As Desperate As An Ice-Cube In Hell

I thought about turning on the TV tonight, but I can’t get my head around watching it alone. Since my separation, I’ve hardly really watched TV at all. Which is weird, because it’s not like me and Ex really watched anything together toward the end anyway, mostly because we couldn’t be in the same room as each other. I vaguely recall spending most evenings either beading with my headphones on or laying in the bath for hours with a bottle or two of wine, while he either slept on the couch in front of the TV or skulked off into his shed to pretend he was busy.

Before it got like that, back when we did watch shows together, it was always what he wanted to watch. Typical male king-of-the-remote-control stuff. He would fall asleep and I would gently pry the remote out from between him and the cushion. I would slowly turn the volume down before changing the channel, hoping that the sudden shift from one show to another wouldn’t startle him awake. There’s an art to it, but I never mastered the skill. I invariably failed and would receive a glare and a, “I was watching that.” He would reclaim his precious prize, switch the channel back and nod off again.

Now days, if I’m faced with the challenge of deciding what to watch, I’m like a crippled little lamb. So mostly, I don’t watch anything except for The Walking Dead. If I’m with someone, I can watch, but I can’t make the choice. Even if there’s something that I want to watch, I’ll concede to someone else’s preference. It’s part lack of confidence in speaking up, and part being so desperate for company that I don’t want to risk them deciding not to join me on the couch.

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You see, I’m stunningly needy. I’ve only just come to realise this. I’m fairly certain that everyone who has ever dealt with me has been long aware it, while I’ve been existing as a shapeless mass of oblivious desperation. I’m horribly lonely, even when I’m not alone. I require constant reassurance that I’m a good person, a good mother, that I exist, that I’m not losing my mind, not a burden, not a hellish mash-up between The Blob and Freddy Kruger.

When someone doesn’t want to spend time with me, I “know” that it’s because of who I am as a person, or how I look. If someone rejects me, I feel like hideous monster who should be shunned from society. Conversely, if someone chooses to spent time with me, I feel like maybe I matter. If I’m lucky enough to spend the night with someone or be shown affection of any sort, I start to think maybe I’m not so bad. So I crave touch; a hug, a hand resting on mine, any kind of gesture. It’s not romance or love that I want, it’s just the feeling of being worth…. something. Hell, some days, I would be happy to be punched me in the face just for the sake of human contact, some kind of acknowledgement that I’m here and I matter. And that’s not a healthy way to be.

I’m learning a lot about myself as I work through this process, and most of it isn’t great and it hurts like Hell. But all the same, I’m glad that I’m figuring myself out, so that I can work on fixing it. Three steps forward and two steps back is still progress. Eventually, I’ll have found all the little pieces of me, I’ll cut back the rot and I’ll be content to be me. I’m not going to get any younger or prettier, so best I start learning to accept myself now before I’m a lonely old hag preying on handsome young Jehovah’s Witnesses who knock on my door, insisting that they have one more cup of tea.

A Public Service Announcement For My Fellow Mentals

I have changed anti-depressant medications, and it was an awful experience. I have since found out that the standard New Zealand practice for changing SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor) medications is different from that of the rest of the world.  Australia advises a withdrawing period of 4-7 days, waiting 3 days before starting the new medication. America is on the most cautious side of the scale, reducing Zoloft over a period of 4+ weeks, waiting 7 days then introducing Escitalopram.

In New Zealand we just switch straight to the new one immediately. Going cold-turkey from Zoloft is risky and difficult, particularly if the dose is high and has been taken long term. Withdrawal can take several painful weeks. I thought it was unusual, so I made a point of asking the doctor if that was correct. She told me that because they’re both “short-acting” drugs an immediate change is suitable. This is so unique to New Zealand, that it is even mentioned as a side-note in the official UK GP Guidebook.   I have my suspicions that it is likely to be about money. In New Zealand we have a heavily subsidised healthcare system. In my area, I can see a GP for $17 and get prescriptions for $10, and three months worth of meds for $5, the government foots the rest of the bill. It’s pretty sweet. But it’s not perfect.

