So. Week 2.
We are all surviving. We managed to cobble together a pretty good discharge plan with aftercare instructions that lay out exactly what needs to be done on what day and where. Family meals are officially a thing now. We eat together at the table every night around 6:30, taking turns with choosing recipes and cooking. Today I dumped a bunch of purple potatoes and carrots and a hunk of beef in the Crockpot and set it to cook on Low for the next 8 hours. Dinner: check. SO MUCH EASIER than trying to put together a meal for an hour while I have screaming children running around my feet.
I am having a bit of an issue with disassociating.
This is probably a brand new topic for this blog. It is one of my lovely mental health quirks that causes me to feel like my actual soul is COMPLETELY DETACHED FROM MY BODY. I do not know how to explain this. My husband has (SUPER helpfully, btw) told me that I sound "nuts" when I try to put it into words. It's such a bizarre feeling that is difficult to discuss with someone who does not understand. It is almost like I am piloting a spaceship, however, that spaceship is my own body. My soul is watching everything going on from some little bubble way off yonder while my body does this weird zombie-like thing where it just responds to my commands as I give them. Zombie Beth shuffles around, picking up piles of dirty laundry and depositing them in the basement. Bubble Beth trails behind and watches from afar. Zombie Beth eats a snack, Bubble Beth watches the dogs fighting over a bone in the corner. Literally NOTHING IS CONNECTED CORRECTLY IN MY BRAIN RIGHT NOW!!!
I need a good electrician for my brain - anyone have any suggestions? Yelp maybe? Google it?
The moral of the story is, today we ate pot roast that I managed to not only make myself by turning the pot on and dumping it all in precisely 8 hours before dinner time, but we also ate it around a table together while we told jokes and teased each other so basically we are morphing into a real-live grown-up family!
I am off to enjoy my 15 minutes of alone time before the timer goes off on my phone, announcing the beginning of "marriage time." Because we actually have to schedule it.
Love you all.
Hope you are treating yourselves well!!
So far, I'm still standing.
Coming home from residential tends to be a giant smack in the face. You go from the safety of the bubble that is a treatment center and you are thrust out amongst the living to try and do things the way they all do. Am I holding my fork right? Did I cut this into too many pieces? Are the pieces too little? Am I taking too long to take a bite and IS EVERYONE ACTUALLY STARING AT ME OR AM I JUST LOSING MY MIND?!?!?!
So, you know. I'm good.
I guess I just need to take stock in the silver linings. The kids are all getting used to a nightly "dinner time" routine. Graham refuses to eat, Emmy tries to steal everyone's food, Anna grumpily stares at whatever vegetable we have chosen for the night. Typical family meal, right? At least we have the idea down pat!
Let's talk meal plans. Why is it so hard to follow a meal plan right when you get out of treatment?? Or, why am I having such trouble, I should say? I like to think it is just my rebellious side acting out after I spent a month and a half following the rules to a T.
Either way, Nutella is NOT a fruit, Sharon!!
Time to put my nose back to the grindstone and keep in mind the things I am fighting the hardest for. I even caught a few in a pretty decent picture together!
Self love, people.
I had to go away again.
After much thought and ping-ponging back and forth, I decided to enter residential treatment for my eating disorder for the second time in my life. Some of you are well aware that I was in treatment for a total of 2 months just over 3 years ago, and I really wanted it to be a one-and-done deal.
It was not.
I had been noticing and up-tick in my ED behaviors over the past year. At first, they were subtle. A change in my "rules" about when or when not to eat, what I can or cannot eat, what is a proper meal and what is excessive. The ones that I was supposed to be trying to follow diligently had kind of fallen off the wayside. I was a loose cannon, and a majorly unstable one at that.
My depression hit rock bottom. I literally felt like I had fallen down a very, very deep well and just SMASHED face first into the concrete floor. Everything was bad, nothing was good, I couldn't calm my brain or my body and every cell of my body was screaming at me to DO SOMETHING.
So, I did.
