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Diagnosis: Depression

Depression.  A scary word, even scarier is the loss of control that comes with it.

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I have suspected for a while now that I was suffering from depression.  Was I going to do anything about it?  Nope.  Absolutely not.  Admitting was enough.  Admitting meant that I could work on the problem privately.  The power of positive thinking is not to be undermined.  I thought I could literally will myself happy, after all, I was the one allowing myself to be so affected by things I couldn’t control.  My doctor thought otherwise.

Almost six years ago, I developed an extremely rare condition in which my white blood cells began to attack the covering of my muscles.  I was quite literally being eaten from the inside.  I was put on radiation treatment in hopes that my blood cells could be “tricked” into thinking normally again.  I was on the medication for several years and recovering well when I developed another rare condition.  This time the white blood cells are attacking my skin.  There is no treatment for this condition.  I simply have to wait it out and it will take 4-6 years before disappearing.  Since there is literally nothing to be done about it, I grew tired of travelling 3 hours to see a specialist only to have him hum and haw and marvel over the impossibility of someone having not one but two rare conditions and parading me past his medical students as a learning specimen.  I opted out of our twice yearly visits.  I didn’t want to shun all medical care however so I made an appointment to discuss my case with my local family doctor.  I had a multitude of questions besides just wanting him to keep track of the growing spots on my limbs.  Top of my list was the effects of the drugs I was required to take.  I have inconsistent memory and frequently can’t remember little things like why I’m in the grocery store or forget school events.  Another symptom that continues to plague me is comprehension.  Some days it feels like there is a block in my brain that refuses to allow the messages to pass no matter how hard I try.  I also have difficulty with concentration.  If more than one person is speaking at a time, I become overwhelmed and cannot focus on anything.  All of these I attributed to the drugs I had taken.  Basically, I felt they had destroyed a part of my life.

My doctor had other ideas.  He immediately refuted the drug idea.  They pass out of the body within months after you stop using them.  One concern was the description of a blockage in my brain though.  I have scar tissue built up on my arms and around my ankles restricting movement and he was concerned that some scaring had occurred on the brain as well.  He suggested an MRI.  I wasn’t thrilled, especially since he couldn’t guarantee any fix, simply an answer as to why.  He kept the conversation casual and listened closely to what I had to say and finally told me I tested positive for depression.  There is an 8 question test and I tested positive for 7 of them.  I was devastated.  My dad is bipolar and his condition makes life difficult for my mother.  I did not want my husband or kids to have to deal with me like that.  Up and down.  Unstable.  Out of control.  The doctor insisted he was giving me back the control.  That the pills would help me focus instead of anxiously chasing one frantic thought after another.  I have developed a pill phobia.  Having to take any medication is a major issue for me.  I was in tears.  I didn’t need them.  I was handling things my own way.  He gently coaxed me to give it a try.  He produced a trial box and told me to come back in two weeks.  If I decided I really didn’t want them, I could simply stop.  It was up to me.

It was the hardest decision I have made.  It took almost the full two weeks to accept that I really do need the pills.  They are making a difference and I am happier and calmer than I have been.  Admitting that I had lost control actually gave me back control.  I am glad I took the time to speak with my doctor.

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Address to the Critic

Let’s face it; if you’ve followed my blog at all then you now know I suffer from extreme insecurity.  Today it hit me square in the face.  I should have known it was coming.  I had

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tossed and turned half the night defending myself to mysterious figments.  The problem is I just don’t seem to measure up to anybody’s standards.

I’m not pretty enough.  Really.  I’m three years shy of 40 with grey hairs that refuse to be hidden any longer and now require regular trips to the hairdresser.  Sorry but the whole spring chick window has been closed for me.

I weigh too much.  Yep.  I know.  I just don’t have any desire to do anything about it at the moment.  Talk to me when my stress levels have dropped 4 or 5 notches.  Better yet, come help me eliminate my stress.  I can personally guarantee a drop in weight will follow.

Get a job.  This is a really tough one for me.  I battle just as much with myself as with others who say it.  The trouble is I live in a small town that has the mistaken idea that a part-time job means 2-3 full days per week.  No half days.  This makes it difficult for a mother with children to find work.  We don’t have the option of working only during school hours.  My children would have to walk to and from school, pouring rain, blowing snow, -30 in the winter, +30 in the spring and fall.  I just don’t have the heart to make them do it.  When it’s -30 in the winter with an icy breeze blowing, it cuts your breath off.  I can’t even walk to the end of my block with a scarf wrapped around my face.  Older women have told me it’s not worth it.  Now is the time to spend with my children, a time of precious memories.  This is where my dilemma comes in.  Do I follow the wisdom of the older generation or tread the trail of my time and add extra income?

