Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health’


When you get mad, what calms you down?

Jun 18, 2011

©2004-2011 ~S-Pan

I have been so angry lately, a trait that has never really been an issue for me in the past, but is becoming more and more difficult to deal with.  Because depression is often defined as “anger turned inward”, I guess I’ve always just opted for the depression thing. I’m better at that.  But the more evident it becomes that I am powerless to change the things that anger me, the more I find my inward filling to capacity and unwanted emotions spilling outward.

So I snap at people. I avoid people. I try to avoid myself. Guilt soon crashes my anger party because I’m a Christian woman who is unable to find or keep the peace that I know God offers and I know is experienced by others. I should know how to do this; I should know how to cope. But I don’t. And then, I become even more angry… at myself.

Right now, my anger has made it necessary for me to hide in my bedroom away from everyone, including my brother-in-law who is visiting from Chicago. I get two days notice and then he’s here, at my messy house, for 3 days. We haven’t seen him for about a year, but worse than that, he hasn’t seen me for just as long. During this time, I have become sicker; my ability to keep the house clean has become increasingly hindered; I have lost 2 more teeth – a fact I hope to keep hidden by smiling very little and, if the occasion arises, to laugh politely while covering my mouth  (Think: Geisha Girl ).  Perhaps worst of all, I am so much fatter than the last time he saw me because I continue to gain weight for reasons my doctors cannot identify.  Since I never wear shorts and only wear t-shirts with sleeves that extend down to my elbow, I am always warmer and crankier than everyone else in this hot house that lacks central air.

The bedroom is safe. The bedroom is air-conditioned.  The bedroom is closer to the bathroom – always something I need to be concerned about.  No one can look at me while I’m here in the bedroom and I can’t see all the things that need to be cleaned… and then stress over it. It’s easier to lie to myself about my life and easier to believe some of those lies when I’m in here.

But hiding is not enough; still, I am mad.

Today is the anniversary of the day my husband and I first laid eyes on each other. It is a date we have remembered and celebrated every year, but one that he has apparently forgotten today. Perhaps it’s for the best that he not remember the healthy, much thinner, attractive woman (who still had the majority of her teeth); the woman who was wearing short flouncy skorts, a sports bra, a tan and a broad smile. It’s probably better he not allow himself to think about who I used to be and how much fun we used to have when I was able to participate in the activities we once enjoyed doing together.

He and his brother went on a long bike ride today – something I was once able to do, but now I just glance at my still nearly-new bike in the garage and pretend I believe myself when I think, “someday…”

And the anger intensifies.  No, no, no… it’s not fair!  I throw a little tantrum in my bedroom sanctuary. I cry tears of anger more than sadness and make a mental note of how much uglier I look when I cry. I honestly don’t know what to do to feel calm or break free from this runaway train of thought that always leads to anger. So I resort to my trusty Xanax. It takes the edge off and, at some point soon, I should be asleep. Barring any dreams that mimic reality, I will then be calm and free of any anger… and blissfully unaware that I let it get the best of me again.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Light

Apr 2, 2011

Early morning drive to the hospital

Sunrise Drive 

Though somewhat terrified because I would soon be at the hospital for major surgery, I just couldn’t ignore the vibrant, soothing colors of the sunrise that enveloped me.  I also couldn’t turn around and take the picture directly, hence the side mirror. 

Of course, there was also this fatalist, “sunrise behind me”, and “could this be my last sunrise?” drama taking place, but I don’t think it’s evident in the photo :-)


I Found my Mojo…

Mar 29, 2011

Sadly, it resides in the section of intestine my surgeon just removed.

The scar depicted above looks a lot like mine, except that mine is not healing properly and it goes through my belly button (though my surgeon promised it would not).  Oh, and the scar above is on a a nice flat belly that belongs to a body builder and my scar… well, let’s just say it does not :-/

It’s been 4+ weeks of pain, of infections, of an unexpected heart problem that had me in the ICU, of one doctor visit after another with more and more tests and more medications added to my already long list: MedsMy body rebels if I try to do anything even minimally strenuous and I’m always tired.  Tired from doing nothing.

But the most frightening part of it all is that I feel smothered in apathy.  I can’t think of anything I want to do; there is nothing that interests me, nothing that jolts the sensor that resides somewhere inside of me and makes me excited about beginning a project or a new task.  I just feel nothing.

Sometimes, I feel sad or guilty, but I just can’t revive the old me… or find her.  I have been trying to write this blog post for over a week, but have about a half-dozen deleted drafts to show for my efforts.  My heart is just not in it.  I have always loved to write: I’ve been journaling for years – long before there was something called “blogging”.  But here I am writing, yet it brings me no joy.  It is too arduous to include the details I originally thought I should mention.  And my journal just continues to gather dust.

