Tag Archives: kids

The Brain Fight

dt_150501_depression_brain_dna_800x600.jpgThings change, whether you want them to or not. A method you use for years can slowly stop working. You may start to like slightly sour candy over sweet. The road you’ve driven down for years will suddenly have a new speed bump. How we react to the changes often leaves a mark on us as individuals. But as I’m constantly reminded change will come, whether I’m happy about it or not. Just like it has now.

I deal with major clinical depression. For a good portion of the last four or five months, it has been knocking my ass to the ground and dancing an Irish jig on my face. So I am now in the process of changing around my medications. The process of trying to wean myself off one prescription and figure out if the new one is working, I will say, is exactly as fun as you imagine it to be. I’ve encountered one drawback so far and we’re back to my previous baseline. Those of you that have personal experience with mental illness can likely relate. I went back to read some of my other blog posts, in particular the ones where I discuss my own depression. I realize that I’ve given a recap of the road to diagnosis and a brief piece about going to therapy. But what I haven’t really done is attempt to explain to you just what it feels like when this disease hits me. I’m going to try to do that. Let me emphasize that this is specific to myself, not anyone else with mental illness. The brain is complicated and we all have different battles with it. I’m going to do my best to try to describe mine.

There really isn’t any fixed situation that sets it off. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I can already tell it’s not going to be an easy day. I may go to bed when suddenly, something will hit me and then I’ll be up all night with insomnia. Or I can go days being perfectly functional and then, suddenly, I want to climb in bed and stay there for the rest of time. So if you think that I can plan ahead for a bout of depression, sorry but it doesn’t care what my plans are. It just waltzes up to my brain, punches it a few times, and say it’s in charge now.

Sometimes it shows up as exhaustion and apathy. I don’t want to get out of bed or interact with anyone. My body can be sore for no reason. I flat our just stop caring. To put it mildly, it sucks. With very few exceptions, I don’t want to be unproductive everyday. It gets boring and I have kids to take care of.  So it’s a fight with myself to get anything done and sometimes I don’t win.

Sometimes I’ll become anxious and irritable. I’m already prone to worrying and things just get intensified. I become angry for no reason and my heart can race. My mind will over-think everything. I have trouble clarifying my thoughts and stumble over words. I  have to try not to snap at everyone. This makes things more difficult when it comes to my kids. They’re too young to understand what’s going on in my head and I don’t want them to think of their dad as just an angry asshole. So I have to try to stop my depression from parenting for me.

Things have been really bad on those times when it all hits me at once. This is despair. There isn’t another word I can use for it. Full, cold despair. I have been suicidal. I do not and have not harmed myself, but it has gotten close. This is one of the reasons we are looking at a medication change. When my mind starts going to that place, I know something isn’t working. This is also why I will never let myself purchase a gun. I’m not making a political stance here. I’m pointing out that, for my own health, I think a having a gun in my home is a bad idea. If you know me outside of the internet and ever hear that I’ve bought one, consider that a HUGE red flag. Let me say again that I am currently safe. I’m not planning anything and I’m not a danger. But my mind has gone to that place. I’ve thought about how maybe my wife can do better than me and I’m ruining her life. I’ve thought about how I must be damaging my children and they’d be better off without me. Yes, I’ve shaken these thoughts off but they come back. Medication helps. Therapy helps. But the facts remain that this is something that can’t be completely cured. This is my brain. I can’t hire an Igor to transplant a new one. This is what I’ve got to work with, so I will do the work.

Interactions with other people can be a coin flip regarding my depression. They can help bring me back or make things worse. Being an introvert can make it harder, since big party situations exhaust rather than energize me. But I will tell you it’s worth making the attempt. I will try my best to reach out to others, but when most of my brain says no one wants to talk to me it makes that a struggle. I very much count on others to make an effort. In fact, I encourage all of you who know someone struggling to do the same. Reach out to them. Don’t just say you’re there for us. Come to us. I know it isn’t easy and we don’t always respond. Being the friend/spouse/child or any close relationship with a person in my situation is hard. But if you can do it you’re being an amazing person. I can’t express enough how helpful it is when friends at least try to hear you. You probably won’t understand everything. But this is not something we’re trying to use as an excuse or a way to manipulate you. We don’t want to be this way and we’re trying. We’re fighting. So don’t give up on us.

