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.
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.
So, my understanding of what it sometimes means to be a full-time mom has changed drastically over the past few months...
I had my first child when I was 21 years old, and at 33 now I really thought I was kind of a seasoned pro at this whole "parenting" thing. I've spent countless days following someone else's routine, countless nights rocking babies in an attempt to get them to sleep, countless hours worrying about how I'm messing each one of them up with whatever decision I am making at the time.
3 kids. 12 years. Nothing should surprise me at this point, right?
JesusMaryandJoseph was I ever wrong. These past 2 months have been the most TRYING, EXHAUSTING, UNRELENTING, DEPLETING, ISOLATING, ULCER-CAUSING times I have ever found myself tripping and stumbling through.
Kids are guaranteed to cause their parents stress - that's definitely a given. Literally EVERYONE knows this before they procreate. Everyone. But, what happens when the amount of stress is actually too much for a them to handle?? And I'm not talking about normal teenager hormones and toddler tantrums and baby colic. I'm referring to the EXTRA stuff. The things that you never factored in when you decided that you could handle not just ONE offspring, but THREE.
Now, I am definitely not going to go into detail about any trials and tribulations my blessed cherubs may or may not be dealing with as I firmly believe it is not fair for me to make a decision to share their private lives with the entire world without their informed consent. I'm just going to throw my personal struggle out there in hopes that it can act as a life ring for another drowning soul.
I snapped yesterday. SNAPPED. Like, trying to text my husband using the voice command button instead of typing with my fingers because I was in a rush and multitasking, and the only things my phone could pick up correctly were the numerous swears that were showing up in every single sentence. Other than that, it looked like I was using some sort of translation app that in no way, shape or form is getting the message across the way you want it to. Except the crazy angry part. That part was definitely clear.
**Also, WHY DOES MY PHONE BLEEP THE SWEARS?? It is not cool when I am losing my mind that my phone chooses this time to send "f*******" instead of the actual word that I am screaming at it. It kind of takes away some of the venom in my voice.
So, yeah. I was shrieking into my phone in an effort to get my husband to understand exactly how DONE I was. I was on the verge of tears. (I never cry.) The anxiety felt like a ball of fire right in the center of my chest. I couldn't breathe. I wanted to just TAKE A DAY OFF AND BREATHE, DAMNIT!! ...But I couldn't. My kid needed something from me at that point that could only come from ME. So, yeah. Melting down wasn't a choice because no matter how little I had left to give (see: 0) because I am a mom and that means that I literally cannot have a day off ever from that job until the end of time.
Yes, the kids' needs are constantly changing. Right now I have a pre-teen, a toddler, and an infant. FUN TIMES, GUYS!! It is enough to drive any parent insane. I can see why people (therapists) are always pushing parents to get together in the form of "play groups" (gatherings with wine) to offer each other support. Of course, how in the world do you have time to go to a "play group" (day drinking party) when you don't even have enough time to take a 5 minute shower in the morning??
Literally every single one of my "social" activities lately has been having a 2 minute conversation with the checkout people at the grocery store and Goodwill. I'm not joking. I speak with those people more often than I can find time to text my own sisters. Thank god for them - if I didn't have those 2 minutes, the only times I would open my mouth would be to continuously answer "yes" or "no" questions for my toddler and to yell at my pre-teen to pick up *insert item of clothing here* from *insert any random room in house here* every 5 minutes. The closest thing I have to a real conversation when I am with my kids is me, passive-aggressively speaking in baby talk to my infant about how her older siblings are making me nuts. (She just smiles at me when I do this, so I don't really think she gets what I'm saying...)
My brain has been demolished this year. I can barely form a coherent sentence because there is such a backlog of "things to remember" and "to-do" lists piled up in my head. I hear some of the things that come out of my mouth and mentally shake my head because I sound like an idiot. I've tried to take more time to think thoughts through before I translate them into words to be shared, but then I just look like it takes me a long time to sound like an idiot. I can't win.
