I stayed up too late last night constructing and then deconstructing and finally demolishing entirely an attempt at a costume for my eldest. It is still in the works in completely different format. Ugh.
Instead of going to the Y today and doing Yoga (If I belonged to the JCC would I have to do Joga? Or if I went to Lifetime Fitnesss would I have to do Loga? Bally's would certainly teach Boga...) Right. Like I was saying before I so rudely interrupted, I did not go to the Y today.
I stayed home pretending that I was going to be able to finish a project with the very intrusive help of a two-year-old in the sliver of time between dropping children off at school and going to work. I really just made a larger and more colorful mess.
Okay, I just went to pick some things up off a shared printer and there was this whole journal entry assignment on positive self-talk. So here it goes:
I just wrote and rewrote the same paragraph twelve times. Or maybe only eight. I don't know how to frame self-talk in a positive way without sounding like I am making excuses for failings (Halloween will still go on even if I don't make the costume), or very whiny (I am good at creative stuff) or like I am delusional (I could not possibly be a better mom for my children).
I am just fine. The costume is just fine. It is fine to be a creative person. I am a fine mom. I could be worse. Ugh. Some yelliness occurred in the afternoon, which I did not handle well-- probably because I was already in fine form over the VAST amount of time I spent on a failed project.
Grateful Crap: "When I go in a parking lot I hold hands with a grown-up so the cars don't squish me. Ooh! I really would not want that big blue truck to squish me. That would not be a good idea."
took meds in the morning
ran a bit (because I was running late)
went for a walk (collecting candy)
talked to neighbors (while knocking on doors with children in costume)
Started tracking my food/exercise. Decided to use the freely available choosemyplate.gov. Only once did I think it was part of a vast conspiracy to monitor food intake of Americans in order to... do something nefarious.
I am trying to do a speed-post here. Because-- well, I don't know why. Today I need to sew a Halloween costume. That's why. Oh yeah. So I need to post before I pick up children from school. Right.
Day one of tracking food/exercise was yesterday. Today I may fill in numbers, measurements, etc. Or maybe not. I have noticed predictably that I am more aware of the lack of fruits and vegetables in my life. Now I am doing what I can to destroy (through thorough mastication and digestion) the fruits and vegetables that have made their way into my kitchen.
Tracking food is one of the clearest examples for me of a case where observation alone changes the behavior. If I have to write it down, I have to pay attention to what I am eating. If I am paying attention I don't eat as much crap. If I don't eat as much crap I feel better and am more likely to have the energy to plan nutritious meals. It is the opposite of a vicious circle.
A virtuous circle.
I read somewhere about the "penecillin" method of decluttering. In this method, you focus on one area until it is done; but you also return briefly and regularly to previously decluttered areas and make sure that they remain decluttered. I'm not sure what this has to do with penecillin. But it reminds me of how I am tackling this Depression business.
First: get meds figured out, under control and routine. Done. And it only took me... less than six months. Now I can move on to the eating/exercise piece. Focusing on one area at a time. But making sure that I don't lose track of the other thing that I figured out.
Grateful Crap: Finishing this before 4pm.
took meds in the morning.
tracked breakfast foods; will do lunch, snack and dinner later today
walked up and down 4 flights of stairs (lame, but it counts for something)
People are really complicated. They can't just be straightforward. There isn't ever just one reason why they do things. And sometimes metacognition just leads you around in a circle like a dog tail chase.
Trying to tease out when my behaviors are related to Depression, when they are characteristics of my temperament and when they are some other blip is not easy and may not be worthwhile.
And because my subconscious has way more control over what I do than I would like to admit (yours does too-- nothing special about me) any attempt to rationally explain my behavior or my decisions is doomed to fail.
In fact the more I try to figure out what motivates this thing or that, the more I feel like someone doing a really bad job of literary criticism. Ascribing motives to the author that never existed...
...the wolf represents the fears that the mother pig has when she sends her piglets off into the wide world to fend for themselves. The straw of the first pig's house lets the reader know that he will give way easily at the first sign of difficulty as straw bends in the wind. So the first puff of wind, the first hint of danger, and the mother pig's fears are realized...
And I guess false innter knowledge is the problem I had with most therapists that I saw as an adolescent. They wanted to ascribe all kinds of motivations to my behavior based on some archetype in a psychology text. Only I was me, and not an archetype. And I didn't respond well to being literarily criticized. Who does?
