Hello, my dear Grief Happens readers. I’ve missed you!
I’m fighting the urge to vomit out everything that’s going on in my life. I mean…I want to share, but it feels like too much.
Not too much in the normal way that I typically feel like it’s all too much, though.
This feels heavier and bleaker, and there’s little insight…which is hard and scary and perplexing. I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing here when I sink this low. Today it felt like what I needed to do, so here ya go.
I typically know how to claw my way out of these dark spaces, but at the moment, I just don’t.
The meds I take for ADHD have not been working well at all. This isn’t exactly new, but it’s gotten progressively worse over the past year or so. I also have little energy or motivation to find a doctor who knows how the hell to actually work with me and prescribe what I need. I’m so dang tired of forking out money I do not have for half-ass treatment. Still, I’m currently NOT medicated, and this isn’t working either. I’m sleeping well and eating well, exercising, meditating, and still…I’m depressed, anxious and unfocused.
I’ve shared here before that I struggle with anxiety. If we’re speaking in diagnoses, which I don’t love to do, I have GAD — Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There has been debate about whether this is the thing that causes problems for me (as opposed to ADHD – combined type/ hyper/inattentive), or if the anxiety is exacerbated because of the ADHD and has become more or less a coping mechanism since my executive functions are greatly impaired. I’m particularly challenged with organization, planning and prioritizing, working memory (I have exceptional longterm memory, but my short-term memory is nearly non-existent) and at times, emotional control.
I stumbled onto this helpful guide on executive function that explains it better if you’re interested. This is a real problem for many people.
I have always had an intuitive sense that the anxiety developed as a coping tool for the ADHD, but lately I’m not sure this is accurate. Really, I’m not sure it matters which comes first — chicken or egg — since all of it is impacting my life. My focus is poor, and the anxiety makes it worse. I have anxiety…which impacts how well I’m able to focus. My head feels like kids-free-admission at Chuck-e-cheese on a rainy day, and the only thing to drink is Surge soda for everyone. Am I making any sense at all?
Anxiety has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, but at times it’s much worse than others. Piers, my oldest son, will be ten in September, so I’m in my tenth year of mothering if you count pregnancy. I haven’t talked about this much here because I’m only just beginning to wrap my head around it, but I have been living in a near chronic state of anxiety since he was born.
A few nights ago, I was discussing some of this with Gil and he and pointed out (as he often does) that this is not normal. As we dipped deeper into all of it, I began to see that while it isn’t normal (and I loathe that word; what the hell is normal anyway?), it has become my normal, which is a big reason I haven’t been able to see it as problematic.
A lot of my behaviors are avoidant. I stay away from situations that might be anxiety-provoking. However, I keep living as though it’s going to pass/get better, and I don’t know, something about seeing that this has been going on for an entire decade made me sit up and pay closer attention.
In my mind I’ve been thinking it’s all temporary.
When the kids are older we’ll be able to do that.
When the kids go to school this will work itself out.
You get the idea.
But the sad reality is that I just keep avoiding more and more places, people, and situations.
I say no to more invitations.
I sit in the car while my kids and husband go into restaurants (not every time but many times.)
I avoid crowds.
I say we’ll travel when they’re older, but lately I’ve been convincing myself that I have no desire to travel. This is a lie and a total justification. I was born to travel. I’ve been ordering travel packets since well before I was ten years old. I was an international flight attendant for crying out loud. Gallivanting all over the globe is a huge part of who I am…or at least it used to be.
I don’t like to discuss any of this…not even with therapists (more on that to come.)
I have been able to get some of it out with Gil, likely because he has a front row seat to my dysfunction. Despite our marriage problems, he is dear friend — my closest friend — and my behavior is hard to hide since we live together. Our lives are intertwined in most every aspect.
A few nights ago, Gil and I had yet another conversation about this — how my anxiety impacts our family life. I defended myself, even though I knew most of what he was saying was true. I still stand by the fact that a lot of it is situational; it’s the age of our children plus the fact that they’re close in age. We have no family in town and in addition to parenting, we’ve had some difficult circumstances over the past ten years with his father’s death and financial problems and job changes and moving. I could go on and on. It’s enough to create anxiety in most anyone. I refuse to have it all blamed on me. Yes I have anxiety, but there have been a shit-ton of circumstances (many…or rather most of which have been beyond my control) that would fray the nerves of the most Zen monk in the monastery. This isn’t all me. (Stepping off my high-horse now…)
However, these conversations with Gil have made me recognize one thing — over time I’ve stopped coping well with all of it. I’ve almost shut down.
There were times when a certain amount of anxiety actually motivated me. I’d get very worked up, but then I would execute. I’d take action and get the things done that needed to happen.
The action is almost non-existent these days.
I’m teaching very little. I snapped at a co-worker this past Saturday; then for the remaining two hours I felt like I was on the verge of a full-on panic attack. I couldn’t focus on my students because I was silently berating myself for snapping as well as analyzing how bad I had actually snapped. (Is she mad? Will she say something to our other co-workers? What if she brings it up to the woman who schedules instructors? Fuck, I’ve got to get myself together or I’m going to lose this job. What does it matter anyway? The pay sucks and it takes way more emotional energy than I have. This is why I can’t work and parent. I suck at everything. I need a nap. Geez.)
See? Not only did this happen at the lesson; it’s also been playing in my head since Saturday.
And this is only one of my jobs. I have a gazillion unfinished drafts, and every time I go to submit something I’ve written I berate myself and can only fixate on mistakes while assuring myself that there are a gazillion others I’m missing. Seriously, the anxiety I’m experiencing over some of the most basic tasks is completely ridiculous. I know on an intellectual level that it makes no sense; I also know that my feelings (regardless of whether or not they make sense) are valid, yet I’m unable to use the tools I’ve learned in therapy to push through.
I feel like this post is going nowhere. I think I simply needed to get some stuff out of my head.
When I started Grief Happens, I wrote with less of a filter. The writing was messier, but it was more from my heart and I used this space as a dumping ground to work out the thoughts in my head. I need to return to some of that.
I write in a few other places, but lately no one thing seems to truly have my focus.
I always feel as though I need to be more than who I actually am.
So…who am I?
I’m a struggling mom to two kids who are lovable but complex who’s trying to keep the bills paid and the school folders signed.
I’m an idealist who hates the current state of our world.
I’m a bleeding heart who feels powerless to fix anything at the moment.
I’m reaching and digging and deep down I know things will get better, but I’ve got to put some action steps in place and do my part to make them better.
I also am not sure what’s in my control and what’s not at the moment.
Gil asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day, and I jokingly said, “Discernment.”
But that IS what I want. I want to be able to look from above the polluted cloud and know which piece of flying debris to deal with first, because for the past few months I’ve been retreating in a closed cubby-hole in the middle of the storm. I’m in it but closed off from it, unable to move but not necessarily breathing well either, and I’m sure as hell not letting others in. There’s no room, and any efforts to help feel futile anyway.
I’m gonna post this and come back with more later. I’ve been reading posts and answering comments sporadically. I know many of you are going through your own pain. Please know that I see you even if I don’t comment. The downside of being an empath is that we absorb everything. EVERYTHING.
If you made it through this, I truly appreciate you reading.
I am so grateful for my online community. Just typing this all out has helped me as it always does. I’ll share more soon.
Sending love and good vibes to all of you. xoxo