Guess Who’s Back (Back Again)

Just so you know, it takes real restraint not to title every single post with song lyrics.

So…Silas is in town!  (For those who don’t know, he’s a 4th year podiatry student and has been doing rotations in different states since last May.  So we’ve seen him a total of 2-ish weeks since then.  Just to give some context.)

The boys are, of course, absolutely ecstatic.  Because dad is cool and fun and takes them places.

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But let the record show that I also climbed up (not all the way, though–it’s a 50-foot ascent to the tippy top) and, although I hyperventilated and had to use my freeway-driving pep talk (“You got this.  You’re doing it.  You’re not going to die.”), I did not have a crippling panic attack.

Look at me, bitches.  Conquering fears like a boss.

Or at least approaching them timidly.

Let the record also show that Noa likes Silas much, much more than she likes me.  I’ve gotten a total of two laughs out of her, yet every time she even sees her father’s face she breaks into the biggest, cheesiest grin I’ve ever seen.

It’s no big deal really–it’s not like I gave birth to her and have spent every day and night of the last 3.5 months slaving to meet her every need or anything.

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(In truth, I’m thrilled that she’s bonded with him–she’s a little stingy with her bonding and I was afraid she’d give him the stranger treatment.)

And for the first time in years, Silas doesn’t have to do anything.  No homework.  No shifts at the hospital.  No hours of studying. Boards are over.  Interviews are done.  Until his next rotation in February, we have his undivided time.

It’s a weird and foreign thing.  But also kind of awesome.

So in spite of my big “I’m taking 2015 by the horns and writing EVERY DAY” talk, posting will be sporadic over the next week or two.

Try to contain your despair.

Love to you all and hope you’re surviving and thriving in the month of bitter cold and high expectations.

 

(It’s our last few months in the land of heat heat heat so I’m trying to roll with the forecasted 80-degree temps.  This time next year I might be freezing my lamentably flat ass off…)

 

Inside Hypomania

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[creepy grainy photo courtesy of my 4 year old]

It’s a Tuesday and I’m knee deep in the contents of the closet I have just emptied.  Everything is wrong.  The entire apartment is out of order, disorganized, a complete mess.  I have to redo everything.

I’m mentally cataloguing everything, sorting, sorting, sorting.  I need more bins, I think.  A trip to Target.  Everything in its place.

I walk–although, in reality, I’m practically jogging around the apartment from room to room, mess to mess–to place the blankets I’ve refolded into the other linen closet.  They need to go there.  But what are these doing in here?  I pull out two swimsuits that have been shoved in, refold them, take them to the boys’ rooms.

This closet is a disaster.  I drop to my knees and empty the drawers, sorting, folding, putting everything right.  I hang up the shirts and start to rearrange all the toys.  What was I thinking, putting the train tracks in this bin?  Where is the lid for the blocks?

Two little people come bounding in.  “Mom, can we watch another show?”  It takes a minute for their words to penetrate the ceaseless, racing thoughts that have overtaken my mind.

“Mhmm,” I say distantly, already onto the next task.  I have a growing pile of things to throw away or donate near the front door–I’ve filled three kitchen-sized trash bags already.  Every time I drop something into one of those bags, a little tension is relieved.  I get a momentary high, a thrill–I’m casting off the unnecessary, freeing myself.  I feel a pull, a compulsion, a need to keep going.  There’s more to do.  Always more.

I’ve felt this before; I should recognize it. And I do–vaguely, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, behind all the thoughts that are swirling around right now.  But I’m obsessed, my focus is laser-like and cannot be broken.  I can’t just snap out of it.

The baby starts to cry, but I don’t react immediately.  In fact, it takes almost fifteen minutes for me to really hear her, for the programmed mom response to kick in.  I pick her up, comfort her, but I’m distracted.  There’s so much to do.

I keep going, wee one on hip, singly focused on my mission.  Later that evening, I make dinner, read stories, get all three kids to bed, but it’s as though I’m in a fog–everything is muted, a little vague.

I stay up late that night.  By the next day, it’s gone.

