I did not have therapy today. I did not have therapy last week and I won’t have therapy next week. It isn’t ideal. Last week I was out of town with my daughter. Next week I will be out of town with my husband. Today my therapist had a funeral to attend and the times she had available to reschedule didn’t work for me. However, I did get a call on Monday that there was an opening with the psychiatrist. When I’d made my appointment originally, the first available was March 29th, so I thought I had two more weeks to wait. Hopefully that means I’ll be feeling better 2 weeks sooner!
Monday’s appointment was virtual (this psychiatrist does only virtual appointments) and my dogs decided to go nuts a few minutes before my appointment time. Not only that, but my mother in law was in and out of the house (making them even more agitated). To say that I was anxious would be an understatement.
This psychiatrist is very to the point. I know she was just trying to get to the bottom of what my needs were and the end goal was to get put on the right medication for my situation. But there were times when I felt like I had to defend myself and the way she asked questions made me feel like I was answering wrong. Which I know is totally on me and one of the exact reasons I’d decided to look into medication. Ultimately, she diagnosed me with social and generalized anxiety and depression. Which I knew, even if I hadn’t had a formal diagnosis. But I know she had to confirm before she could prescribe anything. Based on the diagnosis and my current medications and heart history, she prescribed Zoloft.
I started Monday night and had the pleasure of immediate side effects (tummy trouble) at 3 AM. Why does it take 6+ weeks to get the good effects of SSRIs, but the negative side effects hit right away? Thankfully, that hasn’t continued beyond yesterday morning. I have been dealing with a major headache, but that started before I started the medication, so I don’t think I can blame it. Having just traveled, my brain keeps worrying it’s a sign of Covid, even though I don’t have any other symptoms. I even went so far as to take a test yesterday and while it looked negative, I can’t help but wonder. I’ve seriously had this headache since Monday.
I’ve also been very tired. I went back to bed yesterday and today after my kids left for the bus. I only napped a little before I had places to be or I might have slept the day away. I don’t know if it’s the Zoloft making me sleepy, the headache, or the time change. Possibly a combination of all three.
I know that it’s possible that we will have to try several medications and doses before we find the right one, but I’m really hoping I’ll start seeing a difference. I need some relief.
It’s been a rough week. First off, I found out that I am, indeed, paranoid. The IUD is in place, according to the ultrasound. Though the PA that shared this with me left out the part in the report about it “abutting” a fibroid. Apparently that’s insignificant.
Following that news I’ve continued on a downward spiral of depression. I cry all the time. I can hold it together if I’m distracted, but left alone I’m a total mess. Friday I became a puddle on the shower floor, unable to hold myself together. I decided that was a sign I definitely needed to call a psychiatrist to see about medication for my depression and anxiety. I made the call, and they were closed already for the weekend. Monday was a holiday, but I did manage to make myself call again on Tuesday and actually leave a message. I got a call back and was able to make an appointment. But it’s not until March 28. That’s a long time to wait when you’re dealing with daily depression. The scheduler did say that they frequently have cancelations and if I got my paperwork in quickly they could call me if they get an opening. Apparently they have a policy that you have to have all paperwork turned in 48 hours before your appointment or it will be canceled. This seems to be problematic for some people. I assured her that I am the type to fill out paperwork as soon as I receive it so that I won’t forget. Sure enough, I had it all turned in before the end of the day. Now let’s just hope there’s an opening that I can actually take.
In the meantime, I discussed all of this with my therapist today. She suggested I work on developing a list of things I can do when I feel these mood shifts. Things to distract and ground me. She suggested activities that would take me outside or around people like going for a walk or taking the kids to a park. With my husband starting a new job on March 13, I need to be proactive and make sure I have a plan. Not that I spend a lot of my time with him now, but knowing he’s in the house has sometimes been the only thing that’s kept me from falling completely apart. So what are some things I can do that won’t be too difficult?
Go for a walk.
Sit at Panera (which I’m doing now).
Go for a swim at the Natatorium (look into membership?)
Walk at the mall or shopping area (no need to buy anything).
Find a class to join.
Take a book outside.
Call a friend (not sure who right now).
That’s all I can think of right now. It’s a struggle to figure out things to do when you feel alone. But I know I need to figure it out or things will continue to get worse. Thankfully, I’ve got a few big distractions coming up. Monday I’ve volunteered to help with my son’s band field trip, which will take up a good chunk of the day. March 4th is the start of my kids’ Spring Break and the whole week is pretty packed with things to do including my daughter and I taking a trip to Cincinnati. Then I’ll have a week at home before my husband and I go to Schaumburg IL for a gaming convention where I’ll get to see a friend. The day after I get back will be my appointment if I haven’t gotten in before then. Hopefully with all of that and the short list of things I can do by myself I can make it through the month.
