Posted in Life & musings, Uncategorized

It’s been a while…

Hello. It has been a while.

That goes not only for my writing here on this blog, but also refers to how long it has been since I’ve made a good faith attempt to try to be more proactive about my mental health.

So, here goes.

I’m struggling.

On paper, I’m good. I have a loving husband, a stable job, and an adorable one-year-old son. However, in reality, I am finding my life just so very hard. It’s hard. At times it is almost overwhelmingly difficult.

And so incredibly draining.

I am irritable and snappy all the time. Moments of general happiness are hard to come by, which is pretty depressing to write since my son is a wonderment of growth and development and joy right now, and the moments of sunshine in my life almost all come from being with him.

I find myself going back and forth between a general blah-neutral state, to crying and/or feeling terribly lonely (especially on the 3 days I work from home every week , which is not the best thing for my extroverted soul), to frequent bouts of irritability and anger. My irritation often does not have a specific cause, and is almost always aimed at my husband, which I know isn’t fair to him because he has the same working-parent-with-a-toddler stresses as me.

Sigh.

The fact that I am struggling just feels so incredibly unfair. Which is such unbelievable bullshit, because I have so very much to feel grateful for, and what is so unfair about my life?

Cue the increased sadness and irritability please.

 

 

 

It’s depression, right? Back again?

Or just me struggling with adjusting to my new reality of working parenthood?

Or something else?

 

 

My multiple depression struggles in the past have been more “I-want-to-die-from-soulcrushing-sadness” type things. So what the hell is this generally-blah/sad-panda-weepiness/constant-irritability?

Someone tell me to be fucking grateful and snap the hell out of it. Please?

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Posted in Life & musings, My BFD

tick tock

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Do you have any idea of what it is like to try to conceive a child when combating PTSD flashbacks of your sexual assault?

Let’s just start with what is a stressful scenario for so many couples. I am over 30, so for the past year or two I’ve had the vague sensation of an invisible ticking clock hovering over my ovaries, whispering in my grandmother’s voice “you’re not so young anymore…”Then, in the past 9 months, I started to think more seriously about trying to conceive. Which, for me, required much more than just “hey ditch the pill and get to work!”

In my situation, I had to ditch not just “the pill” but many of them. I weaned off of my daily anti-anxiety medication over a year ago, but my anti-depressant remained. I have written in the past about my not-so-successful attempts to wean off my anti-depressant, but, with the help of my psychiatrist, and a pretty intense yoga and jogging regimen, I slowly, slowly tapered down my celexa. And now I’m anti-depressant free! A huge accomplishment all on its own!

[cue applause]

But we’re not done yet people. I was now to the point that most normal couples start at.

I then ditched my birth control pill. And HELLO HORMONES. My first period was delayed by 3 weeks. And during those 7 weeks, I had mood swings and the acne of a teenager… in other words, I gained a new respect for my mother dealing with my teenage self, and felt great pity for my husband.

My cycle regulated. I tracked for a few months my cycle length, monitored for physical ovulation signs, and read about optimal timing for having sex in order to conceive.

I won’t go into all of vast swaths of information that is out there about timing sex in order to conceive, but let me just boil it down to this: you have basically three to four days every month constituting your “fertility window” where your chances of conceiving are pretty good*: the two days before you ovulate, the day you ovulate, and maybe the day after you ovulate. That’s it. Miss that window, and you have to close up shop til next month.

*pretty good = about a one in four chance… which is, by no means, a guarantee of any sort

So here we are. My husband and I are ready to start trying, I’ve got a pretty good idea of when I think I am going to ovulate, and all we have to do is have lots of sex around that 4-5 day window. Easy-peasy, right?

Enter the PTSD and anxiety.

Closer to the time of my BFD (aka my sexual assault), anxiety and sexual activity went hand in hand, and I would have intense pangs of fear before and/or during sex, which would mean I would have to stop. With the passage of time (it is coming up on the 4 year anniversary of my BFD), and after graduating from some pretty intense therapy, this has significantly decreased. The number of instances in a row that sex would be untainted by any pangs of fear increased.

Over this time I’ve learned some triggers that would increase the odds sex would be wholly enjoyable. The later in the day it is, the more likely I am to be tired and to become afraid in the dark. Also, if I am not ‘feeling it,’ for any reason, going ahead to try to have sex anyways is just a bad idea.

See the problem I’m having now?

I want a child. My husband wants a child. But during a normal work week, my husband and I both work late, meaning sex at night is our only option. And given the aforementioned small fertility window, no matter if I am ‘feeling it’ or not, if I don’t have sex on those 3-4 days, I have lost my chance at conception that month.

So, despite knowing better, I have been pushing myself. Even when I am not always ‘feeling it.’ And the results, somewhat predictably, have not been great.

We have been actively trying to conceive for the past 3 months. And each one of these months, I’ve had these PTSD-based pangs of fear associated with sex. Not every time. But often enough.

These fear pangs are awful on their own. But then, that same night, when/if I want to continue, my husband becomes frustrated with me for prioritizing conception over my mental health. (Which, if I am totally honest with myself, I have been doing).

So then not only have I had flashback-esque fear, I am disappointed with myself for missing my window, and my husband is frustrated and upset that I’m not taking care of myself.

In the understatement of the year, it is not pleasant.

 

…..

 

Sigh.

Here’s hoping things work out this month. I don’t know how many months of this we can take.

Posted in Life & musings

the waves

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I know I’m not drowning right now.  I’ve been there, I’ve felt the suffocating weight of the world press me to the breaking point.

Fortunately, this is nowhere near that.

Right now I’m treading water.

But the swells keep slapping me in the face.  And I keep sputtering. Choking. Coughing.

