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MDD and Me?

I am one of the 9.9 million Americans who will be diagnosed as having  Major Depressive Disorder in one given year.  Many of those will suffer just one “episode”, while others, like me, will battle for the rest of their lives. 

Only the closest of my family and friends know when my MDD is kicking my ass.  I’ve gotten pretty good at playing pretend when it comes to the apathy, lethargy, and all the other outward symptoms.  It’s not uncommon for someone who has dealt with this disease for years to be able to hide it from those in the general population…and that’s a concern.

Mental illness should not be shameful.  It should not be something that is swept under the carpet as being “no big deal”, either.  And, recently, it appears that it’s at the root of a terrible, tragic shooting that took 6 people from this world and injured many more.  It’s time to take a look at what “mental illness” looks like so that it’s not hiding in the shadows.

It’s not easy for me to talk about my MDD because there is shame involved.  Why can’t I just make this go away?  Why can’t I just “snap out of it”?  I should have more control over my emotions!!  However, I’ve learned over the years that it’s not a lack of control.  It’s a medically verifiable issue with chemicals in my brain that causes my MDD to kick in and the best I can do without medication is to try to manage the symptoms.  I will never “fix” what is wrong, what make me different.  One of the things I can do, though, is trying to help other people to understand what my side of this world is like.

Symptom #1 – Lethargy.  I naturally enjoy sleeping, but when my MDD gets going in full gear, I can sleep a full 8 hours, and then have to nap for 3 hours or more in the afternoon.  It’s not just “I’d like a nap.”  If I don’t go and sleep I will literally fall asleep in the middle of other things.

Symptom #2 – Insomnia Although it seems to make sense that if I slept less during the day I’d be able to sleep at night I will remind you that napping in the afternoon isn’t optional.  Secondly, if I do manage to go the whole day without napping I will still be wide awake by 9pm and usually won’t be able to get to sleep until at least 2am.  It doesn’t matter if I’ve napped or not…when the insomnia hits, it’s sleep when I can or go days (or weeks) with around 3 hours of sleep a night.

Symptom #3 – Sadness, fear, and/or inability to feel emotion (apathy) My MDD takes the face of apathy much more often than fear and occasionally more often than sadness.  I recognize that I’m apathetic when it’s happening.  I want desperately to “feel normal” and will usually be able to still help friends/family troubleshoot in their lives when they would like advice…but this is the time when it’s nearly impossible to get me on the phone, find me on the computer, or get me to respond with more than a few words in a text.  It’s not that I don’t want to help or listen to what’s going on in someone’s life…I do.  I am just reminded about how much I don’t care when I’m asked to do that…and it hurts me that I’m unable to give of myself the way I “should” be able to.

Symptom # 4 – Feeling/Fear of abandonment by loved ones As the apathy really gets in gear and I pull farther and farther away from people around me, I start feeling abandoned by them.  “Why is no one calling?  I have so few friends and now even THEY don’t want anything to do with me.  My kids hate me.  Why does my husband even bother to stay married to me?”  These are common questions and thoughts for me.

Symptom # 5 – Agitation/Irritability/Anger This is probably the most embarrassing symptom for me.  When in the depths of the darkness that is MDD I will snap about almost anything and although I realize what I’m doing, and even why I’m doing it, I’m almost powerless to stop it from happening.  My husband bears the brunt of this symptom, usually, although my children do sometimes get yelled at for things that normally wouldn’t bother me. 

Symptom # 6 – Loss/Lack of Concentration Irritating, to be sure…and then starts the thoughts of “I’m so stupid”, etc.

