Author Archives: lindyjayne

You Down with MDD?

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You Down with MDD?

Yeah, you know me!

It’s like walking through high tide toward the shore. Everything drags. Nothing moves quickly or gracefully. Wind rushes through your ears. Only it’s not wind. It’s the perpetual thoughts running through your brain that never stop. Sometimes it’s song lyrics. Sometimes it’s a constant to do list. Often it’s a list of ways that I’ve failed.

It’s depression. Technically Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD.

Not a bad day. Not “the blues.” Not just “feeling down.” Full blown, crippling, clinical depression. When the bootstraps you’ve been pulling yourself up by finally snap.

But no one talks about it. It’s uncomfortable & awkward. “Why can’t they just cheer up or think happy thoughts?” (My goodness, why didn’t I think of that!?)

When the chemicals in my left breast decided to gang up on me & form a cancerous tumor, I wrote about it. Friends & family rallied & sent cards & casseroles. They helped clean my yard & took my kids places so I could rest during treatment.

Now the chemicals in my brain have decided to rage against my machine & I hesitate to tell anyone. Why? Is it not the same thing? Why can I tell people about cancerous chemicals in my boob & have them support me & help me heal but if it’s chemicals in my brain that aren’t working correctly, well, clutch my pearls, we don’t talk about that.

It’s a chemical imbalance. Just like cancer. Something in my body isn’t working right. I need medication & treatment to fix it. Whether it’s my left boob or my frontal cortex should make no difference.

Listen, people, we’ve all heard the discussions about mental health in this country. How many mass shootings have had in their wake a conversation about access to mental health care. “Everyone knew the shooter was unstable. Maybe he should have gotten some help.”

But how do you ask for help when No. One. Talks. About. It.

So I’m trying to talk about it. Because maybe if everyone starts talking about their struggles with depression, anxiety & mental illness – whether theirs or a loved ones, it will stop being such a taboo subject.

I don’t know what reaction I’ll get from friends, family & colleagues by writing this. There are those around me who will wonder why I never mentioned it to them. Honestly, it’s just recently that I’ve realized there’s a problem. Two teenagers – one of them graduating high school in 8 weeks; a large old home that is amazing but way too big with way too many things that need fixing; a job in an industry that someone recently described as “relentless” & well… “I’m not depressed,” I tell myself. “I’m just feeling a little overwhelmed.”

But then everything started folding around me. I can see the piles of laundry. I just can’t move to do them. I can see the dirty bathroom sink. I just can’t seem to do anything about it – except yell at The Kids to stop spitting their toothpaste directly onto the mirror. (Seriously, how does that even happen?) I crawl into bed at 9 pm hoping that a good night’s sleep will help.

And it does. A little.

Until it doesn’t.

Until the day I wake up & wish I hadn’t.

That morning, I somehow got The Kids out the door & got into the shower. There was a litany of crap screaming in my brain. Non stop, exhausting crap that I couldn’t shut off, couldn’t quiet. And I couldn’t stop crying.

That’s when I knew I needed help. The past few months have been up & down but I always thought it was the normal up & down of a something-aged woman with two teenagers, a boyfriend, a large house & a demanding job. But it wasn’t just that. I’m grateful that I had the presence of mind to call my doctor & felt the panic rise when I was told she wasn’t in. Thankfully another physician at her office was able to see me. And the little doctor with the polka dot glasses was a life saver.

I’ve been down this road before. I was successfully treated for depression in the past. Looking back I seem to have a 7-8 year cycle of depression & not depression so I’m no stranger to this. But I’m surprised every time at how long it takes me to realize what’s happening. And if it takes me this long after having dealt with it before, how much scarier is it for someone who knows something isn’t right but doesn’t know where to start to fix it.

Let’s talk about this people. I know I’m not the only one.

