Monday, December 31, 2007


For those who have never experienced a panic attack, it might be helpful to know that even when you are at the point where you feel that literally ripping and tearing your throat open with your bare hands might be helpful against the feeling that you can’t possibly get enough air, this feeling will pass.


The average panic attack only lasts 5-30 minutes.

30 minutes is a DAMN long time to feel like a self-performed tracheotomy might be a good thing. mk

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dang, Disney just pissed me off

So, it's 6pm on a Saturday. We're watching a bit of TV after dinner and before the kids go with X for the weekend. Right now it's Hannah Montana, but just before that (at 5:30, which makes this even worse, really), it was The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Z&C were competing for class president. Zack had made all these great promises of ice cream and skate parks, and one of the kids yelled out to remind him of this promise after he withdrew from the race (because Cody was actually a better candidate, surprise surprise). To this, Zach yells out, "Like that was ever going to happen. You probably believe in the tooth fairy, too."

Suddenly, the world stood very still for me. I mean, WTF?!?!?!

Kira had been watching this show raptly. Kira, who at 8 is just on the verge of learning all the truths. But has not. At least, not to my knowledge.

Thanks SO much, Disney.

Three f'ing days before Christmas. mk

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


[For those who don't take any form of prescription, "med" is short for "medications," and is the term used to refer to any regular taking of such.]

I am horrible about taking my meds.

I'm on a daily antidepressant, along with meds for my hypothyroidism, and an anti-anxiety to be taken up to three times daily as needed. This along with a multivitamin, calcium, and Super-B complex.

In the last week, I have taken my meds two days.

It's not that I am trying to deliberately sabotage my health. It's not that I *like* being off my meds (because believe me, that is hell). Although when I was still on Prozac, often it was a choice not to take them, because being on my full dosage made me into a bit of a zombie whose entire existence was to just get through the day and go back to sleep. So I would choose not to take them, and then I would turn into a hypersensitive psycho bitch. Couldn't win.

I have two pill-monitor boxes with little compartments for days of the week. In theory, I would always have at least one of them completely full, and the other one emptying along as the week went by. I used to have my pill boxes on the top shelf in my bathroom, with the plan to take my meds right after I brushed my teeth. Brush my teeth, take my meds; brush my teeth, take my meds. But when I was having a particularly hard time, I wouldn't necessarily brush my teeth (I know, ew, but hey, it happens). So then I wouldn't take my meds.

So I figured I'd bring them down my my computer, because, with my computer addiction, I *never* forget to check my email. (I might not *write back*, but I'll at least check it). And that works out a bit better so far. Except. When the pill boxes are empty, I don't remember to take them back upstairs to refill. I'll look at the empty boxes and think to myself that I need to do that, and then somehow as soon as I finish up on the computer I'll completely forget, until the next time that I sit down to the computer. In fact, I'm looking at the two empty boxes right now. I need to take them upstairs. I am planning to do this. I am picturing it. I don't want to stop what I'm doing to do it, but I have full intentions of refilling them. Whether I actually *do* remains to be seen.

Another problem I have is in the actual refilling of the prescriptions. I am horrible about this as well. One of the best things that I've discovered is that I can refill multiple months at once at the pharmacy. So if I've got three available refills, I'll fill them all at once. Then I don't have to remember to go back to the pharmacy for three months. Because I also forget this. Or I put it off because I either don't want to make the phone call or I don't want to go alllllll the way into town, or I don't want to talk to people, or any number of other excuses.

And yet another issue is that when the meds are working properly, I have a tendency to think that maybe I don't really need them. I start feeling more "normal." I don't like the idea that I will probably be on some form of medication for the rest of my life. And so I want to get off them. So I'll stop taking them, just to see if I'll be okay. And then I get caught up in the hypersensitive psychobitch thing. My parents can tell when I've stopped taking my meds. Over the phone they can tell that.

