For the first time in, I don’t even know how long, I’m writing how I used to. I’m in my bathrobe, my hair is soaking wet, and I’m listening to Maynard. None of this is relevant, except maybe that I’m listening to Thirteenth Step album by APC.
“What goes up, must come down” popped in my head today – the law of gravity. Up & down describes my life, as it relates to my moods. Depression, anxiety, etc. are all the ups and downs in everyday life. I have been fighting myself so much because I am “so tired of my mood swings”, but it only makes it worse. I am not struggling anymore, I refuse. I am more tired of fighting and analyzing my mood swings then just breathing and living my life. Life – nature, doesn’t control itself. The ocean doesn’t tell the waves where to go; the air doesn’t tell the apple where to land. Yet, inevitably, it goes where it was meant to, because it’s there. Anxiety is, in the simplest terms, an attempt to control what cannot be controlled. It’s an acute awareness of how little control you actually have. While many “spiritual” coaches would gladly charge you $1800/masterclass to teach you their magic of manifestation, the truth is free: you control your life with your mind – for better or for worse. Your mind will dictate your perception, and perception is reality. The Law of Attraction they wish to sell you, is as free to you as the oxygen you breathe. It happens whether or not you are aware, as you stay grounded on the earth, whether or not you try. No one can control nature.. “Life…finds a way”
I was thinking about gravity, and I started wondering why the hell I am so odd/ill/etc. if my moods, as an apple tossed in the sky, go up and down? If I and so many others with mood disorders (is it actually a disorder?!) simply follow nature, why am I so…unnatural? Over and over, you read ADHD and bipolar are actually very similar “disorders”, and many artists, intellectuals/philosophers, etc. suffer(ed) from mood disorders.
I journaled today, “I’m not letting myself write how I like to write.” I didn’t totally understand what I meant, but I rarely do. I’m not a great communicator with myself, because I think too damn much. I started doing tarot readings – I taught myself everything, and it’s become a really cool exercise in self-exploration. Like my journal, I rarely know what I mean until I stop thinking about it for a while. Not thinking is something I rarely allow myself to do. I remain convinced that this busted computer is going to solve my problems, when the only time I find answers is in the space between the clouds of thought. Where the sun peeks out and I say “Oh shit, right…” I never realized how much I argue with myself until I started paying attention to the constant maelstrom in my mind. Am I the only one who seemingly cannot walk and chew gum at the same time, because she’s so damn confused about what she’s thinking about? I swear, for every step forward I take, I’ve walked a marathon of circular questions and second guessing.
Anyway, sorry, that was rambl-y. I’m exhausted. I am actually forcing myself to stay up, because if I don’t spend some quality time in my robe with wet hair and Maynard, I’m going to lose what is left of my noisy ass mind. My kids are amazing. My kids are exhausting. I’ve been exhausted lately. Part of it is hormonal – my period just screws me up completely, anxiety spikes and depression crashes. It also was the full moon, and my kids acted as insane as I felt. Murphy’s Law of Motherhood explicitly states: “If your kids are going to go batshit crazy, you will be on your period.” Nothing screams fun like trying to keep your kid from drowning in the ocean while you have cramps.
There’s been a lot of in-fighting for me, as per usual. I haven’t been giving the boys their ADHD medication. I’ve gotten comments here and there about their un-medicated behavior, but I don’t like giving it to them. I swear my youngest son’s eyes dim when he takes it. (I am not interested in any debate for/against meds. I’m honestly just trying to have an emotionally logical conversation, if anything.) I hate the double-edged sword I’m faced with. In school, particularly, the boys get in a lot of trouble for squirming, not paying attention, using scissors inappropriately, being too slow, etc. Both of my boys are tremendous people pleasers, and any sort of trouble really affects them. They get anxious or sad or both, and their focus continues downward, and it’s a vicious cycle. The same happens at home, but I suspect it’s easier for me to “deal with” (read: flail around confusedly) 2 kids with ADHD versus a classroom of 20+ kids who all are special with quirks not necessarily summarized in an acronym.
Are they more difficult when they don’t take their meds? Yes. Oh my God yes. They’re nuts – in good and bad ways. They came up with a talent show today and performed stunts. They were a rock band in their sister’s bed (where they broke up 17 times because, and I quote “I’m just not a good drummer, okay?”, “I said I wanted to play Song #3, and this isn’t it. I’m done.”) There’s also a lot more food being eaten, a lot more arguments for screen time, and a lot more melt downs. I find myself really stuck, because I have as many good and bad reasons. I worry my feelings about medicating them is a projection of my own feelings on medication for me, because what I see from their changes is how I feel in mine. In reality, I suppose, I guess I’m easier to deal with when I take medication, yet to be honest, since I have gotten diagnosed, I have been isolating myself more and more. I am tired of dealing with people.
I feel upset when people tell me I seem better on meds, or more like myself, because I don’t feel either. I feel switched off. They seem switched off. I look at the three of us and I wonder why it is no one can “deal with us” if we don’t do things the right way. I feel I have the same problems plus a shit ton of side effects. My moods aren’t more stable, and I’m a whiny bitch all the time, haha. I’m passionate and tempermental and creative. The only thing the meds have done is staunch the good, emphasize the bad, and make me feel/look like shit. Woo! The boys, on the other hand, do prefer taking meds for school – I’ve asked them – because they don’t like getting in trouble.