Symptom # 7 & 8 – Sensitivity to Noise and Inattention to Personal Hygiene Number 7 is pretty self-explanatory but number 8 I need to say takes different forms for different people and although it’s incredibly embarrassing to post…I wanted to be honest in what I deal with to give you as good of an understanding as I could.  I still bathe regularly while my MDD is kicked in, but I’ll let my hair go a week without washing it, I’ll forget (or don’t bother with) deodorant for 2 or 3 days, I’ll go 3 days or more without brushing my hair and since I despise shaving on good days, I’ll just stop completely during an MDD episode.  I can “get away” with this because of two reasons.  First, I’m a stay-at-home mom by design.  No work means that when an MDD episode hits, I don’t have to force my way through it.  Secondly, I rarely leave the house when I’m in the middle of an episode.  In fact, it’s like pulling teeth to get me to leave. 

Those are my main symptoms, the things I fight each time an episode comes knocking on my door.  There are other things, little things, that don’t always happen.  I rarely have suicidal thoughts, although they do happen on occasion.  I used to sob uncontrollably for hours and rarely do that now. 

It should be noted that Clinical Depression (Or Major Depressive Disorder) is currently the leading cause of disability in the United States.  That makes sense to me since I know how debilitating it actually is to live with this.  I have been urged by members of my family to seek to be declared “disabled”.  I refuse.  To me, going on disability because of MDD seems like letting MDD win and I’m too competitive to allow that to happen. 

I was diagnosed in my early 20’s…a few years ahead of “average” age.  I have used medication in the past to get through exceptionally rough episodes but choose to remain un-medicated as much as possible.  I’m not sure it’s the smartest choice, but it’s the right one for me.  I live with Clinical Depression/ Major Depressive Disorder, I’m not alone, and neither are you, if you live with it, too.

If these symptoms are you, seek the advice of your trusted family physician.  I am followed exclusively by my family physician instead of someone in the psychiatric community and have gotten wonderful, gentle, compassionate care in that way.

If these symptoms are someone you love, urge them to seek help.  Let them know that they don’t have to feel like that, that it does get better.  The one thing that helped motivate me (and man was I mad when it was first pulled on me!) was to tell me, “Remember what it was like to grow-up with a parent like that?  Do you want to do that to YOUR kids??”   But even through my anger, it made sense and I went to the doctor for the first time and they rest, as they say, is history.

You Can’t Go Back

So much lately has been reminding me of days-gone-by.

I’ve been thinking about my family…many, many memories of such good times, and a few bad ones.  How I miss my mom and all the celebrations we’ve not had since she died.   (See previous post)

But one posting today by someone only the Lord knows I never thought I’d have anything in common with really touched me…and then I went back to the “info” page and realized why it did so much.

It took me back to the days when I still worked at the school.  I was a “teacher’s associate”, “teaching assistant”, “para-educator”……..it was something I never in a million years would have seen myself doing.  But when I found that job it just…*clicked*.  The first “year” I spent as a one-on-one with a student who just couldn’t manage to keep himself from getting in trouble in and out of school.  My second year I was with high-schoolers (9-12 grades) and really got into my groove.  My third year I got my “dream job” as the associate in a self-contained behavior-disorder room at our local jr. high with a teacher who really LOVED teaching.  This wasn’t his dream job…but he loved teaching so much it didn’t matter….he did an incredible job.

Anyway….

That year I met Justin as one of “my kids”.  He was an open-enrollment student from another district because of all the problems he’d had but I didn’t know it at the time.  He was just one of my kids.  I had 5 in my room.  I came to love them all very quickly, each in their own way and for their own reasons.  I wanted so much for them.  I took time to try to get to know each one…one of the biggest benefits of having a self-contained room!

Believe me when I tell you that it was one of the most stressful years of my life, too….but, man, how I enjoyed saying “good-bye” to each one of those kids at the end knowing that they’d learned enough to pass them onto the next class.  And, I will tell you, they didn’t get a merit pass from us! LOL  They had to KNOW it before we said “Ok”.

The following year I was lucky enough to be able to keep in touch with two of the kids I’d had the year before….they shared with me, I shared with them that I was pregnant with an unexpected “blessing”. LOL  One of the kids, Justin, always called me “The Hammer”…and nicknamed my daughter, Sabrina, “Honey Ham”.  When he found out I was expecting, he nicknamed the baby “Canned Ham”.  Any time I saw him after that he’d ask me how the “Canned Ham” was doing.