Of course, this still isn’t getting my work done on the story I’m collaborating on. I’ve had a horrible bout of no confidence in myself and I’m having a hard time getting anything written. We’ve got 2 weeks before we need to have it done and we ended up completely scrapping our old story for a new one, which I’ve done absolutely no writing on. I really need to get something written by Friday when we meet again. I just feel like a total failure and like I’m letting my writing partner down. I talked to her a bit about what’s going on yesterday, so she understands, but I know it’s got to be annoying on her end. I was going to work on writing it a bit today, but it looks like my time here is up and I need to get home for the kids, so it will have to wait. Hopefully I can get some writing in tomorrow morning before work. We shall see.
It started with a sonogram appointment to check the placement of that darn IUD I regret getting. On Monday I checked the strings (which no one told me to do, but all of those websites that my husband didn’t want me visiting recommended doing) and they were much longer than they had been the day after it was put in. So without saying anything to my husband, I messaged the doctor through the portal. The PA answered, suggesting I get my sonogram now to make sure everything is in the right place. The first available appointment was Wednesday morning. I had the same sonographer as last time and she recognized me. I feel like she listened way better than the doctor did and showed empathy for my situation. The sonogram was uncomfortable (I was cramping quite a bit before, too) and now I have to wait for the radiologist to look at it, then send a report to the doctor, who will then contact me. I really really don’t understand why this doctor’s office doesn’t have an ultrasound machine in their office. It makes no sense, given their specialty. Maybe they have one and it’s reserved for baby makers.
Anyway, I got that over with early, then spent time at the church trying to figure out what direction we are supposed to be taking the library. Several months ago I was recruited to help in the church library, as the ladies that have been doing it forever are getting very old (one of them died recently, which made them realize they might need to pass the torch). A retired librarian and I have taken over as of January. But the adult minister that we report to has made it clear that he would rather we not have a library. And quite frankly, we probably don’t need it. However, we certainly don’t want to slap these ladies in the face and get rid of the whole thing right after they handed it over! So we feel stuck. Instead of getting any actual work done, we talked and composed an email to the minister to try to get more direction and maybe a mission statement to help us move forward.
After that it was therapy time. From the moment I walked in, I started venting about the IUD situation and all of the frustrations I have with gynecologists in general. It all boiled down to me feeling like my thoughts, feelings, and experiences were invalid because they don’t fall into the experience of “most women.” I am feeling like this is one more area in which I’m “defective.” Because “everyone” else has a different experience from me. At what point do I get to be an individual human being that is listened to and trusted to know my own body? I have had nothing but horrible experiences with gynecologists and hate that I even have a uterus.
Even though I’ve pointed out that I don’t do things the way “most people” do. I don’t know if I’d rather be right that the IUD has moved (and therefore have to have it removed and find another solution for my heavy periods) or be wrong (and therefore be told I’m overly paranoid and confirm that they shouldn’t listen to me). Truthfully, I hope I’m right. But at the same time, don’t want to pay the large medical bill that will certainly be coming and yet still not have a solution. And if she finally concedes that I’m right and offers a hysterectomy, I’m not sure if I want her to be the one to do it.
Towards the end of my session, I told my therapist that someone had mentioned that getting on meds for her anxiety has helped her with distress tolerance. So we talked a little about getting on meds and who to go to for that. She is going to send me some recommendations for psychologists, though my PCP has offered before. I’m not sure which route I will go, but I guess I’m at a point where I feel like I have the tools, but can’t seem to find the outlet to give them the power at the time that I need to use them, if that makes sense. Maybe meds can be the power source that can give the tools the energy they need to be useful.
Speaking of, my laptop is about to die (I haven’t had it plugged in for a few days) and I didn’t bring my charger, so I will need to end here and head home. I didn’t get my writing done, but perhaps I can get some done tonight when the kids are at small group. We only have a couple of weeks left before we have to turn in our story for the anthology. Eek!
There are a lot of things that I regret. Right now, my number one regret is letting a doctor intimidate me into thinking they know what’s best for me. I let her dismiss my anxiety and convince me that I am stupid for even having any. And as I result I’m in pain, my anxiety is high, and my husband is frustrated that I can’t just “be positive.”
After three days of not really sharing how I was feeling beyond the physical cramping, I decided to vent to my husband this morning about how I feel regarding getting the IUD. At first I thought it went well. Yes, I cried, but he seemed to listen and accept that I wasn’t asking him to fix anything (this is one of our biggest battles and why it’s hard for me to vent to him sometimes).
