Friday, March 28, 2014

Anxiety

I've been bombarded by anxiety the past few days and it is wearing on me. Wanna scratch and tear and scream my way out of this somehow but I know that I can't. There is no miracle drug or fairy godmother waiting to cure my addled brain!

Let me describe living conditions inside Hannahville... Tension is prime in the forecast, with occasional jaw grinding and hand-wringing. Fretful humming and whimpering throughout the day and a sugar-binge warning in affect all week. Cloudy thoughts and a stormy brow make for some walloping headaches. Negative thinking and depressive tendencies are bringing self-harm and unsafe feelings to the neighborhood and low self-esteem impedes self-care. 

Generally not a pleasant place to be, but here I am!

Feeling a lot of pressure and expectations (mostly generated in my mind) that are contributing to the anxiety. Whether it's weekend plans with the folks, plans for this summer, my client due next month, or my brother's graduation in May I am worrying about it and feeling incapable. 

Slogging through... Which reminds me, Oso. We donated a little money tonight and it made me realize how little the Oso disaster makes me feel. Not as an individual, but as humans. Just like the Malaysia flight disappearing-so much technology and evolution and yet we are still powerless in so many ways. 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Feeling Quiet and Timid

Just realized that I'm feeling quiet and timid today. I'm not motivated to do much and I'm not beating myself up over that. I'm just quietly "being" at home. I wondered why and it quickly dawned on me why; last night I had an episode and I coped a little better than usual.

The episode was condensed, short but rife with symptoms: depression, anxiety, self-harming and suicidal thoughts, aches, my movement and expression slowed, and I felt like crying but could not. As intensely miserable as I was I maintained a little bit of perspective and realized that I was not rational. The disease was narrating my thoughts and while the darkness did get the best of me in some ways, I was able to treat myself more gently than usual, offering acceptance and forgiveness and trying to battle back the shame and criticism.

Sure, it still sucked. But I made it through the episode without self-harming and without using medication. I made it through and this morning I didn't wake up with an episode hangover. I woke up, went about my day and forgot about the episode entirely! I'm feeling quiet and timid but I'm not racked with body aches or tormented by painful thoughts.

And so I gratefully accept this quiet day. I won't feel bad about myself for taking it easy after having a rough evening and I won't worry about what tomorrow will bring. One quiet, timid, baby step at a time is  my game plan.

Hoorah! Well, a whispered 'hoorah' really... ;)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Snotty Week Abroad

This past week was out of the ordinary as it involved a lot of illness and travel!

The hubster needed a little spring break and wanted to visit the beach so that's what we did. Saturday we drove down to my parents and we hung out with them until Sunday after lunch. Then we drove to Long Beach (leaving the mutt with the parents) and spent two nights over which my illness became more pronounced. By the time we drove back to Yelm on Tuesday I was speaking two octaves lower than usual and the mucus machines were gearing up.

The hubster went home Tuesday night after a challenging game of Progressive Rummy. He took Monday and Tuesday off but had to work the rest of the week. Meanwhile I stayed in Yelm and spent time with my mom and my sister once she arrived Thursday. By then I was a groggy snot machine with no appetite trudging around the house and consuming lots and lots of tea!

Saturday my mom, sister and I picked up some art supplies at Michael's and then we all drove north with Fio to bring me home. For the project we each picked a word and a color that would appear on each art piece however the individual artist designed. I chose "nourish," my sister chose "bonkers," and my mom chose "acceptance." Our colors were purple, orange, and green. It was really fun. Not just since I hadn't done any crafting in quite a while but because we hadn't done a project together just for fun in a really long time!


After lunch and farewells I had time to decompress with the hubby, watching episodes of "Burn Notice" until I felt as if bullets were to whiz through our windows at any moment!

There was a bit of deflation after my sister and mom left. I wrote a note to my brother and generally felt sad about  not knowing my family that well, or feeling that they know me. My husband reminded me that my family knows my past, not necessarily a bad thing and something to appreciate. It was an enjoyable visit, although whether I have a good or unpleasant family visit I feel sad afterwards. Either missing what I don't have or have but don't see often enough! I suppose I need to focus on my personal health and gratitude despite the negative feelings.

Now the hubby and I are at home, both recovering from mucusy sickness (he started feeling sick Wednesday but didn't tell me til I was headed home so I wouldn't fret or feel guilty) and readjusting to our normal, working schedule.

