Dream a Little Dream

Hubs has always kidded me about how I manage to remember my dreams. How I’ve managed to collect an assortment over the years that I can pull out and look at again every once in a while, vibrant images intact.

I’m not really into analyzing them very much. I don’t think that they are all that hard to figure out.

An upside to all this sleeping is that I’ve had some pretty vivid and interesting dreams to add to my collection.

One amusing one is this:

I am Katniss Everdeen. I’m in the jungle and being attacked. I’m sweating and pumped full of adrenaline. Breathing heavily and crouched down for better camouflage, I grip my huge bow, reach over my shoulder into the leather sheath that is strapped to my back, and pull out my arrow which is tipped with…..rubber suction cups.

The other dream that has stuck with me is difficult to describe because the detail of the landscape was so incredibly varied and realistic and textured that I don’t think I can do it justice right now.  And I’m still not sure if I’ve got the sequence of events sorted, because a lot seemed to be happening.  The short of it is that I was on a little moped or motorcycle, driving along in a world where all the power had gone out. Trying to make my way along cobbled streets and alleys and paths and feeder roads and freeways and countryside in the pitch dark and pouring rain. Every possible light was out – car lights, my headlight, streetlights, flashlights, every single one. I had this sense of urgency but I couldn’t tell where it was I was trying to go.  I was lost and meandering into neighborhoods I didn’t know.  The buildings all seemed to be out of Harry Potter. Stone and brick and ornate and old.  And there was a dog I found at an intersection where I’d stopped. He looked like maybe he’d been hit and at first I thought he was dead.  He was laying in a puddle and seemed to be drowning. A large shaggy-haired dog. As I leant closer he started to lift his head and wag his tail so I lifted him up and tried to figure out how to bring him with me. He ended up morphing into one of my dogs, L., and I spent a good portion of the rest of the dream trying to keep him alongside my motorcycle on a leash and get us both to safety of some sort.      (Hmn. Whatever could THAT be about, right?)

There are also past dreams that I’ve been thinking about lately because of the way I’ve been feeling. Dreams that seem to have been foreshadowing this feeling that I’ve been struggling with.

One dream I will always remember is from around the late 1990’s, early 2000’s.  I’m standing on the rooftop of a building which seems to be in New York. With me are two of my bosses from my job at the time. They are standing closer to the ledge of the roof and I’m standing at a small distance from them. I’m facing them and they’re yelling something at me. “Stop, drop, and roll!!!! Stop, drop, and roll!!!!!” They start screaming my name and pointing at something behind me. I look down and see a black, powdery substance that leads from my feet…..along the rooftop to….I follow with my eyes back and back to see a spark traveling along this line, turning into flame and coming right at me. One of those scenes in which it seems like slow motion, but happens in seconds. I’m engulfed in flames and through all the crackling and fire, I know I should do what they are yelling at me to do, but instead I just lay down and give up. I’m quite conscious of thinking “Oh, well. This is it”.  I remember my body starting to shake and that’s what woke me up.

There’s another recurring dream I get with a somewhat similar theme. It’s one in which I’m in my pajamas (and it always seems I’m in a nightgown or not fully dressed or something in this one) in a car and it plunges into a body of water. The water starts rushing in the windows as we sink.  I always find myself in this dream, in which small details change but the events are pretty much the same, feeling rather accepting of my fate. There’s an initial sort of panic as the car falls, that sudden drop in the gut, that seizing up of the heart, and then calmness or paralyzation; a recognition that there probably is something I could do to save myself, but I don’t have the energy or presence of mind to attempt or remember it. So be it. Oh, well. There really isn’t time. That’s it. I knew I should have paid attention to those news stories about “what to do if you find yourself in this situation”.  Yeah. I’ve had this dream a lot.

And as I lay on my bed the other day,  I realized that it’s that very feeling I’ve got lately. That paralyzed feeling.

BUT!! I do know what to do (seeing a doctor…or two or three…) and I am doing it. Just took my new cocktail of meds.  So, here’s to not going down with the car.

 

 

 

 

 

Just Waiting

Yesterday I did nothing but sleep.
Again.
Well, almost nothing.
I managed to drag myself out to get my blood drawn.
Today I went in to see my General Practitioner about the results.

