I can do this.

I am fed up with how I feel and look.

I have gained 40 lb in two years and I am not happy about it.  It was nesting into new relationship, stress galore caused by my ex-h’s drama, Seroquel, and too much wine to either numb (during the week) or celebrate (at the end of the week).

I am trying to not be all-or-nothing in my thinking.  This is always a set-up for failure with me.  Intellectually, I know it is all about small changes that add up.  Lifestyle.  Blah blah blah.  I know it will help with keeping depression and anxiety at bay.  I am doing alright, but I could be doing better in the mood department and it is time to take next steps beyond meds and therapy.

So, today I’m riding my bike to work.  It won’t be pretty.  But I just have to get there and then get home.  And I know how my brain works.  Once I’m on it and going I will love it.

Here I go.  I can do this.

Detachment, Depletion, and Subjugation

(How’s that for a light and fluffy title?)

There’s a certain conversation I’ve had with many of the professionals involved in my daughter’s care.  She has struggles, of course.  Right now, school and studying are front and centre as we head into exam time.

While she’s extremely bright (like over 95th percentile bright in her psych ed testing) she struggles with the typical things that many people with ASD and/or ADHD struggle with- executive functioning, organization, working through things slowly and methodically, dealing with frustration when things aren’t easy.  It drives her nuts when I say this, but she really does have the potential to do so well.  She interprets this as pressure.

Thing is, she doesn’t because, at the end of the day, she really doesn’t care.  I have to cajole and humour and convince.  She resists.  Then we devolve into yelling, frustration on both ends, and when it’s really bad, tears.  The bottom line, as her psychologist Dr. B has told me so many times…is that I can’t make her care.  It will happen when she wants it to happen. She will reap both the rewards and the consequences of her actions.

Dr. B is always quick to remind me as well that she’s not just a kid with ASD,  she is a typical, defiant almost-15 year old girl and well who is wont to disagree with her parents at every possible opportunity.  Like it is for sport.  Because that’s what almost-15 year olds do.

Better to let her fail now, and understand what that means now, rather than later, Dr B tells me.  My head knows this is right.  But it goes against what I want for her as my child.  I want my child to be happy, successful, capable, fulfilled.

Then I catch myself–all those sentences up there begin with I.  It’s all about me.  This is where I wonder if I am projecting.  If I want her success to be my definition of success.  Then I think about her holding down a job, having to pay bills, meeting her basic needs–and I start to get anxious. And then between the two of us, our collective anxiety spirals up and up until one or both of us has a meltdown of some kind.  This is never pretty.

So the only thing I can realistically counsel myself to do is detach, detach, detach.  Caring while not investing my very being into it, letting her lead her own way, with positive, gentle support and guidance from me in the background.  Remembering that my job is to create a healthy environment to facilitate her own good decision making, give her the right tools–and then remembering that it is up to her at the end of it all to pick up those tools and use them.

***

Too much focus and anxiety over her well-being also has done me harm. It has been a rough two years.  Ex-h’s drama did a number on me, then realizing that he is a narcissist has totally reframed how I deal with him now, and what our relationship was about.  It took me a long time to figure out the latter, and I’m still stunned (and a bit disappointed in myself) that it took me that long to figure him out.

It is time for me to step back and engage in some serious self-care.  I’ve been good at it at various points in my life, but at some point something has always derailed me.  I can’t afford to let that happen any more.  I can’t subjugate my needs to the changing tides of others.

Tomorrow June 1, is day one.  I am going to start by doing something good for me every single day.  I don’t know what it’ll be, big or small, but I have to feel like I am enriching myself in some way.

I’m also starting a new meds tweak – my pdoc has added Wellbutrin.  She thinks it might help with my lack of energy and motivation.  I sure hope so. I am tired of being tired, always being in a rush but walking through mud at the same time.

Wish me luck, oh internets…

Suicidal ideation

I’m at the local children’s hospital, with my daughter. After a particularly epic meltdown, she told me that she sometimes thought about killing herself. She said that she knows how much of a burden she is to me, to her father, and to her brother.

