Here comes the sun

SunThroughClouds

Hiya friends. So, it’s been a little while.

I have gotten so many wonderful loving emails and FB messages and blog and youtube and instagram comments, you guys mean the world to me. Truly. Thank you for thinking of me and reaching out and caring.

This has been a really really really rough year. Which means it was the best possible time to go on massive fertility drugs. I’ve been on Lupron three times before without incident, but this time, hoo boy. Was quite different. For the last five months I’ve been spending all my energy on trying not to kill myself. I know that sounds so dramatic and shocking, but it was. And I feel the need to speak it plain like that because when I would ask for help people would often blink at me, terrified. No one knows what to say or how to help other than, “Please don’t do it.” But I didn’t *want* to do it, my brain was trying to kill me.

After five months of white knuckling, relying too much on stressed out terrified friends and family, and finally finding a psychiatrist in my area, I ended up starting an outpatient psychiatric program. For six weeks, five days a week, six hours a day I would sit in classes and group therapy while my meds were tweaked and reactions monitored. It really did save my life, because you know when you watch those pharmaceutical commercials and they talk about the huge list of problems it causes including thoughts of suicide and you think, woh, the cure sounds worse than the disease. That was true.

For some reason, this time on the Lupron I went into the deepest, darkest depression I’ve ever known. I was tortured with thoughts of needing – not wanting, I did not want it – to die. I would hold Atticus as long as he would let me and cry and cry and promise that I was going to be brave like him. I would move from the bed to the couch to the bed and count it as a good day because I made it through. My psychiatrist put me on some new medications, and day by day as I got further away from the drug that so affected me, I clawed my way out of that depression with a teaspoon. Slowly, slowly, slowly, I got better as the last Lupron shot ran its course. And as I got better we lowered the medications again until now I’m back where I started from.

Med changes are always hard. For a person with Bipolar Disorder the reactions can be unpredictable. Obviously, since three previous times on Lupron were a cakewalk and this time things all went kerflooey. It was really invaluable to have structure, support, professionals, and peers to rely on while the medications did their thing and we figured out what my brain needed to stop trying to end me. Turns out, it needed to not be on Lupron.

Before I go on, I don’t want to scare anyone. Lupron has been a miracle drug for me. If you need it I’d drive you to the doctor myself. It’s just that due to changes in my brain chemistry, I had an adverse reaction. It happens, it would happen for me again, but I’ll get to that. It probably won’t happen to you. This drug rescued me from disability on four separate occasions. It’s a good thing.

Four weeks into my treatment I started having shortness of breath. I thought it was anxiety, so I took more anti-anxiety medications. I developed a persistent cough, I thought it was seasonal allergies, so I took that stuff. I felt this ball in my throat like I was choking so I thought it was GERD and took antacids. Nope. That globus feeling – the feeling like something is stuck in your throat – became so intense I was gagging and dry-heaving. Turns out I was allergic to the new medicine too. A fraction of a percent of people develop swollen glands and shortness of breath, and guess who was lucky enough to be in that percentage. This gal! I’m a medical marvel! If there was an olympic sport in medical oddities, I would be Michael Phelps.

Luckily by the time the symptoms got so intense I couldn’t take the medicine anymore, I was doing really well on my own. I was far enough away from my last dose of Lupron that my moods were stable enough for me to stop the medicine causing the allergic reaction, and after a few more weeks taking things easy, regulating my sleep, and slowly resuming my activities, I’m feeling pretty much back to my typical self. I did it.

I’m so grateful for the people who support me, for having access to mental health care, for a family who could make sacrifices and pick up slack to help get me through, and I believe that the best way I can repay all of that is by first, taking care of myself, and second, being honest about my challenges to help remove the shame and stigma so many of us feel about our mental health struggles.

I’m an accomplished, successful person, and I also live with mental illness. The truth is that most of us do of one kind or another, and if we don’t then we are definitely touched by a loved one who lives with a mental health condition. It is a fact of our modern time. Our brains have not evolved to be able to deal with all the stimulus of our day. We have to stop being ashamed, stop hiding, and recognize that these are physical conditions.

