Wednesday, January 25, 2006

How to mess up your life

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Use your imagination and you, too can get start messing your life up- maybe even permanently!

1. Get snippy with mother-in-law about how you are not seeing enough of your hospitalized husband. When she defends herself by apologetically reminding you of health issues that leave her easily exhausted and in a great deal of pain, sulk.

2. Cancel plans to see said husband days after making them, due to finding out someone else will be visiting at the same time.

3. Tell husband you've canceled plans to see him, and refuse when he offers to call the other visitor and tell them not to come. Make sure that he cries after he's done talking to you.

4. Feel jealous of everyone you know. People with unhospitalized spouses, people with no children, people who aren't married, people with less kids than you, people whose children appear to behave better than yours, people who get to see your husband more often than you do, anyone he talks to besides you (like, say, his doctor)...pretty much anyone is fair game. Get really angry about how much better their lives are than yours.

5. Feel free to vent the anger that is now a continual part of your emotional life at whoever happens to be handy at the, spouse, friends, cats. Again, anyone is fair game.

6. Alternate wrathful explosions with bouts of anguished depression, contrition, and self-loathing. Cry frequently.

7. Increase your emotional sensitivity to the point where a stern look sends you flying from the room in tears. To keep people on their toes, make sure you fly off the handle with them next time.

8. Occasionally, take a moment to project your inferiority complex onto a friend or two- deep down, you know they don't like you anyway. And if they continue to protest that they do, indeed, like you, then you have a convenient opportunity to practice feeling like an ass.

9. Forget to take your medication. It keeps life interesting!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Going Nova

Many of you probably know that Jeff checked in to the hospital last Sunday (if you didn't, now you do, heh). I've been wanting to post about it for a few days now, but I wanted to make sure I had permission from Jeff first. He's fine with it, so here I am (his comment? "Honey, I'm not sure if anyone reads your blog anymore- you don't post very often"...thanks, sweetheart).

So he's at HCMC being treated for acute depression. Anyone wanting info on calling or visiting, EMAIL me (link on left side). If you just leave a comment, I may never see it. I'm not good at checking for comments at the best of times, and I'm busier than usual right now, as you can imagine.

For now, it looks like he'll be coming home sometime in the first half of February. Which, from where I stand, seems a lifetime away. Last week went well here at home. Since Sunday, not so much (those of you who were wondering when I would turn the focus of this post from Jeff to myself, here goes). Some people have emailed me to check how I was doing, and if you're one of them, I want you to know that when I say I'm ok, I'm not lying. But for me, "ok" encompasses a pretty broad range. Anywhere from "coping well, feeling pretty good" to "not coping well, but managing to keep it together". Sorry if that is cause for confusion.

Sunday all of my optimism and positive feelings deserted me. Most of the day was spent ping-ponging between despair and anguish, punctuated by crying jags. I had visited him twice with the kids along, but didn't get to see him alone until Sunday night, and I think that was part of the problem- I am physically very isolated since we live on the edge of the metro, and am going through what is basically grief, which is emotionally isolating. I am incredibly grateful to Kayla, who came when I very much needed another adult to interact with, who listened to me bitch, uncomplainingly, and who drove me to the hospital so I could have a few precious moments (not the figurines, eeew) with Jeff all to myself. It has been almost 6 years since we have been apart this long, when we were separated in '99...but then at least we got to spend almost unlimited time on the phone (he has no private phone, just the two ward phones that he has to share with everyone else). Kayla also had my back when we returned from HCMC- my parents had been kind of mental about letting me go, and she came in to make sure they behaved themselves on their way out). Thank you, thank you, darlin'!

Today was a bit better, as Jeff got the doctor to agree to the course of treatment he wanted, but it was also another day alone with sole responsibility for four beautiful, sweet, and completely crazy-making kids, which made me want to explode (thus, the post title). I did explode a few times (Gabe and Eva throwing eggs from the living room onto the kitchen floor provoked one outburst). I'm thinking it is an entirely blessed thing that I got stable on my meds before this, as for the past two days I've felt as awful as I usually feel this time of year when unmedicated. It's scary to think of how I'd be feeling without that buffer.

Because we now know that his stay is going to be 3-4 times longer than the 7-10 days we were originally quoted, I'm starting to take people up on their offers of help. We can use just about anything- meals, babysitters, cleaning help (watching the kids while I clean), visitors (both here and at the hospital)...anything. The difficult thing is that I do not drive, so things are more complicated as far as me getting to the hospital or out of the house for a break. Many, many thanks to everyone who has offered.