It frustrates people who don't have a mental illness regarding an MI person's attitude towards taking their meds. It frustrates *me* about my sister's past failure to take her meds (she's in a group home now, it's regulated for her...they make sure she takes them). It's very difficult to put yourself in someone's place and know exactly how horrible it feels to have to take a daily med. It's bad enough to know that something is wrong with you to necessitate taking one in the first place. Then when you *do* take it, it often makes you feel different, not yourself. Maybe it blunts a creative streak you have when you're med-free. Maybe your energy level is not what it used to be. Sometimes it's just a feeling you can't put your finger on, but you don't feel like you anymore. And there's the self-hatred that goes along with knowing that you're broken. Sometimes not taking your meds is a way of punishing yourself for that. Sometimes it's fear...either fear that the med won't fix you and that you're unfixable....or fear that it will fix you and you'll have to face life head on.

For me, it's never as simple as just popping a stupid little pill already. Nothing in my life is simple, absolutely nothing. My med issue is part and parcel of all the other problems I have. It's more complicated, and I don't even know all the convoluted paths this one issue takes, so I can't untangle it enough to fix it.

But in the meantime, I still try. When I can. When I'm rational enough to know that this is an important part of my recovery at this point. When I remember. When, when, when. mk

Monday, December 17, 2007

Testing Even a Mainer's Tolerance

I am a "real" Mainer. By this, I mean that I was born and raised in Maine, from parents who were born and raised in Maine. It's a long-standing "joke" in Maine that even if you came to Maine when you were one minute old, you're "from away." (I say "joke," but we really mean it. You can live here fifty years and if you weren't BORN here, you're not a real Mainer.)

Anyway. It's winter. In Maine, this means lots of snow, ice, cold, frequent power outages, more cold, more snow, more ice, lots of shoveling, and a little more cold. Winter in Maine usually starts in November (sometimes October) and lasts until March or April, when mud season arrives. (This is what Maine has instead of spring. Mud season. Pretty self-explanatory, really.) Maine's pretty well known for its tough winters. Maybe not as tough as Alaska, but it's still up there. You've really got to be able to roll with the punches that Mother Nature gives you.

So yesterday we had a blizzard. Not too bad, really; I never lost power, even though the winds got pretty fierce. I was up in my bed watching some TV and I could feel that entire ell of the house literally swaying. It was almost fun, when I wasn't visualizing the whole house falling in on top of me. The great thing about the wind is that it blew most of the snow off the deck and driveway, so there wasn't as much to shovel. Although that was counteracted by the freezing rain that left a skim of ice on everything and made it impossible for me to open my car doors first thing this morning.

But I'm taking it out of order. Here was my morning:

* Kira slept in my room last night because of the strong likelihood of power outages. It was just easier to have her in my room to start with than to deal with a middle-of-the-night freakout. So she ripped most of my covers off the bed. Woke up cold.

* Listened to the radio until the weather came on. Nothing special predicted for the day. No indication of cancellations. I got up.

* Couldn't get my internet going. This is particularly frustrating for me since I have an internet addiction. A STRONG internet addiction.

* Got the kids ready for school, reminding them constantly that the bus driver has asked everyone to be at their bus stop an extra ten minutes early because they've been late to school every day due to slow traveling on the bus route.

* Kids are out at bus stop, Mark decided not to bother with a hat or gloves. He's shivering. Fool. (At 12, I have decided that he is old enough to dress himself appropriately or not for weather, and deal with the consequences. If it's 10 degrees outside and windy, most people would take the extra two seconds and grab some warm gear.) Kira is ecstatic and sliding around on the icy ground, ripping the knees even more on her snow pants. The lining is hanging out of them at this point. I have picked up patch material, but still need to actually attach them.

* After pretty much having to chisel my way into my car because they were iced shut, I have started the car and left it running to warm it up. The game plan is to take off as soon as the kids get on the bus.

* I *still* can't get on the internet, where I had wanted to just double-check to make sure there wasn't a school delay. I decide to call my mom and have her check.

