Turns Out I Won’t Swing.

Previously on Bebe’s Planet:

If you dared to read my post Down in the Dumps you obviously shared in my bizarre revelation and epiphany about where I was in life, and how the bountiful bowel movement changed the course of my life. God I cannot believe I can truthfully type those words. Or you know, I guess I can believe it.

I have been in hiding for many many months. I was on the verge of a very serious breakdown. I had just broken apart. My body broke down and my mind melted. If you are a regular reader of The Crab Bucket I am sure you noticed a pattern in my writing as it became more and more like a personal journal, and less and less like a fun blog about crazy mother stories and weird son anecdotes. I wrote sporadically because the words just got a bit deeper and deeper and I backed away because I felt I didn’t have much to say anymore, and I certainly didn’t think you would want to read my diary.

My company had turned to shreds, long profound friendships and relationship that bloomed in our unique office became fractured because the family had been forced apart. It was a systematic and needless breakdown of something that was very important to all of us. It broke my heart. After years of joking about the man, the man really did flex his muscles and punch me in the gut. My work, and my work friendships (which have since just become friendships, no adjective needed) provided me with a home away from home. I laughed, I talked, and I took pride in everything I did. It was a shelter. And it was gone.

My home life was strained. We only have one income, which only put my work issues on volume 11. We have a learning disabled son and my husband is still recovering from spinal surgery. It’s been the hardest 5 years of my life, and I have had a lot of hard years. I had become bitter, sad, and angry. I cried at everything, eye contact was almost impossible for me, and I hurt every day. My neck and shoulders felt like I was literally balancing a picnic bench on my shoulders, all day and every day. I found no joy in my home life, and I no longer wanted to be any kind of caretaker for my family. I was done. I sat in my bathroom and stared at the shower curtain wondering if it would hold me. If you know me, you know it wouldn’t. I laughed. Even then, I was able to laugh at myself because that was just so absurd. But when I walked into my garage to get something to drink, I looked up and saw the rafters. Suddenly, my absurd thought wasn’t so absurd anymore. It was quite doable. When that became a viable option for me, I knew it was time to seek some help. So I did.

I made an appointment with my husband’s doctor and as soon as he asked me what was wrong, I just mumbled that I couldn’t take much more stress and I needed to function again. I cried a little, and he was really good about it. He wasn’t convinced my neck and shoulder pain was emotionally based though, so he took x-rays and he was right. I have bone spurs and neck straightening. That is where most people have a natural curve in their neck, where mine is straight and rigid. Having this my entire life, I had no idea that it wasn’t normal. When he tried to get my neck to move, it wouldn’t. It wouldn’t crack, it wouldn’t stretch, and it wouldn’t budge.

He made me promise to commit to working hard to make myself better, and he put me back on medication for insulin resistance that I gave up taking ages ago because I gave up on myself. He prescribed a very low dose of an antidepressant just to help me up and out of this hole I was in. I didn’t want to not feel what I was feeling, but I didn’t want to sob my way through talking myself out of hanging in our shitty garage. That is not a stylish way to kick it. He signed me up for six weeks of physical therapy for my neck, and told me that he would hire me in a second if he could. I walked out of there hopeful.

Physical therapy was a dream come true. Three days a week of deep tissue massage, stretching, and electro-heat therapy for a month and a half? Uh…yeah. After a few days of that, I was driving and turned my neck all the way to the side for probably the first time in my life. It was unreal. Every day got a bit better. I was able to wake up in the morning. I was able to stop crying, but not at legitimately sad things on television, which is what I wanted. I wanted to work through this, not fly over it.

