Archive for the Mental Stability Category

Will Work For Just Long Enough to Demonstrate My Ineptness

Posted in Mental Stability, Motherhood, Why you should maybe rethink the whole reproducing thing with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I have had many, many jobs.

I have been a gas station attendant, a dish washer, a car washer, a book store clerk, an art store clerk, an environmental department cubicle dweller, an analytical lab tech chemist type person, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. But the last three I don’t get paid for, since they’re part of my wifely duties.

The thing is, I keep convincing people they should hire me, and these people continue paying me to work for them even after I demonstrate my total lack of common sense or normalcy.

I’m pretty sure if my husband wasn’t financially too invested in me he would upgrade, but I don’t know where else he’d find someone with such diverse experience.

Not only can I pump gas and wash dishes, but I can formulate scathing tongue lashings for the customer service reps that have screwed up our accounts, all while I’m on hold and playing Memory with the kids.  I can analyze our drinking water for lead and also sew buttons back onto pants. I can write copy so hilarious and captivating that it sells a cheap, fake engagement ring on ebay.  I can create truck routing schedules for hazardous waste pick-ups, a task that may seem irrelevant for a mother but believe me…it is not.  I can count minuscule dead minnows in the bottom of a beaker. I can breed actual sea monkeys successfully, and then feed them to the minnows that did not die.  I can fix Gas Cromatograph Mass Spectrometers that cost more than $100,000 each.

But now, my jobs seem so mundane. Wash dishes. Do laundry. Make appointments. Cook supper.

Where’s the glamor?  The money, the glitz? I was destined for greatness, and now I’m…what?

Now I’m a model. A famous woman who is clamored over and stalked and hears my name shouted from everywhere, over and over and over:

“Mommy? Mommy? Mommeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”

Kidz Bop Can Suck It

Posted in Mental Stability, Motherhood with tags , , , , on June 18, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I used to be one of those people who would drive around blasting Public Enemy, or D.R.I. from speakers that were never built to handle such bringing on of the kickass.

I sang Nine Inch Nails “Closer” as loud as possible with the windows down and did not care one whit about the people staring at me.  I smiled and waved at them while mouthing the chorus.

But now, when I pull up beside you at a light, you are more likely to hear Kidz Bop from my minivan.

Oh the Huge Manatee!

My kids all love music, and thanks to McDonald’s happy meals, we now have a small collection of tripe music from Kidz Bop. Basically, they take mediocre songs and force 279 children to sing them. If one of my children puts one into the CD player, it starts playing automatically and if I don’t go all quick-draw McGraw on it, it’s too late.

“Mommy! Was that Kidz Bop?? Put it back on!”

My question is: why? Why take songs that are okay if you like that sort of thing, and make them into the stuff nightmares are made of?

How about this: they took Nickelback’s “Photograph,” which already sucked, and had these kids sing it. A song about reminiscing about being stoned, or something like that.  They changed the simply shocking word “hell” to “heck.” Perfect.

I’d like to see them add Beyonce’s “Check Up on It,” which is relatively tame, or 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.”  Maybe even a nice cover of “Shake That” by Eminem with Nate Dogg. I’m wondering how they’d fix the obvious lyrical problems in those songs.

Believe it or not, Kidz Bop is one of the best selling CD series ever produced.

If this isn’t a sign of the apocalypse, my name is Flava Flav.

We Interrupt This Blog…

Posted in Mental Stability with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2009 by Ms. Ex

…to bring you this important message.

Ladies and gentleman (I’ll leave it to you to figure out who is whom), when last we left our heroine she had confessed to outrageous positions on such things as spankings (she likes them), recycling (dependent upon which way the wind is blowing that particular day) and numerical order.

We understand that she has subsequently been kidnapped by a gang of two eco thugs and is being held ransom for the sum of…well, hold on a minute folks.  It seems they do not want money, but instead are asking for a bag of spicy tortilla chips and a lifetime supply of ginger beer.  And also, some Pepto Bismol and some Malabrigo yarn in the Vaa colorway.

One of the kidnappers appears to be dressed like a clown, and the other one is a clown, but was wearing a dog mask.  They were last seen shoving BKT into a baby blue Pacer and speeding off while blasting “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, and singing over the lyrics, “It takes THREE.”

If you see either of the suspects, or hear from Barely Knit, you are advised to call the CIA immediately, as they are holding a position open for her as a spy (her dream job) and with all the recent cutbacks are unable to spare the manpower necessary to find her. They have, however, uncovered WMDs.  In Monkey’s Eyebrow, AZ.

