Sunday, 1 October 2017

Loving someone through the crazy

I've never been shy about talking about my struggle with mental illness. It's been such a huge part of my entire life, that ignoring it, or pretending it doesn't exist seems wrong. Almost like, I don't know who I am without it. Since I was 6 years old, I have struggled with feelings that I have never quite understood. Even after medication, education, and so much therapy I can't even remember all of my therapists names, I still don't really understand anything about this. Why I am the way I am, why I do the things I do, or say the things I say. I just don't get it.

I didn't have a name or a "label" for my thoughts and feelings until I was 12 and I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and her best friend depression. Up until that time, I just thought I was dramatic, or emotional, or moody. You know, the labels they give most teenage girls. I was dramatic, I was emotional, and I was certainly moody, but I was also sad. I was so sad that I sometimes couldn't get out of bed. I was also scared, so scared that walking down the hall at school with people looking at me, made my skin tingle and made me want to run and never return. I like to think I had supportive parents, but as supportive as they were, they didn't understand what was happening to me anymore than I did. And at that age, it's easy to blame it on hormones and ignore it as best you can. It wasn't until a very long weekend that involved me not physically being able to leave bed, and a very scary breakdown, that my parents knew they couldn't ignore it any longer.

Since that weekend, my thoughts and feelings have had a name, but that didn't make it any easier for myself or anyone in my life to really know how to help me, or even how to support me. I think that's really a common theme for people with any mental health issues. No matter how much the people in your life love you, they (mostly) don't really know how to support you. I remember some people in my life insisting to me that "people create their own depression" and tell me I just needed to "be happy" or "cheer up" Let me just clear this up right now. Saying those things to someone who is struggling with depression....pretty much the worst things you can say. Depression is an actual chemical imbalance in the brain, so we can't just cheer up. And blaming someone for their depression, well, I shouldn't have to point out how douchey that is. I had people in my life go behind my back and tell others that I attempted suicide "to get attention" That's a hell of a way to get attention. Mental illness isolates you, makes you feel different, and alone. It's hard to maintain friendships because sometimes you fall off the face of the Earth while you go through the cycles that depression puts you through. It's hard to maintain friendships because loving someone with a mental illness is fucking hard. I'll be the first to admit that.

My husband and I have been together for 14 years. And some days, we still struggle because of my anxiety and depression. I'm hotheaded, I'm irrational, and I have no impulse control. My husband is calm, laid back, and so level headed. On a bad day, it takes very little to set me off, and unfortunately, he is most often the recipient of my worst moods. He is amazing at not engaging, removing himself from the situation, and waiting until I am calm and myself once again before we talk. It always surprises me that he's able to just walk away. I have never been able to do that, I try my best to stay calm and rational, but my anger always gets the best of me. My anger is a new symptom. When I was younger, I carried around a black cloud of sadness every where I went. I was the depressed person that you picture when you hear the word depression. Sad, and hopeless. After I had my first son, I developed OCD, and anger as a new symptom of my depression. I have never considered myself to be an angry person, so this was new for me....and my husband.

I have been lucky enough in my life to have pretty amazing people in my corner, those who have experienced mental health issues, and those who haven't. And they've never turned their back on me, even at my worst. When you suffer from anxiety especially, there are so many limitations in your everyday life. I have a list about a mile long of things that I simply cannot do. But, I have people in my life who know what I'm dealing with, so they have found so many ways to support me in that respect. Like, my mom knows I have trouble talking on the phone, so, when possible (ordering food, cancelling appointments, etc) she does it for me, no questions asked. My husband knows I have major anxiety about driving downtown, so, if the need arises for me to go downtown, and he's not working, he drives me without batting an eye. My best friends know I have issues with confrontation, so in those situations they always have my back, and help me say what needs to be said, whether it's online or in person.

I know I write about my struggles with mental illness a lot. Every time I write one of these I think to myself "am I being annoying? Does anyone really care?" And honestly, I probably am being annoying, and I'm sure a ton of people don't care. But, writing is therapeutic to me, it helps me work through my feelings. And hopefully, the people who need to read this, will. Maybe it will make them feel just a little better, too. Anxiety and depression looks so different from person to person. And it's hard to understand, even if you're going through it. There are nights when I am able to write, or take deep breaths, centre myself, and just calm down and get through it. Then there are other night when I drink too much, and lose myself in memes, and internalize everything. Probably not quite as healthy as the first option, but what can I say? Sometimes I have unhealthy coping mechanisms. But, I do know one thing for sure. I have some people in my life that will drop everything they're doing, to listen to me, and talk to me, and help me in whatever way I need them to. And, that's the most important thing.

