Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Can it be 2014 now?

If it were at all possible, I'd like to choose to just skip through this year and let all the things that are coming just happen without nary a moment more spent on them.

That's right, as if enough people weren't already happy enough to say sionara to 2012, the way this 2013 is starting, I think it's just better if we all get cast under someone's sleep spell right now so that when the bell tolls midnight on December 31st we can all just wake up refreshed and ready to greet a happy 2014, without even having acknowledged the presence of 2013.

Since January 1st, my mother in law has wrapped up her chemo but is still suffering side affects and depression and a financial hardship has befallen them because of the travelling they put into getting back and forth to her treatments.  My friend's mother in law, whom we really have enjoyed being around, has been handed a death sentence with a diagnosis of pancreatic and liver cancers, and it's all too likely that she won't make it til the end of the year.  My own mother has been having health troubles from start to finish, and we are now awaiting her diagnosis of well, just about anything you can swag your stick at - though in all likelihood it's looking like lung cancer and rheumatoid arthritis...if we're lucky.  Another friend's father has passed away, and another friend is facing debilitating effects of her own terminal illness...our own health has been plagued by the nasty viruses that knock us on our butts, and our own financial situation has become about as dire as it could get without sending us into bankruptcy...

So, it's all up hill from here right and this is all just a part of life?  One can bloody well hope so.  And while yes it is all a part of life, it all bloody well stinks.  Finding a silver lining is increasingly difficult, which is playing upon my own emotional stability.  The only one I've found so far is that finally my husband has recognized the state of our finances and is now ready to work on them with me.  Fighting that battle when your partner is busy sabotaging every effort is pretty well impossible, and leaves me with no confusion as to why my mental health has been so challenged the last year.  When every word out of your mouth seems to resonate like the words coming out of Charlie Brown's teacher, you start to question if you're actually the problem or not.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?  God I hope so.  Cuz if not, then there's truth to the old saying "life sucks and then you die".  I'd really hate to adopt that as my philosophy...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Presumptuous People

Oh...how to deal with the people in our lives who are presumptuous about situations, inclinations, attitudes, and critical of how we live your life all at the same time.

I've written before about our ill parents, and how awful we've felt about not being able to be there and help in person.  Particularly with my mother in law.  This has been difficult.  And because of her compromised immune system and our own continually embattled immune systems, we have not been able even to visit with her.  I did send a care package when she first began her treatments.  We have had frequent phone conversations, but to be honest life has been busy for us and for them running for treatments almost daily, and well, I'm going to admit that our finances are extremely strained.

So, for the past several months, we've heard of how much charity they have received from members of their community and their church.  They've been given gas cards, groceries, mail delivery.  I also heard how the grandkids came to stay for several weeks near Christmas, and ate and loafed and hung out with their friends, and caused even greater stress in an already frail and ill woman.  And I've heard in the background of every call, animals hooting and hollering (one of which is mine who is living there because she didn't respond well to the addition in our family, and one of which belongs to my sister in law who didn't want to risk moving it to her new home that didn't have a fenced yard).  In the fall, we were asked to supply our father in law with a new winter coat so he wouldn't look so frumpy at my mother in laws hospital visits.  I ordered a jacket online and had it shipped directly to her.  I did this as frugally as I could given that we have our own circumstances to consider.  That jacket was then returned and while I did get a refund, I also got dinged for restocking fees.  That little episode caused me a bit of heartburn and hurt feelings, but since it was my husband's parents, I shut my trap.

We've continued to hear more and more frequently about how tight their finances are getting, but as real troopers go, we've declined to engage while still trying to let them know without going into any detail that we understand how difficult tight finances are.  We always knew it would be tight when we chose to move here, and we're busting our butts to keep treading the water, and we have a plan that will see us inching out of the hole we're in over the course of the next several years.  But my in laws haven't figured any of this out, firstly because they shouldn't need to know, but secondly because well, knowing would or could cause more stress than she would need to have given her current health situation.

Then this morning I get a note from my husband.  "There it is" it says.  When I asked for detail, I saw a request from my in laws for money.  They've maxed out their credit cards and have no money left in their bank account and they have a hundred animals to feed, and it's all gone to getting them back and forth for her treatments...Can we send them some money?  Fast.

