back from the wilderness
I’ve been very absent here. But there are some good reasons. I do have a lot to say but I have been struggling to make or find the time to say it. I have been reading my blogging friends’ blogs, but not doing a very good job of leaving comments. Sorry about that.
I have managed to shift myself around to say ‘enough, woman, just sit down and write’, so I am . I am at my table, with pen in hand.
I guess the main reason for me stopping to write now is that lately, I haven’t. I have hardly stopped moving for the last few months. And it has taken a toll.
I am actually reasonably skilled at looking after myself. When I am well. When I say well, I actually mean mentally well. I f you know this blog at all ,then you know I have experience with anxiety and depression. And lots of experience in getting well from these things.
The events of the last few months have kind of unravelled me a little. I stopped looking after myself and let many things slide.
Because I have a history and a family history of depression and anxiety, I have learned (often the hard way, I can be stubborn) to look after myself. To do the little things that count, the things that reinforce ‘me’ as an individual with an identity that is separate from ‘mum’, ‘wife’ and ‘parent’. To look after the parts that are just about me.
I was doing OK with the juggling of home life, school demands, including part time home schooling. I was anticipating the arrival of my sister’s baby – looking forward to helping and hanging out with here most days as she got used to the whole motherhood gig. When the birth of her son turned into what can only be called a nightmare, everything changed. For all of us. Life changing ways.
I wanted to, and needed to, step up and put her fist. She is part of me. She is part of who I am. And she needed me like never before.
I gladly threw all of me into helping. I am so glad I can, that I could, that I did and still do. We are closer than ever, she can depend on me. She knows how loved and supported she is. She is still finding her way today, and she is so brave, pure, brilliant. She makes me proud beyond words, to be able to help hold her up, or just hold her matters more than anything in the world to me. This is a tough fight for her, but she keeps stepping up. She is incredible. So incredible. Some days squash her a bit, but she continues to journey, find her way, feel her way through this. She is honest, she is stronger than she ever imagined, she is pushing back when she needs to, determined. I admire her so much.
It is very hard to admit when things in life are ‘too much’. I am a veteran with this familiar path, the guilt, the fear, the shame. It is very hard to stop, when I am the type of person who wants to show how brave, strong, resilient I am. It is the ability to say ‘enough, stop, rest’ that makes a person strong and resilient.
Just over a year ago, my brain found a way of saying very loudly to me ‘stop’. I had a hemiplegic migraine that has left me with what is now mild double vision. Just on 2 months ago, the neuro-ophthalmologist I had been referred to assessed my situation and concluded that my brain was taking an unexpectedly long time to heal from the ‘complicated migraine’. He said that because of the high levels of stress in my life, my brain chemistry is not the right environment for my brain to completely heal and recover from the damage caused by the migraine. To explain, my occipital lobe had the most activity in it during the migraine, as I had loss of vision, visual auras that were sudden and intense. This was so much activity that it caused damage, so the area that processes vision is affected. So I see double with both eyes, even if one is closed, I still see double in the eye that is open. And yes, it is annoying. Other areas of my brain were affected, including mobility, balance, speech. But they are all fine now.
When I stop and think about it properly – I had a migraine serious and complicated enough to temporarily damage my brain – it is pretty alarming. The most likely cause of this was stress. It certainly made me stop – I had trouble walking for about 2 weeks because of the balance problem. The need to stop was forced on me. I took the hint then.
The neuro-ophthalmologist said if I want to try it, low dose antidepressants could help lower the stress chemicals in my brain, possibly giving my brain the right environment to heal finally.
I said I would think about it.
The idea of going back on antidepressants – even for this reason – was, well, depressing.
As my sister began her own journey into motherhood, healing and recovery, I helped as much as I could. A few weeks ago, I started to notice signs in myself. My signs include drastically disturbed sleep, difficulty concentrating, bad memory, constant headaches and tummy complaints. I frequently felt like I wanted to cry – for no good reason – but knew that if I did, I might take a very long time to stop. So I didn’t.
When I finally took notice of all of this, I stopped. I said to myself ‘you first”. It was time to call my doctor, who has been my doctor since I was 16, and talk things over. She agreed with me – my brain could do with the ‘experiment’ of seeing if the neuro-ophthalmologist’s idea would help, and I needed to be pro-active in reducing and managing my symptoms of stress, anxiety and early signs of depression.
I have now been on antidepressants for a week. My brain seems to really like them. I feel much calmer, and more like myself than I have genuinely felt for some time.
And the best part of all – my vision has improved already. I can safely say it isn’t toally better – YET. I really feel like this is working.
And the fact that I have sat as long as I have to hand write this post is another sign that I am back to myself much more. While my two sick boys flump on the sofa under blankets watching ‘Up’, I have taken this time to return to blogging.
The words ‘manage your stress’ have always been laughable to me. But I am figuring out better ways this time around.
And that can only be a good thing.
Thanks for reading to the end of a very long, personal post. More on the escapades of Perky and Captain Nintendo, their dad and I soon.
“Your Life Is Your Message – through your attitudes, beliefs, thoughts, words and actions, through everything that drives your choices and decisions, you write and reinforce your ‘message’ on a daily basis.” – Stephanie Dowrick, page 25, Choosing Happiness.