But later he decided to offer me some advice. He suggested 1) that I stop looking things up on the web (I explained that I was looking things up so I could know at what point I should be concerned), 2) if I disliked this doctor so much, I should just get another opinion (easy for the person that doesn’t have social anxiety and a fear of making phone calls to say), and 3) I should stop being so negative and assuming things will go badly.
Hold on. I should what?! I should stop having anxiety? Why the f@#k didn’t I think of that?! Seriously? That’s your advice? Have you MET me? Do you think I WANT to have anxiety? Do you think that if I could just turn it off I wouldn’t have done that already?!
Needless to say, things did not go well after that. I yelled. A lot. I used a lot of f-bombs. I said I cognitively know that my brain is distorting things all over the place, but I don’t know how to fix my brain. My brain is messed up and it doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself that I should “be positive” it just doesn’t do that. I told him that part of the reason I tell myself things are going to be bad is so that I am not disappointed if they are. At least if I’m prepared for the worst I can be pleasantly surprised when I’m wrong. He said I am making things bad by thinking they will be.
I have to lead a zoom call in 40 minutes. And I can’t stop crying. I thought I was fine to do it this morning, but that conversation really pulled the rug out from under me. I need to get it together and focus on something else. Because thinking about it just stirs up all of my emotional tornadoes and I feel like I’m drowning. Maybe if I eat some lunch…
I ate lunch, then started the zoom. I am glad I had the zoom, as it definitely lifted my spirits talking to others. I didn’t talk about the current issue. It was all just everyday chatting, but even as someone with social anxiety, it can be helpful to be social. Especially in that setting. Everyone in the group has social anxiety, so everyone gets it. There were some long pauses, but eventually someone would speak up and another topic would be discussed. I’m trying to be better about letting those pauses happen without feeling like I have to fill in the silence. I probably still did most of the talking, but every person in the group talked a little, which makes me feel good. Now that my mood is a little lighter, hopefully I can get something productive done.
Yesterday I had a hysteroscopy. It was scheduled a few weeks ago because I’d had heavy bleeding for 15 days and a sonogram showed the possibility of a polyp. I was very nervous, so I wrote while I waited. This is what I wrote:
I’m sitting outside the doctors office in my car. I got here 15 minutes before the 15 minutes early they requested. I’ll go inside in a bit, but I’m trying to drink my coffee and calm my nerves.
I was doing okay up until last night. I think I’d pretty much put it out of my mind, since I wasn’t bleeding anymore. But now that the day has come, my mind can’t stop the what ifs.
What if it’s painful? What if something goes wrong? What if they find something bad? What if there is nothing? What if…
I’m going to try to turn them into Even ifs.
Even if it’s painful, I can take pain meds and sleep it off. Pain is temporary. Even if something goes wrong, the doctor will be quick to make everything okay. Even if they find something bad, I’m strong and can face whatever that means. Even if they find nothing, they know something isn’t right and will do something to help.
Urine sample done. Now sitting in the waiting room.
Anticipation has to be the worst feeling in the world. Regardless if it’s happy or anxious anticipation, really. It’s like a simmering of the blood. The bubbles churn and agitate. Sometimes threatening to boil over, other times just constantly moving. It won’t stop until the fire of the anticipated event is put out. But the results could be a delightful and delicious soup or a charred and burnt disaster. There’s no telling which this will be. Though I’m fairly certain that no matter the outcome, I’m not going to like the flavor. The ingredients that are going in just don’t add up to gourmet. More gruel or bitter stew. I’ve been to the medical buffet too many times to want to return, yet here I am again. I wish I had a choice. I certainly wouldn’t be here. I want a different menu.
Procedure is over and I’m back home. I waited 45 minutes after my appointment time to finally see my doctor.
The tech assisting her was new. Didn’t know how to spell hysteroscopy. Didn’t know where anything was, what instruments were called, or how to open them to stay sterile. I remained patient. Everyone has to learn sometime. But it probably would have been a better idea to have her observe someone with experience. Instead the doctor had to show her and talk her through everything. Which meant steps took a bit longer than they should have. I don’t think it added much to my discomfort, but it sure didn’t make it better. And probably contributed to my long wait to be called back.
As for the procedure itself, the doctor came in beforehand and told me that the sonogram showed what “might be” a polyp. She made it sound like she was skeptical. She said if there was one, she’d remove it during the procedure and if everything was clear she felt like my best option was to go ahead and get an IUD placed at the same time. The other option she gave was to continue taking progesterone. While I was (and am) hesitant, I knew that she wouldn’t consider surgery until we tried these options and I certainly didn’t want to go through the pain twice if we could take care of it all today. So I agreed. Though I was certain she wouldn’t find my uterus as clear as she thought she would.
