sun through.

I have my downs - my fairly severe downs. I'm openly blunt about when I am having issues with contemplating suicide. This is one of my safety mechanisms. If I *tell* people I'm thinking about it, it means I'm not *doing* it. It means I'm putting myself out there so I can make use of the awesome support system of friends and family that I have.

I see a psychiatrist. I take meds. I communicate - or try to.

A doctor's visit does not an immediate fix make. The nail has not been removed from my forehead - I am trying to remove it, but it is a slow, slow, slow process.

So that's where I'm at.

Hugs, happy thoughts, commiseration, encouragement are all part of what keeps me going when I can't find the strength to want to keep fighting. But I am here. I continue to go to work. I continue to get out of bed, breathe in and out, giggle with my kids, and help them try to enjoy their childhood. I fight.

If this warrior spirit within me wasn't working overtime, I wouldn't still be here.

*sigh*

After yesterday's FB post and admission of my anxiety regression, the offers and suggestions have been rolling in. All of the helpful hints, links, cd's, books, supplements, food additives, whatever, that I have been inundated with in the past 24 hours are extremely overwhelming. I'm almost sorry that I admitted just how bad this recent low is.

It feels like people are saying, "You can't possibly be trying hard enough to be ok. You need to do THIS."

I'm still struggling to want to be here. I still feel wounded and vulnerable. Enough that it kind of hurts to have all of the 'do this! do that! Try this!' thrown at me.

Kind of hurts? no. Let me be honest here. Hurts enough that I was extremely angry or insulted every time I logged onto facebook and had a new message. Anger is so much easier to feel than hurt. I felt attacked or that I was not good enough.

Should people apologize for offering help? Good heavens, no. Should they be worried about offending me? Again, NO. My emotional armor is fairly non-existent right now, but it'll grow back. Walking on egg shells around me would just piss me off even more.

*I* am responsible for how I feel.

Just saying that right now, offers of help feel painful. Why? Because it's a reinforcement that I can't take care of myself all the way. Does that mean folks shouldn't offer help? NO!!! I NEED help.

My emotional reactions don't make a whole lot of sense right now. It's just part of where I'm at. I hope that I've been polite and grateful in my responses. I recognize that my gut reaction is rude and off-putting, so while I'll discuss it's existence here, I certainly won't act on it.

Logically, I know that people care and are trying to help.

I'm open minded enough that I will try stuff if I feel good about trying it. Not today, though. Nor tomorrow or next week while I'm working on the challenge to discard and throw out things that are overwhelming - self-imposed or otherwise.

I love and appreciate everyone who has been so loving and supportive.

Just, please keep in mind that if I'm not super excited about what is being offered, it's because I'm going to have to take some time to be ready to hear, read, listen, eat, or add to my med regimen.

I'm overwhelmed by the basics right now. Let me get that part figured out and the willingness to try new things will be back.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

An Hour And Two Xanex Later

(note: some hard truths about teenage kid here. You don't get to give her lectures if you know her. this is about me, not about making her life harder than it already is.)

I have been in a pretty steady decline for a few weeks. Last Friday I very badly wanted to walk that long walk and go for a late-night swim in the Great Salt Lake. (Note, it was about 30 degrees at the time).

I was a good girl and went home. Texted a couple of friends and told them I was having real struggles. Spent a lot of this week venting and trying to work through my thoughts with a very good friend.

Saw my psychiatrist today. I had my husband come in and give him an outside perspective, I felt it was needed.

My meds have been upped. I have been challenged to identify all the stressors in my life that are making me feel overwhelmed and out of control. Also to be honest about the self-imposed expectations that I can't live up to, face them, and let them go.

A lot of that includes delegating to my kids.

The worst part of this decline is that my anxiety is back to full blast.

Tonight when my kids wouldn't quiet down when I asked them, when my teenager wouldn't stop arguing with me or demanding that I defend every opinion or statement I made, when I couldn't find the right words to help my 8 yr old with her stupid (yes, STUPID) division homework, I lost it.

I rocked in my bed and sobbed for an entire hour. Couldn't stop. Texted my 20yr old daughter and told her to call her teenage sister and make her stop fighting with her siblings. Get them to calm down, shut up, and play together. They were quiet for like 5 minutes. Then began yelling at each other to shut up.

I know kids need to rough-house. I know they have a right to play. And they needed to take it down to the basement where I couldn't hear them.

Sob, sob, sob.

MP3 player on. Turned up LOUD. Gonna be deaf in a few years, but I don't care. It shut out the noise. That helped. still couldn't stop sobbing.

I swear it felt like it took forever for the xanex to work.

My 11 yr old brought me a chocolate chip cookie. Chocolate is always good.

