What must you think of me?

I’ve been thinking a lot, since my fall from grace mental stability, what you all must think of me. I actually first started pondering it during the confrontation with my friend, who felt that my posts here were expressing such a dark side of myself as to leave me completely unrecognizable. And this was to someone who was there, in person, to witness some of my most difficult years.

It’s true what I said to her, that this place is not an accurate representation of who I am. This is where I come to unload. And I’m not predisposed to unload unicorn farts and fairy queefs. I can share the happiness of my life with everyone I meet, with the people I see face to face. Here is where I go to exorcise my demons, to process the less savory things I think, to take shelter from the shit storms that swirl in my head. This is where I go to make sense of myself, and to come to terms with what I’m going through.

In real life I am a(n almost) completely different person than I am here. And I’m actually kind of cool.

A couple of times during my (continuing) mourning-period about not being a BlogHer, I’ve tried to convince myself that it was for the best that I couldn’t be there since I am such an emotional cluster fuck right now. But as the group assembled there and I thought more and more about what it would be like to be with them, I have been even more despondent that I couldn’t meet them face to face because honestly? They would probably like me in real life. I’m actually really fun to be around. I’m smart and funny and humble (might not seem that way in the middle of this sentence, but honestly, I am) and thoughtful and engaging and enthusiastic. A lot of people consider spending a couple hours with me is a decent way to kill time.

So all my blogging friends are together, having a grand old time, learning what each other is like in real life, and I’m stuck here all woe-is-me on ovulation watch (CD18 and still no sign of it, by the way), writing a series of increasingly down trodden posts, sinking into an ever deeper, and less and less manageable, quicksand pit of despair.

Mel recently wrote a post about a Friendnaissance she’s enjoyed of late, explaining that she’s made a lot of good friends in past years, despite a recent Cafemom post she read claiming it can’t be done. It got me thinking about how hard it’s been for me to make friends as an adult, and how sometimes I wonder (or actually, I downright believe) that my blogging has hindered my ability to make friends IRL because it has raised the bar so high that the people I meet face to face can’t possibly measure up. Actually, it’s not the people, but the interactions that I find lacking. Here, in URL (I think that is such a clever acronym for the blogosphere, or social media in general) I get to know people deeply, and intimately in just a few weeks. I immediately get to the meat of who they are and I feel, after following them for short time, that I truly know them. Meanwhile I can enjoy five coffee dates with a woman and barely remember her child’s name and if she has a partner and what she does. We never get to anything compelling and I get tired and frustrated waiting to break past the pleasantries inherent in budding, IRL relationships. And I want to reiterate, this lack of connection is not about the woman herself but buried in the fundamental impossibility of truly connecting with someone when you only have a short time to do so and you’re constricted by the social expectations implicit in fledgling friendships (basically, that you’ll only talk about happy things for the first however-many meetings).

That’s not to say that every URL friend I meet in real life becomes an insta-friend. I’ve met several that I liked just fine but that I had little or no inclination to pursue as a lasting IRL confidant. Sometimes, despite connecting very much via each other’s words, in real life we don’t have much to say to each other. There isn’t that spark.

But, when you connect online and then meet in person and find that connection grows even stronger, now those are incredible friendships. And like those little pill sponges that immediately spring into the animals they were always meant to be once they hit the warm water, when you click with a URL friend, an incredible friendship can be forged in just one day.

That’s why I’m so thankful for the two bloggy friends I’ve made. Without them my life would be infinitely lonelier and more difficult to manage. One of them is actually at BlogHer right now and I’m living vicarious through her (and iMessage), hearing all about the people she’s meeting and the stuff she’s learning.

So yeah, I wonder what you all think of me. I wonder if, were we to get coffees on day, you’d be pleasantly surprised (or downright incredulous) at how not-awful, and even enjoyable, I am to be around. Because truly, I’m a lot of fun. Despite what my posts here might lead you to believe.

Is your blog an accurate representation of who you are and what you’re like IRL? Why or why not?

Defending this Space

When my friend told me she thought I shouldn’t blog here, I didn’t get upset. Of course her email upset me but I didn’t feel that knee-jerk need to defend myself, or my blogging. That was my first clue that she was wrong, just fundamentally off-base, about the whole thing. From the moment I read her words I knew they weren’t true.

And yet she was very articulate in expressing her opinions and she made some interesting points. I have certainly posed some of those questions myself, so I didn’t feel it was right to just ignore her concerns.