Church.   This is a biggie.  Once again it carries so much of my own expectations of myself.  The only time we missed church when I was small was a blizzard or if both my parents were sick.  I feel so much pressure to set the same model for my kids but life is more complicated.  My husband does not share the same ideal.  If I want my kids at every church meeting, I have to be the one to take them.  Then there is church itself.  I don’t attend often enough.  I don’t participate in activities.  I don’t…I don’t…I don’t.

Your son disrespects you.  He is expressing an opinion.

Your house is not clean enough.  The maid was busy.

You draw inappropriate material.  I like it.  It appeals to me.

You are lazy.  I prefer the term “slow-moving”.

You have all these business ideas yet do nothing.  One word.  Fear.

Once during one of my self-bashing tyrants, my mother told me, “God created you equal to everyone else”.  This has become a sort of motto for my life.  When I start to doubt myself, I square my shoulders and repeat this phrase.  It has helped me place one foot in front of the other and march through a new door.  Every so often, innocent comments creep under my bravado and I feel myself stooping under their weight.  I get angry.  If God created me equal, why can’t anyone else see it?!!

 

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A Moment of Vulnerability

image from toniccare.com

A man looked at me today.  He shook my hand and waited until I met his eyes before he let go.  I wonder what he saw.  Did he see the lurking unhappiness?  Did he see a woman who was trying for just a few hours to forget how difficult life is?  That single connection, that moment suspended in time made me feel very vulnerable.  The big question “Why?” haunts me.  Why was it important to see me?  Why did he look deeper?

I spend my days with people who are caught in their own maelstroms.  Life is seldom dull these days.  Everyone has their own trials from home repair wars to battles with children to struggling to fit in with the right crowd.  I am not a reserved person.  I will tell anyone who is willing to listen how difficult my life has recently become.  Rather, I am trying very hard to not spill my sorry story.  I am trying to listen instead of talk.  Most people don’t really care in the long run anyway.  Scandal, gossip, exciting events, these are the things that make up the majority of conversation.  My life stresses haven’t changed.  They cycle over and over with no sign of resolution.  I have seen friends become frustrated with me because there is no change in my life despite their well-meaning opinions.  So the question remains, why did he pause to recognize me?

How often do you truly see the person you are talking to?  How often do you take the time to actually listen to what they are saying, to actually hear the pain and worry in their lives?  I have to admit that I don’t often.  I am usually rushing from one activity to another and don’t have time or simply don’t know what to say so instead I make a little quip and change the subject.  I detest people who make me feel as though I am a victim in my own life and constantly need to try to solve my dilemmas.  They are easily recognizable.  They usually start the conversation with a consolatory click of their tongue and a “How’s it going” sigh.  Most times I just need someone to listen to what I am saying.  It feels really good to share with others.  When I listen, am I genuinely hearing what they are telling me?  Am I looking deeper and seeing the reasons behind the story?

As humans that tenuous thread between us is so important to our well-being.  I watched my kids tonight at youth group building little webs of friendships.  My oldest girl with her shy glances at the boys, my boy still not quite comfortable in the group but leaning against the wall acting cool and nodding casually to ones who passed, my youngest giddy at being with the older ones and sharing giggles with another friend lucky enough to be allowed out.  They are creating little invisible strings flowing from person to person weaving and swaying, binding all together.  Each time two pairs of eyes meet a stronger thread forms.  Friendships are forged.  The eyes really are the windows to our souls.  That single moment of vulnerability when another looks, really looks, at us can cause an immediate retreat like I did but it could also be the beginning of a great friendship.  When was the last time you looked into someone’s eyes?

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in musings, random, Uncategorized

 

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Finding a Sunny Patch

photo from bluebattinghelmet.wordpress.com

I feel happy today.  It is the first time in a while that I can truly say that.  The world shattered around my feet but I am starting inch by inch to creep out to that sunny patch.  I keep stubbing my toes but the light is pulling me forward.

