Mental health pulse

When I walked into the kitchen this morning the microwave clock stared back at my and read 5:00.

Huh?!?!? I thought, all bleary-eyed.

But yes, it was 5 in the morning. I have no idea why I was up at that hour. I thought certain my alarm had gone off, the alarm set for 6 a.m. Nope. I must be hearing or imagining things.

No surprises there.

So I am up and I guess I’ll stay up. I have wanted to update this blog for a while now, and with the extra time this morning, I hope I can pump out something worth posting.

Food:

I am kind of grumpy now, worrying that I didn’t get enough sleep last night and how it is probably going to throw my whole day. I am annoyed at myself for eating two huge bowls of ice cream before I went to bed last night. I didn’t need that. My eating has not been great lately. I eat waaaaay too much processed foods and sugar. Oddly I never gain weight, so that’s nice, but I wish I could figure out how to eat better. One of the many things I want to work on this summer. I’m in a total food rut, which carries over to how I feed my family. The kids eat a ton of fruits and veggies and drink milk, so I am always happy about that, but they eat a lot of junk and sweets like their mama.

What to do?

I am going to try to meal plan more this summer, and when I am feeding my kids fruits and vegetables, I am going to make sure I eat some too.

Drink:

I’ve still been flirting with alcohol on and off, but I am beginning to think I need to just cut it out all together. Some nights I want to have a glass of wine around that 5 o’clock hour but it doesn’t usually go well because then either, I don’t eat and have a second glass or I eat and then feel like I need to immediately go to bed. Yeah I need to watch that alcohol this summer. I hate the idea of cutting it out altogether. I love summer ales and cold beverages. I don’t want to miss out. But then again, I don’t want to wake up feeling hung over or slide into a depression. If I have learned one thing, it is that if I am feeling the least bit down, alcohol only makes things worse. In my world I think I need to reserve my alcohol intake for celebratory and relaxed occasions when there is not a lot of commotion. Alcohol just makes me too frenzied and crazy-feeling otherwise.

The ‘Benzos’:

I’m not sure if I wrote about my last appointment with my psychiatrist on here, but a quick update… at my last appointment she said it is time for me to go off the ‘benzo’ I am taking. I was like, What’s a benzo, and  wait a minute, I have actually gotten pretty well over the last year and a half and now suddenly you want to take me off a med. WTF. From everything I have learned that’s not the way this whole medication thing works. When you are feeling good it is because the meds are working, and now you want me to stop taking one?

Long story short — I learned more about the ‘Benzos’ and quite frankly feel ignorant not knowing that one of the meds I take (as needed) falls into this category. She told me that there are less potent drugs out there and that now because I am well I can step down to something else if I need it. Well that sent me into a tailspin because it felt like she was trying to take away my ‘security blanket’. The only time I use the ‘benzo’ that I have a prescription for is for when I can’t sleep. That’s it. I don’t take it during the day. I only rely on it for sleep, and that’s not even every. And I don’t have anything against the ‘benzos.’ They work (but I do understand that maybe they aren’t good for long-term). I’m rambling now, but I got upset about the whole thing.

That same week I had a therapy appointment and my therapist better explained things to me. It made me realize two things:

  1. The reason I was on a ‘benzo’ was because of how bad things were for me. I needed a strong med.
  2. I have made so much progress that I should look at stepping down from this as a good sign.

After my therapy appointment I started a log tracking when I take the ‘benzo’ to help me sleep because I needed to see the percentage. Well something turned over in me and I decided I want to help myself ‘re-learn’ how to sleep without it. I am doing pretty good with that. A few things that help me — Going to bed early, not eating or drinking anything before I sleep, reading before bed, wearing something comfortable and tucking myself into the fetal position wrapped in a really soft fuzzy blanket. Yes I have a special blanket. So I guess if I can sleep without the ‘benzo’ than I should be able to give it up.

I have an appointment with my psychiatrist later this month. I know it’s going to come up. I’ll be ready with my log and my case. The thing that absolutely frightens me is not getting the right sleep. No sleep is harmful to me and leads to mania. My therapist said my psychiatrist is NOT going to let that happen to me. So I guess I’ll have to trust those two ladies. I mean I should, they are professionals and clearly know more than me.

That control thing though… it’s had for a control-freak like me to put it in someone else’s hands.

April 16th:

I had a huge meltdown at therapy on the last day of March. The 10-year anniversary of April 16th was approaching. I lost it and sobbed and heaved to my therapist. I think I really needed it. After all these years I let a lot of my emotions go. More progress toward an emotionally healthy life. When the day arrived, Easter Sunday, I was with my family. The day was nice. I let myself be happy. Leading up to the day I reached out to some people, fellow Hokies, via email that I have never reached out to before. It was helpful to read their point of view. As common I received some emails from people at VT who were on campus with me that day.

A few days before the anniversary I was walking with some mom friends while our girls were at dance and I am not sure how it came up, but asked them if they knew this year was the 10-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting. Nope none of them knew. It was eye-opening. How sadly so many people have forgotten. I don’t fault them for it. They did remember when it happened and we lamented over how terrible it was, but then we immediately jumped back to ‘mom convos’ and I was okay with that. I did not need to pour my guts out to these women, I could simply switch gears and move back to present day. A good thing. I get brooding sometimes and that leads to depression.

