A Quick Check-in…

Hello, my dear Grief Happens readers. I’ve missed you!

I’m fighting the urge to vomit out everything that’s going on in my life. I mean…I want to share, but it feels like too much.

Not too much in the normal way that I typically feel like it’s all too much, though.

This feels heavier and bleaker, and there’s little insight…which is hard and scary and perplexing. I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing here when I sink this low. Today it felt like what I needed to do, so here ya go.

I typically know how to claw my way out of these dark spaces, but at the moment, I just don’t.

The meds I take for ADHD have not been working well at all. This isn’t exactly new, but it’s gotten progressively worse over the past year or so. I also have little energy or motivation to find a doctor who knows how the hell to actually work with me and prescribe what I need. I’m so dang tired of forking out money I do not have for half-ass treatment. Still, I’m currently NOT medicated, and this isn’t working either. I’m sleeping well and eating well, exercising, meditating, and still…I’m depressed, anxious and unfocused.

I’ve shared here before that I struggle with anxiety. If we’re speaking in diagnoses, which I don’t love to do, I have GAD — Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There has been debate about whether this is the thing that causes problems for me (as opposed to ADHD – combined type/ hyper/inattentive), or if the anxiety is exacerbated because of the ADHD and has become more or less a coping mechanism since my executive functions are greatly impaired. I’m particularly challenged with organization, planning and prioritizing, working memory (I have exceptional longterm memory, but my short-term memory is nearly non-existent) and at times, emotional control.

I stumbled onto this helpful guide on executive function that explains it better if you’re interested. This is a real problem for many people.

I have always had an intuitive sense that the anxiety developed as a coping tool for the ADHD, but lately I’m not sure this is accurate. Really, I’m not sure it matters which comes first — chicken or egg — since all of it is impacting my life. My focus is poor, and the anxiety makes it worse. I have anxiety…which impacts how well I’m able to focus. My head feels like kids-free-admission at Chuck-e-cheese on a rainy day, and the only thing to drink is Surge soda for everyone. Am I making any sense at all?

Anxiety has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, but at times it’s much worse than others. Piers, my oldest son, will be ten in September, so I’m in my tenth year of mothering if you count pregnancy. I haven’t talked about this much here because I’m only just beginning to wrap my head around it, but I have been living in a near chronic state of anxiety since he was born.

A few nights ago, I was discussing some of this with Gil and he and pointed out (as he often does) that this is not normal. As we dipped deeper into all of it, I began to see that while it isn’t normal (and I loathe that word; what the hell is normal anyway?), it has become my normal, which is a big reason I haven’t been able to see it as problematic.

A lot of my behaviors are avoidant. I stay away from situations that might be anxiety-provoking. However, I keep living as though it’s going to pass/get better, and I don’t know, something about seeing that this has been going on for an entire decade made me sit up and pay closer attention.

In my mind I’ve been thinking it’s all temporary.

When the kids are older we’ll be able to do that.

 When the kids go to school this will work itself out.

You get the idea.

But the sad reality is that I just keep avoiding more and more places, people, and situations.

I say no to more invitations.

I sit in the car while my kids and husband go into restaurants (not every time but many times.)

I avoid crowds.

I say we’ll travel when they’re older, but lately I’ve been convincing myself that I have no desire to travel. This is a lie and a total justification. I was born to travel. I’ve been ordering travel packets since well before I was ten years old. I was an international flight attendant for crying out loud. Gallivanting all over the globe is a huge part of who I am…or at least it used to be.

I don’t like to discuss any of this…not even with therapists (more on that to come.)

I have been able to get some of it out with Gil, likely because he has a front row seat to my dysfunction. Despite our marriage problems, he is dear friend — my closest friend — and my behavior is hard to hide since we live together. Our lives are intertwined in most every aspect.

