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.

 

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What is your ‘crazy’?

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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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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.

So This is Anxiety

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I’m lying there, tucked in bed, soft pillow, eyes open.  The exhaustion that led me to collapse here is gone, evaporated, replaced by a palpable heartbeat—fast, hard–and that now-familiar mixture of nausea and nervousness roiling in my stomach.

 

Boxes are unpacked, the house is not yet in order.  Things aren’t right–too loud, too bright, too much stuff.  There’s stuff, needless stuff, in my space, and I need it gone.  I need to purge, need to throw things away.  I want to get rid of everything.

“Heather, we need the extra carseats.  We can keep them in the closet or something.”

“No!  I don’t want them, we don’t need them, we have to get them out, they’re taking up too much space, I want it empty, throw them away…”

I’m crying.

 

I said something thoughtless a few days ago, and now it’s all I think about.  I know, in that small, logical part of my brain, that’s he’s likely forgotten it, but it plagues me every waking and sleeping moment.  I obsess about it for three full days, replaying the moment over and over in my mind and sliding deeper into the abyss of guilt and regret until I can’t take it anymore.  I have to get it out.  I confront him and apologize.  He doesn’t even remember the occurrence.

 

I’m driving on the freeway; I hate the freeway so much.  My kids are talking but I don’t hear them because there is a semi next to me, why is he driving next to me?  I’m going to hit him.  I’m going to veer into him, and I’m terrified.  I feel boxed in, he needs to move, we’re going to crash, I speed up to the sound of my fast, heavy, uneven breathing, and pass him.  Then I collapse into sobs.

 

My neighbor confronts me, we’ve been too loud.  The boys have been slamming the doors and it’s disturbing her.  She’s nice, but obviously irritated.  I smile and nod and apologize and promise to make things right.  She goes back inside and I feel sick.  I’ve never taken criticism well, and it hangs over me like a dark, thick, cloud for the next few days.  I lie awake at night and feel ill, replaying her words over and over in my mind.  I’m 25 years old and yet I still can’t stand to be censured, and in my mind I imagine how much our neighbors hate us and what they must think of me, and it gets worse and worse until it’s all I think about.

 

I wake up and feel immediately that everything is wrong.  The sound of my sweet boys talking is too loud and too sharp and it sets me on edge.  I clench and unclench my hands while I pace the house, my breath coming faster and faster, matching my frantic steps.  My bra is too tight, my pants are touching my legs in a way that grates on my senses.  A piece of hair touches my face and I think I might scream.

 

I walk into the kitchen and there is a plate in the sink and crumbs on the counter.  Things are out of place. Everything is dirty; always dirty.  Nothing is clean, nothing is right.  I won’t be okay until the messes are gone.

 

I’m sitting in the dark.  My whole body feels tight and strange, and I’m trying to control the quickly-increasing rate of my sharp, heavy, inhalations.  A small, warm body jumps onto the bed and crawls into my lap.  It starts to purr and the heaviness, the warmth, the lulling sound is comforting. Someone is there.  I feel a little better.

 

When wine and benzos (not together!) aren’t an option, a cat is a pretty close second.

 

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Disclaimer:  Mom, everything is fine.

 

🙂

 

 

8 Things I’ve Learned on My Intuitive Eating Journey

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1.  Perfection is a myth.  Tonight we had pizza and I wasn’t hungry at all but I was super cranky and irritable and pissed about everything…so I ended up trying to numb my feelings with 5 pieces of pizza.  Every time I think I’m past this, it happens again.  I may never fully overcome it, but it happens much less frequently than it used to, and that is how I measure progress.

2.  How not to respond to a binge or overeating episode: Taking a bunch of laxatives or other medication, going on a 2-hour run, swearing to all deities that you will not eat a single thing for the rest of the week, going on a liquid fast, mentally berating yourself and wondering when you are ever going to get your shit together.

3.  How to respond to a binge or overeating episode: Don’t freak out.  Seriously.  Acknowledge that it happened, acknowledge that you are sickeningly full and miserable and in pain–and realize that you will feel better tomorrow.  I try to go to sleep as soon as I can (as many of my binges happen at night), because by now I know that nothing is going to help the awful sickness pass but time.

4.  Food can be comfort, love, and an emotional painkiller.  Finding something to replace it is really hard.

5.  Talking about it helps.  Hiding your shame and pain and feeling like a worthless excuse for a human being with no self-control does not.  You need support.*  Find someone–a counselor, a friend, a family member, or an online support group–that you can talk to when you’re feeling shitty and all you want to do is eat your way into of a vat of chocolate frosting.

6.  You are not the only one.  You are not the only one who has ever eaten an entire pizza or package of Oreos by yourself.  You are not the only one who has pulled food back out of the trash and eaten it because you were like a (wo)man possessed and could not think of anything else.  You are not the only one who struggles.

7.  It is not about a lack of willpower.  You are not a weak person who just needs to suck it up and work harder.  You are someone who is dealing with something that others who toss “eat less, move more” at you may not understand.

8.  It gets better.  It can.  It does.  It will.

I promise.

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*I am not qualified in any way to offer advice or counsel, but if you need someone to talk to and be on your team, I am always here.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year–and I’m Ruining It for Everyone

I love the end of the year.

