Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 98: Fake It Till You Break It

I can be really good at faking it.

And sometimes, that faking leads to making it.  Just as the adage says.  Sometimes, I fake a smile and go out with friends or family, and after a while, I really do feel happy and like smiling.

Sometimes, I fake it till I take it.

Okay, I'm not actually sure what that meant.

But, sometimes, I fake it until I just get through what ever "it" is.  The faking is just enough to allow me to keep my head above the water until the thing comes to a natural conclusion and, at some point, the waters recede and I discover that I survived.  Maybe not cheerfully, but I did survive.

And then there are the times that I fake it till I break it.

And that's when everything falls apart.

I know, I've spent a lot of time in therapy learning the pitfalls of that mindset and working hard on coming up with strategies to avoid it.  Having my safety plan with a list of people I can (should) call when the going gets tough.

But it's hard.

And most of the time, I can just have a private crash with a few days of feeling sad and despondent and then HH helps me pick up the pieces and pull through.

But, right now, we go back and forth between our parents' homes.  There isn't really a place to have a private crash.  At least, not with my few days to mourn whatever brought on the crash, and the following sadness.  I don't know how to really explain it, but that's what it feels like.

So, things have been getting worse and worse, as far as my mental state, but I couldn't bring myself to have such a public crash.  I didn't want people to worry about me.  Both for my sake and for theirs. 
So, I kept pushing it aside and telling myself I just had to get through until we moved into our new house.

But, I haven't really been sleeping well.

And I don't know if it's the mono, or the stress, but my physical health is deteriorating and I can barely exercise any more, even when I do find the time, which is rare.

And life away from home and after a move is stressful in general--for me and the kids.

And HH is working some longer hours, plus has an hour commute each way.

And then a week and a half ago, my grandpa died.  I was there when my dad found out.  And my mom was out of town at the time, so I felt like I needed to take care of him.  And I was really worried about him.  I still don't think I've sat down to deal with my own loss in this.

And then we drove out to the funeral, got to bed late, held the funeral,  I sang a duet with my sister (something I'm not really comfortable doing--the singing part, I'm happy to hang out with my sister), spent some time with my dad's family, and then we turned around and drove home.  I was feeling guilty because other people stayed to spend more time together, but we really needed to get back.  And we did, but in the wee early morning hours of Sunday.

And I was supposed to sleep in, but I barely slept at all, so that didn't happen.  I was so ridiculously tired.

But, we were throwing a birthday party for Darling A that evening.  With both sides of the family.  Because that's what you do when you live close to so much family.

I had spent quite a bit of the week prior stressing over it.  And then when I realized I was going to have a funeral right before, my stress went into double time.  And when one of the cakes came out of the pan in multiple pieces, I just about cried.


But, thanks to some help from my sister-in-law earlier in the week with some fondant cows plus a lot of frosting, the cakes actually turned out pretty cute.

Then my husband's grandma (who offered to let us throw the party at her house) got really stressed out and upset because of some poor planning on our part.  Which is kind of the story of my life right now.  There are so many things going on, I feel like I'm never organized enough to plan anything right.  I felt so guilty about causing her stress, that was when things really started to unravel for me.

I think the party went okay, but I felt like it should be perfect.  And it wasn't.  At least, not in the way I had hoped it would be.

And on the way home, HH and I began a discussion about my therapy and then kind of my prognosis.  And HH expressed some disappointment with the fact that he keeps thinking changing my circumstances will improve my mental health, but it really hasn't yet.  He wasn't saying this to hurt me, by any means.  I know being in his shoes must be a terrible place to be.  And sometimes, he allows himself to express that.  And I hate that he pretty much always feels guilty about it afterward.

The problem this time, is that that goes right along with a vein of thinking I've been following myself quite a bit lately.  Just that I'm never going to get better.

And I'm not talking about being cured from bipolar.  I'm just talking about rising above the pervasive depression that has been hanging over me (us) for the better part of the last year.  I don't think I've been stable for more than a week or two at a time, and even those have been rare.

I've been down so much that it's hard for HH to see that I'm trying to rise above it, and not just wallowing in it all the time.  It's hard for anyone who doesn't deal with this to understand what an effort it can be just to survive the day.  And that, these days, that's really the best I can do.  Having fun or laughing are sometimes luxuries that come at too high of an effort for me to afford.  And the art of "positive thinking" is just a distant dream.

And so Sunday night, I lost the will to keep trying.  I just couldn't do it any more.  The suicide ideations that drove me to the hospital last October had been slowing creeping back in over the past couple of months and I just grew too tired to fight them off.