Even after I’d left working at the school…I’d made sure he had my cell number.  Just one of those things.  We’d talked about meeting for bowling “one of these days”.

I got the news by phone from a couple of people I’d worked with…both wanting to make sure I knew about it before it was reported anywhere.  I’d been out of the school for well over a year, pushing two.  Justin had hanged himself.  He was gone.  Suicide had claimed another “number”.

I can’t imagine what those who loved him more than I, and lost him, feel….I, honestly, hope I never do.  But I do know that he changed my life while I was “teaching” him, and even after and I still think about him today.

I guess the thing I want any of you who read this to know is that it doesn’t matter if the kid is “the trouble-maker”, a jock, one of “the weird kids”….they all matter to someone even if it’s not you.  They’re someone’s sister, brother….mom or dad.  They *do* matter. 

Even if it’s just to one “teacher’s associate” who had him for one year who wishes to God he’d called her just one more time.

Tis the Season

I miss Mom most acutely at this time of year.  It’s not that I don’t miss her the rest of the year…I don’t think it’s possible not to miss her.  But we were a family that had traditions.  LOL  Seems strange to say that now. 

It was one of the hardest things about being the “married” one of the kids.  I had TWO families to balance on holidays…Thanksgiving was the worst, I think!  My husband’s parents would have Thanksgiving ON the day…so did MY family…for the longest time.  Mark and I would go to his parents house (they live just down the road), eat dinner with them and the extended family there, and then we’d travel to Mom’s and have ANOTHER dinner there because my family usually ate our Thanksgiving dinner later in the day…2 or 3 o’clock. 

My first time cooking an actual Thanksgiving dinner came the November after Mom died.   I had no actual plans ON Thanksgiving since we’d finally gotten his parents used to doing it on the weekend instead of on Thanksgiving Day.  My brother and sister-in-law and their kids came out. 

We did the same last year.

This year?  No idea.  I have all the makings for our dinner and I’m planning on cooking one just for us, if that’s what it comes down to.  I haven’t talked to my brother/sister-in-law yet to know if they have plans.

I remember having to get used to NOT spending Christmas Eve at Mom’s.  That was a big change!!  Even my first year married I insisted on spending the night at Mom’s!!!  The following year it became apparent that I had to “grow up”, much to my dismay.  The year after I had a baby of my own to celebrate Christmas with…but I still missed Mom’s on Christmas Eve!  We’d play board games, cards, sit up and drink coffee and laugh…and laugh…and laugh.

My family dissolved when Mom died. 

We do not get together for holidays anymore. 

We do not get together for much of anything.  But I’m lucky that my brother and his family are right here in town.  If I really need a dose of “family” I can always go see them.  Mike’s usually at his Pub during the day…he’s pretty easy to find!  My sister and I spent a few days together with our daughter’s this summer that were quite nice and I really appreciated the time.

But I miss my “family” the way it once was…when we could always count on seeing each other on Easter, the 4th of July, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  There were birthdays, holidays, and all kinds of not-so-special occasions where we would all gather together. 

It’s incredibly hard to go through holidays without my family…but I’m learning to make new memories with my own family and Mark’s family like I’ve never done before.  I’m blessed with in-laws that have enveloped me in love and support and who I now, regularly, call Mom and Dad…I never would have imagined that!!  I’m also blessed with friends that remind me that “family” isn’t necessarily blood-lines….Family is in the heart.

And with that I leave you all with a heart-felt wish for a Happy Thanksgiving and prayers that all of your holiday’s are filled with love, happiness, and above all else, laughter!

So Much Going On…

It has been so long since I’ve sat down and written anything other than a quick note on Facebook.  I suppose it’s time to drop some thoughts on here so I have room to actually explain myself!

First, my children.

