Fragile…Like a Bomb

Last Friday, I had an ECT, so I was a little, rather a lot, out of it Friday and Saturday morning. I did something I haven’t done in well over a year —  forgot to take my meds. I got out of routine and just plum forgot. ECT can do that to you. 

Yesterday morning, as I struggled to get up and get going, I noticed my mistake and took my pills as I should, but a cloud of guilt and uncertainty followed me. 

I noticed a change in my demeanor almost immediately. I started my period (I missed my birth control as well as my psych meds).  I felt exhausted, scared and sad. I couldn’t believe a simple mistake could shake me this hard. I wanted to crawl in a hole and avoid my responsibilities and not think that this past ECT was a waste of time and energy. 

It hurts to admit this but my mental health is so fragile — not weak — but fragile like a bomb. I’ll do whatever it takes not to explode. Nobody wants a repeat of 2019, least not me. 

It’s just so frustrating that I do everything I can to maintain my mental health and just three days of missed meds can sink me down so low. It’s baffling to me. And it was an ECT that made me forget!! That’s what drives me crazy. I was doing shock therapy so that I’m the best version of myself, yet it made me forget my meds. For those of you who don’t know, retrograde amnesia is common after a treatment as well as confusion and disorientation.

In therapy this morning I told my therapist what had happened and that I felt overwhelmed because I’ve been trying so hard, but it feels like it doesn’t matter. She said something that struck a chord — that I can’t stand to feel uncomfortable. Not for one minute. And that I always tend to look at the bad in the situation while forgetting the good.

She’s right. Whenever I do feel uncomfortable, I try to stave that feeling off by letting my compulsions take over — overeating, shopping and other self destructive behavior. And I do it all just so I can feel good. But why do I feel the need to feel good and happy all the time? Nobody feels that way all the time, even someone with a “normal” brain.

She also said I needed to delay my gratification, that I’m all about a quick, easy fix, “instant gratification,” but that’s how a child thinks. She’s right about that, too.

Yes, I forgot my meds on accident. Yes, I feel uncomfortable and uncertain, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. I should continue to take my meds and take care of myself in other ways because taking care of myself only benefits me and my family/friends. The end result will be worth it. Logically, I know it will.

I don’t know if this blog makes any sense or if it has a point, but that’s OK for me today. I’m blogging and reflecting on/dealing with my experiences and feelings in a healthy way.

There is a lot of maintenance and self care I have to keep up with because of my brain’s stupid and ineffective wiring, but instead of getting overwhelmed with it all I have to appreciate everything good in my life and just take everything in baby steps. Maybe that’s what everyone does? I don’t know.

My therapist did say it was important for me to go back next week, lol. So, maybe I’ll learn more then.

Thanks for reading. Stay in the light, my friends.

8 Reasons I Have Anxiety On Any Given Day

Everybody has anxiety, but there are those who experience anxiety for prolonged periods of time and every day. Unfortunately, I fall into that category.

For the most part, my anxiety is controlled through medication and relaxation techniques. Mostly medication, though. Therapy also helps.

Some days I’m completely fine, but others are marred by anxiety and panic. When I start to experience anxiety, it starts small, like with a feeling that I forgot something or that something bad is going to happen. Then comes the obsessive thoughts, “What am I forgetting? What if a loved one is mad at me? Why did I say that stupid thing yesterday?” I might start to catastrophize or have intrusive thoughts that I’m going to die or my loved ones are going to die. My heart races and pounds. There are butterflies in my chest. If I can’t quell these thoughts, I have a panic attack where it’s hard to breathe. Thankfully, I haven’t had a panic attack in awhile, but the obsessive and intrusive thoughts are still there and can be difficult to manage. The thoughts are constant and almost every day.

I know anxiety affects people differently; this is only my experience, but I wanted to share a list of what gives me anxiety on a daily basis. Also, I wanted to point out that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder in the U.S., affecting up to 40 million people. That’s huge.

OK, here’s my list:

  1. Loud noises — It doesn’t matter what it is — my kids being loud, a pan being dropped, the TV volume — loud noises always put me on edge. So do repetitive noises. My anxiety not only manifests with obsessive thinking and physical symptoms, but also it makes me very irritable. I start to raise my voice when I shouldn’t or I snap at my husband or the kids. Sometimes I feel the urge to chunk something against the wall.
  2. I’m out of routine — I thrive in routine. Nothing makes me happier than doing the same thing everyday and doing it the same way. It helps prevent my anxiety, because I know exactly what’s coming up and what I need to do. Of course, it’s not very realistic to do the same thing the same way every single day. There are always kinks, and I deal with those but they usually put me on edge.
  3. Stress — This is kind of a no-brainer, but if something stressful is going on (like moving to a new house or the holidays ), I start to get irritable and panic.
  4. Interrupted or not enough sleep — I’m one of those people who just needs nine to 10 hours of sleep a night. Of course, I don’t get that, but it feels like I’m running on empty if I’m operating on fewer than seven hours. When I’m interrupted (which I often am), my anxiety flares up because then I start to think about not getting back to sleep or not getting enough sleep.
  5. Too much caffeine — I’m really bad about drinking too many Diet Cokes, as I often do when I don’t get enough sleep (Eli is on a 5 a.m. wake up call these days). I chug and chug until I feel some energy, but then my anxiety goes into overdrive.
  6. Conflict — I do not like conflict. I guess most people don’t, but I stress out so badly if I have to confront someone or if there’s any discord. The obsessive thoughts start to cycle and my thoughts race. Thoughts like, “Maybe I should say this? I wonder if they don’t like me now. Am I being mean?” I’ll play conversations over and over in my head, and the stress just mounts up.
  7. Not enough alone time — I need alone time. When I have quality alone time, I feel recharged. During this sacred time, I don’t want anyone touching me, because I’m touched out usually by the kids. I don’t even let the cats on me during alone time. I do things that I enjoy, whether it’s take a hot shower or bath, watch TV, read, etc. When I don’t get alone time, I get so short-fused. See a theme?
  8. Uncertainty — I’m sure this is a trigger for many, many people. Because I thrive on routine and structure, I’m not good with uncertainty. Take the pandemic, for example. When we were doing the quarantine at home, I was so stressed. I worried about the kids falling behind in school, our financial situation, whether we were going to get sick, when I was ever going to be alone again, among many other things. I know I’m not alone in this. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our collective mental health, but thankfully, there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines becoming available.

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the most common triggers I have. I hope that if you have a loved one who suffers with an anxiety disorder, you have a little more insight with this blog. Please treat anyone who has an anxiety disorder with respect and never downplay their symptoms and feelings.

If you have anxiety, I recommend getting a weighted blanket. When I’m starting to panic, I get my blanket and put most of the weight on my chest. It instantly makes me feel a bit better and I feel safe. I prefer this to meditating or breathing exercises.

Any questions? Drop them in the comments.

Stay in the light, my friends.

The Camera Adds 10 Pounds

This weekend I’ve eagerly awaited the arrival of our annual family photos. This year we opted to do them inside our new home, so I’ve been dying to see how they turn out.

I’ve also been dreading the new photos. It’s no secret that I’ve gained almost 20 pounds since the onset of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to see, especially in our family photos.

I know it’s been hard on everyone, and a lot of people have gained weight. I know that I should love myself no matter what. I hear others say that I’m beautiful no matter what, but my anxiety and eating disorders speak louder. They always have.

Because we just moved in, a couple of our bathrooms don’t have mirrors hung yet. At first it was annoying but now I’m relieved I don’t have to look in the mirror. It doesn’t matter how much positive self talk I spew — I just don’t like what I see. My weight is tied to my confidence, and sadly, my self worth. Right now, it feels like I’m worth nothing.

The family photos will just confirm what I’ve already been telling myself: I’m ugly, fat and unworthy.

