3/28/2007

Snarky with a big ol' side of crazy

I've had this blog since the waning days of December 2004. In that time I think I've only blogged about my anxiety and/or depression (take your pick!) once, when I convinced myself The Dude was dead after he was late picking me up from work. As it happened we got our signals crossed - I thought he was to pick me up, he thought I was going out after work with friends. I spent my 35 minute walk home in tears, convinced the police would be parked in front of my building to tell me he was killed. I even closed my eyes when I turned down my street. I am such a drama queen.

The crazy goes way back. As a child I was very anxious, convincing myself at the age of 10 that I was dying of cancer and my parents just didn't want to tell me the bad news. As it happens it was just a swollen lymph node, but I still remember walking down the isles of a supermarket, with its sterile fluorescent lighting illuminating my thoughts of certain death. My Mom was pushing the cart in front of me and all I could think of was how this would probably be the last time I'd be able to go grocery shopping with my Mom. Ah yes, I was a cheery child.

When I was young, my Mom would often have to come into my room at bedtime and practice relaxation techniques with me. I was supposed to close my eyes and think of a place I'd like to be, and Mom would prompt me by narrating what the chosen place would be like. I always chose the beach, so the visualisations largely centred around curtains blowing in the salty air, the sound of crashing waves, and seagulls squawking in the distance. It always worked for that night, but by the next day I was back to worrying about my parents dying in a car accident, my brother having a fatal seizure, or my own mortality.

I blame it all on my brother and my Dad. The choice of death by seizure isn't arbitrary - my brother suffered from numerous seizures for the first two years of his life. I was the one who found him in his crib after his first. I was 6, and like the supermarket death walk, the image is fresh in my mind. I still see my Mom pacing up and down our family room, clutching my unconcious brother as he made horrible high-pitched wailing noises. After a particularly nasty Grand mal about six months after his first seizure, he was hospitalised. The day he went into the hospital I was home alone with my Dad, whose throat decided it was the perfect time to seize a piece of ring bologna. I laugh now as it seems so very random to choke on ring bologna and burst all of the blood vessels in one's eyes, but at the time I was helpless and of course, anxious. I watched my Dad struggle to breathe, knowing I could do nothing but scream and perhaps call 911. After what seemed like an age, he coughed up the offending piece of bologna, and we went on with our day like nothing happened.

Since then, my life has been peppered with moments of such abject panic that I wonder how I made it out on the other side without bald patches and stark white hair. I was treated for depression in my late teens and early 20s, sampled an assortment of anti-depressants, and went to some therapists whose main purpose seemed to be getting me to admit I was neglected as a child.

I disposed of the anti-depressants once the one I had been on for awhile stopped working, the second gave me a nasty case of sandy vag, and the third made me cry all the time, thus defeating the purpose of an anti-depressant. I was fine for awhile, until I started to get depressed about where my life wasn't going. I hadn't moved away from home yet since I went to a local university, and at 22 I was in the same exact place, doing the same exact thing as I was at 16.

I started to get anxious about The Dude. I wanted to know where he was all the time, and I was convinced every day that he would die in a car accident or be diagnosed with a fatal disease. I often made myself physically sick numerous times, and dosed myself up with Nyquil many nights in an effort to get some sleep.

I suspected the anxiety would ease once I left the life I considered a dead end, and it worked for a little while. Once I moved to the UK I was happy and fairly anxiety-free for a few months. Unfortunately for me I came down with something my GP classified as the ever-so-helpful "virus", a virus which affected my vestibular system for a fabulous seven months. That plunged me back into worry and I felt as if I would never get rid of the evil virus. I pictured myself unable to read a book again (a charming side effect of this virus), or ride in a car without being sick. It was a grim future I didn't like to think about. I lived off Nyquil for those months, because otherwise I would have gotten no sleep. I'm sure doctors would lecture against self-medicating, but as they had been no help in diagnosing or dealing with this ailment, I dealt with it myself.

Once I felt better, I went back to focusing my anxiety on The Dude. Beyond the usual car accident/brain aneurysm scenarios, The Dude kindly developed migraines which paralysed him for a couple of days each time. While The Dude was in our darkened bedroom vomiting into a buckt and other general miserableness, I sat in our front room unable to anything but have panic attacks. His last one occurred a few days before my egg retrieval, and it was all too much pressure for me. I called up my Mom mid-panic attack, unable to breath or speak, so that was helpful. She kept saying, "What? I can't understand you. Take deep breaths!", whilst I made gasping noises and odd wails.