I was right. She sounded surprised when she got the camera inserted and said it was “fluffy” with polyp tissue. She said she would try to scrape a lot of it off, but that the IUD should thin the lining and take care of the rest. So even though it didn’t sound to me like things were “clear” I got an IUD anyway. The most painful parts of the procedure were when she scraped the lining to retrieve polyp tissue (which will be sent for biopsy) and when she placed the IUD. I tried my best to use box breathing through the whole thing to keep myself as relaxed as possible, but those parts made it so very difficult.
Now that I’m home I took a Tramadol I had left over from surgery (they wouldn’t give me anything but Tylenol because I’m on Coumadin) and I’m waiting for it to kick in. I keep getting surges of cramping, some that take my breath away, so hopefully it works soon. Or at least knocks me out. My husband is working today, so I’m here alone with the dogs. I haven’t made it to the grocery store and I’m thinking I probably won’t. I will either tell my husband to fix dinner, or have him pick something up. For some reason Chicken Express tenders and mashed potatoes sound good.
The pain continued all evening. When I tried to talk to my husband about my experience and my feelings his mind was elsewhere, so I gave up and curled up in bed. It didn’t help. He did make dinner and clean up, so at least I didn’t have to worry about that. I ended up taking a Tylenol #3 and it knocked me out. I did not get up to work out, but I’m feeling much better than yesterday. Hopefully that continues.
I’ve got therapy this afternoon, but I also have writing I need to do for my collaborative story, so I probably won’t get to recap. Instead my plan is to sit at Panera after therapy and complete a few writing sprints. The goal is to have the story at a certain point by Friday. Here’s hoping! Once I get that done, I will work on my Know Yourself series posts.
I decided to do a series of blog posts called “Know Yourself.” Really, it’s about me getting to know myself, but maybe it will help others. I’d like to think it might.
Through the years I’ve become aware of certain truths about myself that I cannot change. They’re just who I am at my core. However much I might wish I could change. This series will cover different aspects of me and will work on helping me to accept and work with my natural tendencies rather than fight them.
Topics will include (not necessarily in this order):
This idea came to me when I realized that my mood had been effected by my lack of exercise the last few weeks. (I’ll go into why I wasn’t exercising in a later post.) I realized that while I know certain things to be true about myself, I often try to convince myself that I can change. And ultimately my attempts fail. I feel like it’s time to look into ways to work with myself rather than fight a losing battle.
Join me as I explore my own truths and perhaps dive into your own. I’d love to have comments from you about your experience in these areas as they come up and what has worked for you. We are all different and my experience will not resonate with everyone. Let’s start a discussion about being true to our personal nature, rather than trying to fit into a box someone else has created.
We haven’t left the house since Monday. It’s cold and icy outside and people around here (including myself) don’t drive well on ice. Our infrastructure isn’t built to clear the roadways quickly, so the whole area shut down. We’re on the third day of no school for the kids. It looks like they may get to go tomorrow, but we shall see.
The cold weather has made me lazy. Or at least, unmotivated. I’ve done a little bit of writing by utilizing Body Doubling again. More on the first day than the second (we’ll see how today shapes up, but so far this is it). Yesterday I pretty much spent the entire day in PJs playing mindless games on my iPad. We watched some TV too. My kids have holed themselves up in their rooms to read (daughter) or play video games (son). Even though I’ve barely seen them, it throws things off when they are home. I missed therapy because I didn’t want to drive and the thought of doing virtual with my kids in the house didn’t appeal. Even though I probably could have benefitted from some therapy, given the tough weekend I had.
Normally I go into work on Thursdays, but the roads are still clearing up, so I’ve done as much as I can from home and will have to go take care of the mail tomorrow. Assuming the roads are clear and they probably will be. Unfortunately, that means I’ll miss the zoom for SABC that’s scheduled for tomorrow. Which stinks. We haven’t had one in awhile.
I’m feeling a bit restless. Maybe I’ll try getting out this afternoon, at least for a few minutes. Go get a drink from Panera or Sonic or something. Just to relieve some of the stir crazy. I can probably talk the kids into going with me. The roads don’t look bad and I wouldn’t have to go far. The only contingency is our driveway. It’s a steep hill, so if it’s icy it would be difficult to get back into the garage.
