Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Help

I would do anything to hear my mom's voice today.
Thunder is the next best thing and a storm happens to be slowly rolling in.
I'm sitting on the front porch while Maeve naps because Max is playing GI Joe (or Iron Man?) and his sound effects are going up my spine.
I love that he's still into imaginative play and prefers action figures over video games (or at least has a healthy balance), but I am so on edge and it's like Biz Markie is doing a sound check in my living room (and not in a good way; I love the Biz, but...).
I feel hungover from a really bad breakdown.
Not suicidal/harming-one-one's-self- thoughts per se...but, crisis mode for sure.
I'm not proud of the fact that I shut myself into my room and sobbed in bed for three hours while my children were left to their own devices.
Thankfully, my sensitive & mature ten year-old son had the wherewithal to prepare lunch for his feisty little charge (mint chocolate chip ice cream) and park her in front of Beverly Hills Chihuahua II (on repeat).
I'm never ashamed of crying in front of my kids, but the past week (going on two weeks, truthfully) has been rough. While I want them to understand it's normal and okay to just lose your shit and have a good cry sometimes (sometimes for no reason), I don't want to scare them.
I also don't want to put the onus on my son to take over when mom is having a major breakdown.
That's not cool & that's not fair.
I remember being scared when my mom had particularly low/heavy cycles of depression, but I never felt compelled to have to take care of my brother.
During this particular "episode" that I'm pulling myself out of, I felt utterly stuck.
I knew I needed help and in a hurry.
I wasn't afraid of doing something harmful or reckless, but I was afraid of how I was feeling.
My dad wasn't around, Bill was at work and I really really just wanted my mom.
What do you do when you need your mom and you don't have her anymore?
I do have a vast network of support, but it was really hard to reach out...I didn't know what to say.
Help me?
Beth offered to drop everything at work and come over, but I insisted she stay put.
Why willingly admit you're at a serious low & then not accept help? That doesn't make sense (and nothing nothing nothing makes any sense in that moment).
Bill came home, I slept all afternoon, then ran 3 miles at the track with my friend, Lindsay.
I had forewarned her about my "mood", but ever the perfect running buddy (and awesome friend), she just paced us around & around & around...and around. Knowing what physical activity typically does to improve my state of mind, I really couldn't think of anything more ideal than repeating the track over and over. No obstacles, no roots, no rocks, no hills, no traffic, nothing...it did feel good.
What followed was a totally sleepless night and a morning bouncing between psychologist & psychiatrist.
I get it...I get that this is one of the many things that I'm made of.
To me it's not much different than the part of me that suffers from hay fever or the part of me that has really nice handwriting or the part of me that is terrible at math.
It doesn't matter much why I am depressed. It just is.
And yet.
It isn't all the time.
That's the part that's tricky to remember when I'm in the thick of it.
When I'm really hopeless & can't stop crying or all I can handle is breathing & sleeping and I don't want to be pawed at or talked to...when I can't tolerate music or any sound other than my box fan...when just the thought of a warm bath takes too much energy...when I don't want my kids to need anything from me...when I can't eat or drink or make a decision...it's very easy to forget that it will pass.
Sometimes suddenly, like a switch.
Sometimes, arduously over days and weeks (that maybe stretch into a month).
It's cyclical, unpredictable, not always situational and sneaky.
I did end up getting some help.
A slight change in medication, a few concrete strategies in place for these really bad episodes.
I did end up reaching out to a few friends. Cousins. My husband (the saint).
I tried my best to articulate what's going on; not only because trying to hide it is so tiring, but these people care about me and they can help.

Now I'm going to derail this post and leave things on a high note, okay?
When I woke up Monday morning, I had no idea I was going to see Stevie Wonder perform live at City Hall later that afternoon.
Shortly after Beth texted me something about a free pop-up concert in thecity, I pretty much made up my mind that it was a chance worth taking.
I gathered all manner of kid stuff;  snacks, water, stroller, binky for the inevitable skipped nap during the train ride home...and we hopped on the R5 bound for Suburban Station.
After lounging in the grass at Dilworth Park and devouring a Clementine gelato, the crowd began to swell and descend upon our little spot.
When Stevie took the stage, I got goosebumps.
We enjoyed most of the show over by the fountains...you can't top watching a toddler groove in the puddles to Sir Duke. And Max was stoked when the show closed with Superstition.
I hope I'm making good memories this summer for my kids...
You know, like taking the train on a whim to see a free concert by a living legend at city hall (as opposed to their mom losing her shit & crying for days on end and all that fun stuff).

