It’s been one terrible dumpster fire of a year. For so many people. When last I wrote, we were still going through our own family crises. The stress of a pandemic has not helped. I developed shingles in June. I have since been diagnosed with migraines and psoriasis. The common thread? Stress.
I’ve seen memes about today being Friday the 13th lately. Because what could possibly go wrong, on a Friday the 13th in 2020?
I must maintain my sense of humor. If not, I would go completely insane.
The one nice thing is, despite all the hardships we’ve endured this last year, I have managed to keep my temp job. Sure, I’ve had to reduce to part time to manage my child’s conditions. I am presently looking for side gigs to make ends meet so that I can also spend more time managing his education.
Anyone else find virtual learning to be a complete nightmare? My child has somewhat gotten the hang of it. He needs constant prompting, though. And when he gets behind, his anxiety goes through the roof.
We are many, many assignments behind right now. When I try to encourage him to do them, we have meltdowns. The plan is to get caught up this weekend. Our meeting for an individualized education plan, or IEP, happens today. In about twelve hours.
I really should be sleeping.
I must commend the support staff at the school though, for trying their best to help. At one point I considered trying to medically withdraw my child because his stress level was so high. I think now, that I’m glad I didn’t. I met the special education teacher and she’s just so enthusiastic and all-around amazing. We sure could use the help. We are drowning on our own.
I hope you are all doing as well as you possibly can be, given the horrible and traumatic circumstances of this past year. I think I’m going to fold clothes and do housework until I am sleepy again.
Hello folks! It’s been a long time. My anxiety level has been through the roof. I couldn’t breathe recently, and I was trying to decide whether to attribute it to allergies or anxiety. My kiddo was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (in addition to the ADHD) in mid-December. More on that here. It looks like rapid cycling bipolar and may, in fact, be rapid cycling bipolar, despite the med manager’s assertion that such a thing is rare. But even on medication, my son has extreme highs and lows throughout the day. And we’ve suddenly stopped one medication and added one more, then added an old one to the mix.
As a result, my kiddo has been sleeping since 8:30 last night. Good thing we didn’t give him the sleeping pill on top of the other because who knows what would have happened then. He can’t seem to wake up fully enough to give me a full response as to how he’s doing. Which is not a good sign. We are going into urgent care just to check on his vitals and get a note for missing the last five days of work/school. I may lose my job, and am fully prepared to do so. Well, not fully prepared. But as prepared as anyone can be. It’s going to be stressful until I find something new if they don’t want me back.
So. Four trips to the ER/psychiatric hospital since December, four safety plans, one lockbox for pills, and a partridge in a pear tree. Endless med changes. Just trying to keep kiddo stable has been challenging. He is alright for a few hours but will get manic, and then around the time the sun shifts, his mood also shifts. The werewolf that is depression comes out at night, ready to feed. In addition, he has not been physically well, as the medications affect his stomach. I was told to decrease the dose of the one but add the other, and now we have a very knocked out child.
So. Urgent care and perhaps Health and Welfare to see if any special types of Medicaid apply in this situation. I wish they would get back to me on my job status as I need to apply for programs based on their decision.
And the people at work like to talk. I know they do. And if I come back, they will be talking about me. And it bothers me, but in light of all these other stressors, I’m going to have to let it slide off my back.
When my ex came to stay with us in December (trust me, folks, it was as fun as it sounds), he was very concerned about our kid going to college. Right now, we are focusing on just getting this poor kid through junior high. He’s had so many absences and is so very far behind. But we will start working on homework today as soon as he wakes up. We’ve had a lot of fish to fry lately, and frankly, it stinks. But I love my kid and wouldn’t have him any other way. Thanks for reading.
Gah. I made the mistake of drinking Pepsi late yesterday evening and the caffeine has woken me up in the middle of the night. My left knee is aching terribly. Despite this, I am mentally running a marathon. I have cut back considerably on coffee consumption during the day to avoid causing myself more than the usual amount of anxiety. Now I am cursing my own stupidity.
I am also extremely restless on this new medication. My fight or flight has always been set to flight. As of late, it is constantly a cameo and sometimes decides to usurp the starring role in the little film called my life. This is not helpful in a call center position where I am essentially tethered to a computer for 8 hours a day. I take anti-anxiety meds, they are not helping. I need to start exercising outside of work, which I agree would ease the anxiety a tad. But it’s certainly not a cure-all.
So instead I write diatribes in the middle of the night and think about how much work is still to be done in the garage. I’ve been here a month tomorrow and the amount of stuff I need to purge is still overwhelming. Anyone want a snowglobe? Or perhaps a snowman, I seem to have an army of the things.
