bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Archive for March, 2009

NOT the Same Old Song

I earned some free downloads about  a month ago, and I decided to share the wealth with my family.  So, I asked each family member to give me 5 songs they would like me to get for them.

My son wanted several songs from the soundtrack for the movie Eagle Eye.  All instrumentals.  Interesting choice, but not all that surprising.  He was thrilled to receive the soundtrack for Back to the Future for Christmas.

Tom chose songs that he’s heard on the local college radio station.  Having been a DJ in college himself, again, not a surprise.

Then there is Karen.  God love her.  She’s not found her niche yet, really.  She’s almost 11, and she still enjoys Hannah Montana songs, the Jonas Brothers, as well as Taylor Swift.  She also likes to listen to an urban radio station that has music that helps her get her groove on.  This girl does love to dance. 

Herein lies the problem.  Her list included songs that have questionable lyrics.  Oh, let’s be frank.  They are unacceptable. 

So what do I do?  The first song on her list is Right Round.  I know why she likes this song.  It is fun to listen to and, as they used to say on American Bandstand, “It’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.”  It also samples a song from 1985 that I loved, You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).  The most obvious difference is the lyrics.  Wow.  What a difference.  Disturbingly different. 

The song from 1985 is about a guy who sees a girl that he’s interested in and wants her to “open up her lovin’ arms.”  He even says, “I’d like to move a little bit closer.”  Nothing wrong with that, right?  Agreed.

The song that Karen wants samples the chorus from this song.  The similarities stop there.  The song talks about sexual situations that I won’t discuss here.

After talking to Tom, we both agreed that downloading this song for Karen would be very “unparental” on our part.  And, so far we are still in the running for Parents of the Year, so we certainly don’t want to jeopardize that. 

I guess my issue that I bring to the blog today is how to explain to her why I won’t download it.  The sexual situation described in this song is one that I am certain she is not familiar with.  So, if I tell her that I won’t download it because the lyrics are unacceptable, she may ask what makes them unacceptable.  Yikes.  Don’t really want to introduce that to my 11 year old.  She just got through this year’s Family Life video without fainting!  But, if I tell her “they just are,” she’s likely to look up what the lyrics are.  And, that would introduce her to many, many more words/concepts that are unwanted. 

We’re stumped.  Any suggestions welcome.

Zuzu Goes on an Outing

Yep.  I went outside of my yard for the first time in over three weeks (other than in and out of doctors’ offices).  I was so excited about it.  It made me think I should write a children’s book series….Zuzu Goes on an Outing, Zuzu Goes Out to Dinner, Zuzu Takes a Walk, Zuzu Goes to Church, and much, much later, Zuzu Makes Dinner.

I called my mom and told her that I wanted to venture out, but wasn’t sure what to do.  I mentioned grocery shopping for a few items, and she thought that sounded like a great idea.

She came to pick up me and my Magic 8 ball head (see previous post), and we were off to Dierberg’s.  I had no idea how often I quickly turn my head.  Holy cats!   I realized early on, I was going to have to go at a much slower pace, or there was going to be a clean-up in Aisle 3. 

I’m pleased to announce that $55 later (I set out for toilet paper, soda for Mark’s trip, and fish food.  Huh.  Came home with a little more.  Not much, but more), I made it home at last.

I told my mom that I wish there was a t-shirt that said, “I just had surgery.  That’s why I’m moving so slow.”  She thought that was silly.  She asked if I ever paid attention to how quickly people moved.  I said I sure did, if they were in front of me.  I usually yell at the top of my lungs, “Hey, Queen of the Snails!  Let’s move it!  I’m growing a beard back here!”   

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank God for the gift of a beautiful, sunny morning that allowed me to enjoy my big outing!

Shiver Me Timbers

That phrase has a new meaning in my life.  For the past four days I’ve been experiencing “brain shivers.”  This is a term coined by those of us who take anti-depressants and experience a specific withdrawal symptom.  The only way I can explain it is that when I get up from a chair or move my head quickly, it’s like a Magic 8 ball being shook, and then the shaking continues down my body.  But, it’s only internal.  No one notices it but me.  It is really really unnerving.

I’ve experienced it a couple of times before and it was when I ran out of Cymbalta or Effexor and was waiting for it to arrive via mail order.  And, after searching the net, I found I am not alone.

Problem is, I am taking my Cymbalta just like normal.  So what is up?

