Sunday, August 28, 2011

They really do resemble the mentally ill.

I have heard it joked that having a small child in your house is like living with a crazy person.  And I am here to tell you that I can confirm that it's absolutely true, although to be more accurate, it is like living with a ward full of psychiatric patients.  I know because I just left there.



As many of you know, my depression has been excruciating lately and I was not finding a lot of help from the professionals that I contacted.  Last Saturday, I had finally had enough and I checked myself into the psych ward at the hospital (you were wondering where I was, weren't you?).

I waited until Lila was out and about with her dad for the day and then called my mother and begged her to take me to the hospital (actually, she was more than willing and thought it was the best idea).  I didn't think they were actually going to check me in because I was not threatening to kill myself or anyone else (for a change).  When the doctor told me she wanted me to check in voluntarily or else she was going to check me in involuntarily with a required 72 hour stay, I signed the papers all the while crying and trying to convince the doctor that my child would never survive without me. 

Even in a state that can best be described as desperately useless, I was more worried about my kid than I was about myself.  I felt guilty for leaving her - for NEEDING to leave her.  I felt like I had been so removed and uninvolved for weeks now, and I was finally doing the inevitable.  I was leaving her.  My mother convinced me that she was in very able hands (her Dad is a fantastic father) and that this would truly be better than letting her see me in such a state of utter breakdown.  I knew she was right-in my head.  But my heart told me that I was a deserter.

The ward was a hospital ward with a long hallway with patients' rooms on one side and offices and other useful rooms on the other.  In the middle of the hall was a large open room with a TV and several tables in it.  The TV was always at full volume and the fluorescent lights and linoleum floors make the room harsh and uncomfortable. 

But it isn't the decor that I think was the important part of this story.  It was the people.  They don't separate the truly insane or disruptive patients from those who are depressed or anxious and the crazies ran the place. 

The first person I saw was a guy with a thick black beard and shaved head who just stood in the hall smiling to himself.  He just stood there.  Didn't look up.  Then he tentatively took half a step before smiling to himself again.  I was instantly afraid.  He was totally in his own head and I realized then that I was here with truly ill people. 

There was also a guy who constantly paced the length of the hallway all day and half the night.  When he sat down, he would try to talk to you or concentrate on something to no avail.  He would get frustrated and jump up to walk again. 

There was a woman who barked.  She mostly barked but also liked to repeat everything that people said when she was in the mood.  The first night I was there, they were watching some show on Telemundo that was like America's Got Talent but only showcased children.  At one point, a dance team came out enthusiastically gyrating to annoying techno music.  She heard the music, jumped up and started imitating the dance moves.  Here was a 50+ woman who barked doing some really athletic dance moves.  I was pretty sure she was going to hurt herself. 

There was a guy who was essentially catatonic in a wheelchair who would piss himself and then come to life fighting the nurses who tried to change his pants.

There was a girl who confined herself to her room most of the time except that several times a day (and often in the middle of the night) would come out into the hall screeching, howling and hooting as if she were at some fantastic dance party that only she could see. 

But my favorite memory will always be of The Yeller.  The Yeller was a 70 year old man who came in complaining and bitching but in completely nonsensical sentences.  He literally yelled utter nonsense for 4 entire days, quieting down for 3 hours here and there but mostly going on non-stop.  He just could not shut the fuck up.  He yelled all kinds of interesting gems and I was convinced that if I could just transcribe it, there would be some sense to be made of it.  But I doubt it.  He would walk up to you for no reason looking like you somehow offended him and he'd point at you and say something like (and I quote) "You can tell me abracadabra and put it in the dryer.  But you have to get the user's manual that's in the refrigerator because the sponges need a bath."  After 4 days of him yelling day and night, I decided that ready or not, I needed to go home.

Coming home was really strange for me.  My house looked weird.  Lila looked like she had grown up, and I just felt completely out of sorts.  I knew that the relief I felt from the excessive sadness and anxiety was mostly due to being away from my real life and I knew that it was going to be hard to disappoint Lila, who thought that since I was coming back from the hospital that I was going to be all better.  I am not. 



But all that being said, I found out that I have an incredibly well-behaved and well-adjusted child.  Lila missed me and asked about me often but only cried about it once, at bedtime on the second night I was gone.  In fact, I would often call her at my mother's house during the day and on more than one occasion when my mother asked if she wanted to talk to me she shrugged and said, "not right now, I'm playing."  When I told my doctor about this, she asked if that hurt my feelings and I had to be honest:  I was completely relieved that she was secure in the idea that I was coming back soon.  She wasn't traumatized by my absence and that freed me up to do some of the work I needed to do to get myself in good enough shape to get out of there. 

