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Sunday Thoughts

Yesterday was a difficult day for me, mentally. I wanted to spend the day working on the garden; digging and turning the beds, and dividing and moving plants. I’m putting a vegetable garden in, and moving my perennials elsewhere. What I thought would be a relatively simple job is turning out to be way more than I’m physically capable of, and that’s really frustrating to me.

Knowing my failed spinal fusion and chronic pain were not up to a day full of gardening, I suggested we go on a nature hike, as we do each weekend. Both guys were into it, and it was the perfect sweatshirt weather for one.

I filled the water bottles, grabbed our masks and packed up some snacks. We were off. We took a different way into the woods than normal, and I thought we were close to turning around… then the boy asked if we could go on a salamander hunt. When asked if I was up for it, I gave a halfhearted “sure”, thinking we were only going to venture a little off track.

Our hike was 13,568 steps or 5.86 miles, according to my Fitbit. My body feels it. It’s a good hurt, an ache of accomplishment. I have to be careful though, as I’m known to compulsively exercise, pushing myself much further than I should. These hikes can lay me out for a few days- so I try to keep moving throughout the week. My family thinks I’m crazy, as does my doctor. But all seem to understand this works for me. I have to keep moving or I seize up.

See, physically I shouldn’t be hiking like this. Mentally though, I need it. If I don’t get out and exercise daily, I can’t concentrate or follow through with tasks. It’s this nervous energy that has to be burned off. I think it’s part of why I understand my son so well. He is the same way. If we hike, he’s not hyperactive. If we don’t, he is all over the place.

Another bonus to getting out in nature for me is that I’m able to think things through. I haven’t had a telehealth appointment with my therapist in a handful of weeks, as my insurance has been switched, and he doesn’t accept my new plan. In place of that missing link, I’ve had to be much more self reliant; thinking things through for myself, as well as being more open with my husband.

See, in the past, I’d keep my mental illness musings to therapy alone, and my marriage separate. My husband is incredibly devoted, and willing to do just about anything to help me, but I oftentimes am too embarrassed to let him in. These past few weeks have changed that, and it’s freeing to finally open up to him.

I realized yesterday on our walk that I was grumpy because I knew I couldn’t do that which I wanted – to garden. However, instead of having a misplaced meltdown, I thought it through, on my own. Once I’d realized that, and accepted it, I found it much easier to enjoy our hike. I even found lady slipper orchids on our walk! They are so rare around here- and super exciting to find!

Lady slipper orchids

When we returned home, I had the chance to sink my hands in the dirt. I dug some plants, divided a Hosta, and turned a portion of the bed. It’s not even a third of the way complete, but I decided to work on it in small stages. A little bit each day, that way I’m not hurting myself too much.

Pre-back injury and surgery, I’d spend a day down in the garden: weeding, digging and amending the soil. Even with a healthy back, I’d be down a day or two with all the physical work. I could never do that now.

My new plan is to make this a mother – son garden. He’s always been such a big help in years past, I know this year will be even better. I can’t wait to see him eat his first Sungold tomato fresh from the vine. There’s something magical about witnessing it 💕

