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!!
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.
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.
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.
I just realized it has been over 2 months since I last wrote...I totally blame the fact that I have 3 kids. I find myself using that excuse at LEAST twice a day, every day. We are never on time for appointments anymore....I have 3 kids! Okay, we totally forgot we even HAD an appointment today....It was because of the 3 kids! I said I'd call you back 7 months ago? .....I don't even have time to explain myself, I have 3 kids trying to burn the house down. See?
Speaking of my kids trying to kill me...
When we had our second child, we thought we were brilliant for the way that we spaced the first 2 so far apart. Having a 9 year old to help with a baby was fantastic! Not old enough to babysit, yet old enough to sit with the lump of tiny human on her lap and keep a bottle in his mouth while I changed out of my pajamas (occasionally). The 3rd child was a bit of an anomaly. She wasn't exactly planned, and I understood from the start that having her and my son in diapers at the same time was going to royally suck. Funny thing - I didn't even think to factor in the fact that we were going to have a child enduring the special hell that is middle school and teenager-hood at the exact same time that we would have a toddler who felt the need to be ornery all day everyday and a baby whose world collapsed any time she got a little snot in her nose.
The days have run together since the moment #3 was born. Every morning when I get up and take my AM meds, I literally hear that sound effect from Requiem For A Dream where the mom keeps popping her pills. It feels like the time is going warp speed ahead and I am just trying to hold on to this insane, out of control life lest I fall off and plummet to my death. (Not that I haven't thought about just letting go and jumping on purpose quite frequently...)
I am having trouble keeping a train of thought in my head for longer than 10 seconds - can you tell??
Last night, I was standing in my bathroom after brushing my teeth for the night. Everyone was asleep but me, and the house seemed unnaturally calm. I must have been staring at the wall near the floor by the door for a good 15 seconds before I even noticed I was doing it. When I caught myself, I then realized that this was the ONLY time in MANY days that I had had the luxury of doing something as mundane as staring at a wall....so I let myself do it for a little bit longer. AND I ENJOYED EVERY DAMN SECOND.
Dear lord, what is this life?? I never, EVER, could have pictured it turning into this. This being the most gut-wrenching, unpredictable, exhausting and boring and exciting roller coaster ride I have ever put myself on. Good thing the military taught me the whole "hurry up and wait" concept....
One day, I might spend HOURS sitting on the floor and reading terribly written children's books, scooping nasty baby food into #3's mouth, arguing with #1's teenage-attitude and having a standoff with #2 about not being able to wear his fleece footie pajamas that are 2 sizes too small to Walmart on the hottest day of summer so far.
The next day we might be calling 911 at 10pm because #3 decided to aspirate her own vomit and was turning purple, despite my attempts to suck all of the crap out of her airway.
Having kids sucks. But, it is also the best thing that I have ever done with my life - hands down. I wouldn't give it up for anything in the entire world. I might leave them on the side of the road one of these days if they don't stop screaming at each other while I am trying to drive, though.
Parenthood: Don't do it. (But actually do it right now.)
I need sleep. So bad.
Be nice to everyone you meet. You never know who has a bunch of lunatics waiting for them back at home.
When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our 3rd child, we were surprised. We had not been planning on having anymore kids after the birth of our son a few years prior. Once we got over the initial shock, we settled in for the inevitable difficult first year that comes with having a newborn.
Here’s what we didn’t realize:
When our son was born, his sister was almost 9 years old. Only one kid was in diapers, only one kid was shoving small objects into their mouth, nose or ears at any given time, and only one kid would be screaming their head off for longer than 2 minutes.
Oh, to go back to those easy days.
Don’t get me wrong - it was definitely a big adjustment to go from one child to two. We had to learn to juggle the needs of both children at the same time. Definitely more complicated than just having one child.
When I was pregnant with #3, we really thought we had this whole “parenting” thing down. It was only 3 years before that we had done the newborn stage with our son, and everything was still fresh in our minds. We weren’t as worried about her getting sick, or getting enough sleep, or as obsessive about writing her bottle times down. We trusted our instincts with the 3rd. We assumed that after 2 kids already, we were pretty much pros.
Dear lord, were we ever wrong.