Except, here’s the thing — my daughter is watching. And listening. If I admit these truths aloud, she will for sure hear them. And my voice will become her inner voice. My actions will becomes hers as well, and I’ll be damned if she cultivates this ugly self-hate that’s just rotting my worth and self-esteem.

I’ve talked about this before, many times. I have to change the way I talk to myself, treat myself. I’m raising kids, but really my goal— and what all our goals should be — is to raise healthy adults. I don’t know much about that, but I have my missteps to guide me.

The first thing I’m going to do is post the family photos — no matter what they look like. I’ll frame a couple in my house, not just because I’m trying to set a good example, but because damn, that’s what I look like now. This is what my family looks like after nine months of a deadly pandemic. We have survived, and even if I survived in a way that led to tighter clothes and an expanding waistline, I’ve survived. And that’s all that matters.

I want to thank Jennifer Stewart for capturing out family in our new loving home. I want to thank my body for supporting me during this time. I want to say that I do love myself and I’ll try harder to love it no matter my size. They say the camera adds 10 pounds, but maybe it’s time I stopped buying into that.

That I stop buying into diet culture and equating being then to being happy. I need to be happy now, instead of waiting until I’m a certain weight. Fuck that.

I’m going to be happy now, because both my daughter and son are watching. And that’s OK that they’re watching — it’s OK that they see me struggle, and even when I’m sad, but they’ll also see the fight in me, the determination and my grit. I’m all for them seeing me as human, because I am — just a perfectly imperfect human. That’s all we can be.

Edit: Our family photos were not available at the time of publication. I will add them in once I receive them.

Same Shit, Different Day

I watch the same TV shows over and over.

I listen to music from 30 years ago.

I eat the same things every week, without much deviation.

And that’s OK with me. Others, I know, need variation and to experience new things, but new things just throw me for a loop. I blame my oppressive anxiety — it’s just so comforting rewatching my favorite shows rereading my favorite books. There are no surprises lurking, waiting to send me into a panic attack or obsessive thinking. I actually hate surprises, which drives my husband crazy because he loves trying to surprise me.

But I love order, safety and comfort. It’s not boring to me. It’s home. It’s away to control my intrusive and obsessive thoughts. It’s emotional and mental control, and again, I’m OK with that.

Last weekend we moved into our new house. Don’t get me wrong — I was looking forward to it, but I soon discovered that everything was different. I didn’t know how to work the kids’ bathtub nozzles (they had two different ones) and I couldn’t figure out which light switches worked what. I think that’s normal, but it was especially frustrating for me.

It’s like that with almost every new experience, especially meeting new people. I definitely hate that, but experiencing new things are essential to live, lol. And I must do them, even if I don’t like it. I try and remember that when my children are confronted with new things — it sucks, but they have to do it. Our survival depends on it.

As much as I love my routine and structure, there’s something to be said for trying a new meal (and liking it!), reading a new book and watching a new movie. That’s how things become your favorite, but you have to try.

I’ll continue to listen to music from 30 years ago — I have a new speaker system on which to play it. I’ll likely be watching Friends when I get some alone time. And don’t think I won’t be rereading my favorite books: Summer Sisters, She’s Come Undone and The Red Tent.

And that’s OK, because I’ll be trying new things, too. It’s all a fine balance.

Stay in the light.

Addiction: Pills, Sedation and Numbness

It started with wanting to escape – the need and yearning to feel something other than pain every single day. At least, that’s how it was in my case.  

When I first tried Klonopin (Clonazepam), I truly needed help with my anxiety, which got worse after having my two kids, but it didn’t help with my anxiety, so much as it made me avoid my anxiety. With it, I became a more tolerable version of me – a sedated one. Klonopin is categorized as a benzodiazepine, which works to calm or sedate a person by raising the level of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain.

With Klonopin, I didn’t care about my flaws, but looking back I see that I didn’t care about anything. It all just melted away. After a while, I began taking the pills to feel nothing and not for my anxiety, and it was always more than I should’ve taken. My depression and anxiety kept worsening.

I eventually built a tolerance to it, and after the kids would go to bed, I’d take six or seven a night just to get a high. I should say a low, because no matter how many pills I’d take, I’d always return to myself, where I didn’t want to be.

