anxiety

It’s not you 2012, it’s me.

2012; you’re going away today and I have to be honest; I am not that sad to see you go. I don’t really blame you, 2012. Well, I kind of do, but I realize that you were just the wrong time in the wrong place in my life.

We had some good times, 2012. I had some great times this year with my friends, not nearly enough time with my family. You introduced me to a lot of good people, like Le Clown, Madame Weebles, The Ringmistress, on top of scores of other bloggers who feel like friends to me (like really, too numerous to mention.. I love you all!). I even got to meet some in real life, like Love and Lunchmeat and Lame Adventures. Both of those meetings were as great as I expected them to be and affirmed how much I love meeting new people. I went with you to New York for the first time, I got to hang out on the beach in PEI for a week. I watched my beautiful kids turn 3, surrounded by dinosaurs and bikers. I fulfilled my lifelong dream of keeping bees, which is something only you gave me, 2012. I will always be grateful for that.

Rockin' the freezies like a boss on my kids' birthday.

Rockin’ the freezies like a boss on my kids’ birthday.

But mostly 2012, you were a bit of a downer. Admittedly, 2011 being such an asshole didn’t help your cause. My expectations were too high for any year to come along, being as naive as I was about how house floods and insurance and all that kind of baggage that 2011 left behind. When I left 2011, I didn’t realize how much of a mess I was and that wasn’t the best way to start my relationship with you. You were a bit of a rebound, really. I was just so excited for 2011 to be over, I was ready to just jump into the next year without any forethought. That’s my fault 2012. I could have predicted you wouldn’t be the year for me, but I was blind.

But man, you made 2011 look like a goddamn saint. I mean, within the first two months of you I had been sued, accused of insurance fraud, and had to pay for a second round of renovations for my house because 2011 delivered me the worst, most malicious contractor in the world. You brought along illness and disease. You claimed our dog. Then you claimed Mr. Giraffe’s aunt. We tried to fix things by going on holidays with you, but you were just an emotional vortex, 2012. Seriously. Everyone I know who was involved with you says the same thing. Even when I tried to relax you threatened me with Superstorm Sandy, and you seriously affected some of my friends with it. I take that kind of thing personally, 2012. No holiday went unpunished this year, no weekend unsullied by your constant pressure. You even delivered the worst kind of experimental jazz at every opportunity you could, ruining a whole music genre for me, and waited until I was on my own traveling with twins to give us all a stomach virus. Way to go, 2012. I feel like you could at least clean the puke out of my van, but I just want you to go.

Anyway 2012, I know you’re moving on, and I am glad because I think we aren’t good for each other. If indeed time travel ever does become possible, please don’t call. Don’t write. Just pretend that you never happened. Don’t try to undo all the shitty things that happened this year, 2012, because we both know that would be a lie. Even if you could change how things went, you can’t change who you are, 2012. You were just full of negative energy. If things were different, I might be tempted to go back to you and I think that we both agree that our relationship is pretty toxic.

Instead, just gently let me go to 2013. I am moving forward with lowered expectations, a bit more calm. I am just going to embrace whatever 2013 brings and not try to change 2013’s ways, like I did to you. And with that I say adieu, 2012. Go fuck yourself.

I want this exact statue on my grave when I die

This will be my permanent attitude in 2013 and beyond.

And to all my readers, I hope 2013 is brilliant and kind to everyone. Happy New Year!

All existential again

Alternately titled: GAWD ROLLERGIRAFFE, JUST GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER ALREADY.

My brain is such an asshole sometimes. I went to the cultural capital of the entire universe (New York City), narrowly escaped the storm of a lifetime, a major election happened, we moved our bees, and I had a traveling salesman come to my door selling art in a goddamned snowstorm. But may brain is all “we got nothing.” “No blogs up here, my friend.” Brain: you are a dick.

I made a muppet y’all. And it looked like it was being asphyxiated in my hotel room for 5 days, and my brain STILL DIDN’T WANT TO BLOG ABOUT IT.

They look like they’re dying. That is bloody comedy!

Why?

Good question. I don’t know really. When I posted about my rut a while ago, and all went fucksticks crazy on my blog for a few weeks, it felt like I was on a roll. But that’s not necessarily reality for someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, and is the mayor of peanut butter. The reality is that I spend my days stealing the kids’ Halloween candy and being sad, or at least vaguely dissatisfied. I have some reasons for this, but not nearly enough to justify the depth of it.