And I hate it.

I hate it.

I just want to pull the blankets over my head, and disappear from the world for a little while.

Posted in Life & musings

hello, old friend

 

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been here.  Since the last time I wrote, my life has taken a large upswing.  I got engaged to K, a truly wonderful and supportive man.  We bought a house.  We got married.  We took an amazing 2-week honeymoon to Europe.  All of which I am immeasurably grateful for.

But….

There’s always a but.

My old frenemy, depression, is still with me. Still hanging out in the back of my brain, waiting, as always, to pop up and drag me down when I’m not paying attention. Just the other night, I found myself sad and crying, for no reason at all. What’s worse is how guilty it made me feel, since I know I have absolutely no right to be sad, when my life is going so well.

Days like today, I have to remind myself about the sneaky, evil nature of my depression…  I can’t let it make me feel guilty for the thoughts and feelings it plants in my brain.  There’s nothing wrong with me for feeling this way.  I have depression.  I have a disease that makes me feel surrounded by a suffocating cloud of sadness sometimes.

As unfair as it is, I have to accept this.  And remind myself that my feelings sometimes lie to me. They can, and do, deceive me.

Hello darkness, my old friend…

It’s time to do battle with you again, it seems.

Posted in Life & musings, My BFD

Countdown…

Happy_New_YearClock

It’s approaching.

New Years.

Also known as the anniversary of my BFD (shorthand for my Big F‘ing Deal, the label I’ve settled on for the clusterf*ck that was NYE2010 and my ensuing sprial thereafter into major depression and mental illness).

God how I hate New Years

I know I need to put a plan in place for NYE2013 so that I can stop worrying about the unknown and what I will be doing.  Of course, this will only take me so far since the plan that would make me feel safest, staying home with boyfriend K and new puppy Baron, loses a lot of it’s “safety appeal” considering that on the NYE, I felt totally safe because I was going to ‘have a quiet New Years’ and just stay home and drink with a few friends.

Oh, the best laid plans…

 

My anxiety is rising…

Posted in Life & musings, My BFD

My old foe

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” ― John Lennon
 
To all my fellow anxiety sufferers: you know those days where you wake up and go: “oh shit, today’s going to be bad.”  That is me today… I’m having one of those days where I am highly anxious and afraid for absolutely no reason.
 
In trying to discern why I’m anxious, I realize that I have no upcoming plans to worry about, no unfinished work at home or in the office, and all of my relationships are going well… i.e., zero tangible problems.  Nevertheless, I am sitting at my desk anxious and afraid and semi-convinced something terrible is going to happen.  I know that to anyone who has never suffered from a mental illness, it sounds crazy, and is hard to explain (but I’ll try anyway).  For me, it feels like a cloud of doom hovering in the air nearby, and I just know that something bad could happen at any moment.
 
How melodramatic, right?  Trust me, I know how it sounds.  Part of the reason I am forcing myself to write today is because giving voice to my irrational thoughts soothes the fear, just a bit.  However, in keeping with my previous posts on 30daysofthanks, I also wanted to write today to say that I am thankful for:
 
6. Myself.  On days like today where my anxiety flares, feelings of shame and thoughts like ‘I am damaged‘ and ‘something is wrong with me‘ linger just below the surface of my mind.  However, just as I need to write about my fears in order to lessen them, I also need to keep repeating an important fact to myself over and over: I am too hard on myself!  I have undergone a terrible experience, yet here I am nearly three years later functioning remarkably well: I am holding down a job, in a stable relationship, and blessed with wonderful family and friends.  I am not mad at myself for recently contracting an autoimmune disease through a fluke of genetics, why should I be mad at myself for the residuals of a major physical and emotional trauma?
 
The answer is I shouldn’t be.  I have brought myself back from the brink of suicide, and today I am miles away from that deep dark hole of despair I found myself in.  So, yes, I am thankful for myself, my strength and my ability to continue to live.  As Lennon said above, “We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create.”
 
I am thankful that I chose to live, chose to love myself, and chose to walk back from the brink.
 
7.  I am thankful for the mental health professionals, including the psychiatric hospitalization program, psychiatrists, and therapists that have helped me along my road to recovery.
 
8.  I am thankful for every family member, friend, acquaintance or stranger that ever helped me on a ‘down day’ with a smile, kind word or supportive ear.
Posted in Life & musings

I give thanks…

Continuing along the lines of my previous post, I am thankful for…

3.  The truly amazing friends that have blessed my life.  Over the past 10 years or so, I have had to learn several hard life lessons, among them the ways to distinguish between true and false friends.  While painful to let go and part ways with false friends, discovering true friendship and experiencing the joy that comes with finding the people who are there for you and have your back, no matter what, has been life-changing.  I am blessed to have so many people that I consider friends.

4. My niece, R.  Three months ago my sister gave birth to my niece, and it has been an utter joy having her in my life and seeing the changes she has wrought.  Not only is she beautiful and adorably chubby and a delight to watch grow and achieve new milestones, watching the changes motherhood has created in my younger sister has been particularly wonderful to see.  My entire family adores R, and knowing she will grow in an environment where she is so loved lightens my heart.

5. Baron (my furry anti-depressant).  Several months ago I wrote about wanting to adopt a dog… I had several reasons for wanting to do so, ranging from loving animals, having a settled schedule, and wanting a wiggly ball of fur greeting me every day to remind me that life can be joyous and fun.  In August K and I adopted Baron, a 40 pound beagle mix who has utterly stolen my heart.  He is sweet and loyal and affectionate and, irony of ironies, he has pretty severe separation anxiety as well.  He reminds me every day to focus on being happy in the present… something that as an anxiety sufferer is all too easy to forget about.