Now I have a baby, so yet another person to worry about. At first I worried about her incessantly. Now I've moved on from her own physical well-being to her emotional well-being. How is that, you say? I'm a fucking freak ladies, so of course I am now worried about me getting sick and dying, or being otherwise incapacitated. I'm not so concerned about me, but how that would affect her. These days it's hard for me to look at her without envisioning her growing up without me. When I write in her baby book I ensure it reflects my personality so that if she reads it and I'm not around, she would know what sort of person I was.

I have recently diagnosed myself with about two or three debilitating neurological diseases thanks to various television programmes and newspaper articles. I don't think I'm a hypochondriac, despite the fact that I can only watch House selectively and I've decided to stay away from ER altogether. When I think something is wrong with me, I'm just not capable of believing it to be anything harmless. I'm all about the black and white - I'm either perfectly healthy, or near desintegration.

I've not blogged about my anxiety in detail before because I usually can't face it. When I'm in a very bad place, the last thing I want to do is address those feelings full on by discussing it. I suppose it would probably be helpful in an aversion therapy type of way, but I don't want to go where all that negativity will take me. I only have so much Nyquil.

I'm bringing this up now because I have finally gotten off my ass and decided to do something about the anxiety. Last week I didn't eat for two days, and I could barely function with all the miserable thoughts I was having. I owe it to myself to be able to wake up in the morning and feel calm, not starting the day terrified that something bad is about to happen. I have an appointment with my GP tomorrow, and I'm desperately hoping I'll be given a prescription for something, anything. I'm not keen on going on medication again, but I can't keep living like this. I want to be able to not see death and illness around every corner. I hope that place exists, even if I can only see it with a little help.

3/20/2007

The Giving Tree

Yes, PCOS is the gift that keeps giving. Today is Day 20 of the bloody siege. Thankfully my iron supplements are working, so gone is most of the lightheadedness, which is a relief. However, I would like to know if my GP is going to send me a cheque every couple of weeks to cover the feminine hygeine products I need to keep buying thanks to my everlasting period. I imagine she makes over £100K ($195K USD) a year if this is to be believed, so I suspect she could afford it.

Veering from the topic of bleeding for awhile, I have something I want to run past you all. A few months ago I gathered up some clothes P. had grown out of, as well as toys and other various baby-related items she either no longer used, or never used in the first place. I thought about donating them to a charity shop, but I wanted to ensure that someone who needed the items would get them, not just someone with money looking for a bargain. That also ruled out any local baby-specific secondhand sales, as they are usually haunted by the comfortable middle-classes looking to pad their kid's wardrobe with designer or label clothing. I know this because, uh, it's totally me.

I recalled that there was a shelter for abused women on my walk to work, so I phoned the central office for the organisation and arranged to donate P's item to their shelters. Sadly P has a wardrobe far larger than my own, and often doesn't wear much of what she owns. This is not because The Dude and I go crazy shopping for her, but rather the result of overzealous American relatives. Everybody should have the opportunity for their child to wear nice clothes, and much as I'm paranoid as coming across as the do-gooder, look-how-charitable-I-am type, it makes me happy that these women who don't have much can at least have some non-tatty things which haven't been played with and worn by a handful of kids before them. That was a run on sentence but I don't have the energy to modify it, so there.

So, what's the issue? Well, I told my Mums and Babies group about the donation in the hopes that others would also have a clear out and give some things away. I assumed that everyone would at least donate a couple of items of clothing or a a toy or two, but out of the 8 person group, only one other person gave me anything. The main excuse was that there were plans to have other children, so everything was being kept for future offspring. I may also want to have another baby, but you don't see me keeping all of P's stuff for said child. Ok, ok, so it might take me 8 years to get that second kid, but that is hardly the point. Out of all the items given and purchased for first children (which this group is comprised of), there is nothing to be spared?

Since then there has been an interest in selling things on eBay or at one of the previously mentioned baby-themed secondhand sales, so obviously it is not just about saving things for other children. The issue is making money off what you have invested in, and I don't understand that. Is it worth selling a £20 outfit on eBay for the £5 you will get for it? Does getting involved in local baby sales and selling an £80 exersaucer for £20 line your pockets sufficiently? Let me just add that finances are not an issue with this group. All are professional couples with nice houses, some expensive cars, and all the name brand stuff their babies could imagine. The extra £20 isn't going to prevent their child from eating. All it means is that they can buy even more organic papayas.

