freeing containment

Yesterday I had my monthly therapy appointment.

Yup, I’m down to monthly.  This is a BIG DEAL for me since for a while I was going weekly. Truthfully there were times when I felt I could go every day.

My therapist has said I could just be “done” until I feel I need it again, but I didn’t feel comfortable with that.  The monthly visits make me feel like there is an accountability for me. It helps me know there is a check-in to make sure I am maintaining and managing my anxiety, depression, and OCD.

In fact, yesterday the first thing Dr. M asked me was “So how has going back to school gone for you?”

I have been seeing Dr. M for about two years now. She is awesome at her job and knows when my yearly meltdowns typically occur.  This is the first time in years that I haven’t had weekly appointments during this time of year to help me manage the big shift in schedule.

And it was fine.

I told Dr. M that it was going great.  And I wasn’t lying or sugar-coating anything.

Yes, I have had a couple slips, but Cortney and I recognized them quickly and we worked to “contain” (that is what Dr. M calls it) my anxiety.

In fact, this fall is busier than ever for me, but I am doing well with it all.  Dr. M says that this is because I have set up a containment strategy for myself.

I know that working three jobs (teaching high school, teaching college, and freelancing) plus taking two classes, PLUS wanting to be a quality parent and wife AND help keep my house from being condemned would have been way too much for me in the past.

But this year, because I really love all of the things I have taken on and I want to be successful, I devised a schedule for myself.  One that I have shared with Cortney and that is printed and on my desk and school and taped into my blog/freelance planner at home.  It looks like this:

KatiesSchedule

To some people this might look like I am putting myself in a box, and I guess I sort of am. I mean, the schedule is shaped like a box.

But for me it’s incredibly freeing.

Because I have so many things I have to work on at any given moment, I can get overwhelmed and shut down and forget how to prioritize. I also have the tendency to prioritize certain things right out of my life like family time or sleep.  This is problematic for my mental health since lack of down time (and sleep) are major triggers for my anxiety and depression.

If I don’t have set times when things get done, I also tend to procrastinate which further exacerbates my anxiety.

I realized a couple weeks ago that in order to feel free, I needed to box myself in.

So I created the above schedule.  Not only does it keep me focused, but it tells me what to do in each “work time” slot. For instance in the “school planning” areas I ONLY do school planning.  No blogging or freelancing.  That is what the evenings are for.

It also helps me to realize that if I am sent a possible freelance assignment, but because of the date assigned and the date due, I won’t be able to write on a Sunday? I won’t take that assignment.

This schedule makes us go device-free for time every. single. day.  It makes sure I am being present for my husband and kids each day.

Because of all the open family time on the weekends, we are flexible for putting fun things on the calendar or for tackling house tasks.

I also have the opportunity to look forward and say, “I didn’t get all the essays graded I needed to, but I have time tomorrow to do it again.”

I realize at first glance it’s easy to say, “but you have ever single minute of your life SCHEDULED!” But if you look closely, you will see that I have scheduled the unscheduled as well.

The other benefits to this is that it puts our whole family into a sort of predictable routine which has been wonderful for Eddie and Charlie and has made communication between Cortney and myself much better.  We share bedtime duty with Eddie so it’s not a same-day decision.  It’s expected that I will be gone during nap on Sundays to go work at Starbucks on my writing, so no one is being resentful of that time.

Our weekends have been much more fulfilling and happy since we started this schedule, as have our evenings.

I don’t think this sort of box-style scheduling is for everyone, but it is definitely what is working for me and my famly right now.

falling into darkness: what depression feels like

I was miles away from home, my email, all the lists of To Do’s for the upcoming school year.  I was sitting on a beach under a lovely shade tree. There was just the right amount of breeze to keep us from sweating, but not to keep us out of the lake.  Both boys were happily splashing and digging holes with their daddy.

I was on a towel with my Diet Coke and a book I was ignoring.

And I could feel my head slipping. My world was starting to do that thing when you throw water on a painted canvas. The picture that was once realistic and lovely starts to look like it’s melting and distorting.

Everything started running together.

It came out of nowhere.

I mean, I knew I had been stressed out with thinking about school starting, taking on an adjunct position at the local community college last minute, and all the loose ends I had to tie up with social media campaigns and freelancing before I headed back to work full time. I knew that going on this vacation a week before all the madness started up was cutting it a little close.

But I also knew I was very much looking forward to it.

Cortney and I had been saying to each other repeatedly for a couple weeks, “Soon we will be on a break with no internet or lists. Soon it will be just family and fun.”

We arrived two days before. I didn’t feel the usual release of stress that happens after getting the car unloaded, grabbing a beer, and plopping down in a bag chair.  But I chalked that up to having one more mobile kid this year, having a LOT on my mind, and needing a night to just chill out.

I’m not sure what happened between arriving and sitting on that towel on the beach.

I wish I could pinpoint these things because then maybe I wouldn’t find myself in a delightful situation getting slammed in the face with the load of bricks that is depression.

My reality went wonky.

I didn’t want to do any of the fun things people suggested, but I did want to cry.

I didn’t want to be around anyone, but we were on vacation with my parents and both brothers and their families.

I started finding fault with everyone and everything they said and did.  The more I tried to just hurry up and get over it and “be happy,” the worse it got.