Okay, so here’s my take: being the parents of 2 kids KIND OF sets up the framework to be able to handle adding more to your brood. HOWEVER, it’s not in the way you think. Or at least not in the way I was thinking…
Bear with me here as I try to pull a coherent thought out of my head with only one cup of coffee in me and 6,000 other thoughts floating around my overloaded brain. Maybe if I make a list that will simplify things?
2. Your kid has a crisis.
3. Throwing a birthday party.
There are SO MANY other things to add to that list, but the infant just started crying, the toddler is waking up for the day, and the older child is calling saying they need you to do something for them immediately. Your lucky partner is off at work, conversing with adults and driving around in their car with the radio on and no screaming in the background. They get a lunch break. You get the half of a granola bar that your child thankfully did not finish eating the day before and you didn’t have enough hands to bring it inside and throw it in the trash.
Don’t get me wrong - I LOVE my 3 kids. They are my world. Literally. My entire world. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but it seriously is crazy. Like bat-sh*t, I couldn’t even make this sh*t up, crazy.
Don’t forget to take your pill!
Scratching and scrambling and trying desperately to get a good grip and pull myself out of this dark and lonely place, but can't find seem to gain any ground.
I am....not great. I have been "not great" for a few months now. Every day seems to be a struggle to get through. Every morning I have to force myself to sit up and climb out of bed. Getting off the couch is as daunting as going for a 10 mile run. I spend literally every single ounce of energy I manage to dredge up on our three kids. They are all at completely different stages in their lives, and they all have significant demands that must be met all day, every day. I feel like I disappear a little more each day. I'm becoming transparent. I'm not even a real person anymore - I am merely here to ensure these three children grow to be happy, healthy, strong human beings. I cook, and there's always someone who is unhappy with the food and mealtime turns into a battle we've fought so many times before. I clean, and then someone walks into the room and dumps their bag or shoes or toys all over the floor so that it looks like a frat house the morning after a party. I ask for 5 minutes of alone time, and I get 30 seconds before the kids are fighting with each other and one of them is screaming while the other one is crying. I try to read a book, but my brain isn't able to focus enough to absorb any of the words. I try to watch TV, but I zone out and end up having to rewind multiple times just to keep up with the plot line. I think of a million crafting projects I want to do, but just can't muster the strength needed to get all of the supplies together. I keep opening apps on my phone only to forget why I wanted to use them in the first place. I think of posts I want to write all day long, but never seem to find a minute to type them up. I think about making a list of all of the things I want to write about so that I can look back on it later for inspiration, but taking a second to jot things down seems like an insurmountable task.
This is depression.
I just CAN'T. I can't think, I can't do, I can't feel.
No, I don't want to talk about it. Yes, my therapist is aware of all of the issues going on. No, my antidepressants don't seem to be working even though we have me on the maximum dosage. No, I don't need any suggestions as to how I can feel better.
I know that I should take some time to myself and get out of the house without any kids. I can never seem to find a good time to do it, and if I ever get any time without children I usually opt to take a nap because getting dressed and driving somewhere seems like a monumental task.
I know that I need to get better with my eating and stop the ED behaviors that have come back so viciously over this past winter. Please stop suggesting I eat snacks every few hours throughout the day. Please stop telling me that I need to get it together because the kids need me. Please stop telling me that I already went to treatment and now is not a good time for me to be sick. Please stop saying that "there is always something going on" with me.
I cannot "try harder" to feel better. It doesn't work like that. Not even close. Don't you think I would be doing that if I could?? Who on earth would choose to feel like this? Like a zombie. I'm just shuffling around trying to come off as put together and strong and fine. I'm not a very good actor, but I try anyway.
Being home with the kids all the time is harder than I ever thought it would be. I definitely knew it would be hard. It is just way more difficult than it looks when you are watching someone else do it. Sometimes it feels like there are 100 hours in a day. I often have 2 kids screaming at the same time, and have to figure out how to monitor the 3 year-old in his timeout while he is melting down but at the same time not be in the room because his shrieks are scaring his baby sister. I literally can't hear anything over the insane amount of noise.
I know this won't last forever.
I understand how life works. I am good at reminding myself that the bad times always come to an end eventually. This will stop. I will feel better. I will make it through.
For now, I am just tired.
Please be kind to strangers. You have no idea what kind of struggles they may be facing.
Hang in there.
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.