I’m amazed, lately, watching Xavier grown by leaps and bounds both physically and mentally.  This little boy that we brought home three years ago at right around 6 lbs (and he was a month old!) and attached to an oxygen monitor and an oxygen tank is a healthy, happy, ACTIVE little boy now.  We’ve actually had people ask why he wasn’t in school during the day!  Quite a change from people wondering how such a tiny little baby was walking (he was a year old and fit in 6-9 month clothing).   We also wondered if he would EVER start talking.  I remember sitting with the gals that did his developmental screenings and lamenting on his lack of verbal communication.  They told me that since 1) he was the second child and 2) he was so incredibly mobile, it didn’t surprise them that he didn’t talk a lot.  He now talks very well…most people can even understand some of what he says! LOL  Now the debate begins at our house about clipping or not.  Xavier is extremely tongue-tied.  He can not stick his tongue out…at all.  We’re lucky if it reaches his bottom lip.  Watching him try to lick an ice cream cone wavers between hysterical and sad.  But mostly we’re concerned about it effecting his speech.  He does not say the “s” sound at all…they are “h”s.  There are others, too, but hearing “Habrina” is all too common around here and it sticks out.  His doctor has said that she’s willing to send him, now, to have the clipping done and assured me it’s quick and simple.  I asked to wait just a bit longer (she gave me 6 months) to be sure it’s the tongue and not just “him”…I mean, Sabrina said “grrrrr-affe” for years and she didn’t have any tongue problems! LOL  Mainly, I think it’s my unwillingness to do anything to him intentionally that will hurt that’s holding me back.  After all he went through to begin with, I don’t like the idea of saying, “Ok, now hold still while the dr. takes a pair of scissors and clips under your tongue.” 

As far as Sabrina goes…she’s growing-up so fast!  We’ve colored her hair for the first time.  She wanted to be a red-head since I wouldn’t allow white-blonde or black.  Her grandmother freaked out.  Her grandfather immediately looked at me and chuckled.  I assured them both that Mark and I agreed on it…and there are FAR worse things a pre-teen girl can be doing to express herself than coloring her hair.  We’ve started buying her clothes (at least some of them) from places other than Wal-Mart and Target…you know, mall stores…with the understanding that she’d GET less by doing that.  She was ok with the trade-off.  LOL  It’s hard to imagine her as the toddler she was when I look at her now.  I have to drag out pictures every so often…and then I cry.  I can’t decide if I’m crying because she’s growing older or I am, though!

She was talking about who in her grade was “dating” (a term that makes me laugh every time she says it ’cause there’s no actual *dating* going on) whom and complained, “I’m the only one of my friends that hasn’t had an ‘actual’ boyfriend.”  My response was, “There is NOTHING wrong with that…sometimes it’s better that way.”  I know she won’t believe me.  She’s 11…and I’m wrong about everything.  She did tell me there’s a boy in her class who is always staring at her in classes they have together…and smiles at her…and she thinks he likes her.  “But he doesn’t ‘date’, Mom.”  Again, all I could say was, “There’s nothing wrong with that…you guys are 11 and 12 years old!”  This boy she was talking about, however, isn’t the same one she’s crushed on since kindergarten.  I’m kind of glad to see her at least noticing other boys! LOL

She also has one very good “guy friend” that she’s pal-ed around with for years now.  If any of you saw the photos of the IA/IA State game visit by WHO-TV with Sabrina in them…he’s the one that was with her in most of them.  He’s a nice kid and has a wonderful sense of humor…and we don’t worry about them hanging out together.  I even allowed them to walk to the store together that day without me! LOL  It’s one of those situations where I *get a feeling* that he’s not a threat in the least…if you get my meaning.:)

Now, on to other things…

I love politics…but I’m SUPER glad this election cycle is over.  I was getting really tired of the commercials and flyers showing up in my mailbox.  Thankfully we don’t have a land-line anymore or I’d have been pulling my hair out from all the calls, too, I’m sure.  Just another benefit of going “cell only”.

