I was kind of sick over the weekend and still don't have my usual voice back (don't think the kids aren't celebrating my inability to yell for them up the stairs), so I did not get my entire lesson plan down on paper as I'd hoped. While we made it through yesterday -- which I'll post about separately -- today has been more difficult.
My dear, sweet, loving husband could hear in my voice how frazzled I was this afternoon when he called to tell me he was on his way home, so he offered to take the kids out for the evening (dinner and a movie?) so I could finish up my lesson planning and just refocus a little.
You know it's been a great day when your husband says, "Hey, I'm on my way home ... how are things?" and my response is unintelligible because all the words are spoken through blubbering and tears.
Yes, it's been one of those days.
So anyway, I decided to use my "write down the lesson plan" time to blog first. How wise am I?! (Please hear my sarcasm in that question.)
But I think if I clear my head first, I'll better be able to do the job at hand in this nice quiet house.
Why? Why was today so tough? Are you ready for a long-ish story? Here it goes (if not, you'll probably just want to skip this post)...
I can't remember if I've shared it here in this blog or if it was only in my private blog (that I've almost completely abandoned to this one), but I struggle with depression. My particular flavor has a name for it according to the psychiatrist who medicates me, but I forget the name. So yeah, I've been medicated over the years for this "imbalance" or whatever you want to call it.
While I've probably dealt with varying degrees of the illness for much of my life, it's really only become "popular" to discuss such things in the more recent years. So I never would have called myself depressed as a teen and stuff because who had heard of that back then? Now it seems like it's pretty normal to take medication at some point for depression or anxiety. I'm no longer ashamed to discuss it the way I was when I first was diagnosed. Although, to be honest, I'm not one to usually tell everyone about it, either.
But here I am on my public blog...
The diagnosable problems really started back when our oldest three kids were still foster children and having three or four or five visits with their birthmom every week. Some of you might think that sounds pretty sweet to have your kids cared for elsewhere several times a week. Even though they weren't officially ours yet, I was still the one comforting the kids through nightmares and sickness as a result of all the back-and-forth -- so they were ours, even if the laws didn't protect those deep-seated feelings I had at the time.
Some of you might think I was the worst foster parent ever because I couldn't stay businesslike and keep my personal feelings separate. Think what you want. Every child placed with us during those fostering years were ours the moment they walked in. That's not to say that I underminded the reunification with birthfamily processes or didn't respect the parents' rights. Just think of it more like "sharing." In my heart, they were as much our kids as they were their birthparents' kids.
I think because I was able to pour my whole heart in from the beginning, the kids were able to get the best of me. Their futures mattered to me from day one. Even if I wasn't part of the future plan. It's really too difficult to protect my heart from these children who want and need to be loved just so much. So for better or for worse (for me), I was all in.
In the meantime, when the kids were really struggling with all the changes, I was wearing myself out giving everything to them and saving none for me. Eventually, I found myself easily agitated and even more easily moved to tears. I talked to my doctor.
At that point, he put me on something and when things settled out and visits ended (and we were headed for adoption), he felt I was ready to try going without them. I wasn't medicated even a whole year at that point. (Later edit: I just remembered the name of my first medication: Paxil.)
So I did fine for a long time. We moved to New Mexico and settled into our new home. Things were going seemingly well until suddenly, the kids started acting up. All that stuff in their past really bubbles up -- sometimes on certain dates or times of year and sometimes for an entire year. Well, one summer (I want to say 2011), things were just ferociously bad day after day and I literally did not believe I could survive my life. I was running away from home as much as possible and the kids were running away from home, too. It was a whole bad trend we were getting into.
I remember sobbing in my doctor's office as he told me about other health issues I was experiencing and needing medication for. He seemed to look right past the obvious one, but eventually, I said to him, "I used to be medicated for depression and I think I may need to look into that again because I can't cry like this every day and make our kids believe I am not 'together' enough to care for them."