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I believe the reason that the method for switching SSRI’s is an over night change, is because weaning means more doctors visits, more prescriptions as each week is a different dosage, and therefore more cost to the Ministry of Heath. So people are suffering unnecessarily, because it’s cheaper. And I mean really suffering.

I was unable to function. It felt like I was moving through treacle, my head was spinning. I couldn’t make sense of anything. The simplest things were baffling. I was profoundly sad, and tired. At first, I couldn’t do much more than lay down and cry. There were times when I was detached from reality that I felt like I was an observer, watching the world from the outside. My responsibilities as a mother became monumental hurdles.

It’s been six days now, and I’m still feeling pretty run-down, but it’s getting better every day. I have learned a valuable lesson and I will never, EVER make a cold switch again. Always insist on tapering off SSRI’s

Aquatic Absurdity

It seems I’m getting more insane as I get older, which is awesome because it means I’m probably going to be one of those old ladies who just don’t give a fuck. You know the ones, they’re eccentric, flamboyant, opinionated, unapologetic, and dress like they’re heading to the Rio Carnival. I’m picturing a cross between Granny Clampett and Dennis Rodman. Obviously, there are downsides too, but one day I’ll be too bat-shit crazy to notice. So there’s something to look forward to.

One of my new neuroses is in regards to swimming pools. I love swimming laps by myself with lots of space; I can zone out and focus entirely on the movements (and keeping my tits contained within my swimsuit). So I didn’t think there would be any issue with signing up my Aspie Girl-Child to swimming lessons, and following them up with a play in the pools. Except, I soon found that I quickly become overwhelmed and have panic attacks that leave me on edge for the rest of the day. After much analysing, I think I’ve worked out what it is that bothers me.

It’s every-fucking-thing.

The pools are indoors (it’s still too cold for outdoor swimming), and the building is loud with air-conditioning, pumps and echos. I find that I can’t hear well and this makes me on edge when people are speaking to me. Even though the space is enormous, the sound makes me feel like it’s closing in on me. When people get too close to me, or block me, it compounds the claustrophobia. Also, I have to wear my glasses to keep an eye on my kidlet because I can’t wear contacts. This makes me feel self-conscious because swimming in glasses is fucking weird. If I want to swim properly, I have to take my glasses off, but then I can’t see jack-shit. This means I can’t watch the Girl-Child and because I can’t see her face, I can’t tell if her squeals are happy squeals or ‘I’m about to lose my shit’ squeals. So much of working with her is recognising the subtle changes in her expression. I worry about her panicking or lashing out at someone while she’s out of my reach.

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All of this sounds justifiable to me, but I know that it is irrational for several reasons:

  • Mr. Flatmate comes with us, stays by her and is a strong swimmer;
  • about 6 months ago, we all went swimming together at a different indoor pools before and I was confident enough in Girl-Child’s abilities that I was able to leave her swimming alone while I went on the hydro-slide;
  • and what the shit is with this sound overload? I don’t think I had that before. It’s like my brain short-circuits and I lose the ability to think coherently. It’s new, it’s scary, and it’s stupid.

It’s the school holidays at the moment, so much to my relief, swimming lessons are on two-week break. Mr. Flatmate has suggested taking the kids to the pool several times, but every time he mentions it, I can feel the anxiety rising. I feel terrible, because I know how much they love going, but it fills me with so much dread. We’ll go back when lessons start again and I will make a conscious effort to have more faith in Girl-Child’s swimming abilities, and in Mr. Flatmate’s ability to keep her safe. My goal is to enjoy the Summertime at the pool and the beach with my babies, instead of being a shrieking Helicopter-mum putting the kibosh on their fun.

Making Fruit Less Healthy And The Benefits Of Sleeping With Socrates

This morning I struggled to get out of bed. It was so tempting to just sink into feeling sorry for myself and just shouting out to the kids whenever I heard them fighting. But eventually I hauled my arse off to the shower.