I tried to be positive and it made me more negative.

I tried to see that they were just jokes and humor people were using, but I ended up taking offense even quicker.

I tried to tell myself all the questions were because my family was interested in me and wanted to make conversation, but I couldn’t help feel like I was being judged and eye-rolled.

I tried to “get over it” or “not worry about it” as was suggested when I would mention my stresses, but instead I felt unheard and more anxious.

Within 48 hours of being home (which included some good sleep), I was pretty much passed it.

My falls into the depression pits aren’t as far of a fall or as frequent as they used to be before I started managing them with therapy, diet, exercise, and meds, but they are still disconcerting and exhausting when they do happen.

No matter how long I live with depression, I never see it coming. Sometimes I will have all the triggers, but the depression never shows up.  Sometimes I will have one tiny trigger and BOOM! Like a sack of bricks to the face.

But every time it starts to push me, it feels the same way and it starts with the feeling of falling and of my whole world melting and distorting.

I have copy of the Salvador Dali painting The Persistence of Memory in my classroom. Since I frequently lack words to describe what my brain does when depression hits, I think of this painting. It’s like my life slows down–but not in a good way. In the way that things start to bleed together out of slow motion in dreams. Images melt and droop. I become an almost unrecognizable lump of a grey creature in the middle of it all.  I can see myself from the outside, but I can’t help myself.

If I don’t allow myself to vanish…if I keep awake and don’t melt away…I come out of it.

At least I have every time so far.

And on the other side is always this:

2013-08-30 08.02.39And I promise myself that I will always fight to stay.

Always.

Do you have a story?  Natalie from Mommy of a Monster and I are sharing our stories. She is talking about crawling out of the pit of depression while I told what it’s like to fall into it. If you want to share with us, please join the link up below and let’s all support each other.

 

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

glitches

I haven’t talked much about anxiety or depression lately.

From time to time people will ask me how it’s going, and I know they mean my Mental Issues. To be honest, I am usually caught off guard. Not that they would ask about that; in fact, I feel glad people feel comfortable enough with me to ask about that stuff. I’m usually thrown off because I’m not sure if they really want to know, or if they are looking for an “Ok” or a “Great!” type of answer.

Usually if people are asking me about how It is going, they read this blog and know about the Mental Issues already. Again, it’s touching that they care about me to want to keep up on These Things. It’s also means I am not sure how much they want me to go into it. Maybe it’s more comfortable for them to read about it rather than have me talk about it out loud.

But I haven’t said much here about it lately.

It’s not that I haven’t had any anxiety attacks or episodes, but by the time I get around to it, I have worked it out and it’s passed and I don’t have any need to write about it.

I get through each episode as it comes, which means when people ask me how it’s going I say, “really quite well.”

That is not to say that I don’t work at my Mental Issues daily.

Daily.

Still with the daily.

Every day I have to fight my urge to go to sleep all day.

Some days the urge is barely there.  I hear one of the boys wake up and my body eases out of bed fairly easily.  Coffee is poured, the day proceeds.

Other days the minute I hear a child I want to cry, and I have to fight with myself not to introvert on the spot and to interact meaningfully (and not just dutifully) with my kids.

I have to be conscious of everyone’s temperaments and know that when the natives get restless, we need a change of scenery…regardless if that is what actually want.  If I ignore the signs from Eddie and Charlie, the restlessness will turn into fighting which will turn into disobeying which will turn into screaming and crying.

And then I am triggered.

Even the days when I am tired and feel like I am just a hair away from a trigger and I just want to sit and drink my coffee and be all in my own head…I can’t. I can’t fall into that.

Every single day is still a challenge.

It’s not bad though.  Not like it sounds.

Well, some days are.

Some days are just hard.

Some days the ugly falls like a heavy fog on this house and I cannot see the good a joyful and beautiful even with my fog lights on.

But I have to keep going.

Sometimes I make bad choices that leave me feeling guilty and awful and mad because I feel like I should have been able to control that outburst. I shouldn’t have yelled at Eddie that way or redirected Charlie with such force.

Sometimes I sit in my bag chair in the garage staring at my phone while the boys play during that last 30 minutes before Cortney gets home because I can’t STAND to be the sole parent for one second longer and staring at my phone is all that is keeping my head from exploding.

Sometimes during Charlie’s afternoon nap, I take a nap on the couch even though Eddie doesn’t nap anymore. I just put in a movie for him and tell him that Mommy needs a rest.  I turn my back to him, face the back of the couch, and silently cry myself to sleep.

But in the grand scheme of things these moments are but glitches.

There are way more good moments that bad, and there are very few whole days that I would put in the trash pile.

I guess that is why I don’t really talk about it.

I don’t have any HUGE EPISODES that require me to “write it out”.

I’m aware that sometimes, things just suck because that is the way life is. I am also aware that sometimes things suck because that is just how my brain is.  It’s hard to tell the difference, but it doesn’t matter.

Every day I take my meds.  Every day I thank God for my family, my husband, modern medicine, and my faith.

