Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nothing is free in life, not even sanity.

I'm at week seven of a med change. Every medication comes with side effects. .

Lexapro and anything in the SSRI family makes me sick to my stomach.  The kind where you lose all kinds of weight.  I become incredibly irritable going from normal to instant anger in half a second.  I can't stand to be touched, not even brushed up beside in a crowd.  It does nothing to slow my depression.  Useless, not worth my time.

Wellbutrin. Also known as the magic pill for many.  It has helped countless people lose weight, quit smoking, smile, and live a normal life.  For me it makes me want to hurt myself.  The only time I ever felt that way.  It's on my critical list of never again.

Remeron.  For me it was a fat pill.  Seriously I gained over thirty pounds in less then two months on this drug.  I went from size four pants to size fourteen.  My skin hurt from stretching so quickly.  I was counting calories nonstop, living on the minimum just to survive.  I went to the gym.  I gained more weight.  I became more depressed.

Abilify.  Worst. Manic. Ever.  And even though it was a medically induced mania I've now experienced it which means that anytime my brain resets to manic it could bring me that high up again.  Also on my critical list of never again medications.

Lamictal.  My saving grace.  Six years on this little pill.  When I first started taking it the doctor watched me closely as it could cause Steven-Johnson syndrome, a rash that kills a person.  Once I made it into the safe zone I was golden.  Then about three years ago I began having pelvic pain.  It got to the point where this past October I was scheduled to have laparoscopic surgery because nothing seemed to help and it caused a lot of pain.  I just happened one day to see the side effects of this medication and low and behold on very rare occasions women who have been using Lamictal for lengthy periods can develop chronic pelvic pain.  Awesome. Seven weeks ago the doctor began weaning me off of it, all the while trying to keep my brain balanced by adding in something new.

Latuda.  My new medication.  The one where I've developed a twitch in my left eye.  Maybe it's just a random, coincidental thing, I have been tired lately.  But eye twitching is listed on the side effects right under the bold print that says stop use immediately.  So far that's the only possible side effect I have so I'll let the doctor decide what I should do.  Maybe it's worth it to have a twitchy eye even if it could become irreversible.

I hate pills.  I used to gag them down.  Now I take 6 pills a day.  I've learned that nothing is free in life, including my sanity.  Everything I do has consequences.  For the most part these pills help me function.  I smile real heartfelt smiles because of them.  And maybe I'll find I should go back to my saving grace pill and live with chronic pain.  It might be worth the smile.  Or maybe I'll stick with the wacky eye twitching.  If it means enjoying my family and living a normal life then these crazy side effects are worth it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Symptoms of my manic self.

I wrote this a few months ago when I was living life as a manic.  I've read and reread this post but I can't bring myself to change it.  It is apart of me.  My thoughts don't always make sense and so I usually delete my written thoughts when I'm manic, but this one I can't bring myself to delete.  Unfortunately my sickness is genetic.  Someday my boys may find themselves in my shoes.  I would like them to know they are not alone.  I would like them to know they can live life well even with a diagnoses of crazy.

When my mind runs fast with a river of never ending thoughts.  Incomplete thoughts actually, because like water that rushes down the mountain side smashing into anything in its way, my thoughts crash into each other in the same way.  Each thought violently interrupted by the next shattering both into millions of meaningless words.  With will power a few thoughts do have a beginning and an end.  Some even turn into full conversations.  Often by the time the conversation is over my mind has worked so hard to focus on completing a few thoughts that it forgets everything the other person said back to me.  This can lead to some really big life changing moments for my family...  "Hey I called my doctor and changed medications just like we agreed."..."Hey I took that job we talked about."... Only we didn't agree.  It was decided to get more information, or that we would take some time and think things over, or that it truly was a bad idea end to begin with.

When my words are kind but my tone slashes straight to the heart.  I watch it happen as if I'm a third party watching the conversation take place and while I know it's going to end badly I can't seem to change that robotic lifeless tone.  My mind does not play favorites be you a stranger or a friend, a son or a husband, it can hurt.  Any word can hurt said with the wrong tone.