Don’t give up on me. I am 38 years old and have been dealing with this monster for longer than I knew what it was. If I could just clap my hands together and change everything I would. This would also mean I’m an all-powerful wizard, which would rock. But this isn’t my reality. My reality is depression is a part of my life that I have to deal with. And whenever I see other people lose their battle, it terrifies me. It makes me wonder how much longer I can keep this up. So I remind myself that I’m stubborn. I can fight. Mental illness may be a huge venomous snake that slithers around my mind, so I need to show it that the brain it’s picking on is a mongoose. It can’t win. I won’t let it. Claws out and we’ll go another round.

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Before the coffee kicks in- the “it has mostly replaced my blood” edition

I haven’t done one of these in a while. My kindergartener is off to school. Her little sister is busy being three years old. The cat it hiding and my wife is getting ready for a pre-work appointment. I am trying to plan out the day’s errands and finding my brain is uncooperative. So the time has come once again to sit my ass down with more coffee, open up this blog, and write down the thought poops that drop out. So here we go.

Sometimes I think the cat is part owl.

Sometimes I think my children are part Chihuahua.

When did being intelligent start becoming a liability?

I need more fun socks.

I want to know why I have dreams about fighting for my life.

Where can I learn how to sew?

My wife looks really cute with glasses. And without glasses.

If my feet were hairy I would actually be a hobbit.

Has anyone actually tried to use a banana as a boomerang?

As a kid I wanted superpowers. As an adult nothing has changed.

If another species develops opposable thumbs and higher reasoning we’re screwed.

Someone should bring me pie.

What age will my kids be when they realize I have no idea what I’m doing?

I think my country should be called the Dysfunctional States of America. I’ve never known it to be united and doubt I ever will. Not necessarily a bad thing.

A hovercraft really isn’t practical for everyday use.

Am I going mad or is this just me getting old?

This is where I am going to stop. My thoughts are starting to become more coherent and that signals the end. Plus, I need to get my daughter ready to go buy some cat food. For the cat, not for my daughter. Though both my children have tasted cat food at one point. It was a learning experience. Enjoy your day.

 

Kid show mutterings

We no longer have cable. Like more people seem to be doing, what TV we watch is from Netflix and Hulu. Now part of the decision was because most of the TV we watch are the kid shows the girls like. As I’ve stated in the past, there are some very good cartoons and such that the kids like. There are some that are irritating but still okay. Then there are those that are so horrible, so cringe-inducing that we do our best to prevent the kids from watching them.

The bombardment of child-focused television causes my brain to enter strange places. Are these thoughts normal for all parents? Is my chemically imbalanced mind alone the place these thoughts dwell? You be the judge.

#1) How does Telly from “Sesame Street” not have ulcers yet?

#2) I think most of the problems on “Curious George” could be resolved by NOT letting the monkey run around unattended.

#3) Also in regards to #2, Curious George is an ape! He is not a monkey!

#4) The merkids on “Bubble Guppies” seem to be the only ones of their kind, surrounded by fish and sea creatures. So are they actually mutant fish or some form of Missing Link?

#5) How does Ramone on “Peg+Cat” have so many jobs? Does he still go to school or did he test out due to a superior IQ?

#6) I find “Wallykazam” much funnier than I probably have any right to as an adult.

#7) Am I the only one who looks at “Doc McStuffins” and sees the potential for a future supervillain?

#8) What do the parents in “The Pajanimals” actually look like? Did the mom naturally give birth to four different animal species or is this a case of adoption?

#9) The puppets and makeup for “LazyTown” are terrifying.

#10) Has anyone involved with the creation of “Caillou” been brought to justice?

These are but a sample of the things I now consider. They pop into my head at unexpected times. The related show doesn’t even need to be on. What have I become?

 

More Dad Haikus

MYSTERIES

There must be answers.

Yet, daughter, I can’t explain

why you won’t eat lunch.

 

BATH

The screams of pure rage.

You thrash as if set aflame.

It’s only shampoo.

 

CAT

The toddler hugs you.

Feline eyes call out to me,

“What fresh hell is this?”

 

SILENCE

The talking has stopped.

Perhaps the kids are asleep.

