Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A life more ordinary

So it's been two months since I started medication.

I can't even begin to describe the difference.

For me depression was like having my emotions turned all the way up, like being at a party where the music and background noise is so loud you can't even hear yourself when you speak. I felt everything to such an extreme that I couldn't think straight or focus, making every small thing a great big thing.

Depression is different for everyone. Some people feel numb. I get overwhelmed.

It was small at first. I would start to fall apart, picked apart by a paranoia that everyone secretly hated me. But I was able to see it happening and say "I don't want this, it's not going to ruin my day." and I let myself fall apart for a few moments, then made myself return to the presence of people I trusted and enjoy, ignoring that impulse to hide away knowing connecting was what I needed.

Slowly I started to be able to let those insecurities go rather than feed them when they'd arrive. They still come, but I can face them, and it has saved a few of my friendships. I have a lot of good people in my life. They wouldn't be there if I hadn't done something to make them want to be.

I hadn't realized how bad it had gotten, just how miserable I was. How much I had stopped enjoying things I loved and how much I had pulled away. This is the kind of thing we do when we 'suck it up' we hurt ourselves, and by proxy those we care about. I lose my temper less now, I am finding energy to do things again, seek out things I love, and know when it's time to step away from things for awhile.

I'm getting there, slowly, and it's the biggest relief I've had in a long time.

Now if I could just get a car!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A White Flag

I just got off the phone with my doctor. I'm going on medication.

I really didn't want to. Not because I don't believe it can help, I do and have used it before. Last time I was on it, it was to help me keep calm so I could learn to use strategies to manage my anxiety. It also had all sorts of side effects. The side effects are part of the reason I have avoided it.

I also just didn't want admit I needed them to deal with this. But I do.

My depression is starting to cause issues it never has before. I used to bottle it up, deal with it by myself and that almost literally killed me.

Over the past few weeks I have been learning that doing the opposite is coming off as bitching. It's making people avoid me. People are sick of me. I'm sick of me. And last night I started shutting down.

I feel okay speaking here because mostly if you're reading this it's for a reason. I am not inflicting myself upon you. I am glad I have somewhere, because I don't know what else to do.

My husband, sweet man that he is, suffers from his own depression and says he's 'tired' of me being sad all the time. I know he feels frustrated, because he wants to fix the problem, and doesn't understand that it's not all something that can be fixed. I tried to talk through things with my mom, but things are hard for her too, and that didn't go so well.

I started to vent on G+ and it just seemed so pathetic I took it down. I've decided to stop talking about it, except for my counselor and here. I need people, I don't want to drive them away.

The big issue right now is that my car has broken down and is starting to look like it's not going to recover, which is tough enough even when the same thing happened to your husband's car four weeks prior. We're actually doing a little bit better financially as far as monthly expenses go, but there is no reserve cash anywhere for replacing the car. We were only able to replace my husband's car because of some inheritance my grandfather left my mother, who then gave some to my brother and I.

Not having a car, well, it hinders many of my feel better efforts. No gym, no daycare, no activities outside the house for little man and me. Can't even walk, since the road we live on is narrow and very busy.

But first world problems right? I shouldn't complain. Big picture. Right.

I think that's the hardest part about depression. It's like snowflakes. Sure, we lump it all together and call it 'snow' but no two are the same. So it makes it hard, even if someone else is suffering too, to understand what it's like. It's different for everyone. Some people get angry, some feel numb. I feel overwhelmed, like my emotions are cranked up so loud I can't feel or think straight. All I want is peace and quiet in my head, to be able to think clearly again, to not be paranoid about every relationship and exchange, to not hate myself for every little mistake. To enjoy the things I love again.

So I'm going to try medication. Because while I have a lot of legitimate reason's to be stressed, I shouldn't be crying after my husband and son are asleep, wishing I wasn't so broken. I should be able to deal with this. This moment sucks, but I know my life is good. I just can't hold onto that right now.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The nature of Helplessness

I think one of the hardest parts of becoming a parent is a prevailing sense of losing power over your life. Everything you do is dictated by this new small person, and any parent of a toddler can tell you they are in fact tiny dictators in adorable, often jelly covered, outfits.

While it seems backwards, they are in fact, the ones who tell you when you can eat, sleep, bathe, socialize, even use the bathroom. They control what you can do and when, where you can and cannot go. Most of this fact is eased by the knowledge that this is in dedications to your little ones needs. They are now numero uno in your life, their needs come first, and that includes things like privacy and clean clothes.

But sometimes things around you also steal away your power. We by our very nature feel secure when we have some sort of control, and when we lose that it throws off entirely off kilter.

I have just waded through the perfect storm of losing control.

It began with our car dying. Just caput-dead. To be fair to the old boy, it was a 13 year old sedan with the muffler bungee corded on. But none the less, it died and this was a major issue. Now, we've just been informed we are inheriting a sum of money from my amazing grandfather, so lo, we have money for a used car. But we had big plans for that money, plans that included paying off our two most stressful debts and taking a night away. But now the car needs that money, the choice has been removed from us. Those debts will go unpaid, and I feel like a precious gift of well being has been snatched from my hands.

The same evening the car died we had a storm, and the wind knocked a nest of baby birds into our chimney and down the wood stove pipe. Over the course of two days  the baby birds slid one by one from the stuck nest into range for us to be able to get them with a make shift net, up to our shoulders in the wood stove and pipe filled with pointy screws. They were fledglings, so all the experts said they should go back outside where the parents could find them. So after the toddler got a chance to view and make fawning noises, the four baby birds (it had seemed every time we rescued one there was another behind it) we placed them in the tall grass next to the house. After night one, one bird disappeared. I have tried to help baby birds before, bunnies too, and the truth is they are so very fragile that there are far more sad stories than happy ones, and so I expected such an ending to this one despite the victories of getting them out of the pipe.

