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summer vacation: this time it’s personal

Here we go again: the kids are out of school for summer, so why am I more tired now than I was during the school year?

For one thing, I agreed to a piano camp every day this week so I had to set an alarm and have someplace to be. For another thing, my kids are a year older than they were last summer (duh) so I don’t understand yet what they need/like/want. Also? I’m 43 and have stupid random health issues and can’t get in with the doctor I want until the end of August.

Oh. And I changed the dosage on my anti-depressant. Life is hard and weird.

I only talk about my mental health with my closest friends, with my husband, and with my doctor when things start to go sideways. I’ve blogged a bit here and there about anxiety and depression, but it’s not exactly a regular feature of mine. That isn’t entirely on purpose, it’s just not a topic that has a natural segue. I think about it so much that it seems boring and annoying to me anyway, like, “Jesus, Candy: get ahold of yourself.”

That’s actually the problem: the feeling that I shouldn’t be the way I am. Despite trying to openly talk about my depression and anxiety with people in my life, the shame lingers. The feeling that I created this problem somehow. The thought that if I was just better at (fill in the blank) I wouldn’t be like this.

I don’t really even know what “like this” is anymore. Whatever it is, it’s better than it used to be and I thank medication for that.

The thing is, depression isn’t just feeling “sad” and anxiety isn’t just “worrying.” Depression is like a large, invisible, wet blanket on top of you that sometimes whispers lies. Lies that you hear more than you hear anything else because you can’t figure out how to get the blanket off. Anxiety can be like a constant scream in your head telling you the worst is about to happen. It’s like fight or flight 24/7. Or at least that’s what it’s been like for me at times in my life.

On Zoloft, sometimes the blanket is still there, but I can pull it off or at least stick my face out and breath. On Zoloft, I may still hear the occasional scream of anxiety, but I can tell myself the “warning” doesn’t make any sense and I can get on with the business of my life.

My antidepressant lets me be in charge of those feelings caused by anxiety and depression instead of the other way around.

Medication doesn’t work for everyone. And it can work for a while and then suddenly not work as well. It isn’t a complete solution for me, but it is a helpful tool. Yoga is a good tool for me, too, as is crochet. But without medication? Those other tools just aren’t enough.

Summer break with my kids at home, I have to look at my coping mechanisms in a whole new light. They require more of me than normal, and I get to see more of myself in them than normal. Seeing glimpses of myself in my kids means I have to be comfortable talking with them about mental health issues and that I need to keep my eyes open to recognize when they are having trouble or doubting themselves or feeling shame for feeling the way they do.

So this summer, of course I will remind them to keep up their music lessons and their reading and their math, but I will also look for opportunities to give them coping mechanisms like yoga or journalling or even crochet so I can teach them how to come back to themselves when they start to feel detached from what’s real.

I mean, if I’m being honest, I will probably also let them have a lot of ice cream. I think that’s called “balance.”

2 thoughts on “summer vacation: this time it’s personal

  1. We should talk meds sometime, it might be informative to you.

    (Or maybe it won’t. Why would I be able to tell her something new, she probably researches this stuff more than anyone. Besides, the doctor certainly knows more than I do and has her on the right meds. Maybe I shouldn’t have posted at all? Does it sound arrogant? Why would she want to discuss her meds or health with me at anyway? I’ll just delete this post then I don’t have to worry about any awkward situations when we see each other it’s nerve wracking enough at the bus stop trying to figure out whether to say hello, start a conversation, join a conversation, or just stand a little ways off from everyone and stare at my phone. Maybe I just need a pill.)

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