This morning I struggled to get out of the shower. It was so tempting to lock the door and stay under the nice warm water forever. But I forced my way out into the chilly morning air and made myself a cup of tea, sat on the couch and cuddled up under a blanket with my son.

This morning I struggled to get off the couch. My baby boy gives the best cuddles and I could have easily drifted off to sleep again. But instead I wrote myself a list of things I wanted to get done.

And I kicked its butt. I didn’t even cry once.

I worked my way through a good chunk of laundry. I sorted out my daughters toy box so that it would fit back under the bed. I cleaned an alarming amount of mold off my bedroom walls and on the bottom of my blanket chest. I rearranged the bedroom furniture so that I could fit a computer desk in there in order to get Mr. Flatmate’s computer off my dining table. I made 5 jars of delicious kiwifruit jam, 1 big jar of lemon curd and a heavenly apple and kiwifruit crumble. Then I cooked a tasty chicken curry for dinner.

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It’s called KiwiFRUIT. A kiwi is a bird and you shouldn’t make jam with them.

It’s such a relief to have a motivated day, even if it did have a slow start. I feel tired, but also accomplished. It’s going to be an early night for me tonight, so I can kick tomorrow’s arse as well.

I’ve been trying hard to pull myself out of my slump without success. However, last weekend, I spent an enlightening night with a modern-day Socrates, who is as sexy in mind as he is in body. He helped me to see things from a different perspective. I don’t have his magical way with words, so I won’t try to explain, but his outlook on life has helped and that is what matters. I’m not trying to say that I’ve had a massive breakthrough and will never be depressed again, but I’ve got somewhere practical to begin moving forward.

Crazy And Not Hot Enough To Be A Vampire

After my surgery I started getting super crazy. Crazier than normal. Depressed, grumpy, tempted to throw myself under a bus and so so tired. At first I thought it was just an anaesthetic side-effect, but it’s still going on and I just realised yesterday that it’s because I’m no longer taking the contraceptive pill so my hormones have gone up the fuck. Fun times.

So basically I’ve been a miserable cunt to everyone and to myself. Mr. Flatmate has been pretty understanding, but he’s famously tactless* and I’m over sensitive. Although he hasn’t said so, I’m pretty sure he’s just about had enough. I’ve been trying to stay out of his way and keep my problems to myself. Having my meltdowns in the shower instead of on the kitchen floor makes things slightly less awkward.

Unfortunately, the thing about living with depressed people is that you’re constantly aware of their moods no matter what part of the house you’re in. We radiate that shit from every pore. It slips through the cracks under the doors and permeates the carpets, infiltrating everything and everyone. Which of course makes me feel horribly guilty and so the cycle starts again.

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He’s gone out tonight to escape me and have some sexy fun with someone else. That’s a good thing because I’m not really feeling up to sexy fun tonight (which is in itself a bit baffling) and because now I’m not stressing over how much I’m probably irritating him. Tonight I’m looking forward to an early night and a long sleep. And tomorrow I’m going to overload on nutrients.

*Kinda hilarious, kind of devastating tactless-ness from Mr. Flatmate while watching American Horror Story:

F: “I’d let someone turn me into a vampire, no question. Vampires are awesome. Wouldn’t you?”

Me: “Mm-hmm, yep.”

F looks at me and ponders for a bit: “There’s never any big vampires. You only ever see hot vampires. Why is that?”

Me: *dies a little inside my big, not-hot body*

F: “What?”

NO SUDDEN MOVEMENTS!

My doctor tells me I have high blood pressure. I think most women would have high blood pressure around Dr. Hottie, but apparently mine is high even when it’s taken by a nurse so I’ll let him have this one. Okay, maybe I’m a little high-strung, but my life is pretty stressful.  You’d be high-strung too if you walked a mile in my shoes. Actually, walking at least a mile in my shoes is what I should be doing,  but that’s just one more thing on my neverending list of “shit I should be doing”. The same list that is causing me stress and giving me high blood pressure. So I’m going to cross that off the list to reduce my stress. I feel better already.