But finding a second one had died this morning was far more crushing than it should have been. But knowledge like the fact that they are so fragile, and that at least they hadn't died in that awful pipe, are not much consolation when you see that tiny life snuffed and knowing there was nothing more you could have done. The mother in you fights it. You constantly wonder if there was something you might have done. You cry for them after you son goes to sleep, having told him the babies had gone back to their mom and dad and were fine.

Those little birds were just the last thing in a long list of things that you were powerless to help. The birds. The car. The debt. The toddler determined to injure himself by throwing himself off every available climbable thing in your house after running behind you undoing all of your cleaning. The depression.

So tonight I am crying for losing sight of land in the sea of stress. And for baby birds I wanted nothing more than to save from dying in the dark.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Learning to say goodbye

"I'm the kind of person who wants to fix everything, "
"Yeah, I noticed"

That was my counselor's response when I was talking about my relationships. Well, really anything given enough glue, duct tape and time.

It's been a very difficult couple of weeks, a large and sweeping drama of stupidity and tears worthy of any soap opera or average day in the life of a high schooler. There were confessions of love (I shit you not) and broken hearts (Not the one you'd expect) and a lot of confusion as to What. The. Hell. Is. Happening.

What is boils down to is a person in my life I care about needs some space to figure themselves out. But their internal problems are being projected onto me as if I were personally sitting in their innards poking their heart with a teeny tiny pitchfork with the cheap cartoon devil get up and everything.

Naturally, I being the one who feels badly for killing the lawn grubs who are trying to destroy my yard, almost started to believe that I was indeed, the bad guy.

But I am not, in fact. I am a good friend, a good WIFE and a good mother. I am a decent human being. I (shockingly) also have feelings and concerns that are all my own. I'm getting better at acknowledging this, and better at pointing it out when even people I love forget it. This person has. They have a hurt that needs a villain, and it cannot be me.

So my counselor said "You can't fix it. You didn't break it, it's not yours to fix." And I had to put down my super glue and remove my cloak of diplomacy and admit that what happens from this moment on is in their hands, not mine. It's going to break my heart, but it was happening anyways the way things were going, and maybe we can recover from this. The friendship is precious to me, I hope it can be saved, but it's out of my control. All I can do is step back, and hope it is as strong as I had always thought.

It is very hard to not see it as giving up. But just like my baby turnips and radishes, the best I can do for it is let it be.

I have fought for a lot of friendships. I have lost a few. Some have recovered. Some linger on, either because my heart cannot let go or I am unable to because of other factors.

I really hope this is "See you later" and not "Goodbye."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My head is on fire, but my legs are fine

So I have been much quieter the last few weeks. Truth is, it's largely because I have been spending my free time in my new yard, tending green growing things, digging holes, squashing grubs and trying to wrangle my son away from the temptress that is our street full of speeding cars.

The other part of why is that this activity has left me happier than I have been in a very long time. I've cut down my visits with my councilor to twice a month and have had a much better time with Perfect Mommy and her obnoxious lackeys. My diet changes and the increase in exercise have done wonders, and I am down four pounds and have lost two inches from both my waist and hips. And I still eat ice cream. In fact, I was 'bad' last week when the hormones were at their worst and ate stuff I have been generally trying to avoid, but magically, I did not over indulge in any of it. And at the end of it none of the weight had come back, emotionally or literally. It's proof how much of my weight issues have been related to depression.

I'm not 100%. I don't think I will be for awhile. Paranoia about relationships still hovers behind my thoughts and I have backed out/nearly backed out of fun things as a result. I've found being honest about these times and the emotions that cause them has been really helpful, and my amazing friends have responded with reassurance, frankness and understanding. There have still been a couple of nights where I have cried, but it's been in response to something specific, no longer the crushing doubt over nothing.

I can appreciate and celebrate the wonder that is my life again, and I cannot begin to tell you how that feels. Even when I start to feel overwhelmed or down, I am able to use strategies again to stop the negative cycle of thinking and action. It has also allowed me to address some tough things. Like when baby number two will be coming.

We'd planned on starting to discuss it in January 2014, and have made the difficult decision to push that back to the same time the following year. Some of this is financial, we're more stable than we were three months ago, but we know not to take it for granted. We have no savings to have our backs. The main reason though, is to take care of me. Physically sure, I need two years in between if I want to try and have a natural birth after the C-Sec, but I need more time to recover my sense of who I am and to be just Jack's mom for a little longer. This was hard, because until Jack is an older brother I don't quite feel like our family is whole. Even my husband, who blanches at the thought of doing this again just yet, says he is always looking for 'the other one' (he is an identical twin).

Funny how taking action, no matter how small, gives you some of that control back, and gives you the foundation to build back from depression. I am very thankful for that.

And I will leave you with this:

My son loves most everything, and like his parents he is very affectionate. Today he has hugged the following:

  • Me
  • The cat
  • His uncle
  • The other cat
  • The flour jar
  • His cars
  • The first cat again
  • The jar of chocolate chips
  • His toothbrush
  • A potato
  • A book
  • A box of cake mix
  • The first cat yet again (the second won't tolerate multiple)
It should be noted that all hugs are accompanied by him saying "awwww" and giving a pat.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Boston Strong

Dear Jack,

In less than two years I have held you tightly and cried because a select few individuals made the choice to harm people they didn't even know. I wept for the parents who would never hold their children again like I held you, I wept for the families who would never be whole and for the many lives forever altered because someone made an unforgivable choice.

Part of me was glad you are too young too ask why I was crying, or why grampy was over so early and we all watched the news instead of our usual Friday playtime. I was glad you didn't have to go to school, that neither your father or I had to go to work, because all I could do that day is keep kissing your head and holding your hand and watch the internet like a hawk for updates and acknowledgments that the people we loved were safe, and when they were still mourn for those who could not say the same.