When I have times when my skin feels tight, like it's too small for my body.  It doesn't matter if I'm wearing sweat pants or jeans, tee shirts or business attire, my skin just feels tight.  As when your pregnant and you itch from all the stretching your body does.  Sometimes I wake up with bruises from scratching in my sleep....Or when I move so fast I'm not aware of whats around me leaving unexplained welts all over my body....Or when the touch of your husband is just too much to handle.  Even running into a friend who greets you with a hug causes you to hold your breath while you focus on getting through the 30 seconds of touch.

When my mind decides it really needs something or a lot of somethings and money doesn't really matter.  It's been everything in the dollar isle at Target, because someday I might need this gold ribbon, the boys might some day like the glow in the dark Elmo socks even though they have no idea who he is, or we might have a fun dinner when cute little milk bottles would be useful.... How about the time I insisted we needed egg timers.  I put every egg timer I saw in the grocery cart while my Strong man followed behind taking them all out as he reassured me that the timer on the stove, the one on the microwave, and the one on my phone would be enough when I did someday find myself in need of a timer.

When sleep is pointless but I know that without it this battle of my mind will spin widely out of control and so I lay there clenching my jaw closed, forcing my eyes shut willing myself to sleep.  Taking prescription sleeping medications, herbal supplements, having used essential oils all to no avail.  They say that to keep a mind like mine in check it has to sleep, if only they could find a way to convince my mind of that little tidbit.  Instead I lay for hours battling my mind, waking the next morning with a sore jaw, heavy eyelids, and in need of more sleep then when I went to bed the night before.

And this is a glimpse into my manic self.  Written as a manic, jagged and rough.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Finding joy always

Ever since that morning I woke to find a world void of color I have searched for joy.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  In the Wing St. apartment I woke to the sound of my one and two year old eating breakfast with my Strong Man.  I laid on my back with my eyes closed for a few minutes before rolling out of bed.  When I did blink those sleepy eyes open I couldn't help but stare at the gray wall in front of me.  After a minute or two I stumbled over to the light switch to be sure it was really true.  When I had gone to bed the night before those walls had been yellow.  I know it sounds crazy but for the next few months I would live in a world covered in gray.  Thus began my search for joy.

At first I found a journal and began numbering each joy that I found, training my eyes to see that it in the smallest parts of life joy could be found.  The way a bubble glistens in a sink full of dishes.  The feel of a summer breeze passing by.  The peaceful sound of a song bird floating through the window as a sleepy Momma tries to manage the chaos that always trails behind toddlers.  The silence of nap time.  Strong hands that hold me tight...  Somewhere into the hundreds I saw color for the first time in months.  It was dandelion yellow.  As counting the joy around me became more natural vibrant color came back into my life.

While I don't number my joy any more I haven't stopped searching for it.  Every November as a family we write out our joys together.  Simple.  Sweet.  It's just one word at a time hung on a few sticks to remind us to slow and see to find the joy surrounding us.

Friday, October 28, 2016

House rules to the game of sanity

A long time ago when I was first diagnosed Manic-depressive Strong man and I sat down and hashed out some basic "rules" to this new "game" we were playing.  For years we have worked hard at perfecting the way we play.  Below are the rules we came up with.

1.  I need to take a big bite of humble pie followed by a gulp of pride and realize I can't fight it alone.  You would think that by now I would have this perfected, but honestly it never gets easier.  On the contrary it gets harder because I've done this before so I should know what I'm doing.

2. As soon as I notice a change in mood I tell my Strong man and get his opinion.  Then we talk everyday about what we each see.  When he says I'm doing to much, or I need to get out of the house, or I should leave my wallet in the car, I follow his suggestions even if I don't agree.  If he says your doctor needs to know, I call my doctor.

3.  I tell the boys that I'm having a hard day.  I tell them that I'm having a "sad sickness" day.  From day one when they were in diapers they knew Mommy had sad days.  I ask for them to show me grace and I work hard to do the same to them.  I apologize often.