I literally sent out one very rushed "Hail Mary" message to my old Case Manager at CEDC in Cambridge, MA, where I had last been for residential treatment. It basically told her that I was so far gone that I could barely function, and that I had no idea what to do to get back on the recovery route.
She immediately turned me over to her boss for an intake, and a week later I was back in that same old group room, attending those familiar coping skills groups! I'm not going to lie....I initially felt pretty ashamed that I was back there. I had PROMISED myself that my previous residential experience had been a ONE-AND-DONE and I was NEVER going to let myself get to that point where I needed it again.
... I did.
I started from square one and retraced my steps. Luckily, I had a firm grasp on the tools I had picked up from my last stay, so I hit the ground running. My anti-depressants were bumped WAY up, so I was able to start climbing out of the hole I was stuck in. I was put on a meal plan with set breakfast/snack/lunch/snack/dinner/snack schedules and rules. I started to learn how to eat "normally" again. Or at least, in some sort of "socially acceptable" way. I kept my nose to the grindstone, leaned on a really fabulous bunch of ladies for support, and powered through in just 5 weeks this time as opposed to the 8 weeks it took me the first time to get back home.
As a mom, I felt guilt about being away from my kids. As a wife, I felt guilt about not being home to help my husband bear his heavy load. As a person with an ED who had previously had a decent grip on recovery (or so I thought??), I felt guilt about dropping down to that level of care again.
Then I allowed myself to stop feeling guilty and just do what I needed to do. I challenged the hell out of myself on a daily basis. I ignored the screams of rage coming from the ED part of my brain, and I tried to focus on what my treatment team was telling me was healthy and appropriate. I know you will be SHOCKED to hear that those two voices clashed over literally everything having to do with putting a bite of food into my mouth.
Eventually, ED got quieter.
Now I can begin the next step of my journey - taking everything that I learned with me and bringing it to my family at home.
Wish me luck.
Definitely going to need it.
6 weeks ago, I was sitting down, drinking my morning coffee in peace and quiet and a thought just popped into my head - we should get a second dog!!
Okay, that obviously is not how it started. Let's try this again.
6 weeks ago, I was running around like a f*ing chicken with my head cut off, breaking up fights at 7am between my 2 older kids, while simultaneously using my free arm to pry my toddler off of the top rung of the railing of our stairs. I looked around at all of these batshit crazy children who were causing me to lose my ever-loving MIND in the wee hours of the morning before I had even swallowed a drop of coffee, and then I saw my adorable little furbaby (Dingo) laying quietly on the couch, just trying to get 5 MORE MINUTES of shuteye FOR THE LOVE OF GOD YOU INSANE, FUR-LESS BEASTS!!!!
I decided right then and there that Dingo was clearly in spot #1 on Mom's list o' favorites for the day, and that I definitely needed more kids like him (and possibly less like the 3 I had actually birthed myself...)
Between that realization, and the fact that we have gotten to know the NH wildlife up close and personal this summer (Big Bad Barry the black bear ate 75% of our flock of chickens...), we decided to go with a *bigger* dog this time that wouldn't be in danger of being carried off by a hawk.
I scoured the internet looking for HUGE dogs, and ended up falling in love with a particular rescue operation (Lucky Lab Rescue) before deciding on a specific pup. We made a short list of their available dogs to inquire about, but knowing what I do about rescues, I figured those were adopted quite quickly due to their super-cute faces. Working with our adoption coordinator, we went over exactly what our family was looking for in our new addition.
I think my list went something like this:
2. No biting
4. Somewhat housetrained
She quickly got back to me to let me know that the dogs on our list were, in fact, all adopted. She then sent me a picture of a black lab mix named Clovis. He was 60 lbs at only 6 months old, the sweetest dog ever, and had freckles on his nose.
Pretty much immediately after she said 60 lbs, I was like, "SOLD!!"
We waited a long 2 weeks for him to head north on his shuttle (No Stress Pet Express - check them out, they are AMAZING!!!) I had to pick him up in Brattleboro, VT at 8am on a Saturday morning. I woke up at 4am (after not falling asleep until 1 due to the excitement), packed the van with all of the goodies I thought he would need for an hour and a half car ride home, and headed west to get our boy. I left the kids home with their dad so that poor "Clovis" (his pre-adoption name, soon to be changed to "Deebo") was not overwhelmed with a lot of screaming and petting the second he got off of the van.