* Sure enough, a two-hour delay. I call the kids back inside (asking Mark to shut the car off on his way in). Then I begin to panic, because a two-hour delay means they'll be waiting for the bus at the time that I am supposed to be starting my weekly therapy session, that I have had to cancel for the last several weeks either due to weather or illness. I really, REALLY need to go to therapy today. I can't leave Kira home without a grownup. I don't really trust Mark to remember to get out to the bus on time, either.

* I call up the street to see if I could leave the kids there to get on the bus with a classmate. The mom has to work, though, so she won't be home. That won't work (see: can't leave Kira, don't trust Mark). I call Ro to see how early I can take the kids to the school. Turns out it'll be okay if I bring them at 9:30. Then I'll just book it into town (a 15-20 minute drive on a good day) to get to therapy by 10.

* So. New game plan. Drop kids off at school and then head to town. At a little before 9 I head back out to warm the car up again, and also to just check to be sure I can get the car through the snow.

* Car is stuck. Tires spinning aimlessly.

* Get out the rock salt. Through much internal cursing and manipulation of car that includes having Mark try to push it while I rock it in reverse, and having MARK rock it in reverse while *I* push, after about 20 minutes we are able to move the car back about 10 feet. Where it gets stuck again.

* Even more manipulation, rock salt and internal cursing has failed to move the car after 20 more minutes. Then the car dies and refuses to start again. It is stuck in the middle of the driveway.

* It is now 9:40, I am 10 minutes past the time I had hoped to drop the kids off at school, see no possibility to get the car moving, and the bus is supposed to come by in about five minutes, so I set the kids up at the bus stop. I go inside and cancel my therapy AGAIN, but mention on the machine that I'd like to reschedule for another time this week.

* I start this blog entry. Then I hear a plow outside. I hurry to the door to see my neighbor plowing out the other side of my driveway. I throw my boots and coat back on and get outside and tell him that I'm stuck. He's wondering if I've got a hook under my back bumper so he can haul it out. I don't think so, but he checks and sees something he can latch on to, so he gets out the chain and hooks on. My car refuses to start for a few more minutes, but just before I hit it (and after I threaten to have him just push it off a cliff for me) it deigns to start, and he is able to haul me out of the driveway. I move the car out of the way and he plows the rest of the driveway out. There's a huge mountain of snow I need to adjust to be able to get onto my deck properly and in the house, but I'll deal with that later, when Mark comes home from school. I call my neighbor an angel, grab my pocketbook and head out to town. It's a little past 10, but I might be able to salvage at least some of my therapy session.

* On the way to town, I call my parents so they can look up a phone number for me (mental note: program it later!) so I can see if we can still hold the session. While I am waiting for them to look it up, my car dies while I am driving down a hill. I hang up the phone, coast to the side of the road and curse some more.

* The car restarts immediately, amazingly enough. I get back on the road, back on the phone, get the number, call, get voicemail, leave a message.

* At 10:20 I get to therapy, sit in the waiting room for a few minutes, and actually get in to see my therapist. We are also able to schedule another appointment for tomorrow, which is especially good because the next two weeks need to be canceled because she will be away on vacation.

* After no further trouble with the car, I visit with my parents for a short time, get some groceries (including a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice, and if you think THAT won't be opened about 5 seconds after Mark goes to bed tonight, you don't know me very well), and get home.

* I see a message on the machine, where Kira has called and asked me to bring her sneakers to school because she forgot them. That message was at 10:20. She's been without sneakers for over three hours by the time I get the message, and school only goes for another hour. I decide not to bring them at all. Bad mom.

* Still left to do: dig out the deck, shovel a path for the fuel guy to get to the pipe, make a path to the side shed to be able to take trash out, clear snow from in front of van. Possibly even eat something, as food has not yet entered my stomach today. It's 2:00. At this point, it's foolish to make anything approximating a meal, because then I won't be hungry for dinner. I have discovered that when I am not hungry for dinner, I have a tendency to not cook properly for the kids. Planned dinner tonight: baked chicken breast, garden broccoli soup, baked potatoes, and crusty rolls. Warm and hearty. Dessert: chocolate pudding with whipped cream and banana slices.