I'm partly not surprised.  I had been expecting this.  And the sad part is that we both expected it.  The only time we really get any focused attention from his family is when they need something from us.  Which is where I am going with the "presumptions" part of this article.  We drive comfortable cars, we have a nice home, we make good wages, but the truth is, everything that comes in and sometimes more, well...it's all spent.  We're not trying to keep up with the Jones's but we are trying to make a good life for our family.  That never comes without sacrifice and hard earned work.  But when others see the car or the house, they think there's way more where that came from, and "brrrring, brrrring"... there should just be plenty to go around.

And what really gets me is that I feel awful that we can't help any more than we're going to...and we will help however we can.  But when we deliver what help we can offer, I know there will be a look of disappointment and shock that it's not more.  And what's worse, is that I know for certain that my husband's siblings have not been asked for the same help.  They don't make as much as we do...nor do they have as much to pay as we do.  But the fact of the matter is, there are three kids.

I don't begrudge helping anyone.  I do begrudge being used and abused and rejected.  And I wish to God it wasn't our family that made us feel this way.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Raising good little mommies

So yesterday was a day where my daughter and I called out to the world to let them know they`d have to go on without us.  We were taking a sick day.

We stayed in bed virtually the whole day.  With a small break for some much needed groceries, we stayed in bed, and watched movies and read books and just generally snuggled and slept.

When Maggie awoke from her nap and came in, I was just starting to drift off...so no surprise that I didn`t get all the rest I needed, but when she crawled up on the bed and saw that I was not moving as quick and alert as I usually am, she snuggled in quietly and cradled my head with her whole body.  She was as quiet as a mouse and barely stirred for almost an hour which (if you know toddlers) is unheard of.  In fact, anyone would wonder if there was some cruel and unusual punishment afoot.

That`s when I had an epiphany.  She`s growing up so quickly that it`s almost always that realizations of our children`s development come to us in big brief glimpses.  They quickly flash through our minds and set us on our haunches where they leave us to ponder them.

My daughter is learning how to be a good mother...and she`s learning this from me.

So for the last 24 hours or so, I`ve felt like a great success.  When I had my child my life long goals changed.  In the blink of an eye, my sole purpose in living became moulding this new life into a caring, kind, and capable woman who would take on the world, turn it on it`s end, shake it out and make something remarkable from it`s pieces.  I have just seen precisely how capable of that she already is.

When, as a parent, you spend most of your days worried about what a failure you are, and how badly you may be doing at not poisoning their little minds and leaving them with mental footprints they`ll need therapy to cope with later on in life, a success like this is huge!  Ginormous even!  It`s enough even to get you through another 24 hours without medication.  These small successes are the foundation for good mental health.  These types of successes are the ones where if you`re actually able to recognize them, can carry you through just one more difficult moment.  These are the successes that are often the hardest to trust, but the most important ones to put your faith in.  They most certainly should carry more weight than those ugly dark moments that cause us to doubt ourselves.  If you were to award points, you would award at least 10 points to such a remarkable success.

And then she asked about my boobies, and compared them to her own itty bitty 2 year old chest, and life returned to normal quicker than it gave me a view to the surreal.  BUT, in all this you can see, she knows how to comfort and console and repair and build up.  She knows how to nurture, and what helps in that process..  Boobies are the best comfort in the world - as any man will tell you.  And she already has that instinct.  My baby is an awesome caregiver.  My baby just changed my world...again.

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's a Flunami!

Alright, so I pilfered the term Flunami from another blogger.  I liked it so much - and it's really been a great term to use for the plague that has befallen my own home.

The hubby got sick just after New Year's Day, and when he finally gave in to my nagging and went to the clinic to see a doctor, he found out it was pneumonia!  Yippee.  The anitbiotics have helped him feel better, but then the virus that begat the pneumonia is still clinging making him sound like a choking dog every time he coughs.  He's also a reformed hypochondriac which means it's naturally bred into him to cough louder, bigger and more viciously when anyone else near him coughs which just makes me want to cough in his open mouth as payback.  Which brings me to how well he shares when he has nastiness to spread.