Let me tell you, watching everyone get their new babies was just as adorable and happy-cry-inducing as it seems in the videos you might come across on Facebook. The excitement was palpable. Everyone was nervous about potentially making the dogs anxious, excited about their new additions FINALLY coming home, and worried that their pups might not be as thrilled about the new match as they themselves already were.
I don't know if they just had a great group of dogs on there, but every single pup seemed uber-happy to meet their new families and there were hugs and kisses abound.
For myself, when I first saw Deebo as he got off of the van I tried to stand very still so that he could sniff me out first (pre-programmed in my brain from all of the times I have gone up to my mother's alpaca farms and we had to stand still so as not to spook the alpacas when we first enter the pen). My baby was HUGE!!!! He was also the friendliest of the bunch. He literally wanted me to walk him to each individual person so that he could lick their hand, sit on their feet, or shove himself between their legs to walk through like a tunnel. He even begged a few treats off of a lovely family who was still waiting patiently for their pup to come out.
1.5 weeks later, Deebo ("Bo", for short) is nicely settled in here in Bedlam. The house training regressed some for the first few days he was here, but after sticking with the whole "take the dog out every 15 minutes to pee, and then do a dance when he goes outside" routine, he has come along BEAUTIFULLY. He does not beg to sleep on our bed, which was a big fear of mine because there is literally NO WAY he would fit up there with us unless I kicked my husband out. He likes the walks we take him on, as long as we don't try to bring him too far - his size seems to make it a little harder for him to make it long distances, but we are working it! He hardly pays attention to our free-range chickens outside, plays (mostly) nicely with his big (littler) brother, Dingo, and is often found sprawled out on the couch in the family room while the rest of us have to sit on the floor because he takes up the whole damn thing. He is soft and cuddly and there isn't a mean bone in his entire body. (Did I mention that he won "best traveler" for the NSPE, and is now their FB profile pic??)
Basically, this particular idea of mine worked out swimmingly! Now if only our fur-less children could get on board and be just as trainable as our dogs, we'd be golden.
Please excuse me while I go pluck the lampshade off of my toddler's head.
I am not sure how to start this post.
Today is July 19, smack dab in the middle of the summer. Sunshine and blue skies abound, not too hot and not too cool here in NH. An all around beautiful day.
Yet, I feel absolutely, positively DISTURBINGLY awful.
Why must I have such a chemical fuck up in my brain? Why is it that I can have a wonderful, normal day one day and then wake up the next day and feel like a train is coming at me and I am tied to the tracks? The level of anxiety is completely overwhelming. The need to do something or to FLEE!!! is screaming from every cell of my being, but I don't know what it is I am running from or where I can go that will make my brain feel safe. WHAT. THE. FUCK. brain??? There is nothing here that is scary. Nothing bad is happening, no abnormal stressors. There is nothing to be scared of, so STOP MALFUNCTIONING IMMEDIATELY PLEASE.
This year has been the most eye-opening experience for me, mental health wise. I have reached levels of sadness and despair that I didn't even know existed. I have gone for longer periods than I ever thought possible with my brain doing it's fight or flight response. I have gotten so close to that edge where many others have fallen off, and now I completely understand what they felt before they took that final step. I don't want to know these things. I don't want to feel any of this. I want my meds to work, my chemistry to be balanced, and my efforts to live a happy and healthy life to be successful.
I don't want anybody to worry, I will not take that final step. I will never take that final step. I just want you to know, that I have seen the demons others have lost to before me. They are huge and terrifying and so much more frighteningly distressing than you think. I never want to see them again.
If only I had a magic wand and could vanquish these beasts and let everyone sleep soundly tonight and every night thereafter.
Be extra kind to strangers today, will you? One of them might need it an awful lot more than you think.
So, today was my day to host playdate!