I haven’t been able to get an appointment yet with either my psychiatrist or my psychologist.

I was wondering if something might be up that could explain why I’ve been feeling the way I do. Wondering if there was anything in my blood work that would indicate anything other than pure depression. Like, you know, cancer or something.

You see, the last time I was this down, it was right before I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I guess I’m just a little superstitious. Or paranoid. I think the Cancer Card allows me on the latter.

Aside from my cholesterol being extremely high (Turns out I get to be “special” again in the genetics department. This time it looks like I may have a rather rare inherited cholesterol problem), everything else seems pretty damn normal.

Nope. Nothing other than pure depression to explain why I feel like a marionette who’s been suddenly dropped by whomever was pulling the strings; by someone who inexplicably became bored as hell and quite abruptly threw me to the ground and left the building.

The good doctor has prescribed me some extra medication to try and entice that string-puller back to play. Apparently, antidepressants can suddenly just stop working. I really don’t like the idea of having more medication, I really don’t, but at this point….
Ah, Lexapro, why’d you have to give up on me? Was I too much? Was it something I said?

Still going to follow up with the other doctors. Whenever I manage to get ahold of them.

For now, I’m just waiting.
Waiting for the pharmacy to call.
Waiting for tomorrow morning to give the new meds a whirl.
Just waiting for my puppeteer to come back.

 

 

Lost Weekend

This past weekend was a doozy. I’m trying to decide if it falls under the category of depressive seizure …or tantrum?

All I know is that on Saturday, about 4 pm, after spending almost all of the day knitting, (Yes. Knitting. It seems to be the only thing lately that I’ve got the interest or the energy to do. I think it keeps me hyper-focused and therefore, relatively calm…usually) I found myself crawling into bed with my napping husband and simply losing…my marbles and my will, and, it felt like, everything else.

I couldn’t quit crying because all that kept stomping across my mind was:

“I quit. I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I’m useless. Nothing changes. Nothing is going to change. I’m a failure. I’ve always been a failure. I never accomplish anything. I never finish anything. I never follow through on anything. I’m no good. I’m no good for my children or my husband or my friends or my parents. I’m just not good at this. I’m not good at living. Never been good at it. I don’t have the energy. I’m never going to get better. I’m never going to make anything better for anyone. I simply can’t do it. I don’t WANT to do it. I don’t want to try anymore! I don’t WANT to do ONE. DAMN. THING. I don’t have the desire to do anything AT ALL. I don’t want to see anyone or be seen by anyone. What’s the point of anything? I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. FUCK IT ALL. I’m just DONE. I SUCK at this and what’s more I don’t even think I care anymore….”

Now, I know that some people will probably read that and say: “Aah, shut up with your whining already!” and proceed to lecture me about how much better I’ve got it than other people in this world….and they would be right.  Some might say “How can you say you don’t care, when you have children who need you?!”…and they would be right too.

I do have it so much better than many people.  I am very aware of that fact. I would venture that I’m even MORE aware of that fact than a lot of others. I’m not living in a city that’s being bombed. I’m not running for my life from people who want to enslave me to their way of thinking or kill me. I’m not without food or clothing or clean water or a roof over my head. By virtue of the color of my skin, I don’t have to endure a lot of what other people have.

I love my children and my family with every fiber of my being. That’s why this hurts so much. Because I still feel like a total zombie and I know that they deserve so much better. They deserve someone who is completely present and involved and attentive and capable. Don’t make a mistake. I. LOVE. THEM.

I KNOW I’m so much better off than a lot of people. I KNOW I have a lot to be grateful for. Strangely enough, it doesn’t make me want to pull myself up by those bootstraps that seem to have been misplaced around here somewhere. That doesn’t make me feel any better about myself or our situation. In fact, it makes me feel even worse. And maybe that’s the real intent of the person that would lecture me about my seeming ingratitude. Tough love or whatever. SHAME her out of her silly sadness and despair and self-hatred! Yes! That’s the way!! Fight fire with fire, shame with shame!!! Pile it on!!