My husband and I are learning to live together again.  We had been seeing a marriage counselor for a couple months.  One session about a month ago, the counselor suddenly informed us that he was only a temporary replacement and would not be returning to our area until October.  We were free, of course, to continue with the returning therapist but both my husband and I were reluctant to start with someone new.  It took us a while to open up and we did not want to have to repeat the process again and then again in October.  I was terrified.  We both give a little but do not meet in the middle.  My husband is very strict and I am a free spirit.  Polar opposites.  Even the counselor looked nervous for us as he shook our hands goodbye.  However, we had learned a lot.  I discovered that while my husband hears what I say, he rarely interprets the meaning correctly.  He found out no matter how demanding he is, it simply cannot change my irritating habits.  Our personalities differ as well.  I am abstract and often distracted.  He resembles an express train, goal in hand, he never stops till he reaches it.  We learned about the relationship triangle and how to step off it, refusing to be a victim anymore.  We were told the proper way to argue, more importantly, I was told NO MORE YELLING!!  I am still working on this annoying concept.  The month following our final session, we were like young children trying to ride a bike without training wheels.  There were a lot of falls, a lot of throwing in the towel.  And to make matters worse, life continued to crumble.

My husband’s job future became very insecure.  He never knew from week to week, even day to day if there would be work for him.  After two very tiny paychecks, he sold his small company and took a regular job.  It means a substantial cut in pay.  We were left with bills and taxes owing on the business and no way to pay them.  His final paycheck was barely enough to pay for food.  I have to relearn how to live on a budget and stick to it.  Remember, I am a free spirit.  Rules are only guidelines and I hyperventilate when forced to abide by them.  I am used to having the freedom to spend when and how I felt the money was needed.  Stress is driving me into the fetal position.  And through all this, my kids started to crumble.

We went from a single parent household with the occasional dad to a dad being present every evening and every weekend.  Every child’s dream, right?  Well, for my kids suddenly having a father demanding that a routine be followed, chores done, and exclusive TV rights, this was like waking up in the middle of a nightmare.  Daily battles with my barely teenage son, torrents of tears from my teen daughter, and clingy hugs from my baby girl [preteen:( ] took place.  Life became a game of survival.  I dealt with the changes the only way I know how, I hid.  I started withdrawing from friends, I slept the entire day while the kids were in school and stayed up till 3am.  I ate, jumped from one crazy and frantic get-rich-quick scheme to another, and cried.  And without noticing, life stopped crumbling.

We learned to adapt.  I went on a diet.  The kids worked out a TV compromise with their dad.  Boundaries were laid out and consequences for breaking rules were drawn up.  Respect for their dad returned.  I still struggle with poor sleep habits and budgeting but over all this has been a positive change in our lives.  We discovered the tools handed us by our counselor really do help.  My husband is happier, my kids are growing.  And I learned a stubbed toe only hurts for a little while.

I am happy again.

 

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The Beast in My Pipe

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A black germito lives in my kitchen pipe.  A wild, mean, darkly angry beast that spews up mucky sewer water at the slightest provocation.  He slumbers quietly until someone innocently turns on the faucet.  He grumps first, sending tiny amounts of water seeping back up the drain.  Woe to those who do not heed this warning.  Exploding with fury, he hurtles gallons of filthy liquid rushing into the sink, filling it and infuriating his victims.

I made this mistake.  I was the one to unleash the beast’s fury.  Not once.  Not twice.  Four times before I finally admitted defeat.  The sink was definitely clogged and no amount of flushing was going to change that.  My husband tried plunging it.  I tried plunging it (when my husband wasn’t looking!).  My son tried plunging it (also when my husband’s back was turned).  Nothing.  That stubborn beast refused to move.  It was time to try tactical warfare.  We got out the baking soda and vinegar.  Three hours later I danced a victory dance.

Kapoww!!

Take that you, germito!  The drain was finally clear.

The beast was just lying low.  He came back no holds barred, guns a blazing.  Fine.  He wants to play hard ball, I’m up for the challenge.  His guns don’t hold a candle to mine.  My husband went out to the hardware store and bought a 25 foot snake.  Along with a helpful friend, they drilled and weaved the snake deep into the dark recesses of the kitchen pipe.  The germito was a gutsy guy, that’s for sure.  He easily deflected the snake time and again for over an hour and half.  We hung our heads in shame.  Barely an inch and half tall and he had beaten us.  We retreated.

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It was time for reinforcements.  We called a roto-rooter.  The man came and set up his machine and long coils.  The noise alone was intimating.  My puffball, we call a dog, skedaddled down the hallway and under my daughter’s bunk bed as fast as his tiny legs would take him.  We had the fiend now.  There’s no way he was brave enough to stand and fight against the whirling steal cutting a deadly path through the line.