OK. I'm gonna go sit on the couch and breathe for a few minutes before the kids get home in about 45 minutes. Tomorrow WILL be a better day. mk

*******postscript: It is now nearly 8pm and I am counting minutes until I can go to bed. There will be no Smirnoff Ice tonight. It is a sad state of affairs when a girl is too tired to even have a cocktail.

Didn't bake the chicken breast, added peas for more veggies, the chocolate pudding had sat in my cupboard for far too long and was hard as a rock. It did not go well. Fortunately was able to find some sugar-free chocolate pudding in there also, and that worked out okay. I'm trying something with the rock-pudding and some whipped cream, making a sort-of mousse-ish thing. It doesn't seem to be working. What-the-hell-ever. Bed. mk

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Taking a Mid-Season Breather

Thirteen more days until Christmas. The stores are filled with people who have a slightly crazed gleam in their eyes as they mutter to themselves from aisle to aisle: "Grandma, Aunt Ethel, my sister, Bob's sister, oh god, the teachers, what on earth.....?" The canned carols are starting to sound too loud, the holiday aisles are looking a little battered but still stuffed with stuff.

By now many of us have been to at least one holiday event (I attended my eighth annual interminable school holiday concert last night), we're looking at our calendars as they fill up and getting a little frantic when we realize that "not this weekend but NEXT WEEKEND IS CHRISTMAS! AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH"

I haven't finished my shopping (I still have my grandparents to shop for, and also helping the kids get their stuff done, as well as some of my sister's shopping for my son). I have something-or-other every day for the next week straight. I haven't put the tree in yet. (perhaps today) I *have* gotten my Christmas cards done (I am obnoxiously early with those every year). I haven't wrapped a single present. [Oh, and I need to print out photos of the kids for the album I am putting together for my ex-father-in-law and his wife]

And yet, today I am peaceful. I am looking out my window and enjoying the snow-covered branches of the trees, and the way my new fence is half-buried in snow. I am wiggling my toes in a cheap new pair of Christmas socks while Kira skates around the floors in another pair. I fixed a nice hot breakfast for my two kids, am running a load of laundry, and am feeling pleasantly domestic and organized (even though I am neither). The kids have a half-day of school today, Mark has quarterfinals in basketball this afternoon, and these events are exciting to me.

I read a wonderful email this morning, forwarded by a friend. It was one of those mass-forwards, that most people skim through and delete (and indeed, I'll be deleting it, too, as I don't usually forward those things). But it really put me in mind of our Lord, and all of the blessings he has given me. Even when I forget about Him for long stretches of time, He never forgets me, and He keeps me safe. He makes sure that the little amount of money that I have is always enough not just for the basics, but for little luxuries. He has kept my children safe, and has made them healthy and strong and wonderful.

In this season of Santa, I need to take many moments to remember what the real purpose of this holiday is. I need to give thanks for the sacrifice Jesus made for me, and for my children, and give thanks that in a cold, dirty little barn, God gave us a miraculous gift.

I need to remember that Christmas is not about the material. I need to remember, it is all about love.

Merry Christmas. mk

Friday, December 07, 2007

Adding Injury to Insult

Mark sprained his ankle at the basketball game last night. He was going for the jump ball, and after the tip-off, he came down and landed on a guy's foot, rolling his ankle. We didn't notice at first, then I saw he was limping, and his coach noticed and called a time-out for injury. I had thought the limp might be related to his knee or shins (he was complaining last week that his shins hurt...he hadn't been stretching properly, fool), but it wasn't.