I wrote this on my phone, so I'm sure there are errors galore. Sorry about that.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The taper

I'm (only) on day three of tapering down my Zoloft dosage (per my shrink, but that's a post for another day...or not) and it suuuuuuuuucks.
I have cried because:
The kid at the comic shop informed me that there was a $10 minimum on credit card purchases (my total was $5.19).
I walked down the street on a clear night at 10pm and heard neighbors laughing.
My dad stopped by to pick up a flyer that I'm working on for an upcoming art show.
Bill hugged me for a second too long.
Max wanted to have a sleepover (with me).
I told Bill about all my crying (and that made me cry).

Those are just a few of the reasons I've cried. It's like really bad PMS without the chocolate cravings and bitchiness.
Sike. There's bitchiness right now, too.

In a way, I find it kind of amusing (though certainly not in the moment) because I can probably count on one hand how many times I've cried in the past year.
Well, let me assure you, I am making up for that now.
Jesus.
In addition to the big fat tears rolling down my face without warning, I'm incredibly unsteady/dizzy, have no appetite, and am very tired.
I just woke up from a two hour nap.
And I'll probably go back to sleep when I am finished crafting this awesomely well-written post.
On the flip side, I was super pleasant (almost manically so) at work on Saturday and...
I guess that's the only flip side so far.
Let me just say this...
Drugs that affect your brain chemistry/serotonin levels are no joke.
Even under the watchful eye of a trusted psychiatrist...even when coupling said medication with psychotherapy. 
Even when the benefits unquestionably outweigh the risks. 
No. Joke.
It's a little bit jarring/unnerving what it feels like almost immediately when you take away a mere 50 milligrams.

Stay tuned, people...
Stay tuned.


Hey, let's hear it for all the Ugly Criers out there...the ones who get tell-tale red splotches that last for hours...the ones with the broken capillaries under your eyebrows...the ones who heave and sob with snotty bubbles and scrunched up foreheads...no amount of cold water splashed on the face or makeup can hide the evidence. I feel you, Ugly Criers.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's like this...

I think it's been two weeks today since I last ran.
Bummer.
I've been patiently taking it easy in an attempt to let my Achilles' tendon issue resolve itself. 
(Something about an angry run on pavement coupled with the fact that my shoes are beat)...oops.
The old me would've pushed through and stubbornly ran a crapload of miles on the beach last week (and would be paying the price now with an even worse injury, I'm sure).
Alas, I'm learning.
Learning to be patient.
Learning that rest and recovery are biggies (wait, I knew that already...I just need to actually do just that; rest & recover. Duh)...
I've been on my bike a bit and as always, riding my bike in the woods makes me happy.
And doesn't seem to aggravate the tendon issue.
A nice, solid jaunt on the trails fixes just about anything (or at least clears my head for a while; you know, making room for stuff that actually matters instead of all the crap I'm constantly worrying about).
Which brings me to...

I'm back at therapy.
It started before I went on vacation (funny timing, right?)...
I've had this sadness/flatness pulling at me for a while...I can't point to a specific cause or stressor or situation.
"It's the biochemical part of depression,"
Is what I've been told.
Oh.
Right.
It's not always circumstantial.
There doesn't have to be a reason.
Therapy is weird and tiring and sometimes awkward and almost always helpful/productive.
I've said it before: No shame in my mental health game.
I'm less than proud of the kind of mom/wife/friend I am when I'm not taking care of myself...
I am fortunate to have options and support and the means to seek out help.

We are in the thick of summertime...
I love July and I'm not ready for it to end.



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

(more) On Running...

Every time I've finished a running race lately, I vow to put running aside and get back on my bike.
And then another race comes up and I run again.
And again.
On the Fourth of July, I did the Good Neighbor Day 10k (same race I did the day after my mom's funeral last year)...
I feel like that one is going to be a tradition/ritual for me.
This year, I felt more like a runner as I found my way to the start and felt even more like a runner when I came through the first lap in twenty-five minutes.
I'm not chasing a particular time or result, but I'm trying to learn how to pace myself.
I'm toying with the idea of doing a half-marathon with a good friend of mine...if that's the case, I may finally tap into my husband's wisdom and cobble together an actual training plan.
Last time I formally trained for an athletic endeavor was cross...
Maybe it's time for a little structure again, I don't know.