Then she got the brush and started smoothly brushing my scalp. then did a scalp massage. Fifteen minutes after that (an entire hour of sobbing. I cannot even believe this.) I stopped sniffling and could breath.

Not gonna lie, I still feel like there is an elephant sitting on my chest. I still feel like any little thing will set it off. Have my earphones in still, even though the little ones have gone to bed. Asked my kids to please clean up their craft mess in the living room because if I looked at it I would start crying again. In fact, almost started again just asking them to take care of it.

My 11yo explained the math homework to her little sister. The 7yo pulled out his Lego's and sat and played quietly. The teenager made dinner for the little ones. The mom breathed in and out.

and right now? Right now I don't want to talk to my teen who is still awake. I completely understand that 15yo's are gonna be the way they're gonna be. I was one, once. I'm not going to deal with it anymore today. I just can't. If that makes me a bad mom for being frustrated with it, then so be it. It's simply the way it is today.

I have communicated with the kids that my mental state is bad right now. They have seen that there are very real consequences, whether they understand them or not, when they don't listen to me when I tell them that I cannot handle their behavior and they need to move it or stop it.

the little ones were all a-hug. all worried. The big kid just said, "Hi" when I finally came out of my room, able to handle the open spaces of the house again. Hi. In that obstinant way that only a 15 yr old can.

*sigh*

I love my kids. I am so proud of them. But wow, the teenage days are a very real pain.

I'm not going to feel guilty for being angry at the attitude.

My mental health is what it is, like it or not. I am fighting. I am trying to cope and fix it and improve. If I wasn't, I wouldn't have gone to the doctor. I wouldn't be communicating with friends and saying, hey, I'm having issues.

I wouldn't be here if I wasn't fighting. I'd be done and gone.

I can't do that, though. Much as I really, really, really want to escape the pain and the hard right now. Oh it's so hard. But my kids need me. They need their foundation to stick around so they don't have permanent trauma the rest of their lives. Right now knowing that is what's keeping me communicating and trying. Eventually when I get to a better place I'll have a better attitude about being needed. Right now, I honestly resent it. that's the horrible, honest truth.

So. anxiety attacks, depression so bad that suicide is on my mind a lot right now, and a family full of young children who are loud, rambunctious, and energetic. Not exactly an easy combination. What God was thinking, sending my six children, I don't know. But it is what it is.

I can do this, dammit. I can delegate a lot of the hard, I can find some order. I can find some joy. Even if it's small, it's still do-able.

Right now? Right now after that xanex and crying jag, the with this dumb weight still on my lungs, I am going to go lose myself in World of Warcraft for a few hours. Because I can. Because the house is finally calm and quiet and safe. Because I need to shut my brain off so it can unscramble.

Anxiety is no fun, folks. It's real. If you don't understand it, don't judge it. It's not like it's controllable. The beginning signs are there and steps can be taken to ward it off, but sometimes it just happens anyway.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Right To Feel Old

It's no secret that once I hit 40, I felt like my whole body had pretty much rebelled and was headed for the junkyard.

Recently, I have felt worse and worse. I think I have had a steady sinus infection for the past few weeks. I've started getting random migraines out of nowhere. I popped a bursa sack in my right knee at work last week, so I've been hobbling. The cold weather has made the arthritis in my elbow (where I broke it back in 2004) hurt like a bleeping alarm telling me that WINTER IS HERE.

Anyway, on and on and on. My hair is graying. I'm lumpy. I'm not sure if my vision has changed again or if there's some other reason I get headaches after I read for x amount of time. I have to keep a bag of Poise in my bathroom because six babies bouncing on my bladder didn't leave it any kinds of happy. 

ker-blah, ker-waaaah, ker-poop.

In addition to the physical crap, my anxiety has gotten steadily worse this past week, along with the depression. Oh that depression. I hate it, and it won't go away.  Nor will the forgetfulness or aphasia. 

My point?

Today a co-worker asked me how I was feeling. 

The moment she asked me this, I had just come in to work. It was a cold walk, I was freezing, my joints hurt, etc. I had tried to call in entirely because I was fairly sure I needed a mental health day, but I ended up cutting my shift down to three hours as a compromise. So there I was, cold, depressed, attempting to find a smile for work, and hoping to hell that I wouldn't need another xanex to deal with screaming children today.

Because yesterday's mom who shopped around the store for probably a half hour with her tantruming two year old had completely thrown my anxiety into full whammo blammo mode. Screaming kids? No, can't do it. Not today.

My answer to my co-worker: "Oh, hanging in there. Just getting old."   

To which she replied, "You can't feel old. Don't even talk to me about feeling old until you're my age. I'm 61, so you don't even have a right to be feeling old."

I don't have a right to feel old.

huh.

I may only be 42, but  IF I F*CKING FEEL OLD, I HAVE A RIGHT TO F*CKING FEEL OLD.