I made it through, and if you are struggling, you can too. If you need help, there are people trained to help you. Please reach out.

1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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Safe and Sound

Gizmo
We had a major scare and a miracle here this week.

I’ve been hanging on by my fingernails, riding the hormonal roller coaster, and I’ve gotten into a bit of a rhythm. I’ve discovered that if I take a sleeping pill at 8 and then take a 2 hour bath, I can actually fall asleep and get through the night. That’s really what it takes. After two solid months of weeping on the shower floor at 2 in the morning, I’ve cracked it.

But because I am hard headed, I keep thinking that I won’t always need that much caretaking just to fall asleep through the hot flashes and night sweats. So I decide to skip the sleeping pill, watch an extra couple of shows, and then I’m staring at the ceiling and hating everything. And I have to just stop trying to overachieve in the hormone endurance race and just do what it takes to get through it.

During all those long nights of thrashing around and exasperated sighing and whimpering into the shower tile, my fat boy cat Gizzy has been my companion. He’s not as demonstrative as my dear departed Cheetara was, despite all my work he won’t let me snuggle him while I sleep, but he is steadfast. When I can’t lie still he perches at my feet, keeping watch. When I finally collapse he saunters up the bed, plopping himself down between me and Bear like a jealous child trying to ensure there are no future children taking his place. And when I wake up in the morning, his fluff is the first thing that greets me.

This big dumb lunk is a longhaired gorgeous persian mix. I am always trying to hold him down to comb the mats out of his fur, and yet he won’t be deterred: he thinks he’s an outdoor cat. He wants to play outside with Atti every day and typically I let him. He never ventures far, he just rolls around in the dirt and suns his belly, and when I call them to come inside they both come grudgingly. But Friday night, Gizmo didn’t come in.

There have been a couple of other times when he went on a bit of a walkabout, so I tried not to panic. We live in an area where there aren’t many places he could go and not a ton of traffic to worry about, the real threat would be from other animals and I just wasn’t going to think about that. So I tucked Atti and myself in bed and told myself we’d hear Gizzy whining for breakfast in the morning.

But he wasn’t there. We checked with the neighbors, we drove through the neighborhood, and he wasn’t there Sunday. I was calling shelters and monitoring websites and he wasn’t there Monday. By yesterday, Bear and I were trying to resign ourselves to the thought that he was gone.

Yesterday a dear friend of mine had to say goodbye to her dog after a long illness and deterioration. I could barely offer her sympathy because I was working so so hard at being in denial about Gizzy. I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t face losing my sweet fat dummy in the middle of hormone hell, but there was nothing left to try.

Then last night I asked Bear to go out to the shed to grab some scrap wood for a craft project. After a minute I heard him scream my name in a way I’d never heard before. I thought I needed to call an ambulance. But instead of some bloody stump, Bear comes in holding a ragged and shellshocked ball of white fluff.

Somehow he had gotten himself locked in the shed. And he was trapped there for three or four days. In heat that was over 90 degrees, with no food or water.

We don’t know how he did it, we don’t even go over to that side of the yard very often so it’s not like we shut him in there when we weren’t paying attention, and Atti can’t get over there so it’s not like he did it. Maybe he found some little entrance he could get into but not back out of? Maybe the wind blew the door shut? But I don’t think the door was open in the first place? It’s a total mystery.

Also a mystery? How our sweet Gizzy managed to survive four days without food or water in a sweltering shed. I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t needed that scrap wood. We never get over there, it’s nothing short of a miracle that it all worked out the way it did and Gizzy was returned to us, thinner, dehydrated, skittish, but whole.

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Sprout

Sprout

This was my Mother’s Day present from Atti, and it’s a pretty fitting metaphor for what I’m up to right now.

Remember when I talked about Therapeutic Boredom? And how being forced to slow down because of all the crazy hormones was forcing me to learn stuff? I had no idea.

