When Your Child Shares The Worst Part of You

It’s bad enough that I have suffered from anxiety for my entire life, and depression for the last 3 years, but the worst part of having mental illness, is being aware that it could be passed to my children.  Well, I thought the worst part would be being aware of this fact, but the worst part is actually seeing it happen and not knowing what to do about it.

My daughter, E, has been struggling for the past couple months (and as I write this, I’m realizing that’s how long she’s been going to occupational therapy… I’ll think on this as I write).  She started picking the skin on her lip when she was sick with a cold.  You know how it goes, your nose is stuffy, so you mouth breath all day and night and dry your lips out until the crack and peel.  When this happened, E realized that she could pick the skin off, and she started doing it.  No big deal, right?  I’ve done the same thing.  Then she started doing it when she was better, and her lips began to bleed.  Both top and bottom lips were picked to excess, and she kept doing it.  She’d do it in bed at night, at school, and at therapy.  It looked awful, and I knew it had to hurt, but she kept at it.  Then she started picking at her fingers….

First she just picked the skin around her fingernails when she had a hangnail.  She’d bleed and whine about the pain, asking for a bandaid.  She fell in love with bandaids and would ask for one every time she got even a little scratch.  Soon she started picking at the skin so much she was picking off chunks of skin.  The bleeding was bad, the fingers looked awful.  We tried everything from asking her why she was doing it, to telling her that was not a good thing to do, to pleading with her to stop hurting herself.  Nothing has worked, and now all ten of her fingers are picked raw and bleeding.  Still, she picks.

I’ve had to send her to preschool with six fingers in bandaids.  The teachers are aware of what’s happening, and they are trying to redirect her attention when she’s doing it.  I know a lot of the time it’s just something she does.  She’s not actively thinking “okay, time to pick the skin til it hurts!” She’s just doing it.  It’s just something to keep her hands busy when she’s bored, nervous, anxious.

(I did think, for a few days, that she was doing it just because she wanted bandaids, but after offering her a box of bandaids all to herself if she stopped, and still not seeing her stop, I knew it was something else.)

…but what can be done?  Is this a phase?  Is it something deeper?  If it is, what set it off?  Could she be suffering from my depression, anxiety, and anger?  Are my outbursts and crying getting to her?  Is listening to her brother scream all day (because I’m not holding him) grating on her nerves as well?  Does it bother her that I have to hold him and give him more attention BECAUSE he will scream if I don’t?  Does she feel left out?  If so, what can I do?  How can I help her if I can’t help myself?  When will S be easier so that I can give equally to them both.  Or, can I?  Is that ever going to be a thing?

I want to help her, but I don’t know where to start.  Should I start with myself and hope that helps her? Or is this something that also lives inside her and has nothing to do with me or S?  Is this something that therapy set off?  Does she feel odd, knowing that we are taking her somewhere because she thinks we think there is something wrong with her?  I never really have been completely on board with the therapy (it’s for social and gross motor skills), but is 50 minutes a week doing exercises and interacting with other kids something that could set off her genetic anxiety bomb?

I’m not sure what we are going to do, but my husband definitely wants us to take her in to the pediatrician.  I assume they will want us to take her to a child psychologist, but I just can’t believe that it’s to a point like that.  Isn’t there anything that can be done by me first?  Can’t I help her?  She’s my little E, and all I want is for her to feel happy and safe and loved.  Can’t I push aside my own issues and do that?  I think I can…. and I will be better for her.  She needs me, and I can do this.

Right?

The Demon Time-Suck (AKA Facebook)

I recently had to re-sign in to my Spotify account, something I rarely do because I am one of those people who never logs out of anything.  Could be because I’m lazy, could be because I can never remember which password goes where exactly.  Probably a good mix of both, but the fact remains that I had to actually log back in to Spotify today, like some sort of person from the stone age who did not have Google immediately remember my information and do it for me.  Ugh, how did people live back then?

