Thursday, December 11, 2014

What Now?

I decided to stop doing the day thing since my posting is so very sporadic--both in timing and in subject.

I'm not really sure where to begin with this post, as is so often the case.  I just feel on the tip of some new bit of clarity and I felt prompted to try and sort it out here.

The thing is... I'm not doing very well.

This comes after having three totally stable days last week (no extreme ups, no extreme downs, just able to function like a "normal" person) and one 95% stable day.  It was fantastic.  I was able to get caught up on so many things I've fallen behind on over the past couple of months.  And HH had a bit of relief from worrying about me all the time.  And I got to help my kids with their school work and carry on normal conversations with them and even host a few playdates with their friends.

And then it all came crashing down.  Big time.

And I keep thinking I'm on my way back up.  And in some ways I am.  I don't feel overly depressed, or anxious, or any of that stuff.  For the most part, I feel okay.  Not great or happy, but okay.

But the problem is, the darkest of my thoughts just keep coming.

And I'm getting so tired of fighting them off.

In some ways, it's even harder to keep fighting when I'm doing *mostly* okay than it is when I'm severely depressed.  Because right now it just feels so unfair.  And inexplicable.  And I don't understand it.  And it scares me because it feels like this fight will never end.  Not even pause to give me a brief reprieve.

I'm exhausted from finding things to do to keep myself busy and distracted.

But, I've been thinking a lot about faith.

If you've read my prior posts, I hope you know that I most definitely have faith in Jesus Christ.  Somewhere I remember hearing or reading about the difference between believing in Jesus Christ, versus simply believing Him.

And I think that is where my struggles currently lie.  I believe in Christ and all of His promises.  But, I think there is something in the way of my believing that all of that actually applies to me too.  He says that He gives us weaknesses so we will humble ourselves and turn to Him, so He can make us strong and so we can sit down with Him in the place He has prepared for us in the mansions of His Father (Ether 12).

I believe that.

But, it's harder to believe in it.

Because believing in it means that I have to keep fighting.  It means that no matter how hard things get, I don't get to say that I'm quitting because I'm just not strong enough.  It means that I have to trust that I've been given the strength I need to keep fighting, no matter how dark or how scary or how much I want to just give in and give up.

And even though the alternative of trusting and persevering is pretty unthinkable, it still means I would finally get a break from all of my demons.

But I know that the reasons to keep fighting vastly outweigh the reasons to quit.

So, I choose to have faith.  The kind of faith that means truly trusting those promises.  That is the kind of faith that brings about hope.  I think that hope is what gives us the strength to face the challenges we'd rather not face.

Today HH told me that I'm a fighter and that he's grateful I keep fighting.

I don't feel like a fighter.  So, I'm going to start out by having faith in his faith and hope that that's enough to give me the strength I need to get through today.  And I'm going to be grateful that I have a man like HH in my life who never gives up on me and always believes in me and is often the source of strength I need to keep fighting.  And always encouraging me with the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Day 104: Personality Shift

I have to begin this with a bit of a disclaimer:  I am manic today.  I've been in what's called a "mixed state" for over a week now.  That means I'm both manic and depressed at the same time.  Which means it's just the miserable parts of mania going on.  I feel miserably down, hate myself, and can't sit still or calm down.  And I'm really angry and irritable.

Pretty much all things awesome.

But, today, I've left the depression behind and I've just got the mania.  Before you go feeling all sorry for me--Don't.

Being manic has its upsides.  Today I just feel really happy.  And excited.  About life.  About my future.  About my date with HH tonight.  It is really easy to get angry when I'm manic though, so I've had to reign myself in when my kids were not listening and obeying this morning.

But, I did.  For the most part.

And now, I'm back to being happy.

The problem with being manic and attempting a post, however, is that my mind is kind of all over the place and it's difficult to follow one train of thought to its completion.  But, you were all very kind in overlooking the numerous typos in my last post, so I'm trusting you will do the same if this post is a bit jumpy.

I just hope it makes sense.

The thing is, I think I've noticed some fairly significant positive changes in myself as I've started to "come back to life" since ending my ECT treatments.

You know I've always been a perfectionist.  To the extreme.  How I would go to any lengths to be perfectly in shape, have a perfectly clean house, be the perfect wife and mom, live my religion perfectly, and so on.  Or, at least to appear to be perfect in each of those areas.

And then I'd hate myself for falling short.  And for being a fake and a hypocrite.

So, a friend gave me an audio book just before I moved, called Daring Greatly.  I'd only just begun listening to it shortly before ECT began.  Which of course means that I completely forgot everything I'd read.

So, I picked it up again this past week and just started over at the beginning.  While I don't really remember having read it before, I do remember the feeling I had while listening to it.  Mostly, I just remember cringing with shame and fear as I listened to it the first time.

The author talks all about the value of being vulnerable.  And of letting go of the feeling of "not being _____ enough".

It was like she had been watching me go about my life and she was talking straight to me.

What she said made sense.  I knew she was right.  And that my life would be better if I made the changes she was talking about.

And it terrified me.

And then I went through ECT and completely forgot everything.  But, as I've been listening to it over again this week, I'm remembering those feelings and discovering that they aren't there this time.

Last week, while I was out for a run, I had a little epiphany.  It was as cars were driving past me while I ran at my current about-45-seconds-slower-than-before pace and I realized that I didn't feel the desperate need to speed up, so they would know how fast I can be.  I mean, the thought to do so briefly popped into my head, but then I had this little conversation with myself:

"If they stopped and I told them what I've been through over the last month and a half, they would not only not judge me for being slow, but they would think I am totally awesome for all that I am doing."

A little conceited?  Perhaps.  But, it's actually a conversation I've had with myself numerous times before and since that moment.

But, it was while I was running that I gave pause to acknowledge how incredibly out of character that is for me, and then to ponder why it's happening and why I am okay with all of this.  And the truth is, I haven't really come up with a satisfactory answer yet.

But, I think a part of it is this--for one reason or another, I've found myself opening up and being honest about how I'm doing and what's going on with me since we decided to do ECT.  I think that is in part because we had to tell so many people what was happening because it required so much help.  And then my friend asked me to write this post for her website, and suddenly, it seemed like everyone knew.

And not one person judged me poorly.

No one came to me with any negative feedback.  No one questioned why I was so messed up.  No one told me I was wrong in any way.  No one was mean.

Not one person.

Instead, I received this overwhelming outpouring of love and kindness and support.  And, this is something that still baffles me, I received an overwhelming expression of admiration and even appreciation.


And I think that (plus, the epiphany shared in my last post) is a big part of why I'm finding it easier to be kind to myself.  And to let go of the need to constantly impress everyone.

And now that I've begun being honest and everyone knows that my life is not perfect, I feel like I have to continue being honest.  Because no one is going to believe that all of the sudden my life is magically okay and I am doing everything perfectly again.  So, it's kind of like I'm being forced into this vulnerability.  And I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that being vulnerable is awesome all of the time.  It's still scary.  I still come away from most social situations questioning much of what I said and did.  But then the feedback comes in, and it's still positive.

So, my plan is to just keep on keeping on.  Because, even though it's still scary (I'm hopeful that it won't always be), it's also still easier.  I get to spend my time focusing on the things that I need to be doing, that are most important in my recovery, or for my family.  I used to have to spend my time working on all of those surface issues, so that it would appear to everyone else that everything was perfect with perfect me.

I have to tell you that this way of living is so much more comfortable.  And I am pretty sure it also leaves a lot more room for finding happiness and for sharing that happiness with the people I love the most.

I like this personality shift.  Wherever it came from, I'm grateful for it.  Maybe ECT didn't work the way it's supposed to, but it would appear that it's made a difference in my life for the better anyway.

