Til 120?

Well, today’s my birthday… 32 feels a lot younger than 30 did. So that’s a good thing.

I got lots of nice birthday messages from friends and this morning my husband smiled at me and said “Happy birthday babe. I love you.” It was really nice. I know that he meant exactly what he said, but it meant even more to me.

I heard the subtext. I heard, “I’m really proud of you for working really hard to stay alive to see this birthday.

My birthday feels like a good time to reflect on the fact that I’m much more committed to being alive than I was a year ago.

But every day I still have to be so careful. It’s tiring to always be on alert. Get enough sleep, eat healthy food, take your meds, censor your actions, double check your thoughts, say that, you shouldn’t have said that, keep your job, brush their teeth, don’t let the crazy do the talking, take a shower, don’t walk there, put down the knife, smile, keep on pushing. Day after day. And then there’s the actual stress that most people have, take out the garbage, fix the sink, do the laundry,clean the kitchen…

I’m getting tired. My psychiatrist said I need to take some psychological space for myself. I googled it. I don’t remember what it said. But I’m stepping back a bit.

I don’t think that life will ever be any less exhausting for me. I guess that’s okay. I am actually enjoying this little life so I’m feeling pretty lucky for the people who are still with me on this ride.

There’s a Jewish birthday wish that says, “May you live until 120!”. That seems like a really really long time. I’m not so sure I’m up for that.

Let me work to get to 40 and then we’ll see. No promises.

maybe we can't be okay, but maybe we're tough and we'll try anyway.

Erasing the past… it’s not working

I thought it would be easy to kill her.

I thought that I could just cut the cord, redirect my domain, create a new email address, and she would disappear. It would be like she was never even there. Like she was never vital to me. But we are too closely linked. and I miss her.

As much as I want to forget it, she was there. I was there. I will always have been there. I need to close a chapter in my life but I’m not sure how. I wish I could just burn the book.

I wouldn’t be where I am today if my yesterdays had been different. I’m not sure if this makes it worth it or not. But I deeply want to be done with this struggle. I want to push away from identifying myself with this crazy. I feel more stable than I have in years. I don’t want to be the “crazy” anymore. I don’t want to need “crazy” friends to validate and inspire me.

In my darkest times, postpartum moms that I met online were a lifeline for me. I’m still in touch with most of them through facebook and blogs. Several of them, like me, found that the postpartum depression was a gift that just kept giving. And now this gift of chaos has a shiny new name, Bipolar II.

But now our ‘postpartum babies’ are getting older. (My kids are both in full day kindergarten.) Shouldn’t I be over this already? I’m clearly no longer a mom struggling with postpartum depression. But everytime I look at my facebook feed, I can’t escape it.

Today, my brain isn’t constantly reminding me that it’s broken, so I don’t really want my facebook to remind me either. Because it’s scary. And it’s sad. And now that I can (usually) feel some emotions, I don’t like to read things that make me feel scared and sad.

My doctor told me that the most dangerous part of bipolar is that once you feel stable (with the help of medications and hard work), you start to question whether or not you are cured. You question if you ever really even were sick and you stop taking your meds. Then you crash…

I just want a break from over-thinking everything. A break from having to force myself to bed early without exception. A break from having to always remember that these demons are sewn into my skin. I can try to forget but that doesn’t make them go away.

The past still haunts me (though less intensely today) and when I think about Lyla, I remember that despite my best efforts, my future is a frightening question mark. It would just be too easy for me to destroy the life that I have built, to hurt everyone that I love. It is always there, lurking in the shadows, waiting til my guard is down.

Tell me it’s not true. Say I only dreamed it. Say it’s just a scene from an old movie of years ago. (Blood Brothers)

Can I please just pretend that the suffering of the last five years was not real? Can I pretend that the suffering of the last 30 was fabricated?

No?

Box of tea called "Erase your past"

Making love to big pharma

Yesterday I did something super stupid. Like so stupid it’s really funny.

I was trying a new recipe for making a week’s worth of baking soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar conditioner (obviously). It said to mix a tablespoon of each with a cup of hot water (separately) in two squeeze bottles and shake. So, I put the kettle on, took out two glass jars and mixed away. But when I picked up the jars to shake, they were really hot (because they were full of boiling water). So, I wrapped them in a cloth, shook them and carried them to the shower with me.

Then, I got into the shower and got ready to wash my hair. But the baking soda shampoo bottle was still too hot to hold so I held it carefully by the rim of the jar and proceeded to pour boiling water over my head. I’m such a friggin idiot.

(I probably shouldn’t tell you that I proceeded to do the same thing a few minutes later with the ACV conditioner thinking that it had cooled off enough.)

So now that we have established that I am someone who always looks for alternative remedies, I have to say that I feel an immense gratitude today to Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca.

Now I know lots of people have a lot of problems with ‘big pharma’ and there are many legitimate complaints. But these three companies, together, are saving my life. Not saving, giving – they are giving me a life. They are giving me back myself.

Sometimes I doubt that I really need these medications. But recent experiences have proven to me their worth.