No. They plot my doom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Vacation: What I learned

We recently got back from a trip to Florida. The purpose was to give my dad a sort of birthday present (he turns 70 this month) of having all 4 of the grandchildren on a trip together. So my wife and I went with the girls and Pam, my sister, went with our niece & nephew. My brother-in-law was unable to make it due to work. The third sibling, my brother, was also not there but he likely didn’t want to go. So we had a total of 5 adults with my parents, sister, Lisa and myself. The 4 kids are between the ages of 3 and 7. So obviously, they had the advantage over the adults.

Did we have fun? Sure, there was fun. The kids seemed to enjoy playing together, though there was a large amount of whining. I’m also sure I speak for many when I say putting extended family together for a long time is not without stress. But this whole thing was a learning experience, so I will now share the knowledge that has been bestowed upon my squishy brain matter.

FLYING WITH KIDS IS A PAIN- We had a 2 hour delay for our flight to Florida. This pretty much killed the excitement of 5-year-old Phoebe, who now panicked that the trip was ruined. By the time we got on the plane and took off, she hadn’t fully recovered. Zoe, the cranky pants toddler, was tired but did not manage to fall asleep until about 20 minutes before landing. However, we also had a yappy dog on the plane that barked the whole time. The flight home was very early and Phoebe spent most of it being difficult. Zoe was pretty good, only fussing once which was cancelled by the presence of apple juice. This was the opposite of what we expected, having thought Phoebe would be excited by the plane and entertained and Zoe would get cranky. So maybe next time, which may very well be in a few years, we’ll just drive.

LET THE GRANDPARENTS TAKE THE KIDS- If my mom or dad wanted to go somewhere with the kids, they pretty much got it. Lisa and I were able to get a few moments of quiet and even got to go out after the kids went to bed. Once just the two of us and once with Pam, who by that point needed the break as well. Plus, we all got to take a nap at least once! How awesome is that? How sad is it that I get excited about naps?

BE BETTER AT PLANNING OUTINGS- Somehow we ended up going to the Naples Zoo on one of the hottest days of the week. Needless to say, everyone was cranky about halfway into the time there. Also, the animals as a whole were smarter than us and mostly laid around in whatever shade was present. Good for you, striped hyena and honey badger. Bad for the tourists, us included. Zoe also clarified that every big cat she saw apparently goes “meow, meow”. I’m sure the 3-year-old has conducted scientific research so pass this on to the tigers and leopards. No roaring for you. It’s “meow, meow” or nothing. So sayeth the toddler.

We’ve taken short little weekend trips with the kids in the past, but this was our first big family trip. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for vacations with Phoebe and Zoe. People keep asking us if we’ll do a Disney trip with them, which I think is possible but certainly not until they are old enough to remember it better. This is the question about the trip we just took. Will they remember much of it? A little, I think, but it will probably be more along the lines of how they had fun with their grandparents and cousins. So I think vacations like trips to Disney World and things like that can wait until Lisa and I don’t have to change diapers at the airport.

 

 

More years to come

My eldest daughter, Phoebe, will turn 5 in less than a week. In July, her sister Zoe will turn 3. I’m of mixed feelings about this whole growing up thing my kids are doing. It’s also really weird to think that it has been about 5 years since I’ve become someone’s parent.

How did that happen? Well, of course I know how it happened. I was there. Also, I’ve been to the zoo.

It’s just bizarre to me. I have these two little girls that call me “daddy” who I love more than I thought possible. There are also days they make me want to dig a hole in the yard and hide for the rest of my life. My wife and I constantly talk about which one is going to give us more trouble in the years ahead. They are both so different, yet both so stubborn! And they are both so cute and they make me laugh and smile. I look at them and get so scared thinking about the horrible shit they may go through. I constantly worry about how the world will treat them because they are girls, and how they will treat them when they are women. When it comes to them, I question almost everything I do for fear that I will screw them up. That being said, I think all parents screw up at some point. So chances are I probably have and will do so again, no matter how hard I try.

Phoebe is a talker and silly. She wants to say hello to everyone and is easily distracted. Zoe is sweet and sensitive. She gets so excited by animals and has a little temper.

My kids are getting older. I am getting older. Nothing is going to stop this and, unless something horrible occurs, I am in for many more years of this stuff. I will be tired and grumpy. I will be heartbroken. I will be proud and amused and terrified. And in the future, I will almost certainly embarrass some teenagers.

