Monthly Archives: February 2014

Spring Forward

March.

Such a tumultuous month, isn’t it?

So many sayings, so filled with change and rebirth.

Spring. The Ides of March. St. Patrick’s Day. In like a lion, out like a lamb.

Our first weekend of March is definitely the roar of a lion. As of right now, there’s a giant snow storm on the way, predicted to drop up to 14 inches on us. It’s frigidly cold outside.

We had a tease of warmer spring weather last weekend when it hit the upper 40’s and low 50’s. Growing up, I begged to wear shorts if it was forecast to hit 50. Years in the south jaded me and 50’s became the temp at which you bundled up. Last weekend? I wasn’t quite in shorts but I wasn’t wearing a coat either.

Last weekend was filled with hope. Birds flitted here and there. Snow melted. Grass appeared. Icicles disappeared. For the first time since early December, my heart danced with the mesmerizing rebirth that is spring.

And then.

Talk of this weekend’s storm.

Just.NO.

The birds are quiet. The icicles are re-appearing. The grass will be a distant memory after this storm, yet again. I saw large uncovered spots of grass today. Snow piles will expand, filling even more space we do not have to give to the frozen white stuff. For instance, there are parking lots with limited access and piles of snow claiming several parking spots – yesterday, at the gym, for example, I backed into a space next to a giant snow pile, with my car halfway on the pile and nearly backed into the snow pile behind it because it was one of the only spots left within proper walking space.

I’m fighting to find the silver lining at this point.

I’ve done a lot of baking. A lot. I conquered sourdough. I made sourdough bread and now make sourdough english muffins. Sourdough pancakes are above and beyond buttermilk pancakes….seriously. You want a fantastic melt in your mouth AMAZING pancake? Make a sourdough one. Dear.Sweet.FOOD.HEAVEN.

I made split pea & ham soup in the crockpot the other day. I have Borscht planned for this next week.

I am a comfort food expert at this point. Not that I wasn’t before but I have definitely expanded my horizons.

Things I’m looking forward to once warmer temperatures (finally) arrive:

  1. NO MORE SNOW.
  2. Sunshine.
  3. Birds singing.
  4. Trees with leaves.
  5. Grass, lots of it.
  6. Sitting outside in a warm breeze, drinking coffee.
  7. Warm rain.
  8. NO MORE SNOW.
  9. Summer food – lighter fare.
  10. Rabbits. Squirrels. LIFE.
  11. WARMTH.
  12. No more air that hurts my face.

I want to drive down the highway with my windows down, music blasting. I want to open the windows at home and not run the heat. I want to only see the colour white in the sky, not on the ground. I want to relish in the colour green being the prominent colour on the ground. I want to swoon over wildflowers and daffodils. I want to breathe in life and watch the Earth exhale poetry.

That’s what I want.

 

Dear Snow, It’s Not Me, It’s You

Dear Snow,

We’ve seen far too much of each other this year.

At first, it was magical, watching you turn the landscape into a winter wonderland as your flakes drifted this way and that, dancing in the air as they fell from the heavy clouds drifting lazily overhead.

Then, you insisted on dropping by every week, unannounced.Sometimes, you stopped by multiple times  and overstayed your welcome, dragging your crap with you.

Let’s talk about your buddies Frigid and Ice. Excessive cold temperatures and wintry mixes? As if excessive amounts of your crap isn’t enough to deal with? What the hell is up with dragging these idiots with you? They’re not making you look good.

You’ve littered on the lawn, the deck, the roof, the cars… you don’t pick up after yourself and you’re making it damn near impossible to go out anywhere because all you wanna do is lay around and watch Netflix whilst drinking hot cocoa.

I’m out of things to watch, I’m sick of chocolate, and quite frankly, I don’t appreciate the way your buddy Ice makes cars spin out of control. He’s a real dick, by the way. Plus, you’re getting grey and dingy around the edges.

