Thursday, April 24, 2014

A strange kind of gift

Do you know what's absolutely wonderful? Waking up, and actually feeling happy to be awake. I had genuinely forgotten what that feels like. For so long now, I've been crawling into bed as early as possible, confident in the knowledge that medication would put me to sleep and give me a break from my brain. Waking up has been horrible, like trying to pull myself out of the deepest hole, while all the while being pulled back down, and not only that, fighting against the urge to give in and allow myself to be pulled down. Giving in would have been so easy. Everything, absolutely everything, has been the most monumental chore. Actually, no, chore isn't nearly a strong enough word. Hoovering is a chore. Unloading the dishwasher is a really tedious chore. But waking up, surfacing from the relative peace of sleep, into yet another day with a depressed mind tainting absolutely every thought, and every action? That's so much more than a chore. It's a waking nightmare.

Someone asked me recently why I'm depressed, how can I be when I have so much going for me - married, young (ish), kids, dogs, living in a beautiful place - I think finally, I have come round to the belief that for me, there is no great underlying reason. No childhood trauma, no bereavement - it's an illness, biochemistry, something slightly wrong with how my brain is wired, call it what you want, the end result is the same. Yes, there are triggers - difficult babies, tiredness, isolation, stress, financial stress etc etc - but these are things that for the majority of people, while difficult, can be overcome. For me, they start a process that unless I'm really vigilant, will spiral out of control and into depression.

I have long wrestled with the idea of needing medication. Do I really need it? Is it changing the essence of me? Am I ok, or am I only ok because of the medication? Will I need to take it forever? The answers?? Well yes, I now know for sure that I need it. The diabetes analogy is a good one, and used frequently. Diabetics need insulin. It doesn't change who they are, and they need it to be well. Apparently my brain doesn't generate enough serotonin, and I need that to be well. The medication helps with that. I was going to say I'm resigned to the idea of having to keep taking it, but that sounds defeatist. I'm not resigned. I've accepted that I need it. This current combination is working, for sure. It may need tweaking in the future, and my triggers will remain. But the medication is helping.

I've written before about depression being a strange kind of gift, a teacher, one that will keep coming back until the lesson is learned. I think the lesson this time was one that I have always struggled with - acceptance. Acceptance of who I am, what I have, and what I need. I am not depression, but I have it, and one of the things I need to help me manage it, for now and the foreseeable future, is medication. If I can finally rest easy with that knowledge, then the last few months haven't been wasted. I'm starting to breathe again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mammy mojo

I've got my mammy mojo back!! I've had two whole days at home just me and the kids. We've had flashes of temper from both, minefields of he said/she said to be negotiated, arguments over who gets to cast spells on who, badly timed games of blind mans buff ended swiftly by collisions with the corner of the table..............and it's been great :-) I've (for the most part) been calm. Yesterday I was definitely on edge, but today felt much easier. I should probably admit at this point that I did only have one for a significant portion of the day as D was off at a friend's house for a while, but it was the more tempestuous one who stayed home (and gave me a spectacular demonstration of said temper). Did I lose it?? No, I did not!

What's really helping in all of this is that finally I'm starting to feel better in myself. I'm three weeks into the new meds tomorrow, and there's no doubt they're having an effect. The extreme spikes in mood that I've been getting the last couple of months, the intense anger and lows, they've levelled out a lot. Of course, I haven't been at work a whole lot either which is certainly playing a part - the pressure of timetables and routine has been lifted completely and that's making a huge difference. I sat down on Saturday morning, planned food for the week, shopped accordingly and have actually stuck with it. That NEVER happens, no matter how hard I try. My diet is better. I'm feeling more inclined to look after myself. I'm more than just managing being at home with the kids, I'm enjoying it.