Every day I start again.

living with depression

Did you see that my blog is now SIX YEARS OLD? I threw a party yesterday with giveaways for YOU!  Go enter!

my walls

There is this white wall, above which the sky creates itself-
Infinite, green, utterly untouchable.
Angels swim in it, and the stars, in indifference also.
They are my medium.
The sun dissolves on this wall, bleeding its lights.

People describe me as energetic and fun and easy to talk to and laugh with.

My students are surprised when I tell them I am in my mid-30’s; they expected mid-20’s.

Sometimes, on casual Fridays, my ponytail/hoodie combo paired with my grin and the pep in my step get me mistaken for a student.

I love fiercely.

Most people don’t notice the wall that closes in on me.

On the days when that smile fades as I climb into my car.  As I wish for an early bedtime.  As I dread going home to more people.

On days when I want the world to go away because I just can’t care about your problems anymore. I can’t care about your mundane, whiny facebook updates or your cheery coffee-induced tweets.

I don’t care about feeding the family or doing the dishes.

I don’t care about grading or lesson planning.

I just want to sleep the world away.

The wall moves quickly.

I suffer from Depression.

A grey wall now, clawed and bloody.
Is there no way out of the mind?
Steps at my back spiral into a well.
There are no trees or birds in this world,
There is only sourness.

I post a million happy pictures of me and my sons and my husband.

There is so much love in this family it is overflowing.

Hugs and kisses and flowers and snuggles and drawings of “macaroni and cheese machines”.

But there are also those thoughts that zap in out of nowhere.

My son hit by a rouge car, his body crushed and broken.

My baby floating lifeless in the tub.

Like in the movies, there is a flash, the image, a flash, and back to reality.

I shudder.

But sometimes, there is a flash, the image, and then…it doesn’t stop.  The scenario plays out.  I can’t turn it off as horrified as I am.  I am feeling the horribleness of the reality that is not real.

I do not want this.

I do not want to see this.

I have had intrusive thoughts.**

I want to get over, around, under, away from this wall that is closing in.

I have suffered from Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and OCD.

This red wall winces continually:
A red fist, opening and closing,
Two grey, papery bags-
This is what i am made of, this, and a terror
Of being wheeled off under crosses and rain of pietas.

I am confident and laid back.

People ask me how I keep it all together.  All the schedules and the achievements.  How do we do it all?

We have gotten degrees while working and having children.

We have great times and throw wonderful parties.

We love each other forever and always.

But there is also the terror that it will crumble.

There is a wall of fear that closes in.

There is the fear that something will happen to take my joy away from me.  That it’s all “too good to be true.”

That is a cliché for a reason, after all.

Other shoe dropping and all.

Where are those shoes?  Are they heavy? Do they look like terminal illness?  Death?  Divorce? Destruction?

A crushing wall.

I suffer from Anxiety.

On a black wall, unidentifiable birds
Swivel their heads and cry.
There is no talk of immorality among these!
Cold blanks approach us: 
They move in a hurry.*

The walls closed in before I even noticed.

They always do.

Thankfully, I am surrounded by people who keep an eye on my walls.

Because when the walls move, they move quickly.  And if no one is watching, they will crush me.

I’ve been squeezed, but those walls have yet to finish me off.

And I am confident that they never will.

*************

I'm Blogging for Mental Health.

*From the poem “Apprehensions” by Sylvia Plath

**I have never acted on these intrusive thoughts.  Intrusive thoughts do not always mean feeling like you want to harm your loved ones, but in my case it was the playing out the scenarios if they did get hurt.

Moving Forward

“You seem to be in a place where you can now decide if you are done,” she started to say as I started to shake my head, “or if you want to cut way back on our visits.”

I started picking at the seam of my pants with uncertainty.

Three years ago I finally told my doctor something wasn’t right and got help. Two years ago I started talk therapy with Dr. Melissa.

One year ago I had a relapse with my postpartum depression.

But I have been feeling really good the past month or so.  Like really good.  Like…dare I say…”normal”?

My last visit to my psychiatrist was approximately 3 minutes long.  There was nothing to discuss other than he didn’t need to see me again for 12 weeks and here are the refills on your prescriptions until that time. Have a great summer.

And then there was the therapy visit.  We talked about being in a good place.  We talked about putting my care back to my GP and away from the psychiatrist. And then she said that thing. About being possibly done.

That can’t be right. I can’t be done. Not yet.  Not with so much uncertainty out there.  I mean…what if I have another break down?  What if the day after we decide I am done, I need her?  I need therapy?  I need…to not be done?

Last week, eight days after that therapist appointment, I read a post by a blogger that encouraged her readers to come here…to this place…to Sluiter Nation…to learn “how to move forward” after having a postpartum mood disorder.

Me?  Showing how to move forward?  How to pick up the pieces and go on with your life?  That is a big responsibility.  That is a big compliment that I could possibly be well enough now to be a role model for Life After PPD.

Is that me?

Am I now in a place that is Beyond PPD?

I still take my medication.  I still have anxiety attacks, but I know how to spot them coming and what to do about them before I am throwing potato chip bags at my poor, confused husband.

However I can’t remember the last time I had a depressed episode.  I’ve had funks that I have been in, but nothing that I would say qualified as actually being depressed.