Our number is in the SP directory if anyone wants to check in with me, and please don't be alarmed if I don't answer the phone or call you back immediately. I'm pretty sure I'm coming down with a cold, and sometimes I'm just not up to talking. But I will return calls when feel up to it, probably within a few hours of the message being left.

I know many people are praying for us- thank you so much. I may feel awful right now, but I feel confident that with the support system we have through family, friends, and SP, that things will turn out ok. And that's "coping well, feeling pretty good" ok.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I have nothing to say

So Jeff tells me (yesterday?) that it's been about three weeks since I've posted, and I feel very guilty, but at a loss as to what I should talk about. I have this weird thing (maybe a type 4 thing) where I feel like if I don't have anything deep and heavy to say, it's better to keep quiet (in this format, anyway). I find the intimate details of my day to day life fairly dull, so I have no reason to believe anyone else is waiting with intense interest for me to post about it.

I'm up to my maintenance dose (200mg) of lamictal now, and it is working very, very well. So well that the three weeks of sunlessness we all just suffered through hardly registered. Mostly I just felt a little tireder than usual, wanting to sleep in, or maybe take an afternoon nap. It beats not being able to get dressed and being intermittently suicidal, which is how I usually feel during December and January. I'm a bit irritable in the morning and evening, but since I'm not by nature an early riser (my kids are), and evenings here are chaos, I think that's perfectly normal and not a manifestation of mental illness.

Allie got into the magnet school that I wanted for her, and she's very excited about kindergarten. She keeps asking why she has to wait till fall to start. She likes her preschool, though. The other day she dictated a note to me for her teachers. I will reproduce it here for everyone's amusement:

Dear Mrs Rhodie and Mrs Greer,

I like my Christmas present you gave me and I would like another one. I want all four of my teachers to come to school again. When I go to kindergarten, I want all the kids in my class to come with me.


Part of me loves that she is so direct and isn't afraid to ask for what she wants, and part of me is mortified. But I'm sure they're used to it, and anyway, they love her to death.

Speaking of Christmas, the kids got mostly gifts that I approve of. Jeff will tell you- I am a gift nazi. There are toys that are ok with me, and toys that mysteriously disappear around springtime (I don't throw them away- they get donated to the Lupus Foundation). I'm not a complete meanie- if a toy I hate is especially beloved by one or more kids, I grant an exemption. But it is pretty rare that I have to. Thankfully. We have so many toys as it is (four kids and three grandmas who all go overboard with gift-giving will do that) that I go through every two or three months and get rid of some of them anyway.

Their favorite gifts this year are the Melissa & Doug cooktop set, birthday cake, and pizza party- my mother-in-law bought the first one, the other two they got from us. I'll admit I have a bias toward wood toys (Little People and teethers being exceptions- all my kids play with Jonah's teethers. Go figure). Ok, I'm really just nuts. My dislike of plastic toys borders on the irrational.

But there's also an element of practicality in my derangement. It's not a matter of educational value or noise or replacing batteries or anything like that. What it comes down to is that we don't have a ton of money to spend on gifts for anyone, our kids included. If I'm going to spend $20 on a toy, it better be something my kids are still playing with on Valentine's Day, or I will feel it was money wasted. Ditto if it gets broken a week after Christmas, like the fire truck Gabe got from his great-grandma that is already missing two wheels. And so many of the plastic toys you get at Target or anywhere else feature licensed characters, which, as far as I can tell, about doubles the price, with no corresponding increase in quality. It makes me really angry, so I refuse to buy them, and instead, I buy a lot of Melissa & Doug stuff.

I guess, upon reflection, it's not what the toys are made of that matters to me, but what kind of values they represent. Are they an extension of our throwaway culture's love of passive entertainment, violence, brand names, and flashiness? Then I'll probably hate it. If, on the other hand, it encourages imagination, improvisation, movement, or interaction (even if said interaction ends with one party crying, as is often the case here)...then it's pretty likely that I'll adore it. It's just a sad coincidence that plastic toys are usually of the former variety, and wooden ones almost exclusively the latter.

Honestly, I bet I'm the only person you know who could start a post titled "Nothing to Say" and write this much. G'night.