Thursday, February 21, 2013

I stand all amazed.

My life is a glorious struggle. Does anybody know what I mean? The tedious nature of every days that have moments of beauty or tragedy that can steal your breath, and then it's time for bed and you do it all again tomorrow.

I read this great analogy about a professor who asked his students which glass of water was the heaviest, a 6oz, an 8oz or a 10oz. Of course they all said the 10oz, but he had not mentioned how long they would be required to hold it outstretched. 6oz may not seem like a lot, but day after day, or year after year of holding it with trembling arms... eventually it will slip and crash to the floor. He was talking about depression. 

It was a beautifully simple metaphor that I understand too well. Right now I take one small Adderall and one small Xanax twice a day. I was taking prozac, but have recently switched to Lexapro because of the dry mouth I was getting, and that overlap as I switched was (not) awesome. There is nothing more comforting than grabbing the bag of RX's marked "mom daily" and having a million bottles clanking together since I also have a few things I rotate through to help me sleep, some organic, some prescription, some behavioral skills; I like to mix it up so I don't build a tolerance to any one thing, but sleep continues to elude me and runs from my ceaselessly racing thoughts. 

Then of course, getting into the sleep state is such a difficult transition for my brain that leaving the sleep stage is also very difficult. My fully alert self has such frustration with my dream self. Almost daily they can be so real, I honestly struggle to leave them behind and know I'm in my bed, in my real life, and I need to get up.

Elvis is in the house I guess: meds to wake, meds to sleep, meds to cope... but! They work. And they work well, I feel WELL. I feel connected to my brain with the Adderall and I don't feel the Xanax, it just takes the edge off the physical side effects of the Adderall and keeps my highs and lows in check. The Lexapro is okay. I liked the Prozac, but seriously, the dry mouth and the dry eyeballs were like sucking and blinking on sandpaper. 

I tell you this because I don't care if you know. I just don't. In a hundred years I'll be dead, my great grandchildren might read parts of this blog and feel better about the meds they need to take. My own KIDS might read this one day and know that it was never easy for me, I hate the idea of people thinking, "yeah, you take meds, but it worked for you so well and it's harder for me. No one understands." 

My lovely fellow humans, I understand. 

And I'll never quit. And I'll never get complacent. And I'll never make peace with it, which means I'll never stop fighting to be the best version of myself I can be using all the resources available to me. I desire to be my authentic self. I desire to be well. I desire to find the middle ground on those goals. I owe that to myself. 

And I owe that to my family. 

I am leaving a mental health legacy for my family. The way I live now, the foundations I set for my children, the peace I make with my preceding gene pool, will have a ripple effect through the generations that follow me down my family tree. I know this like I know a lunch of perfect fries with perfect fry sauce is more effective than any antidepressant on the market, but my hips shouldn't be the only ones to bear my emotional burdens. 

I rambled through all this medical crap to tell you three stories about the power of behavioral therapy and providing our children with emotional intelligence in addition to all the other dance moves available to us.

The first took place several months ago. Russell has the difficulty of truly believing, at seven years old, he has the knowledge and authority of an adult and will relentless assert this as an adult would if another adult were to tell them what to do. This behavior is often disruptive, many times inappropriate, and sometimes even dangerous. So one day after a blow out, a stomp off, and a grand finale of rage tears I found Russell in his room despondent and somehow still simmering. I sat him on my lap, I did not revisit what had began the event, but used some of our other skills to talk quietly for about half an hour. At the end of the conversation he said to me:

"I get it, mom. You know what it is? It's like I'm dancing by a cliff with my eyes closed, and you just don't want me to fall."

Gasp. Dear Lord, please grant me whatever I need to raise this person well, because he is going to change the world.

The next story, last night actually, things had boiled over in a way I was not handling. I can't be something I'm not, I'm switching meds, I'm a little depressed, I'm getting my house ready for guests, I'm volunteering at the school, I'm working on grandma's cookbook that is a week overdue... Which is when Russell mashed the big red button that is my greatest trigger point when he told me know one cares about him because I wanted him to take three bites of dinner before I got him milk. He became more and more agitated until finally his accusing eyes were boring into my soul, and his chin was trembling with the heartbreaking depth of his belief. My WHOLE LIFE is devoted to him and Alice and Jon. I snapped, I hauled him to his room, I silently removed every item in it, I dumped all his markers and crayons into a trash bag, I took his sheets, blankets and pillows, his posters, his toys and every stitch of clothing in his closet. I left him with a mattress, gave him an old big T-shirt to change into, and then quietly told him with my own simmering rage "maybe you need to understand what you are saying when you say no one cares about you, and take some time to notice all the ways in which you are cared for."

