To Buy or Not to Buy?

So apparently there are like a billion things out there marketed to babies and moms. I’m almost certain you NEED almost none of it, but it is very easy to get sucked into what you WANT (usually cause it’s so goddamn cute!). I have caved and bought a few maternity tops. To my immense satisfaction they are actually built to house enormous boobs and look pretty darn good if you ask me. I may keep wearing them after baby.

I have also been added to some baby/mommy swap or sell facebook groups by other mom friends and the amount out there is astounding! Some of it is an amazing deal and it is soooo hard to not buy. Fortunately/unfortunately both my husband and I are terrified to jinx the pregnancy by starting to buy too early. I am just starting the second trimester and it feels like counting my chickens to buy a crib already. I think we are both natural worriers and incubating a baby is only making it worse.

We have decided to wait until the third trimester to start collecting the baby things. But that has not stopped us from rearranging the house to accommodate a nursery. It feels less permanent to just move furniture, but it is satisfying my insane urge to nest. Also, I have started a birth announcement cross-stitch that I work on when I’m feeling broody.

This part of the pregnancy is wonderful. No more morning sickness and the fatigue is lifting. Hubby says my skin is amazing and I look happy. I FEEL happy too. The only hard part is remembering you’re pregnant! Sometimes its painfully obvious (like trying to put on jeans) but other times you forget and then it comes rushing in (like almost passing out while trying to move a dresser downstairs). Everyone says to enjoy this part and I am doing my best to!

So amongst all the strife of what we need/what we can afford/what we want, little bean is happily incubating and causing very few problems. I am so excited to co-habitate right now that I am trying not to think about how bean will be exiting in a few months time.

A Person First

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Pre-natal appointment #2, aka one of the worst cases of stigma I have ever encountered.

It started out great. My doctor had a resident on staff who I chose to see instead. The resident was lovely and recognized right away I was very nervous about the swabs. I mean who LIKES have stuff going on down there right? She got them over quick and we got on the with the reams of prenatal questions. She was nice and respectful.

I told her I have been having increased trouble breathing. I know being pregnant isn’t the best for lung capacity but I’m only 12 weeks! I’m not even showing. Also, I have a significant history of asthma. Doing the proper thing she listened to all the lobes of my lungs- UNDER my shirt. She was concerned about air entry at the BASE of my lungs. Her training is to get a chest x-ray, but alas I am pregnant. So she goes to consult the doctor.

The doctor decides to come in and check. She listens to the TOP of my lungs (only two stethoscope placements) OVER my shirt and declares “her air entry is just fine. Use the O2 meter.” Which, of course, reads okay since I had been doing deep breaths for the last 5 minutes. Then she turns to me and in a patronizing voice says “its just your anxiety don’t you think? You are anxious about being pregnant? Could that be it?” And she smiles at me in this sticky sweet gag fest.

Now, I have encountered this so many times I’ve built up an armor. I almost laughed at her. But I looked her right in the eye and said “guess it’s all in my head”. She smiled again and left the room like she had discovered world peace.

This shortness of breath is NOT in my head. I exercise regularly yet I get winded going up the stairs in my house. IN MY HOUSE- where I am never anxious. The problem is pervasive, in all situation and locations. It would have been pretty impressive of my brain to have created something so elaborate.

But the problem is what do I do? She is technically my doctor now. I know from experience seeing someone else comes off as ‘manipulative’ or ‘gaming the system’ and the new person just sends you back to your GP. Also, as soon as you have that psychiatric diagnosis EVERYTHING IS IN YOUR HEAD. Because everyone knows you can’t have TWO problems right? If your mind has failed before it must be the culprit again, right?

Grr.

A little investigation would have gone a long fucking way. Maybe it is in my head, or just the pregnancy! But would it kill you to check it out a little? What if there is some disease process happening and you have now delayed diagnosis another 4 weeks (when my next appointment is)?? How am I to deliver a baby if I can’t go up stairs? Doesn’t that seem weird for an otherwise healthy 31-year-old?