There are very few things we are keeping for our mythical second child. If we had one and it was a girl, I wouldn't want her clothes to all be P's hand-me-downs. As The Dude said, you want subsequent children to be afforded the same things as the first child, so in this case, new clothing. We'll probably keep the high chair, the crib, the wardrobe, and changing table, but other than that, what's the point? Oh no! In two years' time (haha) we'll have to invest in another playmat! How will we make that work?

So what do you think? Am I being a judgmental bitch? Surely at least one or two things could have been donated? I'm not asking for a truckload of stuff, as I do understand some people might want to hang on to baby things more than we do, but come on...Am I right? Am I right?

3/15/2007

Don't trust anything that bleeds for 15 days and doesn't die

It's odd to me that women can sometimes have heavy periods for up to seven days and still function without passing out. What happens when you bleed for 15 FUCKING DAYS, with only one day of respite? I'll tell you...you have dizzy spells, are inordinately tired, and are perhaps a touch bitchy.

I phoned my GP yesterday to find out how to end this misery. Her words of wisdom? "Your hormones are wonky enough, I would hate to give you anything to mess them up further." Uh, thanks. When asked if there was a point at which I should become concerned, I was given this most helpful response - "Not really, no." So according to her, I could bleed and bleed for months, no problem! I'm no doctor, but surely losing blood for a long period (ha!) of time is a bad thing? It seems rather straightforward to me. Bleeding = bad, not bleeding = good.

PCOS, where are you? You're supposed to make sure I don't get periods, how are you allowing my body to slough all of this lining? Keep the lining, turn released ovum into cysts, anything but constant bleeding! Do that thing you do!

I seem to recall some bloggers have had really long periods as well, are any of you out there? I must confess I never bothered to retain the details because I had quite the opposite problem at the time. I googled this issue and one poor enquirer on a women-friendly message board was told by a fellow poster and general ignoramus:

"Hi if your symptoms are that bad go the emergency room.It has been known that woman can bleed to death from having long heavy periods,I should know my moma all most did.Please seek medical attention NOW."

No fear-mongering there, thanks sister. I love that her moma (Museum of Modern Art?) damn near died, as well as the insistence that the initial poster should go to the emergency room NOW. When I read the thread I wondered if the poor woman saw that response, threw down her laptop, and rushed her still-bleeding loins to the ER.

I won't be going to the ER. I'll just be over here popping my Multivitamin & Iron supplements, occasionally falling into a heap on the floor when my head feels like it's floating away from my body like a balloon. Hey, at least it means I won't be shamelessly pandering for your affections.

3/13/2007

Imitation is the highest form of flattery

First things first - thanks for commenting about the music that has meaning for you, lame as some of the choices were. I mean, God Bless the Broken Road MM? Meg, The Carpenters? I'm just joking of course. I have an unabashed love for Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, I can hardly judge another, particularly when it comes to songs which mean something to someone. Oh, and J, whoever you may be, I think I love you.

Since I lack any original thought whatsoever, I've decided to lift a topic from DD's blog. Again. It's a wonder she is still friendly toward me given the amount of times I steal from her. Well, she says nice things to my face (read - via email) anyway. DD recently did a post entitled "Blogging Confessions", and I thought if I did the same thing it would give me the opportunity to say some things I perhaps shouldn't say, but hey, fuck it. I'm all about being honest, so here goes...

1) I am genuinely disappointed when my comment tally is low.

2) I hate that the above is true, as neediness is so much not a part of who I am. Well, not in real life anyway. It looks as if my blog self needs constant validation. What fun for you all.

3) I think it's unfortunate that some people who were with me at the beginning have abandoned the blog because I got pregnant and had a baby.

4) It upset me that I didn't get more congratulatory comments/emails when I had P.

5) Number 4 is the hardest for me to admit because I know the outpouring of well wishes was significant and I'm just an evil, greedy bitch who should be thankful for all the people that still read my self-obsessed ramblings.

6) I don't think it would have killed the ones who jumped ship when I got pregnant to just say congratulations.

7) Blogging is such a part of my life now that I cannot imagine giving it up. I spend a lot of my days wondering how I can incorporate conversations and other prosaic occurances into my posts.

8) During my really rough patches both pre and post-P the support of people who read the blog consoled me more than any advice from non-online friends and family.

9) I don't feel as if I offer the same amount of support to other bloggers as I am given.

10) I wish I knew people in my real life as giving, witty, intelligent and just plain fabulous as you all. I'm not just saying that. I have found a kinship with so many wonderful people through this blog which I know cannot be duplicated in my everyday relationships.