The other part of me knew that we would have some other tragedy one day, and it would not be as simple as reading you your favorite book and turning off the TV. And I know we'll talk then, because I hope we can always talk about the things that scare you and make you sad just as the things that make you happy, but when you read about the things that happened here, now, I know there will be things I want to say.

Look beyond the men who sought to hurt and inspire fear. Look beyond them and see how the rest of humanity responds. See the people who want to help. The truth is my boyo that they are the majority, and they will prove to you why having faith in people is not a faith misplaced. They will go beyond the limits of common courtesy. Walls will drop and we cease to be anything other than fellow human beings and they will inspire you. Take that with you in the dark days, and the amount of light that we put back into the world, while it can never completely snuff the darkness, will overwhelm it.

In the days that follow, keep that light, that faith and love for the world, because wounds will be raw and all wounded creatures snap. People will say foolish things, they will look for someone or something to blame, and it is up to everyone to keep that amazing energy of hope and brotherhood. As long as we do that then those few, terrified and angry people who try to inflict themselves on the world can never succeed. We can prove the world better than they think it.

So my sweet boy, when dark days come again, and I am sad to say that they will as long as fear permeates the hearts of some, look for the helpers as Mr. Rogers says. Look for the good and don't let one speck of darkness turn your eyes and heart away from the light that is the world.

Be strong. Be kind. Be you.

Love mom.

Friday, April 12, 2013

20 Reasons is Only the Beginning

20 Reasons I Am Glad I Am A Mom

1. Kisses for no reason.
2. "Cheeeeeessse!"
3. That smile when I come home.
4. His heart against mine.
5. Tiny toes and fingers.
6. Showing me those tiny toes and fingers.
7. The way he kisses the cat.
8. Watching out the window for daddy.
9. When he takes my hand, just because he wants to.
10. His hair right after a bath.
11. The way he makes strangers smile.
12. The way he inspires strangers to be kind.
13. Trucks on my couch and in my boots.
14. Little orange fish watering cans.
15. When he crawls into my lap with a book.
15. Babybuns.
16. His laugh.
17. That cheeky grin.
18. When he hugs or tickles his friends.
19. How he pats his uncle every time he sees him hello.
20. Crazy baby.

Why? Because I snuggled my sweet, silly boy and tucked him in for the night then read another blog by a mom who lost her son today and my heart broke.

Because I read an article about a woman who regrets her kids, and said so in a forum that will come back to them someday.

Because no matter how sad I feel, how frustrated or helpless, I love my son with every bit of my heart.
He is magic in my life that did not exist before him, and I am lucky and grateful, every day, no matter what challenges may arise, to be his mother.

And I just needed to say so.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Magic of Sunlight and Wee Beans

We belatedly welcome spring to New England as finally the snow has ceased and we are teased with the occasional 50 degree days that have many, including myself, staring longingly out at their neglected yards, trowel and confused tulips in hand.

With our first home my mind is filled with plans for our yard, our first property we can do whatever we'd like to, a blank canvas of dirt and plant matter. Luckily, I am armed with parents who make their livings being elbow deep in earth, and will not end up on a DIY disaster program saying "I just don't know what went wrong." I am excited to see what kind of art they will help us make on our half acre of homeland. See, my mom has this super power where she can look at a plant that looks half dead from winter hibernation and can see it in it's full glory in her mind. She literally paints with flowers when there are none to be seen. She paints in potential. Seriously how awesome is that? My dad likewise has a superhuman ability to deconstruct something down to it's parts and rebuild it. He's helping us construct a fence so my son doesn't gleefully throw himself into the 4ft oblivion that is the drop off at the back of our property. He had me pick a fence. Like, just a photo of any kind of fence we liked, and pulled it apart with his mind, reconstructed it, and wrote out a shopping list. They're magic I tell you, magic.

So I am terribly excited because I have their immense skill at hand for what is going to be our first true renovation of OUR home. My mind loves projects, and so I have had little time to give any residence to my depression, which has been a nice reprieve. Since my folks are bringing the skills to the table (to teach, mind you. Life skills man, life skills.) it's left my imagination to roam free. This is a dangerous thing for a geekmom like myself.

The result has been a fixation on a children's garden for my son. I have always had a dream of infusing wonder into my kid's lives in a fantastical way, and this garden is just the first in that quest. Butterfly bushes, fruit bearing plants, fairy homes, wind chimes, bird feeders and even cheeky gnomes are but part of my grand design. But then Pintrest got involved and that broad is bad influence.

So the center piece of my child's garden is going to be : a hobbit hole. Geeky, playful, beautiful. And the best part? Totally doable. We have a hill that has been foiling my planning in our yard, but would be perfect for tucking the perfect playhouse into. Apparently all we need is a good sized dog house and a facade with a round front door. Landscape around and atop it and viola- Hobbit Hole. There must be a garden, a gate and a wee little mailbox as well. I. Cannot.Wait. I will have to chase my adult friends out of it on a regular basis. One may try and live there.

I am also plotting out my veggie garden, my second summer's worth. I have found an immense peace in growing things. It's a similar joy to watching m son, in knowing you are nurturing something other than yourself, and when they thrive is like lighting a fire in your own well being. I've been teaching my boyo about growing things, and he happily helped sow seeds in started pots an exuberantly watered. The Easter Bunny brought him gardening tools and a gnome for his garden.

So now two of us watch wide eyed as green pokes temptingly from our yard, and await when that winter's chill finally vanishes from the air and the dirt and joy can fly.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Have Earned My Face

So after reading the blog I shared in my previous post, I followed his recommendation and read this post by his wife about body image after she had her twins. I am still tearing up, because I know this daily battle she's describing, what it's like facing down a body so drastically changed. Because it's not just me who struggles to learn to love their skin again after a major life change. I love the phrase "The tiger earned her stripes" in reference to stretch marks, maybe because it's along the lines of what this brilliant woman describes in that mirror face down. You see these changes and try to love them for the badges of honor that they are. There is another quote, and for the life of me I cannot remember who said it, that at 40 a man has earned his face, and you can tell his story by the lines there. So I love this woman for her story lines.