Monday, 31 July 2017

10 Years is a long time and I don't know where the time went...

September is very quickly approaching. I know, how did that happen? And, that means a few things. It means that it's back to school for 4/5 of this house, it means that we're one month closer to bulky sweaters, but it also means that mine and my husband's wedding anniversary is just around the corner. Our 10th wedding anniversary. This feels like a big one to me. Not just because it's 10 years, but maybe because there were several moments within these 10 years that I wasn't sure we would last to this milestone. In fact, I would have bet good money that we wouldn't.

Our meeting and subsequent dating are kind of odd in our somewhat limited circle in that, we didn't know each other well before our first date. We actually had only really met once....and it was kind of a horrible first meeting. We weren't good friends, we didn't meet online. You get the idea. I was 20 when we met. 20! Just a baby! I was still a high school student, I know, it took me a little longer than others. I was a moody, dreamer who was in and out of heartbreak with whatever boy had wronged me in that moment. Aaah, memories. And here was this guy, a guy I'd seen before. A guy who had never spoken a word to me, but I remembered him as "the guy who wouldn't stop staring at me at that one bbq" Yeah, not really a glowing recollection. The first time we actually spoke was at 2am on January 1st 2004, and he was incredibly intoxicated, and inviting me to spend the night with him with my dad standing 2 feet away. I had no intention of talking to this guy again. Who knew, that 2.5 years later we'd be engaged with a child? Certainly not me!

I agreed to go out with him when he called me the following week, because I am incapable of saying no. And every single day I'm so happy that I agreed to that first date. From the second he showed up at my door with a bouquet of candy flowers, because the flower shops were closed, I knew he was special. We spent the next several hours just hanging out and talking, getting to know each other. 2 weeks later we were talking about moving in together. It was a whirlwind. We went from that meeting on January 1st, to moving into our very first apartment together in July of that same year.

We didn't do anything according to a proper timeline. Everyone around us told us we were moving too fast. Nobody, including Rob thought I'd be able to live away from my mom, and I'll admit, that was the hardest part. We both knew that we were in it for the long haul. We were immediately talking about starting a family. Nobody could convince us to slow down, we knew what we wanted.

In 2006 Ciena was born, and that's when we both started struggling with how drastically our lives had changed. We were so young, we didn't really think any decisions through, we just leapt. We were trying to find our new roles in this relationship, which was difficult. I was no longer working, and with that had to deal with not having an income of my own. Rob struggled with trying to understand what kind of toll being at home all day with an infant took on me, and my personality. There were fights, big ones. But, we managed to make it through. By 2012, we were married with 3 kids. After many, MANY disagreements, we understood each other....or pretended to.

I think of all the things that we went through together. Miscarriages, mental health issues, drinking, moving. Things that destroyed little parts of us and our relationship. Situations that we sometimes had to claw to get out of. We discussed divorce more than once. But through it all, one thing remained. We wanted to be together. That has always been the constant.

This man tries me every single day. Sometimes it amazes me that we ended up together in the first place. But, there are also a million reasons why I know he's the one for me. He once drove 30 minutes to bring me a spare key for my car when I locked my key inside. He has coffee waiting for me every Saturday morning. He spends the weekend with my dog (who hates him) while I'm at my mom's. He always lets me pick the movie. And he still tells me every single day how much he loves me and how beautiful he thinks I am. I know I am a difficult person to love. I have zero chill, I am always operating at a 10, and I am insanely argumentative. So, I have to remind myself sometimes, that no matter how shocked I am that I put up with this man, I should be equally shocked that he puts up with me.

Marriage is never easy, and sometimes things do fall apart, and that's okay. But, I am thankful that I have this man. I am thankful that he knows me so well, I am thankful that he is my children's father. But, most of all, I'm glad that we're both still willing to be here together.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

My kids are animals, I don't get enough sleep, and I have unhealthy coping skills. A novel by me

Hey hey!

I always like to keep you guys wanting more, that's why I only do a blog post every 6 months. No, I'm kidding. I'm perpetually busy looking at memes, and folding clothes. But, I didn't forget about you!

It's summer! Yay! Lol. No. My kids have been on summer vacation for 3 weeks, and my sanity left 5 minutes after their vacation started. There's always a fight. And when I say that, I don't mean, that they only get along 80% of the time....or even 50% of the time. I literally mean there's ALWAYS a fight. Someone is punching someone else 24/7. I've stopped breaking them up, at this point it's every man for himself around here. I have a tween that spends a lot of time in her room away from her brothers who annoy her to no end, and sometimes I'm envious of her. Because when I try to sneak up to my room, I have at least 2 children and 2 animals following me. I couldn't hide even if I wanted to. I always have at least a million ideas for fun things that the kids and I can do when summer vacation finally arrives, and then I take all 3 somewhere...anywhere, and it ends with me dragging them home kicking and screaming so I can lay on the bathroom floor and cry until my throat is raw. As a child, I never remember seeing my mother cry out of sheer frustration and stress, my kids see me lose my shit at least twice a week.

