Category Archives: mental illness

Take Two Breaths and Try Again

The more comfortable I become with my mental illness – a combination of anxiety and depression – the more I recognize just how much it has impacted my life. My depression and anxiety play tag, one month I will feel the effects of one more than the other and the next it will switch.  This month, anxiety has led a harsh battle against my inner peace.  Since school is my trigger, this makes sense. My perfectionist tendencies come out in force as I work on papers, study, and interact with my peers and professors.

Yet, with recognition comes understanding and awareness.  So, despite my inability to take my stabilizing medications (due to pregnancy), I can talk about my difficulties with Ben and try out possible solutions.  And sometimes these solutions are simple, like taking a couple breaths and starting over.

This past week, for example, I had a hefty load of papers and other assignments to complete.  Because I am attempting to forge a work-life balance, I do most of my school work on Monday through Thursday and keep Friday through Sunday open so I can spend time with the kids and Ben.  This means that I am spending over 10 hours on those days working on assignments, and, since I am also a stay-at-home mom, waking up really early and staying up really late.  By Thursday, I am generally wiped out and overwhelmed.

When I felt myself losing control, I firmly decided to take a breathing break and try again the next day.  You know what? It was the most efficient thing I did last week.  So, to help me remember this, I’ve made a poster to hang up in my room…or at least place on my computer.

This post is part of Health Activists Writer’s Month.



Filed under mental illness

One Desperate, Sad, and Selfish Momma Coming Up

With a few life-changing events that have happened recently, I’ve been engrossed in, well, myself.

Selfishness just eases right in, doesn’t it?

So I’ve been obsessed with getting to work early, working extra hard at my job, and coming home to relax–NOT playing with my kids.  Yes there are many legitimate reasons for this shift, and I will not disclose them here, but an adult confronts these issues rather than avoids them.

Sometimes I really hate being an adult.

Yesterday, after an especially hard weekend, I had a long cry fest on my husband’s shoulders explaining to him that I am a failure as a mom.  He reassured me that I wasn’t; he also explained that maybe the failure is in thought and inaction.

I hate it when he’s right.

During the kids’ naps, I did some serious soul-searching.  Yesterday I mentioned reading Brooke Shield’s book, Down Came the Rain.  My feelings toward this book are hard to explain.  There are moments when I really hated it and moments when I really loved it.  However, those moments of hatred didn’t have to do with the words on the page, it had to do with seeing myself in those words and hating myself after reading them.

Complicated? Naturally.

Something Brooke relates is how after she went on medication and started intense therapy, she was able to reign in her Postpartum depression.  When she had her first taste of what a working mom would be like–a 4 week shoot of a show with her daughter on-set with her–she finally appreciated just how well her medication was working. Rather than feeling happy she was working, she felt sad that she wasn’t with her daughter and resentful toward her job for taking her away from their special time together.

Cue the [self] hatred.

I haven’t felt this.  I miss my kids while at work, but not in this manner.  In many ways, I feel happy they are in preschool/daycare because I know they are having more fun than they would if they were just with me.  I could not offer them what their current situation can.  At the same time, I haven’t felt this deep sadness when I’m not with them.  I feel relieved when I say good-bye and head off to work.

What is wrong with me?

This weekend, as I mentioned, I had a Come to Jesus (Hallelujah!) moment.  With all the pressures mounting up over the last two weeks, augmenting my anxiety and depression levels, I felt the urge to run away and hide under a pillow.  Those familiar feelings of fear in the morning, evenings, and, particularly, the weekends added to my despair which led to more self-doubt and self-loathing; after a while, I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror.

What can I do?

I believe in change.  I also believe that if sh*t happens in life, it is my responsibility to roll with the punches rather than succumbing to the inevitable pain, resulting in a TKO.  When I found exercise hard, I woke up early.  When I wanted to write without interruptions from kids, I woke up earlier.  So with all this self-doubt and self-loathing (and, ultimately, selfishness), I just needed to think creatively.

It started with reading books to my little Andrew, then I moved to taking pictures of him and his sister; writing a post on my family blog about their silly antics; laughing with Ben over the phrases Emily uses (I can’t, I’m too little) and the serious looks on Andrew’s face; and finally, snuggling with my sweet, angels at the end of the night.

I can’t say I have eradicated all the gloom, but I can say I am trying.  And that, for me, is the most important part of this crazy, self-obsessed, puzzle.

Also, before going to bed last night, I felt a twinge of sadness that I wouldn’t have all day to spend with my silly kids.




Filed under mental illness

A Pregnant Sky

I watch as the clouds turn from a pleasant grey to a dark, heavy, and threatening charcoal grey.

Winter is peering over the hills, casting a long shadow over our small town. Daylight Savings Time has fooled us; no longer does the sky stay bright as the time clock ticks, nearing Closing Time.

The clouds, the darkness, and the expectations weigh heavily in the air as I wait for my family to pick me up.  Looming above me is the potential for a powerful storm.  I hold my breath, hoping it waits.


Inside, the clouds of a different storm wait.  They twist and turn, growing heavier and darker by the day, consuming my mind with different thoughts.  I am not sure when this storm will hit–or, if it will blessedly pass me over.  Hope, excitement, and other positive emotions are squeezed out by nervousness, pain, and fear. Disappointment dots my landscape.  I push through, though, certain I can work the bad thoughts away.