A difference that is good enough, it's even worth losing the last several months of my life to amnesia.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day 103: Reluctantly

I'm not sure where to begin today.  I feel like I have been going through a very personal experience and broadcasting it to the world all along the way.  For the most part, that has been because I have felt prompted too, or because many people have been asking questions.  Sometimes though, I think it's just because my new meds are making me a little manic, and I don't have much of a filter when I'm in this state.

So, I am frequently worrying that I have shared too much.  That I am making some people uncomfortable and sharing things that no one really wants to know.  But then, someone approaches me to thank me for being courageous and honest and expresses some way in which it has helped them.  Honestly, this surprises me every time and I don't really understand how it is helping, but I am grateful for the opportunity to help anyone else going through a hard time.

That being said, what I am about to share is something that feels very personal.  I shared it with HH this morning, bawling the entire time, and then oddly enough, which actually discussed my sharing this with someone else.  I told him I couldn't.  It's just too close to the heart.

And then I was sitting in church a couple hours later and I felt so strongly that I need to share it.  However, I think I can do that without sharing the part that is most personal that I think actually would be too much.  We'll see how my filter does. :)

I have really been struggling the past couple months with the issue of faith.  Not in the way I typically would.  Usually, under my current circumstances I would be doubting everything.  Thinking that God might exist, but He can't possibly love me or He would never allow me to wade through so much struggle, or make HH be stuck with so much misery and stress.

But, I have surprised myself by remaining faithful.  I know that God exists and I know that He loves me.  I know that He has a plan for me and that this is a part of it.  I know that I am learning and growing things that there must be no better way for me to learn than to go through all of this mess.

The problem arises when I feel that no progress is being made.  That in a lot of ways, things are actually getting worse.  So, my conclusion has been that I must be lacking in someway.  I felt that my even though my faith is intact, it must still be incomplete because I have had so many blessings (in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in Priesthood blessings just like those given by the Savior and His disciples, and His prophets throughout the scriptures), prayed so many prayers, and had so many prayers prayed on my behalf--and yet, things are not improving.

So, I have been praying the past couple of months, asking what more I can/should be doing.  How I can increase my faith and what actions I can be taking to make things better.

But, the answer hasn't really come.  I've just felt confused and frustrated and inadequate.  And discouraged.  So discouraged.

Fast forward to this morning.  HH and I teach the 12-year old Sunday School class at church.  Normally, we prepare well in advance.  But, lately HH has been so busy taking care of me and everything else, he doesn't always remember.  And I just plain don't remember, plus this week I've been manic, so every time I think about preparing our lesson, my mind has moved on to something else within about 45 seconds.  So, we were doing our last minute preparations of putting it all together, this morning.  This paragraph was me trying to assuage my guilt--can you tell?

Anyway, as a part of it, I was reading Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk from October 2013 General Conference, "Lord, I Believe".  I strongly encourage you to click on that link and either listen to or read his address.  It hit me profoundly the day he first delivered it and it hit me profoundly today.

It was the answer to my months of pleading and praying.  He shares the account found in St. Mark, about the father of a young boy who I am convinced has a mental illness of some sort.  He is constantly putting himself in danger and it is terrifyingly stressful for his parents.  His father pleads with the Lord to heal his son, or to at least help them in any small way.  (I was reading this talk out loud to HH, and I was bawling already by this point, as I have prayed the same prayer so many times.)

“If thou canst do any thing,” he said, “have compassion on us, and help us.
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”1
And that was my answer.  Elder Holland goes on to use this example to teach us how we should handle our faith and our questions.  He teaches that it is completely okay to have limited faith.  I could seriously just quote his whole talk here.  I'll just share the quotes that helped me the most this morning.

 "In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited...When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. It was of this very incident, this specific miracle, that Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”6 The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know."

"...Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle."

"...So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. "

And in that moment I knew that what I am doing is enough.  My faith is enough.  I don't need to feel frantic, or stressed that I am somehow failing the Lord in His expectations of me.  I am so far from perfect.  And my efforts to live the gospel the way I normally strive to and to serve others have fallen very very short of what I would like, or even what I have managed in the past.  But the Lord is satisfied with where I am at right now.  The fact that my struggles are not finding a resolution is not a reflection on lacking on my part.  He knows that things are hard and all He wants right now is to comfort and carry me through this.  But He can't do that when I am keeping a distance because I feel inadequate and undeserving.

The truth is, I will always be inadequate and undeserving.  Even if I was capable of living the way I would like to be right now, I would still fall hopelessly short.  But that is irrelevant.  He loves me and He offers His love and acceptance and approval, regardless of whether I deserve it, or not.

I am enough.  My worth is 100% separate from the status of my mental health and the progress (or lack thereof) at finding wellness again.

And I can have peace in the midst of the most awful and horrifying circumstances.  I can wade through darkness I could have never imagined possible and know that somehow, someday, somewhere it will be okay.  His hand is outstretched, waiting to take mine, and to walk with me through it all, even at the scariest of times.

And my faith is enough that I can take His hand.  I can turn to Him when I feel confused and hopeless and scared.  I can say to Him, "If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on [me], and help [me]...Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."  And I know that He will.

The answer to this prayer was painfully long in coming.  But I'm so grateful for it.  I was reaching a point where I didn't know how I would be able to continue.  But now I have what I need to keep pressing on.  And it is enough.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Day 102: Remember Me?

Because I don't.

Not really.

I've forgotten just about everything that has happened since we moved back in May.  For real.  I keep discovering new things in my house.  And I have to re-meet people who live around here.  And the kids have to keep reminding me of things that have happened in our life.

Yesterday, I discovered that we have a swing set in our backyard.

So fun.

And we're not sure how well the ECT worked.  We think it still needs to clear out of my head a bit and then we'll notice more benefit from it.  But, I haven't made the drastic turn around that some people get.

It has been a neat experience in that I have never felt so cared for and connected to the rest of society.  Everywhere I go people are asking how I'm doing and telling me they are praying for me.  And I truly have felt all of the prayers.  So, to those who have been a part of that, thank you.

It's also been nice because we've just kept being honest and open about everything.  No more secrets. And as awkward and uncomfortable as that can be, it's also nice to just be open.  It's easier to laugh at where I'm at that to cover up the pain and pretend that my life is perfect.

But, I am really looking forward to getting all of this anesthesia out of my system, so I can tell how much the process worked.  So I can stop forgetting everything the moment after it happens.  And so I can stop needing a long nap in the middle of every day.

I am just really ready to be a capable person again!  At least somewhat.  I want to not be totally overwhelmed by the prospect of being a mom to my kids.  Or making dinner.  Or laundry soap.  Or grocery shopping.

But mostly, I just want to be happy.  So, I'm trying really hard to practice patience.  With my life and myself.  I'm trying hard to tell myself that it is okay to be this new me.  To be flawed and to not get everything done.  And this is all going to be just fine, right?  I am going to get through this okay.  Because I have this amazing support group behind me every step of the way and, miraculously, they don't appear to have any intentions of giving up on me.

How did I get to be so very blessed?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Day 101: 10-12 Seizures This Month? Sign Me Up!

You may have noticed (but probably didn't because I unintentionally do this all the time) that I skipped a day.  That's because I've been working on a different post for a month now.  But, it's a really... I'm not finding a word to describe it.  It's just that it's not something I'm sure I want to share.  Not because it's awful or horrifying.  Mostly, just because it's not happy.  In an irreconcilable way.

On to this post.

And seizures!

Induced seizures!

There.  I just wanted you to read something enthusiastic on this blog for a change.

Here's the nitty gritty of it:

Medication isn't working for me.  I've been on a quite a few.  It's pretty much somewhat informed guesswork.  There are so many meds and every individual is so different and usually it's a combination of drugs that ends up working--it's just a matter of finding the right cocktail for me.  Since this is a relatively new ride for me to be on, I was assuming that I was traveling the normal path, headed the right direction, and there really wasn't an alternative, so we had to just keep adding, dropping, and switching doses around on my meds.