Yesterday was my birthday.  We have a tradition of going to a local pizzeria to celebrate, but I was still feeling too poorly to leave the house and I couldn’t really eat anything at the pizzeria, anyway, so I broke our family’s tradition.   I could see that my daughter was disappointed, as my birthday is a much more exciting event to her than it is to me.

I read something about post-surgical depression, but this feels more like post-surgical apathy.  At least for the sake of my family, I hope it passes soon.  I hope mojo is the sort of thing that regenerates when removed – like a starfish’s arm or a salamander’s tail.

I wonder if they endure an empty feeling while they wait for their appendages to grow back.


Grace Under Illness

Feb 9, 2011

I come from a family with a long, proud tradition of talking about how much they help people and using many words and craftily placed mirrors to perpetuate this charade, but whose behavior has seared one lesson deeper into my psyche than any other: “You’re on your own, Kiddo”.  If I’m not mistaken, it’s spelled out in Latin on our family crest :-/.

So, from an early age, I’ve been an overachiever, a control freak, a failed perfectionist, and a royal pain in the butt, at times.  I have taken care of myself, my children, needy siblings, sick relatives, and strangers who were down on their luck.  It’s what I do… I take care of things, of people, of problems.  Or, it’s what I used to do.

Part of living with a chronic illness is learning to accept the reality that you are no longer the person you once were, then adjusting to a new identity.  I went kicking and screaming into my ‘new identity’ and the surreality of being told that No, there’s nothing we can do for the pain or fatigue, it’s time for you to learn how to live with it.  Forever.  I knew that’s what the doctor said, but I figured that wasn’t what he meant.   Not really.  It’s not like he meant FOREVER forever. 

Twelve years and 9 months ago (though it took about a year to actually get a Fibromyalgia diagnosis).  Sometimes it feels like forever.  A car accident that would be described as ‘minor’, except for the pain that never went away.  The inability to sleep.  The inability to stay awake.  The inability to get things done or to ever be that version of me again.

THIS version of me has to learn how to accept help.  And you know what?  It’s soooooo much harder than giving help, than taking care of things.  I don’t like it, nope, don’t like it at all.  But when the Fibromyalgia Flare Demon comes and knocks me down, I literally do not have a choice.  As a control freak, I really hate that… but I’m learning.   And I’m trying so hard not to be a royal pain in the butt while I do.

But maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way.  Maybe my husband feels more needed and more loved and more vital during one of my flares.  Maybe he needs to give and I need to shut up and just gracefully receive.

<< so difficult >>

I am now at the brighter side of my flare.  I am moving and standing without help.  Heck, I vacuumed today!  My husband and I are able to look at each other without the pain, the concern and neediness between us.  Though we’ve known each other a long time, we are still newlyweds and this interdependence thing has a learning curve that can do without the addition of a flaring chronic illness. 

Ultimately, though, this situation helped us to grow closer.  I stopped fighting and gratefully accepted help, along with the fact that the house was going to be more messy than usual while I was stuck in one place – able only to stare at the dust, not clean it. 

So, yes, this version of me can’t do half as much as I used to do and I often wonder about my ‘purpose’ with a 12-year-old identity that STILL feels foreign, but surrendering didn’t feel like defeat this time because my husband and I went through my flare together.


Sensitivity, Hypersensitivity and the Nonsensical

Feb 1, 2011

Both the cat AND the dog are cleaning themselves within a 3 yard radius of where I’m sitting and, at the moment, it feels like the equivalent of having needles stabbed into my pupils.  Ok, well, maybe it’s not that bad, but I’ve developed these hypersensitivities that have gotten to a point where they can be maddening to me and, unfortunately, quite irritating to those around me (though I don’t care what the cat or dog think about it… especially the dog – ugh – who is in a state of perpetual cluelessness).

It would seem I hear things 10 times louder than the rest of my family… or, it’s just that I can fine tune into a sound that no one else notices and it reverberates in my head like it’s the only sound in the room. 
The worst offenders are these disgusting animal licking sounds, chewing sounds (please stop chewing with your mouth open or I may not be able to control this urge to slap you!) and repetitive noises, like finger or foot tapping (who needs nails on a chalkboard? :-/).