On the flip side, I did get back on my bike this week.
I treated myself to a babysitter and enjoyed a solid ninety minutes riding in the woods.
(still got it)
Although my legs hadn't recovered from the 10k, I still climbed just fine and felt very comfortable on the trails.
It was fun to zone out and just pedal at my own pace...sometimes casually, sometimes hard.

So.
Before springtime, I was determined to put cross back on my radar and train for racing again.
Now, I am not so sure.
Or rather, I'm pretty sure I'm not delving back into that with all my heart yet.
The beauty of this little conundrum is that my decision isn't really all that important either way...
Are you ever just so thankful that you actually like sweating/maxing out your heart rate/conquering big hills/trying to rip the competition's legs off (even when the competition is just yourself)?
I don't know what makes me this way, but I'm certainly thankful to have found happiness on two wheels/two feet.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tick tick tick tick tick...

Boom.
6/24/2014 (Tuesday night)
I don't know it yet, but you're going to die at the end of this week.
I saw you yesterday in the ICU at Chester County Hospital.
Your hair was in a jaunty little ponytail, blonder already from the early summer sun.
Your skin was deeply tan...I always give you shit for not protecting your skin better. 
There's an insidious, horrid infection taking over your body, but none of us know it yet.
You were cracking jokes with dad & laughing with Dr. Yoder, lamenting the awful Lactulose that you hate taking.
You sent me away, insisted we keep our plans to take the kids camping at French Creek.
Honestly, I don't feel that uneasy about it. There's no grim foreshadowing, no signs to speak of.
Dad agrees. Go.
So, I'm sitting at the campfire watching Max light marshmallows on fire and wondering if Maeve is going to sleep tonight.
I rode my bike alone on the trails earlier and willed you to get better and get home soon.
I sent you all kinds of positive juju and good vibes.
I sailed down descents I'm normally afraid of with ease because you gave me confidence that everything would be okay.
(And it is, but...)
You're going to die on Friday.
I'll be there when you take your last breath. I'll be there with dad.
We'll be there with you.
3 more days.
We can't do anything differently, we can't change the course of events and we can't ask for better care for you.
You will be transferred to Penn via chopper; this is serious.
You'll be proclaimed the sickest patient on the floor.
Your condition will just get worse and worse, but the doctors will still puzzle over every possibility...so, so many doctors.
They won't give up until they have tried everything.
This is probably a little jarring, a little hard to follow...trust me, I feel the same way.
It's Tuesday night and your life is really slipping away.
Tomorrow morning, I'll rush back home at dad's urging and you'll be in pretty bad shape.
You're drowsy and I think you're kind of scared.
You tell me, "I think I'm really fucked up, Kim."
I tell you it's going to be fine and thank god I utter a breezy, "love you!" as I hustle out of the ICU to get home to the kids.
(Now I feel uneasy, now I feel a sense of doom)
Is this hard to follow?
Am I jumping all over the place?
Sorry...
That's just how it's going to go.
The next few days are going to be hard to follow.
The next few days are going to blur together and get mixed up.
There's going to be a frantic drive in the middle of the night to Penn...and a dearth of machines and bags and wires and blips and beeps and tape and bandages and whirring and whooshing.
Not yet, though.
Right now, it's still just Tuesday night and you are still 4 minutes down the road, just a few miles south of our home...serious, yet not grave.
They haven't decided to move you to Penn yet.
I don't know you only have a few more days, the last of which you will barely open your eyes.
I don't even know what life support looks like in real life yet.
I haven't even remotely gone there in my mind yet because...
Pony tail. Laughing. Wide eyes. Cute. 
Alive.





Sunday, May 31, 2015

June

Tomorrow is June 1st.
I've been dreading June...
Every day, we're getting closer & closer to the one year date since my mom died (6/27/14) and it's making me very anxious. Maybe because I can't say to myself, "this time last year we celebrated Max's last day of school/went shopping for Father's Day/tried that new restaurant etc etc etc". I don't know what it is about the one year mark, but I just don't want to get there. Makes no sense, doesn't have to.