How do people that live in colder climates do this all winter long? I mean, I realize they probably wouldn’t shut down their whole world for a little ice like we have, but I just can’t imagine being this cold for months on end. Yet my husband talks about moving north at some point and I have friends in Canada and Upstate New York that would love for me to be closer. I think I’d go crazy. Cold is definitely not my element.
*** Added later in the day ***
I fell into a shame pit.
It started because a friend started talking about fitness goals, which reminded me how far I am from my own. And this came at the same time as I was working on making spinach dip (not exactly uber healthy with all the sour cream and mayo). I was chatting about diet and exercise (my husband was actually doing exercise at that moment as well) while working on making food. So there was the first layer.
Then my husband decided to call the children into the living room to watch a TV show we’d been watching together (I was only watching because he wanted me to, I really haven’t been enjoying it at all). I told him to go ahead and start without me and I went to drain the spinach. I spilled half of it into the sink and released an expletive. He came to see what had happened and said “That’s no big deal, just scoop it out” and started to grab it with his hands. I stopped him for several reasons. One, it was hot. Two, his hands were dirty and covered in paint. Three, the sink itself was dirty and I didn’t want to put dirty spinach into the dip. So I was pissed at myself for spilling and pissed at him for saying it was no big deal when I clearly felt it was and therefore something must be wrong with me for thinking it was a problem.
I was also in the middle of trying to find a bigger bowl to put the dip in because I’d started out in one that would end up overflowing if I put the spinach in. So I sat down on the floor with my head in my hands and told him to please leave the room. He told the kids to go back to their rooms and they would watch the show later. Which made me feel more shame because they’ve been shut in their rooms (on their choice) for the last three days and it was probably a good idea to get them to emerge. I didn’t even want to watch the show anyway.
I slammed cabinet doors, threw plastic containers and their lids around, and felt more and more angry. I moved the dip to a larger container, scooped the dirty spinach into a colander to rinse and hopefully clean a little, drained the rest of the spinach, and dumped it into the mixture. Once I stirred it all together I put it away and didn’t bother eating lunch because at that point I wasn’t in the mood.
I grabbed my things and told my husband “Please watch the show without me. It will just add to the shame I already feel if you don’t.” I then closed myself into my room and played iPad Solitaire in an effort to calm myself. Only I kept losing, so I just got more pissed. So I decided to journal/blog instead. I can hear the family watching the show and, quite frankly, I’m glad I’m not watching. But I feel shame for that too.
And I just found out that I made a mistake on something for work that I need to go fix. I’m relieved that I didn’t delete the file, but feel stupid for my mistake. Gotta go fix that…
I haven’t mentioned this here yet, but as I’ve learned more about ADHD in an effort to help my children, I’m beginning to think that I may also have ADHD. I won’t go into all of the details, but I have gotten sucked into watching videos, reading articles, and taking quizzes, which might be an indication all by itself that I’ve got some ADHD, but mostly I’ve realized that my brain just doesn’t seem to work the way I’d like it to. It never has, which has left me feeling inadequate, frustrated, and self critical (perhaps this plays a part in my moodiness?).
However, now that I’m seeing that maybe there’s a reason my brain is working this way, I’m wondering how I can work with it instead of getting angry with it. One of the “hacks” that I’ve heard about for being more productive as a person with ADHD is a technique called “body doubling.” The idea is that having another person next to you as you work on a task can help you to stay focused. They don’t have to be doing the same thing as you even. It serves as a sort of accountability partner to get things done. I’ve seen that people do this with things like housework, writing, exercise, and much more.
When I wrote my novel for NaNoWriMo in 2020, I utilized a Discord server that used word sprints to help keep each other writing and it was a powerful tool. Those 20 minute timers with other people writing at the same time (even though I couldn’t see them) were much more productive than sitting on my own staring at the screen (and more often than not going down a rabbit hole of research). I have found that sitting at Panera Bread can be useful if there are others around me that are working (so long as there isn’t a table having a conversation for me to overhear!).
I had no idea that this technique had an actual name until I was talking to a friend about how useful it had been when we’d done a few sprints via text. She has been diagnosed with ADHD and informed me of the term. Which immediately started me down a dopomining expedition to find out more and the “best” way to utilize Body Doubling virtually.
You see, I have a good friend that has recently been learning that she may be ADHD as well and she is struggling to focus on her new job. I suggested that perhaps we should try some Body Doubling to help us both focus better. So today we gave it a try over Discord. We had to use the word count bot I’d used in my NaNo days because I couldn’t figure out how to get the other bot I’d downloaded to actually work. We would work for 15-20 minutes, then pause and chat a little. We liked the concept, but feel like the issues we were having with Discord were too annoying and will be trying something else tomorrow. We want to be able to voice chat, but for some reason Discord would not allow me to unmute at all. I think the plan for tomorrow is to use Zoom with a timer. We will mute ourselves for the work sprints and unmute to talk in the breaks. I feel like this will be helpful for both of us, and also gives us a chance to feel connected to one another.