A few nights ago, Gil and I had yet another conversation about this — how my anxiety impacts our family life. I defended myself, even though I knew most of what he was saying was true. I still stand by the fact that a lot of it is situational; it’s the age of our children plus the fact that they’re close in age. We have no family in town and in addition to parenting, we’ve had some difficult circumstances over the past ten years with his father’s death and financial problems and job changes and moving. I could go on and on. It’s enough to create anxiety in most anyone. I refuse to have it all blamed on me. Yes I have anxiety, but there have been a shit-ton of circumstances (many…or rather most of which have been beyond my control) that would fray the nerves of the most Zen monk in the monastery. This isn’t all me. (Stepping off my high-horse now…)

However, these conversations with Gil have made me recognize one thing — over time I’ve stopped coping well with all of it. I’ve almost shut down.

There were times when a certain amount of anxiety actually motivated me. I’d get very worked up, but then I would execute. I’d take action and get the things done that needed to happen.

The action is almost non-existent these days.

I’m teaching very little. I snapped at a co-worker this past Saturday; then for the remaining two hours I felt like I was on the verge of a full-on panic attack. I couldn’t focus on my students because I was silently berating myself for snapping as well as analyzing how bad I had actually snapped.  (Is she mad? Will she say something to our other co-workers? What if she brings it up to the woman who schedules instructors? Fuck, I’ve got to get myself together or I’m going to lose this job. What does it matter anyway? The pay sucks and it takes way more emotional energy than I have. This is why I can’t work and parent. I suck at everything. I need a nap. Geez.)

See? Not only did this happen at the lesson; it’s also been playing in my head since Saturday.

And this is only one of my jobs. I have a gazillion unfinished drafts, and every time I go to submit something I’ve written I berate myself and can only fixate on mistakes while assuring myself that there are a gazillion others I’m missing. Seriously, the anxiety I’m experiencing over some of the most basic tasks is completely ridiculous. I know on an intellectual level that it makes no sense; I also know that my feelings (regardless of whether or not they make sense) are valid, yet I’m unable to use the tools I’ve learned in therapy to push through.

I feel like this post is going nowhere. I think I simply needed to get some stuff out of my head.

When I started Grief Happens, I wrote with less of a filter. The writing was messier, but it was more from my heart and I used this space as a dumping ground to work out the thoughts in my head. I need to return to some of that.

I write in a few other places, but lately no one thing seems to truly have my focus.

I always feel as though I need to be more than who I actually am.

So…who am I?

I’m a struggling mom to two kids who are lovable but complex who’s trying to keep the bills paid and the school folders signed.

I’m an idealist who hates the current state of our world.

I’m a bleeding heart who feels powerless to fix anything at the moment.

I’m reaching and digging and deep down I know things will get better, but I’ve got to put some action steps in place and do my part to make them better.

I also am not sure what’s in my control and what’s not at the moment.

Gil asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day, and I jokingly said, “Discernment.”

But that IS what I want. I want to be able to look from above the polluted cloud and know which piece of flying debris to deal with first, because for the past few months I’ve been retreating in a closed cubby-hole in the middle of the storm. I’m in it but closed off from it, unable to move but not necessarily breathing well either, and I’m sure as hell not letting others in. There’s no room, and any efforts to help feel futile anyway.

I’m gonna post this and come back with more later. I’ve been reading posts and answering comments sporadically. I know many of you are going through your own pain. Please know that I see you even if I don’t comment. The downside of being an empath is that we absorb everything. EVERYTHING.

If you made it through this, I truly appreciate you reading.

I am so grateful for my online community. Just typing this all out has helped me as it always does. I’ll share more soon.

Sending love and good vibes to all of you. xoxo

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23 thoughts on “A Quick Check-in…

  1. I can’t tell u how much I relate to this. Ur not normal because you’re smarter than the average person. Have u ever stopped to think that maybe your brilliance doesn’t fit into the perfect little box that normal people are content with? I’m not trying to say that I’m personally a genius. Far from it. But I feel things more than the average person and I do understand things quicker than the average person. My problem is that sometimes my perspective on these people and things get screwed and I ramble don’t get as much accomplished the average person. I’m determined this year to meditate more and focus on simple things and trust that God has a plan for me and he has one for you too.

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  2. Wow. I feel you. I felt a lot like that during the last year I worked. This is not a fun place to be, but please hang in there. You and I both know things do get better. Eventually.

