And…in other news…

I had an appointment with my pdoc the other day.  The last time I’d seen her I was in high stress, high parenting crisis mode.  We talked about supports, therapy, etc.  And she asked to see me in a month.

I’m not in crisis anymore–I don’t even think I’m depressed.  But, there’s an annoying low-level of anxiety that flares up in certain contexts, like work (where I’m working in a no-win, understaffed situation which management barely gives lip service too), and of course, when my daughter isn’t doing well.  It is said that you’re only as happy as your least happy child when you’re a parent, and I think that rings true.

It is awful to say, but she does trigger me.  It triggers anxiety and guilt and even despair at times.  At the end of it all, it exhausts me and it takes all my effort to just get the basics done.

So pdoc and I discussed this.  I used to have so much motivation.  I was the one who Got Things Done.  That feels like a lifetime ago.  It’s weird because in my head I feel that there are things I want to do, but then there’s a break in the circuit of actually getting started.

Which…all means that I walked out of her office with a prescription for Wellbutrin.  I’ve been on it before.  It helped.  I know all about dopamine and what it does (woohoo!  let’s PARTY!) and I hope it gives me some motivation back, because fuck knows I have a lot to do in the next while.

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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…

How to pop a blood vessel

I sometimes have moments where I think, it can’t get any crazier or scarier or more stressful.  Then, without fail, I’m proven wrong.

I’m doing my best to keep the anxiety at bay.  The man helps me in this way immensely, but when he’s not around, it creeps up again.

I am stressed/anxious about many, many things right now.  The prospect of child support and/or alimony coming to a halt.  The Boy wanting to live at one house because he is tired of dragging his possessions around and having to keep track of what is wear.  The Girl sucking up all the energy in the room, day in and day out, not leaving space for anyone else’s needs to be met.  My mother being 89 and me waiting for the phone call that will change everything.  Moving.  Buying a house and blending a family, selling another.  A job where I am working three jobs at once and slowly losing. my. mind.

If I hear another person tell me that all I have to do is prioritize, say no, make things simple I am going to pop a blood vessel.

I need something good, something unexpected to happen.

I need to really, really believe that this too, all of it, shall pass.

I need to just be, instead of always doing.

Wicked witch of the west, that’s me

I am having one of these moments where I’m realizing that sometimes, I really don’t like my daughter very much.

Pretty much the second I picked her up from her dad’s she started in on me. I’m mean because I don’t let her have access to the internet 24/7. She tells me she hates neurotypicals. That I’m looking, yes, LOOKING, for ways to make her miserable. And oh, can we pick up Lebanese food on the way home?

I said very little in the car. I tried my best to not react. But, when we were approaching the intersection to turn towards her favourite take-out, I said, I changed my mind.

I’m not going to buy dinner for someone who is actively trying to pick a fight and make me upset.

I said, I can’t change the way you talk to me, the way you treat me. But I can change how I react to it.

And right now, I said, my reaction is that I don’t want to buy you dinner.

She started crying. I kept driving towards home.

***

She denies she is addicted to her screens. (I don’t use the phrase addiction lightly, either.) It’s interfering with her academics, her ability to socialize…everything.

But I have my online friends, she protests loudly.

I can’t even go there.

Her dependence, she says, is a result of her experiences with so-called friends in the real world. She’s anxious, untrusting. She uses her phone as an escape, an antidote to the great stress she feels.

Honey, I say, this is why your father and I are trying to get you help. To alleviate your stress. To build up your social skills, to give you more confidence.

But you’re abusing me by not letting me have internet! You are isolating me from the only friends I have! I bet you wish I was still at dad’s!

I’m clearly the wicked witch of the west.

***

I don’t like her very much right now. That’s a very un-motherly thing to admit. I’m tired of her drama, of her sucking all the energy out of this family. I’m resentful. Her brother, who doesn’t get even close to the amount of attention he should, resents her. I resent her father, who cares about himself more than anyone else and lives through this by faking the motions of fatherhood.

***

There are three floors in this house and right now each of us is on our floor.

At least my son comes to chat once in awhile.

Respite

The last few weeks, I’ve been feeling like the respite I get is in ever shorter, ever more fleeting chunks.  An hour here or there.  Sometimes 15 minutes. Some days it is so bad that being at work, in my understaffed, high-pressure, intense, deadline-driven job feels like respite compared to being at home.

I’m enjoying some respite right now, and if all goes well, it will continue for the next hour and 20 minutes, when I next expect the fireworks of a 14 year old teenager with Asperger’s to begin.

That’s when I’ll be removing all the electronics from her room, as promised. There is no question, she’s an addict.  And she’s going through the classical denial stage.  No one in this house has slept for the last three nights.  She has been sneaking in, or coming in loudly to my bedroom where I’ve hidden it all away.

Last night was the first parent training part of the ABA she will be getting.  The speaker talked about the importance of focusing on one task at a time, and linking it to one specific desired outcome.  I kept thinking, but she has SO many issues…where do we begin?