Both my daughter and myself have now been invaded by this flu monster and of course none of us got our shots because you know those vaccines are always at least a year behind in what strains are out there...well I can assure you that this will be the last year that happens.  I feel like the biggest damn bag of dog poop around, and I know my daughter feels equally crummy.  But she and I both have surgeries coming up - so not only do I need to get us both healthy, but I need to do it without taking sick time if I can manage it.  Geese Louise, we just got back to work and school after the Christmas holidays!  You'd think little old me could catch a break in that regard!!!

So after spending the weekend quarantined in our home fighting this thing off, neither of us are feeling any the better for it, and I'm so damn stir crazy I'd like to run naked through the field despite it being negative temperatures out there.  And who cares what the neighbours think?  According to the thermometer (which I'm learning to distrust more and more each day) I don't have a fever.  But just sitting here at my computer, I'm breaking into an awful sweat.  Call them hot flashes, and I'm too damn young for menopause...something's a foot, and it's evil.

So welcome the flunami!  No choice but to engage it and fight it...and well, I suppose I could find a couple ways to make the hubby pay for this particular evil, but then I'd have nothing to hang over his head later.

Would someone please just come here and board up the door - spray paint the door with a white X and send in the coroner?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The healing power of sleep

As the mother and principle caregiver to a very active 2.5 year old girl, I can tell you that the 3 years I've spent with broken sleep is a big contributor to my struggles with my mental health.  Even on nights when I'm lucky and my child does sleep through the night, I find myself magically awake at the times she'd ordinarily be stirring.  I'm wired now.  It's not natural for me to sleep a solid 8-10 hours without waking.  If it's not for that, it's because my bladder no longer holds as much as it used to...lucky me, now I get to throw age in the mix too.

In the process of doing all my preop tests for gastric bypass, I was required to go in for a sleep study.  That's because once you have sleep apnea, they take extra precautions with you when they put you under for a surgical reason.  The best night of sleep I'd gotten in months was during that study - and I was up twice to pee!  This is odd.  Not one person I'd spoken to before I did the study believed I'd get any sleep at all.  I truly didn't think I would either, but I guess it helps to chase a 2 year old all day long.

Because I woke up refreshed and raring to go at 5 am, I foolishly thought I might have escaped that sleep apnea hurdle.  But it looks like I was wrong.  I go back on the 21st for an hour long appointment during which I'm supposed to hear the results of my tests, and I imagine so that I can be pressured to fit in some more overnight stays so that I can be fitted and adjusted on that fancy schmancy novelty item called a cpap machine.  You know, the one that makes anyone who wears it look like a comatose Leia on a mynock hunt.

I'm really not looking forward to wearing a machine while I sleep.  And I'm also not that eager to spend yet another night away from my family.  Finally though, I will be glad to get a decent sleep.  Even now, on nights when I don't wake up several times, I don't wake up energized and ready to run marathons.  I'd like to feel that way just once.

I imagine that it will have a hugely positive impact on my mental health too, whereas I feel foggy and groggy and just plain bleh now.  I'm looking forward to the day when I wake up refreshed, rested and like I've just been on an 8 hour vacation.  Yep.  That would be freaking awesome!

They say that lack of sleep or ineffectual sleep is a breeding ground for depression and anxiety.  Reason being that your body isn't getting the whole rest it needs to regenerate itself.

They say the same about exercise.  And to that I say...baby steps bitches.  Let me get some good rest, lose a little weight, start breathing better, then I'll give the killer exercise a more concentrated effort.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Q'est Cera Cera

One of the biggest hurdles I have with my condition and plainly with my instincts and very nature, is letting go.  Letting things be what they are, accepting things for what they are, and moving on.

It's odd that this is a major hurdle for me.  You would think that someone who likes open clear spaces and has spent the last 7 years purging possessions to live a less baggage riddled life would quintessentially represent the precise opposite of a clingy disposition.  But, that's not honestly true.  My efforts of purging have essentially been my process to clear the hurdles of hanging on to way too much.  Not only that, but it was my way of trying to help my husband do the same thing.  And with every single thing I purged, the lighter the weight on my shoulders got.