I made it through breast cancer awareness month without actually vomiting from all the pink.  I’ve now moved on to November being lung cancer awareness month and what *I* can do to raise awareness around me.  I’ve sent a request to the gov. asking that Iowa declare November officially as Lung Cancer Awareness Month.  Haven’t even seen a reply about it, yet, let alone saying they’d do it.  Big surprise.  There was an election looming…and now we’re going to be changing hands in January….so I’ll just have to keep sending the request.  I’ve started posting things here and there on different boards and making sure that the “about me” section of my profiles say that I’m willing and able to answer questions people may have about lung cancer.  So far I’ve actually had a couple questions…it surprised me and made me happy to be able to share information.  It’s a little step, but a step non-the-less.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching.  Seems that time moves more quickly the older I become because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t but a couple of weeks ago that school started!  Oh well…time to start making plans for our family dinner!  We usually have three dinners we attend in the weeks surrounding the actual holiday.  I’m not sure what we’re doing this year.  There is so much “winterizing” going on here at home that we’ve not had time to even talk about it!  I’m sure we’ll buy a turkey and all the fixings for here at home regardless of what else we might end up doing.  I like to make Thanksgiving dinner for us to have on the actual holiday.  It’s a special holiday for me, personally…a day for me to remember that, no matter how *bad* things may be, I have so very much to be thankful for each day.

Grammar Headache!

Ok, after reading other people’s comments on FB for a while, I have a screaming headache and feel the need to write ONE simple sentence to explain my irritation…

“I’m looking over *there* for *their* stuff because *they’re* mad that they can’t find it.”

There (LOL), now I feel better. At least until I start reading comments again!

I don’t think there was a name that could be LESS unique than “Melissa” during my growing-up years. 

I, simply, went to school with 5 other “Melissa’s” in my grade and the one below me….and that was just the ones I was “friends” with…I’m sure there were at least two more!

Oddly, I think, we all had different middle names.  There was Kay (mine), Anne (my best friend’s), Mae, Sue…and a slew of others that I can’t remember right now.  But we all were separate ONLY by our middle names.

I remember loving my name when I was younger and not knowing it was “Melissa”.  I was “Missy”.  No one called me anything but that except for an elderly couple that watched us between the time that we were done with school and Mom got home.  To the elderly gentleman (Walter…God love him and bless him in Heaven!) I was always “Mitzy”. 

When I was in 5th grade, I made my first and only switch in schools.  I went from a small-town school (I started school in a “township” school in the country!) to a mid-sized school for our area.  It was then that I became “Melissa”. 

I was called “Michelle” more times than I care to remember, once I’d gotten into the larger school.  I guess I must look like one, or something?!?  Or maybe it was because there were just so many “Melissa”s?  Either way, it became annoying to me very quickly.  We all tried all kinds of variations.  Mom boiled when I wanted to try out “Mel” because it didn’t seem as “old” as “Melissa” but not as “young” as “Missy”.  But she let me…..and soon the interest waned and I was back to either “Melissa” or “Missy”.

By the time I graduated from high school, though, there was one other “Melissa” who was like a sister to me.  I’m blessed to still have her as a friend.  But, even more so than when we were in school, finding our own identity became a struggle.

She was “Missy” or “Mitzy” to her family and friends.  I was “Missy” almost exclusively to anyone who knew me outside of school.  We came to a compromise after one of her friends put me in touch with her cousin…and we started meeting her “Melissa’s house”.   I was “Missy” and she was the hybrid, “Missa”.  It kept us separate, but able to still be ourselves.

Almost 15 years later she’s still “Missa” to our family and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen her sis-in-law call her that, too, even when I’m not around!  I’m still “Missy”….I’ve come to love the name that used to make me feel “like a kid”.   At home (around her Dad and step-mom, etc) she’s “Missy”, too….but when we’re together, she’s “Missa” and I’m “Missy”.  And that’s just how it’s supposed to be, I think.  It fits perfectly.  It feels right.  It’s life as it should be. 

