SAD – it’s more than a feeling

SAD – it’s more than a feeling

For the first time in 2 years I am going to write a blog that is not anonymous and posted by someone else. A friend who I have been writing for reminded me that if I posted this anonymously, I am still hiding. So I am struggling on where to begin. I should explain the title, SAD – it’s more than a feeling; SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. I was diagnosed with this 5 years ago, and have hidden my diagnosis from my family and friends. Until now that is. This is a hard topic for me to write about but after what has happened the last few weeks I know it is finally time. Today there is a story that needs to be told, a veil to be lifted. So with a deep breath I begin.

It was the fall of 2010 when I was diagnosed. In the beginning I didn’t want to take any medications but by January I agreed because I just couldn’t cut it and was sick all the time. I’ll be honest, I have been on anti-depressants before however I hated the side effects of the drugs. I still struggled, because well problems at home never go away, but overall I was a different person. I got involved in a support group and it was nice not to feel alone. I’d get random text messages, “Did you get out of bed today?” or “Go for a walk. Now.” It was and still is helpful. I was connecting to my kids and really enjoying time with them. I was preparing to start a new job and felt like this was going to be pretty easy to manage. By November of 2011 I was struggling to get out of bed in the morning, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, and I felt sick. All. The. Time. Thankfully my mom was at my house a lot and was super helpful with JB. The realization that I was failing as a mother and a wife was consuming me. I was taking the medications but I had become an emotionless zombie who was desperately trying to feel normal again.

My SAD season of 2014-15 was really hard. Especially the beginning of 2015. My marriage was struggling and the fighting in the house was out of control. Between dealing with a situation involving a family member living in my home and my depression I felt like we were one fight away from divorce. I was trying to handle everything on my own and I made some decisions; for the health and safety of me and the kids; and certain people had to be removed from our lives. My depression was making handling things that much harder and I was second guessing every decision I made. I had made a friend in my group, Emma (name is changed), and she was in the same place as me. We were kind of like kindred spirits, you see we were both handling our SAD alone. Her family didn’t know and neither did mine. I was still hiding every appointment, the meetings, the medications, and at-home therapies. I hid every aspect from my husband, my kids, my parents, and my friends. No one knew I was suffering. No one knew the pain.

I am handling my SAD season differently this year. I am not taking the medicine because I can’t handle the side effects. Due to some changes in our home environment and a huge stress being removed I feel confident I can handle this using at-home therapies. I noticed a few weeks ago that I didn’t have anything to say during lunch with my mom. I couldn’t maintain a conversation. And people started asking me if I was ok because I look “out of it”. I was aware that it was coming on. The cloud covering was thickening and the weight was pressing. So three weeks ago, I reached out to Emma because the idea of doing this alone is overwhelming. I found out that Emma had passed away. She was sitting in her car in the garage when her husband found her. I spoke with him briefly after I found out and he admitted he never knew about her SAD and is having a hard time dealing with the guilt of not knowing. He said he wishes he had known, maybe he could have helped. I couldn’t do anything but cry and hug this stranger that I had never met. I pray for him and their kids every night.

Emma’s passing was an eye opener for me. I could be Emma, my family could be hers. I’ve thought about what it would feel like not to force a smile, not to feel alone and miserable every second of the day, for my body not to hurt to move. I’ve wanted to not wake up. And when the cloud passes; I realize how blessed I am to have avoided the dark grasp of those depressive thoughts. Somehow I haven’t stopped fighting. I wish I had been more supportive of my friend, I regret not calling her sooner to go for a walk. I wish we could talk about how hard it is to explain to people what is wrong when hiding the truth. I wish I could have given her the strength to come clean about her condition. I wish I could tell her that her kids need her, her husbands needs her, the world needs her. I wish I could tell her that she is so important, her life is precious and valued, she is not alone, and that this feeling will pass.

Over the last few years I have pushed away friends. I don’t respond to invitations or messages, I just fade into the background. I have joined moms groups and quit because being the depressed outcast wasn’t exactly a draw for new friendships and I had a hard time connecting. I have stood on the outside of the circles I so desperately want to be apart of only to conclude that I wasn’t good enough. At times I have felt like I was watching my life happen from the outside.