Between that and moving into a bigger space, it's been absolutely liberating to live a less cluttered life.  That's why it's all the more devastating when the clutter in your mind begins to pile up again, setting off triggers, and driving you into a darkness that's hard to yank yourself out of.

I began reading A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle again.  The reason I'm re-reading it is because I need to de-clutter my mind.  I need a refresher on how to parse my thoughts, rationalize my worries, and find the inner calm that spares me from going back on medication.  The one thing I hate about the medication most of all is that feeling of complete numbness.  There's a huge difference between accepting life as it comes and not feeling anything at all.

In the opening chapters he explains that at the very core of the human condition is madness.  He explains that there are several ways in which even our religion addresses "madness of the mind" so as to document it's presence and somehow "deal" with it.  The underlying message is perhaps that to continue fighting it's existence, ignoring that it exists or treating it like it's a foreign contagion is absolutely futile.  I can also extrapolate that perhaps because it has always existed that it serves a purpose in enlightening the human race; in awakening ourselves to something that is greater than ourselves.  I'm really not one to follow dogma in any form, but I can say that I honest to goodness feel that this philosophy holds a great deal of truth and logic.  And I think it helps me explain my penchant to speak my own theories/philosophies for all to hear.  While I've said before that I'd love to be Eckhart Tolle, I know hardly anyone is listening or reading my thoughts.  But I still think there's really something to be learned in this process of deconstructing my own mental health challenges.  And even if I'm the only one learning it, at least I've worked things through in my own head somehow in as logical a fashion as I can imagine doing.

So my goal this week, as I get back into the swing of working after being on holidays, and dealing with the daily grind is to make every possible effort to let things be.  Q'est Cera Cera.  Hopefully that will allow me the head space to find stillness, calm and to meditate.  Centre my thoughts on my soul and the energy within me so that I can brace myself and my daughter for our medical challenges this spring.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Viva La Resolution!

I've never been one to set New Year's Resolutions, because the reality is, they never stick.  I don't know a single person who sets a New Year's Resolution and keeps it for the long haul.  And I think the selection of a new calendar year as the catalyst for significant personal growth is too arbitrary and artificial and thereby sets us up for failure.

I believe we have our own internal clocks that work off our own biorhythms that tell us when change is needed.  When course correction is critical and beneficial to our well being our bodies let us know, and often quite loudly.  And if we listen to our bodies, and our minds, and our souls, we end up living the most optimal life we can live.

With the reflection I've done over the last 4 to 5 weeks and all of the hurdles I've braced, leaped and cleared, I can tell you that I have resolved to win my battle with weight loss once and for all, and I've determined that I'll do it on my own terms.  Of course that means it's also coming at a heftier price tag, but in the end I hope well worth it.

I called last week and scheduled myself for Slimband surgery.  I'll be having it done in early March.  Coincidentally before my next consultation would have even occurred with the hospital staff for gastric bypass.  I know that not everyone can afford to privately pursue this kind of surgery...I am barely scraping it together myself.  But the truth of it is, a lot of the anxiety and depression and anger I was experiencing in December related to the treatment we received during that initial consultation, and even more to do with the fact that their only proposed solution was drastically more invasive, disruptive and painfully risky, than the one I originally wanted to begin with.

It's a crying shame that the only option OHIP will cover is vastly more expensive and painful and risky than a lap band.  And their only other alternatives (unless of course you're in the military) are 12 week starvation plans and behavioural coaching.  Really?  We haven't come even slightly further out of the dark ages than to continue blaming the patient?  It's saddening honestly.

So instead, I'll suck up 5 years worth of payments (and pay more due to the interest that will accrue) to be sure that I have something that gets me rebounding much more quickly, ensures I can eat normally if not dramatically less than I used to for the rest of my life, and which is then as permanent as I wish it to be.  Then should I by chance get pregnant, I'm not introducing the potential that my fetus will be undernourished on top of all the other potential complication it may have.  Then, I won't worry if I have a bite full of something my child's birthday cake, a piece of chocolate or anything slightly more fatty than a cucumber, that I'll have unyielding stomach cramps and "dumping".  And when all is said and done, I've already been treated more respectfully and cordially than I have been through the entire OHIP sanctioned process.

