Gratitude: Vacation

I am so grateful that things came together for this trip. My sister-in-law let us use her timeshare condo without charging us the fee. We found a cheap hotel for the mid-trip overnight, so I didn’t even have to boondock camp between Denver and Corpus Christi. Once we were there, it was a beautiful rhythm of visiting the pool, the beach, the fishing dock, and relaxing with videos. And rather a lot of eating.

My kiddos fell in love with fishing, which will never not feel shocking. My suburban princesses found a friend on the dock who taught them to reel, let them stroke the teeny fish he caught, and then stood with them on the dock for hours when the fish weren’t biting. Mr. Rocky was an absolute saint. He helped us with gettingout dusty rental rod into functional condition, teased us over using neon pink artificial bait, and then afterward sent us a card in the mail thanking us for sharing the dock with him.

I’m grateful for the last day we went to the beach, when the water and sky were so blue I thought I was in Florida. The wind was light and pleasant. Rosebud got over her fear of the surf when it was calm and rippling instead of stormy and gray. Jujubee made a friend with a little local girl and built a pair of excellent sand castles.

I’m grateful that this was my month to have a mild round of PMDD symptoms. I got home with my sanity essentially intact, even though I was on the road for what is the most acute phase. I didn’t break with reality at all! My worst symptom was an increase in social phobia that had me fleeing the community pool when the neighbors got too chatty.

Shoulding All Over Myself

We are just back from vacation and things are particularly chaotic. I have an idea that I should have handled our return differently. I should have done more school while we were away. I should be resuming our routine with rigor. I should be cooking more and more often, and sharing it with our friends, who are ill.

I should be better.
I should eat better.
I should workout more.
I should engage with the kids more.
I should clean more
I should be more like other people.
I should
I should

I call this way of thinking “shoulding on myself,” because it creates all of this tension to live up to impossible standards. “Should” implies consequences of not doing it. “Should” implies orders that have come from outside of myself. It is a terrible habit. It breaks up the day into chunks of false urgency and harsh self-judgement.

Sick Kidlette

Rosebud is having a procedure done under general anesthesia today. She’s having some dental work done and also her second endoscopy monitoring her EOE. This is her second endoscopy in 2 months.

She also has a condition called Mastocytosis, meaning her body makes too many mast cells. Those extra mast cells can result in anaphylactic reactions to very odd stimuli: for us this includes ibuprofen, temperature changes, and stress. Because of this, general anesthesia is extra risky. She’s on 3 extra meds to keep her from reacting today and I’m sitting in the hospital waiting room twitching. She didn’t have a reaction last time, but I have this sense of dread when I’m not able to personally monitor her.

Having a sick kiddo is worse than being sick myself. First, Rosebud is NOT a stoic patient. She’s 2, for heaven’s sake, and already greets the sight of a person in scrubs by screaming “No pokes!” More subtly, though, when Rosebud and Jujubee are doing poorly I have to ask myself what triggered them. Did I miss something and accidentally expose them to a known trigger? Are they developing a new trigger? Is this the dreaded idiopathic reaction? I can be philosophical about my health, but I have no calm at all about theirs.

Ordinary Times

Nothing special to report today. The dog lives on, sweet girl. The weather is increasingly spring-like, though we could still get snow in Denver before the month ends.

My energy is strange today. My doc suggested that I shift one of my meds to AM dosage instead of PM and it does seem to make a difference. I’m not more awake, and inertia remains an hideously powerful force in my life, but there is a meditative quality to my lethargy that is quite pleasant. Instead of being worked up over what I should be doing, I’m able to simply rest. Once I do get my butt moving I’m pretty productive.

Take today. I got up at 0845 with the girlies, arranged breakfast then laid down on the couch to doze while they ate. I was up and down, alternating between taking care of the kids and dozing on the couch until 1130. Then I got dressed, wrote a blog post, started the laundry, made lunch, played a very small amount of a video game I haven’t indulged in in eons, and now that the girls have eaten I am back at writing. I feel strangely good. Small changes in routine, med management, and lifestyle can really make huge difference.

A week ago, admittedly during the worst part of my cycle, I was self injuring and crying uncontrollably. Now i’m contemplating a walk with the kids, grocery shopping, and speaking to the neighbors. My girls have made friends with the girls next door, which is totes adorbs, but I have not yet managed to get to know the parents. I’m not good at small talk and the idea of getting to know them is terrifying. Today, though, I’m able to contemplate it a little.

Pill Box Day

For those of us on a cocktail of meds and supplements, pill boxes can really help ensure that we actually manage to take everything everyday. I have a system of 7 boxes, each with 4 compartments. I use one box for two days worth of pills; morning and evening. It used to be that I would fight the fight to keep them filled myself. Now Alex fills them for me, bless him.

Pill Box Day, when I would lay out all of my prescriptions and be confronted with the reality of my various diagnoses. I would get sucked into a vortex of excessive introspection, thinking and recriminating myself for being a sick person. I knew that this happened, and so I would avoid Pill Box Day for as long as possible. My old system could hold as much as 60 days of meds, if I could coordinate my supplies that well.

Three to six weeks in between sessions still wasn’t enough, though. I would end up off of my meds for days or weeks, and we all know that is no help at all. How does your family support you taking your meds? Do you have a special way of getting through yours version of Pill Box Day?

Inevitable Defeat

I’ve missed a week of posting. I got overwhelmed with getting ready for my mother-in-law’s visit, then I fell into the trap of thinking that this hurdle is a complete defeat. I haven’t completely gotten past it yet, and the total lack of people interested in reading here doesn’t help. I may have something to say, and the internet may give me a voice, but that doesn’t make anyone want to hear.

Gratitude Practice: Creative Outlets

I am so grateful that I have so many excellent creative outlets available to me. I write, here and elsewhere, when I’m able to focus. I sew on my machine or by hand. I quilt when I’m too foggy for the others, because chiku chiku stitching requires more meditation than active thought. I paint and color with the kids. I crochet and weave irregularly. I play tabletop role playing games when I need a more intensive escape that what I get from reading. I mend, I crochet, I knit (poorly), I weave (infrequently). I am blessed to have a spirit that finds comfort and completeness in these tasks, and blessed to have the resources to be able to create.


Clutter Makes it Worse

Moving sucks. If our living environment impacts our mental health, and most experty experts agree that it does, then moving is signing up for a serious downgrade on mental security.

First, you go through the filthy job of packing and cleaning the old place, then you are left up to your eye teeth in boxes. Boxes of pre-curated clutter and junk with enough sentimental value that if you can see it you want to keep it.

We are up to it in boxes of clutter right now. We have unpacked enough that we are able to live quite comfortably, but there are stacks of untouched boxes in the corners and about a fifth of the main living space is crammed with them. We have been officially in the new place for 7 weeks. My mood is swinging all around, and I’m struggling to stay vertical all day. It isn’t pretty and we are all suffering for it.

I’m sorely tempted to throw away any/everything still in boxes, then I remember that it includes my photos flash drive and I start wonder what other important things I’m forgetting about, so I have to go through all of it. Sadly, for every awesome find like my flash drive I know there will be a dozen or more little objects that I neither want nor need that I will have to deal with. Broken pencils, sentimental knick knacks, things that I received as gifts that no longer make any sense but still carry a burden of obligation.

How will I cope? What do you recommend? Well, it is obvious as I write this that I need to get the unpacking and secondary purging f-f-f-finished. This is less obvious when the kids are demanding entertainment and the laundry needs doing, and homeschool, and dinner, and and and.

Maybe working on one box, not necessarily emptying it, should become part of my after-Rosebud’s-sleeping routine. In our old home I got up nightly to exercise and work in my journal. Maybe reinstituting that will help me feel less like I’m drowning in unfulfilled potential and suicidal resentment.