I was SOOOOO excited to have the kids over, handle whatever mayhem might happen and then give them back to their mom this afternoon. We were keeping them extra long because that means my kids can gtfo of my house one day next week for that same amount of time. Like, I had brownies baking in the oven for the little girl's birthday, I made her her own clay turtle, etc etc. I was ON POINT.
Fast forward 20 minutes.
I shooed all of the kids outside (the 4 year olds and the 11 year old) minus Baby Danger. I stepped out and had everyone line up for their sunscreen application (because I am on top of things, RIGHT?!) and I sprayed them all down. High-fived the last kid I did and turned around to grab the doorknob and go back inside.
IT. WAS. LOCKED. THE OVEN WAS ON.
WTF DANGER BABY WHY?!!! JUST WHYYYYYYYYY?!!!
One second of panic. Literally, just one. Then emotion shut off and my logical brain stepped in. I ran down to the shed to get the ladder. I climbed up to EVERY SINGLE WINDOW on the 1st floor to see if we had left one unlocked and I could climb through it. There were no unlocked windows. THE OVEN TIMER WENT OFF. No unlocked windows, oven timer going off, 3 kids starting to realize that this is actually a bad situation and the baby INSIDE the house had managed to not only get INTO the bathroom, but then shut the door to the bathroom and she couldn't get out. So she was screaming her ever loving head off. OMG, PEOPLE.
Click. Beth's super brain clicked on. Me: "Hey kids, can you just walk over there by the treehouse for a second? Just a second. I just have to do something up here and I want you to be a little far away from me, okay?" *big mom smile, reassuring grin, etc. The kids walked down to the tree house. I sprinted to the shed and grabbed our loppers. I think they are loppers? The giant scissors that cut branches down from our trees. I digress.... I counted to 3 in my head and then I WHALED on that window, man. Like, it was like a scene from a movie with glass going everywhere. I reached my hand in, unlocked the stupid door, walked over the broken glass (*crunch crunch crunch*) and rescued my Danger Baby from the bathroom, where she had thankfully NOT stuck her hands in the toilet. Silver linings, people. - B
That wonderful time of year when the stars align, the sun comes out, the cage breaks open and I am FREE!!!!
(Bipolar (hypo)mania, for those of you who are totally lost right now.)
I have been blessed with a wonderful little blip in my genes that makes the chemicals in my brain go a little wonky. MOST of the time, the effects of this cause me to be stuck on a couch, not wanting to talk to anyone, not having any energy to do anything, and basically just wanting to dig a hole and hibernate for the rest of forever.
Along with that minor problem that completely devastates much of my wintertime life, I get a small prize. It really is small. I imagine it as the best thing in world, wrapped tightly in a tiny, sparkly box with a big bow that I can fit on my hand. Light peeks out of the corners if you look close enough. Once a year, at a completely random time that my brain and the universe decide on, I get approximately 3 days of absolute bliss.
I'm not sure I will be able to do justice to the level of this happiness, but this is the first time I will try to put it into words while I am actually in that state of mind.
The world. It GLOWS. Every single color seems like it has been amplified just to make everything look pretty for ME. People seem nicer. I, myself, start many short conversations with the sole goal of making another random human smile for a bit. The energy level is so high my skin buzzes. I can do anything. ANYTHING. It feels as though I have been in a coma for eternity, and suddenly I have been told that I will get 72 hours to just DO WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY. And I do. I do every single thing that I can think of that makes me happy. I take my children on random trips to the beach, I do yoga on the back porch and watch the kids happily splash away in their plastic pool. I laugh and I joke and I am so witty they really should put me on my own TV show. I'm not kidding. I am very fun to be around when I am in this state of mind. Do you remember the part of the Harry Potter books where he drinks the liquid luck? THIS IS PROBABLY EXACTLY WHAT HE FELT LIKE. I am not exaggerating, I am not just writing to make it sound fantastic so that you will want to read this. I am living in a world where everything sparkles like it's been dipped in glitter and crystals and there is literally sunshine and sparkles and fun and peace and OH MY GOD I WANT TO SHARE THIS WORLD WITH YOU ALL.