Trust me. I’ve already tried.  My mom too. And various friends. And the Shame Pyre is burning quite well already, thank you very much. Plenty of fuel. No worries there. But it doesn’t change the feelings or make them hurt less.

Anyway, this seizure or tantrum or whatever the hell it is went on and on: in and out of sleeping and crying for several hours, in between wondering what the hell I was going to do about this predicament of simply not wanting to go on…wondering if just rotting away in bed was an option. Finding a half-hearted chuckle in realizing that I was actually safe from my suicide ideation because I honestly didn’t have the energy to actually get out of the damn bed and do anything about it.

Hubs dragged himself out to take care of what the rest of the household needed – in way of keeping kids and pets company and feeding everyone.  I’m glad he seems to be on the way “Up” since my track definitely seems to be a very slick and slippery “Down”.

The monster in my head that had been muffled and shunted into a straight-jacket and thrown into a triple-locked trunk in my head by my up-until-now-beautifully-efficient anti-depressant and years of cognitive therapy and a good kick in the rumpus by cancer, came unleashed this weekend and went on a bender.

Around 11 p.m. that night though, I started wondering if maybe my cancer has returned; if maybe it has metastasized and is now in my brain and maybe that’s the reason I’m feeling this way. After all, prior to my TNBC diagnosis back in 2011, I had been suicidal. I couldn’t help but remember an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, who was diagnosed with brain cancer and died roughly six months later; how she had become pretty unpredictable towards the end – mood swings and behavior problems. Then, from the depths of the sewage hole of my mind, very faintly, gurgled up a tiny voice that said, “But, I don’t really want to die!”.

AHA!!!! THERE SHE IS!!! SHE’S STILL BREATHING!!…. the voice I needed to hear.

I slid slowly out of the covers, shuffled to the kitchen, took my medication, ate a bowl of ice cream and went back to bed.

I’m still feeling very bruised and shitty.  Still don’t want to leave the house. Still don’t want to socialize with anyone. I just don’t feel capable of it. Energy level is still extremely low.  I’m grumpy and irritable and bone-tired (for no reason) but at least the Will to Live finally piped up…whatever good that will do.

Managed to do the dishes yesterday. Scooped the cat litter. Vacuumed a bit. Yippee.

Making doctor appointments now.

 

 

 

 

Blah.

Man.

This down-ness, this emotional flat-lining, this…..general all-around blech, has got to stop.

Hibernated pretty much all day today.
I seem to be doing that every other day now.
My crown accomplishments? Getting a shower. Picking my daughter up from school.

Thinking of upping my meds. On my own. Executive decision. An experiment.
My psychiatrist says that 20 mg is the upper limit on what I’m on.
My therapist, who has a degree in Pharma, says that 40 mg. is.

I’m just……too numb.

Considering my last post, I guess that makes me a Zombie/Werewolf hybrid.

When The Moon Fills Up

I began my last post by mentioning depression and then proceeding to sift through thoughts about housework. I know that I said my last post wasn’t about depression, but the truth is that it sort of was. Not only did Housework and Resentment manage to become fused in my head over the years, but so did Depression. It’s a trio now, really.

So, even though I want to continue with my dig through thoughts on Housework, Depression (the thing that has its’ chains wrapped about most subjects in my life) piped up louder today.

Strangely, I was thinking about it because I was wondering why, this morning, after two days of sinking down, I suddenly felt a little better.

Is it because my hubs seems ever so minutely, a miniscule bit,  better? (He did manage to stay out of bed more yesterday. Did manage to joke around with the kiddos. Actually started a conversation with me. Sadly, it was my turn to listlessly respond with a shrug and nod of the head).
Is it because it’s stopped raining and the sun is peeking out? Is it because I dragged myself into the company of others? (What came first? My feeling better, or being around other people making me feel better? Hard to tell. Maybe one reinforced the other….I surprised myself by going to that meeting.) Is it because the alcohol I consumed New Year’s Eve has managed to progress out of my system? Is it because I’ve been drinking more water? I got more sleep?

And here’s what suddenly struck me. Having Depression, or any other sort of mental illness, is a bit like……being a werewolf.

