Category: Random Chaos


Three Things

Because it’s something light and fun, I decided to post this here as well as Facebook. I’m a dork like that.

Because other people did it:

Three names I go by:
1. Brekke
2. Auntie Brekke (perhaps my favorite)
3. JusticeBunny (in games, but the only person allowed to call me Bunny is my Dad, thank you very much.)

Three places I have lived:
1. South Bend, Indiana
2. Lilburn, Georgia
3. Cartersville, Georgia

Three places I have worked:
1. Cracker Barrel
2. Applebee’s
3. Cartersville City Schools (Substitute)

Three things I love to watch: (Only 3? Jeez.)
1. Arrow, Flash, Supergirl (I’m counting them as one. Deal.)
2. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Glitter Force, Family Ties (Because they are things K, R, and I watch as a family)
3. Cheesy rom-coms

Three places I have been:
1. Seattle, Washington (and all the places we went through to get there)
2. Fort Donelson, Dover, Tennessee
3. Chesterfield, Virginia

Three things I love to eat:
1. Chocolate
2. Ice cream
3. Rin’s (& Chris’s) cube steak and fried chicken

Three people I think will respond:
Any-freaking-body who wants to.
Three favorite drinks:
1. White Chocolate peppermint mocha
2. Butterbeer Frappuccino
3. Sprecher’s Grape Soda

Three things I am looking forward to:
1. The appointment with Kero’s new pediatric neurologist (stressing it, too, but yeah)
2. Hugs.
3. Actually leaving the house and making it down south and thwarting everything that 2015 has thrown at us ffs.

(Apologies in advance: while this is the “short” version, it’s still quite long. >_> But, anyway, this is the post I mentioned on FB a couple of weeks ago, so a little bit is out of date [like the fact that I’ve been sick as hell for three weeks & counting].)

In August, I had a mental breakdown. This sounds incredibly dramatic, and I have been struggling with how to talk about it. I’ve written pages and pages of explanation of how I Dropped My Basket (which is what I’ve been calling what happened in August), and it is always so very long. Sometime this week, I realized that I could tell the story in pieces, that it does not all have to appear in one post. With that concept in mind (something that would likely be obvious to most people but was a true light bulb moment for me because it hadn’t even occurred to me), I am going to endeavour to try again.

I am beginning with dropping my basket, because it was a catalystic event for several things and certainly shapes where I am now. While I have not written a lot about it, people who know my family know that we have had a rough couple of years. The last eighteen months in particular have been pretty hard. A lot of it has been me. I’ve battled anxiety and depression most of my life; the last three years has seen a resurgence in prevalence of anxiety and a case of depression that I’ve not had for years. There are a lot of events that led into causing this and counting them all would take way more effort and time than I want to put into it. Like anything that happens with mental illness, it’s rarely one thing; it’s a puzzle.

To try to help you understand how hard this year has been, here are some examples of things that I was either not able to do or that would cause panic attacks or that would take days (or longer) for me to do:
– deciding what to eat (this question could literally be one of two or three decisions I could make in a day)
– leaving the house (for ANYTHING, be it for fun, for medical appointments, for simple errands)
– making phone calls of any kind
– talking to people (online, in person, etc.) There were literally days where talking to the three people in my house were too much for me, so anyone outside of it was outside the realm of consideration.

These are just some examples. The emotional roller coaster that I was (and am), is hard to describe. Rin has been a champion through all of this, and I’m still not sure how she handled all of it. If it were simply a case of handling my anxiety issues, it likely would not have been so thoroughly overwhelming, but life kept throwing us curveballs. There are several things that I will (hopefully) be exploring in more detail in the future, but I’m going to sum up some of what the end of 2014 & most of 2015 has had to offer:
– Last fall, I had an EMG that confirmed nerve problems in both of my legs. The diagnosis that resulted from that is idiopathic peripheral polyneuropathy (though it wasn’t completely confirmed until March 2015.) 

– Last November, I fell and injured myself enough it required an ER trip; that ER trip proved to be frustrating and required a follow up to my PCP. She was concerned at potential complications that can occur with neuropathy and falls, so she prescribed a medication (Neurontin) for me to try to help avoid both that complication and possibly help with pain issues. I started taking it, and it seemed to be helping. Seemed to be is the operative phrase.

There were complications with our family travel in Georgia in December including some family drama and me becoming incredibly sick. It delayed our return until early January (which caused a small bit of trouble at home, too, since people had been expecting us at Christmas).
January and February are largely a blur to me. Since the medicine seemed to be helping, I talked to Doc about increasing the dose. I started having more anxiety problems and a few other issues including thoughts of self-harm that made no sense (as in I felt like a passenger in my brain watching myself think these things). Since partially controlled pain can cause symptoms to be exacerbated (and in some cases can make them worse than before), after lengthy discussion between Doc, Rin, and I, we increased the dose again. This was a huge mistake. The worsening symptoms increased DRAMATICALLY, so much that I started to step back down to the previous dose immediately.

March saw me at the first appointment with the neurologist She agreed that if it was causing that much trouble I should definitely stop taking it. The catch was that I had to continue to dial it down which meant almost a full month of taking something that I KNEW was harming me and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. This was not good on so many levels.

April is typically a rough month for me for a variety of reasons. It was complicated by some miscommunications with my therapist which just added to the stress. My baby girl turned thirteen which was less hard than twelve, but was a milestone for her.

May brought us news that Rin’s PawPaw was doing more poorly than he had been doing last we had heard. This brought some serious discussion between Rin and I about trying to travel down south to see him. We had aimed to leave in early June, but life intervened.

June had a check-in with Kero’s pediatric neurosurgeon at Riley. There was a small amount of growth in her cyst, but Dr. Smith was not overly concerned. She did however find some concern in the overall level of symptoms that Kero was showing, and she took our concerns about them seriously. We all agreed that it was time to start the testing process so that we could learn more. Sadly, the scheduling process became one of the stressors of the summer as there were miscommuncations between two offices, and a bunch of other issues. The first test wasn’t scheduled until October which was frustrating, but there wasn’t much to be done about it. June also had me seeing a new specialist, a urologist. This was incredibly stressful and led to my own tests being scheduled.

For the next two months, various crises kept popping into our lives. We kept trying to schedule a trip down south and kept having to reschedule it. Thankfully, we had agreed early on that we were only going to tell a couple of people to avoid any Issues. Of course, the downside of this was that no one realized that we were struggling with travel plans that much, but it would have been worse for all of us if everyone had been trying to make plans and kept having them rearranged. It was bad enough with Rin’s mom knowing (and she knew because we were staying there first.) Not Traveling has been an overall theme this year.

August was bad. The urologist testing was far worse than I had anticipated, and involved a lot of unpleasantness for both Rin and I. The first week after was largely me helping convince Rin that I wasn’t upset with her and helping her handle what had happened. (This was also me avoiding thinking about it and recovering because holy fuck that took all week.) Just over two weeks to the day, I Dropped My Basket. (I’ll come back to this in a bit.)

More travel plans failed. We missed DragonCon, we missed David and Catie’s wedding. (We’ve also now missed Samantha & Dustin’s wedding.) We missed several other things. In fact, off and on, we’ve been Trying to Leave for several months. A lot of it has just been small things piling up. A good chunk of it was anxiety on my part and Rin’s, and my breakdown certainly didn’t help THAT situation at all. So, now, we’re going to try again in a couple of weeks and hopefully make my cousin’s wedding. *fingers crossed*

*glances up the screen* That’s the short version. Really. I don’t think I could simplify it much more than that, but it’s necessary to give a picture of how I came to where I was in August.

We had been having a disagreement. I couldn’t tell you what it was about, and frankly, it doesn’t matter. In the middle of it, I quietly said, “I want to die.” This isn’t something that I would say lightly, and it almost started a fight on its own because she thought I wasn’t being serious. Then, when she did realize I was serious, there was a lot of hasty explaining to get to what I actually meant.

The truth was I didn’t want to die, I just wanted everything to stop. I wanted to not be overwhelmed all the time. I wanted to not be in so much pain all the time. I wanted to not be terrified of the entire world and everyone in it all the time. I wanted it all to stop, and in that moment, the only way I could think to make it stop was death. Exploring further led to a lot of sobbing (hours of sobbing) as I choked out everything that was blocked up in my head. By the time I was done, I felt emotionally wrung out and empty. I certainly had no idea what to do with myself, but there was a silver lining in all of this.

A lot of the things that I was sobbing about were things that I’ve been holding onto for years. They included coping mechanisms that were really not helpful or healthy. They included beliefs about who and what I am supposed to be according to pretty much everybody -but- me. By the time I finished dropping my mental basket and watching it shatter into pieces, I could see that a lot of what I had been holding onto with duct tape, fairy dust, and anything else that would hold it together was not the stuff I’d spent the previous eighteen months learning how to get better at. It was all the other stuff. So, by letting it all go, I was able to give myself a place to start again.

Unfortunately, that place was (and is) fragile as fuck. I am having to rebuild how I think about myself and how I look at the world. But, within a week of having my breakdown, I was able to look at my sometimes-therapist Tom and tell him that I felt BETTER than I had in ages. I was finding that I was able to process things a bit more clearly, I wasn’t cutting myself down all. the.fucking.time. which I pretty much had been prior to that point. Nothing was good enough. Nothing. Tom made me examine a few hard truths, and he told me something that I plan to explore in depth in its own post, but overall, I was able to see that hitting bottom was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, timing notwithstanding.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing since August: rebuilding. I have been taking the things that Kim taught me about mindfulness, and I have been taking the words of Jenny Lawson, Glennon Melton, Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and other writers like them to feed my spirit and my soul. I was finding more solid ground than I’d had in months, but at the same time, I was still struggling quite a bit. Aside from anxiety being a thing I’ve had for years, it is also a symptom of some of my chronic health issues, so it’s a double whammy. I’ve also learned that ADD can play merry hell with anxiety, too, so…triple whammy. It left me in a completely vulnerable, messy place.