I also love the bipolar disorder and the associated lack of sleep. It exacerbates the anxiety a great deal. Because when you have more time awake, you have more time to worry about things. Like migrant children in detention centers and all those implications. Like Medicaid expansion in Idaho. Like whether I’ll make it working full-time long term or if I will lose it one day. Those sorts of things.
I need EAP. Desperately, desperately. I have become desensitized to many types of calls but some of them still get to me. I also have these lovely pre-existing mental conditions which make stress hard to cope with. So my hopes of working in any other type of call center are essentially dashed. I would really excel at a job concerning documentation but am having a hard time finding one that I am qualified for.
So I sit in limbo. I would love to have a writing career but since I mainly write weird stuff in the middle of the night, I don’t think that will happen. I need structure. I need to come home from work and actually work on my side pursuits instead of becoming a potato. I need to write about the things I watch as well, that film blog is really just sitting there like a dud. I also need to READ A BOOK. Like the kind that I checked out from the library that is sitting unopened by my bed. Maybe it will inspire me to, I don’t know, write my own book or something.
I start writing books, get 25 pages or so in, and then stop. It seems to be a metaphor for my life. Now I’m going to go look at jobs I don’t have the guts to apply for and maybe try to figure out how to exercise without waking the entire household. I guess I could take an Ativan and sleep. Instead, I will likely make more coffee and continue to wig out.
Here I am again. The cat woke me up at 2 AM for food, which is when my body also decided that we were up for the day. I haven’t written a blog specifically for this site in a while. Which is funny, because I vacillate between bliss and a state of anxiety. The bliss is for when I decide to be ignorant that I am operating my life at a $500 per month deficit. The anxiety encapsulates that financial fact and everything else that’s going wrong in my life.
So what has happened to make me attempt to get by on -$500 a month? I am glad you asked. There was the snafu with my ex regarding his retirement–to summarize, he read the divorce decree wrong and was giving me more retirement money than I was actually entitled to per month. So there went approximately $250. Because I trusted that he would not possibly make such a mistake, I took on an extra $90 worth of cell phone bill–before, he was generously paying for it but I thought eh. May as well consolidate, you know. And then there was the issue of paying him back for what he had erroneously given me.
Which brings me to MEDICAL COSTS. To pay the ex back I took on all of my daughter’s medical bills for a period of time. She had a tonsillectomy in that period of time after recurrent strep throat, lucky us. I also spend $350 every three months on psychiatric medication. Which is clearly more than I can reasonably afford.
I have a call center job that doesn’t pay as much as I need it to, though I enjoy my work in helping the deaf and hard-of-hearing. I could drop benefits I suppose and make up some of the difference that way, but with having OCD and bipolar I, that is perhaps not the best solution. I would try to get a different job but this one suits my disability well. As for actual disability, I am (according to the government) not disabled enough to merit it despite the comorbidity of my disorders.
Though I don’t pay pet rent for my two lovely cats, one of them has had unforeseen health complications. Mona Lisa will eventually need surgery before her stomatitis makes her unable to eat. They need special food, and they seem to poop a lot. This has made my pet care bill enormous (though pet insurance helps a great deal).
Also, RENT AIN’T JUST A MUSICAL. I am currently paying over a thousand a month for my apartment. Basically, that plus utilities make up most of what I make at my present job per month. I would have a roommate but well, a roommate situation has not served us well in the recent past. Before this, my daughter and I were living with my mom, grandmother, and my mom’s best friend, which essentially four moms for my daughter and TOO MANY HENS A CLUCKIN’.
And then there are taxes, on which I managed to underreport my income because I forgot about the spousal support I was receiving for a few months. Egregious error but also entirely innocent, it came through an allotment and I just forgot about it. My amended tax bill, with preparation: $900, most of which is being sent back to the government. Ouch.
Oh, and to make matters worse, the student loan has reared its ugly head again. ACK.
TAH-DAH. the reasons for my present situation. The reason I am up. Am I going to renew my lease for another year? Nope. I cannot. Am I going to move back in with mom? Well, I would but I have trouble establishing boundaries. And I like having my STUFF (that I lived without for nearly two years post-separation from the now-ex).
So my daughter and I are going to be moving in with my boyfriend across town. I just moved a year ago with my friend Michele’s generous help (she had her whole fam help me move, for reals. She is the best). Do I feel like moving again? Well, no. I just got everything arranged the way I would like it. And I feel like this whole “on my own” experiment has come to a premature end. So the OCD part of me is guilting myself and telling me that I am BAD AND A FAILURE.
Would moving be financially and emotionally beneficial? Uh-huh. My boyfriend is the nicest person I know. And Violet would have a yard to help with and play in. And we would have the scratch to actually afford to say, go out and eat or buy groceries without using a pesky credit card.
I am very stressed out right now, but I am unbelievably lucky that we have a great place to move into.