And it does not have to be the marks of mother hood that may leave you struggling to love your new self. Maybe you dropped a lot of weight. Maybe you had surgery. Maybe you are just getting older. But she's right, it's all part of a story, and it made me think about my own mom. In a very different way, my mom has been going through just as much change as I have, one of new beginnings and sometimes painful endings. I watched her this weekend, and wished I could bring up the courage to say something as I saw her, in that same precarious moment that I find myself in now and then, when you want so much to let go and get back on the boat. It wasn't fear I'd upset her, or that I would look silly, but rather I was afraid to speak about something I personally was not going through. But the more I think about it, and reflecting on the words in the article above, I realize that while the details are different, we really are sharing the same tumultuous inner tube ride.

So here goes.

A Letter to my Momma,

I love you. I love you for every time you pick up the phone. For every time you listened to me bawl or bitch. For every time you held my hand. For showing me it was okay to cry. I love you for teaching me to nurture the world around me, from beans to my son to complete strangers. For showing me the importance of dirt and the healing power of soup. I love you for every time you lost your temper,and apologized. Every time you got knocked down, then got back up again. For every time you forgave others, and are learning to forgive yourself. How you treat others, and are learning to treat yourself.
 I love you for every milk weed pod and firefly, for every skinned up knee and walk on the beach. I love you for every line on your face, because they are a story of a woman who loved with every part of herself, who lost and got hurt and kept hoping.  I love you for when you are vulnerable, when you are scared or sad or in pain, because you remind me that these are part of life too and that it's good to know those feelings, and then to keep moving forward. I love your your laugh, which is infectious, and apologizes for nothing.I love you for you strength, both of your spirit and of your body because you taught me that I can take on the world with the right attitude and make my own way when there is none to follow, that I am capable of miracles.

I know right now it might be hard to understand or accept that this moment in time is but a moment, and the things we feel now are not forever, and who we are now is not all of who we will be. But the next time you look in the mirror momma, and you're heart gets heavy because you might be struggling in that moment, know that every day when your daughter does the same, she will remember where those story lines on her belly lead in part because of the amazing ones that proceeded hers. And while that will not always mean we can let go of our doubts and our fears completely, it will remind us of how sacred our stories and our moments are, every memory of the feeling of our father's hands, of our brother's scars, the smell of our newborn children, the heartbeats of the people we love.

In that moment, momma, neither of us are ever alone.



Say it Out Loud

Remember my war with Perfect Mommy and her confused friend science? This dad over here has got the idea.


Thanks man, it's nice to hear it out loud. <3

Now back to chasing my half-naked toddler who is running away with a bucket full of rabbit food.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wet, in Pain and STILL Hysterical

Points if you get the title reference.

When I was a kid my folks would pull a tube behind our boat in the summer. My brother loved it, and my dad would turn on the speed and he'd sail along the water gleefully and come away red in the face from sea water and wind and unadulterated joy that only a child in perceived peril can feel.

I preferred the front of the boat personally, wind in my hair and the roar of the engine myself. But when I tried to think of what it has felt like the last two years for us, that tow line seemed like a good analogy.

At first it's really exciting, your racing along, high off the ride,and while the water is cold and the wind bracing it just adds to the thrill. You could go all day right? Just towing along. But you can only go so long until your arms get tired, before the chill of the ocean sinks into your skin, before you start longing for a breath of air that isn't forced through your nose and full of salt water. Maybe the boat slows every once in a while, lets you get a brief break, rest, breath deeply while you can, and get your hopes up that you can get back in the boat and on solid ground. But then it takes off again, and you get so tired and sore and desperate for air you start contemplating letting go, even though you know it will put you in more trouble than hanging on did.

That's how it feels like to be under waves of stress like my family has been. Pay off the hospital bill, get a dental bill for nearly as much. Get settled in a new place only to find out you have to move in less than a year. Finally set down your roots and the car breaks down, the chimney needs repair, the dishwasher needs to be replace and lose your health insurance because you are 'not poor enough'.

What kind of statement is that? Not poor ENOUGH? Truth is, I don't think of us as poor. Honestly, we're very blessed, a roof over our heads, food on the table, no lacking in modern entertainment. But the pressure of every day living has grown, cost of heating the house, of healthy, fresh food, medical expenses, trash removal- it just adds up. I am serious, we have just lost our health insurance NOT because we started making more, but because the National Poverty Line dropped. Meaning, that the poorest got poorer, so they changed their standard for what makes a family economically needy despite the fact that actual economical need did NOT change. But it's cool, we don't need health insurance reform, right?

So I feel like my boat has slowed just a bit and pulled back up to full throttle, leaving me once again gasping for breath and feeling like I can't hold on much longer. Losing our health insurance (and thank GOD they are still covering my son, because Perfect Mommy does not need that tidbit in her arsenal of guilt) means losing my ability to go to my counselor, or the nutritionist or really anything I was doing to take care of myself.

We've signed up for my husband's insurance policy through work, which sadly may be up to $500 MORE than what we were previously paying and I guarantee not as good a plan. We have been told if we can send proof of cost to the state, that they may deem it is not economically doable for us, and reinstate our coverage, or pay part of it in assistance. This is good, but does not make up for the ludicrous state of things now.Welcome to the world of the lower middle class, to poor to make it on our own, not poor enough to get the help that could put us on solid ground. We're good, hard working people. We pay taxes, we're kind to others, we're educated and not wasteful with our money. But, we'll keep our fingers crossed because letting go is not an option.