——-

My “ups” don’t typically last very long; maybe a day or so.  And they’re not always like this–although the compulsive cleaning definitely crops up more often than anything else.  I once organized an entire year-long homeschool science curriculum from scratch–twelve months of units broken down into weekly topics complete with lesson plans, book lists, and activities–in one day.  I never ended up using it.

Sometimes it manifests as boundless optimism, trips to the park and days filled with clever activities–I have so many ideas!–and really engaging with the boys like the mom I wish I could be.  It’s lists, categorized sheets of goals and plans and a perfect life in bullet points.

I remember searching websites, blogs, forums for accounts of hypomania.  Personal anecdotes, not the dry list of symptoms on WebMD or psych websites.  It’s different from the intense mania of Bipolar Type 1, and a little harder to find information on.  I’ve written on depression before; but today I wanted to touch on the other side of Bipolar Type 2.  If you stumble on this blog looking for something to validate this aspect of your recent diagnosis, or in a desperate search for someone else who gets it, I hope you find it.

As always, I welcome emails and comments.  Connecting with you guys makes my day.

 

Love: You First

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I’m fifteen, standing on a scale.  I’m at the house of the two little girls I babysit at the end of every summer, but they’re absorbed in play, prancing around their My Little Ponies, so I take a moment to escape. I’ve ducked into the master bathroom so I can weigh myself.  Just as I do every day, multiple times a day.

I’ve gained three more pounds.  That’s it, I think.  I will not let this number increase.  I decide to skip eating for the rest of the day.  My body doesn’t deserve calories.

—–

I’m sixteen, staring into the mirror, analyzing every inch of my face and finding fault with all of it.  My cheeks are too plump.  My eyes are too small and my lips are too thin.  I’m generic, forgettable.  I wish I were more exotic looking, beautiful in the way the models that grace the covers of magazines at the grocery store are.  I want darker hair.  Greener eyes.  Fuller lips.  I’m not enough.

—–

I’m seventeen, driving home from a sleepover where my friends and I, despite being seniors in high school, spent the night giggling and bingeing on Doritos with sour cream and frosting straight out of the can while watching our favorite movie, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton.  I feel a little sick and my stomach bulges out uncomfortably.  I am fat.  I feel miserable.  The rest of my day is ruined as I am consumed with thoughts on how to fix myself.

—–

I am in the bathroom of our favorite Mexican restaurant, emptying the contents of my stomach.  I feel guilty and ashamed and terrified that someone will walk in and discover my secret.

—–

 

It’s hard to share this.  As I type this, the feelings come back–raw and real.  I’m that teenage girl again, full of self-hatred as I analyze myself through the lens of what I didn’t realize was Body Dysmorphic Disorder–an incredibly common affliction among women (and men).  I never, ever thought I could like myself–much less love myself.

But I do.

I never thought I could be satisfied with who I am–my flaws and foibles, my strengths and weaknesses, my talents (or lack thereof).

But I can honestly say that I am.  And I am so proud of that.

As of this moment, I can truly say that I like myself.  I like who I am, I like the way I look, I like the direction my life is heading.  I’m okay with my stretch marks and wrinkly stomach skin.  I’m okay that my now-deflated breasts are past their glory days.  I love my hair and my eyes.  I spent years comparing myself to other women, anguished that I didn’t look like them, wasn’t as beautiful as they are.  But–as trite as it sounds–I don’t need to be look like someone else to be pretty.  I am me, and that is enough.

My transformation from self-loathing to self-love wasn’t swift.  It didn’t happen over the course of a couple months or even a couple years. It took a while.  Of course I still have insecurities–it’s part of being human.  But I can finally be alone with myself and not feel like I’m abiding with the enemy.

We’ve all heard that you can’t really love anyone else until you love yourself.  Maybe it’s because when you are dissatisfied with yourself,  your love comes from a place of insecurity, of need–the need for someone to complete you, to validate you.  The need to be saved.  And that’s a heavy burden to place on someone else.

Or maybe you put up walls, protecting yourself, never allowing yourself to be really open or vulnerable.  You can’t give your whole self to someone else–after all, if you can find all of these inadequacies, how could someone else possibly overlook them?  How could anyone else really love you?

