Archive for ‘and people wonder why i'm crazy’

January 31, 2011

preexisting conditions

i read a post recently by The Bloggess.  if you’re not reading her blog, shame on you.  she is quite possibly the funniest and most honest woman on the internet.  in the post, titled “Coming Out”, she links to an amazing video on YouTube by a man named Michael Kimber in which he calls on those affected by mental illness to speak up and fight against the stigma that silences their suffering and prevents them from seeking and receiving the treatment they need to recover.

after reading her post and a number of posts that other bloggers have written to speak up about their own mental illness i debated writing my own story.  the whole point of this video is a call to action but it’s still scary to put it all in words with Labels and Diagnoses even though i’ve written about my struggles with insomnia and postpartum depression before.  i just posted a facebook status about my saggy post-pregnancy boobs, for crying out loud, but speaking up about my crazy brain is still tough.  i still wonder if people i know In Real Life (who don’t know the whole story, or who may not understand mental illness) read my blog and would be frightened or confused or judgmental.  yes, most of all it’s the judgment that frightens me.

so here it is.  here are the Labels i currently have or have had during the course of the past ten years since i first sought treatment for the Crazy; had i gotten help during the college years there certainly would have been a diagnosis of major depressive episode as well. but these afflictions are just part of me, they are definitely not the whole of me and right now i’ve got them pretty well managed.  i am so thankful that my OB/GYN was very supportive of me staying on medication during pregnancy and after my son’s birth so i did not have any postpartum depression this time around.  that alone is a huge testament to the power and necessity of medication, and speaks volumes about the need for open and honest communication about the prevalence of mental illness and the need for appropriate treatment.

i will likely be on medication, even if it’s just a small dose, every day for the rest of my life and i am okay with that.  my brain wiring is just a little wonky and needs a few extra chemicals to get the neurotransmitters firing the way they are supposed to.  i know i am not alone; there are millions of people out there who are also battling a sometimes-Crazy brain.  my hope is that someday everyone who needs treatment will get it without fear of judgment, or denied insurance, and without being made to feel as if they are flawed or broken.  i am speaking up and i hope you will too, and i hope that we can all listen to those who are brave enough to share their struggles so that someday soon we can finally de-stigmatize mental illness.

 

January 24, 2011

playing catch up

I wrote in my journal the other night:

going, going, going, but never gone. perpetually in the state of getting there, but never actually arriving at a destination.

I feel like life, these days, is all about spinning wheels. every day is pretty much just like the one that came before, and quite likely to be much the same as the one that comes next. this isn’t a complaint; spinning wheels isn’t necessarily a bad thing. the circuit is pleasant enough, and I am a fan of routine and predictability in general, but there are days when I get to bedtime and feel a sense of frustration at having not accomplished anything notable that day beyond feeding, diapering, entertaining two children. hell, there are days that simply making it to bedtime is a victory.

but I feel like I could be (should be?) doing more. and I’m not just referring to laundry, though that would be a good place to start. i look at other blogs and feel a sense of ineptitude. these other moms with their spotless, catalog-decorated houses with organized and labelled junk-drawers, showcasing their craft projects and culinary creations (in well-staged, perfectly lit photographs, naturally), tackling their lifelists with gusto and passion, canning food cultivated from their own backyard garden, homeschooling their kiddos, and still managing to shower and brush their hair every single day. I realize that these moms only show the slice of life that they choose to present to their audience, and underneath the glossy exterior they too (possibly?) have shamefully disorganized closets that burst forth upon opening, threatening to rain down an avalanche of wrapping paper tubes and never-used camping supplies. but that’s not the side we see, right? that’s not the life we’re trying to emulate in the short 24 hours we have each day. it’s hard to feel victorious when you can’t even tackle last week’s laundry and your husband is eating cereal for dinner again because last night’s dishes haven’t been washed yet.

how do real moms do it? not the perfectly coiffed moms behind sparkling, pretty blogs, but real moms who are just trying to manage the day-to-day to-do list of a normal family while simultaneously maintaining their sanity? help.