A few days after the anniversary for the first time, I went back and read Nikki Giovonni’s poem that she wrote and read just days after the shooting. Another eye-opener. Tears slowly streamed down my face. I didn’t sob, but it was emotional to remember hearing her give that speech in the coliseum 10-years ago. President Bush, university officials, first responders, faculty, staff, students people in the community all gathered to begin a very difficult healing process. This year I think letting some of my emotion go and revisiting that poem was helpful. Oh how wise Giovanni was with her words. Having grown and matured since that time in my life I am better able to see her point of view. It’s like she knew — she knew — we’d be okay. It was going to be hard, and it has been, but we’d be okay.

I talked to my writing mentor about it, and she said of the tears I shed re-reading and watching Giovanni’s speech online — that they were healthy tears and the day that I don’t shed them on the anniversary is the day I should worry because that would mean I was jaded. It made sense. I think next year I’ll handle the anniversary better and the sadness of how I feel about the victim, the families, and my alma mater. As for the rest of the year? I am Hokie strong!!!!

My mom:

I spent Mother’s Day weekend with my mom in New York City this year. What a special trip we had — just the two of us. We saw Wicked on Saturday night (sooooooooo good!!) and went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on Sunday. When we were driving home I kept thinking how nice it was to be with my mom. How so much of our relationship over the last several years has involved my kids and my grandma, the young and the old who she and I take care of. We love that we have four-generations. But my mom and I often get sandwiched between and it was nice to simply focus on each other. To know that my kids were loved and safe and that my grandma was loved and safe and that it wasn’t the end of the world if we did not see them on Mother’s Day. My mom and I chose each other. I doubt we’ll have a trip like that again anytime soon, so I made sure to soak it up. I also thought about how my mom and I went through some hard times during my dad’s affair and after the divorce and how though our relationship was not in long-term jeopardy, there WERE some short-term difficulties. I was happy that we those difficulties are long gone and behind us. I am also happy that we are both healthy. In addition to my mental health battles, that my mom has played an instrumental role (and this is HUGE, I would not be where I am at today without her) in helping me, she has had her own medical problems to contend with. The last 10-years have been pretty crazy. It was nice to settle into a weekend together. Having dinner together on Saturday night was fun. Dressed up in the city heading to Broadway. Not a typical night for either of us, let alone together. I am glad we are healthy. And I am glad for my mom.

Four-years since my last hospitalization:

Incidentally, it was Mother’s Day weekend four-years ago when I was last hospitalized for psychiatric reasons. Yep, four years since my last hospitalization, and that is something to celebrate!! I had a hard time that year with the guilt of being on the psych ward with a two-year-old and newborn at home that I was unable to care for on Mother’s Day. It still makes me sad. I remember my mom consoling me after I got out of the hospital saying, “They’ll never remember this. You are a good mom. You got sick, but they’ll be okay. You need to get better, and you will.”

Of course my mom was right, just another reason why I am glad for her.

I don’t ever want to have another psychiatric hospitalization, and I am hoping I don’t, so this year instead of feeling sad that I was in the hospital on Mother’s Day, I am feeling happy about HOW FAR I HAVE COME since that time in May 2013.

Summer:

Only a few weeks left of pre-school for my daughter and a little less than a month for my son. Summer. Summer. What will you look like? I have definitely been stressing about this transition. Trying to ‘get everything done’ before school lets out. Trying to make every kid-free minute of mine count. I’ve told myself I need to take the summer ‘off’ from writing. That I need a break. That I have done SO much writing so far this year between my class and my writer’s group and my journaling and my personal writing, that I simply need a break. But now I feel like I cannot live without writing. (And I probably can’t). So I don’t know. I’d like to ‘fun-write’, but I don’t want to feel any pressure to produce or create. It’s hard though, given how OCD I get about scheduling and having things ‘just so’ in my mind that if I don’t have a writing plan, I’m going to freak out. I think I’ll reserve this space on this blog for writing on after my psychiatry and therapy appointments. Today’s update is feeling pretty good. Long overdue. I’m going to try to not feel stressed if I don’t write on it as much as I did when I started it. Not writing on here as much is actually telling. I needed this blog so badly as an outlet to ‘come out’ about mental illness that I wrote rampantly for the first year (December 2015 – December 2016). It was a beautiful year of blogging and healing and recovering. I don’t want to let this blog die now that I am healthier, but I also don’t want to make mental illness something I have to write about everyday.

I am trying to find balance in what I want to write going forward about mental illness. Someway somehow I’ll figure it out. I always do. I still have many stories to write, but I think I need to slow my pace and regroup this summer.

I am hoping I can control my stress and anxiety this summer, or at least give into it and try to be more carefree. But I need to set some intentions first — to decide how I want to spend time with my kids, what I want for them, how I can still get some ‘alone’ time, what mentality I need to have. I see lot’s of outdoor activities and sun in our future. I hope I can relax and enjoy it.

Here’s to a new day. I am not so grumpy anymore.

Note: Because it pains me that the above is unorganized and grammatically disastrous, I am putting this disclaimer to let my readers know that I am well aware of that fact, but I am not placing enough importance on the mistakes to go back and fix them. This is quite difficult for a person with perfectionist traits. HOWEVER, the whole point of this blog is to air my raw, rambling thoughts in whatever form comes out of me.

Ok, I feel better now.

Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!

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