Monday, June 20, 2016

6 weeks

The last 6 weeks or so has been incredibly long.  I've been in a deep depression/anxiety loop.  I'm not really sure where it came from, but it hit me hard.  It started in late April, around the same time as the 1 year anniversary since I lost my job.  I had to have some blood work done to make sure I didn't have an autoimmune disorder (I don't), H is being a typical teenager, changes with school for me, getting out into the dating world again after 2 years....  The list can go on for a while.  I don't do big changes very well so all of this hit me like a ton of bricks.  Thank God I have a good doctor who doesn't hesitate to increase my medication if and when it's needed.  I was thinking of the things that have helped me cope with this terrible "loop" and thought I would write them down.  Maybe it will help someone else at some point.  Maybe it will help me again at some point to go back over this post and remind myself that I will be OK.

Please remember that I'm not a doctor.  These are things that help me.  Please talk with your doctor if you are having problems with depression or anxiety.    

Family

My family is incredibly supportive and always has been and I am incredibly close to most of them.  The unconditional love that comes with (most) families is a tremendous help.  Knowing that you can call a family member that will listen to you yell, scream, repeat yourself over and over makes handling these "loops" a little easier. 

Friends

Being a typical Pisces, I don't have a lot of super close friends.  I have a lot of acquaintances, but only a handful of people that I trust enough to open up.  Unfortunately, I don't trust just one person to tell everything.  There are things I talk to Mom about or my cousin or my sister or one of my 3 best friends.  It's something I know that I need to work on.  The love and acceptance between friends is different from what is gotten from family.  These people know about my "issues" and not only accept it, but still want to be seen with me, even on my worst days.

Music

As is fairly typical with a Pisces, music is therapy for me.  I can get lost in listening to a variety of music while I'm sitting on my porch.  Music is an escape.  My downstairs neighbors get a nightly "porch concert", which I'm not sure they particularly enjoy, but it makes me feel grounded and safe.  My go-to is usually pop-opera like Il Divo, good old country music (Tim McGraw/Brad Paisley), and people that nobody has ever really heard of like Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess. 

Writing

I don't write as much as I should, but it is very therapeutic to see those words pop up as I type.  It's almost like once I start, the words just seem to flow.  I might be writing for school or even helping H write an essay.  Either way, writing helps more than I even realize sometimes.

Breathing

Breathing seems like such a simple thing to do.  But when you're in the middle of a panic attack, it makes it hard to breathe.  I can usually feel a panic attack coming on about an hour or so before it starts because my chest feels tight, almost like an asthma attack.  My doctor makes sure that I always have a prescription for a rescue inhaler.  Breathing deeply in and out can sometimes make a panic attack a little shorter.

H and the cats

This one is a very personal and very effective aid in dealing with the "loop".  H is finally old enough to understand that Mama isn't just being weirder than normal.  He might not actually offer words of encouragement, but he will hand a cat to me, reminding me that they are good "tear catchers".  The cats with their antics (particularly Saturn with her constant running) rarely fail to make me at least smile, if not laugh outright.  She is such a little nut and possibly the happiest cat on the planet.

Being alone

I know this seems like the wrong thing to do when you're stuck in this vicious loop, but for me, having my alone time is a requirement.  If I do feel like I need to hide from the world for a while, I also know that I'm not completely alone since I can pick up the phone and have human contact without actually leaving my apartment.

Being crafty

Getting lost in a sea of fabric and thread helps so much.  There are no expectations of talking about what's bothering me with the sewing machine (and if my sewing machine DID actually talk back, I'd be very concerned.  I'm learning a new craft called tatting.  It is very relaxing to follow a pattern and make something.

Medications

Medications are not a last resort for me.  I know that I need to be on an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety.  Both have been increased in the last 6 weeks.  The increase has finally started to help.  It's OK to need medications to deal with depression and anxiety.  There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with admitting you need a little help.  

School

I'm finishing up a final anatomy class before I will be at Wake Tech full time.  Knowing that I can't miss class regardless of how I feel makes me get my ass out of bed and get going.  

Not fighting the panic attack

It's gonna happen no matter how much you don't want it to happen.  Don't fight it and maybe, just maybe, it won't last as long as you thought it would.