December 1, 2010

broken

I lie down and I can’t sleep.
I hate my brain.
I take a pill, and wait.
squeezing my eyes shut to keep them from popping open.
awake.
take another, and wait.
twitching, tossing, turning.
awake.
and another.
fuck me, this sucks.
it’s late and I’m still awake. he’s disappointed in me.
he doesn’t know that I’m disappointed with myself too.
so, I lie here awake,
cursing my fucking broken brain.

February 22, 2010

at what point is it appropriate to freak out?

dear pregnant-brain self,

hey, um, do you remember that time you had a newborn baby?  the one that cried a lot and didn’t sleep much?  specifically, do you remember that one thirty-six hour period in which said baby slept for only a total of SIX hours and wailed inconsolably for the remainder of that time if not being held and rocked in a state of constant movement?  and then how she was diagnosed with colic after that?  and then how you felt suicidal and homicidal and varying other degrees of murderous rage, and how you wanted to find the bastard who coined the term “sleep like a baby” and dig him (you know it was a man) up from his grave and torture him with sleep deprivation and then kill him again?  that was fun, wasn’t it?

you realize that your due date is only 66 days away, right?

at what point are you going to realize that it’s not just “we’re having another baby” but more like “holy shit, we’re going to HAVE ANOTHER BABY!  living in our house.  forever.”

here’s a paper bag.  breathe into it.  i’d advise you to put your head between your knees, but seeing as how you can’t even bend over to tie your shoes these days i’ll refrain.  who am i to mock a woman in your delicate condition?

but, hey, relax.  really.  it can’t be as bad the second time around, i’m sure.  they say lightning doesn’t strike twice, right?  or did i hear something about lightning strike victims being more likely to get struck a second time…hmm…hold on, let me google that.  can i get you a cocktail while you wait?  oh, right…no drinking while pregnant.  sorry about that.  more for me, i guess.  cheers!

anyhow, there’s no way baby #2 can be as difficult as baby #1, and even if he is as challenging, remember that you did survive it the first time, blessed be the power of Xanax and vodka.  plus, you’ll have your hands full dealing with a toddler this time around so the newborn lovemuffin is just going to learn that his mommy cannot tend to his all night scream-fest as she did with his older sister, unless he is actually being struck by lightning.

so don’t go hitting the panic button yet, lady, but maybe start lining up the troops of reinforcements you’ll need to help get you through this time.  start with grandma and grandpa (x2) but don’t forget our old pals zoloft, xanax, vodka, and wine.  you’ve got 66 days, give or take, to prepare yourself for the journey (drink!  oh, sorry.  that only applies when watching the bachelor) that lies ahead.  you can do it.  you may not see your sanity for the better part of two years (HA! as if you had a measurable amount of it to start with) but you will survive.

best of luck,

your better medicated self who speaks from a place of haunted memories

November 2, 2009

my brain, the panic room

this evening i had a mini panic attack about nothing. there was nothing specific that caused it, it just happened. that’s just the way it is sometimes. of course there are episodes that are triggered by specific causes – ask my husband about the time we flew through a storm from chicago to denver (i never even enter an airport without xanax, by the way) – but sometimes these little buggers just jump out of nowhere. fun times.

tonight i was just sitting in bed, putzing around on the internet (hey, internet! it’s all your fault) and i felt a sudden tightness in my chest. within minutes i was subconsciously panicking about having a heart attack, and i felt my heart start pounding, my breath became shallow and constricted, my throat tightened, my arm felt numb, and i tears welled in my eyes. the worry about panic spurns a frenzied fear of panic. it is just a vicious cycle that totally feeds on itself and feels completely out of my control.