My husband has been my saving grace. The poor guy wants to help out so bad. He literally asks me to tell him what to do to help me AND I. CAN'T. EVEN.
After I had finished doing what only *I* could do for one of the children, I went home and basically fell apart at my husband's feet. He swooped in and offered to give me a few blessed hours off from being Mom. I wasn't even "on-call Mom". I was "stretched beyond capacity, numb to the world, I'm taking a 3 hour nap with the sound machine on full-blast next to my head so that I cannot hear anything you people are saying" Mom.
I have never slept so hard.
I woke up and was able to rescue my husband from the toddler who is going through the stage where he has turned whining into an art form and manages to find a reason to do it in response to any and everything that is said to him.
And the beat goes on, da da dum da dum dum......
Hang in there, moms and dads. I know the demands will keep up until the last day of your life, but at least we're all in this together #amIright??
Sending so much love (and sanity),
Lately, I have caught myself staring out the window and just reveling in the sense of peace I have found here. Home. My home. Where I have kids, a husband, a dog....big windows, sunshine coming in from all around. Rooms filled with things we have picked out, things I have made.
This is ours. Literally ours. Our little piece of earth.
I am appreciating every minute I have here.
I fully understand that this sense of calm will not last forever. I know that there will be many times in the future where I will be unable to see the beauty and wonder filtering through the glass. I am hoping that if I fully immerse myself in this current feeling of tranquility, I will be able to recall and revisit it when my mind locks me away again. These past few months have been the best that I can remember ever having. I have had difficult days, and I have definitely struggled throughout. But I am almost always able to see beyond the fog when it swirls around me.
So, I am basking in it. I am not taking it for granted. I am looking and seeing the world around me. I am not allowing myself to rush though. I am not letting my mind twist my nerves so tight that I can't even get off the couch. I am living as much as I can in the moment.
We have no control over when the floor drops out from beneath us. It will come as a surprise, and it will be awful.
But, I still had this minute of peace. It is imprinted on my mind. It cannot be taken away and I will marvel in every color, every scent, every single bit of wonderment that my soul is able to absorb.
My home. My family. My life.
There is peace here.
When I was little, all I ever wanted to be was a Mom.
I thought it would be awesome. I'd just hang out with my kids all day, snuggle with them and then tuck them into bed with a story and a kiss every night. Now that I am much older (and a tad bit wiser), I realize that I was missing a few parts of that equation...
These days I find myself worn out by noon and ready for bed at 7pm. The 3rd child that is turning into an actual being is already adding onto the weight on my shoulders and the panic is beginning to set in. How am I going to be able to do this with 3 kids??? I just got the routine down for the first 2! And having a toddler and an infant at the same time? Clearly I have lost my mind.
Note to self: Buy twin beds for the master bedroom to be sure this doesn't happen again...
I honestly thought that being a psych nurse was the hardest job I've ever had....Now I glare at my husband as he leaves to work on the same type of floor I used to frequent 40 hours a week because there is a very good chance that his day will be easier than mine. Not necessarily physically easier (usually), and requiring the use of higher functioning brain cells (probably)....but easier.
To put it in words my former-coworkers (and perhaps even my husband) may understand best:
Being a stay-at-home parent is basically being on a 1:1 with the same patient every single day for a few years at a time until they are old enough to reliably contract for safety.
And when they are asleep, they remain on random frequent checks to be sure that they are still breathing/not playing with electrical sockets/actually in their room where they are supposed to be and not wandering the neighborhood wearing just a pair of your slippers and their underwear.
I now LITERALLY live at my job.
Even the most hardcore workaholics can't say the same.
I wouldn't trade it for the world, but maybe for a 15 minute nap?
Parenting is not for the faint-of-heart.
Twin beds for the master bedroom....put it on your to-do list!
Stay sane. (...At least give it your best shot!)
I'm about to write about a taboo topic.
Eating disorders and pregnancy.