But man... I just want my seat at the front of the boat and out of the water.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happiness, Goodness, and other kinds of 'nesses

We have a beat up slip of paper on our fridge that reads, "Today I Choose to be Happy". It first appeared on my husband's mirror in the apartment he was living in when we started dating, over eight years ago. The words specifically are from a book, he told me which one and I want to say Gift of the Magi but it WAS over eight years ago and I have trouble remembering if I put on deodorant in the morning. Even now. Maybe I should put it on just in case. Or I could sniff my underarms like a teenage boy. I'm sure that won't weird anyone out.

Anyways, this slip of paper and the idea behind it has traveled to all of the places we've lived together. The whole idea being that happiness is a choice, and every day, in fact every moment, we can make that choice. Simple enough right? But it can be hard, really hard. It's easy to be happy when the sky is full of sunlight, when you have a few extra bucks for a coffee or gas to see a friend, when your child is beaming and giggling and reminding you he is just too cute to get upset at for his mischief. Then there are the days you're covered in two different kinds of poop (Neither of which is thankfully(?) your own), you haven't had time to brush your hair let alone put on pants, your bills are due early but the pay is coming late and there's a slurry falling from the sky trapping you inside while your sweet little angel is using apple sauce to paint his highchair (and himself) while he screams "I'm Tired and I Want to Go Outside Despite The Fact It's Blizzard" aria #2. Those are the days even Buddha must be like; "It's okay lady, I think it's completely acceptable to eat an entire sack of chocolates and cry in a corner while your child rots their brain in front of the TV. Good for you for not drinking before 10 A.M.!"

But the truth is you need that little mantra. Once you've had your cry, you have to get up, change out of your poop/chocolate covered clothes, take a deep breath and say "I am going to choose to be happy now." You have to, because if someone else says it to you, you're going to have to fill out a police report. You have to take charge of your own happiness, because no one can give it to you or force it upon you. You have to make the choice to, as Daniel Tiger says, "When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good!" True, you may be stink between the poop fiasco and forgetting your deodorant, but the shower you'll get once he's asleep will feel like heaven. 

It's a small thing, but it IS something positive. And I know, here is the depressed lady telling you about happiness, but as someone who has struggled with her own on and off in a dramatic way, I CAN tell you what has helped me. I can tell you how much more I have treasured my happiness for all the stress in my life. It helps me not take my, at the end of the day, amazing life for granted. I love the sunshine because of the rain, so to speak.

Happiness in the midst of chaos takes faith. For some people that means religion, for me it's a little different. My faith exists in the world, more specifically in people. I made a choice when I entered high school- I could either hate the people who hurt me, who tried so hard to pull me to pieces, or I could put more love out into the world instead. I chose love. When I got older, I made an observation, that the people who were the nastiest to me usually had reasons that had nothing to do with me. I was just an outlet, one they were sure wouldn't push back. So I began to develop my faith that all people are good, but they can act cruel and violent when they feel threatened in some way, regardless if that threat is real or perceived. It's not always an easy point of view, especially when driving in Massachusetts. Certainly it also doesn't mean that I must LIKE everyone I meet, but it does mean I can try to accept them for who they are; "Sure she's a drama queen who is making my life difficult at this moment, but she's got a life beyond this moment and I am sure she too stares daggers at the 'skinny' jeans stashed at the bottom of her pants drawer."

Because the world has enough ill-informed info graphics and angry old ladies with shopping carts, I might as well add a tick under the 'good' column in someone else day, and in turn it might make their choice to be happy a little bit easier, which may in turn help someone else and so on. As for me? I am at least making an effort to take charge of my view of the world, and while there will be days where I comment on the likeness between the gentleman on the cable customer service line to that of a bottom feeding sea slug, I can take a deep breath and remind myself ;

 We're in this together, and I might as well choose to be happy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Self Awareness or How to (not) do Yoga with a Toddler

1. Remove Disney dvd and insert new yoga dvd since you had to replace the previous one when it mysteriously vanished and reappeared in the toy box.
2. Lay out mat.
3. Remove toddler from mat.
4. Warm up breathing.
5. Remove numerous MatchBox cars that have appeared on your belly.
6. Floor stretches (with added benefit of said cars now appearing in your outstretched hands, for resistance)
7. Standing poses, accompanied by toddler needing to held at that exact moment.
8. Also, he needs a drink.
9. Child's pose, which you discover is called that because your head is at the perfect level for a toddler butt to sit on.
10. Bridge pose.
11. Become jungle gym while trying to do bridge pose.
12. Cool down routine.
13. Take previously mentioned MatchBox to the temple and wonder how you ever relaxed without yoga.

Toddlers are amazing in that they can pour water down the back of your pants and run cackling away into the night, then steal your heart with good night kisses.

Tonight's discussion became about oversensitivity. Something was bothering me, and I had not spoken about it with the parties concerned because I wasn't sure if what I was feeling was 'real' or if I was just being, well, oversensitive. She asked why, and I thought about it.

I love a lot of people. Love for me is easy, since the 8 year old inside of me decided a long time ago that I would love the world and everyone in it. It's harder for me to dislike someone, which sometimes mean I end up in situations not always healthy for me. But trust...now that's hard. Someone shared on the old FB the other day that "You don't always trust someone you love, but always love someone you trust" and boy howdy is that ever right. Deep trust, the kind that says that even when this person may hurt me, I know they love me and don't mean to, that they will be there at the end of the line, the last day on earth, with beer and a seat saved for you. I trust a lot more folk than I used to, but I got hurt a lot, betrayed a lot, and it means for me to truly embrace that this person actually likes me takes time. I can count on one hand the number of people who I knew from the birth of our friendships I could trust, and I married one of them. I know this about myself, I know it sometimes makes me paranoid, a lot more so since the depression got bad, and the constant questioning of my relationships is something I am aware is often an over-reaction.