i struggle with generalized anxiety. i’ve been “a worrier” all my life, but in the last 6 years or so i’ve had enough bouts of panic and overwhelming anxiety that it’s gone beyond just being uptight and dealing with general worry. i’m often able to identify the triggers in day to day life that cause my anxiety meter to go off. yesterday it was a missing marker cap. stupid, right? one of my daughter’s markers was missing a cap and i couldn’t think of anything else but the missing cap. where was it? i need to find it? searching high and low for a damn pen cap. the thought of a pen without a cap was making my mind race and my heart beat faster. i was experiencing extreme discomfort looking at seven tightly capped pens, and one lone pen missing its top. i’m getting better, in situations like this one, at asking myself, “what is the worst thing that can happen here? what is the worst thing that will happen if this pen goes capless?” no one will die. the pen will dry out. i will toss it in the trash. she will have an incomplete set of markers. end of story. learning to let go of the anxiety in these situations really takes a conscious effort, but after i jump that hurdle the anxiety usually abates. i thank the good lord zoloft for my ability to conquer these little daily anxieties.

being a therapist in my former life as a working gal, i tend to overanalyze my behavior and dig deeper into my issues. is this healthy? who knows. i ask myself, “what part of this anxiety is necessary for me to hold on to?” and “what purpose is this anxiety serving in my life?” i don’t really have answers to those questions other than to say that this is who i am. it is who i have always been. it’s all i’ve ever known. i cannot imagine a life in which i live free from anxiety. i know that there are many aspects of my behavior that are abnormal, but this is my normal. everyone worries, to some degree, but not everyone panics about incomplete sets of markers. i’ve always had this part of me; this is just how my brain is wired.

so, if this anxiety isn’t going away anytime soon, how do i deal with this? lately i’ve been working on just BEing with my anxiety. i’ve given it a name, mara, named after the demon who attempted to distract and destroy the buddha on his path to enlightenment. anxiety is my “evil one” that distracts me from living a nice, calm, happy existence. i’ve found that naming my anxiety helps me to acknowledge and address it when i feel it creeping in. it helps me assert a bit of control when i feel myself slipping into a sticky spiral of panic. also, i pause. not just when i’m anxious, but at various points throughout the day. i take a moment to close my eyes and breathe, taking note of my body and any sensations i might be feeling. i pay particular attention to my chest, stomach, and throat as those are places where i frequently feel tightness and discomfort when i’m feeling anxious. i try to let go of judgment of myself. this is a big one. i call it “a case of the shoulds”. i often find myself saying things like, “i should be doing laundry right now,” or “i shouldn’t allow my daughter to watch so much tv,” or “i should really be eating a salad instead of this cupcake,” or “i should get up and exercise.” all of these statements are bound with loads of judgment about what i am not doing right, or areas in which i feel flawed. they serve no purpose but to beat me down and make me feel like i’m not good enough, and then i become panicked about all my perceived failures. this is the biggest challenge for me, i think. i have such a hard time letting go of the word SHOULD and all its associated baggage. it’s a tough one because the “shoulds” are tied not only to my expectations of myself, but also to general societal expectations of me as a mother, a wife, a homemaker, and a woman. i have become very aware of these thoughts and i catch myself saying “i should….” more times than i can count, so i guess paying attention to this negative self talk is the first step towards actually doing something to change it. i also breathe, make lists, write, and take meds. all of these things together help me manage for the most part, though i will never be free of it.

i do worry that motherhood has increased my anxiety levels, but i guess that’s to be expected. i am responsible for the safety and wellbeing of a precious life…there’s a lot of pressure to not fuck it up. i’m sure you’re aware that toddlers are like whirling dervishes of crazy. i’m surrounded by frenetic energy and disarray all day long. just being around a two-year old makes one need a xanax and a glass of wine somedays. but, oh, were i not with child…such a cocktail sounds mighty sweet right about now. i do continue to take my doctor prescribed medications as prescribed during pregnancy. yes, that includes the crazy pills, and yes, this is a decision that my doctor, my husband, and i discussed and feel confident in. read what i wrote above…if i’m that nuts *with* medication, i don’t want to take a chance to see how i’d handle pregnancy and a toddler *without* medication. i think my wonky brain wiring would start to fizzle and destruct, like a cartoon robot overheating and blowing gaskets and bolts and springs.

so i feel like i’m managing it all pretty well. i’ve got some good coping skills. heck, i’ve had more than one doctor (of the “works with the crazies for a living” variety) tell me that i keep it all inside really well, that they would never have guessed that this wacky battle is being fought in my brain daily, because i seem so mellow and composed. friends have commented that i am so easygoing and laid back. oh, jump inside my brain, folks. you’ll come out spinning, or maybe rocking in the corner in the fetal position.