All is full of love, indeed.

3/06/2007

I am human and I need to be loved

Well Christ on a bike, what have I done to piss you all off? I'm posting more frequently, just like you asked. What can I do dear readers? I want you to love me, I need you to love me. By ignoring me and boycotting comments, you're making me this way. It's your fault I'm desperate, whoring myself to all and sundry just for a few words of affection. Just wait until they have to drag my cold, lifeless body out of the sea, then won't you feel guilty? You will need to live with the knowledge that your callousness, your indifference, killed me. I hope you can carry on with your lives, knowing you ruined mine. All I ever did was love you.

Ahem. Phew. I got all crazy ex-girlfriend on you there. Onto the matters at hand. First of all, I was beyond happy to read the fabulous news over at It's So Not About You. Statia, she of uncomfortable body and little sleep, has finally given birth to her Fetus. Go over there and wish her congratulations. She would also probably appreciate some words about the absolute need to breastfeed. Heh.

Jumping to a different matter entirely, infertility and PCOS (not always paired together) have featured in all sorts of stories on the BBC website recently. Ok, perhaps not all sorts, but two. First of all, we have this story about the effects of spearmint tea on the symptoms of PCOS, specifically hirsuitism. Thankfully that is not a huge issue for me aside from having legs that need shaved constantly in order to avoid total hairy manbeastedness, but spearmint tea may also help the other aspects of PCOS, bounteous condition that it is. Of course I went out to buy some, though I got stuck with Chamomile & Spearmint instead. I trust that in a week I will have no leg hair, the extra weight will melt off, I will have monthly periods rather than biannual ones, and I will be as fertile as a clam. Watch this space.

The other story concerns a hormone that may treat infertility. For a moment I thought that would be a good thing, but then what would we blog about? Where would all my IF blogs go? Everyone would be all fertile and clam-like. This hormone (kisspeptin) is supposed to be particularly helpful for women who do not ovulate and/or have irregular periods, so, uh, score! It is also worth noting that the gene which produces kisspeptin, called KISS-1, was coined as such by scientists in Hershey, PA, the playground of my youth.

Now I will move on to yet another topic, as segues are for suckers. This bit involves reader participation, so that means you must p-a-r-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-e under penalty of severe disdain. Death is too harsh, and disdain is just enough to slowly eat away at you until you can handle it no more.

So your road of infertility, and for those to whom this does not apply, parenthood, is there any music that means something to you in connection to said experiences? Music is very important to me, rather bordering on obsession. It would be easy for me to compile a soundtrack to my life, though I would have far too many songs to wade through to come up with any quick answers.

When IUI 4 failed, I was at a loss as to what to do next. IVF was the logical choice, but at the time we were unsure whether we wanted the financial, emotional, and physical investment it would require. The reality of that perhaps being the end of my chances of having a biological child were too much for me to cope with for awhile, and I really struggled with finally acknowledging that maybe it was never going to happen for me. The day I got my period I sat in the bath for over an hour, crying, shaking, and desperate for the pain of infertility to give me a reprieve. As someone with PCOS, the spectre of infertility loomed even before I wanted to have children. Being told you may have difficulty conceiving is vastly different to actually having trouble and realising that the trouble could be absolute.

I had the radio on in the background, and the Coldplay song, "Fix You" came on. I am not a Coldplay fan, as bland, sleep-inducing music is not my thing, but as I listened to the song I got even more emotional. Given my situation, lyrics such as "When you try your best but don't succeed...When you feel so tired but you can't sleep...stuck in reverse..." and "Lights will guide you home...but I will fix you" had quite the effect, and the crying accelerated and the bath lasted even longer. My apologies for the overuse of ellipses, but I had to skip some of the lyrics which didn't apply. I know it's a song about love, but on that night it was a song about reaching a place you never thought you would see, and where you could go from there. I can't hear it now without thinking back to myself then, hopeless and despondent. As we know, it did work out for me in the end, but that self is still not far away.

So now it's your turn. Surely I'm not the only one who attaches important life moments to songs?

P.S. I still can't comment on Typepad blogs. Despite a friggin' dozen emails back and forth with Typepad it hasn't been figured out. I can't believe I'm the only one in the world with this issue, so what's the problem? Fuckers.

3/02/2007

For the love of god, anything but SAHM/working moms

Well, shit. I guess I know what I'm not talking about for awhile. That topic is considerably spent. Can I still complain about the stupid shit my MIL says to me/about me in regard to working though? Ok, thanks.