Cathy at Large Self posted this quote a few weeks ago that struck a nerve with me.

“If we can get to the place where we show up as our genuine selves and let each other see who we really are, the awe-inspiring ripple effect will change the world.”

—  Terrie M. Williams

This has been rolling around in my head for weeks. It was just one of those timely quotes that has embedded itself in my head and I can’t let it go. I haven’t really been my genuine self. Not that I haven’t been genuine with you all, just that I haven’t been the person that I really want to be. Or taken the time to really figure that out. And all that I really want out of life is to rock the shit out of it. I want to find a way to make those ripples, I just don’t really know how right now.

So here is my genuine self, right now:

I feel untethered. I am worried about everything. I am not feeling good about myself and where I am headed right now. I feel lonely; so unbearably, crushingly lonely (you are not the only one Creative Liar). I also feel like I am not enough for myself or for anyone around me. I know part of this is the disease of depression, but part of it is the circumstance of having let myself go.

Are you coming with me?

But these are also things that I am confident can be fixed. In a strange way, I feel like I am moving toward some unidentified future that will fulfill me. Or maybe it’s just delusion blind hope. Hell, maybe I am just drunk (thank you, Joyce Winery, your San Benito Pedregal something something is totally whateversszzzzsfzsdsdddfffffffffffffzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz).

So in the spirit of me wanting to look forward and move toward something better, look for posts in the weeks ahead about people and things that inspire me. The world is good out there, I just need to find my way into it again.

And because I don’t like being serious: FUCKBALLS.

October 6th: Ruination Day

So. It’s been exactly one year since I came home expecting a nice hot bath and found my ceiling on my goddamn floor. That turned out to be the high point of the last 366 days (Leap year! One bonus extra day of misery!); at least we were giddy and insane with grief at that point. The ensuing incompetence, maliciousness, and random bad luck that followed aged and embittered us enough to fill therapists pockets for years to come. But it’s been a year. The acceptable period of grief is over. The unfortunate legal battles and insurance bullshit is not, but there comes a point where we either get sucked under by it or we move on with our lives.

But I am still sad. And unmotivated. I have terrible first world problems like hating our house. Every little detail from the reno represents some sort of loud discussion compromise or hasty decision we had to make. We keep trying to divert our attention to fun things, but you can only go to so many amusement parks before you figure out that amusement parks are creepy and contribute to malaise. My hobbies are emotional eating and insomnia. Basically, I am in a giant rut. And this time I don’t have any cow bones or a spirited little partner to help me out of it.

But the time for that is over too. I need a goddamn plan. Although I mostly feel like laying down most of the day, I am tired of feeling that way. Being the proactive beast I am, I drank a bottle of a very small quantity of wine for inspiration (and perhaps a whole lot of a teeny amount of Balvenie Double Wood.. heh, insert adolescent sex joke here) and concocted one.

A Rollergiraffe’s 7 Point Plan for the Future

1. Get a damn job. I need to use my brain again and earn some money. This is likely going to be in the industry I worked in pre-kids, without the benefit of the last four years of training, networking and general career trajectory. And I would have to go to interviews which make me sweat and self-deprecate. I am still a little traumatized from getting laid off by voicemail from my last job, and I have no filters left that will allow me to function in an office setting. I might try to give my co-workers time outs when they disagree with me. Ok, so this might not work out in a hurry.

2. Do charity work. In the absence of a paying job, I should be giving back to the community. I am pretty sure I have a lot to offer in this regard, with my environmental experience and all. Right? It doesn’t matter that the only journal I read in the last four years is US Weekly, right? People are dying for celebrity news, aren’t they? And I would need to pay for child care to do charity work which .. or I could do it in the evenings, right? After the kids go to bed and the house is somewhat restored from the garbage dump look we’ve adopted through the day? Ok, so this one’s out too for now.

3. Exact revenge on the contractor fuckstick weasel who wrecked our house and tried to ruin our lives. This one is just a fantasy. He’s already sitting on a heap of debt, both karmic and financial. And I am an adult who is able to control their emotions (totally not true except for the legal adult part). Plus, I am way too lazy to do a good job, so I’d just basically annoy him a little and then end up on Canada’s Stupidest Criminals, if such a show exists.