I didn’t mean to get addicted. I don’t even know if I’d use the word “addicted” so much as I’d say I abused the pills. I just couldn’t stop chasing that delicious feeling that I wasn’t actually myself and the warm flush of the medicine wiping away my dark, and sometimes scary, thoughts.

It’s sad when I think about it. I wonder if all addicts feel the same way, that they just want to be someone else. They just need to escape.

Even now, I catch myself longing for those pills, or rather for the ability to escape. It’s so alluring, going to a warm, happy place inside of you. But that place doesn’t really exist. Any happiness I might’ve felt was always frustratingly temporary. At midnight, I’d just turn back into a pumpkin – a sad, rotting pumpkin, with no glass slipper to speak of.

Now that I can’t rely on pills to make me feel better, I try to find other ways, but it’s no different than the pills. Everything is temporary. I might binge eat and take pleasure in the food that I eat, but that pleasure doesn’t last. Just another failed escape. It’s the same way with compulsive shopping – I always feel guilty for spending money, and the high of buying something disappears.

I’m sitting here wondering why the hell do I feel the need to escape? And I truly don’t know. I have a great life, with a great husband and amazing kids. We have a new house that’s truly a dream and I’ve never wanted for anything in my whole life. I’ve been fortunate, yet I know tonight I will take one of my anxiety pills (that I’m not abusing), and I’ll wish it would take off the edge.

My therapist has asked me the same question – why am I always trying to leave? Why do I crave a dissociative state?

And for once, I have no words.

Does anyone out there ever feel the same?

Stay in the light, friends. Stay present.

Real Me vs. Depressed Me

This past two weeks have been amazing. My demeanor has changed. My mood has lifted. And I’m able to do things that were near impossible before. The ECT treatment I had two weeks ago must have been a good one. I’ve seen a glimpse of my authentic self, who wants so badly to be set free from wherever she goes when a depressive episode hits. Before this past ECT, I was suicidal. I was unbelievably sad and anxious. I thought I was doing OK but I can see now that I wasn’t.

I didn’t recognize this feeling of joy and happiness, and I can’t tell you the last time I felt it either. I’m more familiar with “Depressed Me,” a slower, sadder, less efficient version of me, riddled with depression symptoms, who seems to be the reigning champion of my brain. But now that I am feeling happy and I see the “Real Me,” I’m going to fight tooth and nail for it. I refuse to go down without a fight. How I’m feeling and what I’m able to do right now — that’s worth fighting for.

In the mornings, I don’t immediately feel weighed down and already exhausted before even starting my day. I have energy and am excited about the day. The chores and tasks I absolutely have to get done don’t seem so taxing and annoying. Showering is now relaxing and not a daunting chore I’d put off for days (yes, days!). I don’t feel the need to stuff with my face with food that I don’t want or need, which is a battle for most everyone. I’m more cheerful and attentive to my kids. The Real Me is kind of a badass.

I could name so many more examples. I don’t know if it was the last ECT. I don’t know if it was a new medication I started the same day as my last ECT. I don’t know how long this will last, but again, I gotta make hay while the sun shines. And I have to fight.

Fighting looks like me not solely depending on my medication and ECT treatments. It means exercising, going to bed early, eating healthily, keeping a strict routine and reaching out the minute I feel like things are slipping. It sounds like a lot, or maybe it doesn’t, but I’m done with my rebellious, depressed part of me that refuses to comply with even the simplest of instructions.

When I’m not handicapped by severe depression, I’m so powerful. I radiate love and happiness. My writing flows onto paper, because my words are powerful, too. I utilize my limitless ability to care for my loved ones. I’m able to reach my full potential, instead of being a shadow or fraction of my true self. Like the phoenix, I am rising and there’s not a whole lot that can stop me.