Not to mention Frigid has the neighbors convinced they need to run their vehicles for at least 30 minutes before they go anywhere.

You gotta go. It’s over.

It’s you, not me.

I yearn for colour. For the green of grass, the purple and yellow buds of spring, the chirps of new birds, the blue sky embracing a warmer temperature.

I can’t take any more of these “looks like it’s warm outside but OH MY GOD WHY DOES THE AIR HURT MY FACE” days, Snow. I just can’t.

I am tired of looking outside at a pile of your crap higher than the windowsill. I’d like to be able to see the curbs again and not have to pull halfway out into the road just to see what the hell is around the bend thanks to the giant pile of your crap at the end of the neighborhood road.

I AM TIRED OF BEING STUCK AT HOME AND I’M SLOWLY GOING MAD.

Stop sending your fluffy magical flakes to me. They will not win me back. I’m done.

Let it go, Snow, let it go.

This is not Frozen, you are not Elsa, and Spring WILL come. The Groundhog said so.

Take your buddies Frigid and Ice with you.

All three of you are hereby evicted in favor of Warmth, Sunshine, Sanity, and GREEN GRASS.

Love, Me

PS. If you show up here again? I’m getting the flame thrower. Or catching a flight to Jamaica where I’ll stay until Spring. Who’s coming with me?

 

Owning My Pain

I had goals for today. They were sidetracked by housework which left me in a tremendous amount of pain. Then I discovered our ISP has some speed issues so instead of sitting down and resting or going to the gym to soak in the hot tub, I pushed myself to get things done and be ready for a tech to show up at any moment.

Of course, the tech did not show up until nearly 5pm.

I stood the entire time he was here, nearly 10 minutes, holding back tears the entire time. And then, I forced myself upstairs where I collapsed on the bed and proceeded to fold laundry. Why? Because folding laundry made me forget about the pain – it distracted me from the intense fire in my lower back. That’s how J found me when he arrived home not much after I sat down. He walked through our bedroom door, asked me how I was and all I could do was look at him with absolute pain and tears in my eyes.

He sprang into motion, put a SalonPas patch on my lower back and fixed me a drink. Then he helped me finish laundry, chiding me for twisting and lifting the laundry basket. He tucked me into bed, nudging pillows behind me and making sure I was properly supported. After awhile, (and after some Aleve finally), I fell asleep.

I’m sitting on the couch downstairs now and as long as I don’t move, I’m okay. Tomorrow is a new day and even if I have to crawl into the gym, I’m going to go sit in the hot tub.

I struggle with my emotions on days like today. I am stubborn and tend to push through pain. I do not accept “failure” well. This, this not being able to function as I should, is failure. Intellectually I know it is not but it feels like it. I live with a standard level of pain every day so when that pain level surges and affects me like this, it is incredibly difficult to deal with. I handle depression or mental health issues far better than this sort of thing. I know how to deal with those. I can still move around. But when this happens and I am relegated to bed? Just ugh.

Earlier this evening, as we were folding laundry together, I focused on the fact that we were together. I also focused on the sunset outside. It was gorgeous – a phenomenal combination of oranges, yellows, greys, and pinks which slid into vibrant purples, dark blues, and specks of magenta. Certainly one of the most beautiful sunsets I had seen in awhile and because of this intense pain, I had a front row seat.

It is a fight to focus on the positive instead of the pain so when I manage to do so, it is quite a victory. I talk myself into holding on until the next day, convincing myself I will feel better then which is usually the case…or at least has been thus far. I may need to take it easier than usual but I make it through.

The same holds true today. I just need to make it to bedtime. In the morning, a brand new (and better) day begins. Tomorrow, I will own the pain instead of the pain owning me.

Deciding to Disclose to Extended Family

One of the questions which inevitably comes up after a diagnosis with a mental health disorder following childbirth (or any mental health diagnosis, really), is deciding what details to share with anyone outside of immediate family.