I made the decision to look for another job. It was time. I realized that if I was going to make improvements in my life, I had to go all of the way. I wasn’t going to let them eventually push me out, and I wasn’t going to walk into the office every day and circumvent all of the bullshit and navigate around douche bags if I could help it. I found an opening at a highly respectable place with a brilliant reputation. Someone I had known professionally for almost a decade through my current position worked there. I took a deep breath and emailed him and asked his advice. He told me that after 8 or so years of me helping him, it was his turn to help me. He submitted my resume, and after many hoops, I was hired. It’s the work I love doing, in a place that wants me to be happy and healthy. Yeah, it’s still the man, but he is polite and well mannered, and instead of being beaten over the head, it’s a long slow massage. I will take it. I will make more money, have better benefits, and work in a calm atmosphere. In this day and age, to say I am lucky is an understatement. This gentleman stuck his neck out for me based on all of those years at a job that I loved and had to give up. That makes it all worth it, and that is probably one of the proudest accomplishments in my life.

I said goodbye to coworkers and we had a big party. They miss me and I miss them. I was thinking that some sad moments in life are some of the happiest. When you have the problem of people loving you so much that they are sad to see you go, it’s really not a bad thing to be sad about. It’s a bittersweet joy in life that I don’t think people realize. When I think that way, I know that my meds must be working. But maybe not, because I have always been a fruity eccentric Oracle Delphi. I buried my guinea pig in my yard when I was 10 years old and had to comfort the neighbor kids. I just knew Herbie was in a good place. What I didn’t know was that burying him in sand on a dirt bike trail probably wasn’t the greatest idea. Give a girl a break. You can have inner peace at 10 years old but you aren’t an earth scientist.

When all of this came together, I lost 15 pounds. I caught on at the new job and people are getting to know me. My husband and I are working hard together to keep our family afloat and focusing on getting through each day and respecting the basics in life. A roof over our head, an education for our son, and food on our table. Lots of laughter at ourselves, and a fight or two when we need one. Things are looking up for us in a few different ways and we are slowly planning a party at the right time to celebrate our life as it is, and surviving 10 years of marriage. We want to renew our vows, and show our family and most importantly our boys that we can do this, even when it seems like we can’t. It’s fun to have something to look forward to and plan.

Every night without fail I take my medicine, still the same dosages, still with the hope of staying functional without pickling myself. I think the changes have affected the whole house. The Mr. and the boy went away for a week to visit family and left me alone. And I was lonely. I don’t think I was ever really lonely before. I know, a working mom with a chance to be alone is a miracle. And it is, and on behalf of all of my other working moms out there, I respected it as such. But I felt the absence of the very thing that I wanted to run away from. No, I stand corrected. I wanted to cease to exist, and free them of me, and me of them. This time around, I just wanted them near me. It was such a relief. When they did come home, my son, who is never really affectionate, wouldn’t stop kissing and hugging me, and hasn’t stopped since. We make a game out of it. Whatever clicked in his little mind regarding me was a welcome change. He was able to determine that I was gone, and he knew he wanted me back. With most kids that’s a given. With a child like the boy, it’s a gift. Actually it’s a gift for any parent. But for me, it was and is by far the most thrilling thing I have felt in a long while.

I was snapped out of this funk by the fact that I shit my pants and laughed my way out of a coma. It carried on because the shower rod was too flimsy to hold me when I thought about swinging from it in a moment of desperation. I obviously don’t need the shower rod anymore although I guess technically the thinner I get the easier it would be. How ironic. I am not going to lie, I am petrified of sneezing now and constantly think I am going to shit myself all of the time. It’s the equivalent of that fear of falling asleep we all had in the 80’s after watching Nightmare on Elm Street the first time. I think that I might need therapy for it one day. That’s okay though. It’s a healthy fear that I can definitely live with.

-Bebe

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Put Up or Shut Up

Fortunately Bebe & I get to send IMs all day to hash life out, as it happens, in real time.  In fact, that is where we got the idea for this very blog.  It is always a source of creative flow regardless of the topic and I almost always find the source of my writing within them.  Recently a conversation went like this:

Lulu says: You and other events have been inspiring me in a way.  I’m trying to set some rules for myself.  What I will put up with, for how long, etc.  I feel like now is the time for some reason.  I think with work too.  Kinda like what you are doing.  A personal mental inventory.

