Daily Archives: May 8, 2016

Mother’s Day Guilt

Grief Adjusting to a New Normal

Journal – Saturday, May 7, 2016

So here I am once again typing. Still fatigued. In bed. Nick is gathering laundry. I’m lucky to have a husband who will do laundry. Looking forward to a simple breakfast of Cheerios and banana and a strong cup of coffee. Nick’s going to make me breakfast and coffee and bring it up to me to enjoy it in bed. He does it every weekend, and I love him even more for it.

Visited my mom and dad yesterday for Silverado’s Mother’s Day lunch. When I arrived, I had been told that my parents had been walking around. I arrived a little late, for I stopped for flowers. I found my parents in their room, and my mother was crying. I reassured her that, of course, I was coming to visit her on Mother’s Day. I just ran late, for I picked up her some flowers. I joined them for lunch in their room, then we took a walk, and sat outside enjoying the day while we ate dessert. The dessert selection was wonderful. Miniature tiramisu, cheesecake topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream, cannoli, and cupcakes.

Wiped me out visiting. Hurts. Deep down. That keening. That slow long-term grieving. Grieving the parents I had, the mother I knew. Wishing I could talk with her. Wishing I could call. Wishing she could communicate with me. I do my best to decipher her emotions, her body language. I do my best to understand what she tries to say, to show, to write. Terribly painful. Fuck strokes. I’m pissed off that my mother can no longer speak or write. We must communicate non-verbally using movement and facial expressions.

Complaining too much. At one point last weekend, I fantasized about my own interests, not so much about mom & dad. That’s where I need to focus.

Mother’s Day – Sunday, May 8, 2016

Not sure I have anything to say or to write today. Will be a day of rest, and maybe a walk with Nick and the dogs. Would prefer a wilderness walk than a dog walk. Maybe I’ll ask Nick and Matthew to go on a hike with me. Maybe I’ll just spend the day in bed relaxing. Who knows? When I’ve walked with Nick and the dogs recently, it’s been only for very short walks. Don’t really like walking the dogs. Still associate walking them with them attacking other dogs. Still traumatized by the time they viciously attacked a grey hound.

Anyway, not so sure that thinking about that helps. Need to desensitize myself. Nick’s been working with the dogs by walking them regularly. Still don’t trust them. Always want to come back as soon as Thumper poops. Even though Nick carries the poop bag, not I.

Happy Mother’s Day, Kitt! Don’t feel so great. What do I need to do to feel better?

Comment thread on my Mother’s Day blog post earlier today:

LAURELWOLFELIVES: I hope you’re going to be able to spend time with your mama. I hope it’s a good day. Hugs.

KITT O’MALLEY: I spent time with her Friday when they had a Mother’s Day lunch at their memory care community. Today is my day, to enjoy at home with my husband and son. I must take care of myself, too, and at times be selfish. Today is one of those days.

LAURELWOLFELIVES: You are NOT being selfish, Kitt. You are a wonderful daughter and mother….don’t ever doubt or forget that. I hope your day is glorious. Hugs.

Friday I visited, had lunch with my parents in their room. My mother was crying when I found them in their room. I went up to my mother and reassured her that, of course, I was visiting her for Mother’s Day lunch, that I was delayed in arriving because I stopped to buy flowers. Honestly, I had trouble dragging myself out of bed. I hugged her, showed her the flowers I bought. We put them in a vase. Next time, I’ll buy an arrangement already in a vase and remove empty vases from her room.

While we were in their room, my mother opened her calendar, pointed to the day, and asked that I write. I wrote, “Kitt visited for Mother’s Day” (or something to that effect, probably with fewer words since her calendar is small). She pointed again. I wrote, “ate lunch.” She shook her head and tried writing numbers. I asked, “Do you want my phone number?” Yes, she nodded. So, I wrote my phone number, which she copied. I told her, “Good job copying the numbers.”

She let me know that she wasn’t pleased. I took her to the nurses’ station, conveniently next-door to their room. I asked her if she was happy with the 24/7 nursing. She nodded and smiled at the nurse. The nurse walked us to the front desk and brought out an administrator and assistant health director. My parents had already met them, but I wanted to let my mother know that these were the women they could speak to about concerns. My mother took their business cards, which she seemed to appreciate.

Forward to today, Mother’s Day. My mother went up to the front desk and adamantly pointed to my phone number. They called and put her on the phone. She seemed okay at first. I reminded her that I had visited Friday and that today I was celebrating Mother’s Day with my son. She started crying. I told her I loved her. I reminded her of the flowers I brought and the flowers my sister had sent. She hung up at some point.