Don't get me wrong--this has been a lot of fun.  We found out (through, surprise, guesswork!) that two of my medications taken at certain levels caused my limbs and extremities to go numb and tingly.  So bad that one night I woke up to go to the bathroom and fell on the floor because my leg was gone completely.  After the blood panel and MRI turned up normal, we decided to adjust the meds.  And honestly, I'm grateful it was such a simple fix.

There have been a lot of other fun side effects.  But, I won't make you all jealous by going into detail here.

All the while, my actual bipolar symptoms seem to be getting worse.  We don't know how much is circumstantial and how much could be from meds, because this is all guesswork, in case you didn't know.

My last few appointments with my psychiatrist were interspersed with several pauses of him just looking at me for a while before saying, "I'm really worried about you."

Which pretty much just made me feel awkward.  And I always feel that most things said by psychiatrists and therapists (except my current therapist who is anything but typical), are kind of meant to make me think or feel something that they think will fix me.

I'm pretty sure I'm a really fun patient to treat.

Anyway, it turns out that he actually meant it, and he started to push for something called ECT.  I told my therapist and he thought it was too extreme and tried to kind of persuade me against it.

Fast forward, and apparently everyone agrees that I really need it.

ECT is basically induced seizures.  3 times a week for around 4 weeks.  Because someone somewhere noticed that people with epilepsy frequently experience an elevated mood after the worst of the aftermath is over.

Who knew, right?

I'll be under general anesthesia and given a muscle relaxant, so I'll be spared the worst of it.  But, I'll have really bad headaches and feel nauseated.  And I can't drive.  And I'm supposed to have round the clock care.  Even on my off days.

Oh, and I probably won't remember much of the month of October.  And other memories from my past might become hazy, as well.

A part of me is desperate for this and sad and scared that I have to wait until this weekend to begin.  Medication has about a 40% success rate, while ECT has a 70-90% success rate.  It won't cure me, but it will take the worst of it away and possibly make me more receptive to meds.  I can't imagine how great it would be to feel better than I do right now.  And to not have to fight so hard against dark things.

But, I'm also sort of totally terrified.  Not really of the seizures themselves.  But, what if it doesn't work?  What if I'm in that 10-30% who don't respond?  Where do we go after that?  There are a couple other procedures, but they sound freaky.  As in actually inserting stuff into your brain, freaky.

And I don't want to disappoint anyone else.  People are making some really big sacrifices to help us be able to make this happen.  I don't want it to be a waste.

And HH has had his hopes pinned all over this pretty much since he found out about it.  I don't know how I'll handle his disappointment if this doesn't help as much as he's hoping it will.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 99: Lethargy

I've written so many blog posts in my head over the past month or two.  But I would have had to write them from my phone.  And I never felt up to that effort.

And now that I'm here, I'm not sure what to write.

But I feel like I have to because I've wanted to for so long.  There's something about typing it all down that just helps.

It's been a long road.  I guess it will continue to be.  And maybe it is for everyone.

It's been so many ups and downs.  Well, mostly downs.  But, it's been kind of a crazy ride since I left the hospital.  They've changed my meds a few times and I'm learning that that can be a difficult transition.  I just got put on a medication that kind of knocks me out.  Which is awesome at night (I've slept through the night every night since I started it--that NEVER happens.  Usually I'm up several times).  But I have to take it at morning and noon as well.  And that's rough.

It's been building every day and the past couple of days it has left me completely lethargic.  I don't want to get up.  Showering is a chore.  And doing my hair and make up?  Bleh.  Forget cleaning and cooking, too.

It's kind of a mess.

We have a few really big things going on this week and I just don't want to have anything to do with them.

I just want to do nothing.

There's not much of the depression involved in this.  Which is a good thing.  Because that would probably push me over the edge.

But I feel the depression creeping in.  And I'm worried what will happen.  I talked to my doctor about it, and he said I can switch up how I take it--more at night, less during the day.  I forgot to do that today.  And at some point, the benefits of the medication will kick in.  And the sleepiness factor might lessen.

And maybe I'll be okay.

I did have a few good days last week.  Not really the hypomania.  Just normal, stable happiness.  I don't really know how to describe how fabulous it was.  I'm so sad it's over.

My new therapist (I have a new new therapist) is an expert on bipolar and bipolar II.  This is fantastic because he is teaching me so much and it's amazing to understand why I think and behave the way I do, and to learn ways to mitigate the negative to some degree.

But, sometimes the information is hard to take.

Like when he told me that someone with Bipolar II typically spends 90% of life in the depression phase and 10% in the hypomanic.

So, I'm hoping that my good days aren't really over yet, but that they're just being overshadowed by my new med.  I don't want to be headed down again.  I just came from there.  And I don't like it.

I better close this super cheery post because it's almost dinner time and I'm the only one here who can make it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 98: Fake It Till You Break It

I can be really good at faking it.

And sometimes, that faking leads to making it.  Just as the adage says.  Sometimes, I fake a smile and go out with friends or family, and after a while, I really do feel happy and like smiling.

Sometimes, I fake it till I take it.

Okay, I'm not actually sure what that meant.

But, sometimes, I fake it until I just get through what ever "it" is.  The faking is just enough to allow me to keep my head above the water until the thing comes to a natural conclusion and, at some point, the waters recede and I discover that I survived.  Maybe not cheerfully, but I did survive.

And then there are the times that I fake it till I break it.

And that's when everything falls apart.

I know, I've spent a lot of time in therapy learning the pitfalls of that mindset and working hard on coming up with strategies to avoid it.  Having my safety plan with a list of people I can (should) call when the going gets tough.

But it's hard.

And most of the time, I can just have a private crash with a few days of feeling sad and despondent and then HH helps me pick up the pieces and pull through.

But, right now, we go back and forth between our parents' homes.  There isn't really a place to have a private crash.  At least, not with my few days to mourn whatever brought on the crash, and the following sadness.  I don't know how to really explain it, but that's what it feels like.

So, things have been getting worse and worse, as far as my mental state, but I couldn't bring myself to have such a public crash.  I didn't want people to worry about me.  Both for my sake and for theirs. 
So, I kept pushing it aside and telling myself I just had to get through until we moved into our new house.

But, I haven't really been sleeping well.

And I don't know if it's the mono, or the stress, but my physical health is deteriorating and I can barely exercise any more, even when I do find the time, which is rare.

And life away from home and after a move is stressful in general--for me and the kids.

And HH is working some longer hours, plus has an hour commute each way.

And then a week and a half ago, my grandpa died.  I was there when my dad found out.  And my mom was out of town at the time, so I felt like I needed to take care of him.  And I was really worried about him.  I still don't think I've sat down to deal with my own loss in this.

And then we drove out to the funeral, got to bed late, held the funeral,  I sang a duet with my sister (something I'm not really comfortable doing--the singing part, I'm happy to hang out with my sister), spent some time with my dad's family, and then we turned around and drove home.  I was feeling guilty because other people stayed to spend more time together, but we really needed to get back.  And we did, but in the wee early morning hours of Sunday.

And I was supposed to sleep in, but I barely slept at all, so that didn't happen.  I was so ridiculously tired.

But, we were throwing a birthday party for Darling A that evening.  With both sides of the family.  Because that's what you do when you live close to so much family.

I had spent quite a bit of the week prior stressing over it.  And then when I realized I was going to have a funeral right before, my stress went into double time.  And when one of the cakes came out of the pan in multiple pieces, I just about cried.

But, thanks to some help from my sister-in-law earlier in the week with some fondant cows plus a lot of frosting, the cakes actually turned out pretty cute.