We underestimated the enemy.  He created a barricade, a diversion so clever it fooled even our professional.  The roto-rooter went straight through the bottom of the pipe and started chewing away at the flooring.  I felt sorry for the man when he retrieved his equipment.  Shaken and scared, he packed up with little to say and no suggestions on how to fix our situation.  He left baring the scars of a hard-fought battle.  He left a piece of himself embedded in our pipe.

My husband now has to replace our pipe.  He must cut a hole in the wall in order to remove and replace the broken part.  The conqueror lies quiet once again, content and smug in his darkness.  Well played, germito.

 Well played

 
 

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I Humbly Accept this Award….

Counting the accolades before the work is finished.

Have you ever done that?  I do it frequently.  Raking the leaves, I congratulate myself for the surprised and rather pleased look on my husband’s face to see a job completed.  When cooking a new recipe, I imagine the yummy sounds that only a fine tasting meal brings.  I thought of the new business I could start simply because I purchased some material to make a hoodie for my dog (incidentally the material is still sitting untouched in a cupboard).    I caught myself doing it again tonight.  I had a great idea for a story line but instead of actually writing the story, I was already trying to figure out how to market my new and, as of yet, unwritten book.

I always have some new scheme up my sleeve.  If anyone needs a new business idea or marketing campaign, I’m your gal.  I have designed several different small businesses right here in my own home town, everything from a taxi service to a mobile sub shop to a bookkeeping business.  My husband has been very supportive with all my endeavours.  The only one he drew a line at was when I attempted to start my own housecleaning service.  He absolutely refused to back me in anyway, with good reason I might add, I have a terrible time keeping my own house in tiptop shape.  Each business was carefully constructed, researched, and modeled until I was sure it would not fail.  None of them actually got off the ground however.  I simply was not the right person for the job.  The right person usually comes along a couple months later and I go around telling everybody that I was right because I saw the need for the business first!

See, all of these businesses never actually made it to the business stage.   Armed with a shaky grip on reality, head-in-the-clouds syndrome, and a hefty fear of failure, I could not complete the final phase.  Each enterprise had its own reason for self-destruction, very valid reasons.  So I spend my weeks devising the next great adventure complete with a humble attitude about my great success.  When my doggie clothing line becomes the “in” thing for dogs, be sure and drop me a line.  I just might have a special prize for my loyal supporters!

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Catching a Dream

“Like seeing my dreams in the middle of the day”  -Hugo

I love dreaming.  Day dreaming, night-time dreaming, it really doesn’t matter to me.  I love the stories that unfold in my head.  It could be a carefree romance, heart wrenching drama, or terrifying horror.  Well, to be honest, I could do without the horror flicks.  It’s a bit like reading a good book, you just want to savour each tiny detail, each tingling touch.  The sensations linger like wispy clouds that float along the edges of my consciousness after I awake.  I am not one of those people who can return to their dreams.  Once I have woken up, the dream evaporates into my pillow leaving me slightly disconcerted and with a nagging feeling of loss.

If I were able to hold onto these dreams, what would I do with them?  Fill the blank pages of a book?  Perhaps direct them on the set of a movie?  What terrific dreams those authors and screen writers must have.  Their dreams unfold before their eyes.  They are able to hold them and nurture them and watch them grow from a wisp into a giant.

I have heard many times that today’s generation has no imagination.  They exist only in the false world of social media and multi-layered games.  It is destroying their brain cells, killing their ability to interact with one another.  I do not fully agree with that statement.  Yes, today’s child has access to immense amounts of information, they are able to team up with unknown people around the world through video games, and obliterate someone’s self-esteem with the push of a button.  This does not mean they lack the ability to dream.  This is their dreams.  I have heard my son yelling at the characters of his game much the same as my brother used to play with his mini cars.  They are not socially challenged.  They want people to join in.  Four, five in the same room all engaged in the same commotion.  Remember Monopoly, Risk?  These were board games that also required huge amounts of time to finish the games.  Technology is not squashing the imagination.  It is funnelling it into new streams, new dreams.

I wonder what dreams await me tonight.  Maybe it will include that robot from the movie I just finished or the romantic winter setting of my current book.  Whatever adventures linger on the fringes of my imagination are sure to turn into fascinating dreams.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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