Saturday, September 29, 2007

In Mourning

Don't even talk to us tonight. Our hometown hero has fallen. Jermain Taylor, though he was winning on all the judges' cards in his title bout with Kelly Pavlik, just got knocked down for the first time in his life, and the fight was called, over just like that. The belts, and our congratulations, are with the tough, scrappy Pavlik. Congratulations, Youngstown, Ohio. But let's not talk about it just yet, OK?

Friday, September 28, 2007

So, What Is It With Me, Anyway?

You know, I ain't right. And I don't really know where to turn to try and find out why not. All I know for sure is that the last several years (since first dealing with my husband's bipolar disorder and all the drama and trauma that went with getting that diagnosed and under control) have been hard, emotionally, and then the last three years (since my Dad died) have been...tragic, desperate, and then this past year since the hysterectomy has just been bizarre. I've dealt with depression and anxiety, which seem to come and go whimsically, and catch me off-guard. I took one anti-depressant after another, and suffered side effects galore without ever really feeling significantly better. Anti-anxiety meds (read: benzos) helped me through some tough spots, and then I'd go several months without any before needing them again.

The only sure thing is that my moods and anxiety/panic attacks always corresponded with something going on externally. In other words, if things were going okay, I was fine. But somewhere along the line, especially since Dad died, something had gone KABLOOEY with the coping mechanisms that had served me for the rest of my life. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this, that some external event could occur that could trigger a weakness, a malfunction, in my brain.

One day this spring, while I was discussing this with a wonderful friend--a friend who just happens to have been, for the last few years, a MUCH better friend to me than I've been to her, or to anyone else--who happens to be a doctor of pharmacy, not to mention having much personal experience with clinical depression. I listed to her all the anti-depressants I'd tried, told her how none of them had worked, and asked her, "What can I try next?" She looked at me, and after just a moment's consideration, said, "You know, Belinda, even though you're depressed, you may not have an actual chemical imbalance. I mean, you've been through some pretty horrible, awful stuff, just year after year recently, and you have every right to feel despondent without it meaning that your brain is all wonky...like mine." And then she laughed. And I saw a light. And I loved her like she was part of me, because she got it. And then she told me the hard part.

She said, "Sometimes, you can't even live life 'one day at a time.' Sometimes, you have to live it in 30-minute increments. You can do almost anything for half an hour, no matter how badly you don't want to. So on days when I just want to stay in bed with the blinds drawn, I make a deal with myself to go out to the barn and groom one horse. By the time that's done, I might look over at YOUR horse" (she's been keeping Misha for me for way longer than I meant for her to) "and decide that his mane needs detangling, so I brush Misha's mane. Then I might want to clip his bridle path, and before you know it, I've spent half the day out in the sunshine, DOING something, instead of wallowing."

Just when I had decided that Kerri was the most brilliant, insightful woman on the face of the planet, she confessed to having developed this coping mechanism after hearing a version of it in the film, "About A Boy." She said, "Yep. 10 years of therapy and I finally learn something useful from a Hugh Grant monologue in a movie. Not the book--the MOVIE."

She IS brilliant, my friend, and she's definitely onto something. I can't help but think that, since no AD has helped me feel better--not really--that whatever is wrong with my brain, it's not something that an AD can "fix." I've been off the most recent AD, Wellbutrin, since early March, with no noticeable effect at all. I don't feel better, I don't feel worse. Just the same. The anxiety symptoms have abated (I'm not having falling-down panic-attacks in Wal-Mart any more), but are still present to some degree, in proportion to what's going on in my life.

Something is particularly difficult about mornings, about just getting out the door. Once I'm out, I'm pretty good for a few hours, but my calm seems to have a shelf-life, and I need to get back home in the afternoon. I like to plan things pretty far in advance, but I have trouble committing to things in advance. Anti-anxiety meds help. I'm not wild about how they make me feel, i.e. slightly dopey, but I do use them when I need them.

