Friday, September 6, 2013

Monsoon season

Hi there.'s been a month today since I last posted.  What-the-what?  A month's time...melted into a big mushy puddle by the heat of a Texas summer sun.

Seriously...I don't even have a 'good' reason for neglecting this corner of my box of passions.  Face it.  It's been summer time.  In Texas.  For's not like we've been hanging outside doing all sorts of 'fresh-air-and-vitamin-D'-type things.  With all three kids home, I was trapped in a world of Legos and Barbies and movies, baby dolls and board games and imaginary games where the rules change all.the.time., causing fights to break out all.the.time. because it's impossible to keep up.  'Outside' time consisted of molasses-like trudges between air conditioned house to air conditioned truck to air conditioned store and back again.  There was no 'good time of day' to schedule our errand-running, because it's *hot* all the live-long day, and most of the night.  And yes, I know.  It's Texas.  Texas in the summer is hot.  And I also know the majority of the country has been under intense heat waves this summer.  But with it being our first 'Texas summer', my native Coloradan children found the adjustment to hermit-hood during June, July, and August a bit of a challenge {and my native Pennsylvanian/quasi-Coloradan self wasn't too happy with it either}.    To cope with our cabin-fever, we did go swimming and found the lukewarm pool water gave us a false sense that our insides weren't in fact cooking to a perfect medium-rare.  However, we even got to a point where it was too hot {and/or too tedious, exhausting, boring} to go swimming.

So, what's with my creative outlet hiatus?  Ugh.  Trust me, I've spent time beating myself up about my complete withdrawal from something that brings me a little bit of sanctity and solace.  It's not like I haven't had the opportunity or time to type.

I guess I was afraid of the storms.

Every mom, every woman...every person experiences change throughout their lives.  Some change feels like bright and sunny, cloudless skies of a Colorado fall while some change is like being stuck in the midst of the Arizona monsoon.  I've lived {literally} in the former, and while I haven't experienced the Arizona monsoon {or any monsoon, for that matter} first hand, I have enough background knowledge from which to draw a parallel that makes sense to me.

Monsoon storms range in intensity from dust storms to violent thunderstorms.  A typical Arizona monsoon starts with heavy winds, which can cause a visible wall of dust to envelope a large area of land.  Thunder, lightning, and heavy rains follow; the likes of which can cause flash floods that damage property and could re-sculpt the natural shape of a landform.  What remains after a particularly violent monsoon season is the altered facade of a landscape.  Water and wind show their immense power, rendering humans defenseless.

Safety precautions are put into place, but when dealing with Mother Nature, avoidance is common practice for staying safe when storms are on the horizon.

Which leads me

Those who know me {my husband included}, would not typically attribute my personality to descriptors such as sadness, emptiness, extreme fatigue, the inability to concentrate, extreme frustration and anger over 'the little things', complete lack of motivation or interest.  Hell, even I couldn't wouldn't acknowledge that those ongoing feelings and thoughts had infiltrated my daily life to a point where my 'usual' self wasn't fully functional.  I kept thinking I was over-reacting.  I was spending too much time feeling sorry for myself, not going out 'there' {where ever there is} and making the effort to connect more.

These little feelings and thoughts pestered me, kind of like an onslaught of dust that keeps reappearing on the same mantle I dust twice a day.  And so to avoid the impending storm, I packaged all of that negativity into a box in which I had labeled 'LAZY--SNAP OUT OF IT', and put it on a shelf in my mind.  But it wasn't long {a matter of a day or two} that the shelf succumbed to the weight of my dusty 'box of blah' and the contents spilled, enveloping my heart and my mind. Only this time, I recognized a new guest to my pity party.  Guilt.

How is it that a mom of three happy, healthy, well-adjusted children, the wife of a devoted and loving husband, and the friend & loved one of many dear, sweet inspiring souls be feeling this way all.the.time. {on the inside}?  The blessed life I have been given is not without its troubles, this I know.  But really.  What in the hell could I *really* find so tragic that I'm justified to feel this way?

The truth is, I couldn't find anything.  Aside from a physical relocation for the betterment of my husband's career and our family life, along with an interlude in my own career, I couldn't seem to pinpoint what it is that had brought on these overwhelming and suffocating feelings.  And so, I continued to try and box them up.

Instead of placing the box on an unstable shelf, I stacked it in a corner of my mind, only to be {not so}surprised when the box simply burst and the feelings flooded me, a deluge of emotions that drown me and left me exhausted and spent, filled with emotion yet empty at the same time.  Migraines and physical pain filled my days as I struggled to find the energy to get out of bed let alone care for the three children who exhibited varying degrees of awareness and concern for the distortion of the person they so lovingly referred to as 'momma'.  A downward spiral that left me going through the motions of life, mommyhood, wifedom, and friend and family interactions.  On the outside, I might seem 'okay'--'normal'(ha!).  But the innerworkings of a human heart and mind can house an enigmatic labyrinth of emotions.  I kept so much of what I was feeling trapped inside my mind and my heart and only succumbing to the emotions by way of unfair and unwarranted surges of anger {mis}directed at my children and husband.

The landscape of my heart was being reshaped by the flood of negativity that continued to pour out from an unknown source.  I wasn't liking the reflection that stared blankly, painfully, tiredly back at me.  I was reading a variety of devotions each day, seeking solace in the scriptures.  The stack of books towering alongside my devotionals boast countless highlighted passages, scribbled notes in the margins, and Post-It notes adhered to pages of particular interest for easy referral.  I was, in no uncertain terms, trying to 'fix me, myself'.  I wanted a name, a cause, an answer that would drain the deluge of negative monsoon-y waters away; leaving a dry, 'normal', more familiar landscape in its wake.