The Nigerians have offered to buy them.  They will mail you a certified check for $2473 over the amount, and all you have to do is deposit the check and send the difference on to their friend in Spasticsville, KS.

BKT’s family is anxiously awaiting word of her whereabouts and well-being, and also would like to know what they should have for supper and what clothes to wear and where she keeps the milk.

WP news will continue with up-to-the-minute information as the story unfolds.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

It’s “I Need Therapy” Thursday

Posted in A Bit on the Dark Side, Mental Stability, Writing with tags , , , , , on May 13, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I’m busy chopping up pieces of paper and trying to assemble something like a coherent story, or a set of notecards, or at least some coasters from it, and in the mean time, I am SUCKING like a suckling pig sucks on an apple, or maybe more like a sucking chest wound.

Between teaching myself HTML (WTF??) and trying to figure out how to make my boobs look 20 again, I’m too distracted to give you anything good.

So I’m giving y’all a break and losing my audience and probably ditching my fabulous career so I can catch up on everything I’ve been ignoring, like washing my hair and folding laundry and organizing my toothpick holder collection.  My little ones are buried in the clothes and I’d really like to see them again before they turn into surly teenagers (and in case you’re wondering, the “little ones” are not the boobs).

This time I swear I’m really doing it.  I can quit posting junk any time!  I’m not a junkie!  Watch me kick, I can do it.  Oohhh, the spiders! They’re crawling under my skin aaaaaaaarrrrghhhhhhh.

Besides, my self-esteem has packed its bags and moved to Alaska to be with Sarah Palin (whose boobs don’t need my help).  I’m thinking being next to her might make me look like a good mother, and since my body will be elsewhere I won’t have to worry about any physical comparisons.

As for my body, it will be hitting the road, too, but in a different direction, maybe to trade school.

I might be better suited for a life of physical labor.

I’m thinking lumberjack.

Me in my minivan, with the stupic puffy hair the haircutting lady gave me, ready for a Fear and Loathing experience. Without the hallucinogenics.  Boo.

Me in my minivan, with the stupid puffy hair the haircutting lady gave me, ready for a Fear and Loathing experience. Without the hallucinogenics. Boo.

So so long, and thanks for all the fish.  And the M&Ms.  And the wampeters, foma and granfalloons.  They were good, too.

I’ll be back next week with my super hero persona back and intact.  If I can find all the necessary pieces.

Zen and the Art of Dinner Party Planning: A Moving Feast

Posted in Mental Stability with tags , , on April 20, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I’ve been learning the skill of mindfulness for the last few months.  This means being completely focused on the moment at hand, and really doing whatever it is you are doing.

So yesterday while driving home from New Jersey, I listened to The Seanachai, rocked out to D.R.I., Violent Femmes,  Bob Dylan and Lou Reed (I’ll address the multiple personality disorder in a future post), and planned my dream dinner party.

See, I spent the whole weekend on vacation from my normal life.  No children, no anyone except my mother, who remained blessedly unobtrusive.  But I did get some blog reading and commenting in, and it was much fun, and included the kind of laughter I haven’t experienced since watching Burn After Reading.  I almost forgot I’m supposed to be depressed!

So anyway, it was a marvelous weekend.  I decided I would prolong the delirious happiness by crafting a guest list of people who would amuse, entertain, and delight me, and most likely each other.  Here it is.

Oh, and don’t be offended if you are my friend and weren’t invited.  It might only mean that you are not goofy cynical or loony twisted enough for this particular gathering.  Not everyone has that special gift.

Tom Magliozzi & Ray Magliozzi from the Car Talk NPR radio show  (They are both geniuses who went to MIT, and now fix cars and talk about it on the radio for a living.)

Pamela Villars (With whom I’ve become familiar through other dinner guests.  Her comments are fabulous, her poetry even better.)

Ram Venkatararam (Currently hiding from authorities, but I’m a damn good cook.  Or is it a damned, good cook?  Perhaps both.  Anyway, I’m sure I can lure him out of hiding for some lentil dal, naan, or gulab jamun (my favorite dessert).

Fundamental Jelly (You know, I had to put a blurb here so he wouldn’t feel left out, but I’m not too clear on what exactly his area of expertise is. But he’s funny.  Oh yeah.  I think he went to clown college or something.)

Alan Truitt (Every dinner party needs a cubicle dweller.  They are known in the wild to be remarkably observant of human behavior.  It’s almost like having a psychic at your party, but for free!)