The Best News  

The best news is that I'm finally starting to pull myself out of this.  It's been a long and exhausting 6 weeks.  But I realize that the panic attacks aren't gonna kill me.  I don't feel like I'm going to jump out of my skin at anytime.  I haven't cried over something silly like the top not going on my contact case.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Changes

Lots of changes have been happening around here lately.  I can handle little changes and just kinda go with the flow and be just fine with them.  Big changes, however, kinda freak me out a little.  OK, a lot.  Between school for me, H turning 17, H getting his driver's license in the next few days, and me changing schools and following a dream, it's been a roller coaster the last few months.

H turned 17 in November.  It's so hard as his mama to see my baby boy as a young man.  To me, he should still be that little boy who thought Mama knew everything.  As a typical teenager, I'm convinced that he thinks I'm the dumbest human on Earth.  Sometimes, I think it shocks him that I actually have brains and am actually quite intelligent.  But then, 5 minutes later, he's asking me some random question and still believes everything I tell him.  I'm waiting to get my brains back, but since I didn't acknowledge that either of my parents knew anything until I was about 30, I guess I have a pretty long wait.

I just finished my 3rd quarter in my pursuit of my Associate's Degree in Applied Science.  The hardest class was Anatomy/Physiology and I aced it.  Fortunately, for me, the way the human body works (or doesn't) fascinates me.  I've kept my 4.0 GPA and haven't gotten any further gray hair.

The other big change is that I decided to truly follow a dream and go to nursing school.  I have so loved being in the classroom and being a labor/delivery nurse has been my dream since H was about 2.  I do worry that my tender Pisces heart will make it tough to handle some of the heartbreak that comes with delivering babies, but I also know that same tender heart will make being a nurse truly the best decision I could ever make.  I'll graduate in about 2 years and finally have my RN before I turn 45.  Since I'm going in with a 4.0 GPA, I will be at the top of the pack and hopefully won't get wait listed.  

I'm really kinda scared about the medical classes that I'll have to take and learning how to do an OB/GYN exam sort of creeps me out (what if the woman's parts smell awful??), but at the same time, I'm so excited about starting this new phase of my life.  I honestly can't wait to be on the hospital floor helping families celebrate the best moments of their lives.  Strangely enough, I also can't wait to console families in those awful moments when their dream of becoming a parent does not come true.  I know that's when my compassionate, loving and tender personality will truly be able to shine, possibly for the first time in my life.  I've been working toward making this dream of my own come true for a very long time.  I feel at peace and comfortable in my own skin for the first time.

I want to be the kind of nurse that I had when I was in labor with H.  She was maternal, loving, comforting, gentle but she also was tough when she needed to be, like when H's heart rate dropped and didn't come back up.  She looked at me and told me that I either needed to get him OUT or I needed to consent to a C-section.  She didn't give me any other options.  When I was getting my epidural (after literally about 72 hours - he was a stubborn thing...), she told me to just put my head on her chest and rubbed my hair while the anesthesiologist did his thing.  That simple gesture made me relax so it was easier to get the catheter in my spine.  I also want to be the kind of nurse as my OB/GYN.  I don't see the doctor but the nurse practitioner.  That's mostly because the doctor fishes with Daddy and that's a little weird.  But it's also because Pat is just simply fantastic and doesn't take any crap from me.

I hope I don't get overwhelmed with all the changes that have happened the last few months and that are going to keep happening at least in the near future.  The last thing I want is to have my anxiety levels get too high.  I don't want it to get so bad that I have to hide until I figure shit out.  So far, that hasn't happened, but I also know that it is a possibility.  I also know that I have a phenomenal support system with family and friends to help me if and when I need it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

College Life

I made it through my first quarter of college.  I can't believe that the first quarter is already done.  It just seems insane to me.  It went by so fast.  Going back to college has always been a dream but one that I didn't think was ever going to be possible.  I'm so glad that I finally made the decision and dammit, I'm sticking to it.

I'm usually not one to talk to many strangers other than a "hey, how are you" sort of thing.  But something strange happened when I walked into the classroom on the first day.  I finally realized that the only way I'm going to truly succeed is to truly come out of my comfort zone.  And I have.  And I'm not sure I've ever been happier.

I'm making new friends that I really think I'll have even after I graduate.  Most of the other students are not a whole lot older than H.  I just kinda talk to them like I would talk to him.  Seems to be working.  I'm not the class clown, but I do get a lot of laughs.