This summer was supposed to be different for me. I was going to get organized, clean out closets, and declutter and destress. I was going to finally start taking better care of myself, eat better, drink less, read more books. But, here it is in the middle of July, and I'm an overweight stressed out woman who made sure to stock up at the liquor store 3 weeks ago because they were threatening to strike. Why is it so hard to put ourselves first? As parents, we do whatever we can to make sure our kids have everything they need, and want. We want so badly to make their summer wonderful by taking them here, and there, and making sure they have all kinds of adventures. When I was a kid, our summers were spent playing in the yard, or visiting our grandma. We maybe got a trip to McDonald's in there somewhere, but there was never the urgency to make it a memorable summer for us. And we didn't need anything more than just playing, or riding bikes, or eating ice cream.

My kids wake up every day expecting an adventure. "What are we doing today?!" They'll ask me with excitement every.single.morning. And I don't even know anymore. Well, let's see. We're going to read books on the porch! No, not interested in that. We're going to finally sort the legos! No, that's not fun. How about we put the pictures into frames! No way, huh. And you can't ask them what they want to do, because if you do, you'll just end up feeling bad when you have to say no when they say "Let's go to the zoo!" or "Can we please go to the beach where you'll be the only adult supervising 3 insane kids who don't listen?!" They tell me almost every day that I'm not fun. And it makes me sad that their behaviour has scared me out of wanting to take them anywhere in public on my own. It's their summer, and I wish I could be more fun. But, then I think to myself, you need to get your shit together inside and out, so you're healthy enough to do anything at all with these kids. You need to start making your health a priority. Throw out the shitty food, and drink less, and move your ass! Start journaling, or meditating, or anything to find your zen so you can chill the fuck out.

I would love for my kids to look back and not only remember how stressed and not fun mom was. I want them to remember that I tried, I want them to remember that even on my worst days, they were always my number one focus. I want them to always know how much I love them, even on the days when it's really hard to like them. Parenting is hard, but loving your kids is easy. I want them to always know that.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Life isn't bad

When I'm home alone, and it's quiet (like now) it's easy to think about how much our lives have changed in the past year. And then I start to congratulate myself for not having a mental breakdown, because it's been a lot in a short time.

Last summer we left our wonderful big house in the country to move into the front apartment of my mother in law's house. Now, let me explain the situation here, because it's easy to misunderstand. We share a house, yes. But, we are in a separate dwelling. Essentially, it's like living in a duplex. And really, we don't have any less space than we did at our old house. We have three bedrooms (the boys share) we have a bathroom, and another room that will be converted into a second bathroom. The kids have a yard that is twice the size of our old yard, which was really huge. And they have Grandma right next door, which I know they love.

The transition was a pretty big mess in the beginning. We all had to figure out how to share a house with someone, the dog had to realize that this was home, and he wasn't being abandoned every time we left the house without him, the kids had to realize that a house doesn't make a home, the people sharing it do. It took a few blowouts between us and the mother in law in the first week, but we all made it through relatively unscathed.

I'm happy to say now, things are so much better than I thought they would be when we first moved in. My mother in law is an amazing support for us. She takes the kids whenever we need her to, she's able to get them on and off the bus if I have early or late classes, and she's constantly going above and beyond for us. And in a plot twist nobody would have predicted, I actually enjoy spending time with her. We're finally starting to have the kind of relationship I'd always hoped we'd have. I'm not about to start calling her mom or anything, but, it's a start.

Probably the biggest change for me was starting school. I had honestly thought about going to college for years. I toyed with the idea of night classes, or online degrees. But, when we decided to move, Rob and I talked about it and decided that if I was ever going to do it, now was the time. I applied for the HSF course last Spring, and was so excited when I got my letter of acceptance. This past 6 months have changed my life. I know that sounds silly, but it's true. I went into this course knowing that I wanted to work with people, but not really knowing in what capacity. I originally thought that social work would be the job for me. But, over the course of my first semester, completely changed my plans, and in December I applied for the ECE program and got accepted for September. That means another 2 years of school, but at the end I'll be going into a job that I'm so excited about! I have also made some really amazing friends. I am not a person who makes friends easily, but somehow these people found me, and I'm forever grateful they did. We are in one of the smaller programs, so going to class, it feels like a family. We're there for each other, we look forward to seeing each other, and we genuinely want each other to succeed. This program has been so eye opening for me. The things we're studying and the knowledge I'm gaining is so amazing.