Autumn (when you don’t live in Arizona, at least) always feels like a delicious preview of the upcoming season.  I love the sweaters and the hoodies and the cold cheeks and the scarves.  I love the wool socks (I have never actually owned a pair but I recently appropriated my husband’s and they are fantastic) and the hot baths and the switch from iced to burn-your-tastebuds coffee.  I love sipping anything from a mug as I pretend to contemplate the mysteries of the universe.

I love decking the hell out of the halls by draping every window and entrance in christmas lights, and I love being the first one to wake up so I can plug them all in and bask in their comforting glow.

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super hi-qual photo of our rather mangy-looking christmas tree. you can see a heavy distribution of ornaments right about the level that two preschoolers can reach.

I look forward to this last stretch, packed with festivity and wintry comforts, all year long.

And this year, I might just miss the whole thing.

Due to a lack of foresight and general on-the-ball-ness on my part (note to all: get your damn prescriptions filled WELL BEFORE they run out), I have been slowly deteriorating from certified functioning adult to weepy, irritable, anxiety-ridden mess that is pretty much the antithesis of all things Christmas and cheer.

I have been miserable, you guys.  And unfortunately, due to my utter lack of believable acting skills, I have been making my misery so apparent as to ruin every family function I attend.  (My deepest apologies to all who have had to share space with me the last few weeks.)

I went with family (my little nuclear + some extended) to see the Zoo Lights the other night.  It was magical.  Thousands of beautiful light displays, Christmas music, merriment and mingling…there was even a giant talking giraffe that my boys regarded with equal parts fascination and terror.  (note to self: add threats about possible future visitations from the aforementioned terrifying giraffe into discipline repertoire.)

Any other time (under the proper medication), I would have loved it.  That time, however…let’s just say I was not up to par.

We went on a Wednesday night, hoping to avoid the weekend crowds, but there were PEOPLE. EVERYWHERE.  Everyone was milling about in a festive sort of chaos, and I froze.  Standing in the midst of the laughing, chatty multitude, surrounded by flashing lights and the shouts of parents chasing after children, I could feel myself withdrawing, shutting down.

Too loud. Too much noise.

Anxiety unfurling, stretching itself out in my chest.

So many people.  Rushing past, bumping into me please don’t touch me. Other people I’m supposed to be paying attention to, interacting with, at least walking in pace with.  Go catch up to them, dammit!  They already think you’re avoiding them.

Arms folding tightly, head bowing slightly.  Walking a little faster.

All the noise, filling up my head.  I can’t think.  I can’t focus. Someone just asked me a question. Pay attention. What? 

“Oh, nothing.  I’m fine.”  Tight smile.  What is wrong with you? Stop acting so ungrateful!  You can do better than this!  “The lights. They’re…so beautiful, right?  Must’ve taken forever to put them up.”  Attempt a laugh.  “Heh heh…heh.”  Shit. I’m terrible at this.  

Over the foggy din in my head I recognize that my mom is asking me about our Christmas plans.  Where do we want to do Sunday dinner?  Christmas Eve dinner?  Christmas dinner?  When can we pick up the boys’ presents?  Are we going to spend the night for Christmas or just come over the next morning?

The questions are floating around in my head, expanding and crowding it, bouncing off of each other and I can’t make sense of any of them.  The inability to make decisions is a lovely side-effect of anxiety (recent experiences include the time I spent a paralyzed 30 minutes in the soup aisle at Target agonizing over the ramifications of picking one of two nearly identical cans of tomato soup.  TOMATO SOUP, PEOPLE.)

“Can…can I get back to you on that?”  Can’t think.  Family dinner, Christmas plans?  Too many factors to consider.  Why do I have to make this decision? I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know.  I wish I wasn’t here.  They’re giving me those looks and asking if I’m okay and why can’t I just suck it up and act normally for the family?

Anxiety is a bitch, man.

And it turns me into a bitch.  I start hating everyone and everything; the slightest noises or accidental touches become unforgivable offenses to my very person.  This makes me very difficult to be around.  And lucky for all of us, I’ve been an absolute beast this entire holiday season.

Of course everything was fine.  We all enjoyed the night and got home safely.  Children were put to bed and drinks were made (at the urging of my husband.  In a pinch, alcohol can be marvelous for anxiety).  I chilled out enough to be functional and we endured watched all 87 minutes (commercial-free!) of Psych: the Musical.

When I was lamenting my ruination of the Zoo Lights experience to a friend the next day, she told me exactly what I needed to hear.

“Don’t freak out about it.  Sometimes, you’re going to have a hard time, and you’re going to feel anxious and shitty and it’s okay.  It’s just okay.  Your family loves you and they’ll understand and forgive you.”

I thought about it.  I suppose being an asocial ass sometimes isn’t the end of the world.

I guess it really is…just okay.

And I guess my family really is eager for me to get back on my meds, if the gentle and frequent reminders to “make that doctor’s appointment so you can get your prescription!” are any indication.

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If you made it through that novella I’d love to hear your stories.  Has anxiety ever ruined any holidays for you?  Do you find yourself putting off making important appointments for no logical reason?  Have you ever used the authority of an imaginary character to threaten your child(ren) into obedience?

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