Instead of writing my response I turned to all of you. I am forever indebted to you for your insights. You reminded me once again how intelligent, thoughtful and well-written you all are. I am honored that you come here to read my words, to watch me muddle through this thing called life.

So back to the email, and your responses. I already knew that my friend was wrong but hearing your takes on the whole thing just made me feel… understood and validated (a common theme here to be sure). After so many recent attacks by people in real life, on who I am and how I deal with my issues, it was incredibly helpful to know that I’m not deluding myself by coming here for support.

Here is a little bit of what I wrote to her in response to her email:

… I must disagree with your belief that my blog is causing me harm, that it is a detriment to me in some way. Writing about those things that are difficult to me is not indulging my depression or anxiety, it is helping me process and deal with it. Blogging does not make me think more about TTC or anything else that I write about there, it helps me get it out, so I don’t think about it so much.

I hope you realize that my blog is not a reflection of who I am, or how I live my life. It is ONE PART OF ME. I go there to reflect on and let go of aspects of my life that I struggle with. Writing there helps me to move past those things. And if it seems like it only makes me obsess more, it is because I would be obsessing otherwise.

I didn’t even start writing my blog until I was almost done with my first TTC journey. … Not writing during that first year trying, and during my ectopic, did not make either of those things easier, in fact I believe they made them harder. Going though that alone, not having anyone who understood, was terribly difficult. One of the few things that brings me peace when I worry about losing another pergnancy is knowing my blogging community will be there for me to help me through it. It is literally the ONLY thing that brings me comfort.

I really can’t describe to you in words how much my blog, and the people who read it, mean to me. Writing there is the first time in my life I’ve felt wholly and completely accepted and understood. It is the first time I didn’t feel like a freak. …

It’s clear to me that I can’t convince you that my blog does not hinder my ability to navigate these things. I just hope you can understand that my blog is not a representation of who I am, it’s just one part of me. And being able to write about that one part openly, instead of having to hide as I am forced to do with EVERY SINGLE OTHER PERSON IN MY LIFE (except Mi.Vida) is incredibly healing. It might seem like I think about TTC obsessively, it might seem like I don’t celebrate the happy parts of my life, but that is simply not true. I do those things with everyone else, I celebrate Isa and I speak of all that good that is happening with my friends and colleagues and parents and Mi.Vida. I don’t talk about the stuff on my blog with anyone, except for the people who read my blog. And I assure you that the release I get from saying those things there, from having people understand when it stings a bit for my cousin to so easily get pregnant again, when it takes me I know-not-yet-how-long again, instead of berating me for being selfish or jealous or cruel, is invaluable.

I have taken breaks from my blog, two and three week breaks here and there. Sometimes they are nice, sometimes I’m dying to write. But never have I ever felt it would be in my best interest to walk away. And I won’t walk away now. But I will always know your thoughts on the matter, and I will take them into consideration in the future, if it’s appropriate.

There was more (a lot more) but I want to be respectful to my friend (even though she is no longer reading my blog) so that is all I will include (I’m also saving you all from reading another 800+ words). I think it is a good representation of the points I made and how I feel about the whole thing.

The final installment of our communication was an email from my friend. Things seem to be better between us and she claims to better understand why I blog and what it means to me. The truth is, I don’t need her to understand, because I do and I feel good about my participation in this community. I truly believe it helps, and doesn’t hurt, me and my pursuit for greater happiness.

Plummeting

My temperature plummeted today, which means my hormones levels are readjusting themselves at an alarming rate, which means there is a biological reason for me feeling as out of control as I do. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

This cycle was a total mindfuck. I’m not saying that to complain, I’m just stating a fact. I really truly thought I was pregnant, so much so that even after all the BFNs I still held out hope. And yet this morning I wasn’t surprised to the see the low temp. And yet I was still a little devastated. Hope is an endlessly tiring thing.

I have come to an important conclusion in the past few days: Depression and being home with a toddler do not mix well. They can be a panic inducing combination. The summer, something I used to look forward to with such enthusiasm, is suddenly an infinite stretch of time I can’t fathom surviving. And it’s not that I don’t want to be with my daughter, I do, but this depression, and the anxiety that comes with it, are making it hard for me to see what’s real and what’s not. I keep telling myself that I can get through this, and when I’m in the middle of the days it is doable, but the mornings, the waking up and the getting out of bed, is so hard. I find myself hyperventilating a little, just at the thought of it. I’m fairly certain Mi.Vida thinks I’ve lost my mind.