In that place, though, I was able to genuinely consider a subject that my psychiatrist had been mentioning as a possibility for about a year. While he was not thrilled to hear that I’d been in crisis, he was pleased that it was getting better. He was also able to extrapolate that it was the irritability and other mood swings that were a problem, so he mentioned a mood stabilizer again. I was at first hesitant as I have been every time it has come up. In the last three years, I’ve had some pretty shitty experiences with trying new medicines, and the one early this year was pretty damn awful. I was not eager to jump back into medicine roulette, no matter how good an idea it might be. I also knew that I couldn’t take the most common mood stabilizer for reasons that I explained to him. He thought about and did some looking and realized that one of the newer medications in that class might actually be a good fit, both because it has the potential for starting at a very low dose, and it is listed as weight neutral. (I’m not going to talk about which medication it is because I try to avoid talking about active medications for…well, a lot of reasons. If I know you and you’re curious, feel free to ask. I might not answer, but feel free to ask.) Rin and I discussed it for a minute and decided to let him write the script with the caveat that I would not start it until after Kero’s EEG at Riley was done. (That was coming up about 5 days from my appointment.) The prescription was written, my refills were sent to the pharmacy, and off I went.

The Riley experience is DEFINITELY it’s own post, because it’s going to be long as hell because three days in a pediatric hospital breeds adventure. Or something. 😀 I ended up starting the medicine about a week later than planned, but I could tell a difference within the first three days. I refused to let myself get overly hopeful though. I was still too nervous. However, within the first week, I was actually able to go on errands with Rin. I didn’t have a panic attack before leaving or while we were out. We were at Menard’s picking up a couple of things for the car and the house, and I realized that not only was I NOT freaking out about being in public, I was actually ENJOYING myself and I was singing. It was…incredibly nice. We actually went several places, and then I was able to go out again the next day AND the day after that. (Going out of the house three days in a row was something that really hadn’t happened in awhile the Riley trip being the exception.)

Things continued to improve. I also had  A LOT  of guilt, because the clarity I was gaining and the emotional control I was gaining had me looking at Rin and frequently saying, “How the hell were you dealing with me?!” Thankfully, she helped me work my way through that. Since I started the new medicine, I’ve been able to reach out to people more – in text, anyway. The phone is still panic inducing I’m sorry to say. >_> I’ve been able to actually look at things on Facebook AND set limits for myself when I am becoming overwhelmed. I’ve been actually commenting on other peoples’ posts which I hadn’t been doing for awhile.

The biggest stressors have been Trying to Travel and handling the Teenager Dramaz. I also found out that my Grandmother has a small aneurysm and her sister died. It was incredibly upsetting, and still is. I am worried for her. And yet, I’m also terrified. Every day, I try to summon the courage to call and see how she is doing and every day, I fail at it. The phone is just too daunting and I have no bloody idea what to say, because, “Hi, it’s your crazy granddaughter who had a nervous breakdown this year and who is terrified of the telephone but wants you to know that she loves you anyway” seems a little crazy even for my level of acceptable crazy. So…I struggle.

For all that the medicine helps, it isn’t a magic wand. It hasn’t made everything all better and it’s not going to no matter how much I wish it were different. I keep being worried when I have a bad emotional day that I’m breaking the new medicine and Rin has had to talk me down from that one a few times. The biggest difference with those bad days though is that a) I notice it more quickly and can tend to stop the crazy spirals from becoming completely off the rails, b) I am more able to say, “Rin, I need help” in some variation on the sentiment, c) I am able to have a few minutes or an hour of being an emotional hot mess and then I’m able to balance again (sometimes anyway), and d) they aren’t EVERYSINGLEMOTHERFUCKINGDAY like they were before. So, there’s improvement there. A lot of it.

I’ve also been making the effort to feed my spirit with things that are encouraging. I save pictures I see on FB that have inspirational quotes. One day, I was having a bad day and I asked my friends to either tell me something amazing or show me something beautiful. Many people posted pictures. Since my phone has an S-pen which lets me write on the screen, I saved every single picture that people posted, and I wrote a note about who shared it and anything else that was relevant. I made myself those notes for the Bad Days. I think I might try this more often. I even made an album in my phone’s gallery called, “I Am Loved” and that’s where I saved those images. I am working at creating better habits. I am working at not letting the self-defeating anxiety monsters win, and I am working on trying to create new mantras in my brain to replace the negative mantras that I’ve lived with for years.

The most important thing is this: I am trying.

I am trying desperately to regain ground I’ve lost. I am trying to relearn healthier habits and I am trying to find new ways to manage both the changing things my body is doing (thank you so much neuropathy for adding to the “what will my body be doing today” game *headdesk*) and my mental health issues. One of those methods is talking about it. It’s actually helping, but more importantly, I want to show people that they aren’t alone. That’s why I finally decided to break up the monster update post (not that this is -short- by any stretch); by breaking it up, I will “let” myself write current things as well as cover other things more in depth. (Yes, I know. That sounds silly, but for some reason, I felt that having an update of where I’ve come from on my blog was important before sharing any new things. I just try to roll with the quirks in my brain…) Also, we will (hopefullypleaseuniverse) be traveling in a couple of weeks, and we’re going to be seeing people, and I’m going to be testing a lot of this new stuff during the holiday season which is…my worst time of year for anxiety probems anyway. I want people who see me to know that I’m a hell of a lot more fragile than normal right now. I’m also being a lot more honest than I have been in the past. Instead of playing down the type of pain I’m in or the type of day I’m having, I’ve been telling people the truth. (Or most of it. No one needs EVERY detail.) Hiding things like that is something that I do to “protect other people”, but it doesn’t protect anyone, least of all me. So, you know, if I’m having an awful pain day, I’m not going to try to hide it in the name of not upsetting other people. My theory is that the people who love me would rather know the truth anyway. No. That’s not my theory. That’s my sincere hope, a prayer, and something I am hesitantly counting on.

I also want people to understand that Rin is still doing  A LOT of taking care of me. I’m getting better at being able to do more for myself, but I’m still needing a lot of help. Don’t be shocked if I defer to her for most things; there are reasons for it and I’m not explaining all of them. Also, there are days where I just really cannot handle people well. People are scary, even people I love. Try not to take it personally if I’m really quiet or if I spend a day hiding in bed. It’s not you; it’s me. But…I’m trying and things are definitely better than they were in August.

I’m doing the best that I can. Please be gentle with me.

That tone of sheer frustration in your partner’s voice as she tells you that the child has left wet laundry for four days in the new washing machine…yeah, that sucks. The child is already in mega-trouble anyway, and this is just icing on the “Kero not taking personal responsibility” cake. I get that some of that is her age, and we do make allowances for some of it, but that certainly does not give her blanket permission to do nothing.

The current plan of action is a new one for us that hopefully will have results soon. While yesterday she did not do EVERYTHING that she was supposed to do (and she still refuses to come clean about what she was doing Friday while Rin and I had appointments that ended up including an unexpected trip to the hospital for more ankle x-rays which is irritating as all hell, because we’re pretty sure the answer is “fooling around with toys and pretty much anything but homework” as opposed to something egregious that might be considered “worth” lying about) she actually did do things she knows she is supposed to do every day without us coming behind her to remind her. This tells me that she is perfectly capable of doing so which means that the allowances we were making for her were largely unnecessary and have resulted in her being lazy because she can.

Hopefully, she will decide to be honest today (and perhaps try to have the conversation before bedtime unlike last night). I’d really like things to get back to normal and for her to not be in major trouble because it certainly does not make me happy, but I’m not holding out too much hope given how yesterday went in that regard. *sighs* Some days, I want to box her tween ears. The end goal of the current plan of action is Kero realizing that she needs to take responsibility for herself and her actions, including doing a GOOD job with her chores and her schoolwork, but getting to that goal might drive me nuts. I know we’ve made the right choice in what we are doing, but I’m just not happy about it because I HATE her being in trouble with a fiery passion. I know it is a part of mommyhood and I know it is best for her because obviously letting her get away with slacker work, lying, and no personal responsibility is good for no one, especially her, but I still hate, hate, hate it. It makes ME cranky and I feel like a big, mean jerk even when it is my job to be a big, mean jerk.

We remind her every time she is in trouble that we love her dearly and that is why we make the choices we make to correct her behavior. One time she said she felt like we didn’t care about her and I had to try not to laugh hysterically at her; I pointed out that if we didn’t care about her, we certainly wouldn’t be taking the time and the personal headache and stress of creating punishments that seek to correct behavior as opposed to being strictly punitive, and we wouldn’t give a crap if she had personal responsibility or took care of herself and we DEFINITELY wouldn’t be homeschooling her so that she can learn in a fashion that is better for her than being stuck in the standard cookie cutter mold of public ed. I went on to point out just how much I hate when she is in trouble and how even when she doesn’t necessarily see me being upset about her being in trouble doesn’t mean I’m not; in fact, the opposite is usually true. Thankfully, she actually understood the points that we made to her that day and hasn’t tried to make THAT argument again, and like I said, it is important to me to regularly remind her that even when we are very angry and very disappointed, we still love her. But damn if all of this isn’t frustrating as hell.

*sighs* She is largely a great kid and I know that, but because I know that she can be better than she’s been recently, I expect more of her. I know that she can successfully wash dishes without someone having to come behind her despite her not doing so since we were in Georgia. (And actually, this trip, she embarrassed the hell out of me because while previously she at least did a better job when helping with kitchen chores at someone else’s house than she did here at home, this time, she put a very obviously filthy pot into the dishwasher at Megan and Chad’s. Even worse was the fact that it was a pot with ramen noodles, so the entire load had to be rewashed before I could use anything out of it because she basically gluten contaminated the entire load. And frankly, the fact that she normally would do better at other folks’ houses is one of the reasons I know she should be capable of doing so at home.) I know she is better than the work that she has been doing; I totally understand that chores are boring and no one likes to do them, but they are also a necessary part of life. I also know that journal writing isn’t her favorite thing to do, but being able to write about events and her thoughts and feelings is something that she needs to be able to do. Plus, it is part of the homeschooling record that Rin and I keep, so it is necessary work in that regard as well.

What makes a lot of this even more frustrating is that since we’ve been home, we have been making a lot of allowances for her with some of her work. We have put most of her schoolwork on hold so she can finish her trip journal by 1 June, and we have even been letting her out of some of that work time so she has had time to go play with her friends outside, several days for 3+ hours. We basically have been trying to make her life easier and we have been repaid with sloppy work and lies which has gotten her super-duper grounded from pretty much everything. And since she has proven that at present she is no longer responsible enough to stay by herself for a few hours, something that she has been doing in increasing increments for five years now, she is going to have to haul her work with us to the MRI center on Tuesday and do her work in the waiting room while I’m having that done which will likely be super uncomfy for her given that she usually likes to sprawl herself and her work out at home. However, that is what happens when you can’t be trusted to work on your own. Of course, it also makes things more irritating for Rin and I because we now have to haul her everywhere with us again until she can regain some trust, but that is just how it is going to have to be. Obviously, there is also concern about the quality of her work but given what she did with the time she was here by herself Friday, I don’t see how it could get much worse. (Logically, I know it can, but it is going to take some effort on her part and that will come with its own extra consequences.)