Emma Thomas (A local friend who happens to be some kind of nuclear genius or something.  She can be my go-to gal when I wish to rehash the days of radiation protection via time, distance, and fear.  Ahhhh, good times.)

Melissa Schuppe (we hate all the same people)

Joe Schuppe (because he needs to laugh more)

Jennifer Bangley (An old friend; bright, talented, and witty with just a hint of dark.  My favorite kind.)

Jon White (Former punk rocker friend turned government lackey.  Well, not quite.  To quote the man himself, he is a “family man, Wiccan priest, ex-literature professor, ex-labor union hack, ex-street activist, now a USPHS Commissioned Corps oncology social worker and disaster responder.  Might make us all look like dolts, but somebody’s gotta do it.)

Chuck Cleland (Because he’s funny and he can talk about math and what could be better than that?  Anyone who becomes a fan of the R Project on Facebook has to be great at a dinner party.)

Jamie Stanek (His Facebook profile picture is his face on Jesus’s body, holding a PBR.  Need I say more?)

Amy and David Sedaris.  If I have to explain them to you, you are definitely not invited.

I’m also open to suggestions, though I’d prefer it if the guests were all alive.  And that does not include being reanimated.

I’ll work out an imaginary menu soon.  Please refrain from sending me your particular food sensitivities and preferences.  This is my party, after all.

End of Week Mashup

Posted in Fiber Friday, Mental Stability with tags , , on April 4, 2009 by Ms. Ex

Over-committed.  What a telling choice of words for signing up to do too much: “committed.”

I am working on two guest blog posts, and will link to them as soon as they are up.  One is for PhD in Parenting’s Carnival of Play, which is a summary of and links to blog posts during the month of April about playing with your kids.  The other is for a nice mama from Lilgreenbaby who I’m sure will probably not even accept it anymore since I’ve taken so long!  It’s a post on cloth diapering, specifically sewing your own, written in my typical not-as-serious-as-I-possibly-could-or-should-be style.

I’ve had two complaints regarding my lack of Therapy Thursday and Fiber Friday posts, which I have appropriately directed to the complaints department.  I’m sure they will be handled with the courtesy and immediacy they deserve.

In the mean time, here they are, late and wrapped up into one short post on home therapy and cotton fiber:

Do you remember what it’s like to put fresh, cotton sheets on your bed?  You know, the 400 thread count ones that you’ve had so long they’re like an old friend?

Know what it feels like to take a long, hot shower with no children standing and crying at the shower door?  And to shave your legs unhurriedly (or at all)?

Last night, I took that shower, and put my refreshed, relaxed body into a bed with crisp sheets that I sprayed with stuff called “Beach Days Sheet and Clothing Spray” that I swear smells just like the beach house I went to with my family as a kid.  The room was cool and fresh from the wind blowing in my open window all day.

I snuggled down into those sheets and propped myself up to read The New Yorker on my Kindle.

Talk about decadent.

My mother is very good at some things, and not stellar at others, but boy, does she know how to pamper someone by making their surroundings comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.

When I go to visit, I sleep in beds that belong in a B&B somewhere, with a dozen blankets to choose from and down pillows and softness everywhere.  And the first morning I’m there, she brings me a cup of coffee in bed.  It’s the one time someone serves me anything, and it only happens a couple of times a year.  I think I appreciate it more because it is so rare.

So last night, I tried to recreate a little of that feeling of decadence.  It worked.  I slept well, I feel refreshed this morning, and almost ready to tackle the ever-looming to-do list.

Almost.  Give me just one more minute in this bed.

99 Bottles of Blog on the Wall

Posted in Homemaking Made Easy, Mental Stability, Motherhood, People Are Idiots, Why you should maybe rethink the whole reproducing thing, Writing with tags , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by Ms. Ex

Interestingly, my biggest motivator and friend, Melissa, is also celebrating her 100th post TODAY!  I guess we both started taking our writing more seriously about the same time, only she was much more disciplined than I was for a while.  Then she started nursing school, and with four kids and a husband to take care of – let’s just say I caught up.  For now.

For my little celebration, I’m doind a round up of my favorite posts.  Mostly funny, I think, but I’ll let you be the judge.

Just keep it to yourself if you disagree, mmkay?

Dear God, Someone Please Stop Her

How to Leave a Party in Three Easy Steps

My Morning Routine

Not So Serious, After All

Top Ten Reasons to Only Go Places With Nice Bathrooms

Cleaning Tips for Real People

The Cow Call

Male Female Relations in a Nutshell

Cool Beans

P.S.  Thanks for all the love!

