Over the last week or so, I have been bolstered by your comments, beaten down by my health, warmed by the love of my family, swollen with pride in my awesome children, bewildered by the situation in the Middle East, and encouraged by the very small steps I have been able to take in the right direction to get over my pettiness and bad character traits I talked about in the last post.
I have started to make a conscious effort to notice and pay attention to what I am actually doing instead of what I am not doing. I am starting to see the gains column of my life instead of just the losses. This has been a hard shift for me, especially now.
I am pretty much always in flux with my medications, but a recent significant bump in some of the stronger ones has left me pretty noticeably cognitively impaired. I haven’t had this much of a struggle with navigating my thinking skills since back when I couldn’t read. Since one of my strongest identities is that of a “smart person”, this newest incarnation has left me not only dumber, but with no clear picture of myself and with self-esteem circling somewhere near the drain. With no positive image to counter the negativity, all I find is this yawning chasm of emptiness when I “dig deep” to shore myself up as to why I am just as good as everyone I see around me.
I used to caution new moms not to compare themselves to other moms because they would inevitably hold up their insides to someone else’s outsides. What I meant was this: Let’s say Jane just had a baby. Jane knows she is sleep-deprived and feels miserable. She yelled at her husband this morning (she can’t even remember why) and wouldn’t even kiss him goodbye when he left for work. She snapped at her sister on the phone an hour later, and then put off changing the baby’s diaper, even though it was really wet. She left oatmeal in the baby’s hair because she couldn’t tolerate the thought of listening to him scream while she wiped it out, and her house looks like a tornado came through it. When she finally manages to change out of the pajamas she has been wearing for 6 days and leaves her house to run an errand, she sees her neighbor Mary, who is also a new mom. Mary is smiling and her unstained clothes match. Her baby is clean and not crying. Jane wonders how Mary can be so put together and have such a perfect baby, and assumes that she must be doing everything wrong because her life isn’t perfect like Mary’s. Little does she know that it took Mary 4 hours to find the one clean outfit she can still fit into because she still hasn’t lost that baby-weight, her husband isn’t speaking to her, and she sits at home alone eating ice cream and feeling frazzled, wondering why she can’t be more calm and happy like her neighbor Jane, who seems to have it all together. Jane knows what a wreck she is on the inside, but she has no idea that Mary is struggling with exactly the same stuff. All she sees is the nice exterior. And that is the danger of comparing.
So, back to me- because it’s all about me, right? (hahahahaha) I see other people having more (fun, brains, capacities, whatever), and especially doing more (this is a big one for me, because when I am feeling okay I pride myself on being very very productive) and it just feels cruddy. So I look inside myself, where I used to see the True Me. That used to kind of make it okay because I could say, “Well, even if right now I am down for the count, I know that deep inside I am still going to rally and get back to myself.” But now I am so medicated that I look inside and see
That’s hard stuff.
Over the past few days, I have solved some problems that have been literally plaguing me. You will laugh (I hope, because some of this is truly funny) when I tell you some of what has honestly kept me awake at night:
1) My laundry room floor was covered with laundry, but the colored and the whites were mixed (no, this is not a post on segregation). I seriously puzzled over how I could get them into piles, because there was no room to sort them out. Yes, this perplexor took multiple hours of my time and brain space… how in the world did I finally end up dealing with that Earth-shattering problem? I picked up colored clothes directly from the floor and threw them straight into the machine, one load at a time, until all of the colored laundry was done. That, folks, is the stuff Nobel Prizes are made of…
2) My refrigerator was full of leftovers, some of which needed to be thrown out. The problem was, it was so full that I didn’t have room to move stuff around to see what was going on. Again, a spacial problem of epic proportions. I didn’t call a professional, because I sensed that, given enough time, I could probably tackle this on my own. And after several days of trying to get my kids to eat the old food (that was a fail), I finally found the solution: take out one thing at a time, and either dump the contents or set aside the container to be put back in the fridge after I had cleared everything else out. Pure genius! No wonder I graduated with honors, huh?
3) My bedroom, which is where I sort laundry, was full of baskets of other people’s laundry (all clean). I was feeling very crowded, and I kept looking for what could be given away (this is what I do whenever I feel like there is too much clutter around). Again, this took multiple days of intensive problem-solving before I hit on a workable solution to this conundrum: have the kids take their laundry out of my room!
Are you starting to get a sense of the kinds of things that are tripping me up in my life? When things that used to be (and should be) pretty seamless suddenly turn into MENSA-level brain-benders, you kind of know you are sinking.
On the other hand…
I am still managing to bake fresh bread and make supper from scratch every night. I am keeping the house stocked and the laundry done. I’ve washed dishes, cleaned the house (more times than I can count), and taken kids to appointments. There is plenty I haven’t done, but lots I have, and truth be told there is rarely a day that I am not throwing up so I think that is pretty darn good.
So, what’s the takeaway? I’m not sure. I don’t see any lowering of these meds in the forseeable future, which means I need to make friends with the newer and dumber Julie. I am more relaxed and more fun (who knew?), and I have way less crushing migraines so it is probably a worthwhile trade-off. But it won’t be smooth, and it definitely isn’t easy.
What’s for sure is that I will keep you posted😉