    And who says people with kids can’t do things? Definitely hard, for sure. But maybe international travel is put off for now, but no reason you can’t see more of the US! I know what you mean, though. I put off a lot of things thinking the same: “I’ll do A as soon as B happens” etc. Stop waiting for your life and live! When I hit 50 I was bombarded by regret for all the things done or not done. Painful. You don’t need more pain.

    I send you strong vibes of hope and strength. I know how hard it is to find the right doc. I am hopeful you will find the right one. It took me a while, but I finally found one. It doesn’t help when you are bogged down by darkness. I send you thoughts of light and love.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much. I ALWAYS value your wise perspective. I feel a lot better pouring some of this out. A lot of it is end-of-school-year blues. This is always a crazy time.

      You are right that there ARE opportunities to travel in my area and within the US.

      The cloud has lifted and I’m feeling much better. Hope things are calmer for you. I haven’t been doing much blog reading, but I’ll be checking in soon.

      Thanks again for the kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really hope you are able to claw your way out of this one soon. I know the feeling of being stuck in a scary pit and feeling angry and upset and frightened and guilty and sorry for myself all at the same time. It’s an awful mix of emotions. You sound like a badass so I have faith that you’ll find a foothold or two to boost you out of this place.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh wow, you are going through so much! I wish I could say that I don’t understand how you feel, but I do. I have certainly been there. I don’t have any sage advice nor will I try to be your online therapist. Just know that you are not alone with these feelings. I encourage you to keep writing if that’s therapeutic for you(and it seems to be)! Your followers are here for you and I WILL be praying for Discernment for you and direction and peace in your life.

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    • Thank you, dear. I DO feel better. I guess I just needed to get it all out. Something shifted shortly after I posted, and things feel manageable again. I truly appreciate your helpful words and prayers! xoxo

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  5. Hey sweet one.

    I COMPLETELY relate to the anxiety issue, more than I’ve written about in my blog. I have written about how I was addicted to benzos and booze. I no longer take either, but damn, I missed their effects today.

    I had a bad anxiety/panic attack in public. I was at the kids’ school for a noon music performance with my husband. We had taken two cars to get there because we each had things to do afterwards. BUT, I lied to him and said I had to leave early during the actual show. I did that to bypass interacting with parents there who I don’t like…that’s putting it nicely.

    I felt so pathetic I couldn’t “buck up” and all that shit, but then I gave myself permission to bail, and boy, did I speed out of that auditorium like a bat out of hell, LOL. I only wish I didn’t lie to my husband about it. Maybe I’ll fess up to him, maybe not.

    Anyway, sorry to be so f*cking self-absorbed – it helped me to read about how you’ve stayed in the car while everyone else went into restaurants – I thought I was the only one who did that!!!! I don’t feel so freakish…..

    Sending you lots of my love and ((((a big hug)))) and, um, discernment!!!!! πŸ˜‰
    XOXOXOOOOXOXOXOXOOXOXOOXOOX

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank YOU for telling me all of that. It’s SO hard, isn’t it? I’m referring to school events, other parents and all the extra stuff that people like us who already struggle with our mental health do not need. But…as parents we have to do some of this. I guess it’s necessary to find the healthy balance…but how the heck do we do that? I’m certainly trying to figure it out.

      This is how terrible mine is lately: Yesterday I was going through Piers’ school papers, and evidently he’s as done as I am, because they were not the grades he typically brings home. He’s my competitive and attentive student. Anyway, I found myself silently pondering the idea that he might not make honor roll for the year (highly unlike him) and while I was a little like aw, that’s gonna suck and he’ll have a breakdown, I was MORE like…but at least I won’t have to go to the Award Banquet and have to deal with parents. OMG!!!! How horrible is that ?!!

      I have been to three doctors and all want to put me on benzos. That seems to be the go-to treatment around here if you have anxiety. SSRIs are the other option, which I’ve also had dreadful experiences with in the past. I know myself well enough to know I likely won’t become addicted overnight (the doctors & my therapist keep reminding me of this), but I have this feeling that I could develop a slow, gradual sort of reliance on them that might hinder more than help. Does that make sense? I’ve taken Khlonipin & Xanax before & while they DO help, I end up with a crazy hangover feeling & I’m left with zero joy. Plus I’m hypervigilant about not taking too much and I tend to obsess when I feel like I might be developing a tolerance. I just prefer to not go there. It’s a process for sure. I’m looking at some different treatment options that aren’t directly in my area…but I gotta get these kiddos out of school. We only have one more week! This has been a hectic few months.

