Voting

Yesterday, I voted! I was looking forward to it because it’s only my second time voting but as usual this anxiety ruined everything.

I voted for the first time in 2016. I received my sample ballot, I researched candidates and propositions, I prepared myself to vote. Because I know how difficult it is to interact with other people I try to prepare for anything that would require more time talking to strangers. We were scheduled to vote at a local high school; that made me more comfortable because I had been in the high school before so it would be a familiar place. I was ready, I had my sample booklet filled in, my husband came with me, and I was familiar with the location. Of course none of that mattered when we pulled into the parking lot.

My anxiety began to rise when I noticed the crowded parking lot. My husband had to circle the lot a couple of times waiting for someone to leave so we could park. The lot is rather narrow so us waiting was causing other cars to struggle as they squeezed between us and parked cars. This made me more anxious (Were these drivers getting mad? Were they thinking we were stupid for waiting for a spot? Maybe they thought we should park on the street.) I avoided eye contact with the drivers or their passengers but I caught a glance of a few of them and I prayed I didn’t see them inside. Eventually someone moved and we parked.

We walked over to a room opposite their gym and two ladies greeted us at the front door. They were checking off a list as people gave their name. No one asked for a form of ID which surprised me but I remained calm and told the lady my name. After signing her list she sent me to a different table where another person gave me a ballot and directed me to a set of specific voting booths; the booths were numbered. The room was rather crowded and we had to wait for an available booth. At this point I was sweating, not because the room was hot instead I was nervous about being in this small room, in the middle no-less, surrounded by people, having to wait while my two year old complained about everything.

Once I got to the booth I had a mini panic attack not knowing how to insert the ballot into this device or how to mark my choices. My anxiety kept rising, not only was I nervous and anxious being there now I was beginning to panic thinking everyone in the room was watching me have this meltdown. I know it’s only in my head and the people there were all busy voting and helping others, nobody was paying attention to me. However, I know visibly I had to be flushed and sweating, I probably looked as if I ran to the high school. I tried to calm down and finally figured out how to vote, I marked my choices and looked around to see what others did after they finished so I could do the same.

I walked my ballot to another table I was instructed to insert it into this huge metal box, they gave me my sticker and that was it. I walked out of the room towards my husband who was waiting by the door. I was so relieved to feel the breeze outside. I rushed my husband and son to our car and got in. Once inside the car my anxiety slowly started to come down, the AC helped cool me. My husband told me I did great,m and he asked how I felt after voting but I couldn’t really hear him. I couldn’t make sense of what he was saying, I was disoriented, I was still making sense of what happened but I answered him. I just wanted to get home.

Once at home I was able to relax but the tension I feel leaves me sore and extremely tired. It seems silly to feel this way for something people do all the time. I thought my second time voting would be different, but it wasn’t; although the room was empty I felt exactly the same but at least I voted.

Gender Disappointment 

I didn’t know there was a name for that disappointment people felt when they were pregnant with a specific gender. I just assumed I personally, was a bad parent for even feeling sad during a time when people are the most happy. I am currently pregnant with my third baby, my third boy to be exact.

When I had my first baby the idea of having a girl was exciting but the mere fact I was pregnant was a miracle. My husband and I had difficulty conceiving and after about three years we had almost given up when we found out we were pregnant! Because I was just thankful to be pregnant, the gender of the baby wasn’t a huge deal and when we found out we’d be having a boy we were elated.

After that pregnancy we waited a few years and tried again. Again, we had difficulty conceiving. This time it took over four years to finally get that positive pregnancy test. Again we were thankful that it happened but this time the gender of the baby was my main focus. By this time my brother and his wife had a beautiful baby girl, my niece, and I wanted a baby girl of my own. After trying for so long and assuming conceiving was so difficult for us I prayed and hoped for a girl but of course he was another boy. This time the news hit hard.

We were at my ultrasound appointment and the tech asked if it was my first baby. After telling him I had an 8 year old boy and we were hoping for a girl. He confirmed it was another boy. My mom and husband were happy and I tried to pretend I was too. After my ultrasound I still had to see my doctor and I cried in the waiting room. I went home and cried the rest of the day. I hoped there had been a mistake that maybe the tech was wrong but of course he was not and we had another boy. I remember crying for a couple of days but eventually making peace with the thought that maybe, just maybe my next pregnancy would bring me a girl.

Of course the idea of getting pregnant again seemed difficult. It took so long to conceive with my two boys waiting so many years for the next pregnancy might not be an option. After about a year and a half I had come to terms with being a mother of two boys. If it was my fate to have these two boys I was happy and grateful. In fact, I didn’t think I needed to try having another baby. Both my husband and I had settled into this new life with our two boys feeling complete. However life had other plans for us… we were surprised with an unexpected pregnancy.