So we tried something (I'm sorry I'm terrible with names of medications when I no longer take them). It worked for a good year-and-a-half. Celexa! That was it. Anyway, it worked until I guess my body built up immunity and it wasn't working so well any more. So he increased the dose and referred me to see a psychologist, who later suggested I see a psychiatrist and a therapist (which is when I started seeing my counselor, whom I like much better than my psychiatrist).
The psychiatrist decided to switch my medication because she said Celexa wasn't really the right medication for my flavor of depression. So she put me on Zoloft.
Oh. My. Goodness.
I took Zoloft for like four days and if I had stayed on that medication, I would have ended up in jail or a mental hospital, I have no doubt. I know people taking Zoloft who have had great results, but it did not mix well with my body chemistry, I guess.
It made me really angry. So angry and delusional that one day I thought I might have killed one of my kids before I drove away from the house to protect the other kids (I didn't, just in case you were wondering). I remember calling home and feeling completely relieved to hear that child answer the telephone (and sound completely bewildered by my questions about him being alive). I was getting lost on my way to or from usual places I visit: WalMart. I'd be driving to my sister's house -- where I go almost every day -- and I'd stop at the end of my street and break down because I could not remember whether to turn right or left. My eating and sleeping were all disrupted. It was seriously bad, Friends.
The psychiatrist didn't really believe me, I think. My reactions to that medication were atypical. But she agreed to switch the medication and put me on Prozac. I have been taking Prozac (or generic for it) since last autumn. She did eventually increase my dose because I was on the lowest dose and could tell it wasn't even working as well as Celexa, which my body actually grows immune to over time, apparently.
I'm pretty even-keeled on Prozac so far. It doesn't numb me from feeling emotions the way the medication I first took way back in 2004 did, but it gives me the space I need to think a bit more rationally than when I'm unmedicated and every choice I make is emotion-based. I still have good days and patience-building ones like other people, I feel the highs and lows, I just don't react as extreme to those feelings.
So Christmas was coming and our trip to California and so I wanted to make sure I had enough for the trip. But somewhere along the way, I'd missed a psychiatry appointment (I have a lot to remember), so she was unwilling to refill my prescription when the pharmacy called until I scheduled another appointment.
We left for our trip and I brought with me my leftover Prozac at the lower dose, knowing I could double up if necessary.
Before my second trip to California, I tried to resolve the issue again. But the doctor's office was closed or something, I guess. The Pharmacy continued to try to reach them, but to no avail. I was equally unsuccessful. Fortunately, I still had enough at the old dose to get me through trip number two.
I ran out the day after I got home.
So this last week has been spent making an appointment with the psychiatrist and trying to get her to prescribe me a 30-day or one-week supply till I came in to see her. But she was not answering my messages to her.
It was about the third day after not taking medication for my depression that I started noticing little problems coming back. I was quick to snap at the kids for silly things that they do constantly, but off my medication it bugs me sooooo much more. I was irritated with everyone and easily moved to tears. I felt so easily overwhelmed by everything.
I kept praying, but seriously, I think God allowed medication to be developed because he knew our struggles from the beginning of time. He knew that some of us would need a little extra help by that means. So God's answer to me was always, "Have patience."
Oh yeah? Kind of hard to do when I'm so irrational and upset! But I know He loves me and He was working on it in His time.
This past weekend, the Pharmacy gave me a three-day dose to get me to the appointment day. However, because I had already missed about four days, it was going to take me around two weeks of regular medication to get back to my more controlled self.
Today I finally was able to get in and see the psychiatrist. I ran late, of course, because there is still ice on the roads and everyone was driving extra carefully and so I wasn't allowing myself the extra time I needed to get there. But I wasn't more than ten minutes late, so my appointment did not get canceled. (H and Z came with me to the appointment and you can ask them, I was praying out loud the last few minutes of the drive especially that God would help us get there before the ten minute mark -- and He did!)