We got him some ice and someone taped his ankle (not a great job, but it was done...poor Mark, it was adhesive sports tape and when I removed it later, he lost quite a bit of hair on his leg). I gave him an Advil (always carry those around with me, along with some Xanax, which I did not offer). He decided to go back into the game and play. That lasted not long. At. All. He wasn't able to really put any weight on it, and was in some obvious pain, so I told coach to pull him back out. Mark stretched his leg out on the bleachers behind his teammates for the rest of the game, icing off and on.

Today he went to school with my crutches (readjusted for his height) and an adjustable lace-up brace (boy, do I ever have the gear to handle an ankle's even the same ankle). He didn't prop his foot up on a chair like I told him to, and he tried to push it during the day, and when he came home his ankle was a little puffier than this morning. Natural, I know, but I had hoped it would heal faster...Mark usually heals freakishly fast.

He is DEVASTATED at the idea of missing the playoffs next week (Wednesday is quarterfinals). He lost so much of his season last year because of his thumb, he doesn't want to miss one single minute due to injury, and he missed pretty much the whole game yesterday. The team lost by 18 points, and we can't help but wonder if having Mark out there with the other experienced guys would have helped any. Not that I think that Mark playing would have meant a win for the boys, but maybe just a smaller point spread.

Anyway. It remains to be seen if he will be able to play. If he treats it right for the next couple of days, and does his wonder-healing thing, and we tape it up properly, he might be able to play Wednesday. Maybe. I don't want him to play on it if it's even remotely still injured, but the swelling doesn't really look that bad, and there's no discoloration, so maybe it'll be okay.

OK. My son is SUCH a freak. I was just checking his ankle before I sent him off to bed, and putting a light compression wrap on it (the swelling is almost gone), and he decided to try again putting some weight on it. (Mind you, this morning he was unable to do this at all.) He faltered for the first step, then did better, then started walking pretty close to normally.

He is up in his room walking back and forth putting his clothes away, humming. I had to almost physically restrain him from attempting to jump up and touch the ceiling to see how that went (Mark can touch a point about 8'9" high when he ceilings have no chance against him. I had to measure against my parents' Victorian ceilings, and he can almost touch their crown molding).

So. We'll see how it goes, but it's looking favorable for basketball next week. (the cautious injury-prone person who is just now recovering from her own ankle catastrophe is still whispering "CAUTION CAUTION CAUTION". ok, maybe not whispering.) mk

Birthday Bummer

So, X's wife called tonight to coordinate schedules again, and it turns out that X does not have his customary day off this next week. Instead of having Wednesday off, he has Monday off, so the kids will be with him that day. And since they're with him on Sunday anyway, they'll just stay with him from the time he picks them up Saturday night until they go to school on Tuesday morning.

Now, ordinarily this would be fine. EXCEPT.

Sunday is Kira's birthday.

Per the usual dropoff schedule, the kids would have come home to me on Sunday night at 7:00.

NOW, I won't be seeing Kira at all on her birthday.

I have not had to deal with this before. Never have the kids been gone for every minute of their birthday. Even if they're coming home at 7 and bedtime is at 7:30, I've at least been able to be with them on their birthday. Even with our alternating-holiday schedule, I always get to see them on Christmas Day at some point, even if it's not on Christmas morning. The really important days, I haven't had to miss.

And it's just not practical in any way, shape or form to work this out differently if X is going to have them on Sunday and Monday.

I am NOT liking this. I am not liking this at all. mk

**note: I pretty much posted another whole blog entry in the comments section. Also, I would like to note that I really could have been a total bitch and insisted on sticking to the visitation schedule as written, which allows X the kids from Saturday night after he gets out of work until Sunday evening at 7:00, and on his days off from work from 8am to 7pm. So I *could* have made him bring the kids back at 7 Sunday night and turn around and get them Monday morning to take them to school. But we don't do that crap to each other any more. So part of my sadness is knowing that I cooooooooooould see Kira on her birthday, if I was willing to sacrifice a lot of hard work that X and I have put in towards working with each other. So instead, I'm sacrificing that precious half-hour with her on a day that means a lot to me.