Come on people! Take people with mental illness seriously! It’s not that hard to look at us as a PERSON FIRST and a diagnosis second. If she had bothered to ask a few questions and had done a proper physical exam her assessment may have been greeted more openly. But as it stands she had made the diagnosis before she even saw me, and that’s not only wrong but dangerous.

Guess what!

Take a seat folks. This is big.

I’m pregnant! Due August 2020!

When we had finally given up, when I was all scheduled for my surgery, when we were planning our life as a couple- WHAM, Christmas fucking miracle (literally).

Since hubby is away so much we know exactly when this little bean was conceived. We were no longer trying but through the magic of the season this one made it!

After my in-laws left I just didn’t feel right, tired and nauseous. I don’t know why but I did a pregnancy test (I had one left over). When those two lines came up clear as day I screamed for hubby. He came running (he said later he thought I was dying) and I showed him the test. We both collapsed to the floor in tears. Could this be real?? After 3 years of failure, after years of tracking periods and ovulations, of fertility appointments, of frustration and disappointment- could this really be happening? By ACCIDENT??

I forced him to not get excited yet- I just couldn’t let myself invest in something that wasn’t real and his grin was contagious. The next day we went to the pharmacy and got the most expensive test they had- the one with the digital read out. It told me I was 3+ weeks pregnant. Holy Shit. After we cried and freaked out again we realized we needed to start planning- this was a huge wrench in the cozy child-free life we had settled on.

We decided to tell our parents and siblings on Christmas Day. I felt good to say it out loud, like it was real now that others knew. We understood it was probably way to early but hubby needed a little support since now I may become bonkers AND pregnant. My mother cried. His brother said “I hope you don’t like sleep.”

But why now? After trying for THREE YEARS, why now?

Well, several things changed in the months before conception. 1) I stopped taking Clonazepam for my anxiety and switched to CBD oil. Apparently, Clonazepam is quite toxic to babies. 2) I had lost about 20 pounds, most in the last few months before Christmas. Unfortunately I have gained most of it back- but some of it’s baby right?! And… 3) I stopped eating gluten. It looked like I’d lost even more weight because of the dramatic decrease in bloating. I can only imagine all that inflammation would not be super conducive to conception.

So who knows? Could be a combination of all three.

Now, like most people, I’m sure you are concerned about the other meds I’m taking. Well folks- SO AM I!! We have been to pharmacists, psychiatrists, and family doctors and together we are adjusting things around to keep me AND baby healthy. But of course I am still worried. I would hate to damage the baby in anyway. So with permission I have been cutting back slowly. The goal is to be med-free so that I can breastfeed when bean is born. Even if I only get a month or so before I must saddle up again- I want baby to get those early breastfeeding benefits.

While WE are so excited for this baby, but we are both unsure of how Dexter and Nori will react. Considering Nori is still trying to find a way to off Dexter, I’m not sure she will adjust well to a baby. Also, her typical boob snuggles will be vastly curtailed when baby needs them. Dexter cowers when babies cry, he thinks he’s done something wrong- poor guy. He also will miss morning coffee snuggles. So basically, our fur-babies may mutiny but who knows. Luckily due August means they will both be inside/outside pets and can go where they want.

And yes- this is why I didn’t get the breast reduction surgery, quite a shock to everyone involved trust me! When I called to find out what to do, they already knew from my pre-op bloodwork and had cancelled my surgery- thanks for letting me know right? Even the ladies at the Lab knew I was pregnant before I went in for the massive amount of pre-natal bloodwork I had to get done. They laughed about how long it took us to figure it out- which I will admit was WAY too long.

We’ve seen bean on ultrasound and heard their heartbeat on doppler. It’s getting real now. I am 12 weeks and the nausea is passing but the fatigue is big issue. I can’t wait till August to meet bean- and have my body back!

Anyway, the last few months has been so busy. All the appointments and scans- but we couldn’t tell anyone! Which was WAY harder then expected. I am so excited that the secret is out now and I don’t have to lie or skirt the truth anymore.

WE ARE HAVING A BABY!