Of course, after experiencing such difficulty conceiving we were happy. I immediately assumed this was definitely a girl. It had to be. My first two pregnancies were almost identical; everything from the symptoms to the due date. This pregnancy has been very different and I figured that was because I was finally having a girl. I tried to convince myself that boy or girl, it shouldn’t matter as long as the baby was healthy. I prayed not to feel as hopeful as the last time and to be strong if I found out it was another boy. I thought I would be ok but again we got the call from our genetics counselor. After checking the baby’s chromosomes for down syndrome they were able to confirm at three months that I was in fact having another boy. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t realize I was gonna feel as badly as I did the last time but I felt worse.

Again I cried but this time I felt much worse. I kept thinking such horrible things. Up until then my pregnancy had been causing me a lot of morning sickness way worse than I’d felt with the other pregnancies. I was tired and achy all the time something I didn’t experience until I was closer to my due date. So I began to feel a bit resentful having experienced so many pregnancy symptoms only to have another boy. Then I’d feel guilty for thinking this way and I’d feel worse. I felt like a bad mother, so ungrateful and I worried I’d be punished for having these thoughts. I spent the next two weeks crying by myself, finding moments to cry without my husband and kids noticing. I tried not to tell anyone cause I didn’t want them to know what  a bad mom I was. I felt like I was drowning in guilt and disappointment. Every day I woke up I resented being pregnant and wondered what was the point of all the morning sickness, all the body aches and discomforts. Then every day I would feel guilt for the baby that was innocently growing in me and how he depended on me and I was rejecting him. I didn’t want to tell anyone the gender of the baby I felt they too would also feel disappointment. When I announced I was pregnant everyone hoped it would be girl, some of my friends assured me this time would be a girl, it was time. Now I felt like they would think that I had lied to them or failed them somehow. Two years ago we were celebrating my pregnancy expecting a boy…everyone came to my baby shower bought boy gifts and now I was supposed to celebrate this pregnancy the same way? I thought they’d think it was pointless to do this exact same thing again.

Eventually I started crying about it less. Slowly friends began to ask if I knew the gender and rather than making a big announcement I started telling friends as they asked. After telling them I began to feel relieved. Everyone was still happy and congratulated me and slowly I began to feel a bit better. Now I am happy to meet the new addition. I’ve finally started googling baby boy clothing and baby shower themes but the disappointment remains. Every time I pass baby girl clothing in the store, every time a friend of mine announces she’s expecting a girl or when I see baby girls, it stings. It hurts! Because of my age and the difficulty we have conceiving I think this will be our last baby. I guess it wasn’t meant for me to have a baby girl and I don’t know how to shake that feeling of loss. I felt the same with my second boy, I was so eager to have a girl I had convinced myself I was carrying a girl. When they told me it was a boy I felt as if someone took my baby girl away. How do I get over that sense of loss now?

I’m back.

I haven’t written any new entries in months. I always do this. I’m very inconsistent when I start something new. I overthink things and I convince myself that everything I want to work on is pointless. I love writing, I’ve been keeping a journal since I was about 12 and I started this blog thinking that someone out there might read it and maybe relate to some of these mental issues I have.

The last time I submitted an entry I talked about going back to therapy. Unfortunately with so many things going on I haven’t been able to continue with my appointments. My husband started a new job and we were caught off guard with an unexpected pregnancy. We found out in July that I was pregnant with our third baby. We were not expecting it but we’re both happy with the new baby coming this April. I feel happy, of course but I’ve been having difficulty accepting the gender of the baby. We have two boys and we hoped for a girl but we’re having another boy. Also, I continue to feel as though I am not doing everything I should be doing. I always feel like I’m not doing enough and as a mom it’s the worst feeling. I don’t want to fail my kids.

I want to find a way to be normal. To be able to provide for my family to be able to go out and live like everyone else, I don’t want to hide at home anymore. I’m scared to be a mother of three and not be strong enough to help them be normal. I’m hoping to write more entries, writing has always helped me.

Back to Therapy

It’s been a little over a year since I went to therapy. When my grandmother became sick last September, therapy was the last thing on my mind. After she passed in October I felt I needed time to assess this new reality without her. My grandma was like a second mom and although it took time I am at peace with her passing. I feel happy she is resting. A lot happened from then till now. We came across a few struggles and I, as usual had difficulty adapting.