Did I imply that this was a “sounds-only” problem?  My mistake.  Though my vision is increasingly impaired, my sense of taste has been… uh… enhanced as well.  Now everything from milk to mayonnaise tastes like a spicy burrito.  Yum. 
I can also smell things that no one else can smell – – come to think of it, I’m kinda like a super hero, but with super powers that are useless and annoying.  There is a stink bug somewhere in this house and I need to find it and eradicate it from my surroundings before I vomit!  And then I, Super Smeller, [et al] go around the entire house searching for the stink bug like someone who should have men in white coats directly behind her… but no one else can smell what is making me feel queasy.  (But first, I grab my glasses.)

Sometimes, it turns out that the dog ATE a stink bug, which then releases this wicked insect’s pungent powers, so it is actually the dog who is spreading the aroma around wherever she goes (along with her shedding fur and her own lovely fragrance), like the %$@* stink fairy that she is.  No, I do not like the dog.  Most days, I feel like she is an exclamation point at the end of a painful, ironic scream.  (Like, “REALLY?!”)

Aside from my fixation on the dog today, I have found some research suggesting that hypersensitivity can be a symptom of Fibromyalgia (and other research ignoring the possibility completely).  I have come to rely more on the experiences of other people who actually deal with this illness (Thank you, Leana) as my reference since respectable, reliable studies are few and far between (if you can find them at all).  I have also spent the better part of the last two days trying to learn if weather can cause a Fibromyalgia flare – specifically, cold temperature, humidity and/or barometric pressure because, in between my freakish sensory issues, I’m actually couch-bound and in varying intense degrees of actual pain.  I can’t help but notice the correlation between lots-o-snow and lots-o-pain.  Hmm…

Again, no actual studies, but I have found a lot of “Fibromites” who swear they suffer flares based on the above weather parameters.  Thank God for the Internet, eh? :-)  And thank God Fibromyalgia has, at least, graduated from the “wastebasket diagnosis” it once was to now garnering some measure of respect among some people. 

“A state of perpetual cluelessness”, eh?  Can I visit?  I don’t have to eat stink bugs there, do I?   Do they taste like burritos?  ;-)


Obvious Metaphors from an Obscure Blogger

Jan 28, 2011

Last night, I marveled at the snowstorm that blew past my house for hours until I fell asleep, wondering what I might find upon waking this morning.  Snow doesn’t affect me the way it affects most everyone else; except for the added pain from the cold, I am fortunate to view it almost entirely positively.  Since I rarely leave the house, I don’t have to worry about being “snowed in”, and the biggest difference is whether or not I will be spending the day with my daughter and her excitement over school being cancelled.  Oh, that special joy that comes along with that afraid-to-hope-for news… I remember it well.

Like most mornings, it was pain that woke me today.  In the quiet of a predawn house, I abandoned my husband in our bed and headed to my spot on the sofa where my heating pad faithfully waits for me.  With coffee and painkiller in one hand and a half-dozen Nilla wafers in the other, I headed to my spot on the cushion where a permanent impression of my body awaits, right next to the laptop and the TV remote .  But I had to stop in my tracks upon gazing out my window and catching a vision of what the snow had created while I was sleeping.

out my dining room window (after the sun came up)

With the tranquility and gratefulness that fills my heart the way only a snowscape can, I positioned myself on the sofa and took the painkiller with my coffee, chasing it down with the wafers so it wouldn’t come back up.  The warmth of the heating pad was beginning to soothe one square foot of my body at a time as I flipped on the television, but all I saw was a blank screen.   I pushed button after button, yet continued to view only a silent, ugly, greenish-grey blank screen. 

The peacefulness and awe of the beauty outside my window was quickly being replaced with something much more familiar: worry and panic.  They shut off our cable, didn’t they, I thought.  I guess we didn’t pay the bill again.  I opened the laptop to check if it worked — and because I needed a way to find out if my daughter’s 2-hour delay had changed to a cancellation of school.  The dreaded Comcast screen popped up – the one that only pops up when they shut off your service.

I just sat in my quiet living room, still feeling the burning aches and pains in my joints, but now more aware of the pain of losing at “Bill Roulette” this month – you know: “they must get paid, they have to get paid very soon, but they can wait.”  I guess Comcast should have been in the “MUST” pile :-/  And it’s not so much that we miscalculated and had our cable/broadband disconnected that upset me most, it’s that we have to play this sick Vegas game with our bills every month in the first place… and the fact that, even though I was looking at the very same snowy wonderland that had brought me joy a moment ago, I was suddenly too preoccupied to appreciate it.