And with that, I am going to make some coffee and plan out the move in my head. Anxiety. It’s a trip.
On my personal blog, I wrote an entry that actually had to do with something other than crazy. If you are interested, here is the site: https://everythingitriedwastaken.wordpress.com/. It’s about adventures in cosmetics and finding a foundation color. There is only a little crazy in there. –Michele
I recently updated my personal blog regarding a recent health scare. You mean 1/2 a pot of coffee a day when you have anxiety is bad for you? 😉
I have had little to no anxiety lately except for this heart stuff. Or at least I thought I didn’t. But it likes to creep in around the periphery. I hate how it looms, like a predator, ready to assault you at any moment. I know that even though I have been handling things well lately, it will come back.
And, since it’s three in the morning and I think my kid has strep, I am going back to bed until urgent care opens. May have to cancel that orthodontist appointment because man, we don’t want her spreading that stuff around.
In the past, I basically existed on one of two speeds: Manic, when I could do all the things ever, better than everyone else and probably even save the world if I thought hard enough about it, and depressed, when I sat up only when I got uncomfortable lying down. When I was depressed, I did NOTHING or next to nothing. I picked up my kids from school. If I ran the dishes or washed a load of laundry, that was a gold star day. When I was manic, I made elaborate plans and then did many things while usually accomplishing nothing.
Those elaborate plans almost always involved long lists. I LOVED lists. I would make lists of things to do, I would make lists of routines, I would make lists of things to buy, I would make lists of my lists. I used fancy pens, special paper and always highlighted done items (crossing them off just seemed too negative for something I DID). I got pleasure in making the lists and dreaming of grandiose results.
I am now running at a new, normal-for-me-I-hope, speed. I don’t feel like I can conquer the world every day but I also am able to get dressed, put on makeup, visit friends–even ANSWER THE PHONE. Every day involves dishes washed and put away, at least one load of laundry, basic cleaning, and playing taxi driver. While my house is still not up to par, it is getting there, slowly but surely.
This morning, I set about making some to-do lists, which I have not done since reaching stable. I made a general to-do list. I made a bedroom makeover project to-do list. I made a playroom rearrangement to-do list. I used special to-do paper and a sparkly gel pen.
It was harder than usual to make the lists, but I figured that it was because I had full mind that needed to be dumped onto the paper. I got the lists done and dialed the DMV so I could renew my car registration. After hearing the expected hold time (25-31 minutes), I grabbed a load of laundry and put it away while I sat with the phone.
50 minutes later, I huffed at the phone when I got disconnected from the man helping me after I waited for almost 40 minutes on hold. I did get a complete load of laundry put away, I consoled myself. I picked up my list and highlighted the “7” after “P/A laundry 1 2 3 4 5 6.” (I have a lot of clean laundry waiting to be put away.)
I smiled as I capped the highlighter and turned back to the list, waiting for the swoosh of satisfaction and anticipation (for what I had just accomplished and for the rest of my plans). Instead, I felt. . .frustration. Overwhelmed. Weary.
This is the first time in memory that I have made project lists without the rush of manic energy. I had never realized how much of my excitement and enjoyment was coming from a manic reaction. I am staring at these lists, knowing that there is actually a chance that the things on them will all get done and that I will be able to finish the projects and chores that I have before me. But instead of excitement and thrill, these lists now represent work. Do-able work, but work nevertheless.
Hello out there in anxiety-land! I cannot sleep. I am getting ready to potentially move and I start my new job next week. So I thought I would write an anxiety-ridden diatribe.
Location, location, location. I am going to be paying way more than I want to for an apartment so I can stay in the North End of Boise. My kiddo, who has just developed a social circle a few years after my separation/divorce, needs to maintain said social circle by attending the nearby junior high. She said she could move further away since she would be moving anyway, but having just met her friends, I’m going to say that would only serve to further traumatize her.
So what about food? Thank God mom lives right down the street. We are going to have way less spending money and what we do have is going to clothes and food for the girl. It’ll be good for me to stop drinking entirely and have to eat like a bird anyway, I have about 50 lbs. I could stand to lose. So that will be good in a way.
I am trying to talk myself into this situation whereas anxiety is attempting to talk me out of it. Anxiety says, quite clearly, “don’t.” Don’t you dare try to make it, somewhat on your own. And then there are choices. Am I making the right one? Can I get a cheaper unit anywhere else that’s livable? Do the unusually high deposits I will be paying at the other place negate what I will be saving per month in rent?
And I haven’t even started my new job and I’m already contemplating getting another one to continue to make ends meet. Some online gig. I have a lead on one that pays $12 an hour but it’s difficult to navigate after so many years out of college. Did I have the grades and the brains to edit college papers? Sure, but time seems to have eroded my capabilities. Maybe I’m just exhausted from not sleeping this week. Maybe it will look better if I take a deep breath and quit putting so much pressure on myself.
