Finding Squidlette

Mike and I have talked about having children for almost 5 years now. Our first year of dating brought kid names into our lives. If we had a girl, we would name her Araeli (Rae) If we had a boy, it would be Alexander (Xander).  I went a “little” baby crazy and bought a whole children’s library from board books all the way up to beginner chapter books.

Mike got into the excited, we’re actually planning a baby spirit last summer (even though I’d been off birth control for almost 6 months before that) while we were in Niagara, Canada. He bought his first piece of baby gear- a reversible monkey hat at the Niagara Zoo.

Flash forward just over a year and I had missed two periods with a negative pregnancy test. I was convinced that the tests were wrong; I hadn’t bleed, was exhausted and dizzy and nauseous. By the third month of this, I was wondering if it was all in my head and made a Dr. appointment. I was diagnosed as diabetic, had borderline thyroid numbers and was sent to OBGYN. They made a guess that I wasn’t ovulating and sent me to get blood work done to look at hormone levels. My blood looked great, so I was given a referral to infertility services.

After sperm and yet more blood were tested, I will be going back in next month to receive medication to force a period, then what can almost be described as reverse birth control (forces a dip in estrogen that way you can produce a follicle into maturity and dropping).

Throughout this time Mike and I had a talk and decided that we were open to adopting (which costs more than IVF?!) and would like to try fostering to adopting an infant.

If you’re interested in seeing how the process goes, I’ve started another blog Finding Squidlette so that others can find an easier source of information for the actual process, as well as document our journey for our future child.

There’s an inside joke to the name. I LOVE the movies Finding Nemo, and Finding Dory (although I don’t know why the called it a comedy, I sobbed in the theaters all three times I watched it opening week). We thought we would call our child in utero a squid/squidlette since it’s so small and well behaved, and then when it got naughty it could be the Kraken. Baby belongs to mama when it’s a squidlette, and it’s all Daddy’s problem when the Kraken breaks through.

 

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2nd grade memories

I spent the majority of this past school year with a Kindergarten classroom helping a SPED girl in her gen-ed class. She left for vacation the last 6 weeks of the school year, and I was moved to another school to help with a visually impaired student.

My service dog was finally ready to start working with me– he’d passed public access, CGC, CGC advanced, and CGC urban dog, and our task work was solid. We had to go to an accommodation meeting with HR and then wait for their lawyer to approve it.

Our first two days in the school together, we would show off tricks and tasks, letting the kids see what he actually does for me, then we moved on to giving rewards to the kids who ignored the dog, or told others what was going on with the dog in the school. The kids adapted beautifully.

One day, the kiddo I was paired with was having a melt down on the stairs. Pooper-dog just laid down and calmly waited it out. This was great for us, as we don’t have any practice working with kids, crying, melting down, or just being generally unpredictable. Eventually the kid calmed down, and did what I had told him from the beginning he could do– stuck out his hand said “touch” waited for the dog to nose his hand (so he knows where the dog is) and he was ready to get going to breakfast.

Another day, my heart melted. A girl in our classroom, who I never had direct conversations with, left a note all rolled up and tied with a piece of string on my desk. I unwrapped it, and tears filled my eyes. She drew a picture of the dog, and had little word bubbles coming up “I help people” “I’m a service dog” “I don’t go in my owners kitchen” and the bottom said the truest sentence I’ve ever seen from a second grader; “I am important to you”.  I had to ask who the student was, and man, I hope she understands some day what that note truly means to me.

Therapy isn’t what I thought it would be

I tried therapy a few times throughout early adulthood, but I was never in the right space to accept it.  I’m finally ready. I reached the point where I feel like I have tried everything that I can on my own, and am reasonably treated with medication, but I still feel like I need help.

The first attempt at therapy ended quickly- one session was more than enough to know that we didn’t mesh. The therapist wanted to dive deep into my past and connect all my traumas to childhood. Thanks, not into that. She was also big on breathing….bitch, I’m alive, I’ve obviously been breathing just fine.

Next time I tried a DBT class. It was interesting, and made sense, but it only works if you can catch yourself before you reach the point of no return. I tend to go from fine to crisis faster than I can grab my DBT notebook and compare symptoms with appropriate responses. It’s great for minor irritants/good days, but useless if you get to crisis.

Up next was a woman I found off of Groupon. She was fine, I didn’t really have an issue with her, or with what she said. I wasn’t in the space to accept help yet though. She gave me things to work on, and questioned the motives behind some of my future plans (and scared me because she was right, I was trying to “run away” with new plans to avoid actual manic, immerse myself in something completely new (I’ve previously moved to a new state on two days notice). I never went back to her after she made me think too deeply about why I was doing things.

Finally, we get to a mixed episode that had me freaking out at school. I couldn’t handle life, and was rotating between panic attacks and need for pain. My psychiatrist couldn’t get me in quickly, so I thankfully had two people who kinda knew what was going on and were on hand to help with self harm alternatives. I got in touch with mental health services and got an urgent appointment with counseling.

I’ve survived 2 sessions (that’s double my previous PR!) and am actually looking forward to going back. This therapist matches up pretty well with my interests; he’s a comic fan, likes animals, and previously worked with the foster system. While what I do in therapy I could do anywhere else with anyone, it is nice knowing that I don’t have to see him ever again, and honestly don’t care if he judges (which he hasn’t).

I have been enjoying being able to talk about anything/everything that pops up in my mind, but ultimately, I would like to get to the point where I don’t have to regularly shell out $20 for a half hour visit multiple times a month. Hopefully, just getting all of this out anonymously will help decrease the amount of crap I need to verbally diarrhea up for counseling.

 

Sometimes you just need to feel something

Look at the name of the picture; “Self Harm Alternatives”. Until this year, I didn’t think of what I was doing as self harm. I knew it was a coping mechanism, but I wasn’t cutting, or leaving scars, so I didn’t think it was self harming.

My depressed and anxious feelings lead me to pluck body hair. I crave the two day old bruise feeling. When the bruise starts to turn purple and you always sort of have it in the back of your mind, but sometimes you forget if it hurts or not and have to poke it to check that it still hurts, do you know that sensation? That’s what I look for. I want to be able to poke it whenever I want sensation, but to be able to forget it when I don’t need it. Plucking body hair gave me the sharp pain that I needed to offset the numbness.

Another tool I routinely use is hot/cold therapy. Squeezing something frozen until your hand hurts right before it goes numb, or sitting in a hot or cold bath while holding onto something the opposite temperature.

If I catch it early enough, I can chill out with my weighted blanket, or having my service dog do DPT and distract me from picking at my cuticles (He repeatedly nudges his nose under my hand, interrupting my motions).

What really helped was a pebble in my shoe, so I could roll it out of the way when I didn’t want it, and easily put it back. This method was also the most discreet while I was at work.

The road that lead to diabetes, constant fatigue and weight gain

I remember when they first started all the t.v. adds for Abilify. The woman who would walk around with her own personal rain cloud following her, only to get a prescription and the Abilify umbrella that kept her happy and dry.

There was one where the antidepressant pill would go everywhere with the animated character, opening blinds, pushing her out the door, and then when Abilify was added, just walk in line with her and the giant A, no more extraordinary effort.

Then there was the commercial that showed the wind up doll person and it said that depression made it hard to move, and while you could do your routines, it still took effort and was exhausting needing to continuously keep winding yourself up so that you could move. The animation got Abilify and ditched the wind up key, becoming a real person again. I didn’t understand that commercial until years later, when I REALLY understood it. They actually did a brilliant job marketing that to people who were depressed.

Flash forward 20 years, and Prozac wasn’t doing enough for me. I was tired of constantly upping my dosage, and didn’t like the couple week wait before I noticed any difference. My psychiatrist suggested Abilify as it had the least chance of weight gain, and she did inform me that it could lead to increased blood sugar.

Within a 15 months I had gained 40 lbs. I was constantly exhausted, often coming home and napping. I felt like it was working– I was getting out of bed every morning and dragging myself to work. I functioned while I was out in public…that must have meant that my depression was under control.

My diet has been great. I’ve been part of  the Kaiser Prepare Study where I get weekly calls from a health coach to get tips and stay on track while I keep track of my physical activity (steps and exercise minutes), and if I met my calorie goal while eating according to the DASH diet.

For a while I was motivated to keep moving because I am competitive, and felt that I was being monitored so I needed to keep going with the gym and sports. After a few months, I had another down swing, and took a break, but kept eating well. On my next manic episode I got obsessive about being at the gym; I would go 2 times a day 5-6 days a week. I had a personal trainer and attended classes. I was playing softball and working full time. I avoided home and was determined that I would work off the weight that the meds put on me.

6 months of high intensity, obsessive gym going lead to toning, but no weight loss. My frustrations grew as my but and thighs toned, but my stomach still got in the way of buttoning my pants. I complained to my psychologist that I was working HARD and couldn’t get the weight off. I asked about getting off Abilify. She convinced me to stay on it since it seemed to be working for me, and prescribed me Metformin to help aid in the weight loss since it wasn’t happening with all the work I was putting in.