Moms out there will remember that special fierce feeling of connection and recognition when they came face-to-face with the small person they carried inside their body. My child's birthday is a day for me to relive that first amazing moment. I know I won't be able to do that forever, they'll grow up and away...I just wasn't prepared for it now. I'm not sure we ever are. mk

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

RSVP....find out what it means to me

**warning: pet peeve rant alert**

OK, I'm throwing Kira a birthday party this Saturday. She brought invitations to school last week; she's inviting ten girls. (yes, 11 second-grade girls in my house, I know I'm insane...moving on)

On the invitation, I requested an RSVP and gave our home number AND my email address (because I know that *I* would rather respond by email). So far, and it is now three days before the party, I have heard from TWO people. (one acceptance and one regret) That means it is up in the air about EIGHT of the guests.

Now, I'm not sure about you, but for me there's a BIG FREAKIN' DIFFERENCE between preparing for a party where there are nine guests versus one guest. And as of right now, which is the day I was planning to do the final shopping for supplies, I have no clue AT ALL which party to prepare for.

The purpose of an invitation is to let people know there's a party, and when, and where. For people who care to know how many guests to prepare for, it is common to put "RSVP" on the invitation.

RSVP (or in the full French, Répondez s'il-vous-plaît) means RESPOND PLEASE. NOT: "respond if you feel like it" or "only call if you need directions or need to report an allergy" or "hey, I just put this here for the hell of it." It means "I need a head count on this party so I know how much food and drink to prepare, how many crafts and games to prepare for, and whether I need to bring an extra table and chairs into my dining room."

Often, an invitation will have either "RSVP" or "Regrets Only." "Regrets Only" is obvious...that's for a hostess who is going to prepare for everyone on the guest list to be there, in case everyone shows up. Ignoring this request and then not showing up will mean that the hostess and her family will be swamped in extra food, and will be making puppets every Saturday until next year.

Ignoring the RSVP and leaving the hostess with no idea whether you're coming or not will lead to an insane hostess who will wait until three days before the party and then CALL YOU to find out why you've been so unbelievably rude as to not let her know how much work, effort and money she needs to invest in this party.

Issuing an invitation and then having to turn around and call every member of the guest list is just flat-out annoying. Why did I have to spend an hour designing and printing invitations in the first place, if I'm going to have to call each person anyway?

Of all the etiquette rules out there, lack of attention to an RSVP request and the dearth of written thank-you notes are my big top two irritants. Both indicate a MAJOR MAJOR disrespect of the other party.

The proper way to handle an invitation is this:
1) read the invitation
2) decide RIGHT THEN if you are able to attend or not
3) immediately contact the hostess and let her know the result of 2)

#2 is essential. DO NOT WAIT. Do not decide to decide later. Either you are available or you are not. The point of sending an invitation out before the date of the event is to reserve your time. This is not a matter of "if you've got nothing better to do the day of the event, show up! Surprise me!" CHOOSE NOW.

The hostess is not a mind reader. If she puts RSVP on the invitation, she wants you to TELL HER whether to count on your presence or not. If you do not respond, she is forced to either a) assume you are coming; b) assume you are not coming; c) hunt you down and ask you. c) is redundant, because she has ALREADY asked you (see: you received an invitation).

Putting off the RSVP risks that you will forget you need to respond. Putting off the RSVP on the assumption that one person more or less won't matter does not take into account what will happen if EVERY GUEST makes this same assumption. Which will then put the hostess in the exact position that I am now in, namely that I have no idea if I am throwing a party for one guest or nine.

I've even taken into account if people are shy about calling someone. (Lord knows I am.) This is why I love when someone puts an email address after an RSVP. This allows me to whip out a little email, without having to brave the telephone and risk actually talking to a person.

So. Now that I've ranted on and on... It hasn't solved my problem. I still don't know who's coming. And since I hate the telephone, and talking to (real!) people, I am now going to have to assume everyone is coming, and get tons of stuff. Just in case. grrrrrrrrr. mk