One of the friends that I made, N, is so much like me that it's a little scary.  She's 4 days older than me so our Pisces natures mesh very well.  Where we are alike, we might as well be the same person.  Where we are different, we are total polar opposites.  This makes for some long and very funny phone conversations - especially when she does her impressions of the other students in her program.

One of my instructors just seemed to click with me right away.  I feel like we could have been friends if she weren't my teacher.  Her teaching style just really works for me and my learning style.  I had her for two classes this quarter and I really learned a lot about myself in her classes.  She welcomed questions (and God knows, I ask A LOT of questions), class discussions and was so patient with me when I asked her about a million times "I'm not sure I'm doing this right.  Could you come take a look?" I will miss Ms. C next quarter.

My other instructor, well, she wasn't my favorite.  I did learn stuff in her class.  This was in clear evidence when we played "Jeopardy" on Tuesday and the team I was on beat the shit out of the other 2 teams.  Clearly, I learned something.  I just didn't like her teaching style.

So the first quarter is done.  I made it not only through the quarter, but I made it with a 4.0 GPA and perfect attendance.  I'm so stoked about the upcoming quarter!!!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Music is therapy

Sometimes I wonder if music is as important to other people as it is to me.   I spend a lot of time sitting on the porch and listening to music.  Being a Pisces, it's just natural for me to listen to music.  I've always got music on in the car.  Sometimes, it's country music and sometimes it's Il Divo or Canadian Tenors or Celtic Woman.  Sometimes, it's 80's music.  Sometimes, it's old Southern hymns that we sang (and still sing) in church.

Country music is my first love.  I love the old country stuff by Dolly Partin, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis and Crystal Gayle.  But I also love the new stuff like Brad Paisley or Luke Bryan or Lady Antebellum.  I love George Jones and George Strait.  George Strait might be the same age as my mom, but he's still yummy.....  I think I know the words to all of Lorrie Morgan's songs.

I discovered Il Divo about 3 years ago.  I'd been listening to Canadian Tenors and Celtic Woman for a couple of years prior to that and my mom called and said "you HAVE to listen to this."  It was Il Divo singing "Amazing Grace" and I was hooked immediately.  It doesn't hurt that they are VERY easy on the eyes.  I'm working on learning the lyrics to all of their songs but the language barrier makes it little tougher than learning the lyrics to country songs.  They sing in English, French, Spanish and Italian.  Listening to them has reawakened my love of learning other languages.  I already speak Portuguese and some French and some Spanish, but now I'm learning Italian too.  Most of the time, I have no idea what I'm singing, but I have a good time nonetheless.

Tonight, I've been listening to hymns from church from when I was a little girl and a teenager.  There are so many of these hymns that I can hear Granny sing.  I was listening to "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" and I felt like I was 13 again and watching TV with Granny while she rocked a baby to sleep while singing this song.  Even though she's been gone for 13 years, I can still hear her voice.  These old hymns give me strength sometimes and sometimes, they just make me happy.  Tonight, it's a combination of both.  

When H was little, he was convinced that I knew all the words to every song on the radio.  He didn't realize that it was probably a CD playing.  He told me once "Mommie, you should put out an album."  Bless his heart, he didn't realize that Mommie can't carry a tune in a bucket.  I do take a certain pride in the fact that he's almost 17 and I can still sing him to sleep in the car.  He might be falling asleep as a defense mechanism, but I choose to believe it's because it's as comforting to him as listening to Granny or Mom or Daddy singing is to me.  I've always sung to him and music has always been a part of his life.

I grew up listening to both Mom and Daddy singing and playing the piano.  We are a musical family - my brother sings, plays the piano and was in the band in high school.  My sister has a beautiful voice so do my nieces.  H is in the marching band.  Mom's sisters both have beautiful voices and Daddy's brother was in a real band in the 70's.  Like they had a record and everything!

I hope other people find as much peacefulness, relaxation and happiness in music as I do.  I honestly can't imagine not having an appreciation and true love for music.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Back to School

School starts on Monday.  And not just for H, but for me as well.  I decided after not finding a job for the last 4 months that I would finally go back to college.  After some typical Pisces hiding and mulling over, it actually was a very easy decision.  I've wanted to go back to school to finally get my BS in Nursing since H was a little bitty thing, but money, time and circumstances just never allowed that to happen.  Since I do have such a phenomenal support system in place with family and friends, this is a perfect time.  So I will start my journey to becoming a Clinical Medical Assistant on Monday.  It will take me about 18 months to complete.  I will graduate with my Associate's Degree in Applied Science and will be one step closer to getting my Bachelor's Degree in Nursing.  This is some scary shit but I'm ready.  My projected graduation date is April 2017 - just 2 months before H graduates high school.  