Signs & symptoms of depression include:

  • Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness
  • Sleep: early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep
  • Whole body: excessive hunger, fatigue, loss of appetite, or restlessness
  • Behavioral: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, or social isolation
  • Cognitive: lack of concentration, slowness in activity, or thoughts of suicide
  • Weight: weight gain or weight loss
  • Also common: poor appetite or repeatedly going over thoughts

If you or a loved one show signs of depression or any mental health issue & you don’t know where to turn, start with your doctor. If there is an imminent emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Other resources include:

  • National Helpline for treatment options: 800-662-HELP
  • Suicide Hotline: 800-273-TALK

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Evil Creeps Closer

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The phone rang with the number of The Kids’ school. At the same time, texts start coming in from The Girl. She left for school that morning feeling less that 100% so I assumed it was a call from the nurse & rejected the school phone call while finishing up a phone call with a client.

When I finally looked at my phone I felt the color drain from my face.

“We’re in a shelter in place” read The Girl’s text.

Cursing myself for not answering the call from the school, I fought the urge to drive there knowing that whatever was happening, the last thing the school staff needed was a group of anxious parents getting in the way.

I’m sure every parent from Parkland or Columbine… every loved one from The Pulse in Orlando or The Borderline in Thousand Oaks, CA… thought it couldn’t possibly happen in their world. We all think that. We all desperately want to believe that. Whenever there was a lag in The Girl’s texts, I wondered. Just like all of those other families.

Just 6 days ago, last Wednesday, a threat to The Kids’ school was found in a bathroom. It was deemed “not credible” & extra police were on hand for the last two days of the week. The Kids were with their dad that night & we discussed via text whether or not he should keep them home like they wanted. We decided, as The Ex so eloquently put it, that “we would not be emotionally manipulated by some mouth breather with a crayon.”

Heading back into school on this Monday morning, it seemed like a lifetime ago & we didn’t give it a second thought.

The Girl tells of being in math & having the teacher suddenly go to the door & pull a couple of kids in from the hall, shutting off the lights & locking the door as they rushed into the room. At least she had her phone with her. The Boy was in gym with his Medical Assisting shop which is 99% female. As the girls were ushered into the women’s locker room, he was pushed into the men’s locker room with a group of seniors that had been working out nearby. No phone, no way to communicate, not knowing anyone. He puts on a brave face but when we went to the store tonight, he stuck by my side instead of his usual routine of going off to see what was new for PS4 or XBox games.

My kids are growing up with evil getting closer.

Someone pointed out tonight that it was a good thing they practiced active shooter drills because at least they knew what to do. “It’s like the fire drills & evacuations we used to do in school.”

Only it’s not.

A fire can happen any time, true. But a fire – with rare exception – is not an intentional act of violence. Staring down a fire & trying to get away from it can’t come close to the terror of facing down evil with a gun. In your school. These kids are growing up with a heightened sense of fear for exactly this reason. We wonder why anxiety is rampant among teenagers. We blame mounting academic pressures, the 24/7 culture of social media & the violence of video games. Have we ever considered that it’s because this generation – born during & after 9/11 – have been raised on high alert. They have been raised to know that they are not safe, even in their own schools.

I remember the first time The Boy came home from his new elementary school in 3rd grade & told me about the drill they had. The teacher locked the door & turned off the light & they all crawled into a vent at the back of the classroom & had to sit really still. That same year, their first in public school, The Girl came home & told us about a lock down drill they did in middle school that day. One of the kids said something during the drill & the teacher looked at that kid & said, “Thanks. You just killed us all.”

This is how they have to live now. This is how we all have to live. With evil creeping closer.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t even really know what questions to ask to get to the right answers to end this. I trust my kids’ school. I trust the systems & protections they have put into place. I trust my kids to be smart & alert & to do what they need to. No, I don’t want to be emotionally manipulated by some mouth breather with a crayon. I also don’t want to see evil in my kids’ school or any school. And I feel helpless watching it creep closer.

The evil didn’t get to them today. The school was evacuated & the kids were sent home. The school was swept by bomb squads & dogs & deemed safe so they will be going back tomorrow.

But “safety” is kind of relative now, isn’t it?

It’s Been a Minute

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It’s been a minute & I officially now have two high school students. In less than three months, The Girl will graduate high school. Soon after that, The Boy will finish his freshman year.

A few years ago I ruminated on The Girl ending her middle school career (To My Daughter as She Finishes Middle School).

