Thursday, November 7, 2013

Things I've learned In the Past 3 Weeks

3 weeks and 1 day ago I underwent major foot surgery.  I had a lovely genetic defect called Haglund's Deformity in my left foot.  Basically it means that I have a lot more heal bone than I should.  That,  combined with a tight Achilles tendon led to a pain filled disaster.  At some point the tendon started breaking bits of bone off the back of my heel.  Those bone fragments caused inflammation and pain in my tendon and led to it's demise.  When I went to see my foot surgeon the first time I really didn't think my problem was surgical.  I thought some stretching, some orthotics and I would be good to go.  Then I saw the x-rays.  Ugly.  The word surgery was one of the first out of his mouth.  We did try stretching and orthotics first but I just ended up in more pain. 

I committed to the surgery but every single day before it arrived I thought of chickening out.  I would be in a cast and non-weight bearing for 8 weeks, then months of painful walking and physical therapy and I was told I would feel better in about a year.  A year.  Daunting to say the least.  With two active little boys at home, a blind wife and trying to pull my weight in a house we share with my mother I was scared.  The scariest part of the whole thing was 8 weeks non-weight bearing.  How could I care for my family on crutches for 8 weeks?  Then, the more I learned about the surgical recovery the more scared I became.  Not only was I expected to be non-weight bearing I was expected to live in bed or on the couch getting up only to use the bathroom.  I was not to leave the house until, maybe, week 6.  What????? 

I'm a bit of a control freak and tend to do a lot, more than I should sometimes, so the thought of doing nothing was intimidating.  It was also exhilarating.  Suffering from depression I often put on my happy face and go about my day.  I had done that most of the summer while the boys were home and kept them pretty active.  I did it the weeks leading up to surgery as I scurried around to get as much done as I could.  I cleaned the house, changed summer wardrobes out for Winter ones, shopped for Winter gear for the boys, stocked the pantry, chaperoned a field trip while I still could, squeezed in appointments and basically tried to make it so my family would have less to do while I was unable to help.  By the time surgery was getting closer I was terrified but also a little excited.  I'm not going to lie, after being happy me (as happy as I could muster some days) for 5 months I was ready for a break.  An excuse to lay in bed all day?  An excuse to take mind numbing painkillers?  An excuse to watch all 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights, AGAIN?  Delightful.  I've learned a lot in my last 3 weeks on the couch, more than I thought I would. 

It takes 3 weeks to watch all 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights if you only watch during school hours.
Vicodin makes me nauseous but also makes me care about NOTHING.
My boys tire of my company quickly when the most I can offer is a cuddle on the couch.
People who are forced to take care of you become resentful quickly.
You become resentful of the people who are resentful.
Some friends actually DO show up to visit and others, well....I guess I know who the real friends are now.
People think lasagna has healing powers.
Some days laying on the couch watching TV and doing nothing else is amazing and feels great. 
Some days laying on the couch watching TV and doing nothing else makes me want to stab my eyes out.
People post some boring stuff on Facebook but when it's your only connection to the world you read every little bit.
When you try to do more than you are supposed to after surgery Karna slaps you one and you fall and make everything worse.
I have muscles I didn't know existed in my body.
Every inch of muscle in my body hurts from compensating.
There's a smell in my living room I can't pinpoint and I hate.
I've learned that my idea of clean and the way I have to live now are completely different and I have no say in the matter.
I've learned that showers are luxurious and really one of the only times I feel good.
Naps help pass the time and without them I am a cranky bitch by dinner.
Healing is a lot of work and even though I sit and do nothing all day I am exhausted, almost all the time.

Today is day 22 of recovery and on day 52 I will shed the cast and be allowed to bear weight as long as everything goes exactly according to plan.  I have another 30 days to sit here and I'm sure there is still a lot left for me to learn.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Changes On the Horizon

I've been a stay at home mom for 8 years and 4 months.  I remember the first few weeks staying home with Aiden.  I was so excited to do it but when it happened it was hard.  Having no one but an almost 1 year old to interact with all day was less than stimulating.  The big decisions were when to ditch the bottle for a sippy cup and to sleep train or not.  I remember taking him out to play in the hard in the hopes that someone would walk by and stop to chat for a few minutes because lordy, lordy I was lonely.  Eventually, I found a groove and we started going to story time, art groups, and play dates.  While I was thankful for the education and stimulation for Aiden I was more thankful for the adults I got to see and talk to.  There were other moms with spit up stains on their shirts and ponytails were the norm because none of us had a minute to call our own.  It made me feel a little more human every time, to see these women who were going through the same things.

I never believed those people who said that you lose yourself when you have children.  Heck no, I wasn't going to lose myself.  I was a strong, intelligent, educated woman and I wasn't going to lose any of that.  I could be a mom and still maintain my sense of self.  I would carve out "me time", go out with friends, perhaps pursue my masters degree.  Ha!  It's funny now to think how cocky I was because damn if I didn't lose sight of me within months.  Strong, intelligent, educated woman became a mom who's priorities were how to get stains out of baby clothes, making sure Aiden's needs were met 24/7 and cleaning my house because as a stay at home mom I felt that that was now my job.  "Me time" was a laughable 3 minute shower while Aiden destroyed the bathroom or 15 minutes of doing dishes without Aiden clinging to me if it was nap time.  I couldn't pursue my master's degree because with only one income we were poorer than poor and my dreams had to take a backseat to diapers and formula. 

I lost myself, my dreams, my ambition, my confidence.  Kids teach you over and over again that you aren't going to do it right.  You, as a parent, will almost always feel like you are doing it all wrong.  And that, combined with having nothing else I could call my own equaled a loss of me.  Every decision I made as a parent I questioned and I soon learned that if I vocalized my questions and concerns with other moms they would question my decisions too.  Moms have a way of tearing each other down and telling each other they are doing it wrong.  I don't know why moms get so competitive and nasty but if I thought Aiden should have a sippy before the age of 1 I had at least 3 moms tell me I should wait until after he turned 1 and that he should be able to be a baby as long as he wants. 