So I ask myself "am I being paranoid and reading incorrectly what's going on here'? My counselor says not really, at least in this case, and that I should give myself more of a break. Not that I should be paranoid, but that I should remember that my feelings are legitimate, especially where my  adult relationships have become ten times as important as pre-baby. She noted how I seemed to be very aware of my friends lives, in that I tried to understand what might be effecting them and their actions, and give passes even when they throw up a red flag. (It stems from the super optimistic ideal I have that all people are inherently good, and act otherwise when they feel threatened in someway) So I should deserve this same kind of awareness too, right?

So tonight I am feeling a lot less worried, and even put myself out somewhere uncomfortable to ease those worries and was rewarded. Tomorrow I will attempt yoga during naptime, when the Matchbox traffic is low, and my water will not be pilfered for nefarious purposes.

Monday, March 11, 2013

In which I cease to exist

One of the most common things I have had other moms tell me is that moment when you cease to be you and become 'mom'. It's a wonderful accomplishment, like becoming a doctor and ceasing to be a Mr. or Mrs. But with none of the training or pay and all of the bodily fluids. I have heard my own mom talk about finding herself again after years of having us in her home. She, she never stopped being mom, but when we became adults (in only the most general of definition) she suddenly found herself facing down a reflection that was a bit of a stranger. I read something my grandmother wrote, describing looking forward to her empty-nest years as if they were a brand new hat tucked away under a bed that she was excited to wear. We as mothers put our selves as individuals on hold, almost exchanging one person for another. It's not a bad thing, our children make us better people, help us grow as we nurture others, help us see the world in new and beautiful ways. But even with all the amazing ways motherhood will change who we are, especially at first I think, it's traumatic. We look back on who we were before we were mom or dad like we're in an alien movie. Who is in my skin?

I first felt like some semblance of who I was as an individual return when I was able to cook my first real meal again after having my son. It was my epiphany chicken. Everything about that meal was orchestrated, like I should have been doing it in front of a studio audience. I was confidant in my spices, beautiful in my apron. I think it is one of the reasons I now struggle with my weight, food is the ultimate comfort because in my kitchen I am myself again.

I've always been a bit 'mom', I am without a doubt a caretaker to the core. But becoming mom for real isn't just a change inside you, and I find it's the reactions of my surrounding universe that make me feel the most lost. Someone, in the most well meaning and complimenting manner, compared me to his grandmother. I could care less about my age understand, numbers are numbers, but that analogy felt like I had suddenly gone from mommy to matron, like I ceased to exist as a being with any sex appeal. I feel like I don't exist at all sometimes. No one flirts with me for the fun of it like they used to, and sometimes even avoid me because all I have to discuss is baby stories. I fear I have become boring, part of the scenery. My boobs have softened, my wit has dulled, my hips and waist have widened, my world has shrunk.

This gets better with time, so I have been assured. I want to wear those mommy pants with a little more grace and a little less drool. I want to be the nurturer I was born to be, but still be the woman I grew to be, who had friends both male and female because I was fun to be around. I want to be me.

I miss me.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Hardest Job You'll Ever Love

So today I met my councilor, and happily I think we're a good match. Today was a 'state your issue and sign these papers' day, but it still managed to catch me by surprise for a few reasons.

One, OH MY GOD I COULDN'T STOP TALKING. Everything at once tried to come out so there was a verbal fist fight over what got to be said first I swear I must have sounded like I couldn't decide on a channel and was just surfing through random topics. My brain has always been a bouncy castle of thinking, a derailed train that went in whatever direction it chose and on a whim could go from discussing women's issues in politics to dinosaurs and their comically short arms without a hiccup in conversation. But this was a whole new level of-OH LOOK A SQUIRREL.

I was disappointed when the hour went by, and I realized how badly I had needed to voice some things. It just kept coming and coming. I almost started crying when I admitted how angry I was with myself over so many day to day things. How angry I was that I could not cut certain toxic people from my life without severing others that I care deeply about, and how it made me feel helpless. She noted that these people were bullies, and that their behavior drug out old feelings and anxieties from way back when I couldn't walk a hall way in peace.

All I want to do is be an adult, without the drama. Some people will not let me do that without a fight. And all my magic with warmth and trying to understand will do just as much now with these sparse few as it did back then with kids who lacked the ability to face their own bullies. They seem so much bigger when you're already feeling vulnerable. Ug. Well, it's interesting to say the least.

We talked about Perfect Mommy. She's one of those said bullies. She's a mom too,so she had some of the same confrontations with PM. She thinks that my depression is less hormone related (though it is a factor in my rougher days) and more a reaction to a huge amount of stressful things that have occurred one after the other (and often inside and through) each other.

1. Had first child. BOOYAH.
2. Moved. Twice. Less than a year apart. With a baby/toddler.
3. Lost a family member. Had another have major surgery. Another fight cancer. Another make a life changing choice for a parent, and suffering the guilt despite it being the right choice.
4. Buy first home, finance said home, all on a single income.
5. Lost a pet suddenly. Another required expensive treatments to save his life. Adopted two new pets.
6. Yeah, that baby? Still here through all of the above and his needs change daily.

All of these life events require huge pulls on your body, mind and heart, so no wonder my cope packed a neat little suitcase and skipped town. Essentially: Life is hard, even when it's good, and depression thrives where stress his high. There's some relief in that thought though. It says that this moment where I feel like crying until I puke/running into the woods to live with the bees/screaming until I pass out is just life with depression turning the volume up so loud I can't always think straight. I haven't failed or let my anxiety regain ground in my life, shit is just happening at an amazing rate and it is COMPLETELY OKAY to feel like falling apart as a result.

It may seem small, but I walked away today allowing myself to feel sad, without feeling angry at myself for it. It's a step in the right direction.