A lot of people seem to think that if you suffer from an eating disorder it magically fades into the background when you get pregnant. Maybe that's true for some people?? If it is, I wish I were that lucky.
It doesn't disappear. It does, in fact, get louder.
I'm not saying that I am over here using behaviors. What I am saying is that the fight has been constant and exhausting since I found out about this new baby. There are so many (SO MANY!!) misconceptions about eating disorders. The majority of the population who do not battle with one can't even begin to understand what it is like.
Let me enlighten you.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was shocked. Not too far behind that followed elation. Of COURSE I want to be a mom to 3 kids! I love being a mom. I love the snuggles and the hugs and the good days and the bad. I love the constant challenges and the insane problem solving that comes with trying to help to shape what starts as a tiny blob on a screen into a happy, functional adult.
I LOVE IT.
What I DON'T love is the barrage of disordered thoughts that come along with pregnancy symptoms. Hormones go crazy, hunger increases (as does nausea for those of us lucky bastards who suffer from "morning" (aka ALL DAY LONG) sickness.) and clothing sizes go up. None of these things are avoidable. All of these can trigger ED thoughts.
So now you have all of these things making you feel mentally and physically worn out. Add to that the shame of having ED urges in the first place.
What kind of sicko would still feel temptation from their ED when they are supposed to be growing another human being in their belly??
The disorder doesn't just go away. What actually happens is the level of guilt increases exponentially. More triggers, more urges, more of all of the negative aspects of the ED continue to attack.
So, it's extremely tiring. And depressing.
I wish I could just enjoy being pregnant without having to worry about the monster that attacks my brain and seems hell-bent on grinding my soul to dust.
I'm not going to let it win.
So I keep fighting. I keep screaming back at the voice in my head trying to get me to do awful, disgraceful things.
The urges may still be there, but that doesn't mean I have to follow through on them.
Go away, you fool. You're not welcome here.
I'll never give up.
The past month has been very busy/hectic/crazy/overwhelming. I didn't even realize it had been so long since my last post. Now that I think about it, the past few weeks probably would have been a little easier/happier/warmer had I used this outlet to empty my brain.
Writing that makes me anxious, which then makes me angry.
I'm not anxious about having another baby (this will be #3), or at least not more anxious than I can cope with. I'm anxious because I know what people's reactions to that will be.
Seriously? Another one?
Do you really think this is the best time?
How are you going to be able to manage??
Is this really fair to the 2 kids you already have??
How can you possibly afford this??
Great. Just typing those out made me furious again.
I pride myself on minding my own business (most of the time) and tend to get really perturbed when I see a person being judged by someone who only knows the absolute basics of the situation.
YES, ANOTHER ONE. Of course this is not the best time, but when would have been? We will manage the same way we always have - we do what we need to do to deal with any problems that arise. Um, I'm pretty sure that giving our first 2 kids another sibling is just adding to the list of people they will have to love and support them throughout life. And as for the last question - I would never, EVER assume to know everything about your financial situation and it is COMPLETELY inappropriate to comment on mine. Nobody is going to be wanting for anything, and there will be plenty of food for all of our mouths. Just stop talking.
Why does everyone doubt me so much?
Yes, I've had more than my fair share of problems throughout my life - I'm certainly not the only one who has had to deal with setbacks. I'd like to think that I've shown time and time again that whatever I am up against I am able to overcome.
What I'm trying to say is....keep your opinions to yourself. You are not the one having this baby, you are not going to raise this baby, you are not going to be financially funding this baby.
So, unless you plan on being a positive part of our family's life, turn around and walk away.
I don't have time to worry about someone else's ideas on how we should be living our lives.
We like our life just the way it is.
A HUGE, HEARTFELT THANKS TO ALL OF OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY WHO HAVE DONE NOTHING BUT SUPPORT US AND REMIND US THAT IT IS JUST FINE TO BE HAPPY ABOUT HAVING ANOTHER CHILD.