I have to take this seriously, which explains why we are here, surrounded by sniffling toddlers and weary parents. Every once in a while I glance up and see someone staring, then quickly looking away. I don’t even bother trying to hide my tears. We all have a story, after all.

I feel lost, stuck, scared, worried, hopeless. I wonder about her future, if she will ever be able to tear herself from the internet to make a meal, get to a job on time, or even just brush her teeth. Her internet addiction is that bad.

She has told me over and over that she escapes to her devices because she’s learned to use them as a coping mechanism for the huge anxiety she feels. I believe her, but I don’t think it’s the full story. She doesn’t care about marks, about brushing teeth, about picking up the piles of garbage that quickly accumulate in her room. All she cares about is connecting with her online friends, who live in many different time zones. It doesn’t matter that she has a test tomorrow or a dishwasher to empty.

Her brother is miserable. He can’t stand being around all the conflict. I feel guilty because some days I literally don’t have energy to parent him. When the kids are with me, he wants to go back to his dad’s to escape her, and when they’re at my ex’s, my son wants to be in the peace of my house.

That’s when I catch myself thinking, she’s right – she IS a burden. But she doesn’t get that I do everything I do because I so badly want to see her happy, to see her build a life.

I’m so sad and I don’t think there is any clear path for me to take.

Stormy weather

The weather in my part of the world has been messed up lately.  Two weeks ago it was sweltering hot, spaghetti straps and flip-flops weather.  A week ago people were wearing boots and winter jackets.  Today it started off windy, humid and threatening to rain.  Then it poured, like a monsoon. And then, sun!  Sun and *cool*.  Like the weather gods just can’t make up their fucking mind.

And, neither can I.  I am in a constant self-assessment mode it seems. Mostly I hover around feeling ok, but just ok.  Often I feel a non-specific anxiety.  Very often I feel bored and unmotivated, but if I push myself, I can get stuff done.  Sometimes, but just sometimes, I feel happy.  I am happiest at the end of a work week, happiest when I am shuffling the kids off to their dad’s for their week with him (yes it does make me feel guilty to be glad they are leaving), happiest when I don’t have anything pressing on my that I have to do.

I’m better, but not quite there.

I have decided that I hate the Seroquel and am pretty much going to insist I go off of it when I go back to the pdoc in a couple of weeks.  I have gained 15 lb on it.  It makes getting up in the morning impossible.  I mentioned switching to Wellbutrin (which I’ve been on before) as an adjunct to the Effexor instead of the bleeping Seroquel, and she wasn’t against it.  We agreed though to try cutting the Seroquel in half first.  Well, I did that and I am as groggy as ever in the morning, and my appetite is still carb-craving ravenous.  I. hate. Seroquel.  And that’s that.

Anyhow, I’m not giving up until then.  I’m going to try in the meanwhile to cut out as many carbs as I can and get in some more exercise.  I’m not going to drink during the week- aside from the temptation to self-medicate, it’s just too many damn calories.  I’m going to make sure I get enough sleep and pack healthy lunches for work.

Which is why on this cool, rainy Sunday evening I am on my porch, sipping a Bloody Caesar.  I love the promise of Mondays and new beginnings.

In other news…

This week will be challenging.  I am going from working 3 days a week right up to a full 5.  I was offered a job with a different organization in my building in addition to the one I already have, doing much the same thing. I am excited yet scared at the same time.  It will be intense the weeks I have the kids, like this one.  Less so when I am not.  It has been 14 years since I worked full-time, egads.  Since before I had kids.

This is what the real world is though.  Jobs and kids and problems and little bits of joy in there when you can grab them.  I am going to try, try hard to make this, all of this, work.  I owe it to myself.

Plugging along

So.

It is pretty safe to say I am doing well with respect to living in depression/anxiety land.  Sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m a bit sad, much of the time I’m somewhere in the middle.  But I am definitely not where I was a few months ago.