      Anyway, I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve left in the middle of a program at school or wherever else because of panic attacks. Maybe we should create special rooms for those of us who are anxiety-prone where we can go and everyone there is dealing with the same thing, but it’s understood that we’re talking ourselves down & it’s just no big deal… We could even create signs so we don’t have to talk to people…unless we want to (“I need to breathe in silence; don’t touch me.” or “I’d like to talk this through with someone; please approach me gently.”)

      Okay, I’m rambling. I’ve been reading your posts sporadically. Toast Master thing is great. So proud of you! That’s a huge accomplishment!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. From one empath to another…always speak from your heart. And I mean literally. Watch when you have an honest down deep heart to heart with your partner. At the end of it, even if nothing is solved, you have ‘connected’ with him and it will leave you in a more peaceful and calm place. That is simply because you have ‘let it all out’. If you are speaking to others, as in work mate, or other family or a million other places, it will not leave you in that space, simply because your, and others, expectations keep you on guard and you never speak from the heart but from the fear of not doing what others or you want. With your partner that is very reduced because you are more being yourself and allowing yourself to ‘let go’ all of those fears.
    Try it…speak gently but truthfully in exactly how you feel, and watch how everybody begins to treat you differently because they can ‘feel’ where you are now coming from (peacefully and not fear), and are no longer ‘on guard’ with others around you πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Mark. I have definitely noticed that I’m more on guard around others lately, and that I’m almost incapable of speaking from a calm, peaceful place; therefore, I speak very little. This leaves me feeling isolated and lonely. The good news is that I am starting to feel a shift (as I always do when moving towards a slower summer pace.) I need to carve out time and use the time I have to do things that are re-charging. I’m pretty good at speaking from the heart around those I feel close to. Work is more challenging…but writing out some of my thoughts has proven very helpful. Thank you again for your always-wise perspective. It’s much appreciated, friend. πŸ™‚

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  7. Reading this was like reading something I had written in a journal- or was too ADD to write but is always on my mind. You’re not alone! Love this post!! Xo-B

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  8. Thank you for writing this. Not many people talk about what happens when the tools you used to use or medication, for some reason isn’t working for you like it used to. I think that was one big run on sentence! I understand a lot of what you’re saying. When you say “this feels heavier, bleaker” I understand. I seem to have gotten so much worse since my kidneys failed but no one can give me answers. Stress and frustration makes anxiety so much worse. Social Phobia w/ Generalized Anxiety is hard. I find myself not leaving the house or getting dressed for weeks. I’m tired of looking for the “right” doctor or the “right” medication and going through all of the side effects over and over again. You have good reasons to fight and I know you will. You also know you are not alone. I never make sense add a stutter that comes and goes when it wants to and it’s ridiculous! I stick to talking to my Dog it’s easier. Good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I know that you get it — from reading your blog & from how well you describe it here. You hit on a huge part of what is SO hard when med regimens stop working — the seeking the “right” med and the “right” doctor. It’s so damn taxing when you already feel like shit. I also think that the holding it together is draining — or rather the work it takes to appear together & “normal.” Again, I freaking loathe that word but I’m too tired to seek out a more fitting description. And in your case, the kidney failure makes everything harder. I’m sorry it’s so difficult. I have more to say but I have to go prep myself to face the world. And no need to apologize for run-on sentences here! Seriously, I have zero energy to even give a flip about punctuation, grammar & sentence structure. 😊 Love & light to you & hope that your situation gets easier.

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      • One last thing. You can only do what you can do. You are not a Super Hero. Oops! Sorry if I ruined anything for you! I used to do it and now I see my sister doing it. Taking on way too much to prove she’s capable/normal. In the end you make it worse. Everything builds up. Thanks for the reply I’m here if needed My sister doesn’t really speak to me anymore so I have extra unwanted advice lol

        Liked by 1 person

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