I have never thought of myself as being “past” that phase until this weekend. For one, I realized Charlie is almost 14 months old–I am not considered “postpartum” anymore.  I know that seems like a mundane thing…like a “who cares” kind of label that was just shed, but it’s sort of a big deal to me.  I’m out of that “first year” phase.  Any of my mood stuff is not associated with “postpartum” anymore.

And I do still have mood stuff.

Friday night after Cort’s graduation ceremony we were herding the kids home waaaay past their bedtimes and I was struggling with some breathing exercises because I could feel the panic of a full weekend ahead of us rising in my chest.  Instead of giving in to it I just informed Cort that I was struggling, but that things would be Ok.

He tried to tell Eddie to stop talking so it wouldn’t bother me, but I recognized that while his incessant constant chatter was bothering me, he was just being a three-almost-four-year-old who hadn’t seen his parents in over 12 hours.  I said, “it’s ok. He can talk,” and I closed my eyes, leaned my face against the cool window, and breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth.

When we got home, I went right to the bathroom to collect myself.  I put my jammies on and heard Cort insisting Eddie go downstairs and wait for him while he put Charlie to bed.  Eddie was not having it (you know, because he was over-tired and missed his parents).  I weakly called out, “I’ll put him to bed.”

Cort was insistent, “you don’t feel good. I can do it. Really.”

(Side note:  That guy takes SUCH good care of me.  I am a lucky lady.)

I pulled myself together and went downstairs to where Cort was helping Eddie with brushing his teeth.  “Really, babe.  I want to.  It’s just laying by him.  That is what I should do if I feel bad anyway.”

So Eddie finished up and we hopped into bed 90 minutes past his bedtime.  We chatted quietly for about 5 minutes, he announced he couldn’t sleep and within 2 more minutes he was sawing logs with an open mouth breathing heavily into my face.

I smiled.

I pulled his blankets up a bit further, kissed his smooshy cheek, and told him I loved him.

And then I was fine.  The anxiety attack had passed.  I could handle the busy weekend.

It was just one weekend.

And the busy was good busy.  We would have such awesome experiences.

It’s Monday morning during my planning hour.  I am tired.  Over-tired.  Normally this would be the first step to depressed, but I don’t feel it this time.

I just feel tired.

So I will go to bed on time tonight–probably not post anything here tomorrow–and get a good night sleep.

And I will be myself again tomorrow.

I still have anxiety.  I still deal with OCD. I will still have depressive episodes.

But I am beyond PPD.  I am more myself now than I have been in four years.

Am I ready to be done with talk therapy?  No.

But I am willing to cut down to once a month and move my prescriptive care back to my GP from my psychiatrist.  And even though that might sound like a boring little tidbit, it’s sort of a big deal to me.

It means that I haven’t just shed the label of postpartum, I have also gained more of myself back.

And that is a big deal.

*************

PSI Blog Hop Badge

• If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

• If you are looking for pregnancy or postpartum support and local resources, please call or email us:

Call PSI Warmline (English & Spanish) 1-800-944-4PPD (4773)
Email support@postpartum.net

the green-eyed monster

If my hair would just style as well as hers I would be so much happier.

If I could lose 30 pounds, I could wear cute clothes like she does and I would be so much happier.

If I could get a paid writing gig, I would be so joyful, just like her.

If we could go on a REAL vacation, we  would be happier.

If we had more money to spend I could do that and that and that to our house and be happy like she is.

If we had a bigger house I would totally be happier.

If I would make a Top Whatever list or Follow this mom on blah blah list I would be so much happier.

If I had a workspace that was cheerful and comfy I would be much happier.

If more people read/commented/shared my blog I would be happier.

If Cortney and I went out every Saturday night like that couple, we would be happier.

If we had more friends we would be happier.

If I had clearer skin, cuter clothes, less weight, longer hair, better shoes, more money, more crafting time, more stay at home time, more work time, better writing skills, more contacts…like her and her and her and her…I would be happier.

Oh the toxic thoughts that spin around in my brain.

ENVY.

I spent a good hour this morning just thinking and meditating and letting myself be quiet and I realized that so much of my sadness stems from envy.

Last Friday, I was picking Eddie up from my parents’ house and on their counter they had two cut-outs of their hands with a paper heart glued to the palms.  On each heart was writing.

At first I thought it was something for Valentine’s Day.  But when I got closer I saw one said, “Road Rage” and the other said, “Envy”.

My mom explained they were from something they were doing at church.  I chuckled because I knew my dad’s was the road rage one…and not just from the slanty, messy left-handed penmanship.  My own road rage is very much inherited from his.

But my mom’s…the one that said “envy”…surprised me.

I don’t ever think of my mom as wishing she had what someone else had.   But then again, I know growing up, she wished our family was maybe more “perfect” like other families at their church.  I know she wished that we had all maybe followed the “Go to College, Get a Job, Get Married, Have Babies, Go to Church Every Week” model that their friends’ kids did.

But we didn’t all follow that route.  Some of us took a LONG time to find a job after college graduation. Some had kids before marriage.  Some dropped out of the first college to return home and go somewhere else.

Life is messy, ya know?

I know she loves all of us anyway..maybe even more so because we all turned out great despite not following that model.  But you know…there’s always that…”maybe if…” thought.

So anyway, since then I have been thinking a lot about envy.