And I’m so glad that “Missa” is mine!😉

Me: Hey, how’s it going tonight?

Mom: Eh…it’s going.

Me: Not so good?

Mom: not really

Me: How come?

Mom: What do you think is the overdose on Fentanyl is?

Me: Not sure, guess I could look it up.

Mom: yeah

Me: (after doing a search) {{I gave her the amt/mg for what’s considered an overdose}}

Mom: So what do you think I need to take over that to actually manage it?

Me: Mom?  I really don’t want to give you that information….but I can understand why you want it.  I just really don’t want to.

Mom: I know kiddo

Me: Do you really want to know?  (Now, this was right after she’d been told that her “shoulder pain” was a metastasis and that she couldn’t have much more radiation to her brain) 

Mom: Actually yes  I do

Me: ::{{I told her}}

Mom: Thank you

Me: Please, think about it before you do anything.  I love you…and as much as this sucks, I want to love you as long as I can

Mom: I love you, too

That was the end of it.  She didn’t act on the information she got from me…I guess, thankfully.  In the end it was hard to decide if it was “easier” to see her slip away at the hospice or, perhaps, to have not seen her “slip away” had she chosen to do what she was asking me about.  All-in-all, it was about her “grandbabies” and what she wanted for them.  She didn’t want them to know she’d killed herself…of that I’m sure.  So, instead of taking “the easy way out”, she lived as long as she was allowed on this Earth…to let them know that with God’s help, all things are possible….even saying “goodbye” to those you care about the most.❤

We went for our yearly (ok, it’s been two years, I won’t lie) eye exams on Saturday.  Sabrina was not-so-secretly hoping she’d need glasses.  I’m not sure why someone would want them, but I vaguely remember feeling the same way before I had to get them, too…when I was 5.  Yes, I’ve had to have vision correction since I was 5 and my kindergarten teacher called Mom and said, “She can’t see the board.”

After 30 years of regularly going to the eye doctor, I don’t get surprised much.  It’s pretty standard.  I go in, my doc (the same one for the last 30 years, actually!) checks to see how my contacts are holding up, I take them out and am tortured by the puff of air for the glaucoma test, then I blindly find my way back to the exam room and go through the “does it look better this way…or….this way” exam.  Then he tells me either we have to increase my correction or it’s remained the same.  That’s just how it goes.

Until this year. 

My eyes actually got better.  So did Mark’s.  Our optometrist is stumped.  He told me, laughing, if mine continue to improve at this rate by the time I’m 101 years old I’ll have perfect vision again.  But he can’t explain why both of us showed improvement for the first time in all the years we’ve worn glasses/contacts.

We’ve decided to give the “blame” for this happy news to Xavier.  My theory is this: The stress from him is somehow causing our vision to improve since we have to watch him like a hawk to make sure he’s not getting into something or doing something he shouldn’t be.  This would also explain why, as people get older, they need reading glasses, etc. even when they’ve had perfect vision before then.  Their kids leave home and they no longer have the stress of children!

However, apparently stressful toddlers cause their older siblings to get glasses.  Sabrina will get her first pair on Saturday when we go pick them up.  The frames she picked out (with liberal help from Mom) are really quite adorable.  Mark and I had never purchased our own glasses since we’ve worn contacts for a good long time…basically since our parents stopped paying for this stuff for us!  We had no clue how expensive they were…or even how our vision insurance would work in helping to pay for them.  Turns out we have exceptional vision insurance.  They guy told me they almost never bother with it once they see what the discount will be because their in store promotions usually are a better deal.  However, our insurance paid well over 50% of the cost for Sabrina’s.  Still more expensive than the Wal-Mart $38 for a complete pair (I need to check into that…we haven’t yet) but overall, we’re happy with the cost and the product.

That’s it for another year…new contacts for Mark and I and glasses for Sabrina.  The fun just keeps going and going!