And then there's the hormone angle, which I don't even know for sure how to approach. Something has GOT to be going on there, since the weirdness has escalated by, um, a bunch, since my hysterectomy last fall. When I first came out of surgery, on estrogen deprivation, I literally felt, for the first and only time in my life, that I had lost my mind. It's like nothing I can describe--the misery, despair, agony, anxiety--the certainty that it's never going to be better, ever. After a couple of weeks, I was able to start estrogen replacement therapy, and it was like a miracle...at least to a point. It made the extreme crazy go away, but like I said at the beginning of this post, I still ain't quite right.

And I can't help but think that a large part of what keeps me "down" and anxious is the disarray of my lifestyle--I keep Bella clean, fed, loved, dressed well, entertained, cared for...and that's almost (but not quite) the limit of my motivation...and THAT is my motivation for this effort. I don't know yet if it will work, but I know that to have peace and calm, I must first have order. I need it, Bella needs it, Alex needs it. And I need to provide it. I'm on my way, I hope...the house is still a mess, but I've done certain chores more regularly this week, and my family has had a hot, homemade, nutritious meal on the table every night this week, with NO takeout. That's got to be a start.

I'd love to hear from anyone who's been through, or is going through anything similar, especially from the hysterectomy angle.

Looking Up

I've put the Arkansas skies, courtesy of flickr friends, on display over at Ninja Poodles Local. There's some good stuff there. This was my own meager contribution:

sunset, nothing but clouds

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Revolution Will Be Blogged

There must be some accountability. Otherwise, I'll just keep rolling along not getting better with my hormone/anxiety/whatevertheheck situation with my emotional well-being, my house will stay a wreck, the laundry will remain in a giant pile in the middle of the house, the dishes will get washed only when I don't have room to run any water from the sink, and when I get home at the end of every day, someone will ask the question that makes me want to pull my eyes out, "WHAT'S FOR DINNER?" and I will have a nervous breakdown.

And so I've begun this effort over here, where I'll be journaling my ongoing struggle, and I'm kind of hoping that some of you, especially the ones who left the brilliant comments on this post about meal planning, might stop by every once in a while and impart some wisdom. Because, for me, this is really HARD. It's HARD to go to work, come home, make food, bathe child, do laundry, clean up dinner (and everything else that needs cleaning up). Wah, wah, wah. Those of you who are thinking, "That's LIFE, Belinda--what are you whining about?" You are the ones I want to hear from, because I think you can help me along. Those of you who are just reading this in tears, nodding along, maybe you can relate.

When I was discussing the grand upcoming changes I have planned, I told Alex, "There is going to be a CHORE CHART. There will be regular, daily chores, chores that WILL be done, every single day, and they will be assigned to specific people, and those people will DO THEM." He reached over and hugged me, patting my back, and nodding his head, asked, "Where are we going to GET these people?" Yep, that's my man. I hope I can drag us both kicking and screaming into a more orderly, peaceful life. He needs it, I need it, Bella needs it. It's time. Join me, if you like, as I attempt to GET IT TOGETHER, STARTING NOW.


And now on to today's anecdote from the weird workings of the mind of my child. While I'm loading the dishwasher, she asks me:

"Mommy, did you love Alex (she called him "Alex" just that once) when you married him?"

Me: "Why, yes, I did love Alex when I married him. Very much."

Bella: " 'Cuz you thought he was gonna be good, huh?"

Me: "Can you think of a better reason?"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Convincing

Alex is trying to convince me to watch "DEATH PROOF" with him in his Big Loud T.V. Room.

Alex: "It's got Kurt Russell. You like him!"

Me: "I liked him in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes."

Alex: "I hear DEATH PROOF is a lot like that."

(Just an interesting aside--keywords for The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes include "kids and family" and "friendship." Keywords for DEATH PROOF include "car chase" and "beaten to death.")