I realized that a lot of my sadness and stress comes from me coveting what other people have.

I mean, I know that I am blessed.  I am beyond blessed.

But there is always that nagging thought when I see someone get sponsored by a sweet company or another blogger get a writing gig I think I would be awesome at or I look at how beautiful my friends are and wish I looked like that too.

Or I see new parents that seem so damn happy all the time…no stress…no anxiety about who they are now that they are parents.  No going to an “ugly place” like I did/do.

I watch people embrace snow and play with their children and think maybe I am not trying hard enough.  Why do I hate snow?  Why do I suck at “playing” with Eddie.  I mean, is it that hard to pick up a dinosaur and make it have a conversation with his Pooh Bear?

I get crabby that I can’t live on Starbucks and wine and burritos and oreos and still weigh only 150 pounds and have clear skin.  I mean, isn’t that what all these beautiful people in my newsfeeds and reader do?  It seems like it.

Why can’t I love to run?  I want to run 5Ks and blog about my new healthy life.  Why can’t I love eating celery?

As happy as I am with my life {which I truly am} these thoughts still invade my brain in my most tired, vulnerable moments.

I am lucky beyond words, so why does envy still creep in?

Why can’t I appreciate beauty and talent and fortune of others and not have that twinge that I wish I had it too.

Because I do. I have my own beauty. My own talent. My own fortune.

I have just to look up from my computer and see it in the smiling eyes of the three guys that live in this house with me.

So why does my brain tell me that is not good enough?

Even though my heart knows it’s more than enough?

2013-02-19 14.07.25

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

*************

My Bona Clara giveaway ends this Friday!  Don’t forget to enter!

Don’t miss my Baba and Boo giveaway over here!

 

 

 

functional family

Every other week I sit in a surprisingly uncomfortable chair in my therapist’s office.

Rarely do I feel like going.  If I am crabby and busy I think, “man, I don’t want to waste and hour sitting in that chair just talking,” and if I am having a great day I think, “I don’t want to go and have a big old Debbie Downer discussion.”

The weird thing is that I never walk away thinking, “see? Waste of time.”

A couple weeks ago we were talking about family.  My family and Cort’s family and how we communicate with our families.  I told Dr. Melissa,

“I never have to wonder if someone in my family is mad at me or if there is an issue or what.  If someone asks like an ass, the other people tell that person.  There is no silent treatment or passive aggressive jabs.”

Then I told her about something super disappointing my mom shared with me recently.  After my mom had told me, she asked me if I was mad at her and I said yes.

I festered about it for a few hours, then started to cry.

Eventually I called my mom and said, “I’m not mad at you guys, mom.  I’m just super disappointed.”  We talked about it for a bit and I told her I wasn’t going to dwell on it. I just needed to tell her that it bothered and disappointed me.

My mom agreed and we were Ok.

I told all of this to Dr. Melissa.

She looked at me for a minute and then said something I wasn’t expecting.

“You know, Katie, many many people would not be able to talk about that as openly as you did with your mom.  And they most certainly wouldn’t be able to stay disappointed, but let the anger go.”

I was sort of baffled.

“Really,” I responded,  “because in the entirety of life, it’s not that big of a deal.  It’s not worth losing my mom and dad over or anything.  It sucks.  It’s really sad and disappointing…and I’ll probably be disappointed about it for a LONG time…but it’s not worth having a feud over or anything.”

“That’s the thing,” she told me.  “This is exactly the kind of thing most families do have feuds and harboring resentments about.  It’s amazing that you have this kind of communication with your family.”

I have been thinking about that conversation for the past two weeks.

This past week, Eddie has been very sick.  Cort and I each took two days off from work to stay home with him, but both of us really needed to be at work on Friday.

Thursday night my mom, knowing about our struggles, called and said that my dad had Friday off and would be cool with hanging out with Eddie in the morning.  Then she would take the afternoon off from work, and stay with him.

It was a lifesaver.

She didn’t do it because she felt guilty for disappointing me weeks ago.  She did it because this is what our family does for each other.

I can’t imagine holding anything against my parents or my brothers.

I tried to think of a time before this that anyone did something that was truly disappointing or that angered me that I didn’t say something.  I couldn’t.

I couldn’t even think of something that I would have gotten mad about…other than crap we did/said to each other when we were kids.  And even then we just yelled at each other and got over it.

What’s funny is back when I was in high school, friends of mine and friends of my brother, Chris would come over for dinner and refer to our family dinners as “having dinner with the Yelling Match.”

Everyone in my family talks over everyone else.  There are only five of us (parents, me, my two younger brothers), but it gets loud.  Then the talking over turns to disagreeing about topics or calling each other names.  Things get louder and louder.  My parents try to intervene, but it never works.

By the end of the meal, everyone leaves full and happy.

Yelling Match Completed.

I know my parents used to worry about how much my brothers and I argued and name-called.  I think they still worry sometimes since we are all adults (34, 32, & 27) and maybe shouldn’t be calling each other “buttface” at the dinner table.

But we all have a close, happy relationship.  We love doing stuff together and spending time together.

We miss each other and give our mom grief when we haven’t had a Sunday dinner together in a while.

We enjoy each other’s company even when we disagree.