4. Become a domestic goddess. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Nope.

5. I am still laughing over the domestic goddess thing. Mount Washmore is so goddamn high, you guys.

6. Spend time preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I am on Love and Lunchmeat’s Zombie apocalypse team (even if I can’t figure out how to put badges on my blog. Fuckballs, I am hopeless at the internets), so I am sure this would be a worthwhile endeavor. If it’s not the zombies, it’s going to be something. Except all that canning I did totally went to waste and my shoulder is ruined from carrying twins around all day so I am not sure improving my marksmanship is really a good idea. And every time I think about the apocalypse I think about The Road, and I am not sure at this point in my life I would be the one who filled the bathtub when the loud noises were heard. My survival instinct is kind of dull right now, is what I am saying.

I was only ever good at shooting quarters anyway.

7. Have another baby. Because less sleep is totally the answer.

So obviously I have no plan. Tell me, gentle readers, have you ever been stuck in a rut before? How did you get out? Do you think I should keep my hair short? Why does Mitt Romney want to fire Big Bird? What is your favourite snack? Why isn’t anyone talking about the Higgs Boson anymore? Is it because they accidentally made themselves a big black hole? Answer any of these questions below in the comments.

P.S. If you read the Ringmistress’ blog, Laments and Lullabies, a 35 year old having a mid-life crisis will sound disturbingly familiar to you. I totally drunken plagiarized her, and then apologized, but she laughed at me and told me to post it anyway because she’s amazing that way. And lots of other ways too.

You should have kids. Or don’t, or whatever, it’s really up to you.

A friend earnestly asked for my thoughts on pregnancy and childbirth recently, and I was drunk enough from crappy draft beer and was coming off a cruddy week so I was terribly cynical. I believe that I told her that it was like a grenade went off in your vag, and went on to discuss the various body fluids and such at length until she presumably left to go get her tubes tied.

I’ll let you form your own opinion about what kind of a-hole that makes me, but I am here to rectify that. Because you see it’s all fine to be cynical and self-deprecating when I am drunk and trying to be humorous, but I actually find my kids delightful. I enjoyed pregnancy and those early days even though I was crippled by anxiety and depression. I am proud of my boys and proud of myself for making it through the hard bits, and I would never want anyone to think otherwise.

So, my dear friend, this is what I would say to you if I was being honest:

There is no real apt comparison, but pregnancy and childbirth is a bit akin to the wedding before the marriage. Everything is about to change again. Use this time to find your voice, rely on your body, start discovering how you want to raise your child, building your network of trusted sources, and learn what your own limitations are. Mourn or celebrate the changes in your body. Learn to cut out the chatter of parents, relatives, friends, experts, and google.  Everyone has an opinion, and the only one that matters is yours (and maybe the opinion of a caring and competent midwife or obstetrician). While ideally you have an easy pregnancy and a joyous birth that leaves you with a euphoric start to parenthood, it may not happen as you planned it. That’s ok, mourn that too.

And once you get over that hurdle, the real work begins. Your body will be a mess for a while as it knits back together, but you’ll hardly notice because you are in the kind of sleep deprivation state normally reserved for torture tactics and vision quests. You will both love the little being (or beings!) and be drained by it’s endless need. You will feel like you are doing everything wrong during the bad phases and everything right during the good phases, but recognize that it is all a phase. Everything is a phase. Enjoy the good ones, endure the bad ones and know how much wine you can safely drink before breastfeeding if that’s how you roll.

You have to deal with the various plagues and teething and other people’s terrible kids. Your kids will like things that make you feel stabby and they will flush all your preconceived notions about parenting down the drain (literally, if they’re written on something. Everything goes in the toilet). Your efforts will be spoiled by well meaning grandparents and you’ll have to navigate the wilderness of choices over babywearing, breastfeeding, toys, tv, feeding, sleep training, daycare, preschool; the list is virtually endless. And the worst part is that you will be in charge; you will hate making decisions. But, you will also have instinct on your side and develop a keen eye for things that will work for your family.

And they get bigger and become little kids at a furious pace. Kids are sticky and cuddly and surprisingly strong and louder than you think at 3 am. But they are delightful. Truly. All the magic that you lose the first time you have to pay for car registration or realize that you’re on the hook when the faucet breaks comes rushing back to you when you find yourself blowing bubbles in the middle of a Tuesday. Sure, it’s bound to end in failure and tears, but very few things are as freeing as staying in that moment. They come to you when they’re happy and when they’re sad and both of those are gratifying. There is nothing more powerful than when they snuggle into you or grab your face for a big messy kiss.