I get that all of us are unstable mood wise. Our meltdowns – and yes, my irritable outbursts make my 5 year old look like the amateur he is – are not fun. I also think staring around silently isn’t fun either. My meds make me feel trapped inside my own mind. It’s like trying to find a corner in a circular room. I know there is a balance. The world will not just bow down and accept/accommodate everything. You do need to be able to conform to rules that serve you more than chain you. (my hippie-esque logic.) Our impulsivity is downright dangerous (and expensive, in my case…). My five year old trying to climb out of a second story window is testament to an inability to react to thoughts properly. My penchant for walking in the street forgetting to look both ways because I’m too busy babbling or thinking is another example.
I’ve changed our meds, always striving to find minimal side effects and always stumbling on more. I always worry about side effects I don’t notice in the boys. These are young boys – 10 & 5 – and they are taking drugs designed to alter their mind. Their mind. I can go into mindfulness and whatnot now, but seriously, there is no hell like a life where one doesn’t know how to control one’s mind, and I suspect it’s worse with busy brains. I don’t know what others brains are like, I can only describe mine, and it is rush hour shore traffic in my grey matter, unless I stop, breathe, and focus. No med does that.
I think the hardest part is understanding the difference between the two. When I take meds, I feel like someone else. When I don’t, I feel like me, but I don’t like me. I don’t like me, because I see how much I upset the people who love me. Then, I get upset, because I don’t think the people I love, love me because I know how hard I am to deal with. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of trusting myself, my thoughts, etc. because I am acutely aware of how abnormal I apparently am.
I worry this could all trickle to my boys. Either these subconscious feelings I have in my own self projected to them, or that they feel me and others feel they are bad/wrong/broken. It is so hard trying to get them to behave, but I cannot feel okay medicating behavior. Are they better behaved when they are medicated? Yes, they are. They don’t smile nearly as much though, and while yes, I am frustrated a lot and I might yell more because they don’t listen…They do not listen, but they smile and laugh more? They remind me of when I was a kid, just being dumb around the house in the summer. All any mom wants is for their kids to be happy and healthy. In this, I don’t have enough data one way or the other, I literally have to trust my gut, which is probably the only thing anyone should ever listen to, but we all know we drown it out with opinions, distractions, and our stupid brains. Again, I have that slight problem of not actually trusting myself, because I’ve been convinced I’m crazy.
This is one of many swarms in my brain right now. It’s a mini-swarm in the locusts of “I want to be a good mom.” and “I want to stop feeling crazy so much”. I cannot definitively assert that there is no correlation between the two. Being dumb around the house is how I found the things that still make me smile, even when I can’t handle my life. Sometimes, I wonder if I just make my life too hard; I know I am too hard on myself (as is everyone, it seems). If they take the meds, they are easier to work with, but they don’t seem like themselves; it is how I feel about me. Kids are supposed to be difficult and not be able to sit still, right? We all know they don’t listen, yet hear everything. I worry constantly that they hear how people want them medicated so they will stop…being..them. Isn’t that how they just are? Is it bad that they are full of life, energy, and insanity? Isn’t that the beauty of nature?
I cannot shake the belief that my kids are more important than I am. I don’t think that’s really wrong. I don’t think it’s really right. I don’t think it makes me a good mom or a bad mom. When I held my oldest in my arms, I knew my life was no longer mine. So yes, it is harder to be a mom when they’re un-medicated, but I suspect it’s easier for them to be kids. So who…wins out? Do I medicate them to make everything easier for me, yet different for them? Do I continue as I am, seeking the balance, where the medication serves them but doesn’t hinder? Of course, I continue my focus of teaching them all the coping skills I have found, because they’re more effective than any medicine. Is it unfair for me to project my feelings on medication on the kids? Is their happiness more important than mine; yet realistically, their happiness is completely out of my control. I can set the stage, but they have to make the choice. That is another law that I cannot change, and that is human nature. We all have choices, but right now, I have to make choices for the kids, and I worry the consequences of my choices.
I cannot live their lives or fight their battles for them. The only thing I can truly do for them is be an example, because they learn so much more from listening to me, then hearing instructions. The best example I can set is acceptance, because the world calls my normal a disorder. I don’t want the kids to grow up thinking they are wrong for being themselves, because there is only one of them. There are plenty of people that fit in; I don’t think any of us need to. I’d rather seek the balance, the harmony, allowing us to love ourselves unconditionally without opinions bringing us down before nature inevitably does her job. I cannot control the world, or even the thoughts and worries that surface in my mind, but I can create an environment that accepts and loves all of it – up or down.
This is where I just tell myself to hush, because I catastrophize. Every day is a decision, a choice, and it is the only moment you have, truly. I worry so much about a future that doesn’t exist, that I rob myself of the present chaos I live in. Chaos, as my one true love Jeff Goldblum would say, is a law. Underneath all the pretty order that we perceive, is rampant chaos. Some of us aren’t as good at hiding it, though.
All I can do is decide for today and every day from now on, I will make my decision for that day, and stop worrying about the days before, and the days after. While my mind is essentially the world’s most advanced computer, life is not. To attempt to rule your life with a (faulty) computer is a sure-fire way to feed the swarms of thoughts and drive yourself mad. Philosophy, not medication, is helping me understand the truth staring me in the face.
“I choose to live” ~Gravity, APC