Then my husband's grandma (who offered to let us throw the party at her house) got really stressed out and upset because of some poor planning on our part.  Which is kind of the story of my life right now.  There are so many things going on, I feel like I'm never organized enough to plan anything right.  I felt so guilty about causing her stress, that was when things really started to unravel for me.

I think the party went okay, but I felt like it should be perfect.  And it wasn't.  At least, not in the way I had hoped it would be.

And on the way home, HH and I began a discussion about my therapy and then kind of my prognosis.  And HH expressed some disappointment with the fact that he keeps thinking changing my circumstances will improve my mental health, but it really hasn't yet.  He wasn't saying this to hurt me, by any means.  I know being in his shoes must be a terrible place to be.  And sometimes, he allows himself to express that.  And I hate that he pretty much always feels guilty about it afterward.

The problem this time, is that that goes right along with a vein of thinking I've been following myself quite a bit lately.  Just that I'm never going to get better.

And I'm not talking about being cured from bipolar.  I'm just talking about rising above the pervasive depression that has been hanging over me (us) for the better part of the last year.  I don't think I've been stable for more than a week or two at a time, and even those have been rare.

I've been down so much that it's hard for HH to see that I'm trying to rise above it, and not just wallowing in it all the time.  It's hard for anyone who doesn't deal with this to understand what an effort it can be just to survive the day.  And that, these days, that's really the best I can do.  Having fun or laughing are sometimes luxuries that come at too high of an effort for me to afford.  And the art of "positive thinking" is just a distant dream.

And so Sunday night, I lost the will to keep trying.  I just couldn't do it any more.  The suicide ideations that drove me to the hospital last October had been slowing creeping back in over the past couple of months and I just grew too tired to fight them off.

I didn't sleep well again that night, so they were my constant companions.

I just happened to have a therapy appointment set up for that day.  And my therapist had requested that HH come with me so she could meet him.

For the first time, I actually cried in a therapy session.  I blame HH because he cried first.  And that's all I'll say about the session.  It was very painful.

My therapist knew I needed to go to the hospital.  I knew I needed it, but I didn't want to.  And HH knew that going to the hospital might just make things worse for me as it did when I went for a few days back in 2012.

But, I couldn't get myself to a place where I felt safe to be alone.  So, I had him check me in.  It's a long story, but we didn't get to the hospital until late that night and it was after 1 AM by the time I was shown my room.

It was a really nice facility.  Not actually a hospital.  The first day and a half I was on a very secure floor with patients who struggle with mental illness a lot worse than mine, but then a bed opened up for me upstairs and I was with people I had more in common with.  A lot of people with bipolar mostly.

And it was kind of really nice.  Except the nights.  And the not being able to shave my legs (razors were at the top of the list of everyday items that were now termed "contraband").

But, here were all of these people who understand me perfectly.  They know how even a great life can't stop bipolar depression.  And the pain of watching it hurt those you love.  And that we can't control it, no matter how hard we try.

Some of the conversations we carried might have been disturbing to those free from mental illness.  But, it was nice to be able to share and learn from each other.

It was also easier because when one of us was struggling, we knew how to offer support and when to give space.  I had a bit of a breakdown one night and into the next morning, and it was amazing how these friends of only a couple days were able to tell me what I needed to hear.  And then just allowed me the time to be by myself to work through the rest on my own.

It felt so safe there.  The suicide ideations were completely gone.  Replaced by peace and actually, happiness.

It helped that there was very little stress.  No meals to cook or clean up.  No messes.  No one needing me at all, really.  I didn't even have to remember when to take my own medications.  They took care of everything for us.  It was just a bunch of group therapy sessions which ranged from discussing coping skills and self-esteem, to making a rose out of clay and playing Name That Tune.  And then some free time to read a book or talk with friends.  Time to walk outside with a couple of friends.  And the occasional appointment with my arrogant but intelligent psychiatrist.

I wanted to leave Friday so I could join my family on an outing to Lagoon we'd planned weeks ago, so we could go with my sister's and my brother's families on Saturday.

Friday morning I woke up very depressed, so I all but made up my mind to stay another couple of days.  But, I sorted through the problem and started to feel better bit by bit.  Plus, the thought of my leg hair growing any longer was making me crazy.  Sad, but true.

So, I convinced everyone I was ready to go and we went back to Plan A.

The rest of the day was really great.  My new-found friends were so kind and complimentary and I began to feel like a total rock star.

I didn't realize it until I was on my way home with HH, but I had gone to the other extreme and was now hypomanic.  It felt so great.

Then we got back to my parents' house and all of the kids wanted my attention (understandably so) and everyone was talking and I couldn't focus.  I would blank out for minutes at a time.  And I felt so lost and terribly overwhelmed.

And I crashed again.  And rapid cycling like that is exhausting and painful.

I know this has been really hard on HH.  He wants to make me happy and when he can't, it tears him up.  But, I think it's all the worse when he sees that something else has made me happy, and then it doesn't last when we're together.

And I can see how painful that must be from his perspective.  But, I could never really have been happy in the hospital for long.  Because he wasn't there.  Cliche as it is, I really do feel incomplete without him.  As nice as it is to have someone understand me so well, I would never want him to experience the dark places my bipolar takes me to.  Never ever ever.

Some day, this has to get better.  This cloud has to life.  Right?  He can't always keep me from falling apart.  But, he helps me pick up the pieces and put them back together.  I wish we could make them fit in the way he wants.  The way that means I'm stronger and happier.  But, neither of us knows how to do that.

In the meantime, hopefully, I've learned my lesson and I actually will reach out to one of the many kind souls who tell me to "call anytime" I need someone.

I don't know.  Honestly, I can't really picture myself doing that.

But, I'll keep working on it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Day 98: Let's Face The Facts

Trying to be a consistent blogger while I'm staying in someone else's home is not going to happen.

There are just too many other things and people going on around here.

Good things.  And good people.  But not conducive to, well, anything consistent, really.

Hopefully, that is more attributed to the whole house hunting mess than just not being in our own space.  But, we really don't have any sort of consisent routine.

Except looking for/at homes for two hours every night online.

It's the most fun thing ever.

Oh, wait.  It's not.

But I did have a thought the other day.  And I can feel its real world application, though I'm still sorting through that part.

Basically, I've noticed that the way I consider and value a home has evolved.

When we first started looking at homes, I had a very difficult time seeing past the most obvious things in a room:  furniture, color of the walls, dirty surfaces.  A home might have been passable, but if there was a bunch of grime around the knobs on doors, I just wanted to leave.

Then I started paying more attention to the items listed on the spread for each home.  So I could remember that a home has 5 bedrooms even if the kitchen cabinets are a little dirty.

But now, I've become much more proficient of taking all of the above into account while also considering the space and potential of a home.

Finding the beauty within, so to speak.

Does that mean we'll end up with the big house that has great potential, but requires quite a bit of work?  I don't know.

But, it is teaching me that I can make the same changes in how I see people.

I'm not proud of this, but I do get very uncomfortable around people who aren't "pretty".  I put that in quotations because I don't mean the typical definition of pretty.  I mean people who don't fit in (that one weird looking house in the neighborhood, you know?), are a little grimy, rough around the edges, or maybe just need some extra work to find their true potential.

There are exceptions to this in my life, thankfully.  I have been able to "overlook" the above mentioned "shortcomings" of some people I've crossed paths with.

But, I really want to get past that whole mentality.  I want to see people for what they really are--just like seeing the structure inside the run down home.  And I don't want to feel like I'm "overlooking" any part of them, but to accept them for who they once were and can become.

And when you're looking at the "floor plan" of an individual, there really isn't much of a difference between those two things.  We have always been and always will be children of God.  He created each of us, as a unique masterpiece for Him.  We will always be divine because that is where we came from.  Becoming more like our Father in Heaven may require knocking out a wall here, or there.  Or, maybe even gutting the kitchen to start fresh, but fundamentally, it's still the same house.  Just better.