We talked about usual stuff regarding how I'm doing and then when I brought up the medication and needing refills, she disregarded the fact that I've never demonstrated drug-seeking history in my past (maybe she was just taking usual precautions) and questioned me every different way to determine if I was lying about not having refills. After all, her computer screen showed her that she'd sent the refill order over on December 28th.
I was in California then. But I had been to the Pharmacy three times after that date, with their constant bad news about refills. I may struggle with depression, but I am not crazy (unless I'm on Zoloft -- then maybe I am).
So she said to me, "Why don't we just call the Pharmacy then?"
I was fine with that plan. Grateful even. I knew the truth.
Sure enough, evidence revealed that her computer had failed to send the refill order. The Pharmacy had never heard from her for months since the first medication was prescribed and later increased.
She got off the phone and resubmitted it (later it was filled, so I know they got it this time) and after the interrogation and accusations, all I got from her was, "I'm sorry if I had anything to do with your lapse in medication."
So I was really particularly irritated when I left that office. I know I'm not fully in my right mind right now, but seriously? Couldn't she sound a little bit more apologetic?
Not to mention that I really loathe going to that office. It's 40 minutes from home (but apparently the only one I can go to under my insurance) and the office itself is like entering a prison. The reception area is cased in bullet-proof glass. The waiting room is even behind a steel door that only the person with a special passkey can open. He (or she) just waits to unlock it to allow patients in once they've been checked in. The waiting room has a small fish tank, some chairs and is otherwise devoid of life or character. Cameras watch every area of the center and each doctor has his or her own panic button under the desk.
Being at the mental health center is depressing!
I remember last time I went there, while I was checking in, some actually crazy (seeming) person stumbled in and security immediately escorted him out to point him towards the mental hospital down the street. As the security guard returned a moment later, he explained to the receptionist that he really needed inpatient help and he didn't feel it was safe to allow him into this building.
As I exited the building later and walked to my car in the parking lot, I reflected on all the security measures they have in place inside that building, but here I was, alone in the parking lot (it was dark already) and there is limited lighting, no security guard outside and as far as I could tell, none of the camera monitors even showed the parking area. So that nice, crazy man they just escorted outside earlier could still be wandering around the parking lot trying to find his way to the hospital.
I suddenly felt very unsafe.
But the whole adventure of going there today and being questioned had me completely rattled. Even though I got the prescription and took a pill right away, my whole day was set off on the wrong foot.
I took the kids to Chick Fil-A for lunch, hoping that would reset things a little bit, but mostly I just felt more overwhelmed and easily distracted there. We know a lot of people and I could barely order lunch for all of us without stopping several times to hug someone or say hello to another employee. Our poor register guy (who has served us before and so at least we have a little bit of back and forth comedy about the number of kids' meals) had to wait around so long to get our complete order. Every time I was interrupted, it was a big thing to remember the order and where I'd left off. (Extra blessings for him and his patience, Lord!)
We went home and I had kids wanting several different things (none of them included school, but I was insisting that after a short break, we would begin). Then I thought, "C has been wanting me to clear off my old phone so we can shut it down, so maybe right now is the time to work on that." Mistake. With kids around there were far too many interruptions.
When I finally started school, with an empty lesson plan page because I never wrote it down, and the boys were still bickering and complaining, I just instructed them to work on their memory verses and then I just sort of shut down. I was there, in the room, but I was not present. Overwhelmed. Frustrated. I don't know what to call it, but I couldn't do any more today.
Soon it was time to pick up girls from schools and deliver them home. It was during this whole transition that C called to tell me he was heading home. My lovely nieces got to be greeted not with a cheerful, "and how was your day?" like usual, but instead a crying, snotty, puffy-faced aunt. I'm sure they'll get over it. But still, it wasn't what I'd hoped to be doing when they got into the car.
So that brings me to now. I'm here, the house is quiet, I finally have time to work on something I need to do. And so I shall...
Thank you for reading (listening) and keeping up on all our insanity. I hope the next post will reflect a sunnier disposition ... but at least you know I'm real!