As for what I worked on, I started off getting my weekly posts scheduled for SABC, then got stuck trying to figure out the mute issue. Eventually I gave up and worked on writing. Friend A and I had met this morning to discuss our writing project, so I added to what I’d already started. It wasn’t much, but I’m hopeful that tomorrow’s session will help me get more into the groove.
The more I learn about ADHD, the more certain I am that this is something I’ve struggled with all my life. I even found several resources that linked ADHD and irritability/anger, which is what I feel may have been happening this weekend. Perhaps if I can work on the ADHD, the rest will get easier to manage? I’ve got an appointment on February 20th to have my kids evaluated. Depending on how that goes, I might consider having the either the same or a different doctor evaluate me as well. I don’t know if medication is an option for me, given all of my health issues and the meds I’m already on, but if I could calm my brain, I think I’d like to try.
Yesterday was very dark for me. I caught myself thinking things that scare me. Not that I want to kill myself, just that I wouldn’t mind if I didn’t exist anymore. I know those thoughts are not what I truly want. But when I spiral out of control like that, those thoughts creep in and it’s like I’m looking at them from the outside going “NOOOOO” and yet I can’t control them. I think maybe I need to look into medication for depression if not for ADHD. But again, that requires finding another doctor. Which we have established I hate doing. I’ve got therapy on Wednesday. I wonder if my therapist will have any suggestions.
Here I go again. I was in a good mood all day yesterday. But today I’m crying and cranky. Why?!?! I don’t want to be! So what is the problem?
I might be realizing that a piece of news I received on Friday afternoon has hit me much harder than I would have expected. The music minister at our church is leaving. He is one of only two upper staff members that have been there since I started attending in 2011.
He was the person that got me involved in the church production of Fiddler on the Roof in 2014, which got me more involved in the church overall. He started teaching my kids guitar over zoom in June of 2020 when I was looking for something to keep them busy when the world shut down, even loaning them guitars until they knew they wanted their own. He went with us to help them pick out the right guitars for them. He’s gotten my kids involved in the youth choir and got them performing for service. He’s been an integral part of our church family’s for so long.
And while I’ve had my complaints about him, and so have my children, it makes me sad for him to be leaving. I’ve been surprised by the tears that come to my eyes when I think of it, even now as I’m typing.
I guess maybe the emotion of it, and how confused I am by my own reaction, is causing me to react poorly in other situations. Like Friday with my husband and his wishy-washy answers to what he wanted to do for his birthday. Or the innocent question he asked about what we (meaning me and the kids) would be having for lunch today.
About that… I had pulled some leftover chili out of the fridge and pulled down three bowls, thinking maybe I’d see if the kids wanted any. Then rejected the idea of asking because I decided they could deal with the consequences if they chose not to eat if not reminded, which I knew was likely. My husband came in as I decided against reminding the kids to eat and said “All three of you having chili for lunch?” I snapped “I don’t know what the f**k anyone else is having, because apparently I’m the only person in this house that ever gets hungry.” He was taken off guard and said “Whoa! Why are you so upset?” To which I yelled, “Because I’m stupid. Or crazy. Or something.”
What the heck is wrong with me?!?! Why do I keep getting into these moods? Why am I being so reactionary? And why do other people’s eating (or not eating) habits trigger me so? I think the fact that it makes no sense makes me even more irritated with myself, which causes even bigger reactions. My husband must think I’m completely insane. He’s probably not wrong.
Then I took my kids to the church for choir rehearsal only to have to turn around and go back because apparently practice had been canceled and Remind decided back in December that I didn’t need notifications anymore and I didn’t notice, so I had no clue a message had been sent this morning. I’ve been steaming about it since, even though it’s no one’s fault. I wasn’t the only one that didn’t get the message either. The director’s own son didn’t know it had been cancelled. 🙄
I don’t trust myself to be around my family. I hate myself and feel awful about how I’m treating them, but don’t know how to stop my reactions.
My therapist suggested I track my mood to see if we can pinpoint when/why I go into some of these darker moods at seemingly random times. Since that day I’d say my mood has been fair to good, but not great.
Yesterday, however, I thought I was actually going to get to document that I was feeling great. I was feeling really good about how productive I’d been with work, even making phone calls that I normally try to avoid. I did a little happy dance when I got off the phone with a Division Order office.