As I type this I realize that I'm not just talking about other people.  Maybe it's just me.  If I could look past my dented walls, broken blinds, missing door knobs, and the weeds that have overtaken my backyard, and see the daughter of God that I have always been and the divine inheritance He has promised for what I can become, maybe I could see that in others as well?

Maybe then I could make peace with who I am right now.  Because I would know where I came from, what I started out as, and where I am going and can become.  Where I am now is a product of both the maintenance I've let slip and also the improvements and upgrades I've invested in. 

Even the most perfect home still needs maintenance to stay in great condition.

I am a work in progress.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Day 97: It's That Space Thing

So, I'm out of the habit of doing this.  Obviously.

But, I also like to be on my own when I type these posts.  They're kind of personal.  In case you didn't notice.

And by the time the computer is all by itself, it's time for bed.

But, tomorrow is HH's birthday, he's out for a run, and I'm up baking cupcakes for him to take to work tomorrow.

Apparently, that's what all the cool bosses do.

But, it has afforded me some one-on-one time with the computer.

So, Friday actually brought a few Joyful Moments.  Most of which happened on a date with HH.  A very random and fly by the seat of your pants kind of date.  It was fun, though.  We were in our old stomping grounds from our dating days.

And I think that made us forget that we are no longer college students and going to the late movie, after a full date of dinner and a walk and not one, but two desserts, is a bad idea.  We are too old to stay up past 11 PM.

Still so fun and perfect to just hang with my HH and forget about all my worries and sadness for a few hours.

Saturday, I was a little impulsive and joined a gym.  I've been doubting the wisdom in this (since pretty much every detail of our lives is up in the air until we buy a house).  But, if I would have typed this post on Saturday, I would have said that was a Joyful Moment.  I've been missing my gym.

Other Saturday Joyful Moments included:  Meeting up with my sister and her family at a super fun indoor pool.  It had so many fun playscapes and a lazy river and a big slide and we all had a great time.  And then we got to go celebrate her little man's birthday.  It was really fun to hang out with everyone.  And to see that he was pretty pleased with our gift.

Sunday I got to spend time with both of my sisters.  Unfortunately, not at the same time.  But, I really like my sisters, so this was full of Joyful Moments.

And I made my favorite chicken recipe.  And you know how much joy I find in good food.

Monday was kind of rough.  Mostly, because Sunday night was really rough.  A lot of details came together at about 10 PM Sunday night creating a crazy and stressful Monday for me.  One of those days that starts early and is just one thing to the next to the next to the next.  And asking favors of people.

I know I'm supposed to be happy to let other people help me.

But, that's one area I still really struggle with.

I kind of hate it.  And it makes me grumpy.

But, right now, it's a daily, unavoidable part of my life.

Plus, I had an appointment with my new therapist.

This was very hard.

I never blogged about it because everything was so nuts and also because I still feel weird about it, but leaving my other therapist was really hard.  Maybe a little traumatic.

I think I felt weird about it because he's a man and (after a lot of kind wasted time trying to get his help without really telling him much) I've really opened up to him.  And he knows more about me than anyone besides HH, God, and myself.

And I just feel weird about that.

But, it freaked me out to think about having to move on and start over with someone else.  It took me forever to build that trust with him.  It's so hard to be open and vulnerable and share the darkest parts of me and trust that I won't be judged.

So, I was stressed and scared and dreading it.

But, I really liked her.

And, just as my therapist said it would be, it was so much easier talking to another woman.  Plus, ever since I was in the hospital last year, I've been much better about opening up.  At least, in therapy settings.  Still working on this with people close to me.

So, I guess you could say that was a bit of a Joyful Moment.  But it was still hard.  So, I'm undecided on whether that counts or not.

The rest of the day was spent looking at homes.  Either on line or in person.  I hate both ways.  I know it's only been a week, but I'm so done with the process.

That's how I spent most of Tuesday (yesterday) as well.  Fortunately, a family friend was in town and he entertained the kids and played games with them all morning.  They loved it and hardly noticed that I was unavailable most of the time.  It was especially good for Baby B.  And I'm so grateful for our friend for making his day better.

I took the kids for a bike ride last night.  We ended up just hanging out in the church parking lot.  It was perfect because they all go different speeds and I had Darling A in the stroller.  Everyone was happy.  That was my for sure Joyful Moment yesterday.  It mostly felt really good to spend time with them.  Without my phone.

Today was mostly good.  I woke up knowing that I would have control over my schedule.  That has been seriously lacking since we got here.

Because of the whole house hunting thing.  Bleh.

Anyway, knowing I would have that today made a huge difference for me.  I went for a swim at the gym this morning.  I'm still not at my fastest, but it felt good to be in the water.

And then I took the kids to Target to pick out birthday presents for the plethora of June birthdays in our family.  Shopping with all four of them is always a little stressful and nuts, but it was fun to have their help in picking out presents.  Darling A actually picked out her own birthday present.  Without knowing it, of course.

And Darling A started doing "official" Time Outs today.

This may seem like a strange Joyful Moment.

Let me explain--at Baby B's behavior program they taught us to do time outs with the child sitting crisscross applesauce, hands on their knees.  After sitting this way, quietly for 30 seconds, you ask the child to stand and then give 3 more directions (i.e. touch your nose, head, tummy, etc.), to ensure they are in a compliant and cooperative state.

Darling A hurt Baby B this morning.  So, I put her on Time Out.  Usually, that just involves me holding her still for a short bit.  For whatever reason, today I tried it the other way.  Her chubby legs looks so cute crisscross applesauce.  And she had the biggest, proudest smile on her cute face the whole time.

She was so dang excited to be doing a "real" Time Out.

Sweet P told me today, "I'm really glad you had Darling A, Mom."

I couldn't agree more.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 96: Still Looking For That

I've had my moments of finding a positive attitude this week.  But, mostly, my attitude has been far less than positive.

And I clearly did a poor (as in, nonexistent) job of posting Joyful Moments here.

So, I'm trying again.  One of my good friends is always saying, "It's okay.  I'm a work in progress."  So, I'm trying to adopt that mantra.  Including with this blog.

I've been seriously struggling the past few days to find a positive anything.  And nothing good comes from that.

Here goes.

I'm going to go back a couple of days.

Wednesday's Joyful Moment was getting a text from a friend.  I miss my friends and my life back at the North Pole SO much.  I keep reminding myself that I know we're are supposed to be here and that good things will happen here.

But, that doesn't make me miss what we had any less.

So, hearing from a friend (and knowing that I'm being missed in return) was just the boost my sad heart needed Wednesday night.

Yesterday's Joyful Moment was snuggles with Darling A.  Granted, they came because she had fallen and hit her head, which is clearly NOT joyful.  But, even after she calmed down, she stayed and snuggled in my lap.  And I needed that snuggly contact so much just then.

So far, today's Joyful Moment was having breakfast ready for my mom before she had to hurry off to the DMV.  It was kind of an accident, but I'm really happy it worked out.  Especially, because she's been making breakfasts for my kids while I sleep in (or mope in bed) every morning since we got here.

And now, I have to go separate two boys who cannot stop fighting this morning.  So, that appears to be all the positive I can muster for now.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 95: I Need A Better Attitude

HH told me that.  Pretty emphatically.  A few times.

Which is not to say that he doesn't listen to me have a bad attitude.  Over and over again.  Because he has.  Quite patiently.

But I still freaked out.  And started feeling super guilty for always being the downer in his life.  So, I didn't want to talk to him.  Because there really isn't much I can come up with that's positive right now. This move is so stressful, I'm saying good bye to all of my friends, and I'm so stressed about finding a new house.

And the next step from here.