One step at a time.
So I’m calling some places at 9am and going to a leasing office at 10am. I will have my financials in hand and whatever else they need, my signature scrawled in my blood in hieroglyphics or whatever it takes to get a 13-month lease these days. I’m doing this for my daughter and a bit for me. Independence is a good thing, right?
Breathe, breathe. Edit your math, you can do this. The numbers don’t lie but you’ll have to budget. It will be alright, you have a bit of a safety net right now and some great friends who are already helping you through this. Oy. Calm down.
I took my meds, I took a melatonin, I cannot for the life of me sleep. And I have to be up at 6 anyway so…yeah.
Anxiety sucks but I’m hoping this will normalize my life and my parenting. Gotta leave the nest. I am a 40-year-old bird afraid of leaving the nest. Overgrown bird. Big Bird, if you will, but without the hue or cheery disposition.
A riddle for you. Why did Mozart get rid of all of his chickens?
Because when he fed the chickens, they all kept saying, “Bach, Bach, Bach.”
On March 23, at 12:01 AM, I checked into Cedars-Sinai hospital with an aching back, an enormous baby belly, an induction scheduled, and an intense feeling of anticipation. In fewer than 48 hours, I left with a beautiful baby girl, a broken tail bone, a broken back, and a broken mind.
Blame and causation are slippery bastards and not easy to understand or assign. I hesitate to even consider the word “blame” here. I am 100% positive that that new baby girl, Piper, was the product of the induced labor–though she probably would have made an appearance, sooner or later, without the induction part. I am about 98% certain the the broken tail bone is a direct result of the vaginal birth of that 9 lb, 4 oz baby girl.
The broken back–that’s much harder to pinpoint. Less dramatically, I have a stress fracture in the 5th lumbar vertebrae. It almost certainly happened before the actual birth. It may have occurred in the preceding nine months. The gigantic baby bump pulling at my back could have caused it. But before that was a previous pregnancy and before that were years of gymnastics as a child and then years of coaching as an adult. Slippage and/or a stress fracture at L5 are not exactly common for gymnasts, but neither are they unheard of. It could have been a ticking time bomb, waiting for the added stress of that belly to set it off. For all I know, it was a ticking time bomb that had gone off during my first pregnancy, or even as far back as when I was a teenager. I just was never made aware of it until after Piper’s birth.
My broken mind is like my broken back. Again, less dramatically, I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, peripartum onset. Added to that is what my psychiatrist and I refer to as “general anxiety.” I show symptoms of social anxiety, general anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder. We just group it as “anxiety” since his treatment plan would be the same, no matter how many names or letters we gave to it. I will save talk about anxiety for another time, along with the sleep issues I have. There is only so much crazy you can talk about at a time.
So that’s the official diagnosis–bipolar, peripartum onset. Beginning before or after childbirth. I was diagnosed as having peripartum depression at first, and only after seeing a psychiatrist when I wasn’t getting better was the diagnosis changed. But when did it begin, really? I had postpartum depression with my first child, Finn. Was that actually misdiagnosed bipolar? I search memories from before I had kids. I was treated for depression, first in college, then in law school. Was that actually bipolar? The rush from all nighters pulled in school, working on projects. Was that “normal” procrastination or something different? The euphoria I felt at times, that I could win any speech competition, that I was the ultimate stage manager, that I could do ANYTHING. Normal excitement or hypomania? I could spend hours picking apart my previous life, trying to see if there was some indication of any manic states. I HAVE spent hours, picking apart my previous life, doing just that.
Of course, it could have be that I legitimately had postpartum depression and that it triggered bipolar disorder later.
I have finally come to the conclusion that it is impossible to know. And it probably doesn’t matter.
The most important thing for me to remember is that bipolar, peripartum onset differs from postpartum depression in that it isn’t going anywhere. I have bipolar disorder and barring some miraculous cure being developed, I will have to treat and manage my bipolar for the rest of my life. That probably means medication, every day, for the rest of my life. It means seeing my psychiatrist on a regular basis, for the rest of my life. It means that while I will hopefully reach and maintain “stable,” I will never NOT have to be vigilant about my mental health, for the rest of my life. It means that no matter how hard I try, my loved ones and those close to me and even those who have the slightest contact with me, will at some time or another, be affected by my mood disorder, for the rest of my life.
I continue to work with my doctors, and it seems that we have finally found the right mood stabilizer. We are still working on details and right now my life feels like a mess but it also feels like we are looking in the right direction.
I am privileged to have access to doctors and medications and other therapies. I am privileged to have a family who loves me and supports me and helps me. I am privileged to be able to not work. I am so damn lucky.
But I still have to deal with the reality that my mind is broken, every day, for the rest of my life.