Spilling the Beans

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I am always totally terrified to disclose the specifics of my life with people I care about. Usually their reactions are upsetting. I’ve received a plethora of different reactions. From- ‘oh THAT’S what’s wrong with you’ to ‘meh, everyone has their thing’. Some people are afraid. Some people tell me about their bipolar aunt/mother/boyfriend. But I’ve found in general most people don’t really give a shit.

I think everyone is dealing with their own pile of crap and do not have a lot of energy to deal with someone else’s as well. As hurtful as this feels when we do allow ourselves to be vulnerable and disclose our issues, we all must understand that yeah; ‘everyone has their thing’. Some people are not ready or are unable to be helpful. They are not good at temporarily leaving their own life to give advice on yours. We have to respect that.

I think the hardest reaction to deal with is one of fear. In the last few years there have been great strides in portraying those with mental illness more accurately and less scandalously. TV and movies are starting to include characters struggling with diagnosable problems. While almost everyone can relate to characters with depression or anxiety, they stumble with mania and psychosis. It’s just not part of their experience so they can’t really understand it. Unfortunately lack of understanding is the crux of most fears. On TV people still see crazed killers blowing up buses or killing children randomly. It’s horrible. And inaccurate.

If I could give any advice to someone who has just been told that a good friend or relative is Bipolar, or Schizophrenic, or anything- is this:

Regardless of what your initial reaction was if you go back and do it right you can fix the damage you’ve done. I had people with overwhelmingly negative reactions change their tune and now we are close friends again.

Most importantly- ask questions. You may know ten people with Bipolar but your friend may be going through a completely different experience. It will help you understand the intricacies of their journey instead of lumping them in with ‘the mentally ill’.

On the same vein, ask what YOU can do. They may say that just listening is enough. Or, they may ask you to help them pick out signs they are entering a cycle. Of course don’t volunteer for something too stressful or overwhelming, you need your own boundaries as well. But, sometimes just being an impartial sounding board can save a life.

Finally- check in. Even if you are more of an acquaintance just a texted ‘hello hows it going?’ makes us feel less alone and could come at a critical time. Usually if you stop hearing from an ill friend there is a good reason and being the one to reach out proves that people still care.

So if someone you love has spilled their secret please be kind and gentle. It was probably one of the hardest things they have ever done.

Who Am I?

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I think one of the hardest parts of mental illness is not really knowing who you are without the disease. In periods of wellness you look back and wonder if the choices you made, or the things you did were ‘you’ or ‘illness’. When you have a really good, high energy day the worries a mania is starting creep in. And alternately, when you have a shit day you begin panicking that you are at the very top of a long down hill slide.

So what is ‘you’ underneath all the drugs and self-care? Do you really need two hours to wake up- or is that Seroquil? Do you enjoy yoga- or has everyone and their dog forced you into it because ‘it will help’? How many colouring pages can you fill? How many journal entries can you write before you know who you are?

And then there’s the actual disease. Do you really like biking- or is that your manic obsession of the month? Did you sleep with that guy because you liked him- or because you made a gut decision while flying? Did you bail on all your plans because you’re not really a people person- or because you were hella depressed? Do you really want to die- or is your brain a liar?

My brain convinces me of something new everyday. Some days I’m thrilled and stoked about life. Others I could care less about getting off the couch. I have filled my journal with lists of goals and plans. Each list different then the last. I contact people and make plans- to hangout, to volunteer- and then I feel like shit and bail.

Some days my brain convinces me of less logical things. Like being watched, or that people are living in the basement. This is all fine and dandy when husband is home and can set me straight, but when I’m alone I can’t even phone someone because I’m terrified my calls are monitored and that they will take me away.

Its like my whole mental world is made of water. I try desperately to grab on to something only to have it slip away. Then a tsunami crashes into me from behind. Faltering in the onslaught of the waves I lose sight of the horizon and just float, buffeted this way and that, until the water calms again.

Because of this I’m 31 and I don’t know who I am. I know this isn’t unusual in this day and age, but that doesn’t make things any easier. I’m at a point where I am not working toward anything. I feel un-moored. Drifting aimlessly in the waters.