Therapy Thursday: The Best Humor Links on the Web

Posted in Mental Stability with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2009 by Ms. Ex

UDATE the last:  I hereby declare Chris of Coach Mom fame the winner!  Tim Hawkins is a new one for me, and I have to say “I Work at Subway” is genius if for nothing besides his perfectly executed boy-band moves.  And the fact that my daughter loved that song years ago so I was forced to hear it over and over again made this extra delicious.  So hop on over to one of the Etsy shops, Chris, and spend your $10, which in these lean times is more like $1000, right?  Thanks for playing – hope you all got a chuckle.

UPDATE:  WordPress is smarter than I am.  Apparently, in the “suggested reading” type thingy, they added this link, and my friend Jamie insisted that I add it.  She is totally right.  Motherhood Uncensored is the bomb, and even in the rain, on the can, or in the dark of night can make me bust a gut.  So – my bad.  Add her to the list.

I’m giving myself permission, today.  Permission to wash my dishes, to make weird videos for a weight loss program, and maybe, if my co-workers are lucky – take a shower.

So on this gray day, I wish to ask you to participate in my personal therapy day, and tell me how you cure depression.  With laughter.

I’m going to give you my top three funny websites.  I almost inevitably bust out laughing when reading these, but for very different reasons.

The first one is just some random stuff this guy “Ram” writes about.  He has built his blog around the idea of a convenience store, and he pretends to be (is??) an English as a second language, foreign convenience store clerk, and all that entails.  It takes some kind of talent to convey a foreign accent in writing, but without bizarre spelling or strange forms he manages to do just that.  Visit him at The Food Here Convenience Store.  Now – go!

Next up is Cake Wrecks, which is so popular I’m sure you all know about it.  I sometimes don’t visit for several days, so I can save up the laugh.  It’s kinda like Bogarting a joint.  I mean, I think it must be like that, I don’t actually know.

Finally, there is Jo at The Modernity Ward.  Funny?  Oh my goodness.  I can’t seem to shake the image of her in denim overalls and Mary Janes striking a pigeon-toed cutesy punk stance in her fab glasses.  She talks about being a mom, being a holdover from the ’80’s and ’90’s, she talks about PCOS, about converting to Judaism…in short, she just talks about damn near whatever is on her mind at the moment.  She is very high on my I-so-want-to-meet-her-ometer.

So here’s the scoop, if you made it this far.  Post a link in the comments to the funniest shiznizzle you’ve ever seen on teh internets.  If you make me laugh the hardest, so hard I don’t feel the need to take my anti-anxiety meds today, you win a $10 credit in either of my Etsy shops: Indecorum or Wonderfully Made Stuff.  I also do some custom work, so if you have an idea for something, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Tomorrow, yet another Fiber Friday giveaway that comes with a warning: Naked Gringo is not for the prudish.  Enter at your own risk!

Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

Postpartum Depression: My Story

Posted in A Bit on the Dark Side, Mental Stability, Motherhood with tags , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I finished my story, and posted it over on Blogher.

I’m not thrilled with it, just like everything else I do.  There’s more to tell, more to sort through, more to figure out.  I want to be able to tell you I am all better, but I’m not there yet.

PPD can disguise itself as normal parenting fears, irresponsibility, anger.  It can cause a grown up to behave childishly or irrationally.  And moms, of all people, are most likely to want to hide it, and to be capable of doing so.  We keep going, because really – we have to.

I can only tell you, if you are reading my story because you have one of your own – get help.  Tell someone you are not sure what’s going on, but you might be about to self-destruct.  Force yourself to ask for what you need, or arrange someone else to make sure you are getting it.  Friends won’t mind lending a hand.

They’d much rather wash your dishes than go to your funeral.

The Elephant In the Living Room Part II: Breastefeding and Postpartum Depression

Posted in Breastfeeding, Mental Stability, Motherhood with tags , , , , on March 18, 2009 by Ms. Ex

Hello.  Welcome back to another exciting episode of, “What to do when you have dropped your basket.”

What is “dropping your basket”?  I’m glad you asked.

Often, it is nothing more than being weepy and dysphoric, not enjoying things you once did.  It can also manifest as:

1.  Irritability

2.  Obsessiveness / OCD.  OCD can sometimes be just obsessiveness without compulsions,  and hand-washing and tidiness are not the only signs.  Trust me; I know.  Look for fear/concern over toxins, frequent thoughts of the baby being hurt or something being wrong with her, checking things over and over even though you just checked them, even words, phrases, or music repeating themselves in your head.  OCD can focus on numbers, textures, certain rhythms.