I didn't sleep well again that night, so they were my constant companions.

I just happened to have a therapy appointment set up for that day.  And my therapist had requested that HH come with me so she could meet him.

For the first time, I actually cried in a therapy session.  I blame HH because he cried first.  And that's all I'll say about the session.  It was very painful.

My therapist knew I needed to go to the hospital.  I knew I needed it, but I didn't want to.  And HH knew that going to the hospital might just make things worse for me as it did when I went for a few days back in 2012.

But, I couldn't get myself to a place where I felt safe to be alone.  So, I had him check me in.  It's a long story, but we didn't get to the hospital until late that night and it was after 1 AM by the time I was shown my room.

It was a really nice facility.  Not actually a hospital.  The first day and a half I was on a very secure floor with patients who struggle with mental illness a lot worse than mine, but then a bed opened up for me upstairs and I was with people I had more in common with.  A lot of people with bipolar mostly.

And it was kind of really nice.  Except the nights.  And the not being able to shave my legs (razors were at the top of the list of everyday items that were now termed "contraband").

But, here were all of these people who understand me perfectly.  They know how even a great life can't stop bipolar depression.  And the pain of watching it hurt those you love.  And that we can't control it, no matter how hard we try.

Some of the conversations we carried might have been disturbing to those free from mental illness.  But, it was nice to be able to share and learn from each other.

It was also easier because when one of us was struggling, we knew how to offer support and when to give space.  I had a bit of a breakdown one night and into the next morning, and it was amazing how these friends of only a couple days were able to tell me what I needed to hear.  And then just allowed me the time to be by myself to work through the rest on my own.

It felt so safe there.  The suicide ideations were completely gone.  Replaced by peace and actually, happiness.

It helped that there was very little stress.  No meals to cook or clean up.  No messes.  No one needing me at all, really.  I didn't even have to remember when to take my own medications.  They took care of everything for us.  It was just a bunch of group therapy sessions which ranged from discussing coping skills and self-esteem, to making a rose out of clay and playing Name That Tune.  And then some free time to read a book or talk with friends.  Time to walk outside with a couple of friends.  And the occasional appointment with my arrogant but intelligent psychiatrist.

I wanted to leave Friday so I could join my family on an outing to Lagoon we'd planned weeks ago, so we could go with my sister's and my brother's families on Saturday.

Friday morning I woke up very depressed, so I all but made up my mind to stay another couple of days.  But, I sorted through the problem and started to feel better bit by bit.  Plus, the thought of my leg hair growing any longer was making me crazy.  Sad, but true.

So, I convinced everyone I was ready to go and we went back to Plan A.

The rest of the day was really great.  My new-found friends were so kind and complimentary and I began to feel like a total rock star.

I didn't realize it until I was on my way home with HH, but I had gone to the other extreme and was now hypomanic.  It felt so great.

Then we got back to my parents' house and all of the kids wanted my attention (understandably so) and everyone was talking and I couldn't focus.  I would blank out for minutes at a time.  And I felt so lost and terribly overwhelmed.

And I crashed again.  And rapid cycling like that is exhausting and painful.

I know this has been really hard on HH.  He wants to make me happy and when he can't, it tears him up.  But, I think it's all the worse when he sees that something else has made me happy, and then it doesn't last when we're together.

And I can see how painful that must be from his perspective.  But, I could never really have been happy in the hospital for long.  Because he wasn't there.  Cliche as it is, I really do feel incomplete without him.  As nice as it is to have someone understand me so well, I would never want him to experience the dark places my bipolar takes me to.  Never ever ever.

Some day, this has to get better.  This cloud has to life.  Right?  He can't always keep me from falling apart.  But, he helps me pick up the pieces and put them back together.  I wish we could make them fit in the way he wants.  The way that means I'm stronger and happier.  But, neither of us knows how to do that.

In the meantime, hopefully, I've learned my lesson and I actually will reach out to one of the many kind souls who tell me to "call anytime" I need someone.

I don't know.  Honestly, I can't really picture myself doing that.

But, I'll keep working on it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Day 98: Let's Face The Facts

Trying to be a consistent blogger while I'm staying in someone else's home is not going to happen.

There are just too many other things and people going on around here.

Good things.  And good people.  But not conducive to, well, anything consistent, really.

Hopefully, that is more attributed to the whole house hunting mess than just not being in our own space.  But, we really don't have any sort of consisent routine.