4.  I go back to my lists-cleaning list, meal plans, weekly schedule, daily schedule, shopping lists.  I try hard to live by them, never doing to much or to little just what's on the list.  Because if I didn't have a list then on those manic days I try and take on the world, while those days full of depression I wouldn't even get out of bed.

5.  I tell my friends.  This way they won't be offended when I cut them off every 20 seconds, and when we're in the dollar isle at Target and I'm filling my cart with random things they can remind me I probably don't need that or better yet they can lock my wallet in the car so I can't even consider buying the everything in the store.

6.  I take time to rest alone.  I find the upbeat music my heart needs when its down or the relaxing soul calming music when I'm manic.  It's not always the music I want to hear, but it's the music I need to hear.  I use the time to read, sometimes its fiction if I need my mind to be calm or informational if I need to keep it moving.

7.  I write.  I need to record what I'm thinking and doing.  I need to be able to look back and see so I can move forward and learn.  I need others to see that the battle is stronger then what they see it as, and even more so I need them to see that I fight harder then they think I do.

8.  I always fall back on grace (or at least I try.).  I allow myself to except that I'm an imperfect human.  I try to show others grace when they don't understand the depths of my battle.  I pray they show me the same kind of grace.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It's just the day he proposed, nothing too big.

The alarm will sound off at six AM and you'll get up first.  While you shower I'll lay in bed willing my eyes open and my mind to wake up.  Shortly there after I'll shuffle into the kitchen following the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.  I'll turn the oven on to make muffins (from a bag) for the boys for breakfast and then you and I will sit at the table sipping our coffee and reading out loud together.  It's our thing.  As we read our minds align setting us up to be united as the day goes on.  Sounds kind of hokey but it's true.  Reading together each morning helps us remember the world is bigger then you and I, and you are I are never alone because we're a team.  By the way that may be my favorite thing about us, that we're a team.

Around 7:15 you'll start getting your stuff together for lunch and I'll start my next, but not last, cup of coffee.  When you get in your car the boys and I will begin school, we have a nice little rhythm.  Man of the woods does his computer work; typing, reading, and math review first.  Laughter does his reading, spelling, and grammar with me.  Then they both do math.  One reviews while I teach the other.  If by chance one boy is running behind the other does chores.  When the basics are complete we'll have a quick bathroom, and snack break before nestling in for some science or history before calling it quits for the day.  We'll do lunch a few chores and then the boys will spend the afternoon playing while I putter and cook.  Then to top the day off your parents have agreed to spend the evening with the boys so you and I can have an evening off, just the two of us.  They even offered to take the kids over night.  We're going to keep it simple bringing them home to there own beds after dinner so we can have a normal day of school the next day.  None of this seems extraordinary and I think that's what makes the day exactly that: extraordinary.

Ten years ago tomorrow you asked me to be your wife and now ten years later we're still living it out and dreaming big.  In these past 3,000 plus days we've seen sickness, death, joy, we've watch our boys grow from there first little kicks in my belly, shared many laughs together, and experienced heartache.  We've watched the new day roll in as our stubborn hearts refused to sleep while we were angry with each other.  You've held me close every night as we fall asleep.  We held our breath together waiting for the results of new life, sickness, new job opportunities.  We have traveled together. We have puked together.  We have lived the mundane day in and day out of life together.  We have done whatever life handed us...together.

Now that I know you as deeply and intimately as I do now the excitement and joy we had as you slipped that pretty little diamond on my finger all those years ago is dull and dusty compared to how I feel about you now.

Thanks for asking.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fail... Lesson learned.

Last spring I spent the day with my boys, Mom, sister, and her two girls.  I ended the day with a very sore back that lasted for months, three months to be exact before I finally talked with my doctor.  After an x-ray, MRI, many visits to the chiropractor, a visit to pain management, and the back surgeon, and I am now still going through weekly sessions of physical therapy it has been determined that I have multiple herniated disks.  Three maybe four disks, it all depends on which person is reading my MRI at the time.  Either way my back hurts.