If she doesn’t get herself straightened out soon, she is going to miss out on a lot of things and frankly, she is making us both wonder if she actually IS ready for an almost two week long camp. Some of the behaviors she has shown in the past two weeks are all on the “not ready for camp” list that Camp G. sent including not properly taking care of her hygiene. (I’m going to leave out the details both to avoid embarrassing her and to avoid grossing anyone out because that isn’t cool, but it was pretty epically not good and actually unusual for her.) I want her to be able to go to camp, but I don’t want to spend the money and then have to go pick her up because she isn’t doing what she is supposed to. They certainly aren’t going to come behind her and make sure she does every step of every activity she is supposed to, and they will send her home if she isn’t doing what is required of her. I just don’t want to waste the money if she isn’t going to take responsibility for herself. At present, she is still registered, but her actions in the next few weeks before we have to pay the rest of her camp fee will be the determining factor.

I wasn’t going to post about any of this because…well, a lot of reasons, but the washing machine frustration was a bit too much and was one point too many for me to not try to process some of it. I decided to share it because I know folks who have kids in similar age brackets, and I know that sometimes, when people only post about the good things that kids do, it can feel like you’re on an island when your kid is being a jerk. (And face it, all kids can be giant jerks from time to time.) So, if your tween is being a total pain in your bum know that you’re most definitely not alone. If you need to vent, feel free to do so in the comments. Also, if you have any tips on getting kids to tell the truth that don’t involve smacking their heads into a wall (obviously not a good plan) or washing their mouth out with soap (really, really, really bad for you with soap these days and also not very effective beyond being rage inducing), feel free to leave a note in the comments.

I know that in the long run, taking these steps to show her natural consequences of her behavior will pay off, but right now, when we’re in the middle of the battle, I can’t help but wonder just how far away “the long run” is.

As might be obvious in a moment, I started this post on FB, intending to just make a quick, slightly whiny post and go back to what I was doing. It ended up turning (at least somewhat) into a post I’ve been trying to write for a week.

What’s on my mind, FB? Too much to actually process apparently. I keep getting distracted so easily that I can’t even remember what I was doing two minutes ago, which is basically the LAST thing I need tonight. I’m trying to finish getting my things together for this trip of insanity because I keep stopping in the middle of that to help someone else or just to stare at the wall.

While I can objectively step back and realize that the week delay in leaving has been an overall net good (we’ve had more time to get better, we’ve managed to get some of the work done in the house that we’ve not been able to for awhile from a combo of necessity/prednisone/packing chaos, and Rin’s glasses FINALLY came in this morning), it is also a point of frustration because we had a sort-of schedule and it obviously needs changing now. And, objectively, I know that’s okay. The people who that schedule change is going to affect already know and have been in contact and they keep telling us to calm down and not worry so much (which is helpful and more appreciated than they likely know), so basically, fretting over it is a by-product of my brain being unkind to me as opposed to something to truly be concerned about. I also logically know that I’ve known from the minute we started talking about this trip that it was going to have to be approached differently from normal. There were going to have to be allowances made for a body (mine) that is doing new and interesting things in the name of fuckery and I knew that I was going to have to make allowances for the brain changing work I’ve been doing and to remember to be compassionate with myself despite my frustration.

But all of that falls into the “logical” portion of my brain that I can look at from a distance. The “emotional” part of my brain seems to be running around like a three year old in a tantrum, throwing out phrases like, “I can’t do this,” “this is stupid,” and “let’s go hide under the covers; they’ll never find us there.” I’m tired despite having slept for a good chunk of last night and today (not that tired is a new state, because it seems to be the norm). I’m in pain because my joints are are being cranky and *glances at clock* it’s likely time for more medicine and I just want to scream about it but all that would do is make my head hurt and not actually solve any problems. I’m having a night where I want to have a stompy fit and rage about how “unfair” it all is as though somewhere along the way I was promised fairness which is absurd and most of the time that phrase isn’t even one that I tend to think let alone give voice to, because life isn’t fair and everyone should know that. But tonight, apparently, with the worst timing possible, my brain seems to be clinging to the need for fair as though it were an option.

I’ve obviously been pretty quiet the last few months. There’ve been reasons, some better than others. A lot of it has been the simple fact that I’ve not had much energy for dealing outside of my small part of the world. Health issues have been the name of the game since before October when my gallbladder started going rogue and they haven’t slowed down since. Since October, I’ve spent chunks of at least 3 months dealing with medicines that were causing horrible side effects and the withdrawal from those same medicines in the name of finding something that worked better. Two of those were for ADD which was incredibly frustrating because I really just wanted my old medicine back. I’m on a new med for that that is mostly helping so long as I remember to take it super early in the day and understand that it just isn’t as good as Old Medicine was. One of those was me humoring my doctor. Since I was having trouble at the first dose of  New ADD Medicine, and since I have pain issues, she wanted me to try Wellbutrin because it theoretically works well with the other medicine. I hate most medicines in the family that Wellbutrin falls into. I’ve had shitty luck with a lot of them and have managed to not take any of them since I stopped taking them about ten years ago because they just don’t do good things for me. But, time does change things and she put the choice in my hands, from the start of the medicine to the parameters for stopping if necessary, so I agreed to try it. I figure if she’ll work with me, I should work with her.

I tried it.

It was a very failed experiment, one that we didn’t realize all of the repercussions of until after I stopped taking it. It was actually making me sick (like with laryngitis sick), so we figured that some of the side effects the medicine was causing were just me having a cold. A few things culminated in the realization that, no, the medicine was responsible, and also, the utter numb/lack of caring about anything was a HUGE problem. So. I stopped taking it. And had almost a week of withdrawal issues followed by issues that I am STILL sorting back out. You see, one of the things I’ve been doing in therapy is learning how to deal with emotions as they come as opposed to shoving them into boxes either because I don’t want to deal with them/don’t have time to deal with them/can’t deal with them. This involves a new level of vulnerable living that is taking some adjusting to. It means that for the last six months, my emotions have been a bit…raw…at times while trying to sort where some of those bad habits came from and while working with myself to fix them. And in the last three months, I’ve been able to stop and pinpoint exact places where the therapy is working, that the mental ass kicking I’m doing is working, and that this is a Very Good Thing. And that is GREAT. Seriously. But.

But…

The Wellbutrin that I took for ten days turned me into an emotional zombie. I didn’t feel anything, didn’t care about anything, and didn’t really understand how much of a change it was making. I saw that I was having trouble making decisions, that I was having trouble writing, that I was having trouble knitting, and basically, was just Having Trouble. The big moment of “oh shit” came the night before a brain MRI. While I won’t say that I should have been freaking out over it, let’s say there should have been some level of concern and care involved. I didn’t. Rin was able to then realize that I had gotten myself stuck on something that Dr. L had said and had turned it into a Rule That Had to Be Followed. (In this case, she’d wanted me to try the medicine for two weeks, but it was never, “you HAVE to try it for two weeks”.) She took the medicine away and recovery started. Within 16 hours, my voice was almost back to normal. Thirty-six hours later and it was perfect again and ya’ll, I just don’t recover from laryngitis that fast. Within two days, I was so overwhelmed by my own brain that I wasn’t sure what to do and so it went.

Why am I writing all of this? I sure as hell don’t necessarily want to admit all of this. I don’t really want to stand up and say, “Hey, yeah, so I’m incredibly vulnerable right now and I’m learning how to be a better me and that means needing some extra space and care from other people,” because anytime you put a sentence like that out there, there are so many opinions you can get from the absurd (“you just need more self-control”) to the painful where someone sees that admission and decides to run over your boundaries anyway. It means standing up and saying, “I’m delicate” and waiting to see what happens next.

And yet, part of being able to stand up and say that is some of what I’ve been working on. Not hiding everything, not pretending to be something I’m not (which includes pretending to be “okay” when I’m not), not locking everything inside to maybe deal with later is all a part of this process. And some of it I was working on before I walked into therapy. By reading people like Glennon and actually taking the words she writes to heart, I’ve been working on this for months. Therapy is just adding to the groundwork I’ve already started and it has given me tools to build a better foundation. I like words, and that is one of the biggest things that my therapist has given me actual words to combat the things my brain likes to do. Mindfulness is helping me a helluva lot and that is also a good thing. Being able to stop and look at the things in my head and say, ‘Okay, you’re trying this old bad habit but I’m not going to let you” or even, “Okay, I’m going to give you two minutes to be Prophetess of Doom and Gloom, but then you’re going to stop and move on” is a huge help for me.

I just also feel fragile. A lot. Rin has been doing so much to help with all of this. She goes to therapy with me every week so that I can actually walk in the door. She helps me remember things (good and bad) that I forget through the week so that I can tell Kim about it. She helps put me back together when the world is too overwhelming, she drags me out of the house when she realizes I’m just hiding behind fear instead of a legitimate reason, and she basically, all around takes care of me. At varying points in the last six months, both because of my brain chemistry and because of all of the other health problems, she’s basically been supporting me so much that I don’t know what I’d have done without her. She helps me make decisions when I get stuck on little things. Hell, there are days she finds me something to wear when even that seems too overwhelming. (Did I mention just how bad some of the medicine side effects were at varying times?) She helped take care of me post-surgery recovery which I’m sure was a ton of fun, because after four weeks, I got more than a little whiny.

One of the frustrating points in all of this is that it feels as though I’ll find a point of balance and then something else comes and yanks that from under my feet. I’ll find a medicine combo that works and then stops working, so I need something new. Or, my body will do something new and creative (read: generally terrifying) and it’s time to reevaluate again. Her and Kero both are a constant source of help in all of this (though, Kero, obviously is less involved in the exact details of everything going on; she’ll get details like, “Mom’s having a bad reaction to a medicine” but not the specifics of what and why and she also doesn’t know about the quest for MS because she doesn’t need to worry about it; she knows there are tests but not necessarily what they are for and I need it to stay that way). Balance is something I crave which is pretty hilarious to me because a lot of times, I’m just…not great at it. It has been particularly frustrating with some of the new symptoms (or in most cases worsening of other symptoms) because I’ve not been able to pull my magic tricks of “okay, if this happens, then I can do ‘x’ to make it easier” because there’s not a lot you can do about suddenly falling over for no reason and there’s not a lot you can do when your limbs decide to just ignore the fuckin’ signals your brain tries to send to them. You just grit your teeth and get through it, and that sucks because I want a solution.