Middle school was very different for The Boy. Other than one “spawn of Satan” as The Boy refers to him (I’m looking at you Jack Toohey), my kids had very different middle school experiences. The Girl struggled through it while The Boy seemed to sail – other than his math grades. Case in point: Their texts from their 8th grade class trip to Washington, DC…

The Girl’s: “Can you come get me?”

The Boy’s: “This place is pretty cool. And some girl broke her knee on the Potomac River cruise so we’re all waiting for the ambulance.”

My cocky, sassy, full of spunk (I hate spunk) boy has turned into this amazing young man who is now cast as Narcissus in a new musical written by one of his music teachers. He’s learned to play drums & piano & has a group of friends who are straight up amazing kids. They all congregate at the library for old school Dungeons & Dragons. And when they have to be at their own homes, they’re usually on line together playing TF2 or Fortnite (or as I unfortunately called it, “Frontline.” I may be turning into my mother).

And they’re TEENAGERS. With a capital TEENAGERS. They have opinions & they’re finding their own voice.

And it’s the best.

A coworker is struggling with her two year old… or twouchebag as I recently heard it referred to. And I remember those days. This particular coworker has one just like The Boy who pushed buttons that I didn’t know existed. I just keep nodding & telling her that it gets better. But much like when the doctors used to get annoyed with me worrying about potty training (“No kid has ever gone to college in diapers!” Bitch, please…. I’m trying to get through preschool!) I’m sure she can’t even see that place right now.

But I can.

And my first born is almost grown & flown.

The Girl isn’t sure what she wants to do when she graduates. Maybe biology. Maybe marine biology. Maybe forensics. Maybe chemistry.

So she’s charted a course for community college to help her figure it out. In my panic, I watched other parents post on Facebook about their kids’ college applications. I made her apply in November only to receive a post card in the mail from the local community college that may as well have said, “Slow your roll. We’re working on the January term. We’ll get back to you about next fall.” And here I was all prepared with my FAFSA.

It’s not the road I thought she would choose. Her focus at the technical high school was graphics. But according to her, she loves art & doesn’t want to do it for a living or she would hate it (sort of how I felt about working at Target). That’s pretty mature. I also expected her to choose a small, private, four year college. We toured a couple… okay, one… and I thought it would be a good fit for her. But she is my level-headed one. She knows enough to know that she doesn’t really know what she wants. You know?

I guess my point is that every kid finds their way eventually. I watch my friends post about their kids’ college acceptance letters & cheer them on. And I know that they’re cheering on The Girl as she embarks on her path to figure out what she wants.

The Boy recently had to choose his shop at the same tech high school that The Girl is graduating from. He chose Medical Assisting. And much like his sister, it’s not the road I thought he would choose. But he’s got three more years to figure it out before graduation.

And at the risk of sounding cliche’, it’s not the destination. It’s the journey.

And this is a great journey.

Stay tuned. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

 

Four Great Years

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“This morning I had two boobs & a boyfriend,” I lamented to KK, my sister extraordinaire. “Tonight… not so much.”

It was October 25, 2012. I woke up with an appointment scheduled to get biopsy results on a lump in my left breast (Head’s up…. it wasn’t good). I also woke up to an email from someone I had been dating for several months telling me that he thought it best if we didn’t see each other anymore. And frankly, once I got the biopsy results, I was glad he said it first because I couldn’t see trying to build a new relationship with someone I had barely gotten to know while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. So I would have broken up with him anyway. (That’s my story & I’m sticking to it.)

“You should come to the Firefighter’s Ball with us!” exclaimed KK. Her husband was an on-call firefighter for their town & while avoiding the obvious jokes about firefighters having balls, I declined, thinking that she wanted me to come on my own & troll for firefighters. Turns out KK’s firefighter husband had a friend who wanted to go to the ball but didn’t have a date. “You can go with him. Worst case, it’s a night out at a winery with music & dancing with me!”

Fine, I figured. Why not?

So there I was… November 9, 2012 – exactly 6 years ago. On a blind date. I still had sutures in my left boob & gauze bandages covering what would become a lovely scar on “Lefty” as this boob that tried to kill me is known.

