Turning a corner

Things have been feeling…different.  Good different.  G and I are back from our camping trip.  Before we left, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about it, which was a sign of the times.  I wasn’t enthusiastic about anything.  Thank goodness he was totally into doing all of the heavy lifting for the trip and was not at all put off by my lack of initiative.  I knew intellectually at the time that this trip would be good for me, but I wasn’t feeling the love. Somehow I just knew that being out in the bush, miles and miles away from cell access or even a road, would be good for me.  The idea of only having to focus on the basics — food, clothing, shelter — was very, very appealing.

We had to paddle for three hours to get to our site.  There were a lot of peaceful silences. At moments I just lost myself in the rhythm of my stroke.  As I got tired I just kept my eye on the horizon, and thought about how good it would feel to be on dry land again.  That was about as complicated as my thoughts got.  When we finally saw, through binoculars, a good site, my heart jumped a little blip of joy.  I was ready to get out of that boat.

And when I did get out of the boat, I was quietly proud of myself.  I had paddled 13 km, when I’d barely ever been in a kayak before.

The next few days were simply about making food, building fires, and exploring our lake. It was bliss.

I was happy to finally get home.  A hot shower, a glass of wine on my porch, unloading the dishwasher, laundry galore.  I caught myself doing this things not just with ease, but with a sense of contentment and satisfaction.

What changed?  Who knows.  Time passing, my self-induced drop in Seroquel dose perhaps.  All I know is that I feel better and that’s what matters.

 

 

Zombieland

I am weary, and frustrated.  I feel like…nothing.  I don’t feel happy, I don’t feel sad.  I feel flat.  I don’t care about much except how lousy I am feeling.   I feel like I am watching conversations and only nominally participating in them.  Very, very detached. And zero motivation to get anything done.  Even things I have to do, like show up at work on time.  I took a sick day yesterday just because I couldn’t bear getting out of bed.  Today, I managed to get out of bed and still make it in for 9:00 a.m., but it was difficult.  I made it through half the day before coming home to bingewatch Homeland on Netflix.

I am wishing I had called my pdoc’s office earlier today to see if I could get a cancellation, rather than waiting another two weeks.  I guess I can call first thing tomorrow.  

I wonder if it is the Effexor or the Seroquel.  My guess is the Seroquel.  I have been on Effexor in the past and it didn’t give me this zombie feeling.  I’m at 300 mg of Seroquel now.  I wonder if I should cut back.  Of course, common sense tells me to not change anything without talking to a pdoc first.

I just don’t know how long I can go on feeling this way. 

I. Give. Up.

I don’t know if I am more angry or frustrated or just plain old defeated right now.

The kids are 12 1/2 and 14 now.  They’re at an awkward age when it comes to summer and what to do with them.  Most of their friends aren’t doing any sort of camp.  They’re either vacationing or just hanging around the house, or spending the days with friends doing what preteens that age do.  My kids are no exception.  They spent the first two weeks of summer doing exactly that.  

But then, brilliant me, thought it would be a good idea for them to also do a week of something structured, which meant, yes, a day camp.  Neither of them have ever been wild about camp.  I spent the first 10 years of their lives as a SAHM, so I never needed camps for childcare.  It has only been the last couple of summers that I’ve been working.  Anyhow, their thoughts about camp are that they pretty much hate it.  It may as well be school, no matter how much I try to tailor the choice of camps to their interests…it feels like an obligation to them.  It may as well be school, they protest.  

Anyhow, I went ahead a few weeks back and enrolled them in camp for this week.  Drama camp for her, movie making camp for him.  They both are interested in these things, so I thought I had chosen well.  I dropped them off this morning without too much protest, and worried all day about what they’d report to me at pick-up.

The girl?  She HATES it.  Hates the counsellors, says the other kids are way too young and that she has nothing in common with them.  According to her she is “by far” the oldest at 14- the next oldest kid is 11, and the youngest is 9.  I found this surprising as it was supposed to be for 11-15 year olds.  Oh well.  The boy was sitting in a corner of the gym playing on his DS with a girl when I picked him up.  He moaned a bit, but he is more easy going than his sister.