These last few months have been tougher. Maintaining a grip on my sanity has been extremely difficult. All the obstacles I come across I find a way to blame on myself. Then that voice in my head constantly nags me about how horrible I am and how much of a burden I am to my family. I shared some of these thoughts with my husband and we both agreed it was time to go back to therapy.

I try to remain hopeful that therapy can help but I’ve seen so many psychiatrists and psychologists that have had very little effect on me. I get discouraged and sometimes feel going to therapy is more of a burden to the family than it is helping me. However everytime I meet a therapists and I explain what I feel they always tell me what I have can be controlled. They say it’s easy to treat but I  doubt it. Maybe I’ve never been in therapy long enough, maybe I need to try more meds whatever the reasons I’ve never seen a change. 

Off

I’ve been feeling a bit off lately. Sometimes it feels like it’s hard to hold on to my sanity. With so many things happening the grip you have on reality starts slipping away. I’ve never been able to deal with stress or change. When dealing with a problem I usually feel overwhelmed and lost. Somehow all my problems originate with me so I always blame myself.

Blaming myself always takes precedence  over fixing the problem at hand. When I hear bad news or a problem arises my mind finds a way to blame me. Once that happens I sink into depression. That depression is like a black whole that swallows everything, good or bad. In that state of mind it’s hard to keep sane.

My mind constantly moves from one scene to another, my conscience reminds me constantly that everything is my fault and that voice in my head is mean and degrading. Meanwhile the problem persists and actual converations take place including my two year old’s constant “mommy, mommy”. It gets too loud and I feel like I’m losing it. Sometimes I snap and yell at everyone around to give me a minute so I can get a grip but then I feel guilty for projecting my anger towards my family especially my kids. 

Eventually the problems pass and I find a way to survive one day at a time. Without the lingering problem my conscious and that voice in my head quiet down which makes it easier to listen to the people around me. Slowly I begin to feel sane again or at least I find it easier to hold on to my sanity. My fear is finally losing my grip, getting lost in the middle of my conscious, the negative voice in my head and the people actually talking to me. Where will my mind go then? 

Son’s Surgery

It’s been a while since I updated my blog. I didn’t realize it had been so long but my son had surgery and there was hardly any time for anything else. My son was born with a club foot but because it was minor the problem was fixed when he was a newborn. His orthopedic doctor had him in a cast for a month when he was about 1 month old. Thankfully his foot was straightened and he went on to walk and run with no problem. His doctor has been tracking his progress and when he turned 5 he noticed his foot would pull inwards a bit and it was curving his toes. So he recommended a surgery to move a tendon to pull the foot out.

It was a tough decision but we knew it would help him. It was terrifying to think he’d have to endure such a painful surgery and then be in a cast for eight weeks. Thankfully the surgery went well and after we had the task of managing his pain and make him as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately the first day back home he was in so much pain we had to rush back to the ER. As it turns out he was given the wrong dosage for his pain medication. Finally after eight weeks his cast was removed and about two weeks later he was back on his feet. Again he was able to walk and run like a typical kid his age. After a few years however, we noticed every time he’d take a step with his left foot, the club foot, he would point the toes out. Then he started complaining that his foot would hurt if he walked or ran for too long. At first I thought it was his fault for pointing his foot out when he walked but as much as we tried to get him to walk differently he couldn’t do it. 

Which brings us to where we are now. We made an appt with his orthopedic doctor and after evaluating his foot he explained that his first surgery had been too effective. He says these surgeries are unpredictable because the foot is still growing and for that reason he’s been observing his progress since his first cast. So he explained he needed another surgery; this time he needed to pull his foot inwards so he added a small bone implant and lengthened his heel. Now he’s in a cast once again. Thankfully he’s had very little pain, even though the doctor explained this surgery would be more painful, but we made sure to discuss the proper dosage for pain meds before we left the hospital. He was also given a block by the anesthesiolost. Once he’s under general anesthesia they inject an anesthetic through the knee and with an ultrasound locate the nerves to anesthetize to block the pain from the knee down. That block lasted a little over 24 hours and it helped keep him comfortable. 

Now it has been two weeks since the surgery and he’s doing well. It’s been busy around here but I’m glad the surgery is over and that he is doing well. There’s hardly any time to deal with personal mental issues when you’re so concerned for one of your kids, but after the dust settles you’re left with your head spinning. I feel so out of touch with everything because I felt like if I was on auto pilot moving through those days thinking only of my son. The few days before the surgery I was lost in thought thinking of things that can go wrong, the worst thing that could happen…why do we do that? After the surgery I was worried about the pain he’d experience. The first week we were on edge watching him expecting to see him in excruciating pain. Now I can breathe easy, the worst is over and I’m back to focusing and stressing about my mental state. 