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Um...ARRRRR.

floatie pirate

In honor of National Talk Like A Pirate Day, I'm sharing this flickr photo of mine, which enjoyed a brief stint in the number one position on Explore today! Avast, ye lubbers--click to enlarge.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Here and There

Thanks a million for all the fantastic dinner-planning and school snack suggestions on the previous post, and by all means, keep 'em coming! The internets are BRILLIANT.

We're not home today, but you can find us plenty of other places.

I've posted, and Alex has even come out of lurkdom in the form of a great commentary at RealMental.

We're having a poodle party over at flickr...

Bear tries whispering sweet nothings in Delta's ear

It doesn't work: "Don't try that line with ME, Bub!

Would that I had a dozen more just like him

And we're bowling over at the Times blog...

already developing a consistent, if odd, style
Oh, and the part I forgot to tell on the Times blog: When we were getting ready to go bowling for the first time, I was explaining to Bella about how we would be taking off our shoes when we got there and getting special shoes to wear while we bowled. She took that in, and was quiet for a minute, and then asked, "We won't have to take our CLOTHES off, will we?" I said, "No, Honey, there won't be any Nekkid Bowling. Although I'm sure there would be a healthy demographic who would sign up for that," at which point Alex's hand shot up, as if he were volunteering.

And we're making chicken and dumplings over at Eat Arkansas.

12.  dished up

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Catchall

While I've been away from this space:

Alex nearly exploded from what we suspect was lithium toxicity. Seriously--he puffed up like a pufferfish, despite compression socks and diuretics, and then started having a multitude of additional symptoms, like scary-high blood pressure, kidney pain, a metallic taste in his mouth (I know--where ELSE would he have a taste, right?), nausea, etc. So the upshot of that is, he's off the lithium and back to Depakote, and the same med cocktail which wasn't working quite well enough back in the spring. Yeah. We're back where we started. But then, it's nearly fall now, so maybe this will be OK for a while. The tightrope-walk that is maintaining a working med cocktail when dealing with psychiatric drugs is NOT FUN. Anyway, that drama took up a solid week of my time and energy.

We went bowling. Twice. I'll be writing that up for the Times blog. Bella beat me both times, though to be fair, she WAS using the bumpers.

I survived the annual autumn mucus rampage, though I have yet to regain my voice.

Betty the poodle puppy flew to Nebraska, where she is happily settling in with Julie's family, and will be shown in multiple venues in the future. We wish them all our best, of course, and have confidence in the dog and human components of this new partnership. Go, girls!

I read lots of books. Check them out on my goodreads page if you like, and connect with me so I can see what you're reading. Because I'm nosy like that.

A home has been secured for Music the colt, who will be departing for New England within the next month. I'm grateful for that, because I know we can't support all these horses through another winter. Now to secure similar happy solutions for Kate and Victor.

I have repeatedly agonized over "WHAT'S FOR DINNER." Does no one else have this problem? It's easily the absolute worst part of my entire day, figuring out what to make for dinner. Every day. And shopping for the groceries. And doing the prep-work. And cleaning up afterward. What a drag. And you know, no matter what I feed these people, they just expect to eat again the next day, and the day after that. IT NEVER ENDS.

And while I'm whining, give me some advice, wouldja, parents of kids who were once in preschool? Isabella is responsible for "special snack" day this week at school, which means that *I* am responsible for "special snack" day this week at Isabella's school. Please, someone give me ideas for clever snacks to make for 4-year-olds, preferably something not entirely devoid of nutritional value. I saw a cute idea for tiny sandwiches cut with cookie-cutters somewhere, with a cream cheese and something else filling, but now I can't remember where I saw it. Such is my life.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Calling All Canadians

OK, not ALL of you. But hey, if any of you British Columbians are within shouting distance of this gallery, you should definitely check it out. Heck, I'm all the way down in Arkansas, and I have three of Andrea's paintings hanging in my home, and my mom has a couple as well. She's good. Get in on her art while it's still affordable, because she is taking OFF, my friends.