There have been some drawbacks to this move. I miss my family. I never realized how much I took for granted being able to drive 7 minutes to see my mom, or 10 minutes to see my dad and my best friends, or 15 minutes to see my Grandparents. I don't see enough of anyone. I feel out of the loop. And, I know that I'm to blame for the disconnect too. I went from talking to my mom multiple times a day, to seeing her once a week, and generally not talking at all during the week. I miss my best friends. I know I don't message them enough, and homework has me occupied most weekends, but I need to start making time for the people I love. I feel so lonely, and far away from my people. An hour really isn't that far, until you're an hour away, and then you realize how far it really is. I miss my little County so much. I miss the small town feel, I miss the people, I miss the community.

I know this move was the right thing to do, not just because it was our only option. But, because it has put us in the position to maybe, some day not be financially strapped. It has given me a chance at a real career, which is something I've always wanted. It has given my kids a chance to grow up in a culturally diverse place, and it has given my mother in law so much more time with the kids, not to mention it has given Rob's 95 year old Grandmother a chance to spend whatever time she has left surrounded by her great-grandchildren.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Why does it have to be this way?

So, it's been a long time since I posted a blog post. Sorry, friends! Life has been crazy and hectic, all of which I will update you on in a separate post this weekend. Promise!

I will warn you, this post is going to be depressing, it's going to be heavy, it's going to be annoying probably. And, honestly, I won't be offended if you don't read it. I'm mostly getting it out there for myself, in hopes that it will spark some motivation in me.

I am a 33 year old woman. I have kids, I have a husband, I have a pretty decent life. But, I'm so unhappy with myself that it encompasses every single aspect of my life.

This year, my weight is at an all time high. Highest it's ever been. I need to do something about it. Like NEED. My life is at stake if I don't. But, I have no motivation. No motivation for anything. But, the effects of my weight are taking over my life. My clothes are tight, and I have a dresser full of clothes that won't even fit me, my back aches constantly, walking makes me winded, my skin is a mess, my face is puffy and bloated. Everything is just shit. Not to mention I look in the mirror and feel so horrible. I've never had great self confidence, but I've definitely never felt like this before.

When I say my weight affects every aspect of my life, I'm not kidding. I think about it every single second of every single day. If I sit a certain way I'm aware of how fat I look, if I'm walking a certain way I'm wondering if I look like I'm shuffling my feet and breathing heavy, just sitting down at my kitchen table when nobody else is around, I sit so that my stomach is hidden by the table, so I don't have to look at it. I wear sweaters when I'm hot, trying to cover up my body, I keep covered in a blanket at home, so my stomach isn't sticking out. I can't think of anything else.

The worst part is, 3 years ago, I was in the best shape of my life. I was working out consistently, running every day, eating right, and happy. I was so happy. My whole outlook on life changed. I was happy to be here. Now, I can barely walk a flight of stairs. I tell myself every day to just get out and run, even if I have to walk and run in intervals, just do it. But, I'm so self conscious about how I look, I can't manage to do it.

I worry about the example I'm setting for my kids. I want them to be inspired to be healthy because they've had a good role model. I want them to be proud of me, I want them to say you know what, it wasn't always easy, but she did it. Spring is fast approaching and then summer will be here again. I won't be able to wear sweaters and long pants like I want to. And more frighteningly, the longer I let this go on, the more weight I'll gain. I can't do this anymore, I need to make things right.

One thing I think about a lot is something someone said to me a year ago. This person had been a close friend of mine, and she had a big hand in helping me get where I was physically. In short, I owed her a lot. In a series of messages that ended our friendship, she told me to "shit or get off the pot" and that she "couldn't stand by and watch me go down the path I was going down." I was spiralling and she just couldn't help me anymore. Now, I look at myself in the mirror and think to myself, if she could see me now, she would chuckle to herself thinking how right she'd been. I was spiralling, and evidently, it didn't stop. It's still happening. And then I think to myself, can I do this on my own? Maybe I need someone to push me and hold me accountable. And I dread running into her somewhere, because I don't want her to think for a second that she was right.

And that's the one thing that's sparked a little motivation in me right now. Proving to myself that I am strong enough to do this myself. Proving to myself that just because someone "spirals" doesn't mean they can't get back to where they were. Proving to myself that I am worthy of living the good life and being as healthy as I can be, without feeling like someone else played a part in my success. So, this is me, saying the same thing I've said 275595 times before, I can do this. I can be present in my own life. I can fix what is broken inside of me. I can be more than just the fat girl.