But being outside, and being with Isa (when she’s not melting down), do good things for me. I’m hoping that, as I move away from this mindfuck of a cycle, as I move toward the next try, as I start my writing classes, as I visit my friends, as I spend time in the sun, as I invest small moments in myself, as I read some good books, as I just slow down and take stock, I will get better. And if I don’t by my birthday, I will take more concrete steps to remedy this situation. I don’t deserve to be this miserable. I deserve to enjoy the life I have, and I will do what I need to do to achieve that.

Missing my meds

I want to preface this post by saying this is a sensitive subject. I welcome your thoughts and advice but not your judgement. Please be gentle.

This week has been hard for me, and not just because Wednesday decided to up and take a shit all over my life. No, there is something much deeper conspiring against me this week. Namely, I stopped taking my meds.

I’ve been on and off medication for depression, anxiety and, most recently, ADD, for the better part of my adult life. I can definitely live without medication–there are times I’ve even thrived without medication–but eventually I always seem to go back, usually for depression and anxiety.

I started taking medication for ADD in my late twenties. I had finally been off my depression meds for an extended period of time but was still having a really hard time managing my life. I had been teaching for about three years and struggled greatly with a lot of aspects of my job. I was feeling overwhelmed and incapable and it was making me intensely unhappy. My therapist was actually the one who recommended I look more closely at my self-diagnosis of ADD and had me talk to my psychiatrist about whether I might actually have it and what I could do about it. After much deliberation (I was very hesitant to go on medication to manage my ADD as I’d functioned, albeit poorly, with it my whole life) I decided to try something my sister had found helpful. The truth is I never could have imagine how much it would change my life.

The meds did help with my ADD, and for that I am grateful. A friend recently asked what it’s like when I’m not on my meds. It’s kind of hard to explain but basically I live my life waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m constantly worried that I’m forgetting something of primary importance, that I’m not at an appointment I’ve scheduled or that I’ve left something I need at home. I’m CONSTANTLY checking my purse for my wallet or my pocket for my phone. I spend every moment nervous that I’ve lost something or forgotten something or that I’m just messing something up somehow. I feel this way because a lot of the time I am fucking shit up, big time.

Maybe a better way to describe it is like this. When I’m driving the affects are amplified. I constantly worry that I’m breaking the law somehow. When the light turns green I don’t go unless someone else goes, because I’m worried I’m looking at the wrong light or just not paying attention enough to know when to go. I’m constantly assuming I’m going to get in an accident because I’ll be too distracted to notice something I should just see. That is what driving is like–it’s terrifying. And it’s kind of what the rest of my life feels like.

So yeah, it’s nice not to feel that way all the time. It’s nice to know that I’m at a stop sign when I’m at a stop sign and a traffic light when I’m at a traffic light and not worrying that I might be confusing the two somehow.

My meds help me with that feeling of being out of control, but they also do something else, something even more significant. My ADD medication cured me of my eating issues, which had plagued me my entire life.

Basically my ADD medication suppresses my appetite. When I take it I don’t get very hungry. I still eat well, I still want to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner. But I NEVER think about food when I’m not hungry and I ALWAYS feel satiated after a reasonable serving of food. My medication keeps me from wanting to snack and prevents me from overeating. When I take my ADD medication I a very healthy relationship with food. I eat what I want, when I want it. I never feel deprived and I never think about food. It’s incredible. After a decade of struggling with food, my weight and body image, my ADD medication handed me my life back. No one thing has so singlehandedly improved my quality of life.

The thing is, it also makes me feel like a fraud. I will admit, there have been times I’ve contemplated going off my medication because I feel my life is stress-free enough that I could manage without it, but I haven’t gone off it soley because I LOVE my relationship with food when I’m on it. I love how it makes me feel. And I don’t want to stop taking it.

I can’t tell you the arguments I’ve had with myself about this. On the one hand I don’t believe in taking medication just because. I have never taken an anti-depression or anti-anxiety medication without first thoroughly researching the positives and negatives, understanding the side effects and feeling very clear that it is necessary for my overall health. On the other hand I believe in living medication-free whenever possible. I believe as a country we are overmedicated and I don’t want to participate in that culture of “fixing with prescriptions.” I KNOW I can manage without my ADD medication. I also know it radically improves the quality of my life.

Of course I have to stop when I’m trying to get pregnant, when I am pregnant and when I’m breastfeeding. Last time, after taking it for almost two years, I was off it for two and half. As soon as I was completely done breastfeeding Isa at eight months, I asked to go back on.