Luckily, it’s deep winter here and the waters are frozen. I can reach out and hold something firm, use it to boost myself up into the weak winter sunshine. And maybe, I will find my purpose once I can see the horizon again.

Therapy

Today I stood up for myself.

I was at a counselling appointment and my (well meaning) counsellor was really pushing me on my anxiety issues and ways I could work on them. I am well aware of WHAT I need to do. It’s the DOING that is hard. I provided her with some examples of my success (uh Costco people!). I got a quick congratulation and then she wanted me to make a plan for what I would work on this week.

I kind of snapped.

I never feel more mentally ill and broken as I do after appointments. The constant fixation on what is  WRONG, what’s not NORMAL behaviour makes me feel like shit about myself. So I told her that. And that I was done with the whole system. I wanted to work at my own pace, doing things for myself not because I needed something positive to report.

Lately some health issues have me in appointments, tests, bloodwork or counselling almost every other day. It is EXHAUSTING. I feel so poked and prodded. I’m just done with it- for now at least. I was reassured by my counsellor that I could come back when I felt ready. Maybe it’s just me putting my head in the sand and not dealing with things, but I am excited for 2020 and I feel ready to fly on my own. I think over the last 8ish years of mental health therapy, hospitalizations and medication trials we have finally hit on something that works. I have the foundation now. It is up to me to build on it the life that I want. And, I feel like that is something I need to do alone.

I need to spend the year figuring out what MY goals are. How I want my life to look. I want to work on my fitness and find something out of the house to do regularly (that is not a bloody appointment!). That’s all I know so far. I have a long way to go but I am happier right now than I have been in awhile. I suddenly feel very free to explore at my own pace- not be pushed and dragged through things I’m not ready for.

I spoke up- and it was worth it.

Back to the Grind

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Today is the first work day of the new year in our house. Hubby has only come out of his office for coffee. I am writing. And deleting. And writing. Nori is trying to sleep on my keyboard and Dexter is sulking because he has to wait till later for his walk.

As I wash load after load of laundry, it feels bittersweet to be back to normal. I love feeling productive but I am BORED of my routine. So this year I am going to make an effort to change that. More outings and adventures! Tally-ho!

So if you know of any adventures a super-anxiety-prone weirdo can do I would love to hear them! I’m talking little things like going to the library. I probably can’t scale Everest just yet. Bonus points if we can bring the dog.

Love you all! Happy New Year

Update

Hello and welcome to the jungle.

I know I’m supposed to write wordy and profound things but today I just want to update you on the happenings in my life.

  1. Gluten-free… Utter torture. I have been trying a lot of products and most of them are absolute garbage. I have been introduced to 1-1 flour which works well for cakes and cookies. You can just use your normal recipes which makes things easier. But everything turns our a little ‘gummier’ that’s the only way I can describe it. Gluten free pasta is good if you eat really fast. If it sits in the sauce or (heaven forbid) you reheat it the next day it literally begins to disintegrate. Wraps don’t really wrap- they fold and then shatter. I have gotten to the point where I’m just eating more rice and potatoes instead of fighting with the crap bread available. Unfortunately, I feel SO much better so I’m sticking with it.
  2. Adventures in Anxiety… I went to a bookstore! All by myself. I have also been going to my bloodwork for several months now, alone and with relative ease. I am finding if I PLAN a trip I begin building it up in my mind and freaking out. BUT if I just realize I feel good and scoot out it’s usually a success! I have now been on CBD for several months and I really think it has been helping. I just feel a general sense of calming. Now I can identify when I am anxiety spiralling and sometimes stop it.
  3. Christmas Crafting… My cheap-ass circular needles have broken. Mid-project. It was devastating but I managed to rescue all the stitches with a set of double-points so I didn’t lose all my work. I did a little online research and found that interchangeable needles exist! You get a little kit of different sized needle tips and several different lengths of cable- and then you put together what ever set up you need! It’s fucking brilliant. And hella expensive. But I ordered them as an early Christmas present from my long-suffering husband. 2-4 days shipping. I am literally on the edge of my seat.
  4. Some Other News… I have been called with the date of my breast reduction surgery! December 31st. I will literally be getting new boobs for the new year! Isn’t that amazing? I am so excited. I am working hard to lose a touch more weight before the surgery because that improves outcomes.
  5. Bipolar and Other Demons… I am starting to get a bit frustrated. My mood symptoms feel okay, nothing dramatic is happening anyway, but my psychosis symptoms are still plaguing me. I have good lucid times (like now) and I have others where I stare into space until my husband intervenes. I also have the continual feeling of being watched and tracked. And of course Bill is keeping me company. He likes to hide and just poke his head out scaring the crap out of me. When I’m good these things all seem silly, but when things are bad they’re really bad.