Do you tell your boss? Your parents? Your grandparents? Cousins? How much do you disclose? What do you say? Do you risk them finding out through the grapevine (and we all remember how fabulous the game of telephone goes from childhood, right?) or do we fess up ahead of time to avoid misinformation spreading? Or do you keep it within your close little immediate family circle because no one else would understand?

All of these are perfectly valid concerns and things which should be considered.

Deciding to share your diagnosis is a personal decision. It isn’t one which should be forced and no one should demand it from you. It is YOUR diagnosis, your business, not theirs.

So how do you make the decision to share your diagnosis with others?

You consider these two questions:

1) Do they absolutely need to know? The primary consideration here rests with whether or not your diagnosis will affect their every day living. If you, for instance, are responsible for caring for your aunt’s kids after school (something which should be suspended if you’ve just had a baby anyway) but your diagnosis will delay you resuming this responsibility a bit longer, then yes, you need to tell her. But if it won’t and/or you don’t think she will be supportive, it’s probably best to not worry about bringing her into your “circle of trust” as you navigate your way back to wellness.

2) Will they be supportive? Briefly touched on in the first question, but this is a very important consideration. If you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone will be a valuable source of support, tell them if you are comfortable doing so. But if you’re not sure or you know they will judge you rather than support you, again, it is best to let them live outside the circle of trust. Post-diagnosis is all about getting you back to a place of wellness.

There are, of course, other more nuanced questions to consider but they range depending on the severity of your diagnosis, if hospitalization is necessary, and what the level of care you will need post diagnosis is expected to be. But the previous two questions are the two most important basic questions to consider when deciding to share your diagnosis with extended family.

Also important is to consider the support your spouse will need as you heal. This may involve informing some people you would rather not have first hand knowledge of your diagnosis. One thing you can do in this situation is to allow your spouse to inform them but also allow him to handle any and all discussions/questions, etc, with them rather than having them discuss things directly with you. Your stress level needs to be kept as low as possible until things begin to heal.

Tomorrow’s #PPDChat will focus on this issue of sharing your diagnosis with an extended family member. We’ll touch on all of the aforementioned issues including past experiences and hopefully offer some additional suggestions on how to handle this very common situation.

Join me tomorrow night at 830pm ET on Twitter with the hashtag #ppdchat to join in! Stay tuned for an official announcement here on the blog tomorrow morning!

 

Struggling to Find Discipline

This next week, I have a lot of writing to do. Writing which is not for this blog. I am managing content at another blog and then at the end of the week, auditioning for Listen to Your Mother.

It is a bit frustrating then, to be sitting here with a ideas hiding in the shadows, refusing to come out and play nicely. Right now, it doesn’t matter. But it will matter once the week gets rolling. This past week has been a busy one which has not allowed for much beyond the normal hubbub of daily life. I skipped writing one day this past week, in fact. I have let it go, missing writing that one day, because well, I couldn’t go back and fix it. The sleep was lovely at least.

It’s funny when you start writing on a daily basis how much a part of your life it becomes. Writing is like breathing for those of us who hold it dear to our hearts. It changes your soul, your pattern of thinking. It allows you to see things differently as life swirls around you.

Right now, the thing which frustrates me most is the lack of direction in my writing, the scattered subject matter. I took the time to pull together an editorial calendar but have yet to stick to it which is disappointing to say the least. I believe the primary issue with this is that I rarely look at the calendar. Instead, I just write when the mood strikes rather than planning ahead. Scheduling my writing would perhaps help with this issue. That way, at least, I wouldn’t be sitting here, at 10pm at night struggling to reach 500 words.

Another issue is that I am terribly old fashioned when it comes to writing notes and keeping a schedule. I adore pen & paper for this sort of thing. My editorial calendar is currently only in Google Drive. Perhaps if I took it and transferred it to my planner it would help. But then again, I haven’t been using my planner either so who knows.