But when you can be completely comfortable on your own, and like what you see in the mirror, you’re in a place where you can let someone else in.  Let’s be real–vulnerability is hard no matter how self-assured you are.  It’s scary, terrifying even–but also necessary if you want to form deeper connections.

And interestingly, I’ve found that only after I decided to just accept myself as I am, right now–not thinner or stronger or smarter or more disciplined–only after I could do that could I start to make lasting changes.

And sometimes, I’ve found, you don’t need to change at all.

 

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The Spectrum

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“So how was this week for you?”

“It was…surprisingly good.  I’ve actually been feeling really normal for the last few weeks.”

“Define ‘normal’.”

“Well…not, you know, crazy.”

“And what is ‘crazy’?”

 

Therapists.  Always with the questions.

 

Crazy, meaning manic cleaning sprees and compulsive decluttering (RIP, toys and clothes that I found on the floor in my mad dash to toss anything superfluous), and that overwhelming feeling that my space does not feel ‘right’ and that chair needs to go.  Right now.  I have to throw it away.  There are too many pillows on the couch.  I need them gone.  There’s a plate in the sink WHY IS THERE A PLATE IN THE SINK WHY IS EVERYTHING FALLING APART THE HOUSE IS A MESS I CAN’T TAKE IT

That kind of crazy.

Crazy, like the rootless anger surging just below the surface, searching eagerly for an outlet.  Crazy, like the lighting-quick switch flip that takes me from semi-rational to out-of-control rage, as though some cruel demon has decided to take my body for a spin.  Crazy fists pounding, broken glass.

Crazy.  Pacing the same quick path around the apartment, my mind stuck in a mad monologue that keeps going going going without reprieve.  Crazy, when every sudden movement or sound makes my body tense; when everything seems so loud and someone is talking to me but the words are just filling my head, making no sense, and I can’t remember how to answer.

Crazy–reading the harsh judgment in every gaze I meet, flooding my mind with the invented criticism of others.  My heart beats faster and I go on the defensive, encasing myself in walls because everybody is bitches* today.  Paranoia, convinced that my neighbor thinks I’m a negligent mother and is going to call CPS because one of my children is crying.

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And then there’s the other side.  The endless tears with no source but the bleakness that has permeated my mind.  The numb, blind staring–mind unable to cope, body unable to move.  The heaviness, the utter bodily weariness, yet the dread of sleep because the thought of a new day is too much to bear.  The kind of days when the slightest request feels like an impossible demand, and being asked to find a shoe or push a swing can reduce me to tears.  Eating on autopilot, mindlessly munching not because there is any hope of filling the void, but because it’s something to do and doing things is so hard right now.  Knowing how pathetic, how teen-angst all of this sounds on paper, yet feeling so hopelessly lost that it doesn’t matter.

The isolation, feeling lonely so lonely and wishing hoping praying for something, someone, to come and relieve me of this despair. But God is not a genie, apparently, for no midnight caller appears to bring comfort.

And yet, in spite of all that, those days (weeks, months?) of ‘normal’–sad but not immobilized, angry but not out of control–those times when you get to step off the ride and just cruise along for a while…

Those times are glorious.

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*’Everybody is bitches’ is my favorite phrase for those days when I just can’t stand to be around people.  It amuses me when little else will.  I want to put it on a t-shirt.

 

——-

What is your ‘crazy’?

The Iffiness of the Internet

Well, that was a depressing post to go AWOL after.

Let’s have a cat picture for good measure, shall we?

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Much better.

I’ve been feeling conflicted about blogging lately.  Which is why I haven’t.  Blogged, I mean.  Sometimes is feels so sketchy, putting my pictures, my words, my personal life on the internet for anyone to see.  I have a lot of mixed feelings, and worries about the safety and/or advisability of it.

And yet, blogging is so, so good for me.  It’s a way for me to express myself creatively; it helps fill that part of me that lies quiet and vacant–that part that I’ve never known quite how to feed.  Knowing that other people are reading, commenting, connecting with me is hugely rewarding–obviously moreso than writing any of the hundreds of random snippets of crap I have saved on my computer, since I can’t seem to see any of them through.