Like any stay in the hospital, coming home did not mean I was "cured".  It only meant that the crisis had been averted and that the hard work of really getting better was beginning.  Before I left, they made me a prompt appointment with a therapist and a psychiatrist, which boggled my mind since every shrink I had called in the last month told me they were either not taking new patients or wouldn't be able to see me until October.  I have new meds (which I already think need adjusting) and I am still having a ton of anxiety and sadness. 

But now I know that there is help out there.  And I have something that I didn't have when I went in there.  Hope.



Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ok. So I may have given up...

I suck at commitment.  I really do.  I want to lose some weight.  I want to get in shape.  I set my goals 2 weeks ago and have yet to meet them.  I gained another 2 lbs.  WHAT THE FUCK! 

I have been eating better.  LOTS of fresh produce.  I have not been snacking at night and find that I am STARVING when I go to bed. 

But the depression is draining the life out of me.  I have been sleeping more and skipping my walks in favor of closing my eyes for 20 minutes on the couch.  Not that I get to relax.  Usually my kid is climbing on me or yelling in my ear. 

But this thing just hangs over my head.  It is always there making me feel guilty for all the ways I am failing and not meeting my very lame and simple goals. 

So I start again this week.  I just need to do it today.  To steal from the 12-step moment, it is one day at a time.  I just have to get through today. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Further Laments on Cleaning

Didn't I JUST scrub the bathtub with bleach like 3 days ago?  How in the name of sweet Baby Jesus could it possibly be this filthy again?  What the hell is my kid rolling in that could possibly make her THAT dirty?  I just don't get it.

I effin' hate cleaning the bathtub. On the list of housework (most of which I hate) I rate this one WAAAY at the top of my list of "things I avoid doing until I cannot stand the sight of the filth anymore" and even then I usually try to pawn it off on the Guy (not that he does as good a job as I do ;-).

Lila takes a bath every night because I refuse to have a smelly kid (and believe me, many of them DO smell).  Most days she spends at my mother's house where she either stays inside and paints all day or she plays in a neat, grassy, well-tended yard.  There are no piles of dirt there (that I know of), nor are there any mud puddles or dust boxes or other containers filled with dirt for her to roll around in.  And when she's home, well, I usually know what she is getting into. 

So WHY do I find that after just 3 days I am needing to get out the bleach-infused bathroom cleaning product and get on my hands and knees with the special rubber gloves to scrub the hell out of the bathtub again?  Seriously.  Did I mention that I have no neurosis that makes me NEED a spotless bathtub - it's just f**king FILTHY again!

It's not like I always let my kid walk around like this:

This is just for special occasions

I think I am going to take a second job so that I can afford a maid.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Ghost Mother

Sometimes I feel like a ghost. 

I have been struggling with my depression again and as always it threatens to asphyxiate me and drown out all the good that lives in me. 



But no one ever tells you that when you are a mother and you have depression, you do not get to suffer alone.  The thing you love, the thing that keeps you from being lost completely in the abyss suffers too.

Having a mother with depression is like being forced to be psychic.  You never know what is going to make her angry.  You never know who is going to greet you when you come home.  You never know if there is going to be someone to take care of you or if you are going to have to figure it out yourself again.  This was MY experience.  My mother was depressed.

And against everything I swore I would never be as a parent, this is slowly becoming my daughter's experience as well.

I feel like I am depriving her.  Her mother doesn't want to play.  She doesn't want to go anywhere.  She can't muster the energy many days to leave the house.  And when she does, the rest of the day is shot, because she only has so much patience and will to burn.  She loses her cool when the kid is just being a kid. 

And the more I feel guilty about being sick, the more I want to withdraw - to not subject her to me.  And this makes me more guilty and feeds into this twisted circle that is quickly becoming something of a spiral or a whirlpool dragging me down to God knows where.

The meds have not been helping so I keep going back begging for some kind of help.  "We'll find something that works for you," the doctor said to me today.  But it's hard to watch what I am doing to my kid while the battle wears on. 

And then there's the fear.  The fear and worry that I am scarring her for life.  That I am unable to teach her some essential survival skills that will keep her from succumbing to the same pitfalls and setbacks the threw me into the pit and left me there for dead.  I don't want her to have to ever feel this way.  But if history is any indication, my fears will be realized no matter how hard I work to prevent them.

It is hard to hold out hope for a turnaround.  It is hard when most of the medications and therapies have just led to brief remissions and when substantial lifestyle changes have been sidetracked by this unbearable lethargy.  But I have no choice.  I have my little girl to look after.  She keeps me from being able to give up.  I HAVE to get out of bed.  I HAVE to face the day.  I HAVE to make dinner even when it hurts and is overwhelming just to stand at the stove and stir a pot.  Even when I suck to be around.  She still needs me.

I just hope she will forgive me for all the lost time.