Except looking for/at homes for two hours every night online.

It's the most fun thing ever.

Oh, wait.  It's not.

But I did have a thought the other day.  And I can feel its real world application, though I'm still sorting through that part.

Basically, I've noticed that the way I consider and value a home has evolved.

When we first started looking at homes, I had a very difficult time seeing past the most obvious things in a room:  furniture, color of the walls, dirty surfaces.  A home might have been passable, but if there was a bunch of grime around the knobs on doors, I just wanted to leave.

Then I started paying more attention to the items listed on the spread for each home.  So I could remember that a home has 5 bedrooms even if the kitchen cabinets are a little dirty.

But now, I've become much more proficient of taking all of the above into account while also considering the space and potential of a home.

Finding the beauty within, so to speak.

Does that mean we'll end up with the big house that has great potential, but requires quite a bit of work?  I don't know.

But, it is teaching me that I can make the same changes in how I see people.

I'm not proud of this, but I do get very uncomfortable around people who aren't "pretty".  I put that in quotations because I don't mean the typical definition of pretty.  I mean people who don't fit in (that one weird looking house in the neighborhood, you know?), are a little grimy, rough around the edges, or maybe just need some extra work to find their true potential.

There are exceptions to this in my life, thankfully.  I have been able to "overlook" the above mentioned "shortcomings" of some people I've crossed paths with.

But, I really want to get past that whole mentality.  I want to see people for what they really are--just like seeing the structure inside the run down home.  And I don't want to feel like I'm "overlooking" any part of them, but to accept them for who they once were and can become.

And when you're looking at the "floor plan" of an individual, there really isn't much of a difference between those two things.  We have always been and always will be children of God.  He created each of us, as a unique masterpiece for Him.  We will always be divine because that is where we came from.  Becoming more like our Father in Heaven may require knocking out a wall here, or there.  Or, maybe even gutting the kitchen to start fresh, but fundamentally, it's still the same house.  Just better.

As I type this I realize that I'm not just talking about other people.  Maybe it's just me.  If I could look past my dented walls, broken blinds, missing door knobs, and the weeds that have overtaken my backyard, and see the daughter of God that I have always been and the divine inheritance He has promised for what I can become, maybe I could see that in others as well?

Maybe then I could make peace with who I am right now.  Because I would know where I came from, what I started out as, and where I am going and can become.  Where I am now is a product of both the maintenance I've let slip and also the improvements and upgrades I've invested in. 

Even the most perfect home still needs maintenance to stay in great condition.

I am a work in progress.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Day 97: It's That Space Thing

So, I'm out of the habit of doing this.  Obviously.

But, I also like to be on my own when I type these posts.  They're kind of personal.  In case you didn't notice.

And by the time the computer is all by itself, it's time for bed.

But, tomorrow is HH's birthday, he's out for a run, and I'm up baking cupcakes for him to take to work tomorrow.

Apparently, that's what all the cool bosses do.

But, it has afforded me some one-on-one time with the computer.

So, Friday actually brought a few Joyful Moments.  Most of which happened on a date with HH.  A very random and fly by the seat of your pants kind of date.  It was fun, though.  We were in our old stomping grounds from our dating days.

And I think that made us forget that we are no longer college students and going to the late movie, after a full date of dinner and a walk and not one, but two desserts, is a bad idea.  We are too old to stay up past 11 PM.

Still so fun and perfect to just hang with my HH and forget about all my worries and sadness for a few hours.

Saturday, I was a little impulsive and joined a gym.  I've been doubting the wisdom in this (since pretty much every detail of our lives is up in the air until we buy a house).  But, if I would have typed this post on Saturday, I would have said that was a Joyful Moment.  I've been missing my gym.

Other Saturday Joyful Moments included:  Meeting up with my sister and her family at a super fun indoor pool.  It had so many fun playscapes and a lazy river and a big slide and we all had a great time.  And then we got to go celebrate her little man's birthday.  It was really fun to hang out with everyone.  And to see that he was pretty pleased with our gift.

Sunday I got to spend time with both of my sisters.  Unfortunately, not at the same time.  But, I really like my sisters, so this was full of Joyful Moments.

And I made my favorite chicken recipe.  And you know how much joy I find in good food.

Monday was kind of rough.  Mostly, because Sunday night was really rough.  A lot of details came together at about 10 PM Sunday night creating a crazy and stressful Monday for me.  One of those days that starts early and is just one thing to the next to the next to the next.  And asking favors of people.

I know I'm supposed to be happy to let other people help me.