Fear

I was watching an episode of Friends. Rachel was explaining that she felt “good scared” when she took a job in Paris. She claimed she felt this type of “good scared” when she gave birth to her daughter, Emma. I began to wonder if there are degrees of fear. Is it possible to experience a type of “good scared”? I’ve felt nervous and maybe Rachel was describing nervousness but I don’t think any fear I’ve felt was good.

When having my two sons I was nervous about what I’d experience. The physical pains for labor and the methods to control that pain like an epidural made me nervous. I don’t think I was fearful because I trusted my doctors and the staff at the hospital. Then I considered Rachel may be talking about the fear she felt of being a parent and of course failing at it. That I did feel and I still feel today but it’s not a “good scared”. I’m terrified to fail as a mother and I’m constantly feeling that guilt because I’m sure I’m not doing a good job. How could I be doing good when I feel so unstable sometimes. That type of scared is far from good. It’s a scared that weighs on me daily. 

When Rachel talks about feeling good scared in regards to her Paris job, again I can’t imagine feeling anything other than fear, anxiety or panic. It’s been difficult for me to get jobs the drive alone scares me. It’s bad enough to stress about meeting someone for an interview let alone driving to the location. 

If there is a “good scared” I envy those that experience it. I’m guessing they feel this when they’re doing something out of their comfort zone, something they like or wanna try–definitey something fun. I can barley leave my house and when I do it’s with my husband. I never go out alone but I always wonder what I could accomplish if I wasn’t so afraid all the time.

Ups and Downs

Mood swings are exhausting. It’s annoying to plan your day with excitement but a couple of hours later you’re lethargic and uninterested. I have to fight the urge to crawl back into bed and go back to sleep. 

My moods change rapidly but the bad moods linger a lot longer than the good. My good moods show up unexpectedly but they’re always welcomed. In that state of mind I feel like I can do anything. All the dreams I have, become more attainable. I feel a rush of energy so I eagerly start making a to-do list. Aside from all the ideas I have I want to clean, I want plan get-togethers with my friends or family outings. Sometimes without thinking I’ll even go as far as inviting people to these so-called gatherings or I buy things for this purpose. It’s and odd feeling of invinsibility…I feel I can do it all but just as easy as this state of mind sets in, it quickly fades away. 

Before I know it that lethargic heaviness sets in and completely shatters all my plans. My self-loathing kicks in and all those ideas I had start to crumble. I begin to tear the ideas apart piece by piece reminding myself how stupid they are. In this state of mind I feel down physically achy and tired. Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m physically tired or if it’s just part of that heaviness that comes with depression. 

I find that I often feel tired or sleepy. I feel my body so heavy and the mere thought of getting out of bed is exhausting. Most of the time I feel everything is pointless. Why get up if before I know it, the day will end I will have accomplished nothing. Why shower and dirty-up clothes, if you’re not leaving the house. Why get up, if you don’t contribute towards anything. Life moves along without my presence or input, so why bother. 

It’s a daily struggle. Why keep trying when your mind tells you all attempts to move forward are futile? Sometimes I try to motivate myself with my sons. They need me but that negativity chimes in and explains clearly how my presence or involvment makes things worse for them. Somehow anything I grab on to pull myself out of that darkness will push me in deeper. 

The Lemons

We’re at the cashier ready to pay for our groceries. My 2 yr old is already screaming and whining for the cookies–he’s ready to go. There are two people ahead of us with few items which means we’ll get to the cashier soon but, we forgot the lemons. 

Without thinking twice, like I usually do, I offer to go back to other side of the supermarket to get the lemons. My husband can’t go because he’s the one that deals with the cashier. I avoid any human contact while I’m out in public so paying the cashier would be too much. He asks if I’m sure I want to go alone– “We can buy some later.”, he says but I get this rush of courage and brush him off and tell him I can do it. So I start my way towards the produce section. 

As I began to walk away I start panicking. What was I thinking? I can’t do these things on my own, but I keep moving.  I try to walk fast weaving in and out of groups of shoppers. Trying to keep my head down to avoid eye contact but at the same time trying to read undecisive shoppers that are pushing their carts towards me. I finally make it to the produce section and I quicky scan the bins of vegetables and fruits, hoping the lemons are nearby–they’re not.

I start to make my way through the maze of bins making eye contact with a few people. Then I see men, older men, those make me the most nervous. I’ve had unfortunate run-ins with strange men that have been disrespectful or perverted, they make me uneasy. As a teen I remember coming across various older men that despite my age, made vulgar advanced towards me. Many of them crossed the line and so I avoid them. I don’t know if this older man, maybe a grandfather, is just smiling politely or if he’s thinking like those bad men I’ve encountered. I don’t want to seem rude so I crack a smile and look away. I walk faster towards the back of the room.