So that’s what’s up. Not much, but mostly good so that’s an improvement. I am very excited that December 1st is approaching, meaning I can spread Christmas all over the house!

White Bread

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I have been accused of being too ‘white bread’. Of following gender stereotypes. Of adhering to the ‘American dream’.

This is garbage.

I WANT to cook and bake for my husband and friends. I LOVE being in the kitchen. It’s definitely one of my happy places, no anxiety, no stress, just me enjoying myself. I never feel hard done by or forced to be there.

Sure, cleaning sucks no matter how you slice it, but I would rather do it then have it build up for weeks before my husband has a few spare minutes. He is crazy busy. It makes me feel good to do these things for him. I want him to feel relaxed when he comes home. Also, I know I can go into a full-on tailspin when things get out of hand, so I just do a little regularly for my own sanity.

Yes, we have bought a house in a suburb-like community. We have two cars. A dog and a cat. We are living the dream right? Only if the dream involves hunting and growing a lot of your own food. Or composting all year round with our vermicompost.

I can see why from the outside our life looks like a page from a 1950’s catalogue. But from the inside it is something we have settled into because it works for us. My anxiety keeps me home so why not make that home as beautiful and comfortable as it can be? I can’t explore the world physically so why not culinarily? I struggle to meet friends for coffee so why not develop the perfect scone recipe and invite them here?

Everything I do has a reason. Sure, it’s a bit boring- a bit ‘white bread’. But joke’s on you.

I make most of my own bread.

Life is too big

***Trigger Warning***

**I wrote this at a very low point. I have gotten help and we are working on things. Please do not act on this message, I am safe.**

Do you ever have those moments when you realize you have to do this for another 60 years and it just crushes your soul? The idea that I have to get up every morning for this inconceivably long period of time makes me feel exhausted. My life is just a frustrating series of failures, and I can only see that going on and on and on…

I just don’t want to deal with it. It’s too much. Life is too big.

I’m reading a book right now where the characters are all fighting tooth and nail to survive. Even when their futures might not be the best. I just can’t get my head around it. Why? What’s so scary about dying?

All my doctors have forced me to live. They interrupt my plans. They isolate and medicate me. For some reason they think their opinion on my continued existence is more important than my own. Like I don’t factor in at all. For some reason keeping this flesh prison walking and talking is critical.

I just don’t get it.

I can’t wait to go to sleep for the last time.

I know that sounds completely fatalistic but if you’re not being honest what’s the point? I also know that giving up at this stage of the game would be an utter waste. Who knows what my future holds? I just wish I had a crystal ball- to know if the fight was going to be worth it.

I keep trying to find a reason. I am combing my life for a purpose. What am I doing for the world? I’ve attempted and failed spectacularly at many possible paths. Now I can’t even dream up a goal. People say go big, challenge yourself, be your best self. Well my best self is making it through a whole day without crying. Or a whole day without terrifying hallucinations. A whole day where I don’t throw something across the room in frustration. My life is very small, but any attempt to widen it is met with increased symptoms.

I was hoping this blog would be my purpose. That I could help people with my own experiences and create a place where people could discuss and get support. But that’s a big fat fail too.

I’d love to go back to work. To get out of the house, to make some money. But no one wants to hire a med school drop out. Also going to the grocery store is hard, how am I going to be a work for 40 hours a week?

I’m honestly asking you readers- what do I do? How can I find something to keep me going, keep me moving forward? I need something, and I need it soon.