I have a lot of reasons for hiding my diagnosis but the main one was and still is, I am ashamed. I am embarrassed that I can’t handle things like everyone else can. I am supposed to be super-mom-handle-it-all and I was falling-apart-at-the-seams-failure mom instead. I want to be a wife whose husband wants to be around her; not someone he avoids because he never knows what side of me he might get.

I am embracing a more aware and prepared treatment of my disorder. Instead of praying it will go away I am accepting it is part of who I am and it will pass. I have reminders set randomly to reach out to friend, set a lunch date, go for walk, send a text, answer a voicemail, or do a devotion. I am forcing myself to spend more time outside. I am focusing on my health and staying committed to an exercise program. I am no longer hiding. I am forcing myself to socialize regardless of how uncomfortable it makes me. I will continue to force myself to get up every morning and not go back to bed once all the kids have left for school (which is SO hard). I am making to-do lists that are impossible to accomplish but keep me busy and motivated. I remind myself to be thankful for everyday. I remind myself that this season will pass and I will not always feel like this. I can do this. I have to do this. For my family, for Emma, for me.

Emma’s passing made me realize that you never know what demons someone is battling, you never know what is going on behind someone’s smile. I wish I had taken a moment, stepped out of my comfort zone, and given my friend a call. Or showed up at her house just because. You never know when a hug, a call, a text, or an unexpected visit could change someone’s life.

~K~

It’s been awhile….

It’s been awhile. I hope I have been missed. A lot has happened in our ever-changing, always-moving, never-stopping family. But I missed writing. I have missed expression. Although to be honest the last year I probably haven’t had the best things to express, but I am trying not to hang in the past and move on to the future. My favorite quote has always been, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” and I am living, breathing proof that this is true.

For anyone wondering, all of my kids have survived another school year and an entire summer. And they survived in one piece. Whoo-hoo score one for me!! And my boys are growing into some awesome little men.

The Mouth is officially 16 and is a junior in HS now. He is one of the smartest kids I know and is in the top 2% of his class. His goal is to go to VMI or the Naval Academy and he is well on his way. Now if could only control the I am 16 and I know everything attitude.

MT is officially a freshman. I am so proud of how far he has come, there aren’t enough words (however there will probably be a blog at some point in the future). He has joined Air Force JROTC at his school and is still a part of the EIP program through George Mason University. And he is still thinks he is always right (although he rarely is).

T-Man is 11 and starting middle school. This is the first year he will be in school without a bigger or older brother in the same school. He won’t admit it but he is a little nervous. Although it only took a matter of seconds for the social butterfly to bloom and take off.

WrestleMania is still an adorable little maniac who is super excited about starting 4th grade. He has amazing plans for himself and has set some pretty high goals. He may look like his daddy, but he acts just like his momma.

And then there is The Bean. This has been a year of changes for him. The Bean has always been really small, incredibly smart but so very tiny. It got a little scary when his stats started to drop into the “failure to thrive” category and after a few months of a lot of stress and testing The Bean has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. So much has changed in our house as we have learned to adapt. But we are on the right path. There will be a lot more on this in the future I am sure.

The Hubster and I survived another year of marriage. We are trying to date more and fight less. It’s a work in process but my hope is we are creating a beautiful masterpiece. Or a beautiful disaster, either way it’s all ours.

And me, well I survived a tough year of depression and self-doubt. I spent a lot of time beating myself up for things I can not control and blaming myself for other’s actions. I have learned to only be responsible for myself. I have also learned who and what a real friend is and I have learned to value and treasure those who didn’t give up on me, even when I wanted to give up on myself.

Well, it’s time I bring this to a close and I promise not to disappear again!!

~K~

Why I Don’t Want a Little Girl

Just because I have 5 kids doesn’t mean I want to have 5 more. People are confused. They think that I just want to pop them out because it’s a party for my vagina or something. WRONG! Being pregnant was not some idealized experience for me. It sucked. Labor sucked even more. And I remember every single minute of the pain. Women who say they forget the pain the instant the hold their bundle of joy is full of shit. There might be a momentary lapse based on the euphoria of the moment, but as soon as you go to pee the first time you are feeling something. Then there are the weeks of healing, which suck. Oh, don’t forget the whole concept that you are now someone’s mother for the rest of your life and at least 18 years of that child’s life will be spent under your roof.