In other news, Fio has been scratching a hot spot on his neck into a bloody mess. This week I'm recommitting myself to monitoring him and keeping his paws on the ground! Millie puked ON the couch, the hubby cleaned it, and then I sat in the clean wet spot to watch marathon "Burn Notice" without realizing my mistake until I stood up and found the wet spot on my pajamas. Smooth. Iroh got his nails clipped and a thorough brushing, which he very much enjoyed (along with the treats afterward). 

Spring is coming to the PNW and today was my first day of spring cleaning... Well, more accurately my first 2 hours of spring cleaning hehe I started cleaning the patio and working on my plants but have plans to meet the hubby at a potential new dentist at 1:00 pm so stopped and showered, made some coffee, and opted for an episode of "Murder, She Wrote" before errands this afternoon. More bleach to come with more spring cleaning....

I think Washington has two seasons: molding and de-molding!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Homeward Bound

Enjoying a White Cocomo on the drive home with my mom amd sis from my week away. Was sick the entire time and just now able to crave a delicious coffee treat-cheers to recovery!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Oh Brain, You Are So Funny!

Had a funny dream this morning after I fell back asleep after trying to wake up.

I was cleaning out my desk and while doing so I was flipping through channels on the TV (not to mention turning the desk lamp on and off and back on for some reason, yet refusing to turn on the overhead light). Anyways, I thought I was in the Netflix browser but it was static cable. I flipped through a few until I found a newsy looking broadcast with ticker news along the bottom and temperatures skimming along the top of the screen. It was a European America's Next Top Model-just kind of off.

The show was broadcast like a news show or gossip news cast and it seemed to have a boot camp vibe with fashionably dressed judges screaming in anorexic models' faces. The models were even shaved bald and at one point had on wigs and chunky knitted sweaters for their fashion show.

Eventually there was a big finale recap of a catwalk and a photo shoot. The outfits involved animal or ethnic themes and lots of fake feathers and fur. One was a huge poncho of white fur that nearly reached the floor while the model wore a headdress with golden poles sticking out from behind her bald head like a preschooler's drawing of the sun. She was kind of a suck-up, saying "It's beautiful" so dramatically you could read her lips while the newscaster's commentary droned on.

Another outfit was eagle themed and involved a painted hand and fake eagle face. That model stretched low to the ground and put her hand out like the eagle was in a dive. Very dramatic. Reminded me of some figure skating routines I've seen! The stuffy news announcer (an older male with dark hair tinged with gray) kept saying "She's out of control."

Lastly there was a male model with a white outfit resembling a suit yet more loose fitting. He was laying a treadmill like belt covered with dirt and leaves to resemble the ground and what appeared to be an albino platypus (?) was laid in front of him. The platypus began to roll around playfully and so the model copied the animal, twisting around and arching his back, then the tread began to move them until they were trundled under a stream of spraying water. Once again, the broadcaster kept saying, "He's out of control." Seemed like he couldn't think of much else to say.

Then the show cut to commercial and there was a CGI ferret walking on it's back paws and nibbling at his front paws (but it was crappy animation and the teeth didn't even touch the front paws just clacked in place) while zooming down a snowy lane. There was some touching music in the background, very Campbell's soup-esque, and the ferret whisked down the lane to some snowy abandoned church. Then there was some informational bullet points about stray animals and hazardous buildings including "abandoned churches, dumpy dumps, trashy trashes" it was ridiculous. I guess the message was keep your ferrets inside and feed them Eukanuba.

So, mind your ferrets!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Abuse Sticks Around Long After The Abuser Leaves!

The last few days have got me thinking about trauma, specifically the sort of trauma resulting from abusive relationships.

The statistics may seem unbelievable, but the more years that pass, the more experience I gain, the more I realize the sad truth is so many women are abused day in and day out. Reading that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence seems so outlandish, but I am starting to believe it.

I don't want to delve into details but readers know that I have been a victim of abuse and the last several months I have heard stories from other women in my life as well. The similarities are incredible. Not just between the victims but in the abusive patterns.

Being in recovery and not in the midst of abuse any longer, I am experiencing a new perspective while listening to others' stories. It is terribly sad to listen to these tales of abuse but at the same time there seems to be a hidden blessing, these stories have somehow alerted me to the fact that I am still suffering some long term effects.