My state of panic is elevating. I can feel myself get hot, I’m begining to sweat and my heart is racing so fast I can hear it pulsating in my ears. The voices of the shoppers around me began to sound like echoes and I start to worry that people can see me. I don’t want them to know I’m panicking. I start to worry that maybe the lemons aren’t in this section. Maybe they’re in a different aisle. What if people know I’m looking for lemons and they’re laughing and waiting to see how long I’d keep looking in uthe wrong place. Just as I start thinkin of quiting and rushing back to my husband I see the lemons!

There’s a shelf with lemons and limes but now I wonder which ones should I buy. I don’t want to take the wrong ones and then have this ordeal be in vain because my husband would have to come back for them. So I decide to grab 3 limes and about 6 lemons. I quickly tie the bags and start rushing back to the cashier. I try to avoid the men that are still browsing the bins nearby. They’re busy squeezing tomatoes, checking for ripeness which gives me the opportunity to rush past them unseen. 

When I get to the cashier my husband has paid and is packing our groceries. He tells me to wait in line while he finishes then switches places with me so he can pay. I stand with our cart of groceries and my son against fhe liquor shelf.  Now that I began to calm down I survey the market and its inhabitants, the customers, cashiers and my husband. Everyone is unaware of the stress and panic I just experienced. It’s such a simple task, afterall, to walk to the produce section and get lemons but for me it’s much more difficult. Now the self-hating thoughts begin to kick-in. The voice in my head points out how pathetic this is and how sorry people must feel to have to deal with an “adult” that can barely function in life.  

Therapy

Over the years I’ve met various therapists. I’ve talked to school counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and even a hypnotist. They’re all pretty much the same–they don’t seem to say much they just ask a lot of questions. I have to admit that I’m not always honest with them. I’m always afraid that they’ll judge me or scold me for not doing the things they recommend.

The therapist I saw in high school asked me to keep a journal and then we’d discuss what I wrote at every session. During that time I had normal teen problems, boyfriend stuff, friends and stress from school but I think my main problem was the way I felt about myself and my relationship with my mom. However when I’d write in the journal I only wrote about my school day. I wasn’t sure the therapist would discuss these things with my parents since i was underage. The focus of my therapy became my ex boyfriend. Yes, I still liked him and yes it was difficult to be dating someone else but that wasn’t the reason I was depressed. I began disliking myself around that time. Every problem I had could be traced back to something I did. I hated myself. My thoughts would run away from me and it would be extremely difficult to get a grip and keep calm. We lived in a small two bedroom house. I shared my bedroom with my brother and grandma and with the house so small there was never any privacy. There was no quiet space to think and with so many racing thoughts it was too much to bear.

Still, I didn’t spend too much time discussing this with my therapist. Our sessions would be spent discussing ways to communicate with my ex boyfriend. I don’t think that particular therapy worked for me. At one point she recommended I talk to a psychiatrist to see if I needed medication but that doctor felt I was fine and that I was just a typical teen exaggerating my problems. With a sarcastic tone he’d point out how everyone around me felt like I did, that I wasn’t the only teen feeling this way. I understood that but how many of my classmates were contemplating suicide?

A year later my mom heard of a psychologist/hypnotist that was very good and promised to help people with depression. So we scheduled a few sessions with her. I have my doubts about hypnosis I find it hard to believe someone can be put into a trance in which they can remember things buried in their subconscious. Maybe it does work but I never felt “hypnotized”. I did my best to follow her instructions so she could lead me into this trance but I never felt it worked. She would ask various questions about my childhood and I’d answer what I remembered, she acted as if I was hypnotized and slowly walked me back to reality. I kept my eyes closed and never told her it didn’t work. I was worried she’d be upset.
I didn’t see more therapist until I was about 20 years old. After a suicide attempt I was assigned to a therapist and psychologist. During that time the doctors diagnosed me with depression and Bipolar Disorder. I was taking two types of medication and I felt out of it. My mind was always foggy. I was sleepy and lethargic–it was not fun at all. I don’t remember too much about my sessions but I do remember feeling uncomfortable having to see these doctors every week.

Finally my latest therapist has been a bit more helpful. She suggested I try group therapy for my anxiety and she was giving me some steps to ty to be more social. However while my medical insurance changed I was unable to continue to see her. I haven’t rescheduled anything with her yet but I’d like to try.