There and back again….

Yeah, yeah. I am not a hobbit, nor I am elfin or dwarf…. but there are days I wish I were.

It has been some time since I wrote last, or had much to say for that matter. I am now, not only a mother to a precocious 3 year old but also to an almost 1 year old little boy who is equally just as active. There are days I wish I didn’t have to get out of bed. There are days where I would just like to do nothing. I am a mother…. so this never happens. Even on mother’s day.

My son really has a hard time letting me do much…. he wants to be held a lot. And if he is not held he screams. I can not stand the scream crying. It is too much for me. So, I am holding Smiley. A lot. Thus cooking is difficult and so is getting around to typing on my blog much. But, here I am. Trying to write while he is asleep on my lap.

I still struggle with depression and anxiety, but I have managed to do okay in most areas of my life. Patience, at times, is not one of those areas. There are days where I wish I could be a better, and more patient mother to my daughter. She is so much like me in so many ways that it is scary. I want so much more for my kids then to have to struggle with anxiety. My anxiety and lack of patience is higher with lack of sleep. I want to continue to use attachment parenting, but there are many areas in which I have just had to stop, or change tactics when trying to parent my highly passionate daughter. Have I mentioned that my daughter is a MASTER negotiator? She is even using the phrases “lets make a deal” or “lets compomize mama.” She wants something and she wants it 10 seconds ago, but she will use her impressive vocabulary to say why she wants something and try to negotiate how to get it.

You know that t-shirt that says ” I am a co-sleeping, breast feeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, blah blah blah, attached mama”? I am still officially a breast feeding mama. My daughter quit 2 days before my son was born. I was all prepared to tandem nurse, but even after Smiley was born, Sunshine tried some pumped milk and just didn’t want it. I am still nursing my son and he just chows down a lot at night. Yes, we are still a co-sleeping family. My daughter finally moved into her own room, but she struggles with nightmares and anxiety. We would have her stay in our room but she actually sleeps worse when she is in there. Smiley still resides with us though. He is the better sleeper between the two. Otherwise, Sunshine sleeps from 7 p.m. to 7- 8 a.m.  I am still a “sometimes” baby wearing mother. Smiley prefers to be held, but he is outgrowing the ergo just a bit. Now, cloth diapering I save for swimming diapers. Regular cloth diapers just became too much. I am finding I need to really clean house. Get rid of a lot of clothes and items…. perhaps with kid #3 or #4 I will have time to launder such items… but babies make a lot of poop. And my kids especially. So, cloth diapers are out for now. I feel terrible about the earth and the ecosystem… but I can only do so much with the limited brain power and high stress levels I already struggle with.

I guess I am starting over. It is quite a journey; motherhood. I may not always be patient, but I am being more patient with myself. I am not perfect, but I love my family perfectly. So, I guess I will share what I know, what I don’t know, and what I am still learning; As a mother, as a woman, as a human being.

Not myself

I am sitting in a car with some of my fellow choristers. We are the chorus for the broadway show of Titanic. Super cool actually.

What is not so cool is how insecure I feel. I do not have a lot in common with the people in the car. They are all school music teachers… I used to teach but it was special education… All those students these guys are complaining about having in their classes.
As they talk and discuss about their experiences, their opinions… I try to think of something to share, some medium of conversation I can contribute. The young guy with us, however, gives me an odd look every time I do interject something.Like I am weird or he’s annoyed with me. Perhaps I might have interupted, perhaps I just missed the point of the conversation… Who knows?
The more odd looks I get the more I get insecure… Thinking, “Am I so weird?” Do people really think I am odd? I used to think I had my shit together. I stopped taking my medications to be able to.nurse my daughter. I am lucky to be able to do this for my little girl. But now, with her nearing a year it may be time to go back on my meds. Sigh. I don’t feel myself. I don’t feel in control. I feel shaky and unstable. Exhausted and insecure. Perhaps its just today. Perhaps I should at least take my antianxiety meds before attempting this again tomorrow night? Lots to think about when all I want to do is sleep.

At rehearsal...

At rehearsal...

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Alas, I am still in the car with the others. Wish me luck.

Manic Monday: It’s All About Quality of Life

For my first installment of Manic Mondays, I am focusing on Quality of Life. As a person with a mental illness, I have pretty much been on every kind of mood stabilizer, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsants, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety medication out there. What have I learned about it all? That though these medications were helping combat the mental illness, if they caused more problems with their side effects and made me feel worse in different ways, it wasn’t worth it.

Note: For those out there that are currently on medications and feel this is true for you, I am not proposing for any of you to go off your medications. What I am proposing is having a good sit down with your ARNP/Psychiatrist/medical doctor to discuss your medications.

Second Note: If your medication practitioner isn’t willing to discuss changing your medications, or just gives you the medications without explaining first what the side effects are, the goal of the medication treatment, and how to measure that progress… THEN I propose getting a new practitioner. It is your life, your mental health and if these people want your buy in, your commitment to take these medications, than you damn well better have a say on the effectiveness of said medication and whether it is negatively exacerbating other health issues in your life and your well-being.

Each person is different. One medication may work with a person’s chemistry positively where the person next door has negative side effects. The issue is finding that balance where you can live with the side effects and they do not outweigh the purpose or success of the medication you are taking.

For example: If you are given Depakote, at a high dosage, and this is for mood stabilization, but gain 60 lbs in six months…. changes are you aren’t feeling really good about yourself, depression has become a major factor, your health has gone down the tubes, and the stretch marks on your body are contributing to a significant lack of good feelings about yourself. I would say a good sit down with your therapist might be needed. Now, Depakote mostly likely isn’t the main culprit, but it is a big factor in some individuals weight gain as well as weight loss. Take it from me…. I was the one who gained 60-70 lbs in six months with Depakote after having my gall bladder removed.