One of my biggest weaknesses, folks. Discipline. I get things done right when they need to be done (and sometimes after). I have always been this way. I am struggling to improve this but in the meantime, I get angry with myself when I miss deadlines or don’t stick to a plan I have set for myself.

I am determined to change it this year, this issue with discipline. I intend to push myself harder than I have in the past and hold myself more accountable to my deadlines and tasks I have agreed to accomplish within a certain time frame.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you also struggle with the discipline needed to stay on course? What do you use to motivate you? To push through the procrastination stage into the “get ‘er done” phase? Leave your best tips in the comments below. I need them to make this the best year I have ever had – no more excuses!

 

How I Stopped Reading

It was a winter quarter back in my college days. In my haste to wrap up my major level classes, I eagerly signed up for all three courses offered without fully examining the description of each class. The subject matter alone was simple enough – Americana, 19th Century British Literature, and a course examining the “hard-boiled” novels of the American detective genre.

Had I dared to, oh, I don’t know, exercise my ability to read English, I would have quickly realized I signed away every single cell in my brain for the winter quarter.

When I showed up for registration, it still didn’t hit me. In fact, it didn’t hit me until I made it to the bookstore. I handed my class list to the student helper behind the counter and assumed the “I’ll just wait here forever” stance. The student looked at my classes then back at me then back at my class list. Her eyes grew large. She stepped away from the counter and whispered to someone, pointing at my list.

Shit.

They both scurried into action, grabbing books from all over the place, glancing at me in the midst of the insanity.

At the end of the mad rush amidst the books stocked for the quarter, they handed me no less than 18 novels.

I’m going to type that again so it sinks into your brain.

They handed me no less than 18 novels.

EIGHTEEN NOVELS.

EIGHTEEN.

FOR NINE WEEKS OF SCHOOL.

These were not light novels, not the romantic sweep you off your feet beach books you schlepp along with you to the doctor’s office or somewhere else you can quickly catch a glimpse of heaving bosoms.

No. These were books like Sister Carrie by Dreiser, The Rise of Silas Lapham by Howells, David Copperfield by Dickens, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Radcliffe, The Maltese Falcon by Hammett, Night Train by Amis, Child of God by McCarthy, and McTeague by Norris among others I’m sure I’ve long forgotten for a number of reasons.

I read two novels a week for the first four weeks. Then, my brain, in the middle of the night, turned off. It refused to send signals to my fingers to enable me to open a book. I tried, desperately, to crack open another book but all that happened was me, sitting there, holding the book, words swirling about in my head as my brain constantly signaled it was filled to capacity with knowledge.

I managed to scan the required sections of the remaining books but couldn’t bring myself to read the entire novels for the remainder of the quarter. In fact, I did not read a complete reputable book for over five years. That’s right. Me. The girl with a degree in English Literature, did not touch a single book for over five years.

Talk about being completely out of my element. I started writing when I was six. I devoured books as if they were smarties while growing up. But there was something about being forced to read 18 hardcore novels in such a short span time which killed a breaker in the “I love books” part of my brain.

In the past couple of weeks, I have devoured two books. One of them was only 87 pages long but it was by far the most difficult of all the books. It is both exhilarating and wonderful to be reading at this pace again. I find myself looking forward to opening books again, which is a pleasant surprise.

There’s only one caveat to this rediscovered love of reading – I will only read books made from dead trees. No ebooks for this gal, no sir. 100% dead tree for me or no words at all. That’s my dedication to books and I’m sticking to it.

On Walking Through Life as a Postpartum Mood Disorder Survivor

I had a very interesting discussion yesterday as part of an interview with a woman who is putting together a proposal for a book about Perinatal Mood Disorders. Both of us struggled with PP OCD and for the first time, I think we nailed it when we discussed how Postpartum becomes part of your life, even after the initial “crisis” phase passes.

You see, struggling with a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder affects your entire life. It affects how you function, how you relate to everyone and everything around you, and it ultimately changes your outlook on life. This change, this transformation, at least for me, is directly related to know just how far down I slid when it struck me from out of the blue the first time around.