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Baby Steps

Yesterday was a great day- spent with my son. We worked on schoolwork sporadically throughout the day, interspersed with fun activities; we built a clay volcano, made bubbles, and flew his drone. Unfortunately, the drone is stuck 40 feet up in a tree – so hopefully the wind will push it down in the coming days. Losing the drone was heartbreaking. My son is an incredibly sensitive little boy, and has yet to stop beating himself up over it. The controller glitched. I was watching, he pushed the joystick to raise it a foot or two, and it took off- up and forward. He tried immediately to power it down, but that didn’t work. (Smart child!) He came running to me for help; and try as I did, the thing had a mind of it’s own. Talk about feeling like a parental failure – I couldn’t help with something that simple? Fortunately, he did not breakdown into hysterics like the last time we lost it in the marsh. My father and I were able to recover it that day. We needed a kayak, rake and step ladder, but in less than two hours we were successful. I can’t say the same for yesterday. We can’t even spot it with the binoculars- as it’s the same green as the fresh oak leaves it now rests in. I know how much he’s hurting. I do the same thing to myself. The constant drumbeat “I’m so stupid/ useless/ a waste of space…” echoes in my mind as well. I try to put a smile on my face, and not share how bleak I feel, but I’m starting to realize there’s no hiding it from him. I don’t know how to help him with this. I’m 41, and have been dealing with this my whole life. Fifteen years of therapy hasn’t undone the record on repeat in my mind. I’ve learned to accept it. It’s become part of who I am. The hardest part for me is to stop myself from believing it on bad days. It’s so tempting to allow my mind to slip into the dark tide. I’ve lived from there for so long, that it’s like a comfy safety blanket from childhood. Sure, I’ve tried almost every antidepressant on the market- and none have helped. I’ve been on mood stabilizers and antipsychotics; all meds just numb me. The thoughts are the same. Dark, angry, full of self hatred. Nothing big pharma has to offer helps. I end up on meds, then more meds to quell the side effects of the original meds. All of a sudden I’m taking four different medications, and noticing how much is the same, just a little bit slower. This is NOT what I want for him. He’s an incredibly gifted and beautiful soul. I know he will go far. He is on a waiting list for therapy, with a local agency. Two months ago, prior to the start of the pandemic, we were told it would be about eight weeks. They had the shortest waiting list in our area, but offered so much he needs. The agency offers individual counseling, family and behavioral therapy, social skills groups, parenting groups, and DBT skills groups for children. I’m praying we are able to get him in there. So much of what they offer fits his, and our, needs. DBT has been a life changer for me, and I’ve only been studying the skills for about a year now. When I’m able to catch myself and remember what skill I need in the moment, it’s miraculous. To be able to give that to my son, at the age of eight, would be wonderful. See, I bet, learning these skills at a young age may make them part of who he is. Unlike trying to reinvent myself at forty… The good news is we are getting along much better – there was no violence or back talk when I said those magical four words: “Time for school work.” He came willingly. I’m doing the exact opposite of what his teachers want, but it’s what works for my child, and therefore me. And yesterday? During remote learning? He didn’t once utter “I’m so stupid.” No, he powered down and proceeded to get every question correct. He received much needed, and well deserved praise. Topped with chocolate ice cream for dessert. ❤️
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Bipolar Disorder

I’ve mentioned bipolar disorder, but haven’t written about it. I’m ashamed, still, 20 years into my diagnosis, to admit I have bipolar disorder. Half the time, I’m denying it’s an issue, and convincing myself the medications aren’t working.

But they do. You see, each time I think I don’t need them, and stop them on my own, I almost always end up back in, in or out patient treatment, while being stabilized on my meds.

It’s an insidious disease. It tells me I don’t have a disorder. Just think about that for a moment.

I have an incredible support system surrounding me, thankfully. My husband has been on this merry go round with me for over two decades. My parents and sister live in the next town; as do my godmother aunt and her husband. All of them have stepped in and helped raise my child, when I needed help myself. Our village is huge and filled with love.

But bipolar. I hate and love this part of me. I love the highs: the creativeness, the expansiveness, the positivity, the energy, smiling. Inevitably, the high is followed by a crashing low: numbness, emotionally stunted, ambivalence, and negativity. And then there’s the mixed states, the most dangerous place for me to be: racing thoughts, nonstop anxiety, irritation, anger and insomnia. The meds are supposed to curb these wild shifts, but they don’t. They temper them. I still cycle, just not as high and low as I would without the meds.

And after twenty years of this, you’d think I’d understand that meds don’t cure everything. I wish they worked; and stopped these lows and mixed states. They hurt us.

See there’s really no place in my life for my own stuff right now. And of course, my depression is on the rise, because of this worldwide situation we are all in. I can’t be selfish like normal though. I mean, I can’t be swept up in the dark tide; I have to be strong for my son, who needs me more now than ever.

So this is my promise: I’m stronger than depression. I can do this. I know you can too. I’m going to wake up each day with fresh eyes, and just try to put the most positive foot forward I can. I know today won’t be perfect, I know I’m going to mess up. But for today, I’m not going to focus on what’s wrong, I’ll focus on what’s right.

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The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! 

Welcome to my blog. I hope to share a small slice of life through the eyes of my family. 

My husband, son and I live on the coast of New England. We take advantage of the fresh air and nature outside our doorstep. Since our son was an infant, we’ve been exploring all there is to see outside. 

Our home is full with love and blessings. 

My son and I are both differently abled, and we embrace it, fully. He has severe ADHD, and I’m dealing most days with the gray cloud of depression, born from my bipolar 2 diagnosis. We don’t let either get in our way – hikes in nature, planting a garden and getting our hands dirty, or settling our feet in the sand at the beach – all ground us. We are both at our best outdoors.

I’m hoping to learn more about life, parenting, and our diagnoses through others tales on WordPress. I also hope to shed a ray of sunshine on our home and life, through pictures, essays and pertinent articles. 

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton