You Get What You Give

One of my favorite songs by the New Radicals.  “You Get What You Give”.  Not sure where I am going with this one…so bear with me.  Sometimes seeking redemption for whatever it is in your life you need to free yourself from SUCKS.  Seriously it really bites.  For me it has been letting go of a relationship that was just negative, centered around gossiping and judging others, conspiring dishonesty with our husbands.  Mostly about money, well, always about money. It served a purpose while I was feeling crumby because misery loves company right? I thought that I could just walk away but it seems this particular relationship comes with collateral damage.   It shouldn’t but because of the tight group of friends I have, letting go of one strains the others.  I guess I will just have to continue to give and see what I get.

“Because when the night is falling, and you cannot find a friend, you feel your tree is breaking, just bend.”

 

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Redemption is Far From Black and White

Yes, I am super thankful that my quality of sleep is resulting in me feeling more energized and more engaged with myself, my husband and my children.  Physiologically I can honestly say I found the magic bullet to demystify the  major roadblock in my health and physical pain. Unfortunately, it is not that simple and we go back to the the Chicken and Egg scenario.  Am I depressed because I feel like crap? or do I feel like crap because I am depressed? Black, white or grey, fact is, if there was a billboard for sleep apnea next to a poster for depression my picture would be front and center on both.

High Functioning Depression and Anxiety is as real as bipolar, schizophrenia and all of the “more obvious” of mental illness.  Scary thing is, we are the face of people that appear to have our shit together, do more, do it better (in your eyes, not mine) and appear to be uber successful.  We also lack a bit of sparkle, we can be defensive and alienate people from getting too close.  God forbid someone see how we really feel.   We are also the Ivy League college student that hangs themselves after finals because they got a 98 instead of 100, the teenage girl that is homecoming queen but is cutting herself to release the internal pain of feeling inadequate and the mom that drinks a bottle of wine every night just to shut off the negative self talk in our minds long enough to fall asleep.

It is constantly being critical of every action, feeling and reaction on a daily basis.  I did that wrong, I wish I would have, If I had only, I hope they liked me, Nobody likes me, I will do better next time, No I won’t because I suck at everything.  Criticism is like a knife to the heart.  Even when it is constructive and met with the best of intention, it  kills my soul a little bit.  Not because I don’t think I can grow or learn from what you might have to say,  It is because I have already over analyzed my flaws and my mistakes in my own head and having someone else confirm them is like pounding a nail in my coffin.  It is in every hour of every day feeling like a fraud, a failure that is pretending to be perfect.

So for right now this is what I am doing.  Taking my Lexapro and using my CPAP and I do feel better.  Just sitting down to write this is a huge leap of faith that there is more to this life than always feeling horrible about myself and that maybe I deserve better. That God wants better for me,  my husband and children deserve better of me. Just writing and posting this has taken hours of rereading and editing.  Fuck, who knew that being authentic and perfect at the same time could be so challenging. But just maybe I can be a comfort, a help or a friend to others living in this mental incarceration.

 

 

Better Late Than Never

Believe it or not, it was 18 months ago that I had that conversation with my doctor.   It took me 13 months to realize that this pain, both emotionally and physically, was not a matter of will and I was slowly killing myself.  So I did it. Entering the sleep medicine clinic was a bit cathartic.  I wasn’t weeping or depressed.  I was clear, determined and excited.  The specialist was attentive, listened and he was funny. He looked at my chart, my profile (facial profile not my social media profile) and looked at my throat.  Bowing his head down and nodding ever so slightly, he then looked up at me and said, “you have a very narrow airway, an inset jawline and a very low soft palate, I am so happy you are here with me today because I am going to change your life!”

A week later I did a home sleep study, 2 weeks after that, I was fitted for my CPAP machine. Six weeks later I posted this on Facebook:

So when do you really feel the affects of using a CPAP. Well I said I would keep you all posted. I noticed little differences almost immediately….but I have to say 6 weeks in….life changing!! It has been over 3 years since I first went in and talked to my doctor about feeling crappy (probably took me at least a year to actually go in)I was going through the motions, doing my part, c’mon, I’m a mom, I will always muster up the strength to keep everyone going and fulfill my commitments. But at the end of the day, I was exhausted and in a lot of pain, its like all my fatigue fell into my joints and gnawed at me through the night. That is not said to start a pitty party or anything. Just a reflection on where I was. NOTE; the only thing I have changed is using the CPAP and taking a low dose BP medication. TODAY: I honestly had to to tell myself on numerous occasions to shut the F*** up, total chatter box. (had a bunch of fav patients so that did not help) I woke up to my alarm ready to start the day. Got up at my planned time without hitting snooze. At work, I was like an energizer bunny…my co-workers probably think I had a little too much coffee, but I swear I only had one cup and water for the rest of the day, I had a fun day!! Over the past few weeks, this might be TMI but feel its worth a nod…. I am initiating intimacy again, not putting it on the list of to do’s for the week but present and joyful in those special moments with my husband….So I could keep going… Relationship with kids is more engaged, sense of humor is back….all of those little everyday moments that were passing me by because I was waiting to crawl in bed are right there, seized and enjoyed…It really is kinda crazy….

The Chicken or The Egg Chronicles

Do I feel like crap because I am depressed? Or, am I depressed because I feel like crap?  Is it the chicken or the egg?

I cannot pinpoint the exact date or even the exact year I started to have chronic joint pain and anxiety attacks.  A gnawing pain, mostly in my hips, that would radiate down my legs and up my back into my neck.  Any sudden movement in my sleep would throw me into muscle spasms that would wake me up several times a night.  Then the anxiety attacks.  I was afraid to go to sleep, so I would lie there and silently weep with my heart racing and my breathing erratic, just praying for a restful night.

Coming from a “buck up” and get your shit together background, no one really knew how much I was suffering.  Not my husband, my children, not even my closest friends.  Every morning, I dragged my ass out of bed, grabbed the coffee and some ibuprofen and made sure my children were set for a successful day.  I went to work, I did my job, my volunteer activities, cooked dinner, completed the chores and again made sure my children were set for a successful night.  Sex was on the weekly “to do” list.  Not something that was initiated out of love and a need to feel close to my husband.  It became another chore or duty to keep the peace and our household running. Hell yes I was depressed!

About 5 years ago, I went to see my doctor.  I talked to her about how I was feeling.  After about 10 vials of blood and a lecture about my weight (at this point I needed to lose about 20 pounds) she sent me away with an all clear letter and a prescription for antidepressants.  What the fuck?  I am not depressed I am in pain!  I took them for about 6 months and guess what?  I was still in pain, still gaining weight, but now I just didn’t give a shit.

2 ½ years later I did the same thing, went to the doctor, vials of blood, all clear letter and another prescription for antidepressants, a newer better version, that was sure to cure all that ails me.  Only now I am 40 pounds overweight and presenting signs of borderline hypertension.

There is a history of mental illness in my family, my oldest brother has bipolar disorder.  Of course, I dutifully reported this on my intake forms.  The doctor had me convinced that my depression was manifesting itself as physical pain and this was completely normal.  So again I took the pills.  A year in, 60 pounds overweight, pain and fatigue so unbearable I found myself pushing my children and husband away both physically and emotionally. I looked at the clock desperately waiting for the appropriate time to crawl in bed.  It became my nightly routine, 8:30 p.m., go into my room, shut the door, cry uncontrollably inducing a panic attack, and then finally fall asleep.

At 44, I was at such a low point and in so much pain, I considered suicide.  I thought no one should have to live like this.  I am not being a good mom, I am a horrible wife and I hurt all the time.  It was no longer just my body but my heart ached also, for my family, for myself, for the person I used to be.

Some people say that there is a moment of clarity that happens when you finally find the strength and fortitude to climb out of the depths of despair.  Not so glamourous for me.  We changed medical insurance.  Simple as that. I had more options on who I could see and better coverage.  So I sat down at the computer to research doctors in our area that I thought could help me.

My criteria were a bit unusual: Yelp reviews, medical grade sites, of course I looked at those…. However, in my mind, I wanted a chunky, 50 something, lesbian family practitioner that had a passion for women’s issues and the issues of adolescent children.  Yeah, I’m stereotyping, but so what, get over it.  At this point I either want to die or I needed to find a doctor that is going to finally help me and I thought that because I had teenage children, someone who understood their stresses and the stress of parenting them would only be icing on the cake. To some, this may seem like finding a needle in a haystack but I live in Seattle, not as hard as you might think.

I will call her Dr. Rachel, 50 something lesbian family practitioner.  Married to her wife for decades, a high school aged daughter and a very tender heart.  She was quirky, funny, understanding and not afraid to put her own issues out there to help me understand mine.  She walked in the room, me in my gown waiting for my yearly pap, we start chatting, honestly I was bawling before she entered the room, she finished the “medical’ procedure helped me up, gently putting her hand on my shoulder and said, “get dressed, I will be back in a few minutes and we can talk”.

For an hour we talked, stress, depression, my climbing weight and pain, during which she listened to my heart, checked my reflexes, eyes, ears and throat.  We discussed my family history, our kids, our dog, anything and everything was laid out.  Still crying, I kept saying “I’m not crazy, I am just done.  I can’t take it anymore”.  She laughed and said “well you are acting a little nuts, but has anyone ever referred you to have a sleep study?”.

Well, here goes nothin’!

Wow, I already kind of suck at this and I just started yesterday.  What the hell is a widget?  Never mind I will figure it out eventually right?

Redemption of a Mid-Life Mama is a collection of journal entries I have written over the years about… well my journey; my joys and triumphs, lowest and darkest places and my eventual and very recent redemptive moments of clarity.

Love. Motherhood, guilt, failure, sex, menopause, PMS, teenage boys, teenage girls, surviving middle school, college planning, physical pain, emotional pain, anxiety, sleep troubles, sleep solutions, finding balance, serving others, being the best me I can be, faith, God.  Love.   All journeys  begin and end with the need to love and to be loved.  That is our most purest of needs.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mama Redeemed