The Seroquel thing is still bugging me.  I don’t feel the apathy that I did when I was at a higher dose, but it is hard as fuck to get up in the morning still.  And, that’s not going to fly for long.  The kids are back in school and every second week I need to be up at 6:45 – stat.  Not to mention that as of next month I will be working a full 5 days per week – go ME.  One step closer to financial emancipation from the ex-husband.  So….there will be less slack in my schedule.  Working 5 days is a far cry from 3.  I will have to up my game, and the Seroquel is not helping to that end.  I brought up the idea of switching it up to Wellbutrin at my last appointment, and my lovely pdoc kind of nodded her head, and said yes, that’s a possibility, but lets lower the dose of Seroquel first.  Two weeks in, I guess I am getting up, but it is still hell.  And I am still 10 lb up from where I was when this whole fiasco started.

The thing I haven’t talked about to *anyone* is my drinking.  I am drinking most nights.  I have anywhere from 2 to 3 glasses and it helps me unwind. Most of the time, dare I say, it makes me feel happier.  It makes me less anxious, easier going.  I know this is not good.  Not good as a coping mechanism, not good from a weight loss perspective…just not good.

So that makes me think, maybe my depression isn’t being adequately treated…if I still feel this need to unwind at the end of the day.  But really, I just think I have developed a habit.  A habit that is less than healthy.

Anyhow.

I got the promotion I wanted.  And now I am scared.  There will be that much less room for slack in my life.  I’m a single parent 50% of the time. One of my kids is fairly needy.  My ex is a benign presence.  I am functionally responsible for the kids’ lives in so many ways.  I schedule the dental and other appointments, I submit all the claims to not one but *two* insurance companies and follow up when something goes wonky.  I make sure their bike helmets still fit, check to see if last year’s snowsuits will do, arrange for music lessons.  I am the Operations Manager of our kids.  He pays for things when I ask him to.  He is flexible with our schedule when I need him to be and buys things for them when I ask him to.  It could be worse – I never lose sight of that.  But I am Captain Kirk of this family and I think, whether he resents me for it or not, he very much knows it and, furthermore, prefers it that way.

I am rambling, probably because I am tired and wired and coming to the end of a crazy, two-week sprint with the kids.

Next week is for me.  For working and puttering and catching up and just watching Netflix and snuggling with my awesome hunky man.

Over and out.

Click

Medications are funny things.  

Years ago, when I had my last major depressive episode, my GP put me on Lexapro.  I waited for it to kick in.  And waited.  And waited, worrying all the while that nothing would ever help me, nothing would ever change, and that this thing called life was all an exercise in futility.

Then, pretty much at the four week mark, I woke up one morning and jumped out of bed.  It was a beautiful, sunny fall day, one of those rare perfect weather days in my neck of the woods.  I was happy.  Click — like a light switch.  I was depressed one day, and then the next, not.

It didn’t last however,  a month or so later it pooped out.  My doctor increased my dosage and then, a couple of weeks later, I had another click day.  Happy!  

The next few months were kind of like this.  Happy, then not.  I got in somewhere along the way with an excellent psychiatrist.  He added Wellbutrin to my mix, and that took care of the poop-out.  After that we spent the next few months tweaking things not so much for my mood, which was fine by this point, but to combat side effects like weight gain and sexual side effects.

And now years later, I am coming out of another depressive episode.  But, unlike last time, there has been no click.  My improvement has been subtle and gradual.  When I tried to describe the difference, she nodded.  And she went further to say that with the gradual improvement comes a firmer, more lasting benefit.  In other words, it takes awhile to get there but it sticks.  

Three months in, I am feeling more secure and content that I have in ages.  Do I have bad days?  Yes.  But I now have an artillery of coping strategies that I have learned to carry me through them, as well as a firm belief that moods are temporary.  They come, and they go.  And when I don’t like the one that is visiting me, making me uncomfortable, I pull something out of my artillery.  I focus on the basics (my mantra – food, clothing, shelter), nothing more, and try to be as gentle and compassionate with myself as I can.  I do a mood record (thank you, CBT!) and a hot bath, and get to bed early, because sleep is ground zero.  