Recently I have been asked on numerous occasions, “When are you going to try for a little girl?” Are you kidding me? I am a mom to 5 boys at home and in the evening I teach dance. I get my fill of girls and all things girly. In fact I spent the last week or so realizing that I say the same things and have the same gut-wrenching feelings at home and at the studio. For example…

  • Your homework and schoolwork is the most important. I am constantly beating this into my boy’s heads. They want to do everything else first instead of focusing on homework and studying and then doing whatever it is they want to do. SHOCK! Girls are the same way. I am constantly telling my students that their schoolwork is the most important and they cannot use dance as an excuse to slack off. And I ask them about their grades just like I do my boys. I even know when their report cards come out and will be quick to make a student sit out if she needs to study.
  • Members of the opposite sex are dumb. I am always telling my boys that at their age girls are just drama and dating is dumb. Now, girls are always wondering why boys are stupid and I am constantly telling them that boys are just drama and dating is dumb. You think they would learn after I have said this a few hundred times but they are teenagers so I repeat myself a lot.
  • If you wore your clothes right, I wouldn’t see your underwear. Boys sag their pants. A lot. Mine try hard to get away with it but my husband and I have sufficiently embarrassed them enough that they are pretty good about keeping their pants up. In dance you are supposed to wear a leotard and tights, no panties. But alas girls are constantly wearing their underwear and then are embarrassed when it is noticeable. In fact there was once that I realized I have the same underwear as one of my students. Talk about weird. The bottom line is if you wear your clothes the right way, we will all be happy.
  • Mess with one of my kids and I will go all Mama Bear on you. Ok, this is an obvious statement with my boys. I mean I can beat on them and mess with them, but let an outsider mess with them and I will open a can of whoop ass like you have never seen. I would lay my life on the line for them. But of course I would, they are my boys. Now, when I started teaching dance I knew I would become attached. But I had no idea I would fall in love with some of these girls. So when they are hurt I want to hurt someone. One of my girls was getting messed with by this tramp at her school and I heard about some of the stuff that was said, I was mad I could have spit fire. I felt that same rush of I am going to kick someone’s ass come over me and it was all I could do not to run this girl over with my car.

There is so much more but this gives the normal outsider a basic idea. I complain about my boys a lot and there are days when I am counting down the years left on my sentence, but in the end I wouldn’t trade my boys for anything. They make me smile, they make me laugh, they make me cry, and they make me proud.

And then there are my girls. They include me in their talks about their boyfriends (or lack of boyfriends); they ask me about girl stuff (that I am not always the best at answering!!); they include me in dress shopping, little things going on in their lives, and the big things too. They make me smile, they make me laugh, they make me cry, and they make me proud. And I love them all. So when I am asked why I don’t want to try for a girl, I simply give the most honest answer I can. Because I already have 60 girls and between them and my boys, my hands are pretty full.

Get off my cereal!!!

OMG! I have figured out how to make millions of dollars. I am going to loan my boys out for 30 days to whoever wants to lose weight. That’s it. No exercise required. Although you will be very hungry because they will eat everything – including all the food on your plate!!!

Seriously, I am on the verge of starvation. I hid in the bathroom on Saturday to finish my sandwich. Yesterday I went to work 30 minutes early just so I could enjoy a quiet snack. These boys eat like it is their last day on Earth. And before some do-gooder tells me I need to be more aware of child obesity and that I should control my kid’s portions I have two things to tell you. 1) I like my arms, fingers, and hands and prefer for them not to be bitten off and 2) my boys are the furthest from overweight. They could eat an entire cow every day for weeks and would still run every single calorie off. Don’t believe me – ask their doctor. I want to bottle their metabolism and sell it, too. Maybe in conjunction with the 30 day loan deal??