Who knew you could have so much fun with a pile of cushions and a dress up box?
The last two evenings were lovely. Normally we come in from work some time between 5.30 and 6, tired, frazzled, and with equally tired kids. The house is usually cold, and unless we've been fantastically organised in the morning, remnants of breakfast are still lurking and the dishwasher needs unloading. There will have been little opportunity during the day to just slow down. The kids want our attention, we badly need a few minutes of peace and in general, there's little opportunity for either in the rush to get us all fed by a decent hour. As we're up early the kids need to be in bed by 7.30, so there's usually very little by way of play time on a weeknight. On a normal week, I'm home late Monday as I see Therapist after work, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we need to do a swift turnaround, being fed and back out for D's beavers and football at 6. By Thursday evening we're hanging and Friday is best left unmentioned.

The last two days? Bliss. Hubby came home, and thanks to the aforementioned food planning, I've had dinner ready. The kids have been relaxed, as have I, and this has made things easier on Hubby as well. Having spent the day with them, I feel so much more connected and in tune with the kids, and I noticed this evening, didn't feel remotely guilty about sitting down in front of the laptop for a few minutes - before (gasp!!!) bedtime. We've had time during the day to chat, play, test the boundaries and generally just potter. It's been great.

Would things be like this all the time if this was my reality? I don't know. Right now, I would give anything to be able to walk away from work, and for this to be how things are full time. I feel like this is just a tiny glimpse of everything that I've been missing. As it is, I have a few more days and then it's back to work and routine. I'm not looking forward to it, but I'm hoping that this new found calm that I have will carry forward, and while I know it will be challenging, hopefully I won't find it quite the struggle it has been in recent months.

In the meantime, I have a few more days to enjoy little things like this:

I want to make it count. And after I go back to work? Well there are two bank holidays coming up, and summer's getting closer. I've booked 7 weeks off so the kids can have a proper break from school and creche, and we can have som fun at home. And now, for the first time in quite a while, I'm not only thinking that we'll manage ok, but that we'll actually enjoy it. I'm a Mam again. That's a big, big win, and one that makes me very happy this evening. Long may it last!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Great expectations

We've had 3 whole days at home just the four of us. Friday was lovely - there was a lot of pottering, not too much doing, and I was mercifully calm all day. Since then, I've been getting steadily edgier, and eventually had to resort to xanax this afternoon when I knew I was getting far too close to snapping. I'm disappointed, although not surprised. I'm rediscovering my chronic inability to sit still, and the ridiculous weight of expectation I carry when all four of us are home together - what we should be doing, where we should be going. I get myself wound up about it without even realising. I think it's easier in some ways when it's just me and the kids, because then I have to make the decisions, and it's up to me what we do. But when Hubby is here, I bring in all these extra variables (note, I, not he) - we're all off, therefore, we should be going on daytrips/spending the day at home is a waste/we're giving the kids too much attention/we're not giving the kids enough attention/we're depriving them of wonderful experiences/I shouldn't be doing housework etc etc etc. Always with the high standards and the guilt. Did I mention M has been running a temperature most of the weekend anyway? So really, going anywhere far wouldn't be much of an option.

It's just really strange. The mornings are fine. The evenings are fine. It's the long stretch of time in between that I don't know how to fill and I get panicky about. The time after we've done the walk............

......but before dinner. I'm tying myself up in knots over what is the right thing to do by my kids. It's frustrating, exhausting and I suspect mostly a waste of time and energy, because as far as everyone else is concerned, the last few days have been lovely. The kids have had loads of fun either together or with us, the sun has been shining, we've been outside lots, had picnics in the's just me!! No, I don't have an album full of photos of trips to the sea or forest walks, but the only one taking issue with that is me.

I haven't had a whole lot of exercise of late, I fell off the running wagon after a really crappy run about two weeks ago, although I did go out yesterday. I need to get back on it again, because I know it helps. I'm full of nervous energy and I don't have an outlet for it right now, and I think that's half the reason I'm getting so wound up over nothing. Right now, the plan is to get up and head out first thing tomorrow. I'll let you know how that works out.