So for the last three months or so I haven’t been travelling so well. There have been a number of stresses which each on their own were quite manageable but mooshed up all together started to swallow me whole. Mum’s health issues (which have blessedly been largely resolved), our ongoing financial plight (which I know is only a product of this time of young children and will pass – eventually), everything to do with Oscar – his foot/feet, behaviour, bed-wetting and on and on it goes and being back in that phase which is having children aged between two and four.
On top of that I was trying to lose weight and had embarked on quite the exercise regime. There was the walking the boys to and from school each day which meant I was walking 8kms most days of the week, Jillian Michaels’ 30 day shred, the gym and other sundry activities. I didn’t lose a pound.
That reality was actually the straw which I think sent me spiralling downward. The paranoia started to creep back, the finding myself shaking my hands as if trying to rid my body of excess anxiety/stress/sadness/anger (you know, I’m always telling Oscar to stop flapping while I know this is how he handles his body trying to process what is going on around him), the inability to go to bed – not to get to sleep mind you just the actual act of going to bed -, poor quality sleep, negative thoughts, self-sabotaging behaviours, lots and LOTS of chronic sighing and – the kicker for me – anger. So much anger. And yelling. And starting to smack the kids. And more yelling.
Interestingly, it was during that three month period that was our school Term 1 I started having a glass (or 2) of wine almost every night. I really hadn’t been drinking like that since before I had Jasper – so a good four years or so. I did twig to the relationship between the lack of weight loss and spiralling mood and increased alcohol intake.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly no teetotaller but I do know that if I can have one drink I might as well have two, or three, or ten. I was drinking really heavily when Oscar and Felix were young and it wasn’t until I saw an Oprah (I KNOW!) episode on SAHM’s who were worried they drank too much than I kinda thought hmmm. In fact, there was one woman who recounted a situation where one of the kids got sick during the night and there was no way she could have driven him to the hospital. Let’s call that a lightbulb moment. But apart from that, there was – and is – the cold hard reality that getting on the turps has negative side-effects which ultimately override the lovely ones you have while imbibing your beverage of choice. Throw anti-depressants into that mix and what you get is a whole lot of trouble.
Technically, if you’re on anti-depressants you should not be drinking at all. But then hello, I live in the real world and if someone is offering me a glass of sparkling shiraz I’m not about to go no thanks.
I’ve been seeing a new psychiatrist for about nine months now and I really like him. Like my previous one (who I’d seen for almost 10 years) he is a straight talker, very matter-of-fact and pragmatic. I had got the impression from him that he wanted to change my meds but – and this is one of the reasons I have warmed to him – he didn’t go all bull-at-a-gate about it. I was travelling fairly well then I stumbled and for the last six weeks I’ve been on a different dosage of the same meds.
It didn’t work. I can feel the seeds of anxiety, I’ve been having crazy dreams – think of the day you’ve had then put that into a Salvador Dali painting and you’re getting the picture, then put it on fast forward and bingo, that’s my nightly viewing pleasure – and this nagging saddness that presents itself as general inactivity with resultant lack of productivity and ultimately anger. At myself and those around me.
It makes me unpredictable and not in a good way. I don’t think it’s fair on loved ones and in particular children to face each day with a ‘I wonder if Mum’s having a good day or bad day today’ mindset.
I am from that parenting camp where we try to limit the no’s and increase the why don’t yous. So you know, if the three year old now has a reflex reaction to push their two year old brother to the ground every time he comes near, instead of don’t push, don’t do that, no we go nice hands, loving caring brothers, cuddles and kisses and so on (GOD suddenly I sound like a hippie).
When I’m not firing on all cylinders there is a lot of NO a lot of STOP PUSHING HIM and ultimately a drag off to the bedroom where my grip is a little too tight on his arm, the putting him onto his bed more of a throw and sometimes a smack. I am all for the times when certain behaviours are simply not tolerated and suitably punished but if I’m not showing and teaching my child how to treat someone – rather just berating them for what they are doing – how does that make me the best parent I can be?
In the midst of this is that ongoing internal dialogue questioning how ‘real’ or how ‘legit’ all of this is. I mean COME ON, talk about first world worries. It’s always going to be hard being at home with two toddlers, it’s always going to be hard with a child with special needs which seem to get worse the older he gets rather than less, it’s always going to be hard ensuring the four children you wanted to have get the attention and input they each deserve, it’s always going to be hard to give those children the opportunities and experiences you want them to have when money is tight and time ellusive. So suck it up baby, these here are tough times and they’re what make the good times all the sweeter.
And on it goes.
But you know what, I don’t care if there are those who think what I am experiencing is simply life and that I don’t have the ticker to live the good, the bad and the ugly it sends my way. This is about my ability to live the good, the bad and the ugly and rise to it each and every day.
So over the next month I’m weaning off the Zoloft to move onto the Effexor and returning to my original dose of Epilum. I stopped drinking every night about eight weeks ago and definitely feel better for it. Curiously, this term I have done virtually no exercise (such was my level of pissed-offedness and my body) but focused on my diet and have lost 3 kilos.
My shrink asked me on Monday what this depression felt like – was it physical or more internal and I thought what a good way of looking at it. I was also a bit shocked because while I’ve been the first to say I wasn’t ‘too good’ I had certainly not thought of it in terms of depression. How weird is that. Anyway, in the past most of my depressive episodes have been very internal – all of that self-doubt and internal monologuing about people looking at me, not being good enough and so on. But this one has been a weight, a sense of the roof being too low, you know, like that scene in the Gene Wilder version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where they’re all crammed into that tiny space near the beginning. He reckons some of that has come from the drug dosage we were trying out but also the nature of this depression. Interesting.