I love writing.  It helps me process things, make sense of myself and the world.  As scary as it is to put something raw and vulnerable out there, there is nothing more fulfilling in the world for me than to have someone read it and say, “I know those feelings.  I have been there.  That is exactly what it is like.”  It’s like I’m thrusting my hand out into utter darkness, waiting and terrified; and then someone grasps my fingers and says, “I’m here, too.”

 

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[The boys and I had a big painting sesh yesterday afternoon.  This is one of twenty-two enso circles I did.  It’s addicting–in a really relaxing way.]

 

So, I think I’ll give ye olde blog another tentative try.  I’m here.  I hope you’re here, too.

 

Just One of Those Days

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This is the song on repeat in my head right now.

 

so I crawl underneath my blankets

where I can hide away, I know I can’t take it anymore

’cause I see now it’s just one of those days

 

I know quoting song lyrics is very Mysapce circa 2005…I suppose this means I’m forfeiting my rights as a card-carrying member of the adulthood club.

Ah well…being an adult sucks sometimes anyway.

So, as a preface, everything is fine.  Life is going along just swimmingly.  I just need to talk.

Photo on 6-9-14 at 7.07 PM #2[Unrelated picture…Hobbes has been so, so snuggly since I’ve been pregnant.  He loves to chill on my belly.)

Some days, even for a couple of weeks sometimes, I feel really good.  Everything is just brighter, I enjoy doing things and don’t mind interacting with people.  I’m sometimes impatient and I’m often quite tired, but it doesn’t completely derail me.  I have this sort of optimistic energy bursting out from inside me, and I can handle things.

These are the days or weeks when we do tons of messy art projects, and the times when I scrub down the fridge and vacuum the car and even clean the freaking garbage disposal.

This is when I reorganize the house, or plan an entire homeschool year, and basically feel equipped to tackle any problem.  I even seek out problems, because I am a Badass Problem Solver and that is just how I roll.  I decide I want to have seven kids and homeschool them all while we live on gorgeous acreage in the middle of nature in an Earthship that we built with our bare hands.

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[Don’t worry, I only have about 50 more of these.]

And then, overnight, that energy is gone.  Sucked from my body, leaving me an empty, exhausted shell.  What goes up must come down–the physics of life, right?

These are the days when everything seems hard.  The days when no amount of coffee can force me out of the haze.  Things are dimmer, as if there’s a fog obscuring everything and dulling all the colors, all the feelings.  They’re still there; I can just make them out through the mist but I can’t quite touch them.

These are the days when my body is filled with sand–heavy, wet sand.  Just standing is exhausting, and being asked to push a swing or locate a shoe literally makes me want to cry.

I don’t need a break, I don’t need time alone.  I get plenty of that, and it doesn’t help.  Not during these days.  The feeling, the greyness, persists when I’m alone, except now it’s staring me in the face while the minutes tick slowly by.  Nights are long because I don’t even know what to do with myself.  I can’t focus on or engage with anything, so the “read a book or watch tv or call a friend” list is moot.  And yet, I dread going to sleep, because morning, waking up to simultaneous weariness and tension in my body and staring at another day with endless hours to fill, will come too soon.

But nothing is permanent.  The good days don’t last, the bad days don’t last.  I take comfort in knowing I’ll be flying high again.  I just need to wait.  Find a way to pass the days, and wait.

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Sometimes Starting Over Just Sucks

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[Just so you know–bleaching and dying blue streaks into your hair should definitely be a two-person job. After all the work I put in I was supremely disappointed to see that only a few faded bits of blue showed up.  I’m going to try again another night when I have several hours to kill.]

I think I should start seeing another therapist.

The thing is, I have seen 6 or 7 therapists over the past few years, and none of them for more than a couple of months, max.  There were a couple I “fired”, but most of the time I ended up moving away before we could really get into anything helpful.

The thought of finding someone new, of having to tell my stories again, to re-explain everything and get us to a point where I feel like he/she knows where I’m coming from so we can actually start…the thought of doing all that again is exhausting.