I called my psychiatrist last night, and he seemed to think it was the Percocet interacting with the Cymbalta, even though he really couldn’t explain why it was happening now.  “Unless,” he said, “it’s a withdrawal from the Percocet.”  Which, didn’t make a lot of sense to me, since I’ve been taking  just two Percocet at night for over a week.  So why now?  Plus, he lost points with me in two ways:  #1- claimed he never heard of “brain shiver” and, in fact, called it “weird.”  (Guess I’ll be printing up some articles for my next appt with him.  #2- told me I should be done with the Percocet, “after it all, it is three weeks post op.”  I wanted to respond to that one with, “Well, you shouldn’t be bald, after all, you are only in your 40s.”  But, I didn’t.  Mostly because when I asked my Magic 8 Ball head if I should, it said, “Not Likely.”  Gotta love the 8 Ball.

Now,  I am awaiting a call from my surgeon.  Because if it is a Percocet withdrawal, I think I’m supposed to wean myself off instead of quitting cold turkey, which could make all of this worse.

I will say, though, that I didn’t take any Percocet last night, took Motrin instead, and slept better than I have in weeks.  Well, okay, other than the fact that before I even got to sleep, I’d go through periods of my skin feeling like it was on fire, and then being cold, and round and round again.  And, I had some freaky dream about Word Girl from PBS kids and woke up trying to come up with synonyms for “Thesaurus.”  And, I couldn’t shake it until I came downstairs this morning to talk to my son.

I was a firm believer in better living through chemicals, but now I’m not so sure…

Purple Rain

Okay, if the weather forecasters were predicting purple rain, I’d probably pay attention.  But, other than that, I just don’t care.  Apparently, I am in the minority.

As I sit here, I see the sun peeking through the clouds, which is just about my favorite kind of weather.  A generally dreary sky, but little pockets of sunshine here and there.  If I thought about it long enough, I could probably make it into a metaphor of life. 

ADD Moment:  In fact, there is a song by Switchfoot that helps get me through some times of depression.  The Shadow Proves the Sunshine reminds me that our lives aren’t just gloom and doom (or shadows).  In fact, shadows would not exist without the sun.  And, we mustn’t forget that the sun (Son) is always there.  See, that’s a lot deeper than I could ever get.

Back to the topic of weather.  People often ask me (and I’m sure they ask you), “What is the weather supposed to be like this weekend, this week, tomorrow, etc.?”  I feel a little embarrassed when I say, “Huh.  I don’t know.”  I don’t know why I should feel embarrassed.  They don’t know.  That’s why they are asking me!  But, I don’t know because I don’t care.

Granted, my lifestyle is such that I don’t have to plan activities ahead of time according to the weather.  I’m not planning the next big parade downtown.  Wait.  Even if I were, it’s not like I’d cancel the parade according to the forecast.  I’m sure there are some details that would need to attended to if, say, a blizzard were headed into town this weekend.  Those of you that live in St. Louis do know, however, that when a snowstorm is predicted, it is in the law books that you must run out to the nearest grocery store and buy eggs, milk, and bread.  Apparently, the only way to survive a few inches of snow is to make french toast.  Even school superintendents, who have the hurculean responsibility of deciding whether or not my kids go to school, don’t decide on snow days until the morning of school.   Some have chosen to listen to the predictions, called off school the day before the impending storm hits, only to awaken to dry streets.

I appreciate the meteorologists’ attempt to forecast the weather down the road.  But, their track record is not all that impressive.  For example, as recently as yesterday, the prediction for today was rain.  All day.  (I only know this because my mom told me.)  Well, as I mentioned, it is cloudy.  But, this morning, my favorite weatherman said, “Rain will most likely get here between 7 and 8 tonight.”  Huh.  That’s certainly different than all day, isn’t it?

Here’s how I approach the week.  Each day I get up, check what the high and low temps are supposed to be (those are fairly accurate), look outside and see if it is sunny, cloudy, or some sort of precipitation is already falling.  I choose my clothes accordingly.  If it’s raining, I will probably put off running 95 errands and just run 4.

Am I alone here?

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

I have nicknamed myself “Pollyanna.”  My cup is not only half-full, but I am sure that whoever drank the first half, really needed it.

Well, I’m not quite that obnoxious, but it is not for lack of trying.

I try to look at the bright side of things.  And, if all else fails, I start with this phrase, “Well, at least it isn’t…”  I used to say, “At least it isn’t cancer,” when someone would have a slight mishap, say a flat tire.  Now, I know too many people that have had or still have cancer, that I don’t use that one lightly anymore.  I do use it for times like now when I am feeling a little sorry for myself for this slow recovery.  “Buck up.  People that have cancer have a right to be bummed.  Yours is short-lived, sister.”