If someone falls short of someone else’s expectations they are told, but a real beef is never held onto for long.  Oh we don’t let the person forget about it, but we don’t seriously harbor ill-feelings toward each other.

We let it go.

Apparently this is not something all families do.

So I guess what I am trying to say is this:

Hey mom and dad, you done good.  All those times you worried about us being so mean…at least we were being mean and not holding it in.  Because had we held it in, we wouldn’t be able to be the communicators we are now.  And we wouldn’t want to come over and have you feed us.  And we wouldn’t want to spend a week all together in the summer at the cottage.

Yup, my family lets me down sometimes, but rather than shoving that down into my heart and muttering, “that’s ok.”  We say our feelings and we let it go.

I’m so thankful for this.

Also, mom? Really. I’m not mad.

*************

You have until Friday to treat yourself to some great skin care products and/or enter to win some!

Don’t Hate, Yo

123 - Copy

Sometimes, after a long week (ok, or day…FINE or hour) I sit down to my computer a little cranky.

(FINE…with a horrible attitude.  Sheesh you guys are pushy about truth.)

And sometimes I open some sort of social media and a picture of a kid shows up.  And I want to say, “YOUR KID IS UGLY!”

Or sometimes, I want to tweet a scathing, hate-filled tweet generalizing certain bloggers or whatever just to vent some of the ugly out of my brain.

And sometimes, I read articles or blog posts after that and I want to leave ugly, rude comments about the mental capacity of the blogger.

Once in awhile I want to instagram myself giving the whole world the middle finger.

Or I want to write a blog post talking about all the things I hate and hit publish and watch people get mad at me and hate me and disown me.

Or post a tweet or fb or G+ status bitching about family or friends who have pissed me off or let me down and how much I a just plain sick of it.

But I don’t.

I don’t do any of those things.

But I get afraid by the ragey hate that finds its way into my brain.  A lot of times it has nothing to do with kids (I don’t find anyone’s kids to be really ugly, relax), or friends or family. It is nothing anyone really did to me.

It’s the long day.

It’s the cycle of my monthly anxiety ups and downs. Highs and lows.

Maybe I have too much on my plate and I project my disdain on others instead of on myself.

Whatever. I get mean.

I leave the “mean” in my head though.

(Ok, Cort has to hear about it.  Even at the end I take it all back and just say I am tired and whatever, because it’s true. Thank goodness he promised to stay married to me. He deserves a medal.)

That meanness is toxic though.  If I let myself dwell on it, it affects my attitude at work, at home, and with other people.  I get defensive and bratty about everything.  It poisons my soul.

Sometimes, when I am feeling over-tired and unable to write or be productive, I will read an online post or article.  And then I will let myself read the comments.

People are mean.

People say the most amazingly rude and off-topic things just because they can.

I realize when I read comments and rude words, that the meanness I feel from time to time is fleeting for me.  It’s not really who I am…it’s not really how I feel about my friends and family…or even strangers.  I don’t have this horrid disdain for mankind pent up in me.

In fact, I really believe in love.

“Be devoted to one another in love, honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

I really believe in the Golden Rule of treating others the way I want to be treated…even if people don’t come through with reciprocating.

I know a lot of these toxic thoughts and destructive self-talk comes from my anxiety and depression.  I remember too well how much I let the rage win before I knew there was a problem. I remember hurting those closest to me by actually saying the horrible things that my brain put on my lips.

It never made me feel better.  Ever.

“Therefore…fix your thoughts on Jesus.” (Hebrews 3:1)

Meds helped my brain shut up, but not completely.

Because my hormones are still jacked up from having a baby, certain times of the month (after I ovulate for those of you who love the TMI on the blog) are harder than other times of the month.  My brain tells me all sorts of lies about how hard and horrible my life is and how everyone else has it better and how I should look for something bad in them and their life so I can feel better about my own.

Friends, it never works that way.

I have learned through therapy, my devotionals, and just going with my heart instead of my lying brain that in order to stop the toxic thoughts from polluting my soul, I have to turn my thoughts to love.

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:14)

I don’t win the war on toxic thoughts every time.

But I am winning more than I am not.

When I feel like the hate and meanness is overwhelming I say something nice to someone.  I go out of my way to extend love to someone.

Because just like words can hurt, they can heal.  Not just the person spoken to, but the speaker as well.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

I can’t control the words that are out there in the world, but I CAN control the words that come out of my mouth and that flow out of my finger tips.

I can control what I let myself be exposed to too.  I don’t have to read comment sections (especially of controversial topics). I don’t have to watch violent TV shows.   I don’t have to listen to hate talk.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

What I see and hear and expose myself to will affect what my brain tries to tell me to say and do.  When I read hurtful things, my brain starts to tell me to hate.  When my brain tells me to hate, my mouth (and fingers) tend to let meanness flow.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them.” (Mark 11:25)

Let it go.

A million times a day I tell myself: LET IT GO.  Stop reading.  Quit engaging the hateful thoughts.

Instead, I open my eyes to those around me.  I see goodness and I comment on it.

And the love and goodness always push the hate out.

Always. Love wins. Always.