I am home with the kids and husband, lying in bed when the clouds release a torrential outpouring of rain.  It isn’t the gentle pitter patter I had wanted; instead, the water slaps my windows, walls, and roof over and over again, jerking me awake as I listen to the sounds and hope our walls and windows keep us warm and safe.


The storm inside is more complicated, silently waiting until I have relaxed to fully engage my mind, releasing a torrential outpouring of happy and sad, exhaustion and elation.  My insides shake as I am slapped consistently by a barrage of these competing emotions, attempting to decide which ones to focus on.


I hide under my covers as the storms outside and inside converge, metaphorically, in a thunderous roar above my head.  The walls shake and I cower even further under the protection of warm blankets.  I tremble, not wanting to know the truth.  Or worse, to confront my fears.

But deep inside, as the storm rages on, I feel the shield of strength.  An umbrella emerging to protect my face and arms from the worst of the barrage as I confront my issues.  I take deep breaths and run through the storm, reaching my destination.  First one place, then the other, quickly making my rounds.   I finish, exhausted, but feeling Full.

The darkness and desperation have fled.  Yes, they might come back; but, this time I will be ready.  Fist clenched tightly around my medications: my relief and hope from the dangerous storm of mental illness.

*****I am linking up with Heather today, for her wonderful Just Write series.


Filed under mental illness

There MUST Be a Cure for This

I have a serious illness: Sarcastic Foot in the Mouth disease.

It seems that most people naturally have what is called a “stopper” in their brains.  This physical component stops words and/or sentences from coming out that could be taken the wrong way. It also allows a person to think things through carefully before they say something they might be embarrassed about later.  It also reminds them that not everyone appreciates OR understands sarcasm.

Unfortunately, I was born without a “stopper” in it.  This genetic deformity affects 1% of the population, making it rare and deadly.  A baby develops it during the 2nd trimester when the mother overdoses on TV comedies or is around second-hand teenage sarcasm.

When I was little, my parents tried everything to cure my disease. They would say things like “think before you speak,” and “remember to not say things that could be hurtful.”  I would carefully process these directions; but, the next day, I would inevitably say something followed by turning red, apologizing profusely, and thinking about it incessantly all night long.

I believe it has gotten better now that I am an adult.  I usually only say things 2-5 times a week that cause horrible discomfort in the evening.

The big problem is, I often don’t recognize the problem.  I process things this way “wow, this could turn into a serious conversation unless I say [whatever pops into my head] immediately.” With most of my friends, they laugh at my silliness and we can all move on.  There are some people, though, that look at me like I am the craziest person on the planet and think thoughts like, “who says that?”

Me.  That’s who.

Some examples include, well-placed miscarriage jokes/sarcasm: “The next time I get pregnant, I will be taking bets on how long it lasts,” or, when asked if we will be having more children, “Oh sure I’ll get pregnant! It’s much easier to have more kids when I know I won’t actually be having more kids;” telling people how I beat my children into submission by saying things like “if you scream at me one more time, I will smother you with kisses;” finally, I push my atheism on people by reminding them they don’t need religion because I AM perfect; thus, if they emulate MY behaviours, they will be good in the next life.

See?  I’m a goner.

I have talked with numerous doctors.  They say there are only two options for cases like mine: immediately start taking an anti-sarcasm pill or go through intense electric shock therapy to re-wire my brain to THINK before it speaks.

As both of these will require a great deal of sacrifice on my part, I think I will forego both options and relegate myself to a life full of sarcasm and a mouth consistently occupied by a foot.


Filed under mental illness

Oh to be normal.

I had a rough last week.  I could give various reasons: the kids went crazy, Ben is busy with medical school, I’ve woken up with debilitating migraines every morning; but the truth is, the wiring in my brain is screwed up and I am terribly sensitive to hormonal changes.

To have two mental health issues that are comorbid with each other–like my anxiety and depression–means they are interconnected yet independent: you cannot address one without addressing the other; and, as the patient, it is almost impossible to pinpoint which one is the source of mental anguish.  For example, if I miss a dose of my anxiety medication, I feel tense, my thoughts begin to race, and I have trouble sleeping–and, subsequently, my depression begins to come out (even when taking medication) and my whole life goes to hell.  That’s the truth.

The tricky part comes when hormonal fluctuations interact with my mental health issues.  As a woman, I am more prone to hormonal imbalances and, as myself, am especially sensitive to the regular changes (i.e. ovulation and monthly cycles).

So last week’s mess could have been calmly handled if I hadn’t been battling my hormones that also sent my mental health issues into a downward spiral.

There is nothing like a wake-up call to how crazy you truly are.  To make it through these hormonal swings, I must increase my medications a few times throughout the month.   The problem is recognizing when these times are and taking action immediately.  The lines become blurred when dealing with mental illness, so I will tell myself that things will get better if I clean the house, read the kids stories, stop bickering at Ben, and numerous other things that sum up to being strong and dealing with my shit like an adult.

But I know these are not solutions.  Taking control of my mental illness through medication, exercise, and healthy eating will help more than mentally belittling myself.  It’s just recognizing when I need to take these actions that’s hard.

Here’s to hoping that next week I will not sequester myself inside the house and that my body’s hormone levels will finally reach homeostasis.


Filed under mental illness