I called back to speak to the social worker to ask for advice. The social worker had redirected my mother, reminding her that I had visited Friday. The social worker thinks that my mother becomes overwhelmed on these “special” days and feels isolated. My father doesn’t remember whether or not I’ve visited. The social worker said she’d write in my mother’s calendar that I spoke to my mother on the phone today, which is what I USED to do on Mother’s Day.

I’m a mother now, too. Yet, I feel guilty that I am not visiting my mother. Honestly, I feel guilty that she had a stroke. I mourn, as no doubt does she, the phone calls we used to share. I used to communicate with my mother almost daily, either on the phone or through Words with Friends. Now, we cannot really do that. We’ve lost our former way of relating. We grieve that loss. We have not yet found our new stasis.

Our new normal must begin with my mother and father becoming comfortable with their living arrangement. Every time that I visit, my father asks when they are leaving. At least he seems to have stopped asking my mother’s prognosis. At least he asks less often. When he does ask, I tell him that my mother had her stroke in November, that it is now May, six months later. He’s intelligent. His short-term memory is blown, but he understands that six months and little improvement does not promise a great prognosis. Yet, I tell him that there is no way I can predict the future. As time goes by… This will become our new normal.


Filed under: Dementia, Family, Mental Health, Motherhood, Stroke, Writing Tagged: blogging, Grief, journal, Journal writing, Mother's Day

Writing

tohthut I have started to try to remember to put words down as I think them or as different situations come up. I have always had a lot to say and some of it is pretty good stuff. The catch 22 is that I actually have very little quiet time around my house and in my life. So if my posts seem kind of choppy and jump around it’s because someone or something has interrupted me yet again. It has only been more recently that I have realize this as every time I startto write a post someone decides they need me. Never fails. Currently my 17 year old likes to try to have conversation at 9pm. Um…..no, not the correct time for important conversations as the day is already over. Of  course that means I then have to catch him in between school and work in order to actually finish the conversation. But I guess that’s just the way life is sometimes. 

As I look for more ways to be involved with the world around me I realize that those quiet moments when it’s quiet mean the world to me. It’s when I am most able to see who I am and why I’m in exactly the place that I am right now. My dental hygenist look at me a couple weeks ago and said,”you just spew all this wisdom and you way younger than me”. A compliment yes for sure. But also I end up being like are you kidding me this isn’t wisdom it’s just me telling my opinion. In that moment though, and not for the first time I wonder why God made me the way he did. Why am I the one that wise? Why of the the people in my dads extended family did I end up having this illness? Especially because it seems that only a couple of people had it to begin with. I have never understood why things have been this way. I am quite certain that I never will. But I pray that just one person can be helped by my voice. That someone somewhere has a little better life or relationship because I took the time to reach out. It never feels like enough though. Even the things I have done don’t really even seem to be a drop in the bucket for all the people on this planet.

Does anyone else ever wonder what people will say about them after you are gone? I’m not consumed by it or anything but I am curious. I have written letters and had conversations with people where I have tried to express how much I love and care for them. I truly believe we should all be trying to say what needs To be said. That we should be coming together as families, and friends to make our circles amazing. To have people looking and saying I want that how do I get it.  Writing has always been a good outlet for me. Now that I can make some quiet time my hope is that my thoughts will come together better and I can better express what I am trying to say.

 

Stay tuned people I think it’s gonna be a great ride!!


Embracing Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has been the toughest day of the year for me for most of my adult life. I lost my Mom 20 years ago to cancer and she always said “If you can’t show your love 365 days a…

Happy Mother’s Day!

To All the Beautiful Moms I Know!

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I Don’t Think Much Of Sundays

I always get a feeling of dread on Sunday. I start thinking about all the time I will be spending alone the next week before the weekend comes. I honestly live for the weekend and than I don’t even do anything with them

All I’ve been doing is listening to music and pulling into myself. Not sure why, but you can tell all the music I am listening to has kind negative feelings though sometimes they are super upbeat songs. They just remind me of how I feel sometimes.

I need to grab hubby and do something.. I’m gonna do that now.


Mothers Day 

Ha ha tricked you!! I know that was so mean. But I decided that everyone is talking about mothers today. And I can tell you that I have an awesome mother and so many of the young ladies around me have really crappy mothers. But itS not like you haven’t heard that before. 

So I’m going to use this post to talk about Mothers who struggle with mental illness. I’m not sure genetically where my bipolar stems from I am almost positive that my Grandmother on my fathers side has/had it. She is still alive but she is suffering from dementia along with a few other things. But she exhibited many of the characteristics that I have or that I had at one time. It has been an interesting couple of years trying to figure out what is what. For me sometimes I don’t know for sure if my interactions and reactions with my kids are normal or the bipolar rearing its ugly head. Most of the time I think kids are just the hardest thing any human being ever has to deal with. You have moments or periods of time where you feel like you are just sailing along and then it seems that over night things are completely crazy. I personally struggle with raising my voice. I have always been told I yell to much period, but I mean sometimes kids are so loud you have to yell. At least for a minute there isn’t any other choice. But for me I spend more time analyzing everything that happens instead of just enjoying how things happen and the great moments that can be found amidst the chaos. 