*************

Don’t forget the giveaway/fundraiser with Bona Clara Skin Products I have going on.  Francesca is giving her commission to the victims of Sandy Hook.  Please consider purchasing something.  And of course enter the giveaway!  No purchase necessary for that!

that scruchy, wound up feeling

This time of year is tough for those of us with any kind of depression, isn’t it?  The days are mostly dark and gloomy, and what little light there is vanishes before the evening commute home.

I’m coping, though.

No, seriously, this is the best winter I have had in years.  Cort has really worked with me {and the stuff my therapist suggests} to try to be proactive.  I have gotten a SAD Lamp that I use a minimum of four times a week (for 15-30 minutes at a time, although ideally I would use it for 30 minutes every day), I have been charting my symptoms of when I feel most anxious during the month and what seems to be the cause.  I have found out that a lot of it is hormonal (which I hate because it feeds into this “thing” about women and their uncontrollable “moodiness”), but I’m on anxiety meds during a certain week of the month to help with that.

It’s not perfect yet…it’s definitely a work in progress…but I am seeing that it’s working.

The problem is, even when I know that the anxiety “time” is coming, I can’t foresee when exactly it will hit.

Saturday it hit.

The day started out–to the casual observer–perfectly.  Cort let me stay in bed until after 10am.  I got up and sipped my coffee while perusing social media.  While I was still in my jammies, Cort packed up Eddie and they went to the hardware store, leaving me alone with a napping baby.

How is this not perfect? Trick question. It’s totally perfect.

But I was restless for some reason.

The house was a wreck. I had a deadline to meet.  I needed to shower.  But I didn’t want to do any of it, but I also knew I couldn’t focus in this pile of a house.  It was a definite Catch-22 and it was causing me to want to go HAM all over everything and everyone.

(You know it’s bad when I use the phrase “go HAM” since I abhor that phrase for its stupidity)

Anyway, lunch time came around and the boys were sort of whiney.  Eddie went down for nap shortly after and Charlie? WOULD NOT NAP.

Finally after some tense moments, Cort went to deal with Charlie, and I decided I more than needed a timeout.  Everything on my insides was getting clenchy–that is how I described it to my therapist. It’s like everything on my insides starts winding around itself and it gets tighter and tighter and tighter. If I release the pressure of how tight it’s getting wound, it will come out in snaps and hurt someone.  If I don’t release at all?  It will eventually wind so tight it will crack and break and make a mess.

So.  This is what I am working on.

Anyway, I went into our room, closed the door, and changed our sheets for no reason other than I needed to control something and get away from the rest of my world.

I still wasn’t ready to go out and face anyone without exploding, so I decided I would take a shower.  I didn’t tell Cort. I didn’t consider if he had anything else he needed to do that day. I just did it.

While I showered, my insides became so tight I wanted to punch a wall.

I started letting all the things that bother me have a hand in turning the crank in my gut:  the dishes in the sink, the crumbs under Eddie and Charlie’s seat, the mess on Charlie’s highchair tray, the floors that need to be mopped, the floors that need to be vacuumed, the bathroom that looks like a college boy’s dorm bathroom…why does it seem like I am the only person in this house that notices these things? Which really means: Why doesn’t Cortney notice these things???  Why am I the one always in charge of crumbs and the bathroom?

Then I immediately feel guilty.

He let me sleep in.  He let me have a whole night locked in my room to do writing that week.  He made dinner for us.  He ran errands I didn’t want to do.

But I was still annoyed.

More than annoyed.

I was MAD.

But I felt guilty.

And then I felt hugely burdensome.  He sighs a lot around me lately.  Especially when I ask if he can do something for me.  He spends most of his time making sure I am on an even keel…that my mood doesn’t dip.  And when it does, he gets sad and annoyed because he can’t do anything right.

Even though he does everything right.

But yet…I am still annoyed.  Mostly at him.

I stood for several minutes with my head under the hot water.  I took deep breaths like I taught Eddie to do when he is upsets and loses his words.

A few tears fell and I realized the week of anxiety was starting.

And then my anger shifted.

Is this just my “normal”?  When are my feelings “real” and not because of hormonal/chemical issues?  And is that possible?  Does it make them less valid?  I feel like it does because it’s unreasonable and illogical.

I KNOW one thing, but I FEEL something else.  And then anger takes over.

I was able to recognize it and come down from it by the time I was done drying off and getting dressed.  I walked quietly into the livingroom and curled myself in my chair still feeling fragile and cracked.

Cort was just sitting on the couch alone–Charlie must have finally gone to nap–staring at the TV but not watching it.

“How was your shower?” he asked me automatically and without much feeling.

“Ok,” I started, “sorry I didn’t let you know what I was doing.”

“I figured it out.”

“I’m sorry I am this way.”

“It’s Ok, babe.”

I know he means it.  And I know he doesn’t all at the same time.

But mostly he means it.  I just have to believe it too.

I still have bad days when I am angry and nothing gets done.

But most days I am not like this.  This is not the norm anymore. I need to celebrate that and not dwell on the bad days.

I know that, but I have to believe it too.

praying in the shadows

Last week my 11th grade English students finished reading The Crucible by Arthur Miller, and Friday we began watching the movie to analyze various differences in a play for a live audience vs a movie version.  None of that is either here nor there.