Over twenty years ago, I came up with a way to force people I love to not dwell on the bad part of their day.  I had a summer job at the office my dad worked in, so my dad and I would often ride to and from work together.  It was about a 30 minutes drive each way, and if you know me, that is way too long to drive in silence, so I would talk to my dad about his day. 

I noticed that he could fill all 30 minutes with all the things that went wrong that day.  Part of him was decompressing, but another part of him was reliving all the different ways his day went awry.  Having taken a full semester of Psychology 101, I knew this wasn’t healthy. 

So, I came up with a rule for the ride home.  Tell one good thing and one bad thing about your day.  I saw a complete turn around in his attitude as we drove home each day. 

I have implemented this rule in our home.  As we sit at the dinner table each night, we go around and tell “one good thing/one bad thing.”  The kids love it.  I love it.  Tom tolerates it, but he does play along.  Tom and Mark can quickly come up with their bad thing, but often take a little longer to find a good thing.  Karen is more likely to have a good thing, but no bad thing.  That is acceptable.  But, the reverse is not.  You are not allowed to have a bad thing, but no good thing.  No one’s day is that bad.  Even if it is, “I didn’t get hit by a bus on my way home from school today,” something good happened to you.  When we have guests for dinner, we ask them to participate as well.  So far no one has thrown down their napkin in disgust and walked out.

Why not try this as a conversation starter at your next family meal?  Since we implemented this early on, I am hoping that once the kids are teenagers, sharing a part of their day will just be commonplace, and we will have the opportunity to peek into their daily lives.

Three to Six Weeks

When

my doctor told me it would take three to six weeks to recover from this hysterectomy, I truly thought I would take the full six weeks.  I’m not in the best shape (gasp!), I went into surgery after feeling like crap for ten days, and I don’t endure pain very well.

But, after the surgery, I started feeling really good, really fast.  Even when I got my staples removed, the doctor and nurses commented on how well I was doing.  As I climbed the stairs without a lot of pain last week, Tom praised me and said, “Hey only 5 more weeks to go!”  I laughed and told him I doubted it would take that long.

Then, yesterday happened, which bled into today.  I was feeling really good yesterday and tried sitting different places throughout the house and avoided the recliner.  I straightened up the kitchen a bit, cleaned off my stamping desk, and actually started making some cards.  When i would get tired, I’d just get up, and lie on the couch.

However, at 5 o’clock, I was wiped out, so I laid down for a nap.  I woke up just before 7, and was completely confused.  Was it 7 am or 7 pm?  I turned over and saw Tom was not in bed, so I knew it must be 7 pm, because that man does not get up before 9 unless he has to!  Then, it hit me.  We were supposed to go to my mom’s for dinner at 6:30 in honor of our birthdays!

I start yelling, “Hey!  Hey!” as I am kicking my shoes across the room.  (I couldn’t put them on because of the incision.  I bend in the wrong place.)  Karen jumps on the phone to call my folks to tell them that I was napping, and we lost track of time.  My mom told her that they had already eaten, but to come on anyway. 

The dam broke.  I started bawling.  We all four discuss whether or not we should go anyway, and Tom, the amazing man he is, said, “Yes, we are going.  We could call and say, ‘We aren’t going to come since you’ve already eaten.’  And then they’ll say, ‘Yes, come on.’  Honey, they know you’ve been tired, are on pain medication, and had surgery.  They understand.”

So we piled into the car, and it was a silent ride there.  Everyone felt badly for forgetting.  We came in and my folks were all smiles.  We sat right down to eat, and my dad asked me to pass him the roast.  I said, “Oh, are you going to eat again?”  He looked at me funny and said, “I haven’t eaten.”  I looked at my mom and she said, “Honey, that was a joke!”  Open the flood gates.  I excused myself and went into the other room to cry.

Last night was not an easy night’s sleep.  I woke up at 2:30 and had to take two Percocet because I was in such pain.

When I woke up this morning, I felt like Charlie Brown.  A dark cloud followed me.  And several little crying jags hit while the rest of the family went out shopping.  I called my mom and she came over to keep me company.

I obviously over did it yesterday.  Which seems a little unfair since you don’t know when to quit doing something because the effect comes later.

This really is a roller coaster ride of recovery.  I’m not sure if I’m so emotional because I’m bipolar or because I just over did myself and that’s how everyone feels.  This next week will be hard because I am going to have to sit here to heal faster or get up an move around because I feel like it, and pay for it the next day.  There must be some happy medium.  Right?

Laundry Tips and Help Needed

My friend MJ writes a fun blog which is often informative as well.  She recently wrote one about items she is trying for laundry. 

I’ll give you a couple of tips, and then i’m going to need your help for a problem I have.