It helped me to know the typical pitfalls of people in similar situations. It helped me in my recovery process when I was in treatment for an eating disorder to know that most girls with eating disorders are highly competitive and in groups will often compete to see who can be the sickest. Armed with that knowledge I decided to compete to see if I could get better fastest.
It helps to know that other people who have had major Depressive episodes have lived to tell the tale and can have long stretches of a basically normal life. It helps to know that people I know, love, and admire have worked their way through this crap. It helps to know that I am also one of those people. Working through the crap.
I still have not listened to the 12 voicemail messages on my phone. I am hoping that they will just go away. Or that maybe they were all wrong numbers or pocket dials.
Grateful Crap: not having a sharp broken tooth cutting my cheek and tongue. This has dramatically improved my quality of life.
took meds in the morning
went to the Y
went up and down 4 flights of stairs twice (because I forgot my keys on the fourth floor)
Things I still need to implement: tracking of exercise, sleep and food.
I didn't know if I took my meds on Monday. I spent the day thusly:
And I didn't know if I took my meds.
Which was more upsetting to me than anything else. I discovered this morning that the answer was no. I did not take my meds. The pill minder was completely full. Not a pill missing.
Today gets to be a fresh start. Fresh start. No recriminations for the disorganization that my child has inherited or learned from me. Or the fact that my lack of oversight is what allowed his falling behind in assignments. No yelling at myself for misunderstandings between me and my co-teacher. No regrets about how things unfolded yesterday. No thinking about pink elephants.
Whenever I went to Tai Chi class at a particularly stressful time in my work life and the teacher told us not to think about any of the stressors in our lives. Which of course instantly brought to mind the most stressful things I could think about. And the most stressful people. And all of the things that had gone wrong and were going wrong and might go wrong.
So today I am going to the Y. And I am going to CHILL OUT. I have already taken meds. I will post later today (this counts as yesterday). I cannot skip days. It encourages me to throw out baby with bathwater and cease being accountable to anyone. Including me.
Grateful Crap: new days
not a dang thing
So either I can write too late, or I can not post today. I am going to split the difference and write a really short post just before midnight. Also, I don't feel like I have much to say today.
I can't remember if I took my meds this morning. I am pretty sure that I did. But if I were asked to swear under oath... aside from the fact that I would not be comfortable with the whole oath swearing thing... I don't know that I could.
But I did fill my pill minder again, so that's good.
Wow. I see another reason to post earlier. I am not doing poorly. But I just don't have anything.
Grateful Crap: reading to children as they fall asleep.
maybe I took my meds
spent a little time outside
took a short walk
So here is the story of being poisoned in Japan at the site of the old 1970 World Expo in Osaka. (naturally the picture to the left was taken of the Korea pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.)
On an orchestra tour of Asia, the last stop was Osaka. My host sister took me on a sight-seeing trip to the site of the World's Fair. I can't remember much about it, but cut me some slack. It was twenty-three years ago.
I do remember that it was ridiculously hot outside, and that the air conditioning in every building we visited was super cold. It made me feel sick to my stomach to go through such wrenching temperature extremes.
We stopped for lunch at a Rastafarian restaurant (I am not making this up). My host sister ordered for both of us: spaghetti with wild mushrooms. It was delicious. But the moment we left the restaurant we were both violently, retchedly ill. She called her father to pick us up in the car since taking the monorail home was not an option.
All the way back to the house my host sister and I took turns raising our hand to stop the car. Then we would get out, dry heave on the side of the road and wordlessly buckle in once again.
When we arrived at home I sat on the couch in the living room wondering when it had gotten so blazing hot inside. All the parts of my mouth were sticking together and my lips tasted terrible. My host sister and I took turns making terrible noises in the bathroom. I started to feel dizzy so I lay down on the couch.
My host sister, however, was not lying down. She was racing back and forth getting cool cloths for my forehead and ice cubes for me to suck on.
When I told her that she had the same thing I did and maybe she should lie down too, she said "No, I was sick before, but now I'm fine."
She kept saying that. "I'm fine. I was sick before, but now I'm fine. Just fine." She said this until her skin turned a chalky shade of grey and she collapsed on the floor. Her mother said that she was calling an ambulance to take my host sister to to the hospital and asked if I wanted to go as well.