But, that's one area I still really struggle with.

I kind of hate it.  And it makes me grumpy.

But, right now, it's a daily, unavoidable part of my life.

Plus, I had an appointment with my new therapist.

This was very hard.

I never blogged about it because everything was so nuts and also because I still feel weird about it, but leaving my other therapist was really hard.  Maybe a little traumatic.

I think I felt weird about it because he's a man and (after a lot of kind wasted time trying to get his help without really telling him much) I've really opened up to him.  And he knows more about me than anyone besides HH, God, and myself.

And I just feel weird about that.

But, it freaked me out to think about having to move on and start over with someone else.  It took me forever to build that trust with him.  It's so hard to be open and vulnerable and share the darkest parts of me and trust that I won't be judged.

So, I was stressed and scared and dreading it.

But, I really liked her.

And, just as my therapist said it would be, it was so much easier talking to another woman.  Plus, ever since I was in the hospital last year, I've been much better about opening up.  At least, in therapy settings.  Still working on this with people close to me.

So, I guess you could say that was a bit of a Joyful Moment.  But it was still hard.  So, I'm undecided on whether that counts or not.

The rest of the day was spent looking at homes.  Either on line or in person.  I hate both ways.  I know it's only been a week, but I'm so done with the process.

That's how I spent most of Tuesday (yesterday) as well.  Fortunately, a family friend was in town and he entertained the kids and played games with them all morning.  They loved it and hardly noticed that I was unavailable most of the time.  It was especially good for Baby B.  And I'm so grateful for our friend for making his day better.

I took the kids for a bike ride last night.  We ended up just hanging out in the church parking lot.  It was perfect because they all go different speeds and I had Darling A in the stroller.  Everyone was happy.  That was my for sure Joyful Moment yesterday.  It mostly felt really good to spend time with them.  Without my phone.

Today was mostly good.  I woke up knowing that I would have control over my schedule.  That has been seriously lacking since we got here.

Because of the whole house hunting thing.  Bleh.

Anyway, knowing I would have that today made a huge difference for me.  I went for a swim at the gym this morning.  I'm still not at my fastest, but it felt good to be in the water.

And then I took the kids to Target to pick out birthday presents for the plethora of June birthdays in our family.  Shopping with all four of them is always a little stressful and nuts, but it was fun to have their help in picking out presents.  Darling A actually picked out her own birthday present.  Without knowing it, of course.

And Darling A started doing "official" Time Outs today.

This may seem like a strange Joyful Moment.

Let me explain--at Baby B's behavior program they taught us to do time outs with the child sitting crisscross applesauce, hands on their knees.  After sitting this way, quietly for 30 seconds, you ask the child to stand and then give 3 more directions (i.e. touch your nose, head, tummy, etc.), to ensure they are in a compliant and cooperative state.

Darling A hurt Baby B this morning.  So, I put her on Time Out.  Usually, that just involves me holding her still for a short bit.  For whatever reason, today I tried it the other way.  Her chubby legs looks so cute crisscross applesauce.  And she had the biggest, proudest smile on her cute face the whole time.

She was so dang excited to be doing a "real" Time Out.

Sweet P told me today, "I'm really glad you had Darling A, Mom."

I couldn't agree more.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 96: Still Looking For That

I've had my moments of finding a positive attitude this week.  But, mostly, my attitude has been far less than positive.

And I clearly did a poor (as in, nonexistent) job of posting Joyful Moments here.

So, I'm trying again.  One of my good friends is always saying, "It's okay.  I'm a work in progress."  So, I'm trying to adopt that mantra.  Including with this blog.

I've been seriously struggling the past few days to find a positive anything.  And nothing good comes from that.

Here goes.

I'm going to go back a couple of days.

Wednesday's Joyful Moment was getting a text from a friend.  I miss my friends and my life back at the North Pole SO much.  I keep reminding myself that I know we're are supposed to be here and that good things will happen here.

But, that doesn't make me miss what we had any less.

So, hearing from a friend (and knowing that I'm being missed in return) was just the boost my sad heart needed Wednesday night.

Yesterday's Joyful Moment was snuggles with Darling A.  Granted, they came because she had fallen and hit her head, which is clearly NOT joyful.  But, even after she calmed down, she stayed and snuggled in my lap.  And I needed that snuggly contact so much just then.

So far, today's Joyful Moment was having breakfast ready for my mom before she had to hurry off to the DMV.  It was kind of an accident, but I'm really happy it worked out.  Especially, because she's been making breakfasts for my kids while I sleep in (or mope in bed) every morning since we got here.