I have a right to feel anywhere on the emotional scale that I want to feel. Period. Who the hell does she think she is, telling me that I don't have a right to feel old? And no, she wasn't saying it with a smile on her face, she was waving me away, negating what I was saying because I had no idea what it felt like to be 61. 

True. I don't. I know how it feels to be 42 vs how it felt to be 20. 

MY 42 feels ancient compared to my 20.  And at this moment in time, I FEEL like I am falling apart, old, rusting, and ready for the junk heap.

---

A few years back, I had this dream - a very real, very vivid, I remember it like I just lived it dream. In this dream, I was a grandma. I had to go down to my basement to get something for my grandkids. I wanted to show them some of the artwork I had done. The stairs were steep and I walked with a cane. I had to hold tightly to the stair rail, because I couldn't see very well. My hips hurt so badly as I walked down the stairs, and I knew if I fell, I'd break something.

When I finally got into the basement, I found my old computer and realized that my old files were in a format not compatible with the current technology. It would take too long to convert them, and my grandkids' visit would be over before I could finish. I'd have to do it another time and wait for their next visit to show them. Only I didn't know when that would be.

So I went back up stairs. Again with the steep stairs and the joint and muscle pain as I creaked upward. And when I got up there, oh I loved hugging and kissing those grand babies, no matter how big or small they were. 

But they jabbered at me constantly and my hearing was terrible. I couldn't make out half of what they said. It was so frustrating to see the excitement in their eyes, but not be able to share it because I couldn't understand it. 

My daughter was packing her kids up to leave finally, and was trying to talk me into moving in with her. She had a point about the stairs in my house being dangerous. I remember hating the idea of having to rely on someone else because my vision was fuzzing and blurry, with most of the peripheral vision gone. My fingers were gnarled with arthritis, useless as tools for writing or painting. A lot of my regular activities were harder now. My mobility was seriously limited by the arthritis in my hips, knees, and ankles. I had a cane, but it was still hard to get around, even though I insisted on walking to keep my health up. Everything was so frustrating because communicating was getting harder and harder.

---

I described this dream to my then 88 yr old grandfather. (he's 90 now)  He looked at me straight in the eye and said, "That is exactly what it feels like. You'll be prepared when you get here."


So yeah, I may not know what it feels like to be 61 or 88, or someone else's 45. And I may only have a dream memory of a geriatric stage which I'm sure most will tell me can't possibly be accurate. And being 42, I'm certainly not old by today's standards.

But I do have my own physical and chemical issues. Currently I can feel the chemical issues becoming more and more of a problem. Frankly, I'm just a teensy bit worried that I might end up back in the psyche ward fairly soon.  I see my doc next thursday. I promise, if I feel I need to see him sooner, I'll call him.

My point being that my life is just that. MY life. Not hers. Not yours. Not anyone else's but mine. I don't know what it's like to walk in her shoes and she has no idea what it's been like in mine. 

So if I want to say I feel old, I'm gonna say I feel old. With feeling. Because I damn sure don't feel like a 16 yr old.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Who's That Girl?

I looked in the mirror and did not recognize the face staring back at me.

I knew the eyes. Those dark brown eyes flecked with green, yeah, those were mine. The eyes that see too much, sparkle with mischief, feel the weight of the world, love much, and blink back the pain. Yes, those were my eyes, but the shape is off.

The rest of the face and hair and stuff? Who IS that person?

There have been times in my life when I look in the mirror and don't like who I see. That's usually my first indication that I'm struggling with Depression with a decidedly capital D.

But this feeling that I'm wearing a shell? That's new. I've made the analogy a lot over the past couple of years that I feel trapped in my head. And yes, I know I'm aging - thus feeling like my body has outlasted all of its warranties and is decaying all around me comes part and parcel with that. But this is more than that.

I feel like I'm stuck in someone else's skin.

The hair is unruly. It can't be my hair. I know how my hair behaves when I run a brush through it vs when I've slept on it. I know how it behaves wet, with product, or without product. Not this hair. This hair does things I've never seen it do. This hair curls more, parts on either side of my head, and does the complete wrong thing when I brush it. There's no rich dark brown anymore. The texture is completely foreign, and I don't know how to manage it.

The color and texture of the hair, though, that's me getting old. Of course I'm graying. I've earned every gray hair that I have. I know that I have graying hair. I just don't recognize it.

The face? Now that's where I get completely lost.

I always loved my cheekbones. Also loved the shape of my ears. Didn't think much about my nose except to note that I had one and it had blackheads but otherwise it was a nose, found my lips interesting, and was glad my chin didn't have a dimple. Always hated the perpetual double-chin hiding in the wings, waiting for me to lower my head and turn into a frog. I never once used an eyebrow pencil and only used mascara if eyeshadow powdered my lashes into looking lighter. There was always a patch of acne in one spot or another waiting to bloom, and then there was that sign of... life? spark? glow? that gave away the multitude of thoughts going on behind my face.