Here are some examples of what the Real Me versus the Depressed Me are like:

The Real Me exercises, reaches out to friends, eats healthy foods, writes/blogs, goes outside, puts the TV remote down, reads for pleasure, sings all day (to the point where her family complains), cooks, bakes, showers, brushes her teeth, laughs loudly, plays with her kids even more, styles her hair, gets massages (or goes to any self-care appointment).

Depressed Me sleeps more, watches TV until having to get the kids, endlessly scrolls social media, gets in bed until she absolutely has to move, doesn’t shower, blows off doctors appointments, gives into sadness/anxiety, doesn’t smile as much, has a short fuse, is impatient and more.

Depressed Me goes to sleep at night because she can’t stand to be awake one second longer than she has to. She’s judgmental and mean about her appearance and body.

The Real Me looks forward to the future but enjoys the present.

I’m certainly enjoying right now, and although I’m cautious about the future, my outlook is finally optimistic.

As I’m writing this, I’m hoping that you don’t get the wrong idea about Depressed Me. While I would love not to experience depression and anxiety, I respect Depressed Me. She fights hard and doesn’t give into her suicidal thoughts. She’s a fighter. She’s scrappy. She has grit, and without her efforts, the Real Me wouldn’t appreciate what it’s like to be happy.

For that, I’m grateful.

To learn more about major depression and signs of depression, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness website.

If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the website here.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Me cheesing after a workout.
This is my happy face
.

A week ago I was in bad shape — severely depressed, anxious and suicidal. I went for an ECT treatment and my psychiatrist altered my medications. This week has been unbelievably better. I expected to feel a bit better because of how low I was, anything is an improvement when all you can think about is dying. What I didn’t expect was how good I’m feeling. I have energy, motivation, mental toughness and this fire in my belly that I haven’t felt in oh so long. I almost didn’t recognize it. Is this what it’s like to be happy?

Let me walk that back. I’m always happy with my life and everything I have. I’m so fortunate and grateful, even in times of deep depression. But this is something else — this is me acknowledging the “inner me,” my utmost self and she is fierce. She radiates happiness. She loves every inch of herself. She advocates for those who struggle with mental health. Her mission is to help and heal this world through whatever means possible (Tikkun Olam). She relishes in spending time with her family (for more the most part) and laughing loudly with her friends. She has grit.

I’ve been cleaning, planning and getting those annoying tasks on my to-do list checked off. That might not sound very fun but I’m doing it with joy because I just can’t do much when I’m so sad and fatigued.

This is what I aspire to and how I want to feel all the time but there are days where the only thing I can aspire to is getting dressed and taking care of the kids. But that’s OK. Not every day will be a good one but that’s exactly why I need to write this blog. I must remember this feeling when I’m down deep in the black pits of darkness and depression. I need to tell myself that happiness and wellness are attainable. That it’s possible to feel so good that your cheeks hurt from smiling and you can’t stop singing, despite complaints from your family. I just want to sing, for my heart to sing. I want to reach my potential. I want people to assume I’m manic (or on drugs, LOL) because I’m so productive and happy.

And maybe I am manic right now but I’m going to make sweet, sweet hay while the sun shines.

It’s a great day to be alive and not in bed. I cherish this day, this feeling and all of you who support me when I’m utterly depressed, manically happy and everything in between.

To learn more about depression and you can help others suffering, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

When The Bad Thoughts Win

Trigger Warning: Suicide, Suicidal Ideation
Please note that this blog was written last week and I am no longer experiencing suicidal ideation.

I was told not to write this blog but I’ve always had trouble being compliant. You see, the past week has been extremely difficult. My depression became unexpectedly worse and I’ve been suicidal. Please know that I have a safety plan and am not a danger to myself or others.

Depression can leave you feeling suicidal, please seek help if that’s the case.

But I feel the need to describe this pain because I know others experience it but few talk about it. It’s too lonely, heavy and dangerous to keep to yourself, no matter how uncomfortable it makes others. Sharing and normalizing these feelings could be life saving, though.