It's terrible to think that the abuse perpetrated by one man from my past could be affecting the relationship with my husband today, but I have noticed signs.

The other night I found myself crippled with fear and doubt. I was afraid that my marriage wasn't as sound as I thought, that I was incapable of good judgment and couldn't see the truth. That I couldn't see what type of relationship I was really in, afraid that I was being abused again, that the wool was pulled over my eyes.

Thankfully I was able to communicate this to my husband and he was understanding and reassuring. Funny how my mind could fear an abuser and yet my heart could turn to the same figure for help! I suppose that is how things worked in my abusive relationship except that man would manipulate me in my time of need instead of aid and support me like my loving husband.

My hubster proves himself over and over again to be a worthy partner, loving and caring to a fault. It isn't just how he treats me that lets me know he is safe, it's how he treats others, his mother, his family and his friends. I know he's a good man yet past abuse has left doubt in my mind like a black mold! Having taken advantage of my low self-esteem, my abuser has left a legacy of mental scars including difficulty believing my own feelings.

While I continue to work on my self-esteem, I have noticed my mind slipping back into old habits. My body cowering while I punish myself for not being good enough, for instance, and the sickest part of all-I cower before my husband!

Let me be clear, he is not threatening. Any statement or hint of displeasure (whether or not I may have caused any issue) is transformed in my mind to a put down. A conditioned response from that previous relationship has cropped up in my new relationship. It is sad but thankfully does not happen often.

Other examples involve terrifying fear responses to certain physical interactions. This rarely happens but I recall a few times playing around (we like to rough house and wrestle and chase and giggle and talk from time to time) and my husband underestimated his strength or pinned me too effectively and I panicked. Another instance was more intimate but similar, the fear akin to a panic attack. Talk about killing the mood!

These are small things, inconsistent and not occurring often. Sharing my story and hearing the stories of others has simply brought my attention to these traces of that past abuse, helped me to realize that I'm still recovering. And that's okay.

I will continue to improve and recover and hope that those women struggling with their own abusers will find their ways to safety and peace.

Friday, March 7, 2014

New Baby News

Wednesday it was announced that my brother-in-law and his wife are expecting their second child, a girl. Talk about timing with my case of baby fever!

The news broke over Facebook, but since my brother-in-law blocked me, my mother-in-law, and one of my sister-in-laws the news became bottle-necked with my husband serving as newsboy. Yes. Quite the ridiculousness I know.

Anyways, my husband didn't mention anything to me (knowing I was in the throws of baby fever) but his mother called after receiving an email with only an ultrasound video in the body. Kinda left some information to be desired! He caught her up and since I was sitting right beside him, I learned "through the grapevine" the new baby news.

I immediately welled up. I was able to stifle my reaction for the most part. As we were doing errands and had some odd transportation issues that day once he dropped me at my car to drive home I was able to sob it out to my heart's content (while attempting to maintain safe driving visibility!) but apparently my rushed hush-hush sobfest wasn't enough. I ended up trying to call my mother that evening while at Costco and found myself crying amid the seasonal pallets and lawn furniture. Needless to say the voicemail I left was... memorable.

The hubster talked to his mother more that night as well and somehow we found ourselves with the idea that I should email her for advice (since my mom didn't have too much to offer me in way of advice and we thought his mom might know something about baby fever). I emailed my mother-in-law the next day and her words brought me comfort.

In addition to talking and typing out my baby fever emotions, I wanted to do something symbolic the celebrate the new baby in the family and help dispel my jealousy and sadness... So today was "pink mission" and the hubby brought home pink carnations, we found a token of pink cuteness, toasted the new baby with some Roscato wine and devoured a pink-filled cake in a celebratory homage!





We don't feel very much like "Uncle" and "Aunt" but celebrating the new addition (to-be) felt appropriate and satisfying. I wonder if we'll feel our roles more when my siblings have kids? My sister and brother and I have communicated our desire to keep the family close as we get older, having our kids familiar with each other instead of feeling like a family of acquaintances (our extended family isn't terribly disjointed but we felt shorted growing up) so maybe things will feel differently? As it is we're the faceless relatives up north to our current nephew and niece, cards at Christmas and birthdays... Guess we'll just have to see where life takes us. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Throbbin' Thursday

Wow, that would be a great title for a fantastically skanky post, huh? But the kinda throbbin' I'm referring to is the type ya take home from a dentist's office!