I never expected the staff who is beholden to our government to administer these services to be bending over backwards for me.  Truth be told, I don't even expect that from a private company who get paid megabucks to perform these surgeries.  But I ALWAYS expect that people recognize my time is as golden as theirs.  In every situation, my money is paying for this surgery - through OHIP or through private arrangements.  I'm deeply saddened that this is costing me significantly more than it should.

And OHIP should be covering this type of surgery.  It costs less to perform it, and costs significantly less to monitor and sustain it.  And finally, the quicker the people who need it have recovered and are sustaining their weight loss, the lighter the cost impacts are in every other related medical area for that patient.  Our healthcare system and the successes it boasts worldwide is a corner stone of our society.  I'm truly baffled by how we've allowed this system to become so mismanaged.  Maybe once McGuinty is replaced and his liberals are finally ousted, we'll find some degree of reform to the whole system, in particular where preventative procedures are expedited through coverage.  Something here has got to change!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Earning the monsters

What if the monsters that haunt us were really medals of honour?  What if we looked at them like they were a testament to the things we've endured, to the things we've survived and not something that simply plagues us, or makes us something less?

Because they really are.  Depression, anxiety, mental illness in general is never a sign of failure or unworthiness.  The fight I have with my mental illness is just managing the monsters.  I don't think I really want them to go away, because they remind me of where I've been.  The depression I live with is marked by key events: losing my father, being bullied, graduating university and struggling to find work, not being accepted to post graduate school, high stress work and infertility...all capped off with failed businesses, parenthood and marriage with all it's natural ups and downs.  All of these challenges in life are what have lead me to the point where I sit today.  I'm facing several more challenges this year already.  But in every struggle, in every fight, something wonderful has either come before it, or directly afterward.

I can't deny that.  I've earned every scar on my body and that means that I've lived a life worth living?  That's funny, when I was dictating that last statement in my mind as I wrote it, it really was a statement, but somehow what came out was a question.  What I mean by stating though, that I've lived a life worth living is that if for some reason fate or God, or whomever you trust to help you pass into the next realm or dimension decided tomorrow was my day, I can say that I have no regrets.  I've enjoyed the majority of my days to the utmost.

I may have dealt with pains other people won't have any comprehension of...I may continue to be sneered at behind my back by strangers who mean nothing to me anyway and have no idea of what they speak.  But that's for them to resolve.  Those are regrets they will carry.  Not me.  I may continue to have real setbacks and other life altering moments when the grief and pain are absolute.  And I will survive those as well.  I will wear those badges honourably, and I will take them with me to the grave.

I've said it before, there are more people in this world that understand what the effects of depression and anxiety are than ever in our history.  It's time to start supporting one another and helping one another through the darkest moments, so that we can share with each other in our light.  We all have it in us.  The monsters have armies, and we have one another.  We too, are an army.

How can I help you?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Embracing and Accepting the Monsters

So over the holidays I had to dig back into an old stash of anti depressants.  It was that or wait 2 weeks for the doctor's office to open back up so I could wait another week or two for an actual appointment.

And while the impact was almost immediate and good, I had forgotten about the side effects.  I mean I remembered about the headaches and the dry mouth.  But I'd completely forgotten about the nightmares.  And I had some doozies over the holidays that really were rather terrifying and horribly detailed.

And it made me think that they may be a natural manifestation of the monster whose trying to take hold of my body when I'm battling depression.  Those nightmares are really the medications helping me beat the monster back and win the battle.  That's where the bloodiest battles are being fought for my mind.  And it became very clear.  When I get depressed, I seem to also get very angry.  Angry all the time.  Most of it is anger that I'm unable to control the monster without medications after a certain point.  And anger that I can't just wake up one day and feel better.  I get impatient because all I really want to do is hide away in a corner, and nothing and no one will actually let me.  Let's not forget that as a mother and a wife, there's a few pretty important people counting on me every single second of the day.

And so when the nightmares began, I was awfully sad.  It wasn't until I realized that this was me winning that I felt a shift.  I still have a ton of work to do to get better but I'm hoping I caught it early enough this time.  I'm hoping that when I do finally get into the doc that I can tell her that I'm already on the mend.  And if all else fails, at least there's hope.