We're moving into my parents' home.  I am so incredibly grateful to them and for them for being so willing to let us come stay at their house for an indefinite amount of time.  That has been such a relief to not have to worry about where we're going to stay in the interim period.

But, there is one problem with it.  Their house is going to be full.  Full of people I love, thank goodness.  But, one thing I learned last summer is how much I really need my own space and my own routine and my own time.

Just having the older two (non-napping) kids home created struggles for me.  And, of course, I love and adore them!  But, it meant that I never had a window of time that was my own during the day.

So, the prospect of moving into a full house is kind of freaking me out.

But, I'm not supposed to be worrying about the future.  Because I can't control it and I'm probably imagining things worse than they really will be.

But, I remembered heading into the fall last year and my therapist asking why I had made a subtle, yet steady, decline from stability and positivity to stress and sadness.  And realizing that the only thing was that small fact of not having my own time.

So, I get back to the point of freaking out.  Because I don't want to head into the downward spiral that lead me to the hospital last year.

But, it's okay.

And I really don't have any control over things from where I sit at this moment.

So, I'm going to follow HH's counsel and I'm going to try to have a better attitude.

Which means I'm going to *attempt* another go with the daily posts.  Although, given that we're moving tomorrow, this might not be the very best timing.  I'm going to try anyway.

Today (and several days prior), my Joyful Moments have come from special moments and visits with many of my friends.  I am humbled each time someone makes a special effort to stop by for one final hug.  I am so blessed to have been accepted and loved by some truly amazing women.

And we're going to skip over the part where my heart breaks a little more every time that hug ends and we have to say good bye.

Because we're sticking with the positive.  For tonight, at least.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day 94: Me Without HH

Just doesn't work.

I don't know how to be without him.  It's not just about missing him or needing his help around the house and with the kids.  I just don't know how to be without him.  I'm coming apart at the edges.  And it's just coming in closer and closer before I'm suddenly completely apart.  I keep withdrawing more and more inside myself.  Like a big black hole imploding in on itself.

Or something like that.

Thankfully, my parents came for a long and *very* helpful visit. They took care of the bulk of the logistics with preparing for our move.  My dad kept very busy fixing everything he could lay his hands on.  But mostly, they gave my kids all the love and attention they could soak up.  All the love and attention I've been struggling to provide as I withdraw.

But, they left today.  And now I have to wash my own dishes.  And be a mom to my children for longer than 15 minutes at a time.

The good news is, HH is making a quick visit this weekend.  It's a surprise for the kids and I am so excited to see their faces when he walks out of our bedroom Saturday morning.  (I pick him up from the airport late Friday night).

But, I still have to get through 2 1/2 days.  Which should feel like nothing.

But, without my HH, it might as well be forever.

I need my HH.  So much.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Day 93: Respite

Today went much better.

Probably because a billion people were praying for me.  Including my HH and his never ending love, patience, and faith in  me.  He talked with me until late into the night until I was okay enough sleep.

I hoped I would feel better in the morning.  But I didn't.

And the kids weren't exactly well-behaved either.

But, HH and I talked this morning and he shared with me the results of his praying and what we can do to better our situation.  And it gave me hope.

And we all know that hope is the key to pressing on.

A friend encouraged me to join her and other friends for lunch.  Darling A and I needed a place to go anyway because there was a showing going on at the house.  It was a lot of effort being out among the living, but I think it helped.

And then, miraculously, the kids were fairly well-behaved tonight.  We had a nice peaceful dinner, during which everyone ate their food--including their vegetables.

We had time to read a couple of stories.

We had our share of time outs as well.  But, we survived them.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I'm grateful for the relief of today.

Now I just need my HH.  I wish he could wrap me in his arms and I could feel safe in his strength and optimism.  We're 1/7th of the way through this.  I know it will get easier, but I hate it anyway.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Day 92: When Satan Thinks You Have A Good Idea

HH started his new job yesterday.

Which meant that he left here on Saturday, so he could be there by Sunday night.

And it's been kind of rough ever since.  I mean, we have some normal moments.  And even some good moments.  But overall, we're all struggling in his absence.  And all of the continued stress from everything else going on.

Darling A does alright until dinner time.  At which point she has sat down and cried her heart out that Daddy hasn't come home yet.  So, today I printed this photo and covered it in contact paper for her.  It is all bent and beat up from being carted around everywhere, kissed, and loved on.  

And she did much better at dinner tonight.

Each of the three mornings since HH left, I've managed to reach a moment of peace and optimism and strength.

Sunday that only last about 30 seconds.  

Fortunately, yesterday and today have been better.

But, I'm so exhausted and discouraged by the end of the day.

Today I had therapy appointments with my therapist and then with Baby B's therapist.  They both had some really great ideas.  And I was so optimistic.  And at the outset, things were going so smoothly.  Our evening was structured and peaceful, the kids knew where they were supposed to be and what they were supposed to be doing.  We had some really great bonding time together.

And then it all went to hell.  For real.

And I'm pretty sure it's because following this new plan will make the days go better, will bring the bonding and relaxing time we all need, will bring us closer together, and will get us through the next four weeks.

It's really a good plan.

And, apparently, Satan agrees.  Because he pulled out all the stops tonight to destroy it.

So, at least I know we're on the right path.  Or, something like that...

Anyway, tonight was awful in the worst way.  I can't tell you about it.  Because I can't bear to relive it.

So, those negative coping habits came back.  And are trying really hard to break through my resolve.  And to be quite honest, I'm  not really sure I have any of that left.  My crazy is really trying to take over right now.

And I don't have HH here to hold me until it passes.

So, I'm here.  Blogging instead.  And hoping and praying that it's enough.  That I'll get through tonight and wake up tomorrow and, somehow, find that peace and strength and maybe even the optimism again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Day 91: Touch

I can't believe I had to go clear back to December to find a photo with both HH and I in it.  This is sad.

Things have been absolutely nuts over here these past couple of weeks.  It's been a whirlwind of activity and stress.

And I've learned something.

When I get stressed out, I get manic.  And then I go crazy working as hard as I can all day.  And by the time HH gets home from work, I'm sort of in a frenzy.  And still stressed because my mind keeps racing over all of the things that still need doing.  And in the process of preparing a house to sell, those things are endless.

So, HH gets home and I'm in the middle of getting dinner on the table.  Stressful even on a good day.  But now, I'm bugged that I have to do this ridiculous task every day because it's not something I can ever really check off.  I have to do it again tomorrow.  Where is the progress in that?  Plus, it's taking time away from the thousands of other things that need my attention.  And it's creating a mess I'll have to clean up.

Did you ever realize what a waste of time meals are?

Don't worry, that's a joke.


Anyway, I digress.

So, HH gets home and wants a hug first thing.  Not just the quick kind I try to get away with, but a real, longer than 3 seconds, hug.  With both of my arms involved in the hugging, not slicing strawberries or stirring a pot on the stove.

And a lot of the time, especially lately, he doesn't get it.

And I didn't realize it until last week, but thus begins a downward spiral.  He (inexplicably to me) feels guilty that I'm so stressed and wonders if I'm mad at him since I didn't take the time to hug him.  So, he's kind of hurt and becomes more critical as a defense mechanism.  I'm exhausted and definitely overly sensitive to criticism right now, plus I think, "Can't he see how much I'm doing?  Why would he be critical?".  So, I get hurt and mad and put up my walls.

And we have a fight.

And he's feeling guilty and defensive.  And I'm feeling hurt and exhausted.

And I absolutely don't want him to come anywhere near me.  Even if he apologizes.  Because I'm so tightly wound right now, I just have a hard time switching it off and letting those walls back down.

But, after a couple fights in which he mentioned being frustrated because I never wanted/had time to hug him (and I'm seriously just talking about hugs here, people--it's not a euphemism!), I had this revolutionary thought--"What if I take a minute every day when he gets home and give him my undivided attention and a real hug?"