Today {Monday} after the tragic events of the weekend, my students are watching the conclusion of the movie and finishing their assignment.

As I graded papers, the movie boomed through my classroom.

I have probably read this play a thousand times and watched the movie almost as many times.  But today I paused and watched as the actors portrayed the mass hysteria of the people of Salem.

I’m not sure if you are familiar with the movie or the play, but there is a scene where the hangings of the “Salem witches” reaches a fervor of excitement.  People cheer and laugh and root on the hangings of the so-called-witches. The young girls of the village are convinced they are instruments of God cleansing their town of evil and the Devil, when in reality they are carrying out beefs their parents have or vengeance they have on innocent people.

*************

I’ve been struggling, like the rest of the country, with how to…what? deal with this?  That doesn’t seem right.  Sort it out? Make sense of it in my mind?

See, I still don’t know what I am supposed to do with it.

But this is what I know: The public reaction to the entire thing sickens me almost as much as the killing of innocent children and school staff members did.

Friday afternoon, after my last class left, I got on the internet and saw the news.  I didn’t read any of it knowing that my desk at work was not a good place for me to read something so triggering to my anxiety, instead I did the super dumb thing…but the habit…and checked facebook before signing off for the week.

I wish I had stayed off facebook all weekend.

There were people calling for bullets to be put in the heads of all people with mental illnesses.

There was a massive uproar to get rid of all the guns.  And consequently, there was an abundance of MOAR GUNS! ARM THE TEACHERS!

There were those praising the teachers, and people calling those of us who shared stories illustrating our bravery and heroism selfish and insensitive.

There were those making personal connections because they too had children that age. And they, like myself, let the tragedy seep into their imaginations and play out the “what if’s…”

There were those immediately posting pictures of candles and holding vigils.  There are those who are taking a blogging day of silence today to honor those who died.

There were links to posts people passionately hammered out in the moments after the news and impassioned debates under those links with personal attacks and name-calling and finger-pointing.

Accusations started flying about the intents of people and why they would post things.  Passions ran at an all time high on the interwebs.

Friends…family…started turning on each other.

The cyber yelling that I could hear in my head that I couldn’t sort out or understand was echoed in the movie today.  The people of Salem calling for public hangings and turning on one another over politics and beliefs all while tragedy took place around them.

I still don’t know what to say.

Cortney respected my need to not watch the news, but last night {Sunday} after the lights were turned out, I tossed and turned because the intrusive, anxious thoughts began pouring in.

I imagined it happening to my children.

I put myself into the shoes of the parents…having presents under their trees for children who will never receive them. I can’t…I can’t even go on.

I had nightmares of horrible people doing horrible things in the world.

I woke up to people yelling at each other on the TV, the radio, and the internet over beliefs.

I can’t make the noise in my head go away.

This weekend we took the boys to visit Santa. We celebrated Cort’s graduation with family.  We watched Eddie sing in the church Christmas program.

It is the holiday season.  It’s always been my favorite season because it brings out the best in humanity.

Except when it doesn’t.

So on the outside we celebrated.  But on the inside…at least on my insides, I started to lose faith.

As I sat in church watching my little boy sing, “Wake up, Shepherds!” tears formed in my eyes.

What does my heart feel?

Overwhelming grief for those not watching their little ones sing.

Confusion that my profession has become a “dangerous” one.

Anger…oh the anger..at so many things. The shooter.  The system that failed him, his mother, the students, the teachers…us as a country.

I am mad at guns. There, I said it.  My beliefs about gun control haven’t changed other than right now I would probably be glad if I never saw one again. I am sure someday I will be more rational about it.  But right now? I hate them.

I’m angry at those who think that people with mental illnesses should kill themselves.  I have a mental illness.

I am pissed off that people are claiming that if we had more God in our schools, this wouldn’t have happened.

I harbor a deep rage for people who think in order to honor someone, we can’t say our personal opinions, while at the same time hating some of those personal opinions.

I hate the call for silence, but I can’t function through all the noise anymore.

I keep thinking…”if it were me. If that was my class. If we were all sent to heaven…”  But I can’t get past that. I can’t let that scenario play itself out because then I have to imagine Cort raising our boys alone.  Sleeping in our bed alone.  Charlie never knowing me.  Eddie only having vague memories.

Damn it.  See? I can’t do it.

But I wouldn’t want silence.

But this noise that is happening? Is not what I would want either.

I have thoughts on all the political views this tragedy has stirred up…but I just…I can’t. When I voice them, I get roared down and I just don’t have the stones right now to take it.

*************

Saturday night Eddie couldn’t sleep because he was afraid of the shadows.  I was too…different shadows though.  So when he asked me if I would lay by him, I got under the covers and held him close to me. I traced his face with my fingers and pushed my nose into his hair.

I asked him if he wanted to say a prayer, and he said yes.

So we thanked God for our lives and for our family. We asked him to bless “mommy, daddy, Eddie, and Charlie.”  We asked forgiveness for “our sins yike being mean.”

And we asked him to keep us safe from the shadows.

In this season of hope and charity…I am losing my faith in humanity.

There is one thing I know for sure…destruction does not heal destruction; Hate does heal hatred.

As Mary Warren says in The Crucible “We must all love each other now.”

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...