Bebe says: I have been trying little by little.

Then I’m sure we started quoting Steel Magnolias or talking about chafing thighs or flattering turtlenecks, but this part stuck in my caw.

I can’t give you the exact book off Oprah’s Favorite List that did it for me.  Books I’ve been reading, the huge magnifying glass placed over me upon becoming a mother, the fact that my world and what I can feasible care about has shrunk incredibly after creating a family, or just the anti-depressants…who knows what percentage each of these have had.  Whatever it is, I’m suddenly taking stock.

I’m sorting through the pantry, checking expiration dates and chucking out that can of black beans I thought I’d one day use to spice up an omelet but never did.  Friends that no longer, for lack of a better phrase, serve a purpose of enjoyment in my life are gone.  Family members that cause me more grief than joy, I filter out my involvement with.  Activities I thought I had to enjoy to keep the peace with everyone, even my husband, I now speak up and say “no, thanks.”

I no longer am capable of “The Bend.”

The Bend is my trademarked term for all of the ways we change ourselves to accommodate others around us.  The ways we let ourselves go quiet to appease the crowd.  Instead of speaking up about how angry these accommodations made me, I’d bottle them up and fill up the extra spaces in me with resentment.

I needed my friends and family to like me, and if it meant changing to fit their needs, so be it.

Once I had to step back and really keep myself okay and alive, so to speak, I figured out very quickly that a lot of the people in my life only need and like me when I can serve a purpose to them, as long as I don’t stop that purpose or my needs get too loud.  What I want in life is a burden if it interferes with their use of me or if I disagree with them in any way, despite their criticisms of me.

And strangely, that’s okay.  I get it.  We are each our own and really, despite the Golden Rule and what all those hippies yell at rallies, we only really care for ourselves and maybe those we hold most dear.

What has changed is now I no longer try to change them by changing me.

I’m not used to being comfortable in my own skin.  For as loud and opinionated as I am, I still want to be accepted.  Who doesn’t?  Motherhood, especially, throws these self esteem issues in our face.  I worried I’m not the right xyz to fit into whatever mold those in my life needed me to fit into.  This even included the made-up mold on raising a child and what I think my daughter needed in me.

Getting through PPD, having a child, growing up, being loved, whatever has suddenly put absolutely every action in my life under a huge microscope and vice at the same time.

Quite frankly.  I no longer have the mental or emotional capacity to give a shit what ‘they’ think of me.

I firmly believe what I really needed the pills for with PPD was to calm everything down so I could actually figure out what I really wanted.  To stop the merry-go-round.  And it has.  Ten-fold.

On the flip side, I can no longer feel things anything less than 100%.  My biggest fear with taking anti-depressants was becoming a zombie.  Not the case.  I have found myself and myself savors absolutely every emotion that comes into my being.  They don’t make my decision,s but I want to feel it all, everything, 100%.  Not just be a passer-by in this life.

I want to live my life again, I don’t want to end it anymore.  But this time?  This time I want to live it as me.

-Lulu

PPD, yea you know me

I wondered to myself in my quietest moments many many times during my pregnancy about post-pardem depression.  I had experienced depression before, got help, knew what to do, not to spiral, to move on and calm down.  I was logical and rational about it. I knew how to gauge my feelings and tell myself it would pass.  Surely when my kid gets here I can keep that up if it goes up a notch.  I’d get help again.  But it wouldn’t, right?  I mean, how bad could it be?  Would I really feel like killing myself?  Hurting my baby?  Seems like it will be the happiest time of my life, I’ve wanted her so long, why would I want to kill myself???  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  It made no sense.

How sure I was.

Looking back, that little voice that kept bringing it up somewhere deep deep deep inside knew all along that I was destined for at least a touch of it.  That voice that always knows my real self, but rarely speaks up loud enough for my ego to hear it over the “LA DI DA DA EVERYTHING IS FINE” song it sings while putting its fingers in it ears. That little voice that when I do hear it and listen carefully, never steers me wrong.