October 18, 2009

i’m neurotic because…

i have many odd, ritualistic, OCD behaviors; most of which are around eating, sleeping, smells, and matters of hygiene.

i don’t eat seafood.  anything that comes from a lake, river, ocean, pond, or stream is strictly off limits.

ditto on red meat.

the smell of popcorn makes me ill, and it takes all my self-control to keep myself from dry-heaving.  this is especially true during pregnancy, and i’ve had to make a hasty exit from two different stores in the past week because of the smell.  (target, i’m looking at you.)

i cannot sleep without a thick slathering of rosebud salve on my lips.

i also cannot sleep without the aid of ambien, but that’s another story with a whole other list of neuroses.

my bedsheets have to be perfectly smooth, the covers have to be evenly weighted on all sides of the bed, and the pillows have to be precisely positioned every night.

i love pretty much all fruit, but i think papayas and persimmons are totally nasty.

scented laundry makes me want to vomit.  when i smell the neighbors’ dryer vent i want to knock on their door and hand them a bottle of free+clear detergent and box of unscented dryer sheets.

air fresheners, room sprays, scented plug-ins…also make me sick.

my nighttime flossing, brushing, rinsing routine can easily take 20 minutes.

i have an irrational fear of losing my teeth and needing dentures someday.

flossing is damn near orgasmic.  same goes for ear cleaning.

the list of foods i dare not eat is much longer than the list of foods i do eat.

when showering, i can only turn to my left when moving from front-rinse to back-rinse.  turning right feels all sorts of wrong and i have to turn immediately to the left to correct the imbalance i feel.

i have a super-spidey sense of smell.  we bought a used car months ago and i can detect the smell of the previous owner’s cologne on it still.  my husband insists that there is no scent whatsoever but i can smell it outside the car with the windows up and the doors closed.  drives me fucking nuts.

drinking water out of a glass skeeves me out.  i prefer to drink it out of a camelbak bottle.  even if it’s the exact same water.

April 17, 2009

if i'm going to rehab, i'm taking my friends with me

cnn.com ran a story today about why moms run the risk of becoming addicted to the internet.  according to an addiction expert,  many moms are addicted to blogs and message boards, and they use their web addiction “as a way to escape problems.”  the article also notes that these mothers point to their accumulating piles of unwashed laundry and poor hygiene as evidence of this harrowing dependency.

let me note a few things:

  • this article was brought to my attention by one of my “internet friends”  
  • my first reaction, albeit in jest, was “ha!  i am totally going to blog about this” and then i realized that i was probably missing the point of the article. 
  • i have not showered today.  i’ve been meaning to, but i haven’t figured out a way to waterproof my laptop.
  • laundry?  what laundry.  i don’t see any laundry.  let me climb up on top of this mountainous heap of dirty clothes to get a better view.   

but let me also say that i would not survive motherhood without the aid and support of my “internet friends”.  i would have gone crazy (okay, crazier) if not for the connections i made through message boards and online communities, and the girls i met online have become the most amazing group of real-life friends i’ve ever known.  call it an addiction, call it dependence, but i would be lost if not for the internet and the friends i’ve made because of it.  i may have dishes in the sink, dog hair on the floor, and laundry piled up to the rafters, but i also have an outlet for my thoughts, a means of connecting to other real-live non-toddler human beings, and the most amazing group of friends that a marginally-internet-addicted stay-at-home-mom could ever ask for.  do you think they have wi-fi in detox?