By the time we got home, she had completely worn me down.  She, in her oh-so-Aspie way, went on and on and fucking on about how horrible it was.  I tried to present positives to her, but she would have none of it.  

And then I gave up.

I said, fine, you don’t have to go.

This put me in a delicate position with her brother.  How could I make him go when she didn’t have to? I know he dislikes it just as much, but he doesn’t persevere the way she does.  

So I said to myself, fuck it.  I can’t deal with her negativity like this for a whole week.

But then, then I was angry.  I don’t know who more at- myself, for giving in, or her, for, let’s face it, being what she is.  New social situations are difficult for her at the best of times, let alone ones where she is so cognizant of standing out like that.  

I just have to accept, $400 later, that I blew this one.  

Lesson learned?  I am not sure what.  Argh.

 

Not here, not there

I have had a really bizarre day.  Woke up waaaaay too late, at almost 11:00 a.m. (thank you Seroquel) and felt like I’d lost half the day.  It’s been humid and rainy, not the best kind of weather for my mood.  I managed to take the kids downtown to the mall where the girl wanted to use a gift card she’d received for her birthday.  Then to a friend’s to watch the World Cup final (I am totally a fair weather fan), a few groceries, and now I’m thinking about the week ahead.

Through it all though, I have managed to feel…nothing.  Not good, not bad.  I feel a bit spaced out.  It’s not exactly fatigue, it is more like there’s a deep stillness within me.  Like I am sitting back and watching life happen.  And with it comes a strong dose of…I don’t give a shit.  Apathy.  

I don’t like it.  I don’t like not feeling.  

It almost makes me long for the days I had acute anxiety- because with a little white pill I could get some relief.  

This is different.

On the surface, I am managing.  I get the basics done.  But there’s nothing left after that.  No enjoyment or enthusiasm for anything extra.  I feel like I am watching life happen, and waiting, waiting for something to change except that I don’t even have that acute longing.  

I wish I had a name for this state (anhedonia?  apathy?).  It is neither here nor there.  

I go through the motions in the meanwhile, count the days until my next visit to the psychiatrist.  I am wondering if this Effexor/Seroquel combo is just not for me.  I am not in crisis any more, but I am definitely not feeling the happy, or the energy, yet.  I miss that.  So, so much.

 

 

 

Let it go

I had my 4th CBT session today.  We are really getting into the nitty-gritty of it- pinning down what my automatic thoughts are when I am feeling certain moods.  It is more challenging than I thought and I totally see why this is an approach that is all about practice, practice and more practice.  

So the scenario we focused on today was probably my most common of late — waking up in the morning with a sense of dread and heaviness, of sadness and disappointment.  I wake up this way pretty much every morning to some degree or other, though I have to admit it has slowly gotten better over the last few weeks.  Typically I wake up this way, and then my day improves as it goes on.  

I had a difficult time pinning down what my thoughts are behind these moods but I did come up with a few things:

  • I am always going to feel depressed.
  • I am a disappointment and failure in life.
  • I cannot do it all.

And then I was stuck.

So Julie, my therapist, just let me talk for awhile.  I ended up talking a lot about obligation.  The feeling of everything being an obligation that I dread.  Making breakfast.  Coming up with a fun plan for the kids when I get home from work.  Work itself.  Even ‘fun’ things, like plans to have coffee with a friend feel like an obligation.  

And then she asked me, “What does obligation mean to you?”

I said it meant feeling tested, and it being a weight on me.

I have perfectionistic tendencies, though I don’t talk that talk.  I look at my children and other people and I always know that to truly love someone, you love them warts and all.  That is fine and dandy, except I seem to not allow myself any warts.  I have to be perfect.  

My mother, in subtle and not so subtle ways, taught me this from a young age.  I had to be the nice, quiet little girl.  I had to get top grades.  I had to study what my parents wanted me to study, so that I could make them proud.  They were typical immigrants, hard-working and never ones to squander an opportunity for improvement.  They were committed to giving me a good life, free of the hardships that they endured, and they had a very specific idea of what that would look like.   It was well-meaning, but absolutely suffocating.  The piano lessons that I really wanted whenI was 8?  No, you don’t learn piano unless you plan to become a world-class concert pianist.  And, chromegurl, you never finish what you start, so forget that!  