A few months ago I added a microdose of 5 mg of Seroquel to my daily cocktail (of Lamotrigine and Zoloft) and it has made a huge huge difference in my ability to think clearly without knocking me out entirely (like the higher doses did).  Then we started bringing the Zoloft down from 45 mg by 5 mg increments because we weren’t sure if it was adding anything and my doctor didn’t want me on too many different meds. I was feeling great and functioning really well (relatively) for a while. But I guess we went a bit too far down with the Zoloft. So after a few weeks of really bad rage, anxiety and a bucket of tears (mostly mine), I added another 5 mg of Zoloft each day and – wow! Huge difference.

This weekend, I was able to do fun things with my kids and breath at the same time. My son was feeling safe with me and I was able to be there for him. My daughter told me that I was doing a great job not losing my patience (which still makes me sad...). And last night, my husband put his head on my shoulder. These people are the yardstick that tells me how I’m doing.

So, I know that these medications are not right for everyone, and I think that they are over-prescribed and poorly monitored too often. And maybe these companies are exploiting the sick for financial gain or not acting ethically.  But right now, they are saving me. They are giving my children a mother. And for that, I want to say thank you for every single person who works at all of these huge mega conglomerate faceless companies. Thank you.

Thank you to the scientists for developing Zoloft (Pfizer), Lamotrigine (GlaxoSmithKline), and Seroquel (AstraZeneca). Thank you to the research study coordinators for getting these medications approved and making sure that they are safe (enough) for me. Thank you to the project managers and others who made it possible for me to get these medications in Canada. Thank you to the insurance company that pays over $200 each month to buy me these pills. Thank you to the Canadian health care system for giving me free access to a highly qualified psychiatrist who specializes in helping (and balancing medication for) women in the postpartum period.

Thank you to my husband for hanging on while I sort this shit out. And thanks for not minding while I give these companies blow jobs.

Love you. xoxo

 

addendum: 

I had lunch with my sister today and she commented that my hair looked particularly soft. Then I told her about my burnt scalp experiment and she was like “okay, I’m going to do that tonight – but I’ll let the water cool off first”. Then she said, “So I put one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of baking soda and mix them together with a cup of hot water?” And I was like, “That will make a volcano on your head.” (I think the smarts run in my family.)

There is a voice inside of you that whispers all day long... poem by Shel Silverstein

 

I am scratched teflon

It’s too hard to write here. It’s like writing a horrible sad diary entry and then sending it to all of my friends. I would never do that. Yet, here I am. I have no where else to write. This is my space. I have to continue my story. This is not the time to start fresh.

So I will try to write. I will invoke the essences of playfulness and of courage. and I will hope that by admitting to the hardness and shame of this, I might be slightly empowered over the fear.

(And logistically, I will invoke the essence of patient persistence because the spacebar on this keyboard is busted and o my god, I might kill it.)

But really, Fear.

Isn’t everything we do in our lives guided by fear? What if we could have no fear? What if we could be fearless?

If I were to be fearless, there would be nothing that I would be afraid to lose. I try to do that always. I give away my own dignity so that I can’t lose it. I buy cheap stuff and I purposely avoid sentimental attachments. I pretty much operate under the assumption that any day now my home will burn down (or tornado, or flood, or godzilla) and there cannot be anything I should miss. But people…people are tricky these days.

It used to be easier for me to keep my personal attachments distant. To create relationships where I would remind myself that  people will randomly die or leave my life and I was pretty good at not mourning their departure much. I was like teflon. I couldn’t let anything stick. But you know how a teflon pan is only tough until it gets a bunch of scratches and then it’s actually more useless than a regular pan? Sucks to be teflon…

Kids.

I really love my kids.

I love my kids so much, I would save my own life for them.                      (I know- it’s fucked up)

Olives.

I really love olives. Not as much as my kids- they really really love olives! But I digress.

I had never eaten an olive until six years ago. Now I feel like I have to eat buckets of olives just to make up for all those years of my life that I missed out on knowing the joy of an olive. But oops. I got caught up in the joy of eating olives, that I forgot that when the olive famine hits and there are no more olives ever, I’ll actually be pretty sad. I should start cutting back on enjoying my olives now. I need to prepare myself for when they disappear by not having them now.

This love that I’m feeling…it’s like the olives. I didn’t know how much I was missing until I tasted the real thing. And not just for my kids, though it started there, love for my husband, my friends, my mother-in-law… I feel love for my life.

This love feels great, but it also feels terrifying.

What do I do with this feeling of loving people so much that you are terrified of losing them? How do you not let this terror consume you? How can you enjoy a life knowing that any moment it can and will get pulled away.

I had a few weeks?months? of feeling really great. I was really starting to feel like a great combo of my old old self and my new self. My husband became my best friend again. My daughter stopped being so shy. My son was feeling secure. We were all thriving. We even bought a friggin house!

But we kept adjusting my meds and now I’m just so anxious, I have so much rage it is seeping out. I’m snapping at my kids, at my husband, I can’t take care of them, I’m so angry at myself and feeling so useless. I just want to crawl under my bed and stay there. (note: under the bed, not in it.)