Kim often tells me that I’m a very logical person and I’ve finally stopped laughing at her. After spending a lot of my life hearing people tell me how illogical I am, it’s nice to see that the things I try to do to cope are actually pretty darn logical after all (even some of the unhelpful ones though obviously, there’s room for improvement). Searching for a new and somewhat terrifying diagnosis isn’t logical. MS is not logical. Part of me wants it to be that, not because I desire to be ill, but because I AM ill and I want an answer. Ten years of “it could be blah” is wearing on a girl and this could be an answer that makes a lot of things make sense. However, it is also terrifying. It means an entirely new playbook and some of the plays in that book are downright frightening. The thought that I’ve built my castle on though is that it either is or it is not; therefore, I keep going. Curling up in the corner in fear won’t change it and if these new symptoms are going to become part of the “normal fuckery”, then there’s nothing to do but learn how to handle them. It just takes time and patience and a lot of grace, and a whole lot of being willing to ask for help. To top all of it off, the neuro I was sent to has basically done everything wrong in terms of helping me sort this out, up to and including CANCELLING the spinal MRI that was on the calendar because they decided they wanted it done somewhere else and failing to call me and telling me that they cancelled it. Needless to say, I need a neuro. At the same time, it also means that some of the things I was expecting to have going into this trip I just don’t have. I don’t have the reassurance of the image of my spine to see what is or is not there. It just couldn’t happen. So, it became one more place that this trip had stressful parts.

Planning was another area that things had to change. So often, I tend to put everyone’s needs ahead of mine during trip scheduling. I try to make sure that everyone gets at least some time and I try to make sure that Rin gets to do the things that she wants to do and that Kero gets to do most of what she wants to do and if there’s time at the end, I do some things I want to do. (Which, for clarity, does not mean that I do not want to do the same things that they do. What it does mean is that while I DO enjoy those things, I also don’t tend to schedule trips/visits that are more for me than for anyone else. It means I make sure that I try to please everyone else without taking time to sort in what I -need- in the middle of it all.) I knew from the start of conversations about “impending GA trip” that I couldn’t do that this time. I couldn’t be the one to make the decisions about who we saw when, when we went where, and how to put it all together. I told Rin and I half begged her to be in charge of the calendar. She’s very magnanimous and simply told people that it was a joint decision, but since I’m already spilling my guts in a vulnerability storm here, I’ll admit that I begged her to do it and to not make me do it unless she absolutely had to.

That change has been amazing. It means that I’ve been able to help plan without worrying about this person’s feelings or that person’s feelings or this person’s schedule or that person’s schedule and could instead focus on the actual goals of the trip. Stepping back from it also gave me the space to say, “There are a couple of things that we’ve put off the last couple of trips and I’d really like to not do that this time, even if it means upsetting someone else.” At least one of those things is on the calendar and the family whose house we are visiting because of that request honestly has NO idea just how over the moon excited I am about that part of the trip; in fact, that visit has been one that I’ve been able to hold onto at the worst moments of “omgicannotdothiswhyamieventryingtodothisicannoticannoticannot”. It has basically taken a ton of responsibility off of my shoulders and has let me be part of the process without being in charge of it and that is amazing. It was also a somewhat risky decision.

Despite eight and a half years together, there are times that people like to discount the relationship that Rin and I have and her role in both my life and in Kerowyn’s life. I weighed the risks and found the benefits far greater. After all, a key part of that sentence is “eight and a half years”. If someone hasn’t come to the conclusion that Rin is my partner and Kero’s second mother, then they likely aren’t going to magically do so now; therefore, the best course of action was not what was good for everyone else, but what was good for us as a family. In fact, many decisions about this trip were made with that exact discussion. Something Kim frequently reminds me of is that I’m not responsible for how anyone else feels or thinks; I can’t make them think a certain way. I CAN present information and give them room to make a choice, but I cannot make them make a choice. The only person whose choices I have complete control over is me and I have to make decisions that I can live with later. Thus, a second layer of decision making for this trip came with conversations about, “what choice will you be able to live with an hour later, a week later, a month later?” It is a question that has come up several times and is one that stays with me because it is important. I can only make decisions for me and I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.

Does it suck to upset other people? Oh sweet gods, yes.

Do I hate upsetting other people? More than you could possibly realize.

Am I growing up enough to understand that I can’t please everyone, no matter how hard I try? Yeah, I finally am.

I’m basically writing this all as a giant torrent of words as opposed to the organized thing I’d been considering writing before. I even wrote an outline for that complete with a timeline about when meds were wonky and what other things were going on, but every time I tried to write that, I failed. I think, perhaps, I just need to keep going with the giant torrent of words and hope that people will care enough to follow my rambling brain all the way to the end. (With a secondary hope that after I finish this monster post I started an hour ago, I’ll be able to focus more on other things.)

Everybody changes. It is a simple fact of life. Some people change for the better, some for the worse, and frankly, everyone’s opinion about which is which can vary. I’ve been doing a lot of changing in the last few years, but especially in the last few months. In some ways, it is making me a much better me. I’m becoming more forgiving of myself and my flaws, of the “weakness” that I constantly feel because I can’t just “pull myself up by my bootstraps” or “use more self-discipline” to solve my problems. I’ve become better at acknowledging that everyone has feelings, lots and lots of feelings, and that the real difference is simply in how a person lets those feelings work in their life. I’ve always been an emotional person and empathic sometimes beyond desirability; I’ve also spent a large chunk of my life trying to fix everyone else because I thought it made -me- a better person. The reality is that while helping other people is admirable, you can’t fix someone else – they have to do that themselves. Also? At some point, you have to stop trying to fix everyone else and make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Self-care is not my strong suit, but it is something that I am HAVING to become better at because if MS is what I have (and realistically, even just for the diagnoses I already have), I need to practice self-care all the time, not just when it is convenient, even if my need for self-care makes someone else unhappy.

I’m learning how to make boundaries, both for myself and outside of myself. I’m learning how to come to the point that I can see that doing thing in small bits, while annoying, is better long term than simply throwing myself into things. I’m learning to see that if reading an upsetting article or ten is a problem for me on a certain day, I can and need to walk away from them. The world will still have problems whether I read the article or not. I’m learning to say “no.” This one is hard because as people, we don’t want to make others unhappy, and yet, sometimes, ya have to say, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” Oh man do I have a battle with this one. It’s why a lot of times I depend on Rin to be my second back-up, to be able to say, “No, you’ve done enough” and to also help me realize what I have accomplished when my brain says, “That’s not enough, you need to do more.”

I’m learning to love myself. The real me. The one I live with every day, as opposed to the idea of me that other people want me to be. This is also hard. Gods, is it hard. “Who am I?” is a question I ask often, but the difference is that of late, the question has an answer more often than it doesn’t. Mindfulness therapy is helping me find the things that are important to me and showing me how to make those the things I build my mental and emotional image on instead of building it on some concept of expectation. I can look at my non-traditional family and I have no shame, because there is nothing shameful to be found. There are three consenting adults in this house who keep their private lives private just as most adults do in houses with kids. There is a healthy almost twelve year old who has two moms who love her to pieces and who are doing everything in their power to grow her into a well-rounded person while embracing all of the things that she loves and nurturing those things, offering guidance when she needs it, and who will, hopefully one day, finally convince her to wash dishes correctly. *headdesk* Does my family resemble what some people call traditional? Nah. Am I okay with that? Oh yeah. Why? Because it works for us.

I have more support from my partner in this relationship than I have ever had in any of my “traditional” relationships. Ever. And while I will be the first to tell you that I never thought I’d fall in love with a girl (cause, face it, boys are nice), it doesn’t change the validity nor the strength of love I have for the woman who is both best friend and partner. I also can’t think of anyone else who would be helping me do as good a job raising my kid than Rin does, and Kero tends to be priority number one for me. I also know that a lot of times, I let people brush over our relationship as “less important” for its non-traditional status and I’ve realized how much that has hurt me and my family. Kero, if you ask her what she thinks about having two moms, will tell you that she loves it and has no desire to change it. She oft wonders why anyone would have a problem with it because it doesn’t make sense to her. Don’t believe me? Ask her about it sometime and she’ll tell you she’s happy. Know how I now? Because we talk to her about it and we ask her how she thinks and feels because that’s important.

I understand that there are people who don’t agree with non-traditional relationships and I firmly believe they have the right to that belief. What I do not believe is that their belief has the right to impinge on the validity of my relationship, my expectations for how my partner should be treated, or how I personally feel about my relationship. Everyone has a right to their beliefs, but those rights should stop when they begin to impinge on someone else’s. For the most part, this isn’t a huge issue, but given that it is something that I’ve become more solid on in the last few months, finally not listening to the voices that say, “you’re wrong” and instead listening to the evidence in front of me that says that my family is pretty damn awesome and I’m quite happy even with all of the health chaos, I feel it is worth nothing. Rin is my partner and as such is involved in decisions I make. Period. Rin is Kero’s second parent and is involved in decisions that Kero is a part of. Period. There are no exceptions for this, nor should there be.

Something else that I’ve come to understand about myself is that I’m broken…and I’m okay with that. Glennon at Momastery talks about how brokenness is actually something to cherish because it means living without trying to be perfect and it means accepting all of the pieces of yourself and inside those pieces finding what you can use to make the world a better place. I still struggle with this one sometimes, but most of the time a simple re-direct from Rin helps to ease me back toward my belief that broken is not equal to bad. Sometimes, it takes more than a gentle reminder and she points out how pots are repaired in Japan with gold to show the cracks and how they add to the worth and value of the piece, even when they change it from its original state. Broken is not equal to bad and broken can even be sacred. I’m not going to find a magic cure for ADD or for anxiety or for fibro/CFS or for MS if that is what the eventual diagnosis is. Those are all parts of who I am. I could spend time fighting against them, hoping that they will magically get better, or I can be a realist and understand that this is the way things are and work within those parameters. But to choose to work within those parameters means acknowledging each of those things and making allowances for them, even when they are annoying. It means stepping back and realizing that barreling through something won’t make things better in the long run even if they help in the short term and thus deciding which choices are best at x time. It also means living with the understanding that, now more than even early on in all of this chronic illness bull shit, it changes from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. Right now, I go from “okay” to “oh fuck me now” very quickly. (One example, I’m not tolerating heat at the moment hardly at all. I start to get hot and I have to try to fix it quickly or else it becomes overwhelming and nauseating.) When your body constantly makes you live by the seat of your pants, you have the choice to dance with it or fight upstream against it. Since bouts of fighting upstream haven’t worked so well, and since between some of the writers who have spoken to my soul of late and Kim and especially Rin in her quiet vigilance have helped me to see that I DO have the strength to do more than just swim along, I figure it’s time to change my dancing shoes.