There have been many, many, myriad ways of trying to describe Depression, but in the spirit of the trendy, societal fascination (which for the record, I don’t entirely get…) with vampires and zombies and other supernatural fantastical creatures, I offer up this comparison of what it is like. Maybe some will be able to relate to it better.

It’s like being a werewolf.  Or a zombie.
It’s a secret identity. A double life.

While being depressed, it’s entirely possible to go about your life, to work, to school, to functions, to parties!….and seem like a perfectly “normal” person. You’ve got a huge smile on your face. You can laugh. You can joke.
You can actually feel pretty okay. Or, at least think  you do. Pretend to.

When you get home, – if, by any chance, you actually managed to LEAVE the house – when you get away from others, that “normal’ mask can fall right off. All the energy of “being a normal person” can be completely depleted.  You are drained. Seriously. You feel like you’ve been embalmed. Or petrified. You know you are alive somehow, but you just don’t feel it. Blood doesn’t feel like it’s flowing in your veins anymore. Your brain registers all sorts of things, yet you can’t manage the energy to take care of any of it. You transform into a zombie who shuffles off to the succor of a darkened bedroom and covers to pull over your head and shut the world out.  Everything has lost meaning. A part of your brain registers that things SHOULD have meaning. But somehow, the rest of your brain is in mutiny and refuses to believe it.  Or your mind starts eating itself; it starts smearing toxic thoughts all over the place, rendering you immobile from the resulting self-hatred. This is my husband’s transformation. He’s turned into a zombie lately.

I think it was my transformation a few years ago as well, when I was feeling pretty suicidal.  Many an afternoon was spent in bed, feeling like an insect pinned to a board. It was definitely me in my younger days and earlier episodes. I slept. Rather, half-slept…. you kind of go in and out of slumber, but never out of bed….A. LOT. You turn into the walking dead. Or the reclining dead, as the case may be.

These days, now that I’m “better”, meaning that I deal with it better and have some meds that help, I feel more like a werewolf.  It’s a chronic condition for some, like me.

My depression can rise like a tide. Once in a full, blue moon, you can say. Especially now that I’m dealing with my husband’s ongoing battle.
The zombie is agitating the werewolf, for sure. But, I suppose that can’t be avoided.

The werewolf manifests itself by overwhelming the veins with a rising tide of negative emotions, heart with so much despair, that  – despite having interacted with the outside “normal” world like a “regular human” – when home, out of sight of the general public, it throws you on the floor of a dark closet, howling into a pillow and sobbing in uncontrollable mental and, strangely physical, pain; your vision clouded over with nothing but stress and paranoia; your ears stuffed with nothing but the nasty, cruel, scolding of a monster that knows you intimately. It seizes you and twists your heart and kicks you in the ribs and hisses mean things in your ear, and makes you cry, and cry, and cry. It can go on for a day or two…or three.

And the day after that? The werewolf is suddenly …. gone. You look around and things seem …okay. A little, anyway. Things seem do-able. Your seizure is over. And you, a little wobbly, venture back out.

POST-SCRIPT:
If having depression is like being a werewolf or a zombie, then
having ADHD must be like being a Tasmanian Devil.
Anything can set off the Tasmanian Devil, at any time. Seemingly completely random stuff….
My son has ADHD.
He just returned home, found me in here, in the den, and proceeded to rant at and berate me about how “this has been the WORST winter break EVER!!” because we didn’t do x, y, or z…even though at the time of doing “x”, he said he didn’t want to go, or doing “y”, he was too busy…or when “z” was suggested, he wasn’t much interested….
A Tasmanian Devil with selective memory.

 

 

 

Current State of My Union

My husband is deeply depressed. Deeply. Depressed.
I, myself, have fought depression almost all of my life and feel like I am dancing on the edge of it every day.
Thank God my medicine works for me! What a couple, right?
He’s my soul mate. But sometimes that can cause some problems.
Our poor kids. They’ve got a pretty crappy gene pool really…Mental Illness, Cancer, Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease….
And although (thank GOD and knock on wood!) they haven’t displayed any terrible signs of trouble – aside from ADHD and a little Anxiety…I’m noticing how our depression is affecting them. And it needs to stop. It’s needed to stop for some time now; they miss out on so much because of us.