Then he laid on the floor and called under the door how much he loved me, how I'm the best mom in the world, how sorry he is, how I should throw all his stuff away, he just wants me to know how much he loves me. 

I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed I write on this blog as if I have a clue about how to help our ADHD kids and then lose it like someone who doesn't know better. I'm ashamed of the way I felt nothing when I did it, and nothing afterward. Like an empty shell.

Twenty minutes later, he was in my room and we were screaming like reality TV villains. I have never done that IN MY LIFE. No one listening, everyone hurting, nothing making sense, nothing hitting home, just angst, and hurt and trying to find out who is going to come out of this as the "victor". 

And then he looked at me and yelled: "Your life would be easier if you just had Alice! I make everything hard! I should never have been born..."

Shit. Oh shit. Oh holy shit. Now, as a person who swings through emotions myself I know exactly how he feels, we have had had conversations where he has said stuff like this before, and I also do not believe in ever telling someone what they are feeling is not what they say it is. I shut my stupid mouth. I blinked hard, I rubbed my fingers over my temples and I looked at him, square in his beautiful red face.

Then he knew he had my attention and again he said "I never should have been born... even though," he looked up, looked me right in my eyes "even though the world was waiting for me to be born." Breath stolen. "And you know what?! I really believe that, I know the earth is waiting for everyone on the planet to be born, it's waiting for us, and it's waiting for us to be hero's, or not, but it's always been waiting for us."

I pulled him on my lap. I rocked him, I told him he was right, and I told him I have always been waiting for him, too. I told him some people live their whole lives and see some pretty things, and see some ugly things, but people like us, artists and singers, when we look at the world we see things that are MAGNIFICENT, and sometimes we see things that are DEVASTATING, some people see a little color in the world and we see it ALL. That means sometimes you're going to hurt, but those are the most important times to eat, and breath, and make it to tomorrow, because that is where you will find the beautiful things again. Some days you just have to give over to hopelessness, and pray to God to fill your body with the warm honey of his love, and then push it through your limbs and fingers and toes and hair until you can feel the light of the goodness that never really leaves you.

"The world was waiting for everyone of us. I know this."

Dear ancient spirits who guide my family, please guide me as I raise this remarkable man.

And finally, I was frustrated yesterday afternoon when I heard that during carpool Russell had called an older high school boy fat. When someone tells you this, you just want to hide your face, you want to scold, I just cringed and I could see on his face he regretted it. I did not bring it up again, but today my friend who drove the carpool gave me the full story.

As the older boy got into the car he declared "I had a shitty day." Russell has never met this older boy and was quiet but then the boy said "yeah, today was totally fucked up." This is when Russell from the back third row seat piped in "You should not say the f word. That word is gross and stupid." As my friend is telling me this, I'm thinking a lot of things, but one of them is how to help Russell ignore stuff, since he just can't seem to help himself and correct the behavior of people around him, but he's seven, so I was shocked when I found out the older boy decided to teach him a lesson by barking "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!" 

Um? What?! 

My driving friend immediately told the kid to shut his trap, and then went on to explain to Russell "you know how your mom says there are words in life you have to earn? Well, this guy has been through a lot of hard things in his life and maybe he has earned it at his house, but not in my car, and he isn't going to say it again." I assume this was accompanied by some kind of awesome mom glare through the rear view mirror. 

There were a few beats of silence and then Russell said:

"Even if I earn that word, I'm never going to use it. Or the shit word." The older boy snarls and asks why that is and Russell replied matter of factly:

"Because I am an artist. Because I am going to put beautiful things into the world. If I can put ugly things in the world, or beautiful things, I want to be the one that makes the beautiful things, and says beautiful things."

Dear Jesus, if you are reading this, please don't let me fail this boy. Dear Universe, if you have reasons for giving a small family of four three brains that are wired squirrelly, please make it be for a reason, and please let me work for that reason. Dear Dead Cats, please tell Fern to stop putting lizards in our shoes. 

In the name of hope and tomorrow, amen.


Lorraine said...


Rhett and Tiffanie Jackson said...

total and complete huge rolling tears.... xoxo

Alissa Rae King said...

Thanks girls. I really mean it.