Diagnosis is one of the first steps toward healing. Diagnosis leads you to help and regaining your footing on the proper path. We all walk different paths and for some of us, our diagnosis becomes our mask. For others, it becomes just one part of us. Or for others, it becomes the very definition of who we are as a person, a mother, and whatever else we are…some become the personification of a PMAD. One of the things we hit on is how women who do not define themselves completely as their diagnosis find it easier to heal because for them, it’s essentially a broken leg instead of a full body cast if that makes sense. It doesn’t take as long to heal just one part vs. the whole thing. Even then, there are always mitigating factors affecting the pace of individual healing.

When you fight back, you develop coping mechanisms to pull yourself through. These look different for everyone and depend on how defined you allow your sense of self to be by the diagnosis of a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. It is also important to note that these coping mechanisms may continue to be part of your life for the remainder of your days. It takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Therefore, it makes sense that if you continue something for longer than 21 days, it will become a habit. Whether this habit is healthy or not is up to you and your physician to decide. If it’s minor, no worries. But if it affects your normal day-to-day functioning, it might be time to evaluate things and consider breaking this “habit” as it isn’t healthy.

Do I still carry some of my OCD habits with me from my Postpartum days? Absolutely. But I know they are not a sign that I am still fighting the beast. They are there because they were a part of who I was for a very long time. There are still signals that speak to me and let me know that I am spiraling down the dark path once again, however. My habits tend to increase and begin to interfere with my day to day living when this happens. For instance, I will obsessively brush my hair, stop listening to music, and start looking for things to be upset about if I start to feel overly stressed. Learning to recognize these is a huge leap forward and learning to accept that little quirks you developed with Postpartum are just that, quirks, is also a huge leap forward.

Today was a huge milestone for me. I cleaned and organized the entire first floor of our town house because it needed it, not because I needed to do it. Yes, the clutter was bugging me but not to the point that it made me twitchy. To clean and not “need” to clean felt fantastic. In fact, I’m sitting here, basking more in the accomplishment of having cleaned NOT because of my OCD and because it needed it than in the fact that the downstairs (including the front closet) is completely spotless.

Our habits stay with us after Postpartum because we have immersed ourselves in them for so long as a coping mechanism. Sometimes we have thoughts that carry us back to those dark days and it is important to recognize them as such – just thoughts, not an actual fall back into the dark hole (unless they persist for more than a week or two – then you may want to seek help). Some of us may move on to a deeper, lifelong diagnosis of a daily fight against mental health. But the thing to remember is that you are YOU. You are not your diagnosis, you are not your habits. You are YOU and YOU are amazing, even when it is darkest.

A Brief Bad Poetry Analysis

A writing friend of mine shared a link with me the other day, prefaced by the following words: “If you ever feel down about a piece you wrote…”

I received it just as I was struggling to write for the day. I read it. Then I read it again. And then, I thought to myself, wow. Anything I write now will be gold, Jerry. GOLD.

I messaged this “epic description” of the poem to him yesterday: “It’s like she played Twister with a Thesaurus, writing down the words as she went, mashing them all together in one long horrific string.”

It’s that bad, people. What is it?

It’s poetry. Seriously awful poetry by none other than Kristen Stewart. But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, right? I mean, we are talking about an actress who really only has one reaction to everything – a total non-reaction.

Her poem is entitled “My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole.”

So your heart is a ball of white plastic with holes punched in it? Mmmmmk. If you Google Freedom Pole (which I did), all that comes up is article after article about this stupid poem. Because obviously, none of us know what the hell a Freedom Pole is except for Ms. Stewart.

The first verse:

“I reared digital moonlight/

You read its clock, scrawled neon across that black/

Kismetly … ubiquitously crest fallen/

Thrown down to strafe your foothills/

…I’ll suck the bones pretty.