I worked that morning. It was a Friday & as a manager at Target staring down Black Friday, I was pretty much working every day. I got home at about 5 pm. Threw on a dress & heels & tried to make something out of my newly died red hair. I was supposed to be at KK’s at 6 pm. I was so nervous & so late that I ran a red light. Not just slightly red. Not like the yellow & just barely turned red kind of orange red light. Full on red. As the police officer who pulled me over said, “What was that? You weren’t even close.” I explained that I was on my way to a blind date & was really nervous. He laughed & let me go. (Thanks again, Officer Morgan!)

I forgot lip gloss & really had to pee. I pulled into KK’s driveway at the same time as Him. “F**k!” was my only thought. (Well… not my only thought. I did notice that he had really nice shoes. That’s always a plus for me.) I really wanted to get in the door, pee & borrow lip gloss before this. Instead we literally met in the driveway of my sister’s house. (Years later he would tell me that he introduced himself, shook my hand & immediately thought I was out of his league. How freaking cute is that?!)

The night went on & my new date was super quiet. I couldn’t tell if he wasn’t into me or was just nervous. But frankly, the only food was a mac & cheese & mashed potato bar (News to all of us… we kept waiting for a dinner that never came) & with the wine going strong… well… cue the dancing!

HE DANCED WITH ME!!!!

That’s pretty huge in my book. Having been married to someone who “didn’t dance,” this was new to me. The clincher that night? Everyone started leaving the dance floor as Usher’s “Yeah” came on. “Oh, C’mon!!!” I yelled.

He turned… “This your jam?” he asked.

And we headed back out to the dance floor.

And even though I saw the horror in his eyes as I recited every word of Ludacris’ rap break (“In the club lookin’ so conspicuous!“) he asked me to go out with him again as we stood back in KK’s driveway at the end of the night.

And even though I was in the middle of Black Friday planning & fell asleep at the movie on our first date after the ball….

And even though I think I may have talked to the waiter more than to him at dinner that night….

And even though I ran away… And even though he ran away… we’re figuring it out. And we’re still here. Through cancer. Through radiation. Through new jobs. Through our anchors moving to Arizona. Through parents & kids & sadness & happiness. We’re still here.

Since 2012….

Today he sent me flowers. Because it’s been 6 years. As people saw the flowers on my desk today & asked what they were for I told them, “Four great years!”

“Wow… you’ve been together four years?

“No. Six. Two of them just kind of sucked.”

Happy Anniversary, babes.

We still go to the ball every year!

 

 

MomDay Monday – The Face of Failure

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A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say, but this one leaves me with none. It came up on the Facebook memories of a friend yesterday & he posted it because, as he says, “This one never gets old.”

A little back story: This is The Ex & me at a kindergarten open house for The Boy in 2010. I can’t begin to recall what infraction caused this icy show down. Who knows… someone forgot to do something or did something they weren’t supposed to. I don’t remember. But a year after this was taken, we would be well on our way to divorce.

I can see why our friend finds this funny. On a lot of levels, I do, too & in past years (because he posts it Every. Year.) I laughed along with him. But yesterday it hit me a lot differently. Yesterday, I captioned it “The Beginning of the End.”

At first I wanted to lash out at our friend & write something scathing to him about reminding me what a failure I am at relationships. After writing several drafts of my scathing comment (that I’m grateful I never posted) I stepped back. Lashing out would change nothing. I do fail at relationships. And not just the romantic ones.

Because that’s what bothered me about this picture. For some reason this year’s posting made me take a harder look at my part in my failed relationships. All of them.

That little blondish head staring at me in the bottom of the picture is The Boy. He was 6 at the time. And damned if this picture didn’t make me regret every time I’ve failed him & his sister.

And that’s where I had to stop myself. Yes. I have failed my kids on a number of occasions. I have failed my parents & family, my friends, my coworkers, my bosses… There’s probably a few fellow drivers on the roads in my town who qualify, too. But I can’t wallow in it. All I can do is recognize when I’ve failed & take whatever steps I can to correct it.

And that’s huge. No one wants to admit when they’ve failed let alone do the hard work of fixing their mistakes. It’s easier to sweep them under the rug & hope nobody notices. Taking the blinders off & facing that reality sucks – and makes you want to lash out at your friends for posts that are actually pretty funny. I was going to say that in the past, that was difficult, but hell, it STILL is. Always will be.