And now, I have to go separate two boys who cannot stop fighting this morning.  So, that appears to be all the positive I can muster for now.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 95: I Need A Better Attitude

HH told me that.  Pretty emphatically.  A few times.

Which is not to say that he doesn't listen to me have a bad attitude.  Over and over again.  Because he has.  Quite patiently.

But I still freaked out.  And started feeling super guilty for always being the downer in his life.  So, I didn't want to talk to him.  Because there really isn't much I can come up with that's positive right now. This move is so stressful, I'm saying good bye to all of my friends, and I'm so stressed about finding a new house.

And the next step from here.

We're moving into my parents' home.  I am so incredibly grateful to them and for them for being so willing to let us come stay at their house for an indefinite amount of time.  That has been such a relief to not have to worry about where we're going to stay in the interim period.

But, there is one problem with it.  Their house is going to be full.  Full of people I love, thank goodness.  But, one thing I learned last summer is how much I really need my own space and my own routine and my own time.

Just having the older two (non-napping) kids home created struggles for me.  And, of course, I love and adore them!  But, it meant that I never had a window of time that was my own during the day.

So, the prospect of moving into a full house is kind of freaking me out.

But, I'm not supposed to be worrying about the future.  Because I can't control it and I'm probably imagining things worse than they really will be.

But, I remembered heading into the fall last year and my therapist asking why I had made a subtle, yet steady, decline from stability and positivity to stress and sadness.  And realizing that the only thing was that small fact of not having my own time.

So, I get back to the point of freaking out.  Because I don't want to head into the downward spiral that lead me to the hospital last year.

But, it's okay.

And I really don't have any control over things from where I sit at this moment.

So, I'm going to follow HH's counsel and I'm going to try to have a better attitude.

Which means I'm going to *attempt* another go with the daily posts.  Although, given that we're moving tomorrow, this might not be the very best timing.  I'm going to try anyway.


Today (and several days prior), my Joyful Moments have come from special moments and visits with many of my friends.  I am humbled each time someone makes a special effort to stop by for one final hug.  I am so blessed to have been accepted and loved by some truly amazing women.

And we're going to skip over the part where my heart breaks a little more every time that hug ends and we have to say good bye.

Because we're sticking with the positive.  For tonight, at least.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day 94: Me Without HH

Just doesn't work.

I don't know how to be without him.  It's not just about missing him or needing his help around the house and with the kids.  I just don't know how to be without him.  I'm coming apart at the edges.  And it's just coming in closer and closer before I'm suddenly completely apart.  I keep withdrawing more and more inside myself.  Like a big black hole imploding in on itself.

Or something like that.

Thankfully, my parents came for a long and *very* helpful visit. They took care of the bulk of the logistics with preparing for our move.  My dad kept very busy fixing everything he could lay his hands on.  But mostly, they gave my kids all the love and attention they could soak up.  All the love and attention I've been struggling to provide as I withdraw.

But, they left today.  And now I have to wash my own dishes.  And be a mom to my children for longer than 15 minutes at a time.

The good news is, HH is making a quick visit this weekend.  It's a surprise for the kids and I am so excited to see their faces when he walks out of our bedroom Saturday morning.  (I pick him up from the airport late Friday night).

But, I still have to get through 2 1/2 days.  Which should feel like nothing.

But, without my HH, it might as well be forever.

I need my HH.  So much.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Day 93: Respite

Today went much better.

Probably because a billion people were praying for me.  Including my HH and his never ending love, patience, and faith in  me.  He talked with me until late into the night until I was okay enough sleep.

I hoped I would feel better in the morning.  But I didn't.

And the kids weren't exactly well-behaved either.

But, HH and I talked this morning and he shared with me the results of his praying and what we can do to better our situation.  And it gave me hope.

And we all know that hope is the key to pressing on.

A friend encouraged me to join her and other friends for lunch.  Darling A and I needed a place to go anyway because there was a showing going on at the house.  It was a lot of effort being out among the living, but I think it helped.

And then, miraculously, the kids were fairly well-behaved tonight.  We had a nice peaceful dinner, during which everyone ate their food--including their vegetables.

We had time to read a couple of stories.

We had our share of time outs as well.  But, we survived them.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I'm grateful for the relief of today.

Now I just need my HH.  I wish he could wrap me in his arms and I could feel safe in his strength and optimism.  We're 1/7th of the way through this.  I know it will get easier, but I hate it anyway.