It’s the same thing with making friends.  After 14 moves, I am just tired of starting over.  Tired of the weeks or months of “get to know you” small talk you have to wade through in order to even start to connect with someone.  Tired of making really great friends and then leaving them behind.

I hear the saccharine refrain of “Bloom where you’re planted!” echoing cheerily in my head, and I want to snap back, I’m tired of blooming!  I just want to keep my roots to myself and hang out in this pot.  Is that okay?  Can I just do that?  Do I have to make a rainbow out of every damn rainstorm that comes my way??

I probably should have given up pessimism for Lent.

 

——-

Does anyone else just want to do this all day, every day sometimes?   😉

 

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I Feel Weird Today

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I woke up feeling weird today.

Wrong, off.

This tightness in my shoulders–I press down to release it but it lingers.

This feeling in my stomach–the discomfort, it only grows.

Everything is a little too much right now.  I want to hide, to retreat to my cave, to numb myself and pass the day in nothingness, holding to the hope that tomorrow will be different.

To write these thoughts, it feels melodramatic–like the lyrics I penned on the edges of my notes as an angsty, attention-seeking teen.

Things aren’t really that bad–just uncomfortable.  And like any good 21st century American, I am an expert at avoiding discomfort and not at all good at abiding it.

I cannot hide.

After a quarter-century here, I know this.

But it is so

so

appealing.

 

 

 

Making Lemonade…Not One of My Talents

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So…pregnancy has me a little bummed right now.

Or maybe it’s the fact that the boys have fevers and I haven’t really left the house in three days.

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And missing several doses of meds probably contributed.  (Silas pointed out that I was probably throwing up my medicine a few times a week, so I switched to taking it at night, but then I kept forgetting it…)

I just feel…out of it.  Melancholy.  And my self-esteem has taken a hit, since I’m in that uncomfortable and awkward “don’t really look pregnant but have gained ten pounds anyway and everything fits weird” period.  Also I don’t have any bras that fit, and that’s never fun.  (I’m employing the old “sports bra strapped on over a regular bra” trick today.)

My face keeps breaking out and I re-dyed my hair yesterday since it had faded a lot…but it’s too dark.

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And Silas is leaving in less than 10 days and the thought of it is looming in my mind like a dark cloud of impending loneliness.

I know, I know.  Buck up and put the tiny violin back in its case, Heather.  Make lemonade.  Find the silver lining.

I do recognize that everything is just fine, and that my body image problems are mostly in my head.  It’s extremely normal to feel a little down in pregnancy–your body is changing in unfamiliar ways that are (mostly) out of your control.  And the boys will be better soon and my melancholy mood will fade away.

So, pity party over.  I’m taking down the streamers and popping all the pity balloons.  It’s the (freakin) weekend!  Cheering up is inevitable.

 

—–

This was a terrible Friday post, sorry to be such a downer.  Read this if you need some awesome in your life.

 

Just to Feel

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No one likes crying.

It’s uncomfortable and humiliating, especially for those of us that are ugly-criers.  The first time I heard the expression, “have a good cry”, I thought it was complete bullshit.  Crying sucks.  We spend a good deal of our lives learning to hold our emotions in, to fight back the tears, because public emotional displays are awkward and make everyone uncomfortable.  (God forbid we be uncomfortable.)

The other day I was reading, late at night, and the scene I was on stirred up something inside me that hurt.  A lot.  I closed the book and lay there, staring into the dark, with a sharp ache in my chest and tears in my eyes.  And then I gave in.

I cried and cried, just feeling the pain and the hurt and whatever else was buried in there, and I didn’t even attempt to wipe the warm tears that washed over my face and soaked into my pillow.  I just experienced it.  The ache in my chest grew and I felt the sharp stabbing in my stomach.  I cried harder and harder, as all of these emotions that I didn’t really understand overcame me.

And then, after a while, I was done.

The aching didn’t consume me.  I didn’t cry forever.  It faded eventually, and I was just okay.  Sad, emotionally worn, a little empty–but okay.

I dried the wetness on my face, picked my book back up, and continued reading until I fell asleep.

Sometimes it’s good just to feel.