Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do."

I used to be a good mom.  Like, a really good mom--the kind that would make other moms want to barf a little because I was so Pinterest perfect.  It never felt like I was, but in hindsight, I had it pretty figured out.  Now that I'm a solo parent?  Not so much with the shit being together.  My shit is scattered to the ends of the universe.  And sometimes it's lost in the abyss.  In fact, I lost my shit just this morning!

It's no secret that Ivy is a wee bit of a spitfire.  All my kids are in some way or another.  Michael has mellowed in the last few years, but ages 2-7 are usually the universe's way of testing my sanity.  I don't pass.  Ivy isn't a morning person.  She's clearly ready to cut a bitch when she wakes up.  And going to bed has never been an easy feat either.  So in the end, she's even crankier for being tired.  Today, I yelled.  I got hella frustrated and let out obscenities under my breath (and a few audibly...let's be real).  I feel terrible, but I had to be strict with her.  I had to let her know that her laissez-faire approach to getting ready in the morning is unacceptable.

I also sent Michael to a jog-a-thon with zero pledges.  I can retroactively fix that, but he was upset that he'd be "jogging for nothing" today.  And it was a brutal, hour long, mandatory event with no rest for the participants.  He was allowed to walk, but I'm surely going to hear about how it ruined his entire life.

Today was just the last events in a series of epic fuck-ups that make me long for the good ole days of yore when I could stay home with the kids and craft all day instead of worry about how I'm going to stay up long enough to finish a load of laundry after work.  I'm figuring it out.  I'm getting by.  But it stings.

There's a pain in not feeling good enough to care for my own kids that gives me a burning under the skin.  Sometimes it's a minor discomfort, others it's excruciating. There's a culpability that I don't remember all the responsibilities; there is shame that I choose my own needs at times, even though it's necessary.  It's the "put your own mask on first before aiding a child" sentiment.  However, we all know mothers scoff at the flight attendants when hearing it the first few times. Eventually, after plenty of therapy, it begins to make sense. The guilt never truly dissipates though.

I suppose it's a pretty common tendency to feel this way--the human condition, if you will. Doesn't make it any less demanding on my psyche. I'd wager to say it makes it worse because I know it's okay to drop balls.  I am aware that people aren't perfection and that's what's beautiful about those who truly live.  After all, there's a reason why there are mugs that say "World's Okayest Mom."

Can they fit, "World's Okayest Single Mom Who Sometimes Does Better Than Others And Feels Really Bad About It" on one?  That's not very catchy.  Suggestions welcome.

Today's Subject Line Quote is from Voltaire.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

"I'm fine, but I'm bipolar. I'm on seven medications, and I take medication three times a day. This constantly puts me in touch with the illness I have. I'm never quite allowed to be free of that for a day. It's like being a diabetic."

Let's talk about depression.  I know it's everyone's FAVORITE subject, but, it's my blog so don't be a dick.  In all seriousness, it needs to be discussed more.  Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27)   Women experience depression twice as often as men do, and  regardless of racial or ethnic background or economic status. The lifetime prevalence of major depression is 20-26% for women and 8-12% for men. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1996). So it's chemical and it's prevalent in our society. 

I just had an exchange with a co-worker about my mood change,  "You're in a good mood today.  What happened?"  How do I answer without outting myself?  Better yet, why should I be concerned with anyone knowing that I suffer from a mental illness?  Because, "I'm Bipolar and someimtes adjustments in my medications can be severe on my mood,"  should be a legitimate response.  But, fear takes over and I stumble around trying to come up with a reason why I'm noticably happier today.

Mental illness shouldn't be shameful.  It's a medical condition.  If I was hobbling around on a broken leg, I wouldn't attempt to hide it and hope no one noticed my crutches.  I also wouldn't expect myself to heal immediately and with no symptoms or pain.  So why is it, that when I have a depressive episode, I worry about what people will think?  Sometimes I need help.  I have brain in need of healing, instead of a limb, and my crutches are often words.

I can't always function at full capacity.  However, even talking about it gives me anxiety that I'm burdening people.  This isn't uncommon with mental health.  If brain chemistry was a person, it'd be a sociopathic son-of-a-bitch.  It often skews my perception of the truth and gives me a sense of duality that can be frightening.  What I know to be true and what I feel are often contradicting.  Depression wants me to believe that nobody cares to hear about what's happening, that there is an encumbrance in expressing myself to loved ones.  But I know there are people willing to help and listen. 

So I'm promising myself to be less timid about my experience.  This blog is a fantasic outlet because it doesn't directly put pressure on friends and family regarding how I'm feeling, but allows me to freely relay this reality and inform those who may not understand how someone like myself operates.

I speak for myself.  I can't know how anyone else happens to feel during their expriences, but I hope to capture some of the common sentiments of those who can't come forward.  I want people to understand that the stigma around mental health is not scary.  I've lost friends admitting that I suffer depression.  The sadness of this, is that some people mental illness is dangerous.  There is a fear of instability that I even buy into at times.  However, I just have mood swings, sometimes within the same hour, that are more dynamic than simple joy or sadness.

When I'm depressed, I have trouble waking up.  I'm drained to the point that getting up, even sitting up, is nearly impossible.  I have to rally for a good while--convincing myself that I'm even physically capable.  Sometimes I nap for hours, then go to bed for an extended period.  On my day off, I slept for 15 of 24 hours this week.  I could NOT stay conscious.  If that isn't enough?  There's the mental pain that accompanies the physical symptoms.  Hopelessness, exasperation, loneliness, numbness..the list is ever growing and changing.

So what do we do?  Start small.  Read.  Project Helping is a great place to start.  Or if you are willing, be brave and share your story.  It might inspire someone else who is feeling alone in their battle. It might save a life.

Today's subject line quote is from the late Carrie Fisher.


Follow me. I might lead you somewhere you haven't been.