A touch of it is what I got.  If you measure a touch as someone putting a toaster in a pillow case and swinging it around knocking you in the head.

I know.  I’m another sad woman not grateful for what she has.  Or maybe you think “Oh god, me too.”  Either way, it was real and it happened to me, and I don’t care if anyone else felt the same way and if you are feeling like this, you probably won’t either.  No matter how many other people out there had it happen to them, it didn’t help.  The stories didn’t help.  All I knew was that I was supposed to be happy, I wasn’t.  I was terrified and sad and could never sit still.  I only knew how happy everyone else said they were and I wasn’t.  Why wasn’t I?

It made absolutely no sense to me. What it was supposed to be was the one time in my life where I should have unspeakable joy and I finally made my own family and we have created life right in front of me.  It was.  On the outside I was doing everything I could for her, that little girl.

On the inside, something else blocked all that happiness out.

Instead, I just wanted to get in my car and drive to New Mexico alone in the middle of the night.  I thought my kid would be better off without me, because I was crazy.  That if I died and made it look like an accident, I could leave her insurance money and she would have everything she needs.  Nothing I could give her if I was still alive.  That every time I had a quiet moment to myself all I could do was sob or worry that I had made a grave mistake by not bringing her into a family that was stable and rich and educated and happy and secure.

Of course, none of this makes sense to me now, on the other side.  The medicated and enlightened side looking back at that poor woman 5 months ago who had no idea how hard she would be on herself when she was doing everything she could, the grieving she needed to do over the way her baby was born, the amplification of every single anxiety she had about herself and her shortcomings, that her role as caregiver to everyone in her life needed to be put on hold for awhile, and how much she needed people to help her but couldn’t ask because she couldn’t form the words to utter what exactly was wrong.

Or that she had no idea just how strong she really was.

The turning point came one morning when I ran out to get coffee for my husband and I, a quiet moment alone on a weekday during the last parts of my maternity leave.  I sat in the car outside of the cafe and just like every shitty movie this scene would be in, it was raining.  The windshield wipers were beating on the car and I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t physically get out of the car, or stop sobbing, or call anyone or do anything.  I was sobbing the racking awful body shaking sobs that only the truly sad can experience, yet I had no idea why.  Why?  I screamed it out loud through tears in that car over and over for over 20 minutes before I collected myself enough to go in and get the fucking coffee.

That morning that little voice inside me finally spoke up loud enough.

It was after that morning I could start telling myself to stop when the sad part of me tried to get me to run away, or take too many pills or disappear.  That little voice made myself busy with cleaning or sewing or sleeping until it could figure out what to do with the sad part of me.  Again, it was that little voice that made me ask others how I seemed.  After a conversation with my sister and friends, I realized I really wasn’t myself anymore.  The sad part finally got it.  I was two people.  The voice was trying to save the other from what, I didn’t know.

But now, a month after I got help, I’m whole. A month after my very understanding doctor took one look at me and said “you need something to make everything inside calm down.”  A month after I summoned up every ounce of courage I had to admit to that doctor that I was falling, that I couldn’t do it anymore.  A month since I had to answer “yes” to that cliche question of “Do you have thoughts of hurting yourself?”  The two parts of me are now one, working together to keep me alive.

A month feels like a lifetime now.

Sitting here on the other side, a whole person again, calm and happy and able to enjoy my baby’s smiles and giggles and even her cries, I desperately want to go back to that woman, myself, 5 months ago.  I want to hug her to keep her together.  Me, sitting in the hospital with my new baby girl sleeping on my chest, sobbing to myself quietly at 3:00 a.m. so my husband won’t wake.  The me now wants to put my arm around her and tell me that I am the strongest person I will ever know, I am going to be the mother I always thought I’d be, and I am amazing.

Because I am.  We all are, really.

Lulu