It will eventually stop. Like a festival that lasts only a weekend, the vendors will pack up their shops and their little trinkets and balloons and hot dogs and rides, and all that will be left is a vacant field with a bunch of smashed cigarettes and random trash blowing around.
It is my very own small bit of magic.
I make sure to take it all in, roll with it, and fly (safely) once every year. It is what makes the hundreds and hundreds of dreadful days spent wanting to crawl out of my own skin, hide under a rock, scream into the void, and sleep for eternity completely and utterly worth it.
I wouldn't give it up for the world.
It is my own crazy secret (that is really not secret, but other people feel it should be.)
I will try to sprinkle some of my glitter as far and wide as I can over the next few days.
And now, I am off to ride this awesome wave for as far as it will take me.
Thank you for that little genetic blip, universe.
This morning, I had an epiphany.
I woke up, went into Baby Danger's room and grabbed her from her crib, brought her downstairs and set her on the couch, made her a bottle while putting the dog's collar on, hooked the dog out front for his morning business, went inside to see that my 1 couch child had multiplied into 2, finished making Danger's bottle, concocted a cup of chocolate milk, let the dog back inside before his barks woke the neighbors, delivered the beverage orders to the children, washed the coffee pot, stacked the dishes we managed to accumulate after I had cleaned every dish last night, put new grinds into the coffee maker, searched the fridge for the coffee creamer I KNOW I bought the other day but WHERE THE HELL DID IT GO????, changed Danger's diaper, put big brother's pacifier up on the shelf for the day, poured myself a cup of coffee, called to check in with child #1 at her place of residence this week, added 2 things to my calendar app for today, and passed out cheerios for everyone to eat.
AND THEN I had the epiphany!
I was sitting on the back porch totally not smoking my morning cigarette (of course I was smoking my morning cigarette because HOW DOES ANYBODY EXPECT ME TO QUIT WHEN I HAVE ALL OF THIS GOING ON!!!) and staring out into the woods behind our yard. I looked at the new "enclosure" I had made for Baby Danger over the last 2 days. I looked at the toys strewn about the lawn all around it. I looked at the hose connected to the silly flower sprinkler that makes the water shoot out in 8 different ways. I looked at the water table with my son's matchbox cars all lined up on the ramp. I looked at the kiddie pool with the magnetic fishing game that broke 2 seconds after we brought it home, but that the kids still play with regardless. I looked at the sign screwed to the outside of the gate that says, "BEWARE DANGER BABY!" And I listened to my son laughing inside as he and his little sister chased the dog around the living room.
I'm a good mom.
I don't even know where the voice in my head came from. It startled me.
I'M A GOOD MOM.
So much of the time, I belittle myself. I question each decision I make, every time my kids are crying because they are sad or angry or frustrated. I tell myself I am doing a bad job. I am not trying hard enough. I am lazy. I should clean more. I should sign them up for more sports and after school clubs. They should have more friends. I should play barbies with them more often. We should go for more walks. We should do art together. I should let them "help" me cook. I should let them stay up later. I should make them breakfast from scratch instead of just pouring cereal into a snack cup. I should make them lunch instead of letting them buy from the school cafeteria. I should, I should, I should......
I never stop to acknowledge any of the good things I do.
I buy them special donuts at DD when we go to pick up my necessary large iced macchiato every other day. I rock them to sleep every night, sometimes for an hour or more - standing up, sitting in the rocker, sitting on the ground....whatever is necessary to get them to doze. I make them special clay creatures to add to their imaginary games. I build baby-safe fences so that even the most adventurous baby can explore the outside world without getting herself stuck up a tree. I sing and dance when we wait in the checkout line at the grocery store so that it isn't so boring. I teach them to smile and say "hi" to make someone's day a little brighter. I calm them when they freak out. I give them pep talks when they are down. I buy them books that I know they will someday love. I draw them pictures of their favorite Disney characters on demand. I buy them random ice cream treats on hot days when we are heading home from running errands. I put suntan lotion on them and completely forget to put it on myself and then end up burnt to a crisp that night. I spray them with the hose to make them laugh. I hug them and kiss them and love them fiercely.