Do I still get frustrated? Oh sweet baby Jesus, yes. Constantly. But instead of letting that frustration eat away at me, I acknowledge it as a thing and then try to move forward. Sometimes, just saying, “okay, I see you” is enough. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes I want to throw a full body fucking stompy fit that puts the biggest diva three year old to shame. That’s just part of the dance, I think. So, even on the path toward more enlightened thinking, I still stumble and still need reminders.

Do I fail? Hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhhahahahahahahahahahahahhahah

*coughs*

Um, yes. I fail. Sometimes every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. But instead of letting that failure define the rest of the day, I try to only let it define the moments surrounding it. This is another lesson I’ve learned from Glennon (and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, you should totally read Glennon at Momastery because she basically speaks my language so, so much and so many times she writes things that leave me saying, “Omg, yes, I could write that same thing” and while our past backgrounds are much different, the way she thinks about things now is so, so helpful to me some days and yes, she is awesome and you should read her). Anyway, she wrote a post called Don’t Carpe Diem and it sings my language. Instead of trying to seize every moment of every day and make it “good” (whatever the fuck good actually means), she instead encourages people to seize the moments inside the day that help you find peace. For her, it is seizing kairos, or “God’s time” which is basically the time outside of chronus where God shows you He exists. Since my definition of God is a bit broad, I tend to insert “Creator” and move on because it works for me. The goal is basically to stop expecting yourself to make every moment magical because no one can successfully keep up with that and striving to do so just sets you up for failure.

This is an area that Rin and I both have been working on because both of us have had the bad habit of letting one bad thing ruin an entire day, even when that thing was disproportionate to the rest of the day. We were cutting each other to pieces doing this and finally have started to manage not to do so. We’ve managed to work on being able to take things as they come and accepting that shit happens and then moving on. It doesn’t always work, but I can tell you it has dramatically cut down on the number of hurt feelings about one or the other of us inadvertently crushing a day for the other. It also helps keep me sane. Not expecting myself to be perfect and happy and good every single moment has been a huge life saver. It’s been part of accepting feelings as they come and learning how to properly react to them (and “properly” here means “for me” as opposed to necessarily what works for someone else). Carpe Kairos is one of my snippet mottos (I have a list; I’ll share them with you!) that helps me get through days and stressful moments.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’m not the same person I was six months ago, a year ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago. I’ve changed. I am still so very flawed because who is not, but I am working on those flaws and working to have less of them. I’m also working on becoming better at admitting when I’m wrong and being able to apologize and move forward instead of sticking to the unhelpful “but I want to be right” mentality that got me in trouble a lot as a teenager. I’m trying. I’m imperfect and broken and I am sick and there is no denying any of that nor is there really any changing it. I do the best that I can and right now, I am so gods darned fragile that it scares the hell out of me. No, seriously, it does. I want to be “strong” and yet, I really don’t, because the definition that I have of “strong” for myself is flawed. So I’m learning that in being weak, vulnerable, and broken, there is strength. In acknowledging that I can’t do everything, there is strength. In being able to sit and write this out, to admit that I am walking into this trip more vulnerable than I have ever been, there is strength. Inside that admission is a request for gentleness and compassion (but note it is not asking to excuse poor behavior, because if I’m being a whiny punk, I don’t want someone to accept that because #vulnerable) and the understanding that I am trying, some days so hard that I can’t even put the trial into words. Some days, Rin cheers me on when I make it from bed, to the bathroom, to the living room, because some days I need even those absurd baby steps praised. There is also peace in all of this, peace that I’ve not had about this trip since we started talking about it. For the first time in the last two weeks, I’m not dreading leaving the state. (And I don’t want people to read this and think that I didn’t want to see them, because it is pretty much the opposite of that. It’s just that people are hard and feelings are hard and it is totally possible to want to see someone and wish that you could do it from four states away to protect your fragile heart, is what I’m saying.) I am broken and vulnerable and oh, so scared right now. There are so many unanswered questions in the balance and there are still many miles to go before most of those questions are answered. I’ll answer questions that I can, but I ask that you not become upset if I say, “Not right now” or if I direct you to Rin and let her do the explaining (especially since I know for some of you, the potential for me having MS has been a brief note in the middle of two giant notes, one from Rin and this one from me, so I suspect that there are questions). One, she has a short version down that is easier to deal with than me trying to fumble in my brain and two, some days, I just can’t. It’s that simple. I just can’t.

As I begin to run out of steam, I’m starting to wonder if all of this sounds negative and I truly, truly hope that’s not how it’s come across. I can’t begin to tell you how positive some of these changes are, for me and everyone around me. They are helping me to understand more about people and myself. They are helping me to learn to live with who I am not who the world thinks I should be (and in this case, the world includes young me who had dreams that didn’t involve a chronic illness), because that’s the me I get to be. Being more mindful is making me less quick to snark, to judge, and to automatically assume the worst of someone because there aren’t as many negative thoughts running around my own brain to cloud my vision. (Which is not to say that I’m never snarky for anyone who was worried about -that- possibility; it means I am snarky without necessarily being mean and there is a difference.) I am becoming more able to exist in my spoonie skin without constantly being angry at its failings and even when I do become angry with my body, I am able to acknowledge that anger and then find a way to turn it into something productive. You’d be AMAZED at the difference that simply acknowledging emotions that can have “negative” connotations can be for me. It also is involving me learning how to judge myself less (because, face it, I’ve been my worst critic since I was a kid and that’s not necessarily the best thing) and to forgive myself more. This is the one area that I still have a lot of trouble, but thankfully, people help me to remember to forgive myself, too. So, all of this is good, but it is also so utterly terrifying that sometimes it leaves me breathless. To be open and vulnerable requires an entirely new level of courage on my part and even now, I’m becoming pensive about hitting the “publish post” button…and yet, I know I will (at least after Rin reads this for major typos/issues) and I’ll likely even go so far as to tag people in it on facebook just as a “please read this and see the me that is here and not the me I used to be”.

Also, if you made it this far, bless you. I can’t imagine it was easy and gods know it is long as heck. And since it is long, there’s one more thing I’m going to leave (and honestly, it’s just a testament to how stream of thought this has been that it isn’t peppered with more links because there are several things that highlight some of these points so much that I want to share, but I’ll keep it to one more and not be overwhelming) a video here that I watched from another writer who is quickly becoming one of my go-to “go to church” writers, joining Glennon and Jenny. This particular video is by Brene Brown talking about Listening to Shame. I started watching it one day, curious because I’d seen several folks speak highly of her. I had to stop the video about two minutes in to start taking notes for myself because it moved me that much. It is likely because of Brene that I’m actually able to put all of this out there without a panic attack and for that, it is worth sharing.

Love Wins.

We can do hard things.

#omgthisisscary

Today has been a rough day in my head and outside of it. The child has been a bundle of frustration that has left me literally sending her out of the room before I said something I would regret. This is pretty rare for me and while I know it is a good parenting option, it is still upsetting. I’m usually a bit better at keeping my cool with her enough to deal with whatever the problem at hand is.

Today, I just kind of hit a point of not being able to deal with her anymore. We have had at least eight conversations today about her slacking on her work, be it homework or chores. Some of those happened before she did chores/work for the day and some happened after which kind of proves that she wasn’t listening the first time. I know that some of this is normal kid stuff, but I am seriously running out of patience with her on this particular topic. If it is something she wants to do, she is all over it, but if she isn’t in the mood? You might as well not bother and that just isn’t cool. She has to learn that you have to do the boring things AND the fun things, not just the fun things.

I understand. I truly do. No one really likes doing dishes or taking out the trash; however, it makes more sense to do it correctly the fist time instead of spending hours dragging one’s ass or being sent back to repeat the task over and over again. She doesn’t like being yelled at, so you’d think she would get tired of that after awhile, but it doesn’t seem like that today. (Mind you “yelling” isn’t the correct word. “Fussing at” is more appropriate as I only actually raised my voice once and that was after being utterly frustrated with her having somehow managing to lose a glass, 9″x13″ casserole dish somewhere in the house. She doesn’t remember what she did with it and even hunting in the kitchen didn’t unearth it, so I have no idea where the thing has disappeared to. Her only answer is, as usual, “I don’t know.”

Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!

I know it is just a day and it will pass, but at this point, I am kind of counting down the time to bedtime in a way I haven’t since she was really small. Hopefully tomorrow she’ll have her brain back together again and she’ll be more ready to do work.

A bright spot today came in the form of a package from our friend Greg. He had posted a link about the new Bionic Woman comic on FB recently asking about it for K since she fell in love with the show when we were out there. I started reading the sample issue for age appropriateness and quickly found myself hooked, so he said he’d send them our way since he had the trade edition. Today, K came in from checking the mail saying that I had a package from the Hatchers and I started bouncing in my seat. After making certain that I could read them before they completely warmed up (I was a little worried about condensation), I started tearing into them. I really enjoyed all ten issues and I think the writers and the artists involved should be commended. I’m not a huge comic fan. I try, but a lot of times they lack something for me. It takes a lot of work or a quirky subject matter to really get me involved in the story. While I enjoyed the old Bionic Woman episodes we watched with the Hatchers, I was quite surprised to find myself enjoying the comics so much.

I like the way Jaime’s character is written. She can do some amazing things and there is the potential risk of her becoming a super god-like character involved with the bionic powers she has. Paul Tobin, the writer, has done a great job at making her fallible both in her mentality and even in her actions. She is a real character dealing with real problems even while battling people like the Russian mob. I like that type of character and I think that is what drew me into the story to begin with. The nice artwork (and it is quite nice) is just an added bonus.

Dinner is ready, so I’m going to stop babbling for the moment. Here’s to hoping tomorrow the kiddo has an attitude adjustment.

(I started typing this as a status update but it was way too long for that, so I shifted it here.)

This week has been a rough week. For those of you who are also friends with Rin, you know that her Mawmaw’s brother passed away from cancer yesterday and that there are other health concerns from other folks in her family.

What you might not know is that in the midst of trying to deal with this news and everything else, she has also been dealing with me and the horrible reactions I was having to the new medicine the doctor put me on. At first, it was just seeming to make me more tired and that can happen. When I stair stepped up the dose like I was supposed to, the tired got worse and brought some friends along. It was making my anxiety ramp to pretty vicious levels. I was angry about…everything. One day, that was so bad that even people breathing around me was making me angry.