My boys saved me, healed me, and helped me become a more fully realized woman in ways that I never expected. They humble me and make me eat my words often and I am frustrated every single day.  But they also make me slow down and appreciate things I had forgotten about. I feel things with more depth because I bear the weight of their emotion too. They still have all the best qualities without the cynicism that comes with age; curiosity, humor, generosity and kindness. It’s impossible not to let that rub off on you a little. And they are watching, so you become a little more mindful of your actions and hopefully a little bit of a better person.

But this is my experience and yours might be different. You are already amazing, and your kids may not have the same effect on your life as on mine. Maybe you’re up for it, and maybe you’re not. Maybe you are really looking forward to getting tapped on the forehead at 3 am or taking the little beast everywhere under the sun. Or maybe you dread the thought of touching all of someone else’s body fluids and maybe a grenade vag is enough to put you off forever. Maybe you like being untethered. That’s all cool by me. Just don’t fail to do it out of fear or because parents complain all the time because those are just the surface bits. It’s harder to talk about how crazy in love you are with your kids than playing along with the narrative that parenting is terribly hard. If you decide you want kids, don’t do it expecting happiness or exhaustion or perfection or anything at all. Do it expecting your life to be ripped wide open and to keep expanding.

And you are totally going to rock this.

I am about to get all existential on y’all. Bear with me.

I haven’t blogged in a while because, well, because my life fell apart for a bit there. It’s not quite back on track yet, but we’re getting there. I’ll do a little haiku for you to catch up:

My house flooded and

We got a contractor who

Was fucking awful

Awful doesn’t really do it justice, but I can’t really talk about it until the lawsuits go away. Seriously. Anyway, in the midst of everything we are also coping with a lot of family stuff and our dog died and our insurance company was convinced (by our contractor; he’s a fucking gem of a human being) that we were ripping them off, etc. etc. etc. And I moved back in with my parents at the age of 34 with my 2 kids and that just really isn’t uplifting for anyone at any age.

I have always suffered from anxiety. Crippling, panic attack inducing, heart racing, insomnia, life force stealing anxiety. It’s a cruel self-perpetuating mental health problem that will always plague me. Add  in the kind of crazy we’ve been experiencing the last 6 months and basically I got into a rabbit hole that I never thought I would get out of. The scariest part of it was that I was so worn out and exhausted that I wasn’t even anxious anymore after a while; I would just mentally shut down whenever any tiny amount of conflict arose (eleventy bajillion times a day). That’s called burnout and adrenal fatigue, bitches, and it ain’t good.

Fortunately for me, one of my best friends had this type of break down already, right down to having her house flood too. It was watching her be open to everything from counselling to shamanism fuelled with a lot of wine in between stops that gave me a road map to recovery. Now that she is finally better and I am at my worst I can look to her as a beacon of hope that one day I’ll be ok too. That’s what friends are for; making road maps with spirit animals on the sign posts.

The big key is to stop struggling. Once I just accepted that all these fuckstick crazy things were just happening to me and I could only deal with the things I had energy for it got easier. And then I started to take control. I started to go to a counsellor and I stopped second guessing all the decisions I was making. I stopped letting people drain my energy and started taking more naps.

And mostly, I just repeat:

I am here. Right now.

I am here… I am not in a bunch of different places at once dividing my energy for diminishing returns. I am here, devoting my energy to what I am able to do. I deserve happiness, love and respect. And because I am here, I have a responsibility to dole those things out to others around me. I am present and available for those who need me and for myself. Because I am here, I am capable of dealing with my present circumstances and influencing my future.

Right now… there is a whole bunch of things I will change when I finish that goddamn time machine, but until then I can’t do anything about the past. Crazy and random things have happened to us and will continue to happen, but I can’t speculate about what they will be. I am strong and capable of dealing with whatever comes my way so there is no point in worrying.

When my mind starts to wander to thoughts of toxic waste, cancer, death and dismemberment on an hourly basis I just remind myself that “I am here. Right now.” It calms me to remember that in this very moment I am healthy, I have two healthy happy kids who are ok, and therefore everything is fine.

And I am going to the shaman too. I’ll let you know what my spirit animal is, unless it’s something terrible like a vole. In which case I’ll just make up something rad like a pronghorn antelope, although they seem to thrive off of large contiguous areas of native prairie which is disappearing at a rapid rate, and thinking about that makes me anxious so maybe I’ll pick something more adaptable. I’ll get back to you.