First things first. P's appointment went well yesterday, and aside from near-electrocution from gnawing on the ultrasound cord, she is fine. Her murmur seems to have resolved itself, which apparently happens in 60% of babies who have the same type of murmur that she had. I'm just relieved that this means I can swing her around by her feet and sign her up for hard labour without fear of a heart malfunction. Thank god for small mercies, huh?

Jumping to another topic entirely, I thought I'd finally go back to a subject I've mentioned before - being an expat. As most of you probably know, I'm an American who has lived in the UK for almost 5 years. The initial plan was to live here permanently (much to The Dude's chagrin), but a couple of years ago we decided that Canada would be the most appropriate place to settle for good. We chose Canada because it seems like a happy medium between US and UK cultures, without being the US and the UK. It also has one of the highest standards of living in the world, and a cost of living which is vastly better than that of the UK.

Par exemple:

A two bed flat for sale a few buildings down from my place:

What the same money buys you in suburban Ontario:
Uh, gee. A two bed flat in a nice part of a mostly shit city or a five bed, five bath house with a big yard? It's a hard decision to make.

I know life is not about having a big house, but that's a lot easier to say when you are not relegated to living in a 600 square foot space for the rest of your life. I want P. to have a big garden to play in, not a concrete square, which is what we have at our current place. That concrete square also doubles as our parking spot, so imagine the fun and imaginative games that could be had there!

There is more to it than the house, though admittedly that's what I'm preoccupied with at the moment. I'm probably going to piss off some Americans here, but uh...I don't have confidence in the culture enough to want to raise my child there and be completely happy about it. Many (many, not all) Americans are rather small-minded, and insular. Before I moved to the UK I thought I was worldly and cosmopolitan. I grew up in a small town but was an Anglophile from a young age, so I was exposed to a culture other than my own, though obviously through an American filter.

While I was dating The Dude, I visited the UK at length numerous times. Because I had this direct exposure to a country other than my own, I believed that I was a true citizen of the world, traveller that I was. Once I moved over here, I realised that I was still ignorant. Even though I didn't vocalise much of it, I did have trouble coping with some of the small differences between here and there. For instance, if you go to the Post Office to get a stamp, they won't take the letter you are buying the stamp for. Even though you are at the counter and paying for the stamp, you have to take the letter and put it in a post box which can usually be found outside the Post Office itself. At the time, I would have compared that to what happens in the States and fumed about how stupid it was that they do it that way in the UK. I think that's the primary issue with how Americans deal with other cultures - so many of them view other methods and traditions as wrong rather than just different. It sounds like I'm being pedantic noting the difference between the two terms, but I think the distinction is very important.

I think the American perspective is often that the way they do things is the correct and dominant way. What they may not realise is that it's the US that may be doing things differently and it's the rest of the world that does it another. Take appliances for example. I cannot tell you how many times US visitors have commented on our "tiny" appliances, often using the most damning of words, cute. "What a cute little fridge!" or, "How can you do your laundry in such a small washing machine?" Look at us here in provincial England with our lilliputian appliances. Aren't we quaint? A quick visual tour of the rest of the world's appliances would show you that it's a uniquely North American trait to have massive appliances.

The UK has its own problems. We could do without a social care system which rewards you for having three kids by the time you're 19, or one which pays people more than my salary for being unemployed. I hate how the country seems overrun by a bunch of loutish, drunken idiots, even if you live (or think you live) in a relatively nice place. Despite living in one of those said "nice" locations, I am more worried about walking certain places here than I ever was in the US. Never in the US was I accosted by a group of 8 year olds asking me for money so they could go buy cigarettes, nor had I ever witnessed a woman being beaten up by a man on the street in clear view of dozens of pedestrians until I lived here, when I saw it happen on two occasions. There is a sort of ambivalence in the UK to crime and anti-social behaviour in general. If I can raise P. in an environment where she doesn't have to see men pissing in the streets, I'd prefer to do so.

We submitted our application for permanent residency to the Canadian Immigration Commission in November, and got our letter of receipt last week. So how long does the CIC speculate it will be before our application will even get looked at again? 45 months. I'm reliably informed by folks a lot better at maths than I that 45 months is nearly 4 years. 4 long years. That is just to then contact us to say whether or not we should bother submitting further details.

Needless to say, I will be writing BarrenAlbion for awhile. Just as well since BarrenCanada just makes me think of some frozen tundra in the Northwest Territories. Yep, look at that Canadian geographical knowledge. Send me that acceptance letter now CIC because proficiency like that cannot go unrecognised.