When I logged back in, Spotify automatically connected me to Facebook.  I guess this is something it’s always done, but I never noticed or cared because it’s only been two months since I deactivated my Facebook account.  Imagine my surprise when I receive an email welcoming me back to Facebook.  Yes, they do that when you leave and then come back. They welcome you back.  Probably like a drug dealer welcomes you back to the den.  “Don’t you want to see what your friends and family think about politics and religion?  Mmmm… feel that red hot heat flowing through your veins?  That’s the good stuff!”

Blerg.  No thank you.  I am done.  I spent five minutes dancing with the demon time-suck when I went back to deactivate, and that was enough.  I no longer care where you went to dinner, or what you think about the latest sporting event, or how many babies you have.  Sorry, if I like you enough, I’ll already know these things.  I have spent the past seven weeks actually reaching out to people through messenger (yes, you can still have messenger with Facebook), and text.  I ask them about their days, their kids, their lives. We send pictures and joke, and we don’t have to have the whole world see what we are discussing.  We don’t do it for show, or to elicit responses from that girl I knew in high school who was kind of mean to me the one time I talked to her, but sort of seems like she’s okay now.

It’s amazing.  Do it.  Cut that demon off and tell it to go back to the spiraling vortex of internet time-suckage where it belongs. Enough wasting your time scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.  Get back to the people you care about.  Talk to them directly.  Don’t settle for the shiny Facebook persona that so many people (including myself when I was posting multiple times a day) shine for everyone to see.  No one is that person all of the time.

Get off of Facebook and do something.  Go outside.  Learn to crochet, or paint, or bake. Actually look your children in the face when they talk to you.  You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in those hours you’re currently wasting.

A First Step

I’m no stranger to trying to declutter.  Some weeks I spend every spare moment of my day working to throw things away that we don’t need.  It’s a great joy of mine, but it’s also a huge distraction.  I can’t seem to ever keep on top of it.  The more I throw away, the more other people bring into my house.  “I noticed you didn’t have 12 of this thing that I have that I love, so here you go!”

*Me in my head: Rawrerghghhghh!!

*Me out loud: Thaaaaaaaanks!  Awesome!  I don’t really need these for anything, but, um, thanks!

I’d like to start with toys, but that is the battle that will continue until the kids are…. I mean, what… ten at least??  I don’t know when kids are done with toys.  So I figure I can start with clothes.  I’ve already begun my great decluttering project with my own clothes. Next, the kids, then my husband, who has been known to still wear shirts from high school (and one he got when he was three.  Yes, it was adult sized then, but he’s worn it since middle school at least).  I figure less clothes in the house = less clothes to wash = less folding = less time spent putting away said clothing = happier, less preoccupied mommy.  (I’m not very good at math, so this could be totally wrong.)

I’ll let you all know how it goes.  So far I have one, huge black trash bag full of just my own clothes.  A great start!

Who’s Life Is This?

A few days ago I was standing in my kitchen.  S was propped up on my hip (as is his usual position, even though he’s 13 months old and weighs 22.5lbs), and E was screaming at me to fetch her some milk (as is her usual go-to thing to scream at me about), and suddenly I had this odd sensation that I was in someone else’s life.  It was almost like someone had transported my 20 year old conscious into my now 33 year old body, and I had no clue what was happening.  I felt like I was a stranger, that I had no idea who these kids were.  I didn’t recognize the kitchen, or the way my body felt.  I was thrown into a panic.

It was quick, maybe half a second, but I felt all of those thoughts and sensations.  Then I was back to normal.  It’s been an incredibly stressful week.  My hormones are flaring because my period is on the way, my son is teething and has become some sort of horrible beast monster, and my daughter is needy beyond reason because she sees how much attention I’m having to give my son.  I am stretched thin.  I’m tired, and angry, and sad.  I guess I’m also hallucinating, or experiencing some kind of out of body experience? Is this what four straight years of stress can do to a person?  Yikes.  I need a break.

Can You “Do It All?”