But, you know, we have a tween who hasn’t settled into a regular monthly cycle yet so hormones tend to run a bit crazy around here and sometimes that happens. And my anxiety tends to ramp at this time of year and so maybe it was that.

It all came to a head on Wednesday. One, I didn’t want to left alone. I was never worried that I was going to physically hurt myself so let’s make that disclaimer straight up, but I was mentally beating the hell out of myself. Everything I did was wrong/bad/a failure. I spilled my cereal – dry cereal, an obvious accident – and I was kicking the shit out of myself for being stupid. The real moment of clarity that it was the medicine and not just a hormonal/seasonal ramp in anxiety came when I realized that I couldn’t go to my massage appointment with Natalie – who I adore and who I let work on me in places I don’t normally let massage therapists work – alone. I needed Rin in the room though Natalie is not a threat, and is in fact usually one of my favorite people to see because she is awesome. At that point, it became clear to both of us that this medicine was not working.

She called my dr the next morning. Frustratingly, we haven’t heard from her. I do have an appointment Tuesday and I am hoping that it is just a clerical error somewhere, but we will see then. I did however refuse to take it again no matter what the dr said. In fact, the idea of taking it again almost gave me ANOTHER panic attack so that was pretty clearly a bad idea.

This week has been hard as hell and I have tried to be as “normal” (or you know, my ‘normal’) as possible, mostly to avoid scaring the hell out of my kid. It hasn’t been easy. We did finally explain that I was having a hard time with the medicine, but kept it fairly simple. She has walked into the room to me being upset or in tears a few too many times this week and that is frustrating to me. It makes me feel bad.

Thursday, I had to get blood drawn. Turns out that having six vials drawn wipes the hell out of me and that was frustrating as hell. We had a Brothers of the Wind meeting at the library and that was hard to face. An much as I didn’t want to be alone, I also didn’t want to see people. I actually managed to make it through okay, largely thanks to one of the wee ones who kept amusing me across the table. But it was hard. Afterwards, we usually go out to dinner with folks. Unfortunately, the restaurant had been chosen without any deliberation and…I couldn’t eat anything there.

Given the fragile state of my brain and the fact I had had six vials of blood drawn, going and trying to nibble on maybe a salad and watching other folks eating wasn’t really an okay option. I was a bit upset but was also sort of okay because, well, people are scary. Rin was much less okay. She was both upset because she wanted to hang out with folks and also upset because there wasn’t even talk of a potential venue change. (For reference, there is a pizza place not far from the library that does have GF options that is pretty tasty.) I know that there will be times that I will have to make do with what is available and I think I have made a bit more peace with that because I have needed to for my own sanity. Rin was upset less that they were going somewhere I couldn’t eat and more that they didn’t seem to care. Because she was upset and because I am still dealing with side effects from the damn medicine, I kept having to fight my mental urge to kick the crap out of myself for inconveniencing Rin in a week where she really needed a break. She kept trying to reassure me she wasn’t upset with me and while I was trying to hear her, my brain wasn’t really listening. It made for a bit of a frustrating evening.

It actually got a bit better just by us wandering around Kroger being goofy, and even though later she received the news about Tommy dying, she had a good long chat with her sister and she was doing better. It is things like that that have been keeping me going – little moments of good stolen in between the moments of mental turmoil. (Of course, a household thing came up to ruin some of the calm while the kiddo was in the shower as the ceramic soap dish fell and almost landed on her poor toes. Now we have to figure out a) why it fell and b) how the hell to fix it but that is a challenge for another day.)

If you’ve talked to me this week and thought I was acting oddly, well, I was. Mostly, I’ve been keeping to myself and trying to do distracting things like playing Candy Crush. It has sort of worked. What I haven’t managed has been any significant writing of either the personal sort or the NaNo sort, so I need to try to get focused again because I am very behind. Hopefully, as the rest of the medicine clears from my system, I’ll be better able to do that. I’m also hoping that my dr will give me my old medicine now that I tried her option. Cross your fingers.

I honestly don’t know why I’m writing this aside from the fact that it feels right and it feels as though I should. Maybe someone else is having a rough week and something is making them crazy and they need to know they are not alone. Or maybe it is that I’ve been pretty open about things lately because I am tired of trying to keep all of my mental quirks to myself in the name of appearing as someone who might have their shit together all the time,. Maybe it is just cathartic in its own way. Who knows?

Oh! On the positive front though, kiddo and I both will have insurance again as of 1 December and that is a pretty huge deal. The first goal will be to deal with the rouge gallbladder because I really don’t think that is helping me feel better right now. I’m scared of the idea of surgery, but I also haven’t been thrilled with the occasional twinges from that region and I would really rather get it dealt with before it decides to go septic or something. Ick. So, yes, definitely a bright spot in this chaotic week.

Okay. So I’m maybe a little cranky this morning. I’m trying to adjust to a new medicine dose. Yesterday I doubled the dose I was taking and found myself in bed by 8 last night. I was frustrated because I had things I was trying to do. I decided that it would be okay and went to bed instead of trying to keep myself awake.

When I woke up at 7:30 this morning which is not precisely near my favorite time to wake up, I decided it would still be okay. I would get up and have the house to myself for awhile and do some writing and get caught up since I’ve gotten pretty behind this week. Alas, my grand plan failed because T is also awake, so instead of a quiet house, I have the noises of whatever he is playing or watching in the other room and other noises like his squeaky chair.

In an effort to not let that drive me insane, I put in earbuds and turned on Spotify which…would probably work better if I just spent the $10 for this month to upgrade to premium so that I could actually pick exactly what I want to hear instead of whatever the radio picks for me. But I’m still trying to make the best of it. I’m beginning to wonder if one of the potential side effects of this new medicine is anger issues because -everything- seems to be driving me crazy this week.

I don’t know that I actually have a point right now beyond trying to get some of the frustration out of my head so that I actually can really get some writing done because I am really behind and I really am trying to do this novel thing even if right now it feels stupid and dumb. Also, I think for today I should probably stay off of FB because I keep seeing things that are making me feel more militant than I already felt and that is probably not good. I’m generally better at putting space between myself and things that make me rage-face but this morning, that isn’t working, and given than in a little bit I need to go wake up the munchkin, I should probably save my patience for the people who have to deal with me today.

I almost wonder if I should go somewhere like Panera or Starbucks or the library for the day, but I don’t know if Rin has plans and I don’t particularly want to go wake her up just to find out. That seems a little shitty and I know it certainly wouldn’t make me super happy with whomever came to wake me up for that reason. So, for now, I’ll work a little bit more on getting my mental shit together and actually doing some writing instead if wanting to punch my iPad. After all, it didn’t do anything, right? 🙂

I already ranted once on FB this morning, and I think at some point, I’ll make an actual post about that particular topic that I can just start sharing with whomever posts that nonsense. I’ll even try to be good and keep from swearing too much because I’ve heard that there are some folks who won’t take you seriously that way. *eye roll* I just am trying to be logical and trying not to let that particular meme get to me, but last year it drove me insane. Already seeing it crop up this year is just making me angry, one because we aren’t even past Thanksgiving yet and because it is utterly ridiculous. So, yes, a future more educational type post about that instead of a randy type post is perhaps in order.

Here’s to hoping that ya’ll’s days are going a bit more smoothly than mine thus far!

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Tonight, I’ve been doing some writing and some typing of handwritten entries and basically anything I could to keep myself awake while Rin was downstairs in the hotel lobby doing laundry. What started as “I’ll just do this one thing” turned into a lot more than one thing. That said, there are some things I want to come back and write entries about. I’m on a bit of a backlog in this department and I’m not promising catching up this week, but I will try. I’ll also try to remember to post pictures!

  • All Things Halloween: Trick or Treating at Whole Foods on 30 Oct, Halloween night
  • RUM (Royal University of the Midrealm) in an entry that will encompass a) attempting to decide to go to an SCA event again, b) getting ready for that event, and c) the event itself.
  • Gluten Free: How it’s going and what I’ve noticed
  • NaNoWriMo (or “How I Lost My Mind”)

I think there were a couple of other things I was supposed to come back and write about, but right now I can’t farking remember. I can barely see what I’m typing my tired eyes are so blurry so needless to say, it is time for this bunny to go to bed.

As the post from 22 October 2013 notes, I had to see a therapist at Healthlinc. It is part of their procedure before they will prescribe ADD medicines. I actually understand it from their point of view. There are things that are important to know about before giving someone ADD meds, especially the stimulant category, so having them talk to a therapist makes good sense. It also can highlight other problems. For someone like me, it also can be a stress inducing nightmare.

At this point, I’ve seen the therapist twice, each visit a week a part. The first visit was emotionally and mentally exhausting. I was trying to keep up with what felt like a mountain of information about myself, a lot of it things I don’t like to talk about, particularly not with strangers. The tricky part was that it was important that I talk about those hard things so that I could explain who I am now. The path to here is pretty important and laden with many challenges. From talking about previous family stress to talking about being a sexual abuse survivor, it was difficult. There were times I wondered exactly what the hell I was doing and why I was bothering. I mean, clearly, I’ve made it through the last year without the meds, I can keep going this way. (The answer to that is, “No, not really, genius, that’s why you’re here.”)

There were a lot of things to discuss and several different types of questionnaires to fill out. Those are harder than they seem at first glance! You are asked to both note if you have specific types of traits or behaviors and how often you have those traits and behaviors. You also have to answer questions about how often those things interrupt your daily life. For some, I had to ask Rin who was with me, helping me sort through all the information and answer his questions to the best of my ability. Others made me laugh. A lot. Like the question that asked something like, “Do you ever find yourself in conversations in social situations where you talk a lot?” Gee. I dunno. I’m just a shy, quiet… yeah I can’t even finish the sentence. While I have become more reserved with people in recent years, I’ll still talk people’s ears off if they give me half a chance. There were other questions that I wanted to lie about because I had to battle the mental voice that said, “You shouldn’t tell the truth about those types of things or they’ll call you crazy.” I had to answer questions about past self-harm…which of course as I am writing this right now sends me on a hunt to find the actual date because I knew I had written about it in one of my Livejournal’s. This hunt led me to the discovery that one of my LJs was blocked because someone tried to access it somewhere else (I suspect it might have been me sitting here in Cleveland instead of South Bend), but I changed the password first and THEN unblocked it because I’m not dumb. Anyway, so after all of THAT hassle, I went hunting for the entry through my 381 tags on my twisteddaydream LJ and actually stumbled into it. So, the last time I cut myself with the intent of self-harm was 19 July 2003. Over ten years. That’s pretty damn good in my opinion. Anyway, so yes, talking about all of the things at that first appointment was hard.