My point for this rant is actually directed at Mr. Evil himself – The Bean. He may look cute and adorable. He may be jibbering and jabbering at you with those huge brown eyes fixated on you and all the while he is stealing your breakfast!! I am so not kidding. The bean is almost 29 months old and refused to sit in a high chair. Or a booster seat. He has to sit at the table like his brothers. So he was in his seat next to me eating his mini-pancakes (there was like 8!) and I was eating a bowl of cereal. I was chatting with the other kids when Wrestlemania said, “Mom, The Bean is stealing your cereal.” And sure enough fingers and all were in my bowl stealing pieces.

Fine, here finish my cereal. I give him my bowl and go into the kitchen to get another. I thought I was smarter than The Bean. I thought I was craftier. That’s what I get for thinking. I decided to eat in the kitchen standing at the counter. The Bean finished MY first bowl of cereal (and pancakes!). I got about halfway through my cereal when there was a toothpaste malfunction and I was called out of the kitchen. My cereal would be safe on the counter, right? WRONG!

I come back into the kitchen minutes later and that PIMA baby was eating my damn cereal. AGAIN!!! I yelled, “Get off my flippin’ cereal!” He smiled mid-chew and tells me he is hungry. I tell him I am hungry, too. He offers me a bite of my cereal. So I spend the rest of the morning sharing what is left of my second bowl of cereal with The Bean.

So I sit her anxiously waiting until naptime cause I am still hungry but need to make sure the bottomless pit of a toddler I have is asleep so I can eat in peace.

Easter – part one

Ok, so while my demon spawn are outside torturing the wildlife (oh and the neighbors, too) I want to take 2 minutes and start my Easter recap. You know it’s a holiday when there is too much to fit into one blog. I mean, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for someone peeing their pants in laughter AND there is only 20 minutes left on the timer until dinner is ready. Enjoy part one…..

6:15 am – DADDY! DADDY! DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA!!!!!! (accompanied by the pounding of tiny little fists on the wall) My first thought The Bean is awake…. second thought he is not calling for me so let Hubby fetch him. I paced my breathing so Hubby wouldn’t know I was awake and was in a total Zen of I am not moving when the Hubby fidgeted. SUCCESS IS MINE!! I win cause I’m still (fake) asleep.

6:30 am – The Bean is now singing at the top of his lungs throwing things out of the crib. I haven’t moved a muscle. Hubby is faking sleep, how dare he?? No, it doesn’t matter that I am doing the same thing because well, I don’t really have a good reason – but that’s not the point. I will not cave in and silently wish I knew how to fart on command. I bet that would get him out of bed.

6:40 am – I kick hubby and mumble get the baby. He tries to be cute and says, no you. I don’t think so. I kick again harder; he is calling for you so you need to get him. I know this was a bad excuse to use since normally The Bean is calling for me, but it was early and I wasn’t thinking coherently. I am aware that this line will be come back to bite me in the ass some morning in the probably-near future.

Hubby gets The Bean, settles him down with some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in between us. All is blissful and I am catching a few extra minutes when…

THAT’S MY EASTER BASKET!!! MINE! MINE! MOM, HE IS TAKING MY CANDY!! Hello, 7:30. People in China are now calling me telling me that my children are fighting over candy and I should probably handle this. I wonder if there is a surgery to install volume control on kids. What about a mute button? I vow to put my tummy tuck research on hold and devote more time to researching these elective surgical options for my children.

Alright, the dragon is up. And it is Sunday, and I love Easter service. But, first some well-placed threats. I calmly tell the mob to get ready for church – nice pants, collared shirts, belts, brush your teeth and comb your hair. Also if you screw with me this morning I will stick my pretty white heels so far up your butt we will have to go to the hospital so they can cut open your back to remove my shoe. AND THEN I will beat you with my shoe for ruining it. Clear? You could have heard a pin drop.

However, my threat worked to well and we were ready to leave in less than an hour. The Bean is pissed because he wants all the Easter baskets and I am beginning to wonder if my ears are bleeding from the 20 minute long tantrum. My choices – 1) get to church early or 2) listen to a tantrum for another 30 minutes. No question there, we are going to church early.

We make it to church and all is settled. The mob was enjoying donuts and I was having 30 seconds of adult conversation. I was on the verge of a whole minute when The Bean gets The Look. The Look is a joyful, evil, I-am-about-to screw-with-mom type look. He smiles sweetly and takes off running. We go a large church and I am wearing a stupid dress and even stupider heels, which does not go well with having to sprint after my toddler who is leaving fire in his tracks.