And then the next day, things are better.  Not click better, not usually, but better.  

 

 

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.

 

 

Rainy Tuesday

It has been a dark, rainy, super-humid kind of day.  

Normally this day would make my mood worse.  Like many, I am happiest in bright sunshine…whether it is the peak of summer heat, or one of those icy cold but blindingly bright January days.  Light = happy.  Today though felt different, as in, it felt much like the weekend, when it was bright and sunny and I still felt like crap.  Oddly, I feel less crappy feeling crappy on a gloomy day, rather than feeling crappy on a beautiful, warm perfect-weather kind of day.  That’s when I feel most like a loser for feeling depressed.

That all said, I am pretty certain that today, on paper at least, was a better day than yesterday.  Yesterday, I did not go to the gym.  I got up, got the kids off to school, and promptly went to bed for another two hours.  In the afternoon I was a bit more productive- I booked the kids into their day camps, made some phone calls that needed to be made regarding the girl, folded some laundry.  

I cried a fair bit, too.  And, like every other day this past week, I took an Ativan to take off the edge.

Days like these it feels like a relief to make it to evening, to see the responsibilities of the day behind me.  To leave a mostly-clean kitchen behind, lunches made for the next day, and to quietly retreat to my bed/haven upstairs.  By the time I get under the covers, I feel mostly calm.  Not happy, but calm.

Today I got out the house and into work on time.  I was reasonably productive.  I ran a bunch of errands after work without getting myself too worked up about it, including taking the boy on an impromptu trip to the mall (which I am so not loving these days).  I hate saying no to the things the kids want to do though because of my depression, so I am proud that I did that for him.  We then came home, made dinner, and I am now winding down.

One week from tomorrow I go back to the psychiatrist.  This is my beacon of hope right now.  I am trying to not overanalyze or judge myself from now until then.  I am not a failure if I need a bit of benzo to get me through, because the important thing is that I get through.

I so, so, so want to feel joy again.  To be happy when I face a new morning.  To look forward to something, anything.  

I felt like this once upon a time.  That used to be my normal.  I have been through depression three times already and made it through to that normal.  Always.  So I need to believe that I will beat it a fourth time too.

 

 

 

Cut me some slack, universe…

I went in to work today feeling weary.  Sorry for myself.  Like, sweet Jesus, can the universe not cut me a break?  

After about a week of mulling over the girl’s new label, I started to feel okay with it.  Like, it is just another convenient descriptor of her, like brown-haired, or creative, or tall.  And she was really seeming ok with things, even lightheartedly calling herself an Aspie at one point.  

They went off to their dad’s on Friday afternoon, the way it always goes.  Routine clockwork.  I was settling into a quiet weekend with G, who was working doggedly on the home stretch of report cards.  I cooked, puttered, went shopping with an old friend Saturday afternoon.  Weekend stuff.

Then, on Sunday afternoon I got a call from xh.  The girl had been apprehended by security at the grocery store.  She’d lifted some makeup.  Could I come and pick up her brother and take him home while he dealt with it?  

My head spun.  OMFG.  SHOPLIFTING?!!???  I quietly freaked out and then raced to the store.  Gave the boy the key to the house and told him to go let himself in.  There was no way I could not be at the store, with her.  Xh wasn’t exactly full of details over the phone. He didn’t know what was going to happen.  They were waiting for the police to arrive.

I kept thinking…she is only 13.  She has ADHD and Asperger’s.  Could this be because of that? Could she have done this on purpose?  Was there an impulsivity thing happening?  We’ve never known her to steal…not from us, not from anyone else.  I was in utter shock.  I started to quietly panic.  This could really affect her future.  Did she even understand what she had done, what this could mean?

I was reeling.

They waited in the little security room at the store, behind an unmarked door.  She was scrunched up, her knees tucked close to her chest.  She was weeping.  I sat next to her and hugged her.  Asked her, in a whispering voice, what had happened.  She said she’d been intending to ask her dad, who was shopping elsewhere in the store, if he would buy these things.  And then she forgot.  