With each appointment I walked in expecting to hear that my injury isn't really as bad as the last doctor said, but as I walked away I left realizing that actually it is worse then I thought.  I had the x-ray done thinking my doctor was just being cautious only to get a phone call that I needed an MRI.  I went into the MRI telling the technician that I didn't need any help taking my shoes off or getting on the MRI table only to leave with him insisting on helping me sit up and putting my shoes on for me.  I walked into pain management expecting to be told I just needed to wait it out only to find that not only were they ready to give me the steroid shot into my spine, but my insurance company had already agreed to pay for it.  I walked into the surgeons office to find that if I had met with a younger, newer surgeon they would probably suggest operating, but since he had been around for a while he realized that if he did operate because of where my back was injured I would be signing up for three more surgeries every other year for the next eight years ending with chronic pain for the rest of my life.  Instead he thought I better continue on with PT, informing me to expect up to two years before I was back to normal and thought I might have some on again off again arthritis.  The surgeon was the best news giver of them all and I still wasn't happy with the news he gave.

I spent most of July with ice packs, and heating pads strategically placed around my spin and hips as I dreaded my next PT or chiropractic visit.  I listened to my boys play outside and watched every season of every HGTV show available on Netflix. On the few days I felt normal enough to move I over did it by trying to catch up on all the things I was missing out on.  Even when I was trying to "take it easy" one wrong step would end in more intense pain lasting for days.  In the end no matter what I did I caused myself greater pain.  When I returned to the ice packs, and heating pads I found my spirit deflated.

For years I have talked about, almost obsessed over slowing and seeing the small things.  It seems that finding joy in the mundane goes along with parenthood.  To find joy in the small not just the mile stones of life, not simply the first word, the first steps, the very last diaper change, the first day of school, but to find it in the daily grind.  All those nights that my sweet baby boys screamed and all those days I passed through blurry eyed, a whole day of punishments because he insisted on eating the dish soap, covering himself in the baby powered or taking a bath with his clothes on, somewhere in all that there was joy.  But this summer...

This summer is different.  Now they sleep through the night.  Now they obey.  Now they know right from wrong.  Now they know what is safe and what isn't.  Now they are easy and fun.  This summer it is because of me that I search for the joy.

This summer I have hardly seen the joy.  I have gone to bed many nights frustrated reflecting on all the things we didn't do rather then all those small joys.  The way they took care of me.  Those times they offered to make me lunch.  The many times they got an ice pack for me.  The way they played together.  They way they did extra chores so I wouldn't have to.  The way they helped me cook dinner.  The way they snuggled.  All those joys I let slip by.

Next time, because it's a fact of life that my body will fail me guaranteeing there will be a next time,  I intend to see the joy in the mundane as it comes along.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Our 2016 Summer "To Do List":

Life is all about slowing and seeing.  For me slowing requires effort.  The best way for me to see is through the lens of a camera  This weekend we sat down and made a list of things we want to do over summer.  In the corner of my living room I sat up a small desk with some colored pencils, pens, glue, and paper for us to create a scrapbook of adventures as we try to complete our list in the next 11 weeks.

1. Hike 11 miles
2. Have a water balloon fight with all of our friends
3. Go to Peaks Kenny
4. Find a new swimming hole
5. Go to Wild River
6. Go fishing
7. Go to Uncle Cousins at least once
8. Catch fireflies
9. Star gaze
10. Go strawberry picking
11. Go see the fireworks
12. Go on a tree identification walk
13. Go on a flower identification walk
14. Make our own Popsicles
15. Go for a walk in the rain
16. Catch as many different critters as we can
17. Camp out in the back yard
18. Make a homemade slip-n-slide
19. Go on a boat ride
20. Go to the Celtic celebration in Belfast
21. Go to a farmers market
22. Find a four leaf clover
23. Make s'mores in a solar oven
24. Go mini golfing
25. Go on a surprise adventure
26. See a lighthouse
27. Go on a scavenger hunt
28. Make water balloon launchers
29. “Grow” a butterfly
30. Make waffle cone s’mores
31. Do some epic science experiments
32. Make a summer scrapbook
33. Have a bonfire with anybody that wants to join in the fun.
34. Find a random town to watch the 4th of July fireworks.