Right now I’m exhausted. I feel completely empty but so full of anxiety, fear and sadness all at once. I just put down the kids and as I walked down the stairs I realized I’m not going to be distracted by them for the next few hours. There’s nothing but pain to feel now. I immediately thought, “What pill can I take to not feel this way?” But the answer is always nothing, no matter what meds you have.

Tomorrow I plan on getting another ECT treatment, the one a couple of weeks ago just didn’t take. I’ll take my meds as prescribed. I’ll go to therapy. I’ll do what I need to do, even though it feels so futile sometimes. I’m holding out for hope and I’m so fortunate to have the support and therapies in place to give me that hope. Some don’t ever find it. There are those who die by suicide, and I would never judge them for that. You can’t judge others for the choices they make when you don’t know the options they had to choose from. You might even think it’s the “easier choice” to let go but you would be wrong. Nothing about mental illness, especially depression, is easy.

This past week hasn’t just been a heaviness on my chest. It’s intrusive thoughts telling myself I’m not good enough. That my family doesn’t need me around to fuck them up. That I should literally kill myself and do everyone a favor. During depressive episodes, these thoughts, sometimes worse, are on repeat in my head. And it is so, so hard to say, “Stop!” You get to the point where you think, “Which voice is right??”

But I do know. I’ve been through enough to know that my lying ass brain is just that — a liar. If you are in that headspace where you don’t have the clarity to see what’s a lie and what’s the truth, seek outside counsel. Ask your friends, (maybe) your family, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. No matter what crisis looms, you will be OK. It may hurt some more and get uncomfortable but that just means growth is coming. You are valuable and loved and needed on this Earth. I turned to my beloved mom’s group to hear this myself, and I’m so glad I did because their words helped me push through.

I can’t promise your pain will ever go away — mine hasn’t yet — but leaving this world before God calls you home will only bring pain to your loved ones. I’d like to hope all depression sufferers can tolerate the pain just long enough to find a support system, resources such as a good psychiatrist, therapist, medications and develop self-care practices. It’s also good to have a safety plan, in case you “come off the rails” and if that does happen, go easy on yourself.

Again, I’m not saying any of this is easy and I definitely don’t have all the answers. I probably won’t ever but maybe we need to ask ourself different questions…?

This shit is hard and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but it has made me stronger (sometimes annoyingly so). I have to let go of the fact that my brain isn’t “normal,” that I’ll have a life-long struggle with this disease and that sometimes I might feel like dying. That’s OK, because most of the time I want to live, and what a sweet life I lead.

I’ll leave you with something one of my mom friends said to me when I admitted I was suicidal. I hope it helps you as much as it did me.

“You are so loved. So valued. I know your heart hurts. I know your mind lies to you. Trust me when I say you are worthy, loved and freaking amazing. You are needed here.”

And I am. Thank you for everyone helping me out when I was so low.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please direct them to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their site here.

Edit: Please read this article about what to do if someone you love is suicidal and in immediate need of help.

The Other Side

Depression and anxiety are at an all-time high right now.

I’ve been dealing with depression for almost my entire adult life, so I know what healthy behaviors I should be practicing in order to have some sort of control over my illness. For instance, someone with severe depression benefits from having a routine, exercising, eating healthy, etc.

I know to stay diligent when it comes to taking my meds. To keep appointments with my psychiatrist and therapist. Last year, I spent six weeks at an inpatient psychiatric facility, so I’m also equipped with healthy coping mechanisms, as well as a safety plan if I get suicidal. 

I know what to do. So, why is it so hard to do it? Why is there a part of me that doesn’t want to be healthy? There’s another side of me that I constantly battle and no matter how many positive blogs I write about fighting depression, that other side fights to be in control. There have been times where I have let it.

No too long ago before going inpatient at the Menninger Clinic, I let the unhealthy side take over. For some reason, I stopped taking my medication. It seems so stupid; taking pills is not hard but it became an impossible task. Obviously, my mood suffered from not getting my regular meds, but I just didn’t care.

That’s how it happens — you let the unhealthy part of you in just a little and soon the pull of not caring, not having to fight to be happy, commandeers you and you start to suffer in other aspects of your life. It’s easy, so easy, to succumb to this and while there are temporary moments of pleasure, there are permanent actions that are painful. Not just for you but your family, too.