I work really really hard at being emotionally healthy, I think that’s clear. And most days I feel like I’m pretty on top of things in that department. I know when to rest and when to push and what cues to listen to, and I make it a real priority. That’s how somebody can come from my kind of background and wind up as the person I am. A lot of really hard scary emotional work.

And other than what it takes to live with my mental illnesses, I feel like I’m pretty sorted. The stuff of my childhood doesn’t grieve me like it used to. Entire weeks will go by without me thinking about what used to cause me tremendous pain. I didn’t see a breakthrough coming because I didn’t think I needed a breakthrough.

But apparently I did. And forgive me for vague blogging again, but for once it’s too personal to blog about. I didn’t think I would have a limit, but what do you know? I do!

It’s actually all great news. Once upon a time I would have come up against something that brought the grief back and I would have taken to my bed for a week. This time, I actually feel better. I feel like a literal weight is off of me. I feel proud of myself for being strong and brave enough to face hard things, and proud that I can use the tools I’ve acquired to take care of myself. I’ve been meditating, and taking long baths, and seeking quiet and candlelight, and making myself as physically relaxed and comfortable as I can be so that I can do the hard interior work of facing the worst, darkest, most terrifying corners and scrubbing them clean.

This might sound twisted, but I’m actually enjoying it. My body is not healthy enough to let me use it to feel powerful. No marathons or unassisted births for me. But this? This feels powerful. I am healing myself with the power of my own mind. I am sorting through old scripts, beliefs that don’t serve me, things that other people believe about me that I don’t, casting them all away, and watching as it’s so effective I feel it physically.

I don’t know why it is I seem to need hard horrible times to learn lessons, but I do. At least I can be grateful I’m learning the lessons. Maybe then I’ll never need to go through this again.

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Monogrammed Button Bracelet

Button Bracelet
Mom’s Day crafts aren’t always simple. Sure, they’re not as hard as Father’s Day, but it’s still hard to strike the balance between honoring the holiday and making something that looks like a school project made by a Kindergartener. You could just make something pretty, or you could make something sentimental. Or you could make this button bracelet, that’s both.

The buttons make it a charming vintage looking bracelet, but the subtle dyed monogram makes it touching and sentimental without looking like you’d have to be touched to wear it. It’s the best of both worlds.

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Atti goes Boom

Atti in the fountain

Atti and I were out running errands together, and like any six year old boy he was testing my patience. We were in Bath and Body Works picking up some presents for Bear’s staff, so I had him in his wheelchair and had the unenviable job of trying to shop, listen to saleswomen, keep an […]

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Singed Flower Headband

Headband

My organza flower tutorial is, still, one of the most popular things I’ve ever done on this site, and every time I see another link to it I chuckle to myself, remembering that it was a total accident and not what I intended to make at all. There’s little I love as much as a […]

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Seen Elsewhere

Quilt Inspired Bib Necklace

My slow down here at the blog doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating. I mentioned I’ve been working on my Master Bedroom, but I’ve also been working at a new gig as part of the Darice design team at Live.Craft.Love. It’s kind of a dream job. Every month I get to look through the extensive […]

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Year of Pleasures: Donut Love

Donut Love

  Bear teaches Early Morning Seminary, which is like Sunday School for teenagers, but it’s every morning before school. He starts class at 6 am, goes to the gym, then work, home in time for food, plans the next days lesson, and then falls asleep on the couch while watching television. On top of everything […]

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Feeling Rebirthed

Easter 2014

We had a quiet Easter over here. Just the three of us with a no-frills ham dinner, matching clothes courtesy of Old Navy so I didn’t even have to work at that, the first hour of church and then a visit to Bear’s work to check in on the patients and spend the holiday with […]

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Year of Pleasures: Miss Fisher Mysteries

Miss Fisher's Mysteries

While I’ve been coping with all my body’s craziness over here, exacerbated by periods of high emotion and the colds my generous germy son keeps giving me, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to be still. Which is always a major battle for me, no matter how bad I feel. A major help […]

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