I don’t want to know if it’s possible to “have it all.”  That honestly sounds pretty silly to me.  First of all, who wants that much shit?  Second of all, there is a never ending line of things being made, invented, and dreamed up every second of every day.  So, what does “having it all” really mean?  No, my question is something different entirely.  Can you actually do it all?

Can you actually have time to take care of kids, spend time with your husband, clean the house (dishes, toys, vacuum), do the laundry, go to the grocery store, make all of the meals, shower, bathe the kids, change diapers, take the kid to preschool, pick the kid up from preschool, play with the kids, do something you love (crafting, painting, reading), sleep, and still be a happy person?  If so, how?

I feel like a good first step for me is to sit back and really consider being a minimalist. Now, I already consider myself to be a semi-minimalist.  I don’t buy anything extra, but I have relatives who believe that if they don’t buy me and the kids things, all the time, that it means they don’t love us.  I’m not sure where this type of thinking comes into play.  I like giving gifts so very much, but even I don’t think you need ten gifts for every special occasion, and two on Tuesdays.

My mother in law is the worst.  It’s actually an addiction for her.  She’s completely addicted to shopping.  She will spend $400 on clothes for the kids a month, and the same amount on toys.  I’ve begged her to stop.  My husband has begged her.  My father in law has given her an endless amount of crap for it, but yet she persists.  She will visit, randomly, on a Friday and bring my daughter three new toys and my son one.  Even though our house is overflowing with things they don’t play with.  You cannot walk two inches without stepping on a toy.  Yet my kids are bored, or over stimulated, or something.  They hate it as much as I do, but I keep putting things out.  Why?  So I don’t offend her.  She shows her love through giving…. but what the kids really need her to give it time.

The biggest problem I’ve had since moving into the neighborhood with my in-laws is that their relationship with my kids is not the same relationship I had with my grandparents.  I was always with my grandparents (my grandmother mostly), or they were always with me.  They wanted to spend time with us, and even though my grandmother is a world class shopper, she almost never bought us toys.  She’d buy us clothes (ugh, boooring), and then send us outside to climb trees or play basketball, then we’d come in for dinner.  She was always there for us, and we’d spend hours everyday sitting on the porch, talking and swinging in the big porch swing.  These are my fondest memories.  I can name one thing she bought for me when I was younger, and that’s because it’s sitting in my bedroom right now, 25 years later.  It’s a wooden trunk, and it now holds books for my kids.  That’s it.

This is the kind of relationship I want my kids to have with their grandparents.  I want them to remember wagon rides around the neighborhood, and playing softball in the back yard.  I want them to remember dinners, and snuggles, and laughing.  I don’t want them to think of their grandparents as the gift givers.   Although my daughter now says “I’m going to ask grandma to get that for me” every time she sees a commercial for a new toy.  And you know what… if grandma is around when she sees that commercial, she will have that toy within the next two days.

So, what do I do?  How do I unburden myself from this weight?  How do I take the biggest problem, the biggest collection of junk strewn about my house, and make it disappear?  How do I get this one thing off of my plate so that I can take clean up time and put it towards family time?  What can I do besides offend someone who thinks this is how you show love?  Is there a fix for this that won’t hurt her feelings?  Or hurt our relationship?  Something has to give, and it has to be soon.

Antibiotics Fight Depression?

It’s a very odd thing, to realize that you’ve come out of the depression.  You start wondering how it happened.  What have you done differently?  Will it last?  The latter being the biggest question of all.

About a week ago, I was diagnosed with strep throat.  Not surprising, since E has brought home every cootie available from preschool, but it was pretty bad for a couple days.  The doctor prescribed amoxicillin three times a day at a 500mg dose.  I began it immediately, and within two days started feeling better physically.  Then my period started, so I started to feel bad physically again, but in an entirely new way.  I felt exhausted…. but… I felt fine mentally.  In fact, I could not drum up the sadness if I tried.  I’m not sure how many of you reading this have had to fight depression, but it’s not just a mental burden, it actually feels heavy.  You can feel it on your shoulders, in your back, in your chest.  It’s overpowering in every way…. it drags every inch of you into the abyss.