I had the feeling something would come up at this cleaning. A few months back I felt as if I had broken a filling but since it didn't hurt and I didn't develop any sensitivity I just kept the tooth extra clean and carried on with life. Well, turns out I did break a filling and there are a couple others showing their age.

My hygienist and dentist also talked to me about clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth. This is new for me. I have noticed the habit lately when I'm stressing out and have struggled to stop the clenching. As far what happens in my mouth during the night, I have no idea. But I have noticed that I've had more headaches and neck pain and that my cleaning was much more uncomfortable than usual. The staff related the extra sensitivity to the clenching as well. Delightful!

All that said, my husband is convinced this dentist is a money grubbing airhead and is currently looking for a new dentist that won't jump to fix every cavity they can feasibly fiddle with. So maybe I won't have a drooling day of full-facial numbness in my future after all!

He had a falling out with this dentist several months back and while I was skeptical of his cynicism I'm starting to come around.

I have been spoiled with lovely providers in the past that talked to me in detail about my teeth and what needed to be fixed right away or what could wait or what was borderline. This visit felt like I was a walking inventory of dental dings to the hubby's wallet. Instead of feeling empowered and involved in my care, I felt taken. Thankfully I was able to walk out without scheduling procedures or buying anything but it felt like I was dangerously close to dropping hundreds of dollars on overpriced dental work.

I'm not super familiar with dental insurance and billing and prices, but it seemed a bit steep to me. The hubby concurred and we're shopping around.

Until we find a new dentist I'm hoping that the ache from my cleaning will subside and some stress control will help curtail more clenching. Unfortunately the baby fever I mentioned in my earlier post is ongoing, though improving. The extra emotions and feeling out of control doesn't contribute to a stress-free environment, but we are working through it.

A few extra tears never hurt anybody!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Motherhood

Deciding when to have kids is a complex choice. That decision is further complicated when you are living with a mental illness and further complicated again when you're broadsided a biological clock type hormonal hurricane.

The hubster and I have known that we want kids for as long as we can remember. While I went through a period in my teens/early twenties when I thought that I would be a crazy cat-lady spinster, deep down I have always held close my desire to be a mother. Part of our commitment to each other and of our marriage is becoming parents and making a family together. While we were dating, we weren't just looking for husband or wife material, we were looking for co-parent material.

Of course, when we met we had no idea what the future would hold for us and had no idea what my illness would put us through. During my lowest points and ongoing recovery, my husband has been the holder of our dreams. Not putting any pressure on me and my recovery, but protecting our shared goals and keeping his eyes on the prize. His dedication to our parenthood goals has given me a new perspective of "keeping the faith."

There have been moments, during the lowest times, when I contemplated permanent birth control. Abandoning my dreams of motherhood because of my illness, afraid of what my sickness could mean for potential children. It felt like a suicide of sorts. The hubby recalls those times and remembers knowing that I was irrational but also being saddened, hearing me talking about myself as if I were "subhuman."

The realities of my disease can be grim, but I must also remember that it is a manageable illness. Some diabetics struggle to accept the realities of their disease, attempt to live life as though they are "normal" and put themselves in the hospital with diabetic shock or ketoacidosis. This is just as true for me. I have been lulled into a false sense of security and let my disease degenerate into life threatening situations. That is something I can control. 

On-going stability is something I can manage and improve, but sudden episodes may always be a threat. All the preparation in the world cannot safeguard one against the unpredictable. Just like a diabetic may be caught off-guard without insulin or in a situation where they miss meals, I can be caught off-guard by unfortunate circumstance and launched into a crisis. That is a risk that I must live with, I must accept. It is a permanent specter, a haunting fear that I must heed but not allow control over my life. Living from fear will not protect me from that which frightens me. 

I cannot let fear affect my decision to have a family. Whether it is fear of my disease, failure, or simply fear of the unknown. It is physically, mentally, and emotionally impossible for me to cower and concede to fear. My brain tells me that it's reasonable, natural, hard-wired in me to want a family. My mind tells me that living from fear is wrong, that anything pursued with an open, honest, loving heart is a worthy pursuit. My physical being yearns for motherhood, contriving with my hormones and emotions a dastardly manipulative campaign, a siege on all my senses and sense!

So what does all this mean for me and my husband right now? 

Well, since November I have been off hormonal birth control. We are using alternate birth control and not actively trying to conceive, but parenthood has come up more and more. Being planners, the hubby and I have devised financial and health goals with various benchmarks related to our parenthood plans but have found ourselves confronted with emotional challenges. 