When I left I wasn’t sure how I felt. I knew I was more determined than ever to not go on anti-depressants because that crap doesn’t work for me and I’m not in the mood to play with my brain chemistry right now. I also was vehemently against the idea of finding a therapist for myself now. (There’ll be more about this later.) I felt a bit better about the therapist himself. He was surprisingly easy to talk to and he has a sense of humor and perhaps more importantly, he doesn’t think -my- sense of humor is weird. He also let Rin come into the session with me which was a pretty huge deal for me and it made it easier for me to keep up with things. She helped me get back on track several times and helped explain things when I couldn’t quite find the words to make sense. I actually did give him the journal entry, unfortunately I forgot to point him to the second half first so we ran out of time. I left on the note of “come back for a wrap-up session next week” and went home (to tasty soup and a nap!).

Rin and I talked about a lot of different things, trying to decompress. There were some concerns about some of the things that he had tried to focus on and we both realized that we needed a better list for the next session, particularly since it was going to be shorter. After talking about it off and on across the week, we made the list about an hour before we had to leave. I’m not going to share all of it because there are things that I don’t really want to write about just now; however, I will share the general gist because I’m actually pretty proud of parts of it.

We started with what my goals for having ADD medicine were. It was something he’d mentioned at the previous session – that the doctors liked to have a reason or a goal behind prescribing that type of medicine instead of taking for the sake of taking it.  (I’m going to share the goals at the end but I want to go over the outline first.) This actually makes a lot of sense to me, and it required some extra thought on my part. I had some of the obvious goals like wanting to not feel dumb in the brain all the time, but I actually had to find more than one or two reasons.

The second part was “Strategies I’m Already Using to Help Deal with ADD and Anxiety.” This list was also a bit harder to write because it involved thinking about both what I don’t do well and what I have actually managed to change. Rin helped a lot with this part because it wasn’t always easy for me to just sort it out from all of the random chaos that exists in my brain.

The last part was perhaps the hardest and the one that I’m not going to share parts of just yet. It was basically an organized list of things that I do differently now versus how I did them in the past. I summarized some of the things I had discussed in the last session and pointed out that he had seemed to focus on some things that weren’t really as large a problem as they might have sounded and how there were other things that were perhaps a larger focus. It involved having to weed through hard things and come up with a succinct list.

When I arrived at the appointment, I realized that the best plan of attack was to address the third section first. It actually made it much easier to focus on the things that perhaps really did need to be discussed. As I discussed things on all three lists, the therapy question came up again but I told him I couldn’t properly answer him until I finished my list. Because, damn it, I made a list and I HAD to finish it because my brain wasn’t thinking about anything else.

The first part of the list was this: Things I’m Trying to Do

  • Homeschooling: I’m already doing this, but it would be nice to have more focus and be able to do a bit more with her. As it stands there are some subjects I can’t work with her very well on because I have no focus for them, math being the biggest. It is frustrating and it would be better for all of us if I had my brain a bit more in gear.
  • Running a Girl Scout troop: We’re already behind on this, in large part due to the health issues that I’ve been dealing with. There was too much in the air to try to organize things. I am hoping to be able to get a better handle on this by the beginning of the year (before cookie sales). As it stands, I REALLY need some help with this one. It’s one thing to have ideas and another entirely to execute them.
  • Writing: This is a multi-tiered category that includes personal journaling (for obvious reasons), NaNoWriMo, and professional short pieces with the goal of publishing
  • Potentially trying to find editing work online. I love editing but this is something that just really is not working right now. It requires more focus than I have.
  • Day-to-day organization: this one should be pretty self-explanatory.
  • Knitting for fun and for profit: Knitting is helpful for me in a lot of ways plus it is really fun; however, through a Kickstarter for a local convention, RiverCon, Rin bought us an Artist Alley table. I have ideas for what I want to do but I’m going to need help in the focusing department both to learn new patterns between now and April but to stay on top of organized lists and the like.
  • Being scatterbrained makes it harder to get out of the house on time causing anxiety about being late: this one is one many of you are familiar with. No one knows how irritating it is to constantly be late and yet it doesn’t seem to matter how much earlier we get up (or don’t sleep at all), something inevitably comes up. It is typically a combination of not being able to move quickly because of pain levels and not having things in organized spaces (which hearkens back to the day-to-day organization thing). I’d really like to not be late aaaall the time.

A couple of other notes that were made with this page were that ADD and pain both impair focus and that the ADD meds help with both of those and would make the list more feasible. I also noted that writing helps keep my brain organized but it isn’t enough by itself. [Medicine] helps me to write better by increasing my ability to focus. One of the fastest ways for me to be upset when I’m writing is when I can’t find words. (Hell, pretty much anytime. Writing is not alone in this frustration.) Not finding words is also a dual problem.

The second list is: Strategies I’m Already Using

  • Being more forgiving of myself when I feel overwhelmed. This includes talking it out with my partner or my friends as opposed to falling into the bad habit of mentally berating myself when I feel overwhelmed.
  • Trying to keep a regular calendar (though this one is definitely a work in progress).
  • Actually writing things as opposed to saying, “I should be writing things” even when it is frustratingly difficult. This also includes using that writing to work through things like disagreements to help clarify my feelings and to look at other views.
  • Knitting
  • Taking short daytime walks (and the occasional nighttime stroll around the circle key).
  • Reading motivational writing like Momastery, The Bloggess, and The Militant Baker.
  • Talking about things that make me anxious/worried/scared instead of trying to keep it all to myself which helps with ADD problems and anxiety and depression.
  • Taking online classes through Coursera.
  • Cutting screen time late at night and trying to knit instead of goofing around online (also a work in progress).

Once I actually put that list together I was actually pretty damn proud of myself. It’s a viable list with things that I’ve actually been working on doing to make me a better me. This is really cool. Even more cool was the fact that the therapist told me that I have good coping skills. That was kind of huge for me. I’ve been notorious in the past for either ignoring things until they went away or shoving them to “be dealt with later”.

After going over the lists he agreed that he felt medicine would help. Then he dropped a bit of a bomb. He had a suspicion that since it had been so long since I had been on my other medicine that the doctor would likely want to try a non-stimulant first. I…was not thrilled; however, I understand that there has to be some give and take in these types of things. I’m willing to try [new med] because I am not willing to take an SSRI style medicine. I know that if I flat refuse too many kinds of medicines then I’ll be up a creek without a paddle. So, he and I talked about it for a minute and then he went to hunt the doctor down to ask her what she was willing to do.

While he was gone, I made myself address the “therapy: check yes or no” question and why I was so stubbornly saying no. Rin and I talked and I jotted down thoughts as they came up. The first was a sheer stubborn reaction. No, it isn’t helpful and likely not rational, but I am who I am and stubborn is part of that. The second was stemming from my VERY strong desire to not be on anti-depressants. I’ve been on around half a dozen in the past and they all left me feeling varying levels of numb and not myself and they all impaired my writing ability which is a HUGE problem. Third, though I know I won’t have the same problems I had in the past with therapy, those old anxieties do crop up and are still there. After writing it down on paper and thinking about it like a rational grownup instead of a stubborn asshat, I realized that it might not be a bad idea. There are things that I could use some help with and there are other coping strategies both for ADD, chronic pain, and depression that a therapist might know. The worst case is that I try it and it doesn’t help, so I agreed to let him send a referral over to Oaklawn in South Bend. It is the office he works out of and so he has experience with the people there. I was supposed to give them a call a couple of days after the appointment; however, this week has been a bit hectic, so I’m going to do that this week and we’ll go from there. The diagnosis he sent over is anxiety/NOS which is “not otherwise specified”. It’s a start. He said they will do their own assessments so I’ll get to answer all of those fun questions again. (Yay? Ugh.)

All in all, I’m glad I went to him and I wouldn’t mind chatting with him occasionally if I needed to for medicine purposes. I agreed to try a new medicine. [Though the new medicine is INSANELY expensive. Thankfully the company has a 30-day free trial thing. I still had to buy 5 of the half dose of the dose the doctor wants me on which cost $50 which was ANNOYING but it was the fastest solution since we were on our way out of town. I need to get started on them this weekend because it takes between 2-6 weeks to see a difference. Yeah, I’m not thrilled about that part either; however, I am trying to be positive. It will be different because it is clearly a non-stimulant whereas [old med] is a stimulant, but we’ll see. Worst case is that I try it and then go in and say, “Okay, I tried your expensive medicine and it’s not helping so can I have my medicine now please?” And that’s the mini-rant about that.]

 

[This entry is transcribed from my handwritten journal. As a general warning, I am even more scattered and occasionally more circular when I write by hand than I am when I type. This entry is quite long and honestly, it could possible be two entries. I might come back and edit it that way later, but right now I am just trying to get it all typed up so that I don’t keep procrastinating doing so. It was written at about 4:30 am on 22 October 2013.]

 

Given all the recent changes and goings-on, it seems only fitting to (finally) starting using this new journal. [My Thor journal that Rin bought me. ^_^] Granted, I should be asleep. It’s 4:30 in the morning and I have to be up at 8 to get ready for my first appointment with the therapist at Healthlinc. I had (somewhat amazingly) managed to forget about it until yesterday afternoon. I managed to stay fairly distracted (largely by ghost hunting in the Sims Free Play) most of the evening, but these types of things always have a way of creeping up on me when I lay down no matter how tired I am. I read for awhile, a silly romance novel (The Inconvenient Duchess), that at least managed to be distracting until I finished it. Then, of course, it was almost 4:30 and I was clearly still awake. I slipped out of bed to see if Rin was possibly still awake, but it seems I’m the only one awake at this point. On one hand, that’s good, because she was exhausted and needed sleep. On the other, it meant I was left alone with my own brain which isn’t always my favorite state of affairs. Instead of starting a second book, I decided that perhaps I should take my own advice and face off with myself. So now I’m scribbling furiously in an effort to keep up with my own mental babbling by the booklight in my Kindle cover in an attempt to not disturb anyone else. It seems both slightly poetic and maybe silly since I could just go sit on the couch. But whatever. Here I am.

Yesterday was frustrating. There were some communication issues that threatened to turn into a huge fight. I suppose, since I’m peering into my own brain, some of those issues stemmed from my own insecurities. The largest culprit yesterday was “not wanting to be a burden” coupled with a bit of expectation of a certain thing without having made those needs known. On the face of it, it was all fairly minor, and I just was frustrated and irritated. Beneath it, I felt both angry with myself for feeling so needy and frustrated that she didn’t read my mind. There were things both of us could have done better and hopefully in the future we will; however, I try not to talk too much about specific disagreements online (yes, I was handwriting this with the knowledge that it would eventually make it online) because it isn’t everyone’s business. With that in mind, I do think I need to examine some of my own reactions.