Overeating or bingeing on unhealthy foods became an almost daily occurrence. I abused my anxiety medication. I wanted to escape and those actions gave me that escape, but again, it was all temporary.

Why did I want to escape? I mean, I have an amazing life — a loving family and supportive friends. I’m very fortunate and privileged. I have everything I’ve ever needed. I’m grateful for all that, but I have a very hard time lowering the volume of the voices in my head woh tell me nonstop that I’m not worthy. That I’m an unproductive loser. That there’s no point in being healthy, because I don’t deserve good things. It’s too much work.

I know that’s my depression and anxiety talking. And I know that they’re liars. I know it all, but there’s a big difference in knowing what to do and actually doing it. Therein lies the struggle everyone with depression deals with.

I’ve been inpatient, I’ve done therapy, I’ve done ECT treatments, I’ve taken dozens of medications. I’m much better than I was but that doesn’t mean it’s not a daily fight. I’ll always be saddled with this disease and I’ll always fight that darker “other side.” I pray that I’ll always win but there is a part of me that thinks I won’t.

It’s hard fighting my own brain. Believe me when I say that my brain is an adept fighter. One of its tricks is to tell me I’m amazing one minute and then next that I should kill myself. It doesn’t fight fair. None of this is fair, not that it matters.

This blog feels like some long rant, but that’s all I got today.

Everybody struggles with depression differently. If you’d like to read more about depression and mental illness, please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal ideation, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s available 24/7.

Back to School, back to school….

I know I’m not the only writing about this but I need to get it all out — I’m worried about my kids starting school tomorrow (Aug. 12).

They go to a private preschool and are starting earlier than the public schools, which are doing virtual learning until September. My daughter will be in Kindergarten and my son will be in the Pre K-3 class.

The school has a list of safety protocols that they started for summer camp from June to July. They’ll continue these, plus they are asking kids in the 3s, 4s and Kinder classes to wear face shields.

I trust the school to do every thing they can to protect the kids, but I’m still scared to send them back. Corpus Christi is being hit very hard right now with hundreds of new Covid cases and a handful of deaths every day. This past Sunday, we had more than 1,000 cases.

Having the kids at home has been nice in some ways but it’s taken a toll on my mental health. That and not having a routine or access to my usual self-care practices has stressed me out, increased my anxiety levels and forced me to turn to unhealthy coping skills at times.

I need a break from the kids, even if it’s just a few hours while they’re at school. I need to recharge, go to therapy and have some “me time.” I would be lying if I said all that didn’t go into the decision to send my kids to school. While I feel guilty about that, I know I’m not alone in feeling what I’m feeling. Every parent is battling this.

But the kids are suffering, too. Isla and Eli miss their friends. I’m sure they miss socializing at school and having contact with someone besides each other and their parents. I’ve also noticed that Eli has regressed a little with writing his name and other words. At the beginning of the quarantine, I had elaborate lesson plans for the kids but that has deteriorated into more screen time and outdoor play.

Eli’s only 4 so I’m not worried so much about him but I’m a bit concerned with Isla. We work on her reading daily but I want her to improve and be in an environment that cultivates academic growth. And I’m also worried about her testing into the gifted and talented school. She’ll take the test in January and I want her to be prepared. It’s something that David really wants (because he attended the same school), so I support that — as long as she’s good with it, too. 

This all might sound selfish and maybe it is. Of course I do not want my kids or the rest of the family to get sick. It’s a hard decision to make and I pray every night that it’s the right one. I just want what’s best for my family; I know we all do.

I support every parents’ decision, whether it’s keeping kids at home, virtual learning or in-person learning. I pray for us all during this uncertain and scary time. 

I know we’ll get through this somehow, I’m just hoping it’ll be with as little damage as possible. No doubt this pandemic will leave scares on us all, especially children.

I’m also praying for teachers, administrators, parents and students. We are all in this together, no matter what decision we make.