The one thing I was reinforced with was the need to honour my word.  The device go away at 10:00, so the devices will go away at 10:00…be it easy or be it with drama.  I have for the last two nights managed to do it on autopilot…no, go to bed.  Please go to bed.  You need to get some sleep.  And so on.

I could hear myself, being calm.  But inside I felt weary, like it would never end. Luckily, I am stubborn.  I detached.  I heard someone else saying no repeatedly, like a broken recording.

Later, telling a good friend about it, I broke down.  It is so exhausting.

Take a break, she said.  Get some respite.

I am trying, with this glass in my hand, I am trying and I will take what I can get.

Feelings

The last couple of days I think I have had some of my worst parenting moments ever.  I am doing better but I am still feeling guilty, and sad.

My girl is intense.  When she’s happy she’s HAPPY, and when she’s not, well, batten down the hatches.  Sunday came at the end of a particularly brutal week, which was brutal for reasons completely unrelated to her.  She was angry and anxious and argumentative and completely unwilling and unable to accept advice, or even just sympathy.  Even just getting away from her was futile- she seemed to have a need to rage.  Thing is, I can only be the target of such a rage for so long, and then my own rage comes out.

Anger.  Anger about not being listened to, anger about the lot in life I’ve been given, frustration that I just. can’t. make. her. happy.  Feeling put upon that I am her punching bag, her case manager, her caretaker…all rolled into one harried package.  It is not a nice feeling to resent your own child, especially when they can’t help who they are.

Or, can they?  People are a mix of what they are born with, and what they are able to do by virtue of their own free will, decision-making, or whatever you want to call it.  I vacillate between thinking, none of this is her fault, she is what she is…and then…DAMMIT STOP BEING SO OBSTINATE?  Her psychologist said, you can’t always blame Asperger’s.  Remember that she is also just a typical 14 year old girl with typical 14 year old issues.

As difficult as yesterday was, we made some good progress.  We dealt with one source of her recent anxiety:  drama class.  She switched into a tech class as one of her electives instead.  Drama had far too much group work, and she was constantly being reminded that she doesn’t fit it.  Kids would be told to get into pairs, or groups, and they naturally go with their friends.  Thing is, this girl doesn’t have friends.  In tech class there isn’t much group work, and given how into computers she is anyways…it is probably a better fit interest-wise as well.

She also started her PEERS group program.  Last night was the first session, and so far so good.  As far as I go, it is great to meet a group of parents who know exactly what I mean when I describe how my girl will talk and talk and talk and talk in conversations but not show any interest in how the other person in doing.

I also sent her new teachers a Girl 101 email.  I let them know about her IEP, her quirks, how she is doing, her addiction to her iPhone, etc.  I want them to feel like they have an open line with me, and knowing about her ASD will help them understand why she is the way she is, and how they can help her and their ability to teach her at the same time.

Onwards and upwards.  I am grateful it is a short week.  I am grateful that I remembered to take steak out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner.  I am grateful that her brother is such a good kid.  And am grateful that my Girl is upstairs right now, laughing and relaxing and in a much better place than she was 48 hours ago.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Up…and down.

My girl has been diagnosed with Asperger’s.

While I am not surprised at all, I can’t help but feel sad.  It is the word I have been worrying about since she was 2.  And now it is an undeniable truth.  Not that it wasn’t there before.  I keep telling myself all the right things — things that I know are true — like, she is the same kid she was the day before the diagnosis.  That having a name means she can access all kinds of services that will help her. That her knowing will help her understand that she’s not a bad person, that there are others like her that she can identify with.  That she has so many strengths and that her prognosis is great.

What do I want for her, ultimately? I want her to be happy.  

Maybe my struggle is what happy will look like for her versus what it would look like for me.  I think as a parent we all have a dream for our kids, our version of a good life for them.  Maybe the battle is to reconcile that what their happy is, isn’t necessarily the same as ours.  And really it is their life, and it is unfair of us to project our definitions onto them.  

And right now, the reality is, she is doing pretty great.  She IS happy.  She feels good about her diagnosis…even better than good — optimistic.  

I am so proud of her.  And I love her madly.

***

And in me-land, I am…I think doing better.  Thursday (the day before the girl’s diagnosis) I had the best day I’d had in weeks.  I got a ton done at work, had a relaxing, fun, evening with G.  I even thought about the feedback appointment the next day and how we’d likely be talking about an Asperger’s diagnosis, and I felt good about it.  I was even looking forward to the appointment.  

Then hearing it of course…it felt like a thud in my heart.  But I talked to people about it, her dad, my two closest friends, and of course G.  That helped.  I did shed some tears…partly of sadness, but partly of relief.  Relief that we know more, relief that now we can forge ahead in getting her help in the few areas she needs hit.  And love — I felt love.  Love for the girl, love for me.  And love is strengthening and empowering, only a good thing.

We will forge ahead, in love.