Cool.

Before the coffee kicks in — the headache edition

I realize it’s been a long time since I last posted. I attribute this to a number of things. Some of this has to do with life deciding that other things needed to take priority. So I’m realizing this as my head seems to be in the grips of a sinus headache. Stupid weather can’t decide if it’s still winter or not, so my head is punishing me for it. Perhaps more coffee will help along with Tylenol. Time to ramble.

Why does the cat stare at the tub faucet like she’s worshiping a pagan god?

Depression has been kicking my ass. I may need to talk about adjusting my medication. Not thrilled about it.

Bailey’s Chocolatini creamer is superior to Bailey’s Mudslide creamer.

My children have turned into walking goo factories. So many runny noses.

I miss having a lot of time to do nothing.

Do ducks have their own Navy?

I am so completely fed up with the 2016 election. It has brought out new forms of ugly.

Can we collectively stop pretending our shit doesn’t stink? Is that even a possibility?

It’s interesting to hear the different names and voices Phoebe gives to toys.

Speaking of my favorite preschooler, she is currently demanding my attention. This is making it increasingly difficult to type. So I’m ending this hear. Sorry for the briefness. My will is not my own. Also, the coffee doesn’t seem to be helping. Time to go be daddy.

 

 

Strange talent

People develop as they grow. I’m not just talking about puberty and aging and all the weird biological stuff. People develop abilities, skills, and talents. Some stuff you learn through formal lessons and practice. Other things come naturally to some without much in the way of training. Then there are the things you suddenly become good at without even realizing it. I have become very well acquainted with the third scenario.

Perhaps this makes me some form of a Renaissance man, but one who was part of a very weak Renaissance. I will take this time to share some of these talents with you. Let me again state that these are not things I trained to do from any desire to better myself. These either came about through attempts at self-amusement or by accident. Basically, they just kind of happened over time.

Talent #1- I have found that I can detect smelly poops from another room. Be it diaper, litter box, or someone having a bad reaction to cheese I shall detect it.

Talent #2- If a popular song exists, I will turn it into a song about my cat. Possibly a song about my kids or whatever I’m currently doing. But more than likely the cat.

Talent #3- I have the ability to serve as a human sofa and jungle gym for the previously mentioned cat and children.

Talent #4- As I age, my changing appearance has informed me that I’ve developed a strange metamorphic ability. I appear to be turning into some form of hobbit wizard.

Talent #5- After years of dealing with the general public, I now have the talent to control my urge hit all stupid people with a rolled up magazine and say “Bad human” to them. This has kept me employed.

How about you folks? What strange talents have you developed? Are they a source of pride or a dark secret that you fear will make all shun you? Either way, feel free to share!

Before the coffee kicks in–the late cup edition

This morning, we had to make our way out the door almost immediately. My car had been worked on and needed to be picked up before my wife went to work. The kids were put in Lisa’s car, we picked up mine, transferred the girls, and I drove them back home. Phoebe and Zoe are hanging out in the playroom and I’m just now getting to have some coffee. Also realizing I haven’t posted in a few weeks. So perfect time for me to post the brain marbles that roll around as I wait for the caffeine to do its job.

This last week hurt. I loved David Bowie and Alan Rickman and we lost them both to cancer. It just sucks.

I will never understand people who have to be angry that someone else is happy. They’re not responsible for you not being miserable. But if for some reason they are, just throw mayonnaise at them and move on with your life.

Our cat will never be a professional boxer.

I get to play D&D tomorrow. This pleases me.

My children both seem very interested in what their own feet smell like.

My wife and I have started referring to any nighttime snacks we have as the Fattening.

I hope everyone who cares about it has seen The Force Awakens by now. As for those that do not care, I can only assume they’re plotting something horrible.

There have been a few days lately when hiding under a nest of blankets has been very tempting.

It seems that something you do as an adult is talk about the virtues of crescent roll dough.

I miss Jell-O Pudding Pops, but I fear their legacy has been tainted by the whole Bill Cosby situation.

Okay, folks. That’s all I’ve got in me right now. My girls are also currently demanding that I go join them in the playroom. Never let it by said I’m not willing to spend time with my kids. Hope everyone enjoys their day or, at the very least, doesn’t have a crappy one.