I stayed a little later than normal to finish up some things that weren’t urgent, but I’d been putting off. So when I left, traffic was heavier than usual. I wasn’t concerned, since I knew my husband was home for when the kids got off the bus and we didn’t have guitar lessons to get to. I sat in traffic as we creeped past an accident without that urgent feeling I can sometimes get when things aren’t going as expected. I even decided to do a detour and pick up my med refill from the pharmacy. Everything was going fine.
Then I got home. The kids had already disappeared into their rooms and my husband was sitting in his recliner doing something on his iPad. He didn’t even look up when I got home. I think he might have asked how my day was and I responded “Really productive! How was yours?” I don’t think I got more than a grunt out of him. I tried going into the kids’ rooms individually to see how their days were, but the moment of getting anything out of them had passed. Neither were interested in sharing.
At that point, everything started to annoy me. My husband crunching on ice sitting next to me. The dog whining to be fed an hour early. The pile of dirty dishes sitting in the sink… Everything.
My husband had an improv class to attend, but had said he would make dinner. I assumed that he would have it ready earlier than our usual dinner time so that he could eat with us. When I saw the time, I asked him when he needed to start dinner. He didn’t move. I asked him what I could do to help. He continued to sit. I turned on the oven and started washing the dishes. He finally got out of his chair and started working on dinner. But he needed the sink and I already had it full of soapy water (our dishwasher has been broken for 2 years). Dinner was not ready until 6:10. He had to leave at 6:15. He said he wasn’t hungry anyway, so he didn’t eat with us.
I don’t know why people not eating aggravates me SO much, but it does. Maybe it’s because I’m so obsessed with food and it makes me angry that other people aren’t. I don’t know. It shouldn’t bother me that he rarely eats more than one meal a day when I feel starved when I only have two. It doesn’t make sense that my mother in law coming home and saying she had a late lunch and won’t be joining us for dinner gets on my nerves, but it does.
Anyway, it ended up being just me and the kids eating dinner. My son started talking non-stop (as he does) and didn’t let his sister say anything. As soon as he was finished eating, he bolted from the table (as he does) and tucked into his phone.
I’d already asked my daughter to put away the dishes I’d done earlier, but she hadn’t. I reminded her and asked that she get it done so I could start on the dinner dishes. She was working on it while I put away the leftovers. But it was taking her forever (yes, I recognize this was an ADHD moment, but it got on my nerves anyway) and I may have fussed at her. She started to cry. I told her “We need to figure out how I can redirect you back on task without you getting offended. I recognize that I didn’t do a good job just now and I’m sorry.” She finally finished and I told her to go shower while I got to do MORE dishes.
After completing the second round of dishes for the day, I told my son to put them away (he didn’t move) and asked my daughter why she wasn’t in the shower. She said she was working on homework. I bit my tongue and waited for both of them to do what had been asked. I sat in the living room, unable to really focus on anything. Then my mother in law started to FaceTime with her daughter and those grandkids (this is a multiple times a day occurrence). I could hear her talking baby talk to the 1 year old. I don’t know why this was annoying me, but it was. And seeing my son sit and stare at his phone aggravated me. And my daughter not getting in the shower.
I realized that if I stuck around, I was going to end up exploding at someone. So I sent myself to bed. I announced that I was going to my room and everyone could get themselves to bed without me. No one heard. I went around turning off all of the lights and that’s when my son said “Why’s it so dark?” I responded “Because I turned off the lights and it’s night.” He asked me why and I responded “I said I’m going to bed.” Then I shut myself into my room, got ready for bed, turned off the lights, and curled up in bed with my iPad.
I’d like to say that removing myself from the situation helped to calm me down. It did not. I messaged my friends that I’d shared my good mood with earlier in the day and said “Well, so much for my good mood. I’m irritated by every living being in my house right now. Except maybe the lizard.” One of them offered to listen. At first I resisted, but venting actually did help some. He was able to make me laugh a little, which was also helpful. I ended up texting the kids “I will not be up in the morning. You will have to make your own lunches. Feel free to make them tonight so you just have to grab it in the morning. Might want to set an alarm for the bus. I’ve quit.” The only response I got was “Ok” from my daughter. Nothing from my son (who you KNOW was on his phone).
I turned off my alarm and decided I would not be available to get them off to school. However, I woke up anyway. But I stayed in bed and pretended to be asleep. My husband could tell I was awake and asked if I was okay. I said yes, but I stayed where I was. When he went out to the living room and I could hear him talking to our son. Later he told me that my son asked if I was mad at them. I had explained to my husband the night before that everything had been irritating me and rather than snap at people, I’d sent myself to my room. He explained that to our son, but I’m sure he still felt like he’d done something wrong.