Even before I knew about my diagnosis I spent so much time thinking that I was a bad mother who couldn’t get her stuff together. I still feel like a failure on a regular basis but I have been able to give myself permission to cut myself some slack. No one is prefect no matter how hard we try. No one will ever measure up to the perfection that exists in our heads. I have come to realize that it’s the crazy moments, the family dinners, the inside jokes, the sleepovers, the joy of a new birth, the sadness in the final goodbyes of someone we love. Women especially seem to hold this close as they walk through life. We think we have to be perfect, that we have to make everyone happy, and that when we do mess up we are the worst mother, sister, wife on the planet. 

I’m here to tell you that’s not true. Your family and more importantly your children would never be the same without you. They don’t care about a perfect house, or dinner on the table every night, they don’t care if you are beautiful or wearing sweat pants and no make up.  You’re children love you because you are their mother and because of what you do for them. They don’t need all that other stuff. All they need is you, for you to be present, for you to sit and talk with them about their lives, for you to have family movie night and watch a kids movie while you eat popcorn and sleep on a mattress in the living room floor. They need you to love them no matter what they do and even if you are mad. I make my kids say “i love you” back when I say it to them. Not because I want to punish them but so they know that even when they are mad I still love them and I know that they still love me. It’s in those moments when you are honestly tired of your child’s voice and they say “mommy”, you respond with “ugh yes”, and they look you in the eyes and say I love you so much!!Thats when you know you were made to be a Mom. That those sweet moments have the ability to change your life in a heart beat. That;s how I know that some of these things have nothing to do with bipolar and everything to do with the difficult task of raising kids. 

My kids know that I am bipolar. At differing depths because of their age but I am open with them about my struggles and my difficulties. I want them to understand that sometimes I react badly and it is of no fault of theirs. I purposely humble myself and tell them that I am sorry because it’s not their fault my brain is having a very negative day. 

Being a mother has been my most rewarding experience in life so far. To watch them grow. To see them go through periods of hating you just to turn back around and need you. Being a mother has probably been one of my greatest gifts. I looke forward to watching my kids continue to go and spread their wings. To be more wholly who they are and to make their mark on the world. For me Mother’s Day isn’t about me it’s about my kids and the unbelievable amount of joy that they bring to my life. So for all you mother soak up the love today cause it’s gonna be a long year before it rolls back around.
Be blessed!!

The Week of Living Alone

Sometimes, when I get tired of my complicated life, I imagine what it would be like to start over someplace new, or what it might have been like if I had made different choices. I envision myself, living alone (well, with one cat), in a small town like Benson, AZ. I would have a small used book store or secondhand shop and live in a small apartment over it or behind it. I would have a couple of friends I met in my shop and go out to lunch or dinner once in a while, but mostly spend my free time listening to music, watching TV, or on the Internet.

Sounds simple and peaceful, doesn’t it?

Portrait of a young woman drowning, shark fin on the backgroundThis past week has convinced me that even such a stripped-down existence would not be possible for me. My husband was out of town for nine days, and I could barely manage.

Those of you who follow this blog know that my husband is my rock and my support. I often say I could not get through without him, and my recent experiences only reinforce that.

I didn’t begrudge his leaving, though I wish he had not been gone quite that long. His mother needed him to help her get ready to sell her house and move, and nine days was barely enough time to start on all that needed to be done. There are times she needs him as much as I do.

But coping on my own was difficult. I have paid work I have to do. It matches perfectly with my skill-set and I’m grateful to have it, but sometimes it’s just plain hard to do and hard to make myself do. And I have two blogs (the other is at janetcobur.wordpress.com) that I have made a commitment to posting in once a week, each. Plus, I have started writing a novel.

We have four cats, two of them ancient, and one dog, also ancient. I was afraid that one of them might die while my husband was away. (None did.)

As scary as the idea of coping with a dying or dead animal on my own was, just caring for them was difficult. They keep demanding food several times a day, you see, and they have no thumbs to open cans with. Then there’s the water bowls and the litter boxes. I used to live alone with one cat and manage okay, but that was many years and many meltdowns ago.

Then there was feeding me. Dan had stocked up on things I like before he left, but after the French bread pizzas were gone, I lived largely on salami sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and cereal. (I did eat vegetables. I had a small tray of sliced veggies and dip.) Once I made a couple of baked (frozen) fish sandwiches early in the week, but later I had devolved to the extent that my evening meal was peanut butter on a bagel. Another night I had mashed potatoes and a glass of red wine. Other meals I simply skipped.