Interestingly, I don’t remember food being a big issue when I was trying to get pregnant, and I actually lost weight while we were trying. I’m pretty sure that had to do with the fact that I was on a strict TCM diet and was cutting out most processed foods, including grains. When people don’t eat bread and pasta they generally keep the weight off. Of course, when I was pregnant I gained 50 pounds. I wonder if that was because I was finally allowed to eat whatever I wanted and I didn’t have my meds to keep my appetite in check. At the time I thought it was Zoloft but I don’t really know.

Now I’m back off my meds. It’s been a hard week, not just because I’m hungry ALL THE TIME (that goes away after a few weeks) but also because I’m easily distracted and feeling generally on edge. I’m also asking myself all sorts of questions about what my long term plan is going to be vis-a-vis my medication. I can’t take it forever. And if I don’t, I need to reexamine my relationship with food, a relationship that has been so unhealthy as to make me contemplate suicide.

In the meantime I can distract myself from thoughts of food with my preoccupation with getting pregnant. It’s a short term solution, but I’ll take it.

Two losses

A lot could be said about this weekend – about what transpired between Mi.Vida and I, both in and out of couples counseling. Part of me wants to get it all out there, but a much bigger part of me is so beaten down and tired, I just don’t think I can. Instead I’ll just explain where I am, at the end of all of it.

Actually, first I should explain where we are, as a couple. It’s been decided, with the guidance of our counselor S, that in one to two years, if we feel we’re more stable both financially and as a couple, we’ll talk about trying to have another baby. This means Isa will be 4-5 years old when her sibling is born, if we’re lucky enough to conceive again quickly and carry a second baby to term.

For the first part of the weekend, before that plan was described out loud but when I sense we were headed there, what I felt was disappointment – sheer and utter disappointment. And I felt like a failure. Having a family has always been my number one aspiration. I never cared much what job I’d have – I literally picked the one I thought was most compatible with motherhood – and I had no grand expectations of where I’d call home some day. The only thing I cared about, ever, was having a family. And it turns out, I suck at that. For some reason we are no good at having a family. For some reason we struggle against it so completely that the idea of having another child is scarier than it is amazing. For some reason we’ve had to pay someone to help us figure out that we literally cannot do it. Do you know how that feels? To know the one thing you’ve always wanted, the only thing you’ve always wanted, is within your grasp and yet unattainable? That you’ve somehow failed at the only thing you ever really wanted to do? I can’t wrap my head around it. It’s utterly and completely devastating.

I am mourning the very essence of a dream I had. I’m mourning a life in which I motherhood is something that brings me unbridled joy and happiness. I’m mourning the experience of parenthood bringing us closer together instead of driving us farther apart. I’m saying goodbye to any hope that this would feel good and right and easy. Because obviously it’s not any of those things, not for us.

I thought this was what made me so upset about the decisions we made this weekend, but later I realized there was something else I felt I’d lost. Something equally as upsetting. As I tried to wrap my mind around trying again not in one and half months as we’d planned, but in one to two years, I became despondent. This feelings was more than just letting go of the size and shape of the family I’d always hoped to have, this was much more profound.

My first attempt at TTC was a complete and utter cluster fuck. I spent over a year wanting to get started with it but finding myself in a partnership that wasn’t there yet. By the time we were “ready” I was a nervous wreck. That entire year was fueled by anxiety and fear. Worry that I’d never carry a healthy pregnancy. Fear that my child would die before I’d ever get to hold her. My year of trying was largely a negative experience and my pregnancy was marred by intense anxiety. How I handled both situations is one of the great regrets of my life.

Thinking ahead to TTC #2 I felt so hopeful. Starting when we were going to, I felt no pressure to get pregnant quickly and the thought of losses didn’t feel so overwhelming. We had time, we’d probably achieve a healthy pregnancy again, it was going to be different. Having carried a healthy baby to term gave me so much more confidence in my body than I had before. My story was no longer just my mother’s, now it was mine as well, and my story contained happiness and joy. There was no reason to believe it wouldn’t have those things again. This time we were going to do it right. This time we were going to do it without costly treatments and timed and charted sex. This time was going to make up for the mess I made last time. It felt so positive for me, for us. This time was going to bring us closer together, was going to overwrite the mess I made last time, was going to heal us somehow.