The last thing we did is I showed her a video of my son dancing in a cook pot in a collared onesie and little leg warmers yelling 'cheese' with his 'cheesiest' grin. And I was so filled with pride at my goofy munchkin as I told her about how he would take my face in both hands and plant a big ol' Hollywood style kiss on my lips and steal my heart before turning to do the same thing to the cat, that I knew without a doubt that I loved being his mom more than anything else in the world.

The hardest job we'll ever love, indeed.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Perfect Mommy, Expectations and You

If you're a parent you know her. If you teach or work with children, you may know her in the faces of those of us trying to BE her.

Perfect Mommy is well, perfect. She is well read in all the latest research. She never loses her temper. She never looks like she has been awake all night with a sick baby or smell faintly of sweet potato vomit even a week later. Her house is always clean. She may balance home and work with ease, or perhaps she is the pinnacle of the stay at home mom, home lined wall to wall with art projects and her toddlers first epic poem. She feeds her child only all organic healthy snacks, and most certainly never allows her child to have a cookie for lunch because he's been teething all day and it is literally ALL HE WILL EAT and oh my god you just want them to eat ANYTHING since there was a boycott at breakfast.

Perfect Mommy is a snipe. A red herring. She. Does. Not. Exist. But any new parent can tell you (because lets be honest, the pressure of Perfect Daddy is growing daily) that she is the enchanted mirror we hold ourselves up to every day. And she's destroying us slowly.

Some of Perfect Mommy's demands are not unreasonable. They're backed by science. Your child should eat healthy? No brainer. But here is where my dear friend science begins to get a bit like near sighted back seat driver. I am all about science. Science is cool and lets me put pictures of my cats all over the internet while I stream Raffi music instantly, as well as you know, help me live with an ill fated lay about thyroid. But sometimes science forgets that what works in a lab doesn't always translate to, well, life. There is what is ideal, and what is reality. Eating habits is a solid example. Not every meal can be a gold star standard, especially with toddlers who will survive on Mac N' Cheese one day, then entirely on carrots, then the next day air. Even before solids we battle with Perfect Mommy and her lab coated henchmen telling us what we're doing wrong.

I am a strong believer in breast feeding. I knew from the beginning I was going to do it. I even eye balled my sister in law for not being willing to even try it before going to the bottle for her baby. It's natural right? We were made with the equipment and supplies built in. It's natural, yes, but come naturally? I left the hospital after a few frustrating and a few awesome experiences with lactation consultants. My son latched well and it looked like we were going to be poster baby and mommy for the breastfeeding revival. Then I learned what an 'excited ineffective' feeder was and suddenly those moments my mom had described as bonding magic were hellacious. He screamed and got frustrated. So did I. I felt i was a crushing failure. I glorified my breasts, how could they fail me? My milk supply dropped from the ineffective nursing, and after some formula supplementation, my son quit both bottle and boob by his first year mark*. His weight, all the way until that mark when solids and cows took over, was a source of constant anxiety to me. At 19 months my son is in the 6th percentile for weight, after hovering barely in the 5th for months, perfectly healthy and a bottomless pit most days. He'll never be a big guy, his dad is 115 lbs, but I can't tell you how I silently celebrated that 1% climb when it happened. Those numbers were how I was measuring my success instead of his perfect cherubic frame and boisterous sponge like demeanor.

Perfect Mommy wields science so effectively, we find ourselves attacking instead of supporting one another. Like my looking down on my sister in law for not trying to breastfeed. TV is one of those demon topics we can use as easy ammo against each other to judge parenting skills. Science has proven TV is not great for your kids (or anybody really) and bans any more than a half an hour a day (or an hour, or 15 minutes, it changes regularly). But science has never had to console a feverish toddler with growing pains. They haven't needed that 15 minutes to an hour to wash the mountain of clothes/dishes/litterboxes/spilled milk/cereal/poop because the twenty minutes you got to yourself when your child was sleeping you oh-so-selfishly used to shower for the first time in three days. (Okay, a week) Should I let my kid watch TV all day? No sir, but don't come after me with torches because it slips to two hours because we've had a crappy day and I need to pay bills before my lights get turned off.

I beat myself up on a daily basis for a hundred little things that Perfect Mommy and our well meaning friend Science say I am doing wrong. I cry myself to sleep more often than I would like to admit. I spend too long gazing in the mirror and seeing all the things I am doing wrong by him.

So I say unto you fellow mommies, I am PROUD of you. Rock any day you can get that hard won victory, whether its finally sleeping through the night or getting your child to eat something green that didn't come out of a nose. Here's to getting that sink empty for at least an hour, and the thousand kisses, hugs, tickles and goofy noises you will bestow upon your little one to let them know they are Loved and Safe. Here's to doing our best with all our hearts and I really, truly hope you can shut out that Perfect Mommy with her done up hair and Mozart flash cards and see that your success in the face of your child every day. I hope science can be our guide, and not our standard.

I know that it won't be as easy as hoping, because even as I write this I am critically picking apart my day while my sweet son sleeps soundly. But we need to start saying it to each other, because while there are those parents out there who warrant Science's disproving glare, most of us are just doing our best to love our children completely, nurture them carefully, and not run screaming into the woods with out our pants.

*For the record, as frustrating as it was, I plan on breastfeeding when I have my second child too. Benefits won over hardships on this one for me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An Introduction

Postpartum Depression Clinically Defined: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004481/

Wikipedi defins it thusly;

"Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, typically after childbirth. Studies report prevalence rates among women from 5% to 25%, but methodological differences among the studies make the actual prevalence rate unclear. Among men, in particular new fathers, the incidence of postpartum depression has been estimated to be between 1% and 25.5%.[1] Postpartum depression occurs in women after they have carried a child. Symptoms include sadness, fatigue, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced libido, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability. Although a number of risk factors have been identified, the causes of PPD are not well understood. Many women recover with a treatment consisting of a support group or counseling.[2][3]
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a standardized self-reported questionnaire, may be used to identify women who have postpartum depression.[4] If the new mother scores more than 13, she is likely to develop PPD."