I’ve done this before. I’ve hibernated and held my breath and pushed off everyone until the meds kicked in. But this time, I know how good the olives taste and I’ve been gorging on them.  If I stopped eating today, I would be too sad and there would be too many olives and it would make a big mess for everyone else.

Part of me knows that if I had never let myself enjoy so many olives in the first place, people wouldn’t be so dependent on me eating my portion now. But the joy of that sweet sweet love and joy was just too good to wish away.

This pain is painful but that sweetness was wonderful. I think it was worth enjoying it. Why not? Isn’t that what we are here for?

I will just keep working hard so that I can get there again one day. To feel that love and joy and bring it back into my family.

I know exactly what I’m missing and I know the love that I am pushing away when I am short tempered and mean. I hate seeing their faces when they approach me with hesitation not knowing if I’m a hungry lion or a cuddly cub. I don’t want to be that mother. I don’t want to be that wife.

I can’t stand the fear in their eyes and I know that I am causing it.

I hate myself for being this way.

nonstick-teflon-pan-with-scratches

We need to talk…

Dearly beloved,

I gather you here today to address some issues that I would (not) like to bring to light.

I’m going to try to pull some courage here from so many other women. I’m going to fight the urge to close shop and run away from the internets. I’m going to tell you about my fears and troubles in the hope that bringing them out with help me face them.

I’m having a really hard time lately expressing myself on my blog.  I guess there are a few things going on that are inhibiting my ability to write. But o, blog, writing right now. Pouring out my words. It feels so good. I’ve missed you.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say (of course), it’s just that…well…(shame)(guilt)…I…(deep breath)… I have been writing under a pseudonym. My name is the only part of my blog that I haven’t been transparent and honest about.

Jackson is my maiden name so I guess that’s only a truth stretch. but Lyla isn’t my legal name. It’s a name I fell in love with in high school and scrawled all over my notebooks practicing my new signature. I actually dreamed of changing my name to Lyla Jackson. I always wanted to name my daughter Lyla but when it came time, it didn’t feel right.

So when I decided to start blogging under a pseudonym, Lyla Jackson felt right.

Why didn’t I write under my ‘real’ name? It started for a few basic reasons (protecting my kids and husband from being googled) but as my life took some nosedives (swandives?), I have been very happy to have a safe space where I can express myself without sharing with my mother, people I used to know or risking my career.

As Lyla, I have found amazing friends online and built social circles. I never could have found this level of honesty if I knew that my words could be googled by every person I went to high school with.

Lyla has represented my strong, honest persona. And she really is me. I am her.

When I order Starbucks and they ask my name, I always say Lyla. I actually looking into getting her a library card, health card, credit card…. just in case I needed an extra passport. (#possiblymanic) But that’s another story…

Over the years, I’ve slowly introduced my alter-ego and my blog to a few very close friends who I felt safe sharing with and who I knew I could trust. I know that they follow my blog and I feel okay with that because I chose to invite them.

But, a few weeks ago, I realized that my walls had been breached. My security had a leak. I know that my brother was told about my blog (without my consent) and read every page I’d ever written.

You know in those old spy movies where they spend the whole movie building up this complicated secret infrastructure and then, as soon as the secret trust is compromised, the guy pushes a red button and the whole compound self destructs and he jettisons out of the building as it explodes.

This is how I felt when I realized that he had been given (and read) my blog. I still feel the urge to initiate a scorched earth campaign. I feel like I need to ‘kill’ Lyla, dissociate from her, unpublish this entire blog that I’ve been pouring my heart into for 4 years.

But I DON’T WANT TO! I love Lyla. I love reading the words she wrote that I don’t remember writing. She is my memory and she dreams about my future. She does not exist in a vacuum. Through Lyla, I am social, I have deep relationships with my readers and many have become amazing new friends.

I don’t want to be bullied out of something amazing that I’ve created for myself. I hate hate hate that I was put in this situation. I know that my brother may read this. He should know that his actions have consequences.

I know that my blog is a public space but the fact that Lyla Jackson is me… that’s my secret. That’s my way of protecting my family (husband and children).

Writing honestly and without too much self consciousness is critical to the way I write my blog. But, lately, it is too hard writing about myself. I can’t feel free and honest, when I know that at any moment, my brother or someone else who I have not invited into my life, might think that they are being helpful by sharing my blog (and my secret identity) with my mother, a cousin, a friend, my boss, my children’s school, or anyone else.

I feel like my boundaries have been violated. I feel like my trust has been betrayed. I feel like someone thinks that I am not entitled to privacy in my private space. But I know that I am.

I have worked really really hard over the past days, months, years to protect my kids from my crazy. If my privacy in this space is violated, if my words are used against me, they will get hurt. I can’t let that happen.

So, I’m not sure what to do. I love this space. It tears me up that I might have to destroy my work, that I might have to leave people I love.  But if this is not a space of freedom, than I would be lying to us all and this would serve no purpose anyway.

Friends, what do you think?

Please don’t be mad that I lied about my name. I hope you understand now why I do that.

I don’t know what to do now.

Advice? Thank you.

painting of the words 'we negotiate with chaos'