Anyway. This post isn’t about all that. Not directly anyway.

It is New Year’s Eve and I’m trying to get my head around a bunch of stuff because I really need to pull myself together. Things are getting to me big time.  Again. And I’m really tired of this waltz.

I’ve decided that I’m going to do what everyone else does on New Year’s Eve and try to make a new start on a new year. Not that it’s ever worked for me in the past, but whatever. Hope springs eternal. Even when you are slightly depressed.

So, I am permitting myself to indulge in some junk food (Cool Ranch Doritos) and some Prosecco (Hey! Don’t judge the combo…) this evening as I wait for the old year to roll on out (good riddance!) and my new year of (hopefully) better habits to roll in (which will, obviously,  not include junk food or alcohol).  Oh, and better luck! PLEASE PLEASE let some better luck come on in!!!

I’m just going to proceed to spew some thoughts I’ve been having lately; some musings that have replayed and jangled around my head about a particular subject. And I’m probably not going to exhaust them all just now.

I’m trying to find my way. I’m needing to readjust my perspective, and to do that, I’ve got to figure out what my perspective is to begin with.

So.
I’ve been obsessed with Housework for some time now. And not because I love it.

For the record: I never wanted to be a Housewife in the strictest terms. I do not enjoy housework. I do not enjoy cooking.

I do enjoy kids, however. I find them pretty adorable. I do enjoy living in a clean environment as well.

Hence, a dilemma: I don’t like to clean or cook BUT I do like being a mom and I like a clean environment.

(Unfortunately, we do not have the income to afford maids and cooks. Never have; probably never will…)

I think this subject has been at the forefront of my mind ever since I became a stay-at-home mom, around 2001.
(Geez. I wish there were a less awkward term, or another term that isn’t so archaic as “housewife” or “homemaker”…. And, weird, how those two terms should make me bristle. I think I blame it on being a product of the feministic 60’s and 70’s. And, yes, for the record, I consider myself a “feminist”. I am a woman and I like having legal rights. But, I digress…..)
I envisioned a clean, comfortable, tidy, pleasant, home for my children. Toys being scattered about was a given.
Stickiness and dirt and pet-hair and dust and food debris and sour laundry didn’t factor into my vision so much.
Or who would be responsible for IT ALL getting taken care of.
I was just going to be there for my kiddos and play with them and feed them and read to them and and love them and keep THEM clean, at least.
So, I did my best doing those things I felt were essential to my children. Making sure they had my attention and trying to revel in that particular time of special baby-smell and coos and grins and socializing.
I tried not to let the state of my house bother me.
I was, in fact, told not to let the state of my house bother me, by more experienced mothers. Told I should enjoy the various stages of their early development. “Quit worrying about the house!”, I was admonished by many.
Not to mention, I was also very, very, tired. Breastfeeding, diaper-changing, laundry, etc. etc.
My hubs worked.
He was exhausted when he came home. He had a god-awful one to one and a half hour commute every day.  So he usually was DONE by the time he got home. Done for the day.
Still, I felt terrible about the state of the house.
To the point that I didn’t want to invite anyone over.
Because, everyone else’s house always looked nice. At least, presentable.
And they had little ones too.
Maybe not as many pets as us (at least 3 to 4 dogs and 3 to 4 cats at any given time). Yeah. That’s a lot of work too.  Litter boxes. Poop scooping. Vacuuming. Feeding. Playing. Exercising. Not that I was great about getting to all of that either….after all, I also had the kids. Lots of love to go around. Just not a lot of energy. (Needless to mention, our dogs are not the most well behaved….but I digress again)
I was 35 when I had my daughter. 38 when I had my son.

Oh, and I never had that “nesting” impulse while I was pregnant. 9/11 occurred in the weeks leading up to my first child’s birth and I was a bit distracted and distraught over what kind of world we were bringing a child into. And I think I mentioned that I’ve struggled with depression too, did I not?