January 29, 2009

i wish apple made toothbrushes

i could probably send a text message from my iphone while blindfolded, driving 75 miles per hour (just kidding…i don’t text and drive), while simultaneously searching googlemaps for directions and looking for a specific song on a specific playlist, but i can’t figure out how to work a damn electric toothbrush? thefuck? i got the oral-b triumph with SmartGuide because i needed a new gadget like i need another hole in my head, and also because my dentist guilted me into buying it. it’s supposed to be the most high-tech toothbrush on the planet and wirelessly monitors your brushing habits with a handy dandy LCD screen gizmo thingamajig (see, i am totally tech-savvy), but for some reason i can’t get the toothbrush to communicate with the guide. i even googled “oral-b triumph smartguide help what the fuck is wrong with my toothbrush and why did i waste money on this piece of crap” to see what i could find, and i got nothing. the LCD screen displays the time and shows a picture of the toothbrush, but it doesn’t do the 2-minute countdown like it’s supposed to or show me the little icon of a tooth being swept with a feather to indicate that i am brushing in sensitive mode as my dentist instructed me to do. i’ve tried unplugging and replugging, taking the batteries out and putting them back in (both of which are scientifically proven techniques for fixing modems, dvd players, toaster ovens, and PC load letter errors), switching brush heads, and cursing the good name of oral-b and its subsidiaries. so far nothing has worked. why is there no option-command-esc on my toothbrush?

January 28, 2009

oh, hello. what's new with you?

so, um. yeah. i got a new toothbrush today. that was pretty exciting. and i got to nibble on the most munchable, crunchable, squishable, heaven-scented (and perhaps heaven sent?) wrinkly newborn baby goodness today. lil’ miss ivy adeline is adorable. i cursed myself for only bringing my purse with me, as i quickly realized that a messenger bag or tote would have been far more suitable for carrying out my scheme to purloin molly’s baby. purloin…that’s a nice word. much sweeter sounding than “abduct”, and less likely to carry felony charges, don’t you think? kidnapping, schmidnapping….”i was only borrowing the baby, officer. honest. she was just too cute and snuggly to put down so i had to take her home with me.” great. now i’ve gone and red-flagged myself and molly will never, ever ask me to babysit her child.

so, what else? i had a birthday. i’ve had 31 of them now, well, technically 32 if you count my actual BIRTH day. either way, i’m not 30 anymore. i’m sliding towards 40 already. i did have a little realization the other day that i am now as old as my mother was when i was born, and i was her third child. she had my brother when she was 27, my sister at 29, and me at 31. i have one baby. that is fine with me. i can’t imagine having three by this age…and back then she was considered ooooooollllllddddd for a mom. true story: my mom was considered to be “the spinster career girl” in her family because she had not yet wed or reproduced by the time she was 23. OH THE HORROR! being a liberated woman in the 70s must have been hard work when you’ve been raised on a farm to be a good quaker gal. go mom! way to get yourself all university educated and becoming a city girl and stuff before settling down to a life of cooking and cleaning, adventures in child rearing, and minivans.

and yet another new thing – gosh, i am just chock full of happenings – i dyed my hair again yesterday (yes at home, yes from a box).  if the box states “darkest black brown” on it and is called something like “sweetest cola” and your pre-dye color is light brown with brassy reddish tones….it is pretty much going to be very, very dark.  i feel quite mysterious, like i’m in disguise or something.  sadly, the disguise i would most convincingly pull off these days is that of Snow White.  i like the change, change is good, we’re full swing in the era of change now, no?  the new darker, goth-er me will just take a little getting used to, and perhaps a new choppy chop to make it look better.  i have been in desperate need of a haircut anyway.