As soon as the kids were gone I went out into the living room. I tried to turn my attitude around and asked my husband what he wanted to do for his birthday. He said he didn’t know. Which irritated me. I realize it’s unreasonable, as I frequently don’t know either, but I had been asking him for weeks and he kept saying that we couldn’t do what he actually wanted to do. He decided to make chili for dinner and started on that first thing in the morning. I could feel myself still being annoyed. I asked him if he wanted to go to lunch and he asked ME where I would want to go. I said “It’s YOUR birthday. You get to pick.” I asked him repeatedly if we were doing lunch as noon approached. He was very noncommittal. I gave up and went to shower. He still didn’t say “Yes. Let’s go to lunch.” Just got into the shower. So I started writing this post. When he got out of the shower, I was typing. So he went and sat down in the living room. I called out “Are we doing lunch?” And he said “Whatever.”
And I lost it. I slammed my laptop closed, slammed the bedroom door, and escaped to my closet like I always do. But I was hungry. Hangry. So I grabbed socks and started putting them on as I went to the living room for my shoes. He saw me putting on shoes and said “Does this mean we are going to lunch?” And I yelled “I don’t care what you do, but I get hungry. And hangry too!” And I stomped to my car and left. I drove away with him probably stunned and unsure what he did.
I drove around the corner and thought “This is wrong. Running away isn’t the right thing to do and I know it. Why am I doing it?” I ended up turning around and going back to the house. When I walked in, he was still sitting in the same spot, staring across the room. With clenched fists and tears I took deep breaths and said “I’m sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with my brain today and I don’t know how to fix it. But I would like to have lunch with you for your birthday if you’re willing to spend time with me. I understand if you don’t want to.”
He got up and started putting his shoes on. I put the dogs away. We took his car and went to a Korean restaurant he’d recently tried and wanted to introduce me to. We talked at lunch like nothing had happened. We didn’t discuss the blow up or any of it. Afterwards, we went to a couple of stores looking for a game that we thought the whole family could enjoy (our son tends to get bored with many of the games the rest of us enjoy playing). He finally settled on Cards Against Humanity – Family Edition.
We made it home before the kids and I made sure to text my son to let him know that we would be spending time as a family and not to plan on playing games with his friends after school. His response when he finally saw it “Oh. I just told D I could play at 4:30. I’ll let him know I can’t.” This was a MUCH better reaction than I would have gotten if he’d come home and we told him as he walked in the door. I think I may need to start each morning with a heads up about how much time he will/won’t have for playing video games.
When the kids wrapped up homework for the day, we watched the newest episode of Bad Batch, then a couple of episodes of Cars On the Road. We had dinner, then introduced the game. Even my mother in law joined in, which is unusual!
It was a HUGE hit. We were laughing harder than I think we’ve laughed in a very long time. I even managed to win! But everyone had a lot of fun, which was the point. The kids are already talking about the friends they want to play the game with and I mentioned that it would be fun to have another family over to play. Everyone agreed.
The end of the day was a complete 180 from the morning. So I guess over the course of the two days I really did a 360. I went from good day, to bad evening, to bad morning, then back to good evening. I could have let the whole day be ruined. Which wouldn’t have been a very nice birthday for my husband at all and would have left me feeling even worse about myself than I already felt. Maybe this is the “opposite action” that the Emotion Regulation Skills worksheet that my therapist gave me was talking about. I resisted it before because I felt like it was telling me to not feel my feelings, which I thought I was supposed to do. But I guess what this did was break the cycle of feeling bad. I could have continued to feed my anger and irritation at my family and myself, but by forcing myself to do the opposite of what I normally do (retreat), I was able to turn my emotions around. This will be an interesting topic to discuss with my therapist next week (assuming I remember to talk about it).
I think I also need to talk to my husband about it. Piece together what went wrong. I think there are a few things. 1) I felt unappreciated when I got home on Thursday. 2) I felt lonely. 3) In my efforts to people please, his indecisiveness left me feeling unpleasing, if that makes sense. I felt like he didn’t really WANT to spend time with me, but was just doing it to appease me. None of these messages were intentional, I know. But that’s where my reactions came from. And when I told myself I shouldn’t feel them, I got irritated with myself for feeling them anyway. I guess that’s the “feel my feelings” I needed to do. Give myself permission to feel unappreciated and lonely and unpleasing. Tell myself it’s okay to feel this way. But then take action to prove the feelings wrong by talking to my family instead of withdrawing and feeding my negativity.