Here is another example:

I had an ARNP that had me on significantly high dosages of Lithium at one time. I had to take several other medications to combat the side effects from being on Lithium. 2400Mg of Lithium can do a lot of damage to the body, especially if you are at toxic levels. I had my lithium levels done fairly regularly, but didn’t know to ask my ARNP what the results were, what level would signify toxicity, and whether it was really doing what it should. This woman never told me that I was at a toxic level, and when I moved down to California and saw a really cool psychiatrist, I found out my thyroid had stopped functioning because of the high dosages and was most likely the contributor of why I lost my gall bladder as well. Thank God I moved to California for a time, or who knows what else I might have lost from these high dosages of medications?!!

Now, Lithium works for me. It is one of the few medications that truly does help my racing thoughts and mania. But I have been doing fine on only 300-600mg of Lithium for the last few years, and rarely need any other medications on top of that to combat depression and anxiety. These other medications are taken on an “as needed” basis. I feel that when I was on the high dosages of medications, I was barely functioning and this made my symptoms seem worse than they probably would have been at a lower dosage. I had major shaking issues from the lithium, as well as struggles with completing sentences and thoughts. Before I was on lithium my thoughts raced crazily from one topic to the next. On high dosages of lithium, I shook like a meth addict and I couldn’t make one cohesive thought. The middle ground has worked for me.

So, learn from my mistakes. If your ARNP doesn’t explain to you why you are taking a medication, adequately communicate to you how this can affect you physically as well as mentally, and what the long-term side effects that could occur from taking said medication, then you may wish to communicate to your practitioner their ineffectiveness/ineptitude while working with you, and possibly search for another provider.

A lot of practitioners are type A, logical, linear people. They require data. Proof. So what I have done was when starting a new medication, I kept a journal. I wrote down what I was taking that day, and how I was feeling in the morning, afternoon, and evening. (This helps in identifying if extended release tablets are needed, or ineffective). I usually wrote a number between 1-10. Ten feeling awesome, one being suicidal tendencies. I wrote down at the end of the day, my overall reactions and feelings and this gave me good documentation over time on whether I was feeling improvement, or side effects were hindering my quality of life.

Not sure if this helps any of you… but for me… being honest with myself about what I can deal with and what I can’t, when it comes to side effects, helped me have a better quality of life. This way I stayed on my medications, and became a healthier me.

The Fear Factor

About three weeks ago, the hubby found out that his cancer is most likely not gone. He first found out that he had cancer at age 30, about 4 years ago. Not easy for a thirty year old, in the prime of his life. Let alone anyone hearing they have cancer. He had a surgery, and radiation. Then, last year 2010, we found out it was not gone completely. We also found out Sunshine was on her way. He finally had a surgery again January 2011 to remove more tissue and lymph nodes. They chose not to do any further radiation as the doctors felt they had it all. Yeah, well. That didn’t happen. His latest scan, that he has done yearly, shows that he again has some “possibly” infected lymph nodes. Sigh. Three and a half years of living with this cloud over his head. Almost 4 years. He now has a daughter that is so much a part of him, and my greatest fear is that he won’t be here to see her grow up.

 

Now, not to be surprising, with the dark cloud looming over him the hubby has a lot of anxiety and some depression setting in. Of course, he is choosing to ignore it, but has admitted to me that he has some anxiety and depression. This leads to his quality of life not being as good as it could be. Without the strength and ability to emotionally and mentally fight the cancer, he may also not have the physical ability to fight it off as well.

 

We both revel in the joy that is Sunshine. We try to ignore what may happen, while we are unable to do anything about it. All we have are “what-if’s” and no answers, no ability to make plans and alter the outcome differently. We are stuck with waiting until tests come back, and the options presented for the next course of action. We live for the happy moments, and the joyful moments that Sunshine gives to us. Where it is just her that we can focus on, and the fear factor does not take hold.

 

So with Turkey day, I was hoping the hubby wouldn’t tell his mother about the upcoming biopsy. Selfish of me, really, but what happens is that his mom won’t call him over and over asking why we haven’t done this, why it’s taking so long, why aren’t they doing more? No. I will be the one she calls because she believes that I need to mother her son as well. The thing is that she would do all this for him, plan his appointments, push the doctor to make faster decisions and so on. I however, believe her son capable of making these choices on his own. He is a grown man, this is his health. I will support him, and will help him when he needs me to do so. Otherwise, it is his health. His mother doesn’t see it that way, so I get the phone calls asking why we haven’t pursued such and such. I didn’t want him to tell his mom yet because we know nothing. We don’t know if it is the same cancer, or if it has morphed into something else as it has moved to his lymph nodes. We don’t know anything. So why worry, why let fear take hold until we can do something about it?

 

My idea of coping with this is to just let it go, forget about it until we have more information and can make a decision about what to do next. I want to enjoy life, not focus on the cloud overhead. We know its there. We know it will have to be dealt with, but why sweat the rain and clouds when they are not here yet? Why not still go an enjoy the fine overcast day ahead? We will appreciate it for its dryness, and deal with the rain later.

 

It sucks living in fear. It sucks being reminded that we should be worried, but I just can’t bring myself to acknowledge out loud that the storm is still here. We are just sitting in the eye of the hurricane it seems. The calm before the storm. Just wish he didn’t have to tell her because now I won’t be allowed to forget. Her way of coping is talking about it, calling me over and over, trying to control and manage it in her own way. I will be reminded again of what is out of my control, and what we are facing again. I will be forced to acknowledge my worst fears, when I’d rather live happily in ignorant bliss, or perhaps blissfully resolute in cherishing what we have right now.

 

Is this naive of me? Perhaps, but I believe it’s a better way to live.