Also, H starts his junior year of high school on Monday.  How I got old enough to have a kid old enough to be a junior in high school is beyond me.  I'm so proud of how much he has matured in the last year.

Even better - new pics of the cats.  Sniper will be 5 next week, Harper is 4, Georgie is 3 and baby Saturn is 15 months old.  I love them more each day even though Saturn has chosen H as her person.  


Harper's pretty little face
Georgie being handsome

Saturn on the curtain rod
Sniper staring at Mama
through the back door

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Family Support System

Sometimes, we don't think about the emotional support system that we have with our family.  I have a huge family and most of them live within about 45 minutes of my apartment.  My sister and cousin live the farthest away in Manhattan (sister) and New Jersey (cousin), but distance doesn't really affect the support they provide - especially with my sister.  This wasn't something that I really thought about until H's dad and I split up in 2010.  It's something that has been on my mind a lot since losing my job in April.

H's dad and I were together for 14 years and when we split up, I got the strongest emotional lifting up from my immediate family and from my best friend.  The first year, in true Pisces form, I pretty much locked myself away to deal with the pain and feelings of failure that I'm sure plague everyone at the end of a long term relationship - whether it be marriage or not.  I am very fortunate that these wonderful people in my life wouldn't allow me to lock myself away for too long at a time.  I am also fortunate that H's dad and I are good friends now, but that took a couple of years to get to this point.

Since I lost my job, all 3 of my parents, my brother and sister, my "big sister-cousins", and various cousins, aunts and uncles have been incredibly supportive.  They know that in my Pisces nature, I will hide away as I usually do when there is something on my mind that I am trying to deal with but don't really know how.  Sometimes, I wish that I didn't feel the need to hide, but as I get older, I know that it's just part of who I am and am learning to accept that.  My family makes sure that I don't hide away for too long.  They text me or call me to check on me, or say "let's go to lunch - my treat" or "come over and let's sew" (that's from my mom).  The lunch invitations are the best.  I'm always game for free food.

I know that it worries them if I don't call or text or communicate in some way with them regularly.  I talk to my mom at least every other day - often way more than that.  Like several times a day.  I talk to my sister almost everyday, whether it be by text or call or Facebook.  Same with my stepmom.  I talk to Daddy about once a week.

I talk to the elder "big sister-cousin" ("D") nearly everyday and to the younger one  at least once a week.  D and I generally talk very late at night after everyone else is asleep.  She doesn't sleep well and I don't have to get up in the mornings so it works well for both of us. She gives me the "shoring up", as we say, that I need when I need it.

I guess what this rambling means is that I am so thankful for my huge, loving, loud and crazy-ass family.  Without them, I think I would be in a heavily padded room with a long list of medications at Holly Hill.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Unemployment

Unemployment just sucks balls.  I was laid off at the end of April and still haven't found a job.  I think  I've sent out about 50 resumes but have only had 2 interviews.  Sigh.....

I think H is really loving me being home.  His dad and I share 50/50 custody so when H is with me, I'm here if he needs me.  I *know* the monsters, I mean cats, are loving it.  Mama doesn't leave the apartment for very long, if at all.  They have become more clingy than they already were.  Sniper follows me everywhere, Harper squeaks when I walk in the room and has tried to claim the laptop as her personal warming station.  Georgie follows me and meows and Saturn is just her normal crazy-ass kitten self.

If I've been sitting on the porch longer than they think is appropriate, one or more of them will start batting at the door to tell me to come in.  Usually, it's Sniper, but sometimes the other 3 will join in.  H will usually come out here with a cat.  He says he's just showing them outside, but I think it's to make sure that I'm still here and haven't left without him knowing.

You know that irrational part  of your brain???  Well, that part of me is absolutely loving being at home.  But the rational part is telling me that since I've made friends with the squirrel that comes to visit, it's probably time to go back to work.

I'm hopeful that I will start getting some calls for interviews soon.  I'm getting a little too comfortable hanging out in my comfy-shorts and t shirts.....