"No," I heard myself saying, "I'm fine. She's much sicker than I am. I'm fine."
Where had I heard something like that before? It seemed almost familiar... Right. I looked at the motionless grey Japanese girl on the floor, who was no longer just fine, and agreed to be seen at the hospital. I felt really stupid walking into the ambulance under my own power. If I could walk, there was clearly no emergency. My host sister was taken in on a stretcher. They already had her on an IV drip.
I don't remember arriving at the hospital. Presumably I did. Becuase the next thing I knew I was lying down on a wicker pillow (!) in the emergency room where a sadistic nurse was tucking a fluffy comforter into both sides of my narrow cot. I had an IV drip now as well. And I was so freakishly hot that I wanted to remove not only the blanket, but my clothes as well and perhaps several layers of skin.
There was no interpreter. I couldn't think of any words except "hot" in Japanese. The nurse would tuck the blankets around me, make tsk tsk sounds and go somewhere off-camera. I would then throw the blanket on the floor and shout that I was hot. We carried on like this for some time. It was handy that the only word I knew was the one I needed.
Now for the kicker...
I needed to pee. I was starting to feel better. I could think clearly (apparently when I was at my worst I kept telling anyone who came near me that someone needed to cover the third horn part). I asked if I could go to the bathroom. This produced a cascade of complicated sounding words that I had never learned in my high school Japanese class. I realized I did not know any words for basic bodily functions. After an embarassing pantomime I managed to communicate that I was not going to vomit.
I was permitted to stand and walk to the restroom, which was only about ten yards from my bed. I pushed the I.V. cart in front of me squeakily. It didn't fit. The base was too wide to go through the door to the bathroom. My favorite nurse took the I.V. bag off the hook and handed it to me.
Somehow I managed to do the deed even though I was still wearing my jeans and I had an I.V. bag in one hand. Then I was faced with several petty problems. One, I couldn't figure out how to flush the toilet. And two, I had no idea how I was going to put my jeans back on with only one hand free.
Did you know that when you hold an I.V. bag lower than your heart it reverses course? I didn't. Until I looked down at the line of red snaking from my arm into the bag of pink saline. Great. Now I had three problems.
I decided to tackle the flushing bit first, figuring it was the easiest. I pushed the only button I could find, which turned out to be the emergency call button.
Lights flashed, alarms beeped and clanged and shouted. Every available member of the hosiptal staff came running to the door of the hospital restroom where I stood, pink I.V. bag in one hand, jeans around my ankles saying, "I'm sorry. I made a mistake." Then I passed out and fell into the arms of the people I hadn't meant to call.
Grateful Crap: 2yo: Hey! Penguins can't sing!
took meds in the morning
started decluttering bookshelves some more (so I guess that would properly be "continued")
talked to a friend
did not attend a Halloween party ful
I am breaking my rule about not posting because I missed yesterday.
Good excuses for yesterday's sloth:
I know it seems like I really should have worked a post in there somewhere. There is some daylight in the schedule... but no.
I chose after coming home after 9:30 pm (and I think this was the right decision) not to post. Even to say that I wasn't going to post. I just didn't want to open my computer because I knew it would suck me in and I really needed to just unwind and then go to sleep. Which I did. Go me.
I am feeling better. Yes. I am less easily derailed. I get more sleep. I take my meds. I mostly answer my phone and check my emails. Kind of.
The phone thing has been slipping lately. I just noticed I have 12 voicemails. Crap. I really don't want to listen to them. Because you know, if I don't listen to them then they never happened. Right?
Still have not called my allergist. Also need to contact dentist (stupid filling fell out) and eye doctor (although my glasses seem fine). Have not called my friend who always seems to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays when she is more free and I am less free. Have I mentioned how little I like the phone? The people on the other end are fine, I just don't like the medium.
What I am coming back to is this: I like things to be fine. I like there not to be a problem. I realize this does not make me unique. But although parts of me are more fine than they used to be, that STILL does not mean that the chaos and the disaster that has built up over years of being under-treated for Depression has caused.
Don't get me wrong; I am not blaming the Depression on my untidy house. I am not a naturally tidy person and a bit of clutter is to be expected. It is just The Clutter That Ate New York living in my basement that is a testament to my prolonged stubornity and poor mental healthiness. (Stubborness and stupidity. It ought to be a word.)