She started to weep louder.  She said that her dad was furious.  She worried that he’d never treat her the same.  He just sat in the corner, glaring at nothing in particular.

I tried to make sense of it all.  

The one thing I could ascertain was that she was scared out of her skin.  I asked her if she understood that what she’d done was wrong, and she said she did.  She said she’d never, ever do anything like that again.

I closed my eyes and prayed for that, in silence.  I’m still praying.  

After about an hour, a police officer showed up.  He asked her to explain what had happened.  He asked her to explain the consequences of what she’d done.  She did.  

And fortunately, he let her off with a warning.  She was thankful.  Very thankful.  We all were.  

Xh thinks she is going to remember this, and learn from it.  I sure fucking hope so.  I can’t bear the alternative.  

***

I am so tired.  Weary.  I said that before, didn’t I?

I look back over the last year and a bit and I can’t believe everything that has happened in my world.  Xh nearly got himself killed.  His assailant (or who the fuck knows) harassing us, under the safe cloak of an anonymous proxy server (I hate you, internet).  My mother’s dementia.  My old acquaintances, anxiety and depression, coming back for yet another visit.  Asperger’s.  

Yes, there have been good things too.  My amazing, supportive man, G.  A stable (even if the pay sucks) job with benefits.  Great, awesome girlfriends.  

I just want a little break, universe.  A break so that I can heal and deal with these challenges that have fallen my way.  

***

It is almost funny, that I’ve stopped thinking about my mood ever since all this stuff came down with my girl.  Oh, my mood is still there. I feel just down.  Sad.  Weary.  Tired.  I have stopped checking the calendar to see how many weeks it has been since my meds were increased.  Stopped looking for anecdotal evidence online that sure enough, this will do the trick.  I go back to the psychiatrist in two weeks.  I do my CBT homework.  I try to stay on top of the usual things of life.  I watch Dexter or Homeland or Breaking Bad in the evenings and I try to get out of my head a bit.  It helps.  

But when will life feel joyful again?  When will I be happy to get out of bed in the morning, rather than grateful at 8 p.m. that the day is coming to an end?  

 

Sick day

I succumbed today to staying home on sick leave.  This is the first time I have done it because of my mood.  Part of me is relieved to not have to go to work and pretend to be a happy, functional worker-bee, part of me feels like a failure.  

I woke up sad, and disappointed that three weeks into these meds, I am not feeling noticeably better yet.  I know the drill- that it can take up to six weeks to really feel better, yet I am disappointed.  And always in the back of my head there is the worry that I just won’t feel better.  Intellectually, I know this is bullshit.  I’ve been through it before and have come through it every single time.  Sure, there was waiting, and medication tweaks, but I did get to where I wanted to be.  Every.  Single.  Time.

I go back to Dr. M on Tuesday.  This is good.

I will be with G from tomorrow night for a week.  This is also good.

I have amazing friends who love me and support me unconditionally.  This is good too.

When I look at these good things, I am so grateful I am weepy.  Weepy actually feels good, because I am feeling something. Sometimes I feel so blah and flat and…nothing.  I really hate that feeling.  There is no joy, no pain, no anything.  When I feel weepy, I at least feel alive- which is kind of nuts, but it is what it is.

I have been trying to make my way through The Mindful Way Through Depression.  Mindfulness appeals to me on so many levels, but maybe I need to take a step back and wait for the worst of this phase to be over.  The authors do make the caveat that you shouldn’t embark on this journey when things are really acute.  Thing is, when I do feel better I don’t want to touch anything to do with depression, even if it is preventative.  I want to rush back to living my life, enjoying the good stuff.  I turn my back on depression completely.  Which is completely antithetical to the accepting nature of mindfulness.  The irony does not escape me.

I am going to set some small goals for myself today and try to make the best of a not-ideal situation.  I will take a bath, tidy, fill in the forms I need for D’s appointment tomorrow, finish some paperwork.  I will read some of the trashy book E lent me.  I will figure out what to make the kids for dinner.  Water plants.  Slow and easy.

Please God, I just want to get through this and come out the other side…