I’m now into my second week since starting therapy for my PTSD and have been congratulated by the therapist on doing well between my first two appointments.  I explained that the CD he gave me really seemed to help ease a bit of the anxiety when we had a big storm roll through…and I haven’t run even when I wanted to.

However, since then we’ve had storms (or the chance of since not all hit us) of some whoppers of storms every single night and my nerves are fried.  I haven’t been sleeping, first of all, because Xavier messed up my weather radio and I haven’t figured out how to get it programmed for my county again.  It alerts for the county to our south-east.  Yup, that’s real helpful.  No sleep after three days leaves me physically not able to function…and all the stress on top of not sleep leaves me mentally unable to function, either.

I went to sleep last night at 10:30pm when the local weather people said it would be a few hours before any storms got here.  I woke at 2am, looked at the radar, and said, “Screw it, I’m going back to sleep.”  Woke at 4:45 when Mark left for work and turned off my radar (and turned it back on).  And then woke at 8am when Xavier was ready to get up.  I guess it had rained a bit here and there at some point.  I didn’t hear it.  And even though the sleep was broken-up, I feel like I’ve actually GOTTEN some sleep and am now prepared to take on today/tonight weather-wise and make it through to tomorrow (when it’s supposed to finally stop storming for a few days!!).

Making it through to tomorrow will bring on a whole new set of stressors, though.

First, we have our bi-annual eye exams.  It shouldn’t be a big deal…but we have three of us who have to get checked and one toddler who gets really irritated at having to wait an hour and a half for us to all get done.  Sabrina’s reached the age where she thinks it would be “cool” to have glasses.  She’s convinced she needs them.  If she only knew how much of a pain in the butt it is to not be able to see without help.  Like, I’ve been wearing the same set of contacts day and night for the past year or so. (Yes, I know it’s bad for you.) I would normally take them out at night…but Xavier broke my glasses and we’ve not had the money to replace them.  AND, I got to my last set of contacts last year and realized I was over-due for an exam, so I couldn’t get new ones until I saw the eye doctor.  No time to do that.  So, same contacts for the past year.  I’m lucky that I can do it…most people couldn’t.

Xavier thought about throwing a wrench into the works yesterday with an unexpected bout of puking.   We’re still not sure what it was all about.  It came out of nowhere and seemed to go back to wherever it came from just as quickly after a nap.  He’s back to his old self and we’re baffled…but at least we won’t have to cancel our anniversary plans!

Mark and I will be married 14 years on Tuesday the 27th.  Tuesdays don’t work well for celebrating much of anything…so we’re doing it this weekend.  Saturday evening/night, to be precise.  This also brings about some stress.  Not the anniversary *heehee*, we’re proud of having been married this long and still loving each other.  But we’re actually going to be at a hotel for the first time since our wedding night without the kids.  I wouldn’t stress about it except for the fact the kids are staying at their grandparents.  With Sabrina, she was always at one set or another’s.  After the first time, I was pretty relaxed about her staying the night if Mark and I wanted to go out or just wanted a break.  With Xavier, though, it’s been totally different.  HE’S totally different.

He’s never spent the night anywhere without Mark or me.  Granted, his “sissy” will be with him and so will grandma which in and of itself should be enough to calm me.  However, grandma doesn’t pay as much attention to keeping him safe as I think she needs to…and that terrifies me.  And he DOES have to be watched to keep him safe.  He will get into anything and everything he can just to see what it does or could do if you mess with it enough.  He eats anything he picks up (last night it was the lead from a mechanical pencil *sighs*), he climbs on stuff he shouldn’t…and falls.  And they have one hell of a staircase that’s got me wound-up.  And no “baby gate” at the top or bottom to keep him off of them.  *Sighs* 

I know that he’ll be fine.  They raised two active boys in that home.  And sissy will be there to help watch over him, too.  I just don’t want to have the anxiety over him keep me from enjoying our anniversary get-away!

