Sunday, January 13, 2013

Good Days, Hard Days

My kid has had five good days in a row. This is a massive breakthrough, and I find myself feeling as if the ground is shifting under me, or maybe the sky is shifting over me - a sense of vertigo with this new upbeat person in our home. People talk about medical conditions all the time. Particularly in children, we tend to romanticize illness, as if the sick child is somehow endowed with unique powers of resiliency, or good-heartedness, or a range of solid character traits that he or she supposedly gained from the experience of having managed the obstacle of the medical condition, or disability, or whatever you care to call it.

This is not the case with the depressed and anxious child. Primarily, her illness may be a secret from our friends and neighbors. For the most part, it is, for me, something shared with the very few. When she is in the hospital, we are especially isolated. People do not bring food and send flowers. Indeed, only those few people know about it. We want to preserve her privacy and protect ourselves from peoples' reactions. Often, folks are as compassionate as they can be; at other times, people do not understand the distinction between major depression and the regular depressed feelings everyone has at times. I am not interested in educating. And honestly, it is painful to share. There are too many implications, and the blunt reality that my child is thinking that hurting herself is a good option because her life is that painful; she is pale and quiet; she cries and cuddles up to me like a small child, which she is not.

It is ironic that my relief with these good days is followed by my own anxiety - a delayed reaction, perhaps to all of the worry that I hold in and that I held in with my first child. It's not that I keep a veneer of calm - hardly - but I am the confidant, and the main caretaker in these matters, and I must hold myself together to take care of my dear daughter. When she feels bad, I feel bad, but I have little time for that because she needs me to listen, to reflect, to remind her that she does have good days, that it always passes, and that she is slowly following a pattern of getting better. Now that she is so much better than she was even a short time ago, I need reminders for myself: she is okay. I need to wind back to when my son was ill, too, and tell myself the same thing: he is doing well now, and he is a fine young man. But honestly, where does it leave me? Feeling a vague sense of what might be desperation, anticipating the inevitable moment of the next bad day.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Side Effects, Symptoms and Psychiatry

It's been over three years since I have posted here and in that time things have not been particularly peachy. But rather than launching into the whole story of the woes of me, I'd prefer to discuss one piece: side effects. Yes, side effects. They are the quirks that arise when you have a problematic symptom and the solution is in a pill and you take the pill and lo, another problem crops up. Sometimes there is a pill to help with the new problem so you take a pill so that you can take a pill. Do you follow me? I will be more specific. A coupla years ago I was having issues which I would rather not detail at this time but since the point of the blog is to actually "Say Something," I guess I had better do some of  that.  I was so anxious that I could not eat.

When you are so anxious that you cannot eat, it is detrimental because your body needs food to survive. This is a basic tenet of human biology but it bears repeating here because of the great amount that I could not eat: the nausea, the difficulty swallowing, the cramping, the diarrhea was all extensive. As the song says, "there's a pill for that," and indeed, there was. The first pill was to help me swallow and after months of difficulty it truly helped. However, the side effect of that pill was diarrhea. Oh, joy. It was around this time that the doctor thought maybe I had celiac disease. Ha! But I was desperate, so I eliminated all gluten from my diet. It changed nothing except that now my food was limited, which I really did not need because I continued to lose weight. Food caused nausea, anxiety caused nausea, nausea caused a disdain for all things food-ish.

Now you may be reading this and wondering about the anxiety part of it. That is mysterious because at first I had only gastro-intestinal symptoms and stress at my now-former job. I did not notice any anxiety. Over the course of time the anxiety seemed to increase but I did not realize it. It was like the time when a doctor prescribed Percoset for my herniated disc and I asked why the strong medicine? "You're in a lot of pain," she told me, at which point I realized that limping around for months unable to sit in a chair was perhaps not the 'new normal.' So Denial, yes, capital D, not just a river in Egypt, etc etc. The symptoms of anxiety hit me before I realized I was feeling anxious. Plus my doctor was saying to me "you need treatment." I could not really hear her; or rather, I heard it, but it made no sense to me. When you do not eat, your brain does not work well (see aforementioned denial) and a lot of things do not make sense to you.