Now all of that is gone. If we wait 1-2 years I’ll be in the exact same place I was before, anxious to get started and fearful of what might happen. Every month that we don’t get pregnant will be agony. The possibility of loss will loom, ever present, in my mind. The fact that I’ll quickly be reaching “advanced maternal age” will be sitting, restless, in the background. Everything positive I hoped to experience with the conception, and pregnancy, of my second child has been lost. The thing I most looked forward to in life, carrying a child, will again be an anxiety ridden experience. This is the loss I’m mourning. This is the loss that makes me heart ache in ways I can’t explain.

But I know I don’t have to explain it. I know you all know how much all this hurts. I know I was one of the lucky ones to even have the chance at a positive TTC experience. I know this. And for some reason it makes it all the harder to let it go. Like I’m letting you all down some how. Just like I have by squandering my chance to have a happy family that rejoices in parenthood.

Basically, I’ve just fucked everything up. And I’m so profoundly sorry.

Depressed

Mi.Vida is depressed. He actually said it today. Well he wrote it, in a gchat. I was surprised to see it there, in black and white. It wasn’t an insinuation, it wasn’t a response, in the affirmative, to an inquiry. He wrote out, of his own accord, I am depressed.

On the one hand it was terrifying to see it there. On the other hand it was a relief. I’m glad he’s admitting how bad he feels but I hate knowing that he feels so bad.

The worst part is what is making him depressed. The worst part is that he’s depressed because of our lives. The day to day of our existence is making him depressed. And frankly, I can’t really fault him for it.

Mi.Vida has long, long days. He wakes up at 6:45 and gets himself and Isa ready. Then he spends over an hour taking her to his parents’, transitioning her into his father’s care, and commuting back to work – all on public transportation. He works all day long, sometimes not really stopping for lunch, only to come home and help with Isa before bed. Then he has about 30 minutes to rest before he’s making dinner. By the time we’re done eating he has about 30 minutes to hang out before it’s time for bed. That means all day he has about an hour, all together, of time for himself. I’d be pretty depressed if I had that to wake up to as well.

I’m trying to step up and take some of the cooking obligation from him, at least for now. I’m planning on cooking once a week. I hope to delegate some of the extra money I’m making to another possible night a week of take out or at least easy-to-make food from the supermarket. Still, I can’t help but feel I’m putting a bandaid over a gaping wound; I doubt any of what I do will make an appreciable difference.

So where does this leave us? Does he just suck it up until these difficult early years are over? I can’t really see any other choice. We don’t have the resources to change anything else. We have no other way to get Isa to his parents’ house. I can help more with the cooking but I know I can’t do it all. I just don’t have it in me to do everything I already do and cook four or fives times a week.

I feel so helpless. And I feel like I’m not good enough. So many women don’t require anything from their partners, at least not on the homefront. My mother never did. If I were stronger, more hardworking, I could do everything that needed to be done and then some. I could keep my house clean and my family fed and my students taught and my daughter happy and even have energy left over for sex! But I’m not and I don’t and I need help from my partner but he doesn’t have anything left to give, because he’s already giving so much.

So where does that leave us?

I don’t know, but the prospects scare me.

Cracks

This last year, and the years before, they’ve been hard on me. Harder than I realized. They’ve etched cracks in my psyche, in my spirit, in my soul. Many cracks have healed, others remain open. Some mend temporarily, only to be thrust apart again and again.

So many cracks right now and they seem unable to heal, there’s no time or energy to invest. And depression, my old nemesis, sees its opportunity and slinks silently, filling the cracks with its unfeeling opacity. Eventually it will harden, leaving me rigid, unyielding against the currents of life.

This life, it requires movement, flexibility, energy, resilience. A spirit mired in this kind of muck, this rigid disillusion, is rendered inutile. If I cannot bend I will break. Pulled this taut, I might tear. Left this delicate I am sure to shatter.

Yoga compels my mind and body to sway and arch. Writing drives my thoughts to diverge and intersect. But what happens if I can’t bring myself to practice? What happens when the reluctance constrains me completely?

I have not been drawn to writing in a while. Or at least it feels like a while, to me.  Topics come and go, some of them are even interesting, but I have no desire to sit down and write. It just isn’t there anymore. Maybe some day it will come back but right now there is nothing but a tired emptiness where the urge used to be.

Please bear with me. It might take a while and I can’t make any promises, but I know myself and I know my tendencies and there’s a good chance I’ll find my flexibility once again.

I hope you’ll all be here when I get back.