I recently confessed to my husband that as much as I understand and accept the reasonable plans and goals we've devised,  I cannot conclusively postpone my desires. My being continuously returns to motherhood. Any logical argument or fact cannot distract me from these emotions. Trying to hide this seemingly irrational compulsion has been quiet torture. The hubby was at a loss and did some Googling after a particularly tearful discussion and discovered a helpful article online. 

It wasn't completely relevant to us, but it made him realize that planning parenthood isn't as straightforward and clean cut as a business transaction. Trying to be responsible, smart, and cautious we neglected the heart of things. We shied away from the messy emotional stuff, the irrational and intangible. That sassy article gave him a new perspective and helped us broaden our conversation. It also opened our eyes to how complex the emotions of waiting to have kids can become.

Unfortunately, that opening affect also compromised an emotional dike I had built inside and I found myself going a little bonkers! Maybe hysterical is a better word than bonkers. I've found that accepting the feelings, reassuring myself that they will pass, and not trying to ignore them helps and thankfully the hubby is more understanding. We've also realized that intimacy is a little complicated by this. After a sobbing fit post-nookie a few days ago, I realized that when I'm craving conception the "just for fun" stuff becomes an emotional land mine.

We are surviving. Coping with my "baby crazy" is uncomfortable and complicated, but in light of our past emotional accomplishments and crisis management, we feel up to the challenge. I guess this is another example of how hormonal birth control affected me more than I thought, blunting the emotional and hormonal messages in my body it made "baby fever" more manageable! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

March Madness

I believe "March Madness" is a basketball reference, but that's not what I'm talking about here!

Yesterday was a grey, rainy Washington day and we had plans to go hike Lime Kiln. Instead, we slept in, had a slow morning that drizzled into a coffee scented lunch time and we came to a silent agreement that it would not be a hiking day. Ben & Jerry's "Cores" instead of a core workout-ha!

We watched "Burn Notice" on Netflix ALL DAY LONG. Taking turns on the computer and making meals, but for the most part, spent our entire Sunday on the couch.  I only put on pants for maybe 10 minutes around 9:30 PM to take the dog out for his last potty break. I didn't shower until after Fio's break (knowing that we wouldn't be able to sleep with my all-day pit stank). Not exactly a feat of endurance but by the end of the day we were hobbling.

We opted to stay home instead of a rainy hike and ended up achy! My lower back hurt so badly from slouching all day I had to have the hubby slather it in Bengay while I downed Ibuprofen as well as Tums for the heartburn that I developed that night. Sleeping was difficult since any position that helped relieve my back pain caused my heartburn to flare, so we opted for one more late night "Burn Notice" episode while my Ibuprofen and Tums kicked in. Ha.

Once we finally fell asleep it was a welcome, hard slumber only to be interrupted around 2:30 AM by a police response to another apartment in our unit. Four vehicles, oodles of loud conversations, door banging and eventually a tow truck with some really bright lights that made it look like a UFO was landing outside our window. Lovely. A little more disruptive than the manhunt around the back of our unit last week-but I digress.

The madness? I was happy. I was happy all day long. Not guilty or anxious; it felt like some mania (I had some grandiose weight loss plans that I realized were unreasonable and I realized my cheery mood was probably augmented) but it wasn't out of hand. I was able to focus on the hubster, the TV show, and not run around doing projects and making messes. So a touch of madness worked out. The hubster was feeling down and I was able to cater to him and listen while being lazy, calm, and content.

In other madness related news, we've had some rough times coping with my baby fever... I will blog about that separately, but it is ongoing. I was skeptical of "biological clocks" and while I don't believe every woman is set to detonate, I see that I'm armed with a ticking ovarian time bomb!

The pets are doing well. Fio got groomed last week, Millie hasn't puked for the past few days *knocksonwood* and while Iroh is maintaining his intense senior cat napping regimen, he is also reassuringly active and vocal.

Will blog again soon, I've been feeling pretty well but am cautious of a downer coming down 'pike. While I'm feeling "up" I will try to establish some good habits with the help of this extra energy and "go get 'em" but I can't let my expectations get away from me. Like the tortoise and the hare, I have to mind my long game and not let my guard down when things seem well in hand.

I will savor the good times, but with a dash of caution.