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I don’t know what this thing is, but I think I know how it feels.

Today was not the greatest day.  I had a panic attack, complete with tears and difficulty breathing, after being startled by Mr Flatmate; a bit of an extreme reaction to a harmless “boo!”. This threw me off for the day and I couldn’t quite get my groove back.  I got a large unexpected bill in the mail, which is never fun. Then, not long after noticing my deepening under-eye wrinkles, I got a call from the school summoning me to the principals office, which you know is very rarely good news.

So I’ve decided to quit the world. I don’t like it anymore so I’m leaving. If you need me, I’ll be in my blanket fort, binge-watching Adventure Time and pretending to be catatonic. Join me if you like, but bring chocolate and cuddles.

How I’m Going to Fix Me

Remember that time that I said that I was better? That the fog and lifted and I was shiny again? Turns out I was just kidding myself, because the very next day the fog was back, and after 6 months, this shit just ain’t funny anymore. I feel like I’m 17 again, and that’s not as awesome as you might expect.

A close friend recently went through the worst two weeks imaginable, so I spent that time trying to give the impression of being mentally intact, so as not to detract from the immeasurable stress he was suffering. I feel hideously selfish for being depressed and anxious without good reason, and I hate making people around me unhappy by proxy. Clearly just toughing it out isn’t going to work this time around, so I’m going to change tack.

First tactic: Humour
Reflecting on the last week or so, I realised that there was one time that I felt free from the crazy, and that was when I was watching Grimsby, a disgusting and hilarious movie by Sacha Baron Cohen. We’re talking tears-in-my-eyes, slightly hysterical laughter. Laughter has a huge impact on mental wellbeing, and it gives a high that lingers. This week my plan is to watch at least three laugh-out-loud comedies (recommendations welcome).

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Second tactic: Cuddles
Cuddles are awesome anytime, but when your depressed, cuddles, or any affectionate contact, can be a life-saver. The benefits are scientifically proven: cuddling increases production of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, and it reduces anxiety-causing cortisol. Unfortunately this tactic requires participation from others. Hugging unwilling parties is frowned upon. You can, however, hire a professional cuddler if you’re unable to entice a friend to join you. I’m not even joking.

Third tactic: Cutting Lists
When I’m losing my mind, it’s hard to remember what needs doing or how to prioritise jobs, so I spend a good chunk of my day wandering aimlessly wondering what I’m doing. Lists help me keep on track and you can usually tell how insane I am by seeing how many menial tasks on my list. When I start adding things like “have shower” or “brush teeth”, then you know I’m well and truly fucked up. Except, lately I’ve been finding that I’ve been adding too much to my lists and am getting stressed when I haven’t completed the jobs I wanted to get done. So I’m going to be cutting back and just sticking to the essential jobs for a while.

Fourth tactic: Music
Once upon a time, music was a constant in my life. Somewhere along the way I stopped listening. I suspect it was probably a side effect of having children. I started turn the music off because a child didn’t want to hear it, or wanted to watch TV instead. Or perhaps it was just that in the general noise and chaos, turning off the stereo was a way to reduce the overall din. The great thing about music is you can adjust your genre and tempo according to what effect you desire. I love heavy metal and hard rock for motivation and getting things done, and classical is helpful for relaxation, zoning out and as a soothing backdrop to a harried mind. I plan to make a conscious effort to re-instate music in my days.

Fifth tactic: Nutrition
Now, I’m not going to set myself  up for failure by claiming that I am going to eat only clean/paleo/whatever-unattainable-fad-is-popular-with-the-Instageeks, I’m just going to try to make sure I’m getting plenty of quality nutrition in between the cookie breaks. Healthy fats, lots of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, without being OTT and obsessive.

So how effective will my new plan be? I have no fucking idea, but it’s worth a shot. Stay tuned!