3.  Outbursts of anger, even episodes of violence (including punching walls, throwing things, and kicking holes in the cupboards).

4.  Anxiety, memory problems, feelings of emptiness, losing interest in things that you used to find pleasurable

There are surely more.  Some would suggest that this cornucopia of symptoms might better be called something else.  Postpartum syndrome?

In any event, clearly the usual question of “do you feel sad and not want to get out of bed in the morning” doesn’t really cut it as a diagnostic tool.

But let’s say you already know.  Let’s imagine that you’ve struggled with depression throughout your life, so you know you are more at risk for severe PPD, and you kinda know what it looks like.

What do you do?

There are many options available.  I would have to say that the top five solutions are all occupied by the words “find support.”  Whether this means help at home with children, meals, or housework, or a friend who is a good listener, or a therapist of some kind – do it.  Do it all.  Don’t keep quiet.  Now, that said – I am the quiet sort.  No one has any idea just how far down I had sunk.  In fact, I think depression feeds on itself and postpartum depression has its own unique brand of vicious cycle.  We are mothers.  We are supposed to be able to do this thing, right?  So when we can’t, we feel awful about ourselves.  This feeling awful makes everything worse.  When you believe you are an epic FAIL as a parent, why in the world would you want to advertise?

So more than just seeking out help and support for yourself, it’s important that you have the people closest to you understand what to look for.  Have them ask you how long it’s been since you showered (but please don’t ask me how long – not today).  Schedule someone to come over once a week for a standing date, no matter how little you feel like being social.  If that person knows they are there to make sure you are okay, they will be respectful of your limits.  Sleep.  Exercise.  Eat right.  You know the drill.

If these things don’t work, then what?

We are lucky to live in a time when medications for depression are so much better than they used to be.  SSRIs are excellent medications for dealing with depression, anxiety, anger and OCD.  Some are better at handling some things than others, so have this discussion with your physician.  And most are safe to varying degrees, particularly Zoloft.  For the best resource available on medication use during pregnancy, I recommend Dr. Thomas W. Hale’s book,  Medications and Mothers Milk: A Manual of Lactational Pharmacology. He discusses many of the medications used for depression and how they can affect your baby and you.  The book is often available through a local La Leche League group lending library (LLLLLL??), and there are discussion forums on his website.  Be forewarned, however, that consumer questions are not accepted and many of the forums essentially tell you to read the book.

If the first line of antidepressants don’t work for you, what should you do?

If breastfeeding is well established and your baby is a little older, there are more options.  But what if you have tried some of the stronger medications, and it looks like your only option is to wean and break out the big guns or continue to struggle?  How do you make that choice?

My baby is twenty months old.  I nursed my last child to the age of three.  I really never expected to do that, but somehow you just get caught up in things.  He had emotional and behavioral issues which made parenting him extremely difficult, and breastfeeding was my ace in the hole.  I admit it – I’m lazy.  I wanted an easy way to get this child to sleep at the end of my grueling days, and nursing was like slipping him a mickey.  His eyes would even roll back in his head as he went on the nod.  Now my little Beckett is pretty addicted to it, too.  And he is my last baby.  Once I wean him, I will never share that bond with another one, which is sort of depression-inducing on its own, for me.

So I find myself weighing the seriousness of my depression with my knowledge that I might have to sever the breastfeeding relationship.  It’s a sucky place to be.  And the worst part of it is, it’s a selfish position.  My mental health being stable is so much more of an influence over my almost-two-year-old than a few more months of breastfeeding.  But I don’t want to feel I sacrificed that relationship for nothing, since trying a new medication is always a crap shoot.

I also struggle with the issue of judgment, both from myself and others.  There has been so much talk over the last couple of weeks about breastfeeding in public and working. There’s The Case Against Breastfeeding by Hanna Rosin, and an excellent rebuttal by PhD in Parenting.  Then there are posts about when to give up and even about nursing another woman’s child.  It seems not too many of us can straddle that middle ground all that well.  Or maybe it just doesn’t make good blog.

I began writing this thinking I would have some resolution at the end.  And I hate to leave anyone without solving the problem, least of all myself.  But no one really knows all that much.  In the end, it’s about weighing the pros and cons and making an informed choice, much like anything else having to do with parenting.  Seek out people who have been through it.  Keep talking and asking questions.  Even if it’s too late for us to have real answers, maybe our daughters will.

Tomorrow on Blogher:  why I’m such a know-it-all when it comes to depression.




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