So, I tried it the next evening.  And I decided to really go above and beyond and do things like squeeze his hand, or touch his shoulder.  Whoa.

And guess what?  I think we've had one fight since.  And it wasn't even a big one.

Maybe there are some other factors involved as well, but making time for hugs and other physical contact has been sort of a magic pill for our marriage.  And it's not been at all trying for me, like I thought it might be.  Dinner still makes it to the table, but I feel less stressed after hugging him.  And we are closer and more united.

And that's a much better place to be at with all of this stress and craziness surrounding us.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Day 90: Which Direction?

So, we're moving.

Out of state.

Back "home".  Closer to family.

Except that this place has come to feel a whole lot like home over the past 5 years.  And our friends here have become our family, too.

People assume we're moving because HH got a new job.  Which he did.  But, he got that new job for me.  So that, in a crisis, I can have help.  So that, when I get overwhelmed with life, someone can come help me handle it.  So that, if/when I need to go to the hospital again, someone can take care of the kids.  And I see the good and the logic in that.

But, it feels like defeat.

Instead of choosing where we want to live based on "normal" reasons, this is yet another choice that feels like it's just been made for us.  Because of my mental health.  Mental illness.

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to live close to our family again.  Ever since the kids were small, we've felt a pull to get them closer to their cousins and other extended family.  I love and enjoy being around my family and HH's family.

And I'm excited about the location.  I get to be in the mountains again.  We can take the kids camping without dying from the heat and humidity.  We can teach the kids to ski.  We can show them where we grew up.  We can hike.  We can maybe enroll them in sports where all the games won't be played on Sundays.

But still...

I just wish I could feel like this is happening because it's what we fully want.

But, we looked at other locations.  Places closer to family, but that had other appeal as well.  Climate, new places to explore, fun things to do.

Ultimately, we kept coming back to this though.  Knowing it's what we have to do because it's what I need.

And I'm tired of making choices where my needs supersede everyone and everything else.

Not to mention the fact that I am desperately going miss all of these people I've grown to love and trust.  Especially, the few that I've recently grown close enough to to really let down my guard and trust them with things only HH and my therapist have known.  That's something invaluable.  And I know I can still call them, but there is something about being in the company of someone like that that is renewing.

So, I know I should be excited.  And some of me is.

I hope I haven't hurt or offended any of you that I will be moving closer.  Like I said, I am excited about that prospect.

It's just that, it's complicated.  This is me we're dealing with here.  And if I'm good at one thing, it's making things complicated.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Day 89: Reassurance Being Found

Me and Baby B when he was actually a baby.

I wish I could always hold him and make things right in his world.

Thanks for your kind reassurance.  I actually went from one reassuring person to the next during my day yesterday.

The drop off was rough.  I held it together until I got in the car and then I bawled the whole way home. But, it was April Fool's, so I got to keep myself busy making fun prankster foods for the kids.  (And Baby B got his wormy apple on his way home that night).

The pick up went well and he was so well-behaved all evening.

While I have great faith in this program, I know better than to believe his improved behavior was a sign of progress.  Not yet, anyway.  I think he was just relieved to be home.  The caregivers told me he had a pretty good first day.  He even earned a prize to take home from his good behavior.

He told me he did nothing all day.  Except go on time out.

That made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.  Laugh because I know it wasn't true and because he looked so cute with his mad pouty face.  And cry because, well, he's my baby.

Anyway, it's still hard and I've missed him so much yesterday and today, but I'm choosing to focus on the fact that I know this program is the right thing right now.  And not on how sad it makes me.

As with so many things, I got so worked up beforehand because of all the unknown and uncertainty.  But now that we've begun down the path, a lot of my concerns are already at rest because I can see where we're headed.  And it definitely looks like higher ground.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 87: Reassurance Needed!

I love being a mom.

Saturday night I was able to attend an amazing meeting for women, and for the first time ever, my Sweet P (on the left) got to come with me.  Every few minutes I would look over at her sitting by my side and tear up a bit at how fabulous it is to have her growing up and being a part of things with me.

Motherhood has been one of the most amazing experiences of my journey here on earth.

But, sometimes, I feel like I'm doing a really terrible job of it.

Some of you know, Baby B was a crazy easy baby.  Then right around 16-17 months he became just plain crazy.  A flip was switched and our sweet baby was transformed into a bit of a monster.  Sometimes we still see that sweet little guy, but the monstrous part seems to be getting worse.  He's getting violent and aggressive.

And he has become one of the most significant triggers for me in my struggles.

Not the best combination.

So, I took him to the pediatrician, thinking maybe a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome was in order.  However, he *can* have pretty good social skills and he's verbally advanced, so we've mostly ruled that out.  Although, a sensory processing disorder does seem quite likely.  Which is something I've suspected for a while, so it came as no surprise.

Because she witnessed his aggression in the form of him  knocking poor little Darling A around during our appointment, our doctor referred us to a sort of "daycare/preschool" facility that focuses on behavior modification.  Mainly through positive reinforcement.  But, the program is facilitated by specialists and therapists and the like, so it's actually covered by insurance as a mental health treatment.

I felt really strongly that this was the right decision for us at this time.  So, I began the process a couple of weeks ago.  Initially, excited at the prospect of helping him not only change his behavior, but also learn to take in the world in a way that allows him to be happy, rather than overwhelmed and stressed.  Plus, there's a weekly family therapy session that will help all of us know how to help him (and, I'm guessing/hoping) improve our overall family dynamics.

But, as his start date drew nearer, that optimism has been completely overshadowed by feelings of doubt and guilt.  Mostly guilt.

I keep thinking about all of the activities and moments he will miss out on.  He will still attend his regular preschool twice a week, but he will spend the majority each day at this behavior facility.

And it makes me sick with guilt.

I feel like a terrible mom.  Shipping him off because I can't handle him.  I keep thinking that it's ridiculous.  Aren't I supposed to be the one best suited to teach him and mold him and to help him grow and develop?  If only I were more patient/strong/happy/stable/etc., then he wouldn't have to do this.  

He'd be free to have play dates with his friends.  For me to tell stories to at nap time.  To have a silly April Fool's Day snack when the other kids get home from school tomorrow.

Because his start date is tomorrow (it was supposed to be today, but I pushed it back so he could have one final lunch play date with a bunch of his friends, and thankfully, he had so much fun).

And I've been fighting of tears and feelings of self-loathing all day.

I ran 6 miles this morning.

Twice as far as I should have.

As if I could run away from how much I hate that I am doing this to him.

All the while feeling like it really is the best thing right now.  And that it could be a life changing opportunity for him.   And maybe for our whole family.

And maybe an opportunity for me to be able to heal and recover a bit myself.  But, that brings with it its own bag of guilt, so we'll save that for another day...

I'm just so sad for him.  Not just about all of the things that he'll miss.  But because I keep picturing him there, wondering why he's there all day.  Every day.  Abandoned.  By the mom who is supposed to nurture him at every turn.

And I'm sad for me.  Because in between the fits and the anger and the frustration, he can be the sweetest sweetest child.  He'll give me huge bear hugs and non-stop kisses and tell me I look beautiful. And he says the funniest things.

And I'm going to miss him.

So, tell me that I'm not a terrible person.  That this is not a sign that I've given up on him.  That this really is a good thing.  The right thing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day 86: Safety First

I'm going to have to keep this short because I sorely need a nap.

I've been feeling better from the mono.  Finally.

But now comes the challenge of learning to let life back in without over doing it.  If I get a nap every day, I think I can do that.

But, that's not really what this post is about.

What is it about?

Well, when I sat down to write it, I discovered a partially written post from a few weeks ago.  If just having a title counts as a partially written post, that is.