We’re going to the hotel that has freebies of all sorts.  Free foods from 5:30-7:30 including 3 free drinks per adult.  Free full breakfast in the morning.  Plus they have an indoor/outdoor pool and a hot tub.  I booked us the two-room suite just because I could.  I’m so ready for the time away from the kids, time WITH my husband, and some nice pampering by the hotel. 

Yup…weather, kids, and anniversaries…it’s that time of year!

So, I went to my second therapy session this evening.  I’m now, offically, someone who has a therapist.  I never thought I’d see the day! *laughs*

I decided, with urging (STRONG urging) from my husband, that now might be a good time to get some help for my ever-increasing fear of thunderstorms that really took an up-turn after being in the path of a tornado in ’95.  I can’t say I was “in a tornado” since it happened to skip the house I was huddled in the basement of….but it was close enough.  The block just south of the house was leveled (as in, the trailer there was flipped up-side-down and the houses were moved off their foundations, etc) and the house I was freaking out in had windows blown out and 2×4’s imbedded in the carpet.:)

My “therapy guy” is pretty awesome.  I’m comfortable with him already.  He’s easy to talk to and understands, now, that humor is the best way to get at me. 

Learing to be “honest” is something I’m having a hard time with, though.  I still try to censor my answers to his questions…still try to avoid some of the things that might influence his treatment.  I really, REALLY need to stop that.  But after having majored in sociology and psychology in college (one question he’s NOT asked me yet), it’s hard to fully relax when I *know* what the questions are about.  I suppose when I go back I should talk to him about that, huh?

The good news is that he thinks I’m making enough progress (or I’m not so bad off) that I don’t need to come back for a whole two weeks instead of weekly!  I *am* proud of how I’ve handled the weather lately…but I think it’s more circumstancial than it is progress.  We’ll see, I guess.

One of the things that we’ve talked about in my therapy sessions is that my conscious and unconsious mind are two totally different things.  My consious mind KNOWS that there’s nothing to worry about, at least, not right now….and my unconscious mind is screaming “I don’t want to die!  Do you realize I could die?!?  Why would you put me in this situation?!?”  Until he said that out loud I didn’t realize it….when he did, I laughed out loud and agreed…it’s just how I feel when storms are predicted!!!

I also didn’t realize until tonight, while I was talking with my therapist, that my recollection vs. my friend’s recollection (who’s house I was at) of the tornado are totally different.   I mean, somewhere I always knew they were…but to voice the difference while telling him….really brought it front-and-center.  I don’t remember any sound other than the freezer that was behind us turning on and off and thinking, “Wow, we haven’t lost power yet!” .  She remembers the sound of things hitting the house (“It was like shotgun blasts.”) and the wind whistling around any possible area.  I really don’t remember those sounds in the slightest.  After hunkering down, I remember her ongoing prayer, my “Oh, God!” prayer (that’s all I could get out), her husband saying something about “Are we dead yet, coach?” from the movie Cool Runnings….and then the checking to see if everyone around was ok, calling my hubby and my mom, and fixing a sprained (broken?) ankle from someone jumping down their stairs to get to safety. (I can fix that! LOL)  Then I headed home with my broken window in my car…stopping at my mom’s to make sure my step-dad was ok after finding out he’d cut off a finger earlier; basically right before all the weather broke-out!

I’m incredibly happy that I’m now in therapy for my fears.  It’s nice to know that I’m not some kind of freak.  I’m trying my best to keep up with what the therapist is advising as the next step.  Today he told me that, since I’m not uncomfortable with discussing what actually happened, he’d change his plan for me.  I’m happy that I’m not “that bad” and a bit scared that this might not work…especially after the winter months when I’m not as anxious in the first place.  I’m terrified that this will all go by the way-side over the fall/winter and I’ll be right back to where I started come severe weather season next year.  AND….I’ve not “tested” this new-found calmness on anything but “common severe” weather…the low-end stuff.  I still feel a freak-out coming if the NWS ever says we’re going to have a higher risk of tornadoes.

Yet, at the same time, isn’t at least a little bit more caution advisable if they are?

Hmmmmmm

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