Front lawn: branch falls under weight of the snow

Some people bend under pressure, others break.  I have a tree in my front lawn that bent so far under the weight of the snow last year that the top of it was actually stuck in the ground and it then ‘stood’ in a strange, unattractive hump shape for many months afterwards.  But it did not break, and I persuaded my husband not to cut it down – as if I felt some sort of affinity for its amazing ability to stay alive, despite its trials and its unsightly way of doing so.  And here it is again, after last night’s snow:

Not nearly as weighted over as last year, but how strange it is that a snow-laden branch from our giant pine tree is leaning – pushing it, even – as if to try to knock down the poor arborvitae. 
The giant pine lost a huge branch (above), but the arborvitae, she still stands. 

The cable and broadband?  It has been turned back on.  My husband and children are alive and healthy.  I am loved.  I did not break.  And I have one hell of a view from my beautiful (though in-need-of-many-repairs) house.

Perspective can cultivate gratitude.  If we let it.















Yes, this was mostly written yesterday, but then the pain in my hands forced me to stop until today.  So let’s just pretend it’s still yesterday when you read it ;-)


This is where I would usually quit

Jan 18, 2011


Sixteen days have passed!  It was the VERY FIRST week of the challenge and I blew it, already!  Oh, but I have reasons (good ones, even) – or excuses – I suppose it depends upon who you ask.  Either way, the result is still failure.  Yep, I failed [again].  But, hey, I’m back to try harder.  That’s how I’m choosing to handle it… this time.

And as I revisit my email box after taking care of my sick daughter, and then my sick husband, and THEN getting so sick myself that my surgery had to be cancelled/postponed, in one sitting I am able to peruse a list of ‘Daily Post’ topic suggestions that have piled up while I was away… suggestions for bloggers who have taken up the blog-a-day/blog-a-week challenge and kept it, no doubt.  

How about 1/5: Are You Stressed Out?  Well, just a little.  On 1/5, I was 5 days away from having a chunk of my intestines removed, but because I was sick with… A STOMACH VIRUS… my surgery had to be cancelled and still looms sometime in the near (but as yet unspecified) future.  And, while others suffered the horribly nasty symptoms of this rampant, disgusting virus (vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever, loss of appetite, etc.) – which are certainly bad enough – I had the added bonus of being in the middle of a “bowel surgery prep”… about 24 agonizing ounces into it… before the surgeon called it off. 

For those who don’t know, this ‘prep’ is to vacate the intestines of any and everything that might be inside them before going into surgery (or having a colonoscopy, etc.).   In my bleary, feverish mind, and during one of my numerous trips to my least favorite room and seat in the house, I half-joked to myself that only taking a dose of syrup of ipecac could make my situation worse.  Am I in some sort of sadistic cartoon?  I wondered.  Nope, it really happened.

This morning (actually, 1-11-11), the following suggestion was posed: Tell something you haven’t told anyone else.  How about that I was truly afraid I was going to die this time when I went into the hospital, which is especially odd because about 6 weeks ago, I was so depressed I couldn’t find a good reason for my being alive in the first place.  Always sick, always limited, always feeling like a burden – it can get to a person, you know?  But suddenly I’m afraid of dying in surgery?  I found myself a little confused, pleasantly surprised, but still very afraid.  I didn’t let anyone know, though.  Brave face, always a brave face.

This afternoon, a bonus query arrived, the subject: If I only had an hour to live.  (Well, the surgery takes 3 hours, but I get the point.)  I’d probably berate myself for 31 minutes and defend myself for the remaining 29… ‘cos I’m a fun kinda gal who does that sort of thing :-/  But really, I’d want to be with my family – and by family, I mean: my husband and my children and my best friend(s), the people I know that I know that I know love me.

On the 9th, I was admonished not to quit, so I haven’t – even if I missed my very first blog-a-week deadline (good grief!!).  I also remembered back to the advice given about Overcoming our fears as bloggers on the 7th.  Have we met, Scott?  I get so caught up in the details, I often opt for the “trash” button over the “publish” button.  Imagine my relief when I learned that there’s no Blog Jury who sit in judgement of everything I write and then email every grammatical and spelling mistake I’ve made to everyone I know along with a harsh critique of my style and substance (“…and she has an irritating tendency to ramble!”)

As for A Recent Aha Moment:
I began that sentence a week ago when I was desperately trying to post something for the challenge only a week late, and now I’m 2 weeks late!  I’m off to a fantastic start and am beaming with pride – not!   But here’s the thing: I realize that I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I will not be mistaken for a svelte, speeding French high-speed train, but something much closer to a version of the Little Engine That Could (maybe, sometimes).  The “aha” part isn’t in acknowleding that, it’s in giving myself permission to be ok with it.


It’s not the end of the world, Debi :-)