And STILL and again I will remind myself that though I am feeling even better than I did when I first started feeling like me that does not mean that I get to tackle everything. Or that I should feel guilty and horrible when I have not fixed all things. It means I get to wear my watch and remember how to set the timer and stick to the 15 minute decluttering. And enlist help.
Not that I have any idea what that help would look like. I have not grown up around people who ask for help. Even when they really should. Well, as soon as I figure out what sort of help, or even who I might be asking, I will let you know.
Tomorrow (not tonight because it is too late) I will tell the tale of being poisoned in Japan and why it reminds me of being "perfectly fine."
Grateful Crap: someone FINALLY figuring out how to fill the prescription for albuterol. It took 5 (FIVE) trips to 2 separate pharmacies to get a prescription filled properly. Also: I love my job.
talked to neighbor and WILL make plans for coffee (call me-- or better yet talk to me since my voicemail may be full)
took meds in morning (raced off with all 3 bottles rattling in my jacket pocket because I hadn't yet refilled pill minder)
volunteered with Early Childhood class
Did Not Panic
The most dangerous time to drive is in those hours when the light is just under the horizon and you think you can see. But you can't, really. And your headlights don't help much. You have this illusion of clarity.
Maybe it's the same for impaired drivers. They are convinced that they are just fine, but they really aren't. The illusion of control.
When I was in high school I travelled to Wisconsin for an orchestra trip. The host family I stayed with was... not vetted terribly well. The parents were divorced and lived in separate homes. Mom was on a business trip and dad was visiting his girlfriend in another town. So my host family consisted of a seventeen-year-old girl who did not have a car and needed to call her friends to pick us up from the high school where the bus deposited us.
She was getting ready to appear in court following some kind of car accident in which alcohol had been involved. She had not been the driver. But the car had gone off the road, through a fence and smashed into a tree. I think one person might have been thrown from the car. None of them had their seatbelts on. None of them were seriously injured.
The friend with the car told the story. She finished it by saying, "The doctor said if we hadn't all been so relaxed because we were drunk, we could have been seriously hurt."
My host had an entirely different view. Which was my view: that if they handn't been drunk they likely would not have gone off the road in the first place.
Some other friend drove us somewhere or picked us up somewhere at night. He had apparently been drinking. I didn't notice. Wasn't up on the behavior and scent of drunk people. She took his keys and asked if I could drive. He was drunk and she had forgotten her glasses at home.
We had to break in to her mom's house because she had forgotten her key. In the middle of the night her ex-boyfriend pounded on the door and yelled until she let him in because she didn't want the neighbors to call the cops. He screamed for some time before she managed to convince him to leave. I think I slept through this. There was no food in the house so we ordered pizza for breakfast.
I thought I was going to right about the light. But somehow the trip to Mauston, Wisconsin found its way onto the page. I was going to write about how the most dangerous time for me, in terms of controlling my Depression, is when things are going pretty well. I don't mean dangerous in that I will do something to harm myself or others. I am not there. I mean dangerous in that I will stop treating my Depression.
This is the stereotypical time when I am convinced that I am cured. The light is just under the horizon and I am pretty sure I can see. No need for headlights. No one who speaks to me now will believe that I have Depression. Becuase I am fighting it back and it is mostly at bay. Most of the time. On most days.
I thought I would make a connection to the light but instead I ended up writing about drunk driving. Instead I am wondering if the impairment thing isn't a greater connection. When my Depression is not controlled I am essentially impaired.
But the illusion of control comes when I am treating the disease. When I have been on the right meds for long enough that I feel normal. That I have finally vanquished Depression. Me. By myself. And I will prove this to the world by stopping treatment and proving that I no longer am dependent on better living through chemistry. I WIN.
Unfortunately that triumphant metaphor for disease does not work with chronic conditions. I cannot beat this thing. It is not a fight between me and the Depression. The Depression is part of me so I better figure out how to live with it.
Grateful crap: 7yo in the car on the way home, "Let's talk about more scientific things." Recreational use of the brain is a thing in my family. I am learning anatomy for fun.
took meds in the morning
4 flights up and down on the stairs
no time outside
Ooh... forgot to call for allergy appointment. Making note on "palm pilot" (my hand)
Tonight I will reconfigure my tracking software so I can get back to my healthy eating thing.