One of the other moms tries to deter him and the two of us are trying to corner this toddler. Picture a football field, The Bean stolen the cookie and is trying to make it to the safety zone. Blocking his path in the front is Mrs. J looking so pretty but also well-trained on toddler herding (I think our kids conspire sometimes in class although I am sure mine is the bad influence). Coming up behind him is me and I am desperately trying not to fall on my face and provide an inappropriate peep show. Mrs. J darts to the right, The Bean darts left, Mrs. J darts left, The Bean dives right and sprints around a sign. I am closing in and he runs around a pole with me in hot pursuit. He is almost within my grasp when he dives between some gentleman’s legs. I make a quick maneuver to the left and catch him by the scruff of his neck when he gets slightly deterred by gawking at some little toddler & tiaras type princess in pink. (Where do people find those big poufy dresses? I mean, wow!)

I give him a firm scolding and trying to catch my breath and look like I am in control take his tiny little hand to lead the way back to the table we were sitting at. Just as I was feeling like I had the upper-hand my scoundrel of a son takes off again!! I was quicker this time and only tripped once and caught him within seconds before he could go out the front door. Screw being a good mom. I swatted his bottom and scooped him up like a sack of potatoes.

I stared straight ahead as I re-joined my family. Bless my parents, they were trying so hard not to laugh at me because deep down I think they were afraid I would go all mommy-dearest on them, too. I blame the dress and heels, had I been in normal clothing The Bean would have never gotten away but alas I tried to be all feminine ONE day and this happens. Next year I am wearing pants.

Can you believe it was only 9:15 am?

My spring break

So it’s spring break. Now spring break for me is no longer the relaxing, blowing off steam, beach break it used to be pre-motherhood; it is now a week where I have to figure out what the heck I am going to do with 5 kids and I don’t even get to escape to the studio in the evening. (Note: I teach dance classes in the evening.) We have been managing pretty well. On Monday my teens even spoiled me and got the baby breakfast so I could snuggle in my bed for an extra 30 minutes. The boys have been spending a ton of time outside (thank you Lord for the amazing weather) and during The Bean’s nap time I have been allowed to escape and have coffee with a friend on Monday and yesterday I got to meet my SIL and help pick out her wedding dress. Pretty cool right? (I told you having teens is awesome sometimes.)

So today I was hanging with my kids all day. We got up this morning and hung out and then we trekked off to Chuck E Cheese. Taking my mob anywhere is a task but to some CEC may seem scary but to me it’s awesome. I get to be a kid. Mind you I love video games, so getting to play some of the bigger ones is pretty cool to me. I was rocking out on Guitar Hero (I even had a little groups of fans crowding around), got to take out some killer robots, and was smoking the competition in some high-speed racing. It was cool, and I got to do it with my kids. My teens (who were less than thrilled with CEC) chased around The Bean and I got some QC with my other 2 rugrats. We enjoyed all the greasy fun the place had to offer and when we finally left, everyone was laughing and was in a good time. I know some parents do not like CEC and while I respect your opinion, I suggest removing the stick from your butt and stop being a grown-up for a few hours. Relax and act like a kid and your kids will have more fun with you, too.

After The Bean’s nap time we were all outside playing. And no, not me sitting on the steps, I mean we were all playing. I alternated between tossing the football with Wrestlemania (my 7-year-old) and schooling Mr. Mouth at basketball. We brought out some music and next thing I know we had some other neighbor friends hanging out, too. It was all around a fantastic day. As the sun started to set and I was sitting on back porch enjoying a bottle of wine thinking life is good when I realized…. I AM A COMPLETE FLAKE!!!!! My son had rehearsal for an upcoming performance and we completely forgot. Even he forgot, and by the time I remembered practice was over.

So as I finished my last glass of wine, took in the sounds of laughter and sarcastic teasing going on in my backyard, I came to the conclusion that even when you think you got it all figured out, there is always something else. And that is ok because it keeps life interesting.

Oh, just a piece of advice – greasy pizza and bubbly wine are not a good combo so make sure you have some Tums available. This blender is switching off for now.