There is more than enough love to go around.
I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later...no more work for the time being!
First off, 32 WEEKS - YAY!!!
The doctor has had some concerns for the past 2 months or so, and she finally decided to yank me out of work this past week. My poor husband said, "do you think she'll be able to go back next week?" and she responded with, "Errr....I doubt it, but we'll see?" Poor guy....as if he doesn't have enough stress going on, he also has to worry about me possibly having zero income 8 weeks sooner than expected. :(
Luckily, I am an ostrich of sorts. I am choosing to stick my head in the sand anytime he brings up stuff like us going completely broke, possibly losing my job if I'm out for too long, etc etc....(my brain tends to turn on this "wah wah wah" noise when these come up as it doesn't believe in negativity! Unless that negativity is coming from me, of course.)
I've been trying to make the best use of this time at home to get things done before Waffle comes. I'm starting to get a hospital bag packed for him, I've got the majority of his clothes cleaned and put away, and his room is ready for his arrival! It is great that I am not on strict bedrest, as that would probably drive me bat shit crazy. I'm just on "rest as much as you can and keep your feet up" per my doctor. As long as I keep track of my vital signs and nothing starts to elevate again, I am allowed to maintain this routine. It can be a little frustrating being at home not making money and feeling fine half of the time, but then my body will crash and be like "ENOUGH!" and I'll realize that what my doctor is saying is correct. It wouldn't do me any good to have to curl up into a ball and lay still for a few hours in the middle of my shift. (It also probably wouldn't be fair to the patient when I commandeered their bed for me and the tiny human...)
I have found that I suddenly am filled with creative energy and no outlet for it. I miss playing with modeling clay like I used to before I was a real "grown up". I have the urge to sit at the table and make hundreds of miniature Christmas ornaments featuring my family and Bebita (our fat cat). I also want to go to the fabric store and buy a million types of fleece and making baby blankets galore. Unfortunately, the materials for these projects cost money, which is coming in at a much slower rate at the moment....so I'm trying to dream of things I can do with limited funds and use every day items we have around the house.
If you have any ideas, please share!!
I found myself becoming jealous of my 8 year-old when she was talking about art-on-a-cart a few days ago.
Hopefully I don't go completely bananas while waiting for Waffle to arrive sometime in the next 2 months!
It's time to get excited!
We are so, so happy to be able to announce the upcoming addition to our family. The picture shows his little alien-like face looking straight at us. So far, no beard in sight! We were lucky enough to be able to determine the gender at 15 weeks, and he is all boy! Truthfully, I'm a bit nervous. I've never raised a boy from scratch before and am not sure what it will entail. I'm beyond impatient already and find myself daydreaming about this Christmas season with our new little one joining us. (Unless he is like his big sister, who decided to hang out inside my belly for an extra week before the doctor insisted she vacate...)
Our 8 year-old is going to make a fantastic older sister. She's already thinking she's going to be left in charge of him from the day he is born. I'm hoping this means she'll be exited when we have her babysit FOR FREE as a teenager....HAH! Anyway, things are going very well so far. Anna has named him "Waffle" for the time being and the name has stuck. We've moved into the second trimester, so a lot of our worries and fears have subsided significantly. Now I'm concentrating on eating all of the healthy good-for-me foods I can....and then lots of ice cream to top them off. :) 5 1/2 short months until he arrives!! I'm loving the second trimester compared to the first. On top of all of our anxieties, I had awful morning sickness/random pains/headaches/etc that felt like they'd never let up. Now I just feel like I'm rapidly expanding and am keeping my fingers crossed that the stretch marks stay away.
The one constant symptom I've had is overwhelming fatigue. I wake up in the morning already counting down the hours until I can crawl back into bed again. I frequently take naps, which can hardly be called "naps", as they are sometimes multiple hours long. My husband and daughter have been incredibly patient and kind which I am eternally grateful for.
I am so lucky to have all that I have.
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.