I AM A VERY, VERY GOOD MOM.
Stop wasting time listing all of your downfalls when you can get lost in the ridiculous amount of things you do right.
You're such a good mom.
What is life?
You guys. There are BUDS on the TREES and the SNOW is GONE (pretty much) and there is a LIGHT AT THE END OF THE EFFINGG TUNNELLLLLL!!!!!!!! It's that final scene where the hero shows up and everyone gets rescued and nobody ended up dying.
WINTER. IS. OVER.
I am literally sitting here doing a dance in my chair right now that would surely embarrass the crap out of my kids. This winter was like every winter where it started off seeming like it wasn't going to be so bad and ended up being like a rotten tooth that hurts so much that you've got your crafting pliers in your mouth and you're just going to yank that sh*t yourself.
PS: It is looking like there may be some bad language throughout this blog. I don't know how much, as I am just typing stuff as it comes, but so far it isn't looking good - sorry, Mom.
I know a bunch of you have already seen it, but my noggin took a completely crazy turn this year and started producing super weird art. Like the kind of stuff where you see and and are like, "what the F*CK IS that?!!!" I promise you I haven't been holed up in my living room in backwoods New England doing 'shrooms with my toddlers as the snow and sleet piled higher and higher. That's just my brain. It really is that warped.
Here are some examples of my random products that started in my head as "cute little fuzzy creatures".....
There you have it.
This winter clearly had some substantial influence over my creative juices. I am so happy that it is over. I would like to just skip back to 2 months ago when I was writhing on the floor like some dying larvae in despair and say, "I TOLD YOU IT WAS GOING TO BE OKAY, DIDN'T I???"
Everyone go download the latest Kenny Chesney/David Lee Murphy song "Everything's Gonna Be Alright", buy a #DunkinDonuts iced coffee with extra extra, roll your windows down and start sucking up that sunshine.
Sidenote: if you live anywhere near Manchester, NH and are curious about glass fusion art go check out Monte Verde Art Glass Studio - the guys that own it are hands down the most wonderful people I have come into contact with this year. They will teach you fabulous things about glass work and make you feel comfortable with it even if you have ZERO experience with using art as a medium (like me) before you sign up for a class. They are in the process of moving studio spaces, but I am confident they will find something very soon (get on it, Moishe!!!) and will be happy to hear from any of you happy people.
All right. Time's up. I've got to put my mom pants on and get back to scraping snot off of faces and breaking up fights over who gets to play with the bacon chew toy next.
WHAT. IS. LIFE.!?!
We made it. Good job!! Go inhale some vitamin D.
For the love of.....WHEN WILL THIS END????
Mood-wise, I really thought that this winter was going better than many others I've had. There were rough times, but I managed. Easy peasy. We got this.
My brain then malfunctioned and it's been a constant chemical shitstorm for the past few weeks. I feel like I am on the verge of tears all the time. I don't actually cry, I just want to. ALL. THE. TIME.
By early afternoon, I can most likely be found under a pile of blankets on the couch just staring at the clock and willing the minute hand to go by faster so that my husband can come home to relieve me for a minute.
Everything is hard.
Breathing is hard. Literally, I wish I could take a break from breathing because I feel like it wears me out. Thinking is basically not even a thing right now. I drag myself through the days, just willing myself to do what my kids need to have done. I fake-smile at their silliness, and applaud their achievements. I try to converse with them when they have things to share with me. I get them ready and bring them to their appointments. They are bathed, and hugged, and tended to.
The entire time I am doing all of these things, I feel like I am drowning. I'm furiously treading water, waiting for this storm to pass and hoping to be able to rest soon. I don't know when or if this will let up. I went into this knowing that motherhood and depression are a really tough mix, but shit, this is really hard.
Sending all my love and hope and tenacity to all of the parents out there undergoing the same struggle.
You are not alone.
You are not invisible.
You can do this.
Hang tight, my friends.
Sunshine is coming soon.
Mother and wife by day, psych RN by night. So many different ways to view life. I try to take everything in and be very slow to judge.