so, at the risk of sounding completely narcissistic (oooh, i got it right on the first try.  that’s a tough one for me to spell) i’ve been having weird blog-related thoughts.  let me see if i can explain.  this is going to sound totally lame because i have a readership of, oh, about 2 people, but the whole concept of Blogging (with a big B) and exposing myself to the world suddenly started impacting me in a weird way.  not as in i was worried that i was sharing too much, or had concerns about my thoughts being part of the public world.  it was sort of the opposite.  i found myself constantly thinking “hmmm, i should blog about this.  how can i turn this into a clever post that i can share as an example to highlight my life?” and the “this” in that sentence was usually something as exhilarating as making coffee.  why on earth would i think that there are people out there who would find my morning coffee routine even remotely interesting.  and then!  it gets worse.  i started to daydream that all my actions were being “followed” by a camera crew, or that i was being interviewed by Oprah about my adventures on my new reality show….it’s going to be called “my so-called mundane, but in my head i am SPECTACULAR, life.”  tune in.  it’s going to be…..boring.  so that was just a really long way of explaining that i feel like i am living in my head too much, thinking about how i will be viewed by my imaginary “audience” and it’s starting to freak me out.  i’m sure my therapist friends (kristen, kristina, shannon…bust out those DSM-IVs and get me a diagnosis STAT!) will have a field day looking into the inner quirky workings of my neurotic mind since i’ve touched on narcissism, paranoia, delusions of grandeur, cognitive distortion, and possibly hallucinations in just one short paragraph.  (note to self: remember to take your meds, dear.  we like you better when you’re less crazy.  love, self)  oh, and after that last sentence, you can add dissociative identity disorder to the list.  

so, now that i’m all caught up, with words, anyway, i will start back into picture posting soon.  i’m changing my mindset around my goal of the 365 project and i’m making it the “as many as i can in 365 but it’s okay if i skip a few days project.”  

we’ve got house projects coming up….whoohoo hold your excitement for those before and after pics!  i’m working on setting some goals for some personal projects i’d like to tackle, so i will be updating here as i try to hold myself accountable for making changes and sticking to them.  

i’m thirty-one, time to get shit done.  i should create a masthead for that.  or maybe just a t-shirt.

January 16, 2009

how many inappropriate google hits will i get if i talk about rectal emergencies?

it’s two o’clock in the morning and i just, heroically, i might add, performed immediate, emergent care on two out of the four assholes (literally) who  live in this house.  my baby had been struggling to sleep, and kept waking, crying.  i went in and soothed her….two minutes…up again, the crying begins again, i go in and soothe her again. i do a quick “sniff test” to make sure it’s not a diaper issue.  nothing smells afoul, so i carry on to bed… two minutes later, i’m resorted to let her cry for a while since she was so pleasant during our previous crib side visits,  and the earlier sniff test proved to be inconclusive .  

she’s still crying, and the sound is one of pain and discomfort.  my husband goes in and found her straining to have a bowel movement.  (isnt’ this exactly why you read personal blogs?  to learn all about children’s bowel movements and irregularity?)  with her diaper off i could see the problem quite clearly.  she was stopped up like a giant cork in a too-small bottle.  with a little quick thinking, mama sprang to action, armed only with q-tips and baby wipes, nary a rectal thermometer in site to help get things moving.  i got right in there, doing what ever i could to relieve my baby’s pain and discomfort.  if it required manual extraction, so be it.  i was prepared, and i got it done.  

after that crisis was averted, i was greeted by a morose dog with her tail between her legs.  this is a great indicator of when she’s done something wrong.  she has an overbearing guilt complex and a terrible poker face.  you can take one look at her and know when she’s done something naughty.  i tried to lift her tail — this was my A!HA! moment of the day and it has to do with my dog’s asshole.  terrific.  so i tried to lift her tail again and she wouldn’t allow it.  she is typically a very compliant patient when she needs her teeth cleaned, nails trimmed, medicine administered, so it was quite out of character that she would not let me see the area under her tail and around her poop chute. it was raw and blistered and excreting goo of sorts.  maybe it would have been more helpful to have had that A!HA! moment two weeks ago when my dog first starting compulsively licking her girlybits.  the fact that i’ve taken to calling her “rudy buttlicker” should have been a big red flag letting me know that something was not quite right below the belt, so to speak, if dogs were to wear belts.  anyhow, antibiotic ointment has been applied.  hopefully she’ll leave her ass-licking tongue away from it long enough for the medicine to work its magic, and she’ll be clean and smelling as fresh as a regular dog’s ass by morning. 

so after all that rectal excitement, and not in a good way, i’m off to bed.  i hope these two crazy ass kiddos sleep peacefully.