That's me. That's always how I've pictured myself.

This face, I don't know who I am looking at. It doesn't have that same glow. Where'd the acne go? But more than that, where did the shape go? It's not the same shape.

It has a red nose and red circles on the cheeks like a painted china doll. Or Rudolph. Or an alcoholic. I'm not even sure if those cherry spots on my cheeks demarcate the cheek bones.  The overall pallor is gray. It matches the hair. The double-chin is more than just a hint, and are those my lips? I guess they are, but are they? The eyebrows and eyelashes are graying; the eye lashes require mascara in order to be visible.

I have never, ever, EVER *required* mascara!!  And where did the elvish hint in my eyebrows go??

But it's more than the changes due to aging. Its the fact that I feel surprised every time I look in a mirror. Who IS that person? What is going on behind those eyes? What are they hiding? Where did they put the person who belongs there? The Aura is completely different. This has to be some nightmare.

When my doctor first began trying different medications a couple of years ago, the wrong meds would leave me with the feeling that my skin didn't fit.

This isn't that feeling. In fact, sitting here staring at my computer monitor feels completely normal. I'm wearing my favorite pajama bottoms and USMC hoodie. My toes are cold because they're always cold. I feel like me.

I've acclimated to the "this knee is sore today" and the "Oh, it's gonna snow, the arthritis where my elbow broke is acting up" and the "Now what did I do to that ankle??" pops, zings of pain, and general I'm-getting-older limps and feels.

I've  ... um... well, not *adjusted* to the anxiety and dizzy spells and other things associated with my mental disorder and side-effects of my drugs, but I have learned to identify them and cope.

So how I *feel* on the inside still feels like me. You know, angry that my brain is having the hiccups, joyful and full of grattitude for the blessings in my life, singing because I can, snarking because I can, being silly because I can. etc. It's my brain, I am quirky.

But how I look? I mean, seriously, that can't be me. It just can't.

Do I actually look like that? Have I always had "resting bitch face"???  Even putting jewelry on doesn't conjure up 14 yr old me wearing a new pair of earrings and feeling pretty because of some shiny cheap metal I bought for a dollar at the gas station.

So who is this girl? Who is that girl in the mirror?

Is this what it feels like to age? You're you on the inside, but the outside no longer matches?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Writing!

I have started writing for NaNoWriMo. Whoo!!

Watch me dance and throw a party! Because I am writing! yaaaaay!

Now, that being said, I'm not writing every day. Working exhausts me. However, when I sit down to write, words come. Ideas start popping and the voices start talking.

I've not yet bothered to go back and read what I've written. I have no idea if half the words will make any sense. But I have notes. I know what kind of descriptions I want to give the cities, the streets.

My first drafts are always more of an outline where I write out who does what, where, and why. Then I go back and flesh out the details. and THEN I let someone read it.

This is super exciting for me!! I haven't felt this spark to write since before I went on medication.

Granted, my word count is at all of 2200+ish right now. It's day 9, and if you do the math, I'm quite behind. But that's not worrying me, actually.

In fact, I feel encouraged. I was walking to work today and had several lines worked out in feel and texture as well as the full mental imagery for the next couple of scenes. That means that when I *do* sit my butt in the chair and put my hands on the keyboard to pound out some fiction, it's gonna flow.

Am I going to hit 50,000 words this month? I don't know. I hope so! But I'm not as concerned about the number of words as I am about the fact that I'm writing.

Sitting here writing this little NaNo post is not time I'd otherwise spend writing my steampunk fantasy. No, it's time I'd be spending eating, or sitting in front of Netflix watching another episode or two of Supernatural, or doing my daily garrison chores in WoW. Stuff I do to unwind from the mentally goofy wired-but-tired-but-wired mode that I'm in right now. In fact, pet battles sound like the thing for the day.

I'll take my meds - because I forgot to take them before I went to work - And in an hour the Effexor will have me wide-eyed and bushy tailed. However, if I don't get any writing done today, I'm not going to cry or have a guilt trip because of it. I went to work and had a great day at work. That equals productive day to me!!

Oh! And I'm sketching an idea for the cover of the book. Which makes no sense, but NaNo has this spot to put a book cover for your novel. So I figured what the heck, I'd make a book cover for this story which has a title that... well... um, it will probably be changed after I figure out where this story is going and how it's getting there.

Anyway, I do the sketching on my breaks at work. So that's coming along nicely, too. :) Friends text me back and forth to help flesh out characters when I need to figure out some motivation. It's so much fun to brainstorm about stuff!

It's also a lot of fun to sleep. So there's that. But I AM writing. So yay!