  • Hydrogen peroxide will remove blood stains in a snap.  Just pour some on the stain, watch it bubble up, then toss in the laundry and wash as usual.  (Found this out from a nurse at the ER after my son split his head open in Kindergarten.  There was blood all over the back of his yellow sweatshirt.  Came out looking like new.) 
  • To remove machinery-type grease, just pour a little Dawn liquid detergent directly on grease, and then just use your fingernail to scratch away the grease.  Sure, it’s not turning water into wine, but it is pretty miraculous just the same!

Now, I need help!  My dear neighbor brought tacos over for our dinner last night.  As my family says, “It’s not a meal until Mom spills something on her shirt.”  And, true to form, after I finished, I looked down and taco grease was all over my shirt.  And, one of my favorite shirts at that.  (Kurt Warner jersey)  How do I get that out?  I read once about pouring rubbing alcohol on grease stains to break of the particles or some kind of science thing.  That didn’t work.  PLEASE HELP!!!!

It’s Tough Being a Mom in the 21st Century

Tom sat next to me the other day and said, “I have some disturbing news.”  My mind raced in 120 different directions, but most of them went in the “this is a joke” direction.  However, one look at his face told me that was not the case.

He told me to call up the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s web site.  On the home page was all sorts of stuff, one link being related to the Rams letting some players go.  Again, in my rose-colored glasses world, I pointed to that one, hoping it would be the “disturbing news.”  Again, I was wrong.

He pointed to the link:  Wildwood man arrested for child molestation at St. Louis YMCA.  My heart sunk.  First of all, we live in Wildwood.  Wildwood is a nice, safe, suburban area as far west of St. Louis as you can be and still be in St. Louis County.  Things like this don’t happen here.  Secondly, we live maybe two miles (I’m a very bad judge of distance) from the YMCA.  I could tell by the look on Tom’s face that this article would be more personal than just happening in our neighborhood.

When the link opened, I gasped.  The man was someone we knew.

I quickly read the article which seemed to be about four sentences, but it told me all I needed to know.  This man had been arrested for molesting a 16-year-old boy in the YMCA sauna.  After I read it for a second time, I realized that it wasn’t the YMCA near our house, it was actually one in the city.  A small sigh of relief came only because my kids hadn’t spent time at that particular Y.

Now, honestly, I hardly know this man at all.  To look at the mug shot of this guy, you’d never think he was anything but a horrible person.  But, I’ve certainly seen a different side of him than that picture shows.  I know his wife from school activities since they have a son that is my daughter’s age.  This woman is the sweetest thing you can imagine.  She is fun, giggly, and just a great all-around kind of gal.  I would see her at a meeting and choose to sit by her because she was such a positive person.

This was several days ago and my mind is still racing.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  I don’t want to talk to other people about it, because what would be the point?  I don’t know anything.  And, anything anyone else tells me is just going to be hearsay. 

But, maybe the real reason I don’t want to hear anything about it or talk about it, is because it punctures the happy little bubble that I live in.  I live in a safe neighborhood.  Gone are the days in which I grew up that you came home from school, had a snack, and said, “See you at dinnertime, Mom!” and took off to play with your friends somewhere in the neighborhood.  Or after dinner, I would tell my mom I’d be in before dark (dark was officially defined as the time of day when you could see the lights on inside other people’s houses).  But, even so, my kids can run up and down the street and find dozens of other kids to play with.  Safely.  I lock my front door when I’m home only because the dang door won’t close right, so any little breeze makes it fly right open.   We’ve had a few isolated incidents in the neighborhood, but truly, Ward and June Cleaver would be very happy here. 

And, while this guy doesn’t live in our actual neighborhood, he certainly lives within walking distance.  And, there are a few child molesters that live nearby as well.  I would imagine it would be hard to find a place to live that didn’t have someone on the sex offender list either working or living nearby.

As I sat here writing this, Tom told me that he told our son about the incident.  Sadly, he has to because this man is at scout functions.  Fortunately, at all the Boy Scout outings, the adults sleep in separate tents or cabins from the boys.  You can’t even sleep with your own kid. For reasons such as this.  When I first heard that, I thought, “Man, I can’t believe we have to worry about this stuff.”  But, obviously we do.  And, I can sleep a lot better knowing that it has been thought about.

Am I being realistic?  No need to talk about it, because you can’t do anything about it.  Plus, it could turn out to be false.  And, I certainly don’t want to have anyone be able to say, “Well, Michelle said…”  Especially since I don’t know anything more than what I read in the paper.  If I talk about it with others, then I may hear things that I may want to repeat.  