When I realized I was both upset and becoming frustrated, I should have reached out and let her know. I stopped myself both because I wanted her to somehow realize I needed her and also because I didn’t want to bother her for anxiety reasons again. Right now, this seems plain as can be, but it wasn’t so clear then. I’m getting better at recognizing anxiety and stress for what they are, but it is still a work in progress. I missed some of the mental hints and instead let myself get a little broody. By the time I did reach out, I was more than a little cranky. When she got home, while I tried to talk to her about why I was frustrated calmly, I suspect more of the other crept in than I wanted to admit at the time. I didn’t have the worst possible reaction, but in hindsight, I realize I could have chosen if not a better way to handle it, then a better time to handle it. Trying to discuss something only a few minutes after someone gets home rarely goes well. It just sort of came out when she asked if I was okay. So, hopefully next time, I’ll at least manage better timing. Things did settle back down and she worked on making dinner. She was trying something new with veggie soup and it ended up taking longer than she was expecting. That meant she spent most of the evening in the kitchen…which to be honest was unexpected on my part and also a bit frustrating. I finally realized I was just playing games for something to do and maybe reading for a bit and trying to sleep was a better course of action. I went to tell her and she got upset with me. I’m still a little confused as to why. I know part of it was because we didn’t have any of our usual evening downtime, but she had been working in the kitchen and I had no clue she could have stopped for a bit. While we were discussing it, she expressed some frustration that food didn’t seem to be a “making me feel better” thing since I went GF. I thought about it for a minute and realized that on some level, I had been working to make that separation in my head since I was already making large changes. Most of the weight I’ve put on in the last 2 years has been from stress eating, it that is really not healthy physically or mentally. We talked a little more, but I wasn’t managing to put my thoughts into words. I suspect this was a part of what was keeping me awake because cooking is something she does to make people feel good. She likes when her food makes people happy and when she finds things they love. With that in mind, and me realizing the mental changes I was unconsciously making, there was a bit of a disconnect and I could tell she was upset but couldn’t assuage that upset.

First, the obvious. You have no idea how much I love when you cook for me, even if it seems basic and easy. Cooking comes easily for you whereas for me, it’s a struggle. I don’t enjoy it, so when I do cook, it’s a necessity thing not a because I want to thing. You’ve introduced me to more foods than I can count, and on your watch, I’ve come to love asparagus, zucchini, parsnips, and even new cheeses, all because you take the time to make them. When you bring home asparagus it is sometimes more exciting to me than chocolate, and if anyone had ever hinted I’d write a sentence like that, I’d tell them they were crazy. Over the last few weeks, things have been stressful and I was having to watch what I ate even before I went GF because of my gallbladder, so you’ve had a challenge on your hands. The veggie soups you’ve been making have been getting me through a lot of the days where I felt like there was a way between my body, my brain, and food. I keep waiting for you to groan and beg me not to ask for it again because you and K are tired of it, but that hasn’t happened yet. So, even though it was taking awhile and wasn’t done when you wanted, I was still excited for soup. I’ve also been tired, out of sorts, and stressed, so it likely didn’t show as much. It hadn’t crossed my mind that there would be tasty soup when we got home from the doctor tomorrow because my brain keeps getting stuck somewhere around the doctor’s office. When you explained that after I admonished you for doing too much when you were tired and in pain, I both felt bad and felt all floaty hearted at the same time. So, see, your food is a comfort thing and a happy making thing even as I try to divorce some of the food = comfort pathways. It really is two separate things. I’m trying to stop the pathway that says, “Food will make you less stressed and will make things better” because it is not true. It might -temporarily- make things better but it won’t fix things and in the long run it makes things worse. In some ways, this is already and will continue to make me love the things you make even more because it is tasty and healthier than most of the junk I was craving before. I know some of the GF things have you a bit scared or maybe nervous is a better word because it is new territory for you and there’s more trial and error involved; however, I gleefully look forward to being your guinea pig because I know you’ll make awesome things and then all of our friends will be jealous they can’t steal you.

So, while I’m working on my mental relationship with food, it won’t diminish the love and comfort I receive from what you make for me because the two aren’t wholly connected. And if more of what I ask for you to make is mega-veggie soup instead of cookies or a cake, that won’t entirely be a bad thing. Your food makes me happy, love, and not in the dysfunctional “food will solve everything” way but in the “Holy shit this woman cares so much about me she spends six hours in the kitchen cooking for me and that is both mind-boggling and amazing” way. I hope that eases your worry better than I was managing last night.

There’s one nagging issue down, so what are the others? Well that is a bit more complicated to sort, but I know it revolves around the appointment that is in *looks at clock* four hours. *sigh* Some of it is general fear of an unknown. I’m glad I met Tom at my other appointment, but it was brief and I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve not done the counselor thing since college and while I know it can be a good thing, I’ve not had it on my to-do list. See, I have a lot of trust issues both with counselors and in general. I don’t just open up to anyone these days (doubly true after the last couple of years), so the idea of having to is daunting, almost too daunting.

The reason I’m going is because my need for my ADD meds is stronger than my fear of the counselor. Of course, I have to figure out how to communicate that without coming across as drug-seeking (in the negative way of “person who is addicted,” etc.). The honest truth is that I’ve been out of them for almost a year and I’d really like to use my brain more productively again. I miss the way [med name] makes me better able to handle my thoughts and makes me more productive. I like how it makes me better able to handle the fatigue and mental fog that my chronic illness causes. I miss the organization I used to be able to apply to my thoughts and my personal chaos field. The reality is that not only was I more productive and easier to talk to on my meds, but I dealt with less anxiety, too. To some, that might seem odd since ADD meds can cause anxiety for some folks, but for me, it helps break up some of the anxiety loops I get stuck in, and for the times it doesn’t break up those loops, it helps me be better able to focus on my what I’m doing to distract myself from the anxiety.

I’ve learned how to knit while not on my meds (which has not always been easy), and I’ve gotten pretty good for a beginner. I’m proud of that fact. I also wonder how much better I would be if I could keep a pattern in my head for more than five minutes at a time. I combat that right now by writing out every stitch in every row instead of using repeats like patterns do, and it works, but it is a bit clunky. I’d like to see how I manage with my meds, in part because I think I could eventually make some extra money by making items to sell. I’m not thinking a huge enterprise, but I do think there are things I could make that people might want to buy.

I also need to start writing more. I’m managing a bit more than I was, but I also know that it was basically my ADD meds that got me through college. I’m slowly being talked into NaNoWriMo, and I can only imagine how much easier it would be with better focus. I also know if I can get back in the habit of writing, and I can build my confidence up, I should be able to start submitting things for publishing by the end of the year. Some of that will come from continuing the path of making me a better me, but I know for a fact from past history that this goal would be better reached with ADD meds.

I need to be able to articulate all of this in a couple of hours. I also need to be able to articulate how much I do not want to be on SSRIs or their kin. Those don’t make a better me – they make a zombie me. They also affect my writing. That was part of the reason I stopped taking them in college after the “circumstances that caused me to need meds weren’t changing and the band-aid they provided was making things worse not better every time I plateaued and had to increase my dose again” reason. It was becoming almost impossible to write anything let alone 2-3 academic papers a week. Trying another one of those because it might help with pain isn’t worth the risks to me, especially not since I am finally starting to work myself past some of the self-imposed writer’s blocks I put on myself. I need to be able to write and I can’t afford to lose that.

Besides that, as frustrating as anxiety can be and as frustrating as fluctuating emotions can be, I FAR prefer that to feeling nothing when I took those meds. In the past, I needed that numbing effect to help me deal with my life at the time. For the place I am at now, especially given how hard I have been working on creating better habits for dealing with anxiety and depression without letting them rule my thoughts, going back on those meds would be so counter-productive. I haven’t worked this hard on myself to lose that effort to things that numb me and leave me feeling less like myself.

When I first was diagnosed with fibro and CFS, it seemed like every doctor wanted to put me on an SSRI. I flat refused because it had only been a few months since I finally stopped feeling the lost/numbing effects of the last one I’d been on. I talked to one of my old family doctors about it at the time and explained my logic behind my refusal. He noted that (at least at the time) they had a 33% success rate for fibro, and given the reasons I had, he didn’t think it was the path for me. After that, every time I’ve seen a new doctor and they see I have depression in my health history, it is one of the first things they suggest. I had one rheumatologist examine me who had made her mind up before I ever walked in the door that I just needed an SSRI and I’d be fine. She ignored things I presented with like my purple fingers – a marker of Reynaud’s – and she kept ignoring how much pain her “simple” exam was causing my muscles and joints and noted that “everything was fine”. There’s not a single note of ANY of my distress upon her exam but a lot of notes of how I refused both an SSRI and Lyrica. The first I’ve already explained. The second was because that wasn’t terribly long after I’d had an allergic reaction to Gabitril which is in a similar family. Basically, because I had a history of depression in high school and early college, that was clearly my problem and I wasn’t worth her time.

Given how I feel about SSRIs and their ilk (and how poorly I did on tricyclics when I tried those at the beginning of this crazy ride of chronic illness), I don’t see them as the best option for me. In light of new research into fibro that suggests the illness comes from nerve problems in the hands and feet, I feel even more strongly against them. What I am willing to look at is something like Neurontin. I was prescribed it before but I didn’t take it because of being leery after Gabitril; however, now I’m willing to try again with medicine testing because it has been several years and my body seems to enjoy changing how it reacts to things from time to time. I might even be willing to try Lyrica, though I would rather it not be the first line of testing.

I feel a bit better now that I managed to sort some of this out. I tried a couple of times yesterday to no avail. Apparently a lack of sleep and a hastily ticking countdown to the appointment were good motivators. Every now and then, I wish my brain would cooperate a bit more normally, but then I remember that normal is only a setting on the washing machine; instead of wishing for something different, right now I’m just going to be grateful I got so much written down.

Of course, my alarm is going to go off in less than two hours and I might be a bit cranky, but I will strive to keep the sense of tired calm I have right now. The question is, do I try to take an hour and a half nap or do I just go curl up with RIn and read until it’s time to get ready? Also, do I let the therapist read the second half of this entry or do I just stick to trying to talk it out? Blerg. Not sure.

We can do hard things. Love wins.