Okay, so I'm stalling.  Because I'm not sure how to articulate, or where exactly I want to go.

The unwritten post was about an epiphany I had a few weeks ago while reading the account of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, in the bible.  Not that I'm at all equating my experience with his, it got me thinking about sacrifice in my life.

I've been really angry these past few months as my health just continued to deteriorate.  I felt like I was giving up more and more of the things (hobbies, activities, responsibilities) that make me me.  Like I was completely losing (or sacrificing) my very self.

But, on the morning of the epiphany I realized that I wasn't losing myself at all.  In reality, those were the things keeping me from knowing myself.  Those were the things I did to try and gain approval and admiration of everyone.  Including my Father in Heaven.  Instead, I was so busy with them I allow myself the opportunity to feel my Father's love and approval for the me that I really am.

Does that make sense?

I don't know.  But, I'm moving on.

Now that I've let go of so many things, I'm finally seeing progress.  Well, I'm pretty sure my new medication is helping a ton, too.  But, whatever the source, progress is happening.

  • I don't care nearly as much (sometimes not at all) about what other people think.
  • I'm not so hard on myself.
  • I accept that I can't do it all
  • I accept that I can't do it all by myself
  • I accept that I can't do it all perfectly
  • I not only know that I need others, but I'm loving it
  • I have a couple friends that I trust fully and don't feel insecure with--meaning I can call on them for help and/or a listening ear, without feeling guilty that they'd rather be doing just about anything else and are only helping me because they are good people.
  • I nap almost every day, even though it means that sometimes my kids come home to a messy house and dinner is not amazing and sometimes even late.
  • I don't hate myself for all of my mistakes and shortcomings.
  • I know that my actions don't change my worth, for better or for worse
Those are probably the main points of progress.

And I'm proud of them.

The problem is, somewhere along the way, I developed some not so good habits when it comes to dealing with stress.  And stress is kind of a natural part of life.  And I'm kind of hypersensitive to it.

So, yesterday's therapy appointment was about creating a "First Aid Kit" to intervene when things start to get stressful, but before I get completely overwhelmed.  It's basically a container full of things to help me break the stress train of thought.  Like good quotes, an essential oil scent that always makes me feel better, songs I like, sudoku puzzles, or whatever else might get me back to a better state of mind.

I totally see the reason for this.  And it makes sense.  And I can see that it can help.

But, I'm still really angry about the fact that it's something I need.  I just feel really stupid about it.  There are a lot of reasons about this.  But, when I tried to explain it to HH last night, I don't think he really understood.

So, it's probably just because I'm still struggling with denial.

I've been known to spend excessive time with denial a few times over the years.

So, there you have it.

Super short post, right?

Nap time.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 85: Safe and Sound

I had about 4 good days.  In a row.

It was magical.

Seriously can't explain how it felt.

Then yesterday hit like an express train.  It was a train wreck.  Baby B had just had a couple of off days in a row and yesterday put me way past my breaking point.  If I was a cursing woman, it would have sounded like a bunch of sailors were storming around my house.

As it was, I couldn't help but yelling a bit as HH and I drove to my therapy appointment.  Not necessarily at HH.  I just was so mad.

I have mixed feelings about how effective, or not that made our therapy appointment.  My therapist thought it was great timing.  At least I felt a little less stressed and angry when it was over.

HH and I came home and got the kids in bed and then just chilled with a movie.  I felt better.  Until I had a meltdown at bedtime, convinced that the next few days will be nightmares and I might not make it through.

Fortunately, HH just held me in bed until I fell asleep.  That always helps me feel safe and secure.

And I woke up this morning feeling a bit more optimistic about things.  A walk/jog (easing in slowly, even if it's tortuous) helped further that optimism.

Then, an interesting and helpful appointment with my psychiatrist.  We actually spent the vast majority of that appointment discussing Baby B, but that is part of a story that will most likely make its way into a future post all its own.  But, he also helped to reassure me that this new medication should help with the fallout from the stress of recent months that is most troubling to me lately.

I realize that last sentence was worded a little awkwardly.  I'm not changing it.

And then lunch with a friend who has been a lifesaver these past months, over and over again.

I'm going to pull through, folks.  I really think I will.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Day 84: These Posts Don't Write Themselves

I have sat down to write a post a few times since that last post.

But, I felt like I had nothing to write about.

Things here have been messy and ugly and I've been trying to pretend and force my way through it.  I have felt so confused, out of control, and helpless.  But, I'm so tired of explaining (and feeling like I'm complaining) to my caring friends and family.  So, I tried my hardest to keep it all under wraps.  That's a big part of why I haven't posted here either.  I'm just tired of being so messed up.

I think I mentioned that my new psychiatrist put me on a new medication.  And that I was feeling quite optimistic about it.  That optimism lasted about a day and then life got crazy and stressful and I couldn't ever get back on track.

And then I felt like my emotions spiraled completely out of control.  Last week, my therapist stopped me mid-appointment and asked, "Where are you (mood-wise) on a scale of 1-10?"  I said, "I can't really tell you."  He tried to clarify, "Usually, I can get a pretty good read on you from the moment you walk into my office.  I can see when you're doing pretty well, and I can tell when it's been a rough week.  But today, I'm having a very difficult time getting a read on you."  I nodded my head and repeated, "I can't really say myself.  I'm all over the place.  When I started driving here, I felt sick to my stomach because I didn't want to tell you some of the things that have been going on with me.  Then some good songs came on the radio and Darling A and I were rocking out and I was feeling great.  And now, I've shared with you all of those yucky things I didn't want to have to say, and I'm not feeling so great again."

And that kind of summed up my day.  Every day.  For a couple of weeks.

And I started to seriously wonder if I'm just on a slow train to Crazyville.  Which is not a pleasant subject to contemplate.

So, I've been scared, confused, angry, frustrated, and irritable.

Super fun for my family.

But, along the way I discovered (through help from the Holy Ghost) that my nurse practitioner had prescribed THREE medications and supplements that are actually known to increase manic episodes in people with bipolar.

That's really responsible medicine there, folks.

So, I went off of them.

And I think that may have been a big cause of the roller coaster ride.  But, it lasted a lot longer than I expected it to and I was afraid it was never going to end, hence the train ride concerns.  I even found myself wishing I could just go back to September.  Before my break down.  Before the hospital.  Before all of the interventions.

Because things were not great then, but at least I felt like my insanity was intact.  And I could have a good day here and there.  And I wasn't snapping at my family all the time.  Or hating myself.

But, I finally started to be able to work out again last week.  The mono seems to be improving bit by bit.  I can exercise and do some work around the house and as long as I get a nap in, I'm doing alright.  It is still a struggle to not feel like a lazy slob and freak out about getting out of shape, but it's a struggle that is (slowly) getting easier to fight.

I even had a small opportunity to help a friend out last Friday.  And it took me a couple of hours to make the connection, but that simple act of service really lifted my mood.  And I remembered how much serving used to really help me combat the depression.

Until I got sick mentally and physically and everyone said, "Stop.  You just need to take care of you."  Good advice, I know.  But, there is a reason we feel better when we help others.  Lots of reasons, really.  So, I need that too.

The good news is that my good mood has lasted since last Friday.  It even survived a truly horrendous morning today, full of ornery and misbehave children.  That hasn't happened in forever.  I'm a little nervous to be typing this, for fear that I will jinx it.

But, I'm really hoping (while trying to keep my expectations low) that this is a sign that all of that junk is out of my system and my new med is finally kicking in.

Whatever the cause, HH and I are just really grateful for today.  And yesterday.  And Saturday.  Good days had become like a distant memory.  Maybe that sounds a little melodramatic, but it really was beginning to feel like I'd never have a good day again.

So, I'm happy for this moment.  Regardless of what the next moment may bring.