But I wasn't enough.  And trust me, I knew deep down in my heart that I would never be enough.  Everything I read and believe in the core of my being tells me that I need not rely on anyone other than God in times of trial and tribulation.  So, when I made the decision to go to a doctor, I knew it might not be a popular one, and therefore kept it to myself.  I feared judgement.  I feared the backlash, the advice, the way in which I would {or would not} be taken seriously--because, {even for those who know me}, you probably would have never put the puzzle pieces together.  I feared the labeling.

But, in the end, I discovered I feared the dusty, dark, and flooded path I was heading down a little bit more.

And so, I made an appointment.

I knew in my heart what her words would be.  I had researched quite a bit to find a doctor with whom I could instinctively build trust, despite our lack of previous doctor-patient relationship.  Prayers were answered as I engaged in a congenial discussion with a compassionate and concerned listener.  Rather than a checklist of question as a means to an end, my doctor put my file aside and faced me directly.  Her eyes were warming, inviting, and open.  A comfort washed over me as I, for the first time to anyone, put in to words the thoughts and feelings and emotions that had been smothering me for so long.  While I didn't get deep into specifics {the woman did have other patients, afterall!}, I felt as though I had shared enough of myself for her to gain a bit of perspective into my reasons for my office visit {which really, felt more like coffee with a new friend--minus the coffee, add the crinkly paper that made noises each time I shifted my butt}.

With some further conversation, a few standard-practice type of questions, and a big hug of reassurance, I was headed out the door and home to begin a regimen of medication used to treat anxiety and depression.  I know the statistics.  I've done my research.  I'm aware of the stigmas attached to diagnoses such as these.  I'm also familiar with how these terms can be loosely thrown around, as well as the way in which people believe medication for the treatment of depression and anxiety can be misused/overused/abused.  Do I fall into the latter?  Am I really in need of a giant kick in the pants, being told to 'snap out of it'; or do I really reap benefits from the medication I have been taking?

In all honesty?  I still think it's too early to tell.  Four weeks since having started my medication; I am climbing the ladder to an 'appropriate dose'.  Have I noticed any changes so far?  In short: I have.  Night after night of sleeplessness are {thankfully} a thing of the past--and I hope they stay that way; however I do have the occasional late night 'stare at the ceiling for two hours' session, or the 4 a.m. 'well, I might as well start my day'.

The physical exhaustion and pain I feel should {only} be attributed to the love/hate relationship my husband and I are currently having with Tony Horton and his P90X crew, as we begin physical transformation.  {Although, hopefully this time we won't allow pain--or pregnancy{!}--to interfere with our continued progress.  Also on our side this time: his work schedule is not nearly as obnoxious unpredictable as when we lived in Colorado.}

Have I made a complete turn around?  Not in the least.  Just yesterday, I spent my day curled up in the corner of the couch, moving only to heat up a big bowl of leftovers; the likes of which I fed to Raegan as well, simply because it was *too much* to put an entirely separate lunch together.  I knew I had to be 'on' at a school function last night; so I conserved my energy and resources.  That way, I could function with a smile, only to return home to my couch corner with a bowl of cereal and a book.  Tonight, Randy and I are meeting with a small group from our church for the first time, so I'm spending quiet time with my blog while sipping imaginary tea and 'eating' plastic treats that Raegan is cooking up in her Little Tikes kitchen.  In all honesty though, my frustration just reached a tipping point when she spilled every.single.little.piece. from the Battleship game into a large bin of teeny.tiny.little. collectible dollhouse toys that we inherited from the grandfather of a sweet neighbor.  Abnormal reaction to something that will inevitably take 20-25 minutes to sort through? {seriously.  you should *see* this large bin of stuff.  miniature spoons.  scissors.  books with pencils.  tea cups.  I'm getting twitchy...}  It's probably a natural thing to experience a bit of frustration...but my response was pretty unwarranted for 'me'.  {Don't worry.  I'll go talk to her in a few minutes.}

So.  Are my skies clearing and the storms subsiding?  I have faith and hope that, yes, I am seeing things through a 'better' lens.  The degree to which that lens is 'better' has yet to be determined.  Somedays, I can absolutely see the difference, like when the optometrist asks you if lens A or lens D is better.  You go from one insanely blurred and tear-inducing view to that of nearly perfect vision, allowing you to distinguish the E from the G from the O on the opposite wall.  Then, there are days like yesterday and today.  You're presented with lens A and lens B.  At first glance, they seem pretty equitable.  No change, no difference.  So you ask to see them both again; only this time you will your mind to find even the slightest difference between the two discs of glass.  You might even ask for a third or fourth glance {an optometrist's nightmare...that's me} because you are just that convinced that something has to be different.  In the end, you wind up choosing at random because for the life of you, you can't notice a discrepancy.

Sometimes, that's me.  A third or fourth glance and I still can't tell the difference between 'pre-meds' and 'on-meds'.  But, the good news is that those 'times' are no longer days.  They're just 'times'.  My moments of non sequitur are being overshadowed by the return of my moments of clarity, of fairness, of sanity.

My landscape is being reshaped; the flood waters are washing away the muck and dirt and blurriness that kept me from navigating my path with confidence.

The path is long, the flood waters may still be flowing, even slowing to just a trickle in some places; but sunny skies will be left in the wake.

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