Or, am I putting my head in the sand and living the life of an ostrich?  If I don’t talk about it, it will go away?  Obviously, I’m leaning toward the ostrich’s way of life.  Telling myself that it could be a mistake.  Reassuring myself that I let my kids off the leash “just enough” to give them independence, but still protect them.

I guess I will have to do what mothers have been doing for centuries.  Doing the best I know how to do here on earth, and pray every night that God does His thing up there.

Nightmare on My Street

Last night I had a horrible night’s sleep.  At 4 in the morning, I woke up and when I entered the bathroom it was as if everything was made out of patterned paper.  All the white walls looked like they were made of crushed eggshells.

I felt a little loopy but chalked that up to waking up at 4 am.  When I got back into bed, that’s when the real fun began.  I started hearing voices.  Bunches of voices.  Some were whispers.  Some were just noises, like clanking and knocking.  So many things to hear; and they were all making noises at once.

I tried to calm down and make them go away.  Or push them aside, as Kent would say.  Yeah.  Didn’t work.  Then, I turned on the fan next to the bed thinking that maybe the real problem was that it was just “too” quiet.  Nope.

Now, I was completely freaking out.  I went down the hall and woke up Tom, who had been sleeping on the futon since my surgery to give me room (we have a double bed.  hello?).  All I had to say was, “Tom, I need you,” and he was up an on his feet.  (Thank you, US ARMY)  Then I started weeping, telling him about the voices, and he put his arm around me and got me back to bed. 

I told him I was afraid that I was having trouble weaning off the Percocet, and that this was a symptom.  I also told him I was in pain, though.  When he found out that the last pill I took was at 10, he assured me it would be okay to take it again.  Then, he laid next to me, put his arm around me, and we both went to sleep. 

I woke up 8 minutes later with some new voices.  I was able to push them away, though, and held on tight to Tom.

This morning, I wake myself up by screaming.  Isn’t that the way everyone wants to start their day?  I have no idea what was happening, but I do remember screaming in my dream.

I came downstairs to take my morning medicine, and still didn’t feel quite right.  After I looked at my weekly pill dispenser, I realized that my evening Cymbalta was still there from yesterday.  Crap. 

I don’t know what to think about this.  Pollyanna would look at this and say, “Well, at least you know that the drug you are taking makes a difference.”  But, the other side of me asks, “Do I want to be on something this powerful that my whole life goes nuts when I miss one dose?”  Or, is it just acting this way because of the Percocet?  When I looked up side effects of Cymbalta, they never cover the side effects of missing a dose.  Just regular side effects and the effects an overdose might have.  My symptoms (which also included a heavy chest, fast heart rate, and sweating) are ones that people see who are trying to wean off Cymbalta.  That scares me just a tad.  Ok, more than a tad.

Tonight as I go to bed, for what I hope will be a non-eventful evening, I will also be praying for wisdom.  I don’t plan to make any changes in anything right away.  My body’s got a lot going on.  I have been pretty good at listening to it.  And right now, it is saying, “Girl, don’t you even think about messin’ with me again!”  This is one voice I’m hearing loud and clear.

Home, Safe Home

Some people buy security alarms in order to feel safe.  I’ve done extensive research and now feel that I am safe from any chance of murder occurring in my home.  And, it didn’t cost me one penny!

First, we must go on the assumption that TV is real.  Sure, it may take poetic license with some of the headlines today, but other than that, everything done on TV is done just as it happens in real life.  Okay?

So, how have I secured my family?  How do I sleep at nights knowing they will be there when I wake up?  And, I will wake up.

I keep my house in an order of disarray.  Simple as that.

Anyone who has ever watched an episode of any CSI or Law and Order show can tell you that when the good guys show up to check for evidence, the homes of the victims are spotless.  No pizza boxes left out from the night before.  No pieces of popcorn strewn after watching movies three nights ago.  No week’s worth of dirty socks lying on the floor.  Now, while an inch of dust might actually help in the investigations, they never find that either.

Nope.  Through my powers of deducti0n, only very tidy housekeepers (or those that employ housekeepers) are the victims of murder or other heinous crimes that are newsworthy.  We do not fall into this category.  Especially upstairs.  Our main floor has been relatively tidy, but not still not “CSI Worthy.”  I mean, your house must be clean enough for David Caruso to stand back, with his hands on his hips, and say, “Look in the bathroom sink, there.  Is that a speck of blood?”  You never hear him say, “Can you find any evidence around that sinkful of hair?”

I have now found an official reason for having our house keep that “lived in” look.  Safety.  And there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my family in order to keep them safe.  That’s the kind of gal I am.

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