3-4 months later, I am still the same weight, but I had missed a few periods, was dizzy, exhausted, and CONSTANTLY starving. I went to the doctor thinking that either I was pregnant despite the tests saying it was negative, or that something was wrong.

I was diagnosed as Diabetic (my blood sugar numbers had always been fine before) and the Metformin was quadrupled.  My husband made an offbeat comment that “sleeping is what wifey does”.

That was the last straw for me. While I don’t love myself as much as I know that I should, I do value him enough to want to be everything that I can be for him. I want to be the best friend wife, and to be well enough to be a mother for his child someday. He makes me want to be better, and this was obviously not my best.

I made another Psych appointment and told her that it wasn’t working, I’m still fat, and with naps, have been sleeping 12-16 hours a day on top of now being diabetic. The doctor wasn’t pleased, but agreed that it isn’t acceptable, and had me get off of the Abilify. She’s worried that either I’ll get mood fluctuations and need to increase my mood stabilizer, or go maniac again and need to add another anti-psychotic (I went on this originally due to a  mixed episode with auditory and visual hallucinations while unable to get out of bed to do daily activities.)

I’ve been off of Abilify for 2 weeks now, and it’s possibly the best decision of my life. While I’m still wanting a nap after a full day, I don’t NEED them. I can go all day with only one nap, and that’s only if I lay down and tell myself I can. The brain fog greatly decreased, and I can actually remember feeding the animals, or what I ate for breakfast. I don’t walk out of the house three times before realizing the thing I keep going back in for was my keys. Now I’m crossing my fingers, working out and hoping that the weight and diabetes start melting off.

 

 

 

“Furiously Happy” that I’m not alone

I’ll come back to this post when I have more time. This book is FANTASTIC.

I read it for the first time last summer, as a time filler in the airport when we were going from Oregon to Niagara Falls. I would randomly start laughing, real, gasp for breath, feels oh so good kind of laughter, and then have to pass the book over to my husband telling him which page (or chapter) to read. He chuckled while reading it too, then roll his eyes and say “Oh My God. There’s another you out there…”

Some of the things that I read were just like someone had watched me and decided to write about it. Others I connected to from the anxiety or medicated brain fog aspects. The remainder was just so funny and life like that I would just laugh my way through it.

I keep going back to my favorite chapters in this book (which I’ll come back to and elaborate on later)  when I need to feel better. I cannot recommend this book enough, and my friends got tired enough of hearing about it that almost all of them either got or borrowed the book (It’s an audiobook too) and saw the humor without the cloud of mental illness providing the clarity that I found.

The Eucharist tried to kill me

I made it to church. We did the obligatory pew aerobics, and I once again became part of that strangely cult like sing along. The homily was actually strangely fitting, the priest talked about cradle catholics who remained with the church, those who left the church, the converts, and the re-verts. He read a list  Top 10 reasons to stay Catholic

  1. We are fed by the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus
  2. We are the clearest voice of social justice around the globe, and the biggest believers and practitioners of ‘being the change we wish to see in the world’
  3. We do not believe we are the only ones who are “saved.”
  4. We have the proven capacity to change and grow
  5. We put on an excellent funeral
  6. We totally get the idea of marriage
  7. We practice the intimacy of confession of sins to another human being
  8. We follow ancient and time-honored ritual better than anyone.
  9. We dig the arts. We can boast of centuries of fantastic art and architecture, from cathedrals to chapels, from paintings to sculpture. We understand the need for artistic expression, and the relationship of beauty to worship.
  10. We have great holidays.

I was mostly able to follow the rituals and say the right words at the right times, but this church said a few things differently than the one I grew up in. It was all very musical, and I found my favorite part was looking at the green and cream stained glass.

You know that mass is almost done when they finally pull out the Eucharist. Everyone files down in a single line to take a chewy, cardboard like round wafer, the body of Christ, and take a sip of the blood of Christ, (wine) from a chalice that gets wiped and turned for the next person. I took my turn and ate and drank, we sang the last hymn and were told the latest community news before being dismissed.

My two minute car ride home, I wasn’t feeling great. I got out of the car, took two steps, and started throwing up in the next empty parking spot. Apparently, church isn’t for me. Maybe it’s demonic possession, perhaps it’s the lack of full faith, or maybe it’s just from taking my medication on an empty stomach. Either way, I don’t think I’ll be chancing it again any time soon.