Then there was Dealing With Stuff. Life Stuff. You know. The Stuff that happens to everyone sometimes piled up on me. I had to talk to (argue with) the utility company and the IRS. I had to pay bills. Life stuff leaves me exhausted.

Plus, I kept having to Go Out. Deposit my check. See the doctor. Pick up prescriptions. Buy cat food when I ran out. I wore pants more days last week than I had in the previous month. (Dan wanted me to water his butterfly garden daily, but it rained every day or night, so I didn’t have to put on pants and go out for that.) I treated myself to lunch twice when I had to go out to do those errands, but it was nearly impossible to decide where to eat.

Now Dan is back. I had to put on pants again so we could return his rental car.

But you see what I’m getting at here.

My fantasy of retreating to a simpler life is not feasible. It simply wouldn’t work. The everyday tasks and trials of managing a shop, caring for myself and a pet, negotiating all the stuff of life would overwhelm me. Oh, when I’m hypomanic and can sometimes focus, I might do all right for a while, but life – even a very basic one – would eventually overwhelm me. There are so many things I can no longer do, at least not without serious amounts of help and support.

I can muddle through for a while mostly on my own. I am getting better. But not better enough to live independently, at least not right now.

 


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: being overwhelmed, bipolar type 2, coping mechanisms, husband, living alone, mental health, mental illness, my experiences, support systems

Coming Out

In my art bagJournaling in coffee shops is a big part of my MO.  It’s how I push the worst of the internal pain and distortion to my margins.  It’s how I remember who I am.  Journaling is vital for me.  It’s medicine.

Now that I’ve embraced art journaling, I needed to figure out how to make it mobile, how to make it as easy as my old $1 spiral notebooks used to be.  Some folks I met at ArtFest do their page set-ups at home and only journal out in public.  Some take a few art supplies.  Tracy likes to have people stop and talk about his journaling.  He even invites them to add to it.  Teesha wants to be left alone.

I put together a bag of supplies and launched.  It helped that our local coffee shop closed for a couple of days and reopened under new management—Georgina, a sassy, gregarious New Zealander who is bent on upgrading the food quality and increasing the friendly factor.  It seemed an auspicious start—new art form and new digs.

Lion Spread

Since I’ve journaled in public for years, I’m used to the odd personal inquiry.  I don’t get bothered much, but if folks see me as a regular with pen and notebook, eventually they ask what I’m writing.  I’m happy to share.  It’s also a chance to advocate as a person with mental illness.  Almost to a person, they are or know of someone with mental illness.  Conversation ensues.  Stigma weakens.  This is my superpower.

I’m finding that art journaling is a more open invitation.  First it was the coffee shop staff—mostly college and very young adults—who seemed drawn to my booth like fluttery moths to a flame.  They were fascinated, almost giddy, and inordinately proud that I did this weird thing in their coffee shop.  I’ve become a kind of celebrity with my little bottle of matte medium and magazine gleans.  They introduce me to their families.  They give me muffins fresh from the ovens.  It’s so sweet, and totally baffling.

Failed Michael

It’s much more visual, this art journaling thing.  My crap is spread out on the table and hard to miss.  Other caffeinators wander by and stop to find out what it’s all about.  And I’m happy to share.

These last few weeks have been rough, mental health-wise.  The Bad Thoughts never stop, and reality is a little hard to recognize.  When it starts to drag me under, I take a deep breath and go glue something or spread paint.  It helps.

girl on fireIn one of my buying frenzies, I ordered some old art ‘zines from Teesha Moore, the wonderful art journalist who organized ArtFest.  I figured there’d be lots of stuff to glean and pretty pictures to soothe my Brain-On-Fire (which would be my Hunger Games name).

In one of the zines from 2007, Teesha wrote an article about how she created an art journal page.  The more I read, the angrier I got.  She had lots of Do’s and Don’ts, particularly Don’t ever, under any circumstance, just cut a picture out and glue it to the page without altering it.  And then there was an endless list of art supplies—types of paints and pens, markers and pastels—all with their own Do’s and Don’ts.

I thought, no wonder I could never do this.  Complete intimidation.  In my righteous indignation, I created a FuckYou, ThankYou, Teesha spread in my journal.  Part defiance, part homage, I used some of Teesha’s techniques and a lot of swear words.  And it is glorious.

FYTeesha

Anger can light a fire under creativity.  It can conquer Defeat.  It can pound a fence post in the ground and say, This is as far as you get to push me.

A Brain-on-Fire can be terrifying and it can be an open door.  With May being Mental Health Awareness month, I’m happy to share.

 


Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother's Day with Rose in Background


Filed under: Motherhood Tagged: Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day 2016

happy mother's day

I hope you all have a good one. Here is a re-blog from last year.