Me, defined:

I am 30 and live south of Boston, Massachusetts. I grew up on an island in a tight kit community with awesome family all around me. I love to cook, be out in nature and do art, I read voraciously, and embrace my geeky nature. My friends and family are my life. I am very goofy, about as graceful as a new born foal or a drunk duck on a greased floor. I am not a small woman, all hips and chest and my husband says I smile with my whole body, especially my eyes.
I have been with my husband eight years, we've been married for three and have an awesome little toddler who will be two this summer. We once went to Ireland because he rolled over and suggested it one morning.
We have moved seven times in our eight years together. We just bought our first house three days after Christmas on my husband's income. It's full of charm and 'character', which is the term he also applied to my mp3 player after it got run over by a car. I love it. It's warm, welcoming and a little weird, just like us. Our super power is making people feel like they've come home.
Husband works ten hour days because of a long commute and to have a third day to be with home with us. I work doing Pampered Chef parties because I love their stuff and cooking centers me. I understand potatoes, sugar and butter and the magical things they can do. They make sense even when nothing else does.
We have two kittens and an eight year old rabbit. It's like having two more toddlers and a well mannered old man who judges me silently from behind his hay.

I have dealt with depression before, once in Jr. High after a school career of constant bullying, then again after a bad break up and dealing with  the transition from a high school of 800 students to a college of thousands. I lost my grandfather to Alzheimer's in the fall, and my other grandmother was forcibly moved to a home when she stopped taking care of herself, which my father hates himself for. My mother had a knee replaced after two failed surgeries didn't heal right in the same window as losing her father and dealing with her mother in law. It's not been an easy six months, even the good things have been highly stressful.

I had taken the a fore mentioned questionnaire at my postpartum checkup and registered at risk. The second time I took it, my score showed no issue because I was having a good day. It didn't reflect how I was at night, and my fear at appearing an unfit parent kept that from taking that into consideration. Each time I filled out that form, it cost me $60 and was not covered my my health insurance.

My family has a shared doctor, who is made of solid win and doesn't blink an eye when I call his office a hundred times over the same cough or fever. He is awesome because he checks on us every time we bring my boyo in for a checkup, and he was the first one to voice concern on my behalf. I was just tired I told him, after all I had a newborn who believe sleep was for weak, uninteresting people and beds for those who didn't appreciate the mammary foam glory that was me. Then I started having post-pregnancy health issues with my thyroid, another issue I had dealt with previously when I had mono. My immune system takes a hit, my thyroid decides to go on strike. So another doctor, another who expresses concern over my energy levels and mood.

But even after numerous breakdowns and self deprecating rants about how I was letting everyone I loved down; my son, by husband, my family, my friends, myself, I still wouldn't admit it was beyond normal new parent stress. My husband finally admitted to me during one of these episodes that he was feeling helpless. "I've watched you get sadder over the past two years, and I don't know what to do." Suddenly all my reasoning for 'sucking it up' (time away from my son, money, I should be able to handle this) became moot, because all my trying to shoulder it alone to protect my family was in fact hurting them.

So I start counseling next week. I am nervous and excited. I want to work on my problems, not just complain and fall apart, but those same issues make me terrified I am a failure and this woman we see it and judge me silently like my stoic, ancient rabbit.

But I give myself the small credit of taking this step anyways, because the only way I am assured to fail is to not try at all, and my beautiful, strange little household- myself included- deserves better than how it has been.

So wish me luck. I hope she doesn't mind the scent of eau de veggie puree and butt paste.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mommy Pants

Ever since I became a mom, I have wanted to do a blog about the wild ride that is parenting. Part of me wanted it so I could be a bit creative, be a bit witty, make other mom's have a chuckle at my expense and in understanding when I recount my toddler's delight at flushing three rolls of toilet paper in their entirety. Laugh and feel fuzzy with the good times, commiserate when it's not so good.

 But something happened when I put on the new mommy pants and it wasn't something I had expected. I had waited my whole life to wear these pants, felt in my heart of hearts that no matter how much I failed at anything else (my husband would tell you I am a woman of many skills, and master of none. I have a short attention span and a love of learning new things.) I would rock being a mommy. Heck, as a teacher, I even came with some pre-loaded software! So it was a surprise that I felt like I was constantly floundering.

I expected it to be hard. I expected the challenge, the lack of sleep, the spit up and the diapers. I didn't expect to find myself hating breastfeeding when my son was an "excited ineffective" feeder, how alone I felt in the middle of the night when he refused to sleep anywhere but in my arms and I was terrified of co-sleeping, I didn't expect how completely and totally I felt I had lost who I was in becoming mommy. I would cry in the dark, cradling the little boy I adored, feeling like I was failing him. I'd despair at the never ending chores, single income budget, and missing intimacy and fear I was failing my husband. I would stare in the mirror at my reflection, at the weight I could not lose, my neglected hair and skin, my defeated eyes, and feel such loathing for everything I could not do and know I was not being fair to myself. I was even failing that woman in the mirror.  I didn't expect to be diagnosed with Postpartum Depression, or to still be struggling with it as my son approaches his second birthday. But I was, I am, and I have decided it is time to do something about it.

So I find myself here writing, not because I want to share in the journey of becoming a parent, but because I need to. Because despite having an amazing husband, wonderful family and friends,and a beautiful, incredible, sweet and funny little boy, I feel so terribly alone. Because someone reading this might too.

So this isn't just a record of my adventures in motherhood, but the chronicle of finding out who I am, who I am becoming, and remembering how to like myself again. I plan on sharing how I got to this point, what I am doing to try and rescue myself, and the successes and challenges that occur along the way.

So if you're reading, thank you. I hope my experiences help even just one other mom who finds themselves, like me, barking at the moon instead of giving themselves credit for what is, in my own mother's words "The hardest job you'll ever love."