….but on amoxicillin, it’s gone.  I thought I was crazy.  I thought it was some sort of weird coincidence.  Then I turned to Google, my long-time friend for finding weird information, and there it was.  Not only articles about how doctors were studying why this happens, but there were people just like me asking if anyone else had suddenly felt better, after years of suffering, while they were on a round of antibiotics.  And there were people who noticed, and they were all just as shocked, happy, and terrified as I am.

From what I’ve gathered, it turns out that antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs can aid in helping depression because “Infection causes localized and body-wide inflammation. Inflammation generates substances called cytokines that have been shown to change how brain cells communicate. In autoimmune diseases, the body’s defense system attacks healthy tissues rather than threatening invaders. It’s possible that in some cases the wayward immune reaction could target brain cells and other nerve cells throughout the body.

I guess it’s important to note here that five months ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto immune disease.  That’s right, for those of you who have been following along with me for the past four years, I now have TWO incurable diseases, PCOS and Hashimoto’s.  I’d say I’m special, but apparently I have two of the most common diseases on the planet, so I’d say I’m pretty average, but maybe a little on the unlucky side.

Anyway, back to the topic, my brain appears to be 100% better since starting antibiotics, and I’m terrified of what might happen once my course of treatment is over.  Now that I’ve stepped back out into the sunshine of a spotless mind, I am so happy to be here.  I’m not yelling, or crying, or desperate to be anywhere but where I am.  I don’t want to sleep away the day so that I don’t have to face it.  This is what it feels like to be myself, and it’s been a very long time since I’ve felt this way.  I’m not sure if a full-time treatment of antibiotics is possible, or even if it’s the best idea in the world since I’ve already got a tolerance for antibiotics due to being on them so often growing up.  What would happen if I was really sick and really needed antibiotics to work.  Would they, if I was taking them daily?

Honestly though, I wonder whether it’d be better to risk it in the long run.  It would have to be better than living with demons inside your head?  Right?

Speaks Through Music

My husband is a very quiet man.  My family, after 13 years, still believes that he absolutely wants nothing to do with them.  I mean, in a way, they are out of their frigging minds and we both have issues with them, but the main reason is that my husband is quiet.  I talk to his own parents more than he does.  He probably talks to me more than anyone, and I still sit here and say he’s a quiet man, so you know our conversations are brief.

But, aside from being quiet, my husband is an absolute music junky.  He loves it.  It’s probably his first love, although I’d hate to have his actual answer on “who comes first, the music or the wife?”  And from this observation about his deep love of music, I have come to the conclusion that he says what’s truly in his heart by giving me music that says what he is unable to put into his own words.

Today he gave me a mix CD (something he’s been doing since we first starting dating) for my birthday.  He also gave me the day off from responsibilities.  He sees me struggle and does all he can to help.  I took off today to drive around town doing a few things for me, and popped in my CD.  I cried through the entire thing.  I feel like every song meant something. Something he was trying to say to me.  Most things were about life changing, and how it’s just something that happens, but how it also means you have to try harder to pull yourself up.  Some songs were to the point, some sounded pleading, some were there to tell me that he loves me, and always will.

He may not see it like this, but I know better.  Whether it was consciously or not, he was telling me things are hard, things are different, but things are still good, and things will get better…. and he’s going to be there with me to figure it all out.

 

“Wish I could have been there when you were driving away
For California
If you’ve got to go somewhere
Then you better go somewhere far
Did you really think I could ever go on without you?
I’m not a genius
I imagine myself being cool
In the backseat of your car

[Chorus]
Return to the moon, I’m dying
Return to the moon, please
Return to the moon, I’m dying
Return to the moon, please

[Outro]
Don’t make me wait for you at the corner of Eden Park
Don’t make me wait for you at the Serpentine Wall”

EL VY – Return to the Moon