Back in the beginning of time when I started this blog (otherwise known as five months ago) I was really not doing well with my Depression. I was dipping down from being mildly Depressed to being moderately Depressed. Which means that things got bad enough that even I noticed.
At the time much of the advice I got (good advice, mind you) was that I should spend more time outside taking contemplative walks in the woods. Quiet. Green space. Unplugged.
Unfortunately, my allergies in the spring are such that the woods experience is neither meditative nor quiet. My sneezes frighten away the birds. And when I blow my nose it honks so loudly that Canada geese are fairly certain they are being called to arms for some ill-conceived war with the mallards.
Now that I am also allergic to cats (which I have) and dust (which I have-- and perhaps should also think of as a pet) I am thinking of getting allergy shots. They worked for my brother. And it would certainly be nice to not be trapped inside with the air conditioner on just so I can breathe.
I need to get a pneumonia vaccine anyway. I think I will make the call today to get an appointment with my allergist.
Brownie points for me: I updated my Google Calendar so it no longer has me picking up my second grader at preschool or tells people that I will be at a job that I no longer have. I did not put my next psych nurse practitioner appointment on there. It is for six months out. I might call them to find out when it is if I can't find the tiny slip of paper I wrote it on.
Today I will not attempt to do everything, but I will do something. I will not have an awesome day, but it will have awesome moments.
Grateful Crap: Experiencing the following exchange while driving through downtown Duluth, Minnesota...
7yo: What is that? (pointing to a building in downtown Duluth)
Me: That's ______ Magazine. (reading the sign outside said building)
2yo: NO! THAT'S A BUILDING!
took meds in the morning
wrote this blog before nine pm
will attempt to declutter some
will attempt to do regular stuff some
P.S. started doing violin lessons with my oldest. Once a week. Because we don't need to add another thing for him to go to, but his orchestra teacher thought he would benefit from lessons. I will keep you posted on the wisdom of this venture.
Road trips are only fun when everyone in the back seat is asleep. This may be an exaggeration. Most of the time things were fine, but five people in a pickup truck for hours on end can get a bit claustrophobic.
(It might have been less stressful if we had been able to toss offending children in the flatbed of the truck.)
While gone I managed to remember my pills every morning, spend lots of time outside (even though it was cold, damp and-- on the last day-- snowy), and have long stretches of time on the rocky shores of Lake Superior just looking for rocks and taking pictures.
I got sunburned when it was cloudy and 45 degrees Farenheit. I need to get out more often. And my oldest, particularly, needs to spend more time in uninterrupted nature. We were so good about this when he was younger, but it is hard to give him the time he needs now that he is older and has two younger siblings. It is so easy to take the path of least resistance and let him read for six hours a day. This may not be an overestimation. Someone better keep writing books, because soon we will have exhausted those already in print.
I am struggling with the high intensity of my children and the frustration that is so close to boiling over at any moment. I feel the weight of all the nagging nosy neighbor voices and the talk radio show advice columnists bearing down on me to say that it is always the mother's fault.
That my children's weepy, yelly, aggressive, passive, withdrawn, overexuberant behavior is a direct reflection of my inability to provide them with the environment, the care, the stimulation (or lack thereof), the discipline, the counseling, the academic acceleration, the spiritual teachings or the attention they need. Ugh. What a terrible weight to put on my kids. As if their very person is only an extension of me.
Speaking of high intensity and ready frustration... Nope. I see no correlation.
My spouse pointed out that I need to spend more time with other people's children so I realize that
Here is what I want to know: How did I end up with such emotionally volatile children?
Also, people should be forced to choose between these options in dealing with anger:
Under no circumstances should they be quick to anger and then hold on to their ridiculous fury for years and years and years. When I am supreme ruler of the universe I will decree this to be so.
Grateful Crap: being back in the minivan. I can totally see why my parents got a full-sized van after a long road trip in a station wagon. It makes me feel less horrible as a parent. (I did not have horrible parents. They did not have horrible children. I should remember this.)
took meds (but forgot until the afternoon-- when I swore out loud while making dinner)
umm... walked up and down 4 flights of stairs
I plan to get to bed on timishly
I mostly go enough sleep. Let's see... 7.5 hours last night
Quaker, teacher, parent,