Anyway. Housekeeping has always been a huge chore to me.
A. CHORE. An all day, all-encompassing, hold-your-nose and do-it CHORE.
I was an only child of working parents. A latch-key kid. And, truth-be-told, despite my problems, a pretty good kid….for the most part.
So, while mom and dad were working, who was responsible for helping out with the housework?
When I was in junior high, beginning in 6th grade, I would come home to an empty house, usually pretty upset about something or other, my depression was setting in, and get a call from my mom, checking in on me and then giving me a list of things I needed to do, like vacuum or dust or pick up or clean the bathrooms or whatever she needed help with. Set the table for dinner. Doing my homework was also a given. The grown-up me understands. The youthful me just felt like Cinderella. It continued throughout High School. I was not allowed to leave the house until all my chores were done. Until all the drudgery had been taken care of. Including the weekends. And I still can recall having some of it being criticized when I rushed through it. Streaks on the bathroom mirrors?! Heaven forbid!

Did I always do my chores? Always do what I was told, on time, on a regular basis? Hell NO! Because I was a kid!! I resented the HELL out of missing out on meeting up with friends  because I had to clean the house! and I absolutely hated the guilt trips and the arguments (as I’m absolutely certain my mom did too) when I didn’t do it and shirked it off.

Housework and Resentment soon became close and intimate associates.  And they have remained so until this day.  This is what I need to examine. This is the partnership I think I need to destroy somehow.

 

Everything Stops

There are certain moments in life when it seems that everything comes to a jolting stop.

Your heart quits beating. You forget how to breathe. All the chatter bouncing around in your head is silenced. There is only one phrase that exists in front of your eyes.

This post is not about me.

My husband and I are sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting for him to meet us. A typical doctor’s office in Houston’s Medical Center. There is a large mahogany desk, covered in various reports, next to a window, stretching wall to wall and almost ceiling to floor, that overlooks a local university, surrounded by mature live oaks, underneath which people are jogging, cars are passing, med students are hurrying back from lunch break. Various framed portraits of dear family members are featured: the doctor on the beach surrounded by a lovely wife and three lovely kids; the children, two girls and a boy with braces, smooshing their pre-teen, giggling, faces together for the camera. A close family. A happy family. A family excitedly moving into the future.

I’m nervously shaking my leg up and down because I’ve been waiting anxiously for this appointment. We both have. We want to have some reassuring answers to why I’ve been having the symptoms I’ve been having.

The doctor is really busy this afternoon. So, I do what most of us do these days, I pull out my iPhone and start scrolling through Facebook to pass the time. My husband and I have run out of things to talk about and frankly, we are somehow too nervous to continue; we’ve fallen into that married-for-many-years silence.

I scroll past the pictures that my old college friend in the Midwest had recently posted of herself and her daughter, who is at the tail end of her teen years, who looks so much like her mother, on a vacation in the Pacific Northwest – an area of the U.S. that I love. I remembered “liking” them the day before. There was no status update with them – just that it was the two of them on vacation. I hadn’t really looked at the date, or the comments, just the photo montage. I decided to look at them again because the two of them have such great smiles and they looked like they were having so much fun and I just adore the setting they were in that I thought that I’d like to look at them again – at such happiness and beauty….

But, then, I become aware of some comments that seem odd. I switch over to her page to see what is going on. There are messages of consolation. Of prayers. Of sympathy.

One message bothers me in particular because it only mentions my friend, her husband, and their son, a young teen. “Oh, God,….” I moan. My husband looks over at me.

Our doctor pops his head into his office and reassures us that he will be with us in “just two minutes!”.

My husband asks what’s wrong and I tell him I have a bad feeling about something, I have to message my friend. He admonishes me to check on it later, let Facebook rest for now, the doctor will be in any second. I put my iPhone down. I wait about a minute. I’m too impatient. I’m worried now about my friend.

I quickly message her to find out what’s happened. I’m thinking there’s been an accident. An illness.

The doctor runs past his door going the opposite direction in the hall. My husband is telling me to let Facebook wait. “Be right there!” echoes back to us from outside the door.

My phone beeps – I have to check, just real quick, okay? I see the doc run back the other way in the background. Suddenly, I want him to take his time. I glance down and see only one sentence in reply to my long-winded question:

“My daughter killed herself yesterday”.

Full stop.