I learned from a young age that it was easier to put up, shut up, and give them what they wanted.  I never rebelled.  I quietly did what I had to do on the surface, to make them happy.  And when it came to things that I knew would make *me* happy, I did them completely under the radar so as to not rock the boat.  It was only well into adulthood that I began asserting myself and my true needs more.  But there still things that I don’t share with my mother.  It just isn’t worth it.  She has dementia and lives in her own alternate universe much of the time.  It would just be cruel and confusing to her.  

But…back to obligations.  I always did what was expected of me…out of a sense of…you guessed it…OBLIGATION!  

I have homework.  I need to think about obligation, commitment, etc.  Come up with some definitions. Continue creating thought records.  And, most significantly, try to let go of some of the things I consider obligatory.  As in, why is it my job for me to figure out ways to entertain my 12 and 14 year olds?  They are old enough to come up with a plan.  I am to simply set up the parameters for them (for example, no screen-time during the afternoon) and let them come up with something.  

Let go, let go, let go…will I be able to? 

 

 

 

Gratitude

Ok, I am trying a mental mind-shift. I woke up feeling…ok. But just. Then the hypervigilant thoughts started creeping in, looking for something to feel bad/anxious about. Well, fuck that noise. There is good in my world and it is right there, in front of me. I just need to remind myself of it.

So, without further ado, in completely random order…I am grateful for:

  • my happy kids
  • this sunny day
  • really great, awesome girlfriends who are always watching my back
  • G, who is riding this storm right beside me
  • meds– yeah, they’re not doing exactly what I want, not yet, but they are doing something right
  • living so close to a beach, where we are off to this afternoon
  • my home, especially my bedroom, which is my sanctuary
  • summer holidays
  • my job and all the flexibility that comes with it
  • the delicious Thai chicken in the slow cooker that will be tonight’s dinner
  • having a regular psychiatrist and an awesome therapist

I am looking forward to this afternoon at the beach.  Just me, one of my favorite girlfriends, and our kids.  Lazy and easy.

 

 

Comme ci, comme ca…

It has been an interesting time for me. I went back for my third appointment with my psychiatrist a few days ago. I told her that yes, I am doing better when compared to a month ago, but I am still not where I should be.

What is better: the acute anxiety, the ability to get things done that I need to do. I even have moments where I am content. No joy, but…content.

What is not better: motivation. There is still a dearth of that. Yes, I can get the basics of life done. I’m not going to be fired from my job nor is the public health department going to come to my house and issue a citation. I even manage to slap some makeup on most mornings. But, there is no zing. No sense of, helloooo new day! No happy anticipation of good things to come. And with that comes a distinct lack of energy. It wasn’t that long ago that I worked out four times a week and absolutely loved it. Even the idea of that feels hard right now. And I still get overwhelmed when some new challenge falls in my path. As if I can only handle so much.

So we upped the Effexor to 225 mg, upped the Seroquel to 300 mg. I go back to her in four weeks. We shall see.

I didn’t have the kids with me last week. I spent it, as I always do on my off weeks, with G. He is in recovery from the end of the school year, as I think most teachers are. We didn’t do a heck of a lot, which suited me just fine. A strange thing happened though towards the end of the week. I started to feel antsy, a bit anxious even. He can’t wait for us to be married, in the same house. And while I do love him, right now that feels like an enormous pressure. I have talked to him about this and he was very supportive of just kind of being until I am through this. But this week there was talk of moving and wedding rings and all that. Probably because he senses that in many ways I am doing better, which I am. I think though I need to just be, just enjoy us as we are for awhile. That means without pressure. I just need to find a way to articulate this to him…and my dear friend E is right. I am a pleaser and I owe it to myself to make sure that I am doing this because it is the right thing for me. Not just because he wants it.

Oy vey.

In the meanwhile the kids are back with me and I am really glad about that. I think they are too. We had a good breakfast (bacon!) together this morning and a mostly a lazy day planned. Maybe we will do a water park tomorrow, the weather looks promising.