I kept saying "I hafta go to work" in response to the distant voice of psychiatry saying "you are sick."  I woke up in the mornings at 3 a.m. wondering what I would do, how I would manage the humiliating crap that was my job, which is another story called "The Humiliating Crap that was My Job." But back to side effects! Once I started the treatment that, yes, I did end up needing to start, they gave me a pill to gain weight and help me sleep. Great stuff. It turns out that eating and sleeping are both recommended activities. They actually gave me two pills because I was way too thin and sleep-deprived. Side effect: they worked. That would be a happy ending to the story if I no longer needed them and/or if any of my clothes actually fit me now. Who cares about my clothes fitting if I recovered from the awful anxiety and nausea, right?

It felt that way at first because I got back to my normal weight. You are thinking oh no I read all this just so she could complain about her weight? Well, kind of, yeah. When your clothes don't fit and you become an entirely other shape it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. It is not like when you are going to have a baby and something exciting is happening. It is confusing, as in: what do I wear and how would I feel if I tried to come offa these pills?  And you learn that a "muffin top" is the sag of your belly over the low waist of the now-tight jeans. Last spring I tried to come off of one of the muffin top pills and that was not wise. A couple of months ago I reduced another by half so that is getting somewhere.

I am able to eat now and of course that is good and I no longer have any of those fairly repellent symptoms I had before. But the side effect, which was initially a desirable one, is that I am perpetually hungry. I know what you are thinking: there's a pill for that. I know! But I am not going to take yet another pill. My Inner Guide tells me to love myself the way I am, and to embrace my muffin top. My pants ask me if I have the dough to go buy new ones. So if I "go with my gut," at least I have something to really grab onto - with both hands.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Menstruating in the Forties

By this time in one's life, we're not meant to really discuss it. It's dull , there's nothing to say. I have my period. So what? Get a tampon and go stick it. Some of us are prematurely peri-menopausal. That's gyno-talk for my periods are unpredictable again, just like thirty years ago, and soon I may be dry as a bone in my formerly moist and excellent vulva. As usual, I cannot seem to do things the easy way. I did not get my period as a young girl once a month for five days. No, it came pouring out for two weeks straight and the cramps were awful. That of course was just because I am profoundly exotic and female or perhaps just cursed. Take your pick.

Now, naturally, before most of my female pals, I am peri-menopausal. For five days I get a dainty little warning - spotting, really. Then for about three days I may or may not get a bad period. But at sometime in there small bits and pieces, probably puzzle pieces I swallowed as a baby or something, come outta there, and it hurts. Just a little. Or maybe a lot. You choose. Some months it lasts an hour. Some months it hurts for days. Today it definitely hurts, but it hurt two days ago, so here I go being unusual yet again.

Furthermore, and I mean more, I am single-handedly - no - single-vaginaedly or single-uterusly supporting the feminine products industry over here because I never know what will happen when and between the tampons of varied sizes and the mini-pads that I really cannot go without I am a well-protected female. Okay, I suppose there are other similarly cursed women who are also supporting the industry but I do believe tghat if there were a contest that I would be in the running, so to speak, for being the poster-child, or poster-lady for unpredictable unpleasant and long-lasting middle-aged menstruation. Ouch.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thought for the Day: Tit Shapes

We have been watching episodes of Mad Men (and apparently everyone else in the country has been too). But my point is, well, points. The bras in those days, the early 1960s, were quite pointy, cones, really, and nowadays they are rounded. When I first started watching Mad Men it seemed odd - the tits, not the show - but now I am looking at these women, and of course they are all young starlets, but also those bras look good. Maybe we should all put away our rounder, more natural-looking bras and put on some pointers. It might look kinda hot, or fun, or something. Then we could start wearing dresses with big pointy bottom halves and polka dots. Some of those dresses were - and are - divine.

I personally do remember my mother's pointy-shaped bosom and her pretty dresses from those days. I suppose the ends of the bras are hollow or something, so women could store things inside, like a little lipstick, a rouge, or maybe an extra pair of earrings, or nipple rings, as the case may be. Count me in for pointy bras when they return to fashion. I'll be the lady with her glasses on a chain (I'm guessing it will be a while).