Digital moonlight? LED digital…oh hell. Kismetly isn’t even a word. But kismet is – so there’s destiny and fate…everywhere all at once disappointed. But Ms. Stewart? Crestfallen is ONE DAMN WORD. Apparently this verse, the best I can gather, is about the disappointment of a clock waking her, and she throws it off the side table then for some odd reason, sucks bones pretty. I’m shuddering at the mere thought of Kristen Stewart sucking anything. Pass the brain bleach?

There’s more.

The second verse:

Your nature perforated the abrasive organ pumps/

Spray painted everything known to man/

Stream rushed through and all out into/

Something Whilst the crackling stare down sun snuck/

Through our windows boarded up/

He hit your flint face and it sparked.

Abrasive organ pumps? This line immediately after the line about sucking bones pretty… and then apparently someone has spray painted everything known to man, a stream rushed through and all out into. How does something rush all out into, exactly? If it’s rushing all out then into? Into what? Something Whilst the crackling stare down… is she being stared down by Pork Rinds? Then apparently sun snuck through the windows boarded up (then they weren’t boarded up very well, were they? And if this is the crackling stare down, um, you might be entirely too close to the sun or whatever shack you’re in is on FIRE.) A face made of flint that sparks. Fabulous. But what the hell does a flint face have to do with your heart being a wiffle ball/freedom pole? WAIT. IS the freedom pole what spray painted everything???? I’m so hopelessly lost.

Let’s move on, shall we?

Verse three:

And I bellowed and you parked/

We reached Marfa/

One honest day up on this freedom pole/

Devils not done digging/

He’s speaking in tongues all along the pan handle/

And this pining erosion is getting dust in/

She’s bellowing now. Apparently this is what one does when one sees a flint face spark. One bellows. Duly noted. Then someone parks. Parks what, exactly? Their freedom pole? What the hell is Marfa? Texas? The film festival? An honest day on the freedom pole. Does Marfa have a freedom pole? Are we talking about a flagpole here? Has Kristen Stewart been listening to far too much Harvey Danger and decided to flip “Flagpole Sitta” for her own hopeless hipster poetry? It makes sense that Marfa is in Texas now that she references the Devil speaking in tongues all along the pan handle. The dust reference makes sense too because well, Marfa is a desert city. Finally! Something I understand, dammit. (Marfa? My condolences for being immortalized in this poem. Really. You don’t deserve this. You deserve better.)

Fourth verse:

My eyes/

And I’m drunk on your morsels/

And so I look down the line/

Your every twitch hand drum salute/

Salutes mine.”

The dust is in her eyes? That’s a bitch. No, really, it is. There’s nothing worse than dust in your eyes when you’re on top of a freedom pole in the middle of the desert, right? Now Kristin is drunk on the morsels of her companion. WAIT. WHAT? She killed her companion in the middle of the desert and is nomming on the remains??? WHOA. She’s looking down the line as the hand twitches, saluting hers? KRISTIN. The hell, dude? WE EAT FOOD. Twilight was just a movie, honey, not real life. We do NOT EAT PEOPLE IN THIS DIMENSION. (Also? A little clarification goes a long way and is perfectly acceptable in poetry, honey.)

There we have it. The poem in it’s entirety. I’m left wondering why Kristen Stewart’s heart is a Wiffle Ball Bat though. Or what a Wiffle Ball Bat has to do with a Freedom Pole (flag pole?). The only correlation of which I can think is that both Wiffle Ball Bat and Freedom Pole reference things that are at the heart of Americana which is baseball and the American Flag. However, the remainder of the poem has absolutely no redeeming patriotic value to it whatsoever so….. I’m left holding morsels of my brain in my hand, wondering what the hell I just read and analyzed.

To quote Ms. Stewart’s thoughts regarding a post-writing reaction: “Holy f**k, that’s crazy”

Yes, Ms. Stewart, yes it is. Totally crazy.

Source for this post: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/kristen-stewart-writes-worst-poem-of-all-time-9121635.html