Here I am over 8 years later and I struggle.  I have to go back to work soon.  My youngest is in school full time and there's no reason for me to be home.  Part of me still wants to be so I can volunteer at school and in the community and be here when my kids need me but financially that isn't possible anymore.  Honestly, I am also wanting to stay home because I am scared and this is safe and what I know.  So, a few months ago I applied to be a substitute teacher in our school district.  The pay isn't great but it's really the only start I am comfortable with.  I used to think I was a great teacher and could handle anything but now?  Now I think I am great at cooking, baking, cleaning boo boo's, consoling hurt children, cleaning my home and keeping our home full of the things everyone needs.  I don't know if I am a good teacher anymore, I don't know if I can handle working every day and all the responsibilities I already have.  I don't know if I am enough to do it all.  I will find out next month when I start subbing.  I hope that I can surprise myself.

I know I am not the first mom to feel this way nor will I be the last.  I also know that I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think.  Winnie the Pooh taught me that.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I suffer from depression.  This is not news to anyone, I hope.  I was first diagnosed in college with depression and generalized anxiety.  I realized after some therapy and medication that I had been depressed for a LONG time before that.  Since my first diagnosis I have been riding the depression roller coaster.  There have been good years, bad years, good meds, bad meds, and a few therapists along the way.  I've learned a lot about the disease, about myself and about others.

Depression has taken away a lot.  Most recently I can think of a few summers ago when things got really bad inside my head and I lived on the couch.  I spent a whole summer watching TV and sleeping to escape whenever I could.  The boys and I survived that summer together but I feel like I lost out on what should have been a fun time with them.  I lost time with my kids.

I've also lost friends because of depression.  I withdraw from people and social situations when I am down and a lot of people take that personally and pack up and move on.  It's not personal, I promise.  If I could convince myself to get up and go I would be out there with you having fun but there are days (and weeks and months) where it takes every fiber of my being just to function.  Sometimes I do the dishes and need to nap after because I feel so overwhelmed.  And sometimes I am so overwhelmed by the list of things I need to do that I can't even find a starting place and I sit paralyzed.

 Depression has taken away opportunities to do new things.  It convinces me that new is bad and same old same old is good.  It convinces me I am not good enough, smart enough, able to do whatever it is.  It convinces me that failure is imminent and I'd be better off not even trying. 

I could go on and on about things that depression has taken from me.  The list, in my mind, is endless.  Depression is this silent disease that not many understand.  Suffering from depression is not easy, there's no quick fix and some people are never the same again. If you are one of those people that think depression is one of those "crap" diseases and isn't real and that people need to just suck it up and get over it then you should know, I used to be you.  I was you until depression took over and I can't get over it.  No amount of sucking it up and putting on a happy face makes it go away.  It can hide it, sure, but it will always be there.

For me, depression is a roller coaster.  There are highs and lows and they can last for any amount of time.  That always makes me question if I am bi-polar but so far no mental health professional has thought so.  I've tried anti-depressants; Lexapro, Zoloft, Serafem, Prozac and Effexor XR just to name a few.  My favorite was Zoloft and I will forever chase that high.  I remember starting the Zoloft and waking up one day and feeling good.  I can remember it clearly and the sense of relief I felt that I felt better was sensational.  After some time though, it wore off and no increase in dose brought that feeling back.  I've never found another medication that had the same result.  My most recent medication was the Effexor.  It was awful.  I was on Effexor the summer I lived on the couch and the withdrawal side effects from it are similar to hard core street drugs from what I read and hear.  My doctor actually put in my medical chart that I am allergic to Effexor because it made things worse and not better but it was so bad I couldn't even see it happening.  I tapered off of it but was still incredibly sick for a long time.  Coming off the Effexor scared me and scarred me.  I haven't been able to try another anti-depressant since because I cannot go through that withdrawal again.  I also fear that nothing is going to help and trying something else only to be disappointed in the results sounds too painful right now. 

There are some things that depression has given me though.  I am a more compassionate person because of it.  People with depression, and yes, they are all around you, do things and say things they don't mean.  That summer on the couch I sent Aiden off to a birthday party/small friend outing and forgot to send the present.  Embarrassed, I was going to drop it off at the child's house later but then couldn't because I couldn't handle the face to face social piece so I mailed it.  I never did hear if they got the present.  That is SO unlike me that it hurts to even think about.  I am generally very organized and together and I know that poor kid was probably sad not to get his present that day.  But, now I know when things like that happen to us/me that there are many, many reasons why it could be so.  I'm not as hard on people as I used to be and my expectations are definitely lower.  Everyone is fighting some sort of battle and who are we to judge?

Depression has also given me a different perspective on life.  A lot of my life/time is spent feeling sad and numb but those moments that take my breath away are even more important now.  Even when I am feeling sad I can see the moments that are important and I try really hard to be in the moment and savor the details.  It happens most with the boys.  I know they are growing up faster than the dandelions in the front yard and I know that even though I am depressed I want to see and feel these moments with them and be able to remember them long after they've packed away their stuffed animals and baseball cards and headed to college. 

This depression and anxiety thing, I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  I wish there were a magic wand and I could feel happiness again.  I wish I could get back time I've lost, I wish anxiety didn't paralyze me, I wish that sleep didn't seem so good all the time, I wish more people understood how hard it is every damn day.

**I am in no way an expert on depression or anxiety but please feel free to ask questions/comment below.

*** If you have time check out this blog about depression as was well written and hit home with me.  My fish are dead too.  Hyperbole and a Half