But it’s worth it.

PS – That 6-year-old blonde kid in the picture? He’s 13 now. He’s taller than me & I just bought him a men’s size 10 pair of sneakers. He made honor roll, is in a band & was one of 20 kids in his school of 500 who was asked to join Art Club. Despite his long hair & propensity for sweatpants, the failure couldn’t have been that bad. 

PPS – At the risk of outing my friend who posts this picture every year, I’m going to direct you to his website. If you want to read an unflinching look at dealing with & overcoming mental illness – the ultimate staring failure in the face & making it blink – read his blog: http://www.theocddiaries.com

 

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MomDay Monday – Wait For It

Today was not a good day.

It was the first day back from school vacation. And the two weeks before that were filled with enough snow days to keep them in school until July (Here’s your red, white & blue outfit, kids. Enjoy your class Fourth of July Party!). Trying to get two teenagers up & out the door on a good day is work enough. Today involved trumpets & a system of weights & pulleys to hoist them out of bed & on their way.

The rest of today’s schedule was:

  • 8:30 am – 5 pm: Woooooooooooooooooork – which was the Monday of all Mondays.
  • 5:30 pm: Get The Boy. Bring him to band practice
  • 6 pm: Get The Girl. Bring her to volunteer program kick off event
  • 6:30 pm: Bring The Boy home
  • 7:15 pm: Bring The Girl home
  • 7:30 pm: Make dinner
  • 8 pm: Ignore laundry
  • 8:05 pm: Open wine
  • 8:06 pm: Ignore world

The Girl’s volunteer kick off event was for a group that run a number of homeless shelters & low-cost housing in our city. She will be working with an after school program for homeless kids. When I went to pick her up from the kick off event, she was nowhere to be found. My heart sank. She has been struggling with anxiety & depression in the past few months & my first thought was that she got overwhelmed by the amount of moms & kids in the room & was hiding somewhere. Instead, I found her crouched on the floor in the back of the room with a little girl about three years old. They were making shapes out of beads & guessing what the other had made. I watched her for a few minutes then looked around the room. It was filled with moms & kids. Moms like me. Kids like mine. Only we were going home to our big house. Our big, not-so-warm-house-but-only-because-I’m-cheap-and-don’t-want-to-turn-up-the-heat house with the cabinets full of food. They… well, they were not. They were going to one of the designated apartments in the building we were in. Or they were going wherever they could. One woman was in her car with her two kids looking for a laundromat. I offered her quarters & we went on our way.

And I was grateful for everything I have. My job. My home. My kids. My crazy life.

And then I came across this on Facebook….

No... Just No.

And I wanted to scream.

Because I didn’t enjoy my life today. Not remotely. Life took me down today. Life showed me moms who just wanted the best for their kids & couldn’t give it to them. Even in those moments I was feeling grateful I was also feeling like life was harsh & it was hurtful & I wanted to punch it in the throat. Because that’s what life does sometimes. “Enjoy my life today?” I don’t think so, Charlie Brown.

And then it’s topped off with “tomorrow may never come?” For f**k’s sake, really? There’s already enough pressure to “enjoy life today.” Now I have to be concerned that “tomorrow may never come,” too? I’m a reasonably healthy human being. Frankly, I kind of take it for granted that tomorrow IS going to come. It’s true, though – there are occasions where the dairy free, gluten free, vegan who runs marathons drops dead. But for the most part, we’re all going to see tomorrow. (And since it’s 11:57 pm, I think I have a pretty good shot.)

As the lyric goes in the musical “Hamilton” – “Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners & the saints – it take & it takes & it takes. And we keep living anyway. We rise & we fall & we break & we make our mistakes.” (This guy could sing the phone book & I’d listen to it.)

Sometimes we just have to wait for it. Some days, we can’t just “enjoy our life today” on cue because Charlie Brown tells us to. Some days we have to wait for it. Wait for the better days. Wait to enjoy the day. And that’s okay. It’s okay to feel bad sometimes. It passes. Wait for it.

Even when someone has it worse than you. It passes & you do whatever you can to help while you wait for it.

Even when you know you have nothing to bitch about. It passes.

Wait for it. It’s on its way.