Saturday, August 23, 2014

Has Anyone Seen My Mind? It Seems to Be Missing.

Have you ever wondered if you're losing your mind? I certainly have, and on more than one occasion. Last night being one of them. As I seriously consider the possibilities that this is happening to me, I find myself wondering if people who lose their minds actually realize it, or, does the fact that I'm asking mean that I'm not. And what does it mean to lose ones mind anyway?

On one hand I have real concerns that I'm headed for early onset dementia. Sure, everyone forgets what they walked into a certain room for, and forgotten names of folks you don't see that often is normal, but it's worse than that for me. I will completely blank on the names of people I'm close to. I  can't recall the title of that book, movie, or TV show to save my life (there goes my trivia game show dream). I remember dates and times wrong. My "brain farts" happen so frequently that I'm getting used to the smell.

Then there's the "crazy" side of losing ones mind. While I feel like my depression symptoms are, for the most part, under control, lately I'm wondering if I'm bipolar or just ridiculously moody. It's like my teenage and young adult years all over again. Come to think of it, I should call my college roommates to apologize. Anyway, last night I went from having a grand ole time with friends to walking a mile home at 11 p.m. because I was angry for no particularly good reason. (Though you'd think by now that husbands would know not to ask their wives, "What's your problem?" in that tone of voice. At least when the kids ask why I'm in a bad mood it's an innocent, albeit foolish, mistake.)

So what is my problem exactly? Well, that's the thing. Looking at the big picture, I have no problems. I have a job, a home, my health, my parents' health, my kids' health, a good great husband, and food for the table (when I actually go grocery shopping). But close up, everything is a problem. I have moments (they last no more than an hour, tops) where I try to be adult and not complain about life to my friends (whom I will be lucky to still call "friends" after my increasingly bad behavior), but ultimately I succumb to all the sh*t that's dragging me down:

Missed deadlines
Divorce news
Family obligations
To do lists
Job searches
Cancer treatments

Some of that has nothing to do with me personally. But it's affecting people I care about and that affects me. I'm well aware that this is the same sh*t that's dragging down nearly everyone I know, but it's just that I feel everything so much more acutely. I recently asked Rob if he thinks everyone experiences the world like I do (albeit without talking/blogging about it), and his immediate answer was "No." No thoughtful consideration required before responding. Isn't he the lucky one to have married me!

You're probably (hopefully) thinking that I'm normal and that this is life. You might say that every mom of a teenager goes through this crap, but I think it'd be so much easier if I didn't jump on the roller coaster with them. I can literally go from happy to bitch in 3.5 seconds. One minute I'll be dreaming of the day when the kids are out of the house and Rob and I can downsize and move somewhere warm and live happily ever after. The next minute I'm seriously doubting that I can stand even one more day together, listening to him pass gas breathe. The poor guy never knows who he's coming home to and a spouse can only be patient for so long. Hence, my walk home last night.

I realize that this post is probably better suited for my personal journal (yes, can you believe there are things I actually keep personal!), but these worries kept me tossing and turning last night and I guess I'm hoping someone will say that they get it, that they've been there, too.

That I'm not losing my mind.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

So a Celebrity Died and People Wept

I'll be honest. I've always thought that people who are dumbstruck ("dumb" being the operative word) by celebrities are pretty sad. Is your life so pathetic that you need to keep up with the Kardashians or keep it "real" with the Housewives of Name-that-Place? Even if you are not personally supporting this sickness, there clearly are too many Americans who are fascinated with the lives of the rich and famous. How else would we end up with these ridiculous people on our TV and movie screens?

Need further proof that we are way too interested in the world of celebrities? People is the top selling magazine in this country. There are 46.6 million so-called adults who choose People as a source of reading material. That subscription costs over $100 a year. I know, because I've priced it. I'll admit that I enjoy an occasional issue, but I only look at it for the pictures. I swear.

Then there are those who go well beyond checking out Tinseltown's awards ceremony gowns. Some will search for celebrity homes, stalk them for photos and autographs, and even visit their grave sites. Our reaction to the death of celebrities is especially disconcerting to me. I have never understood the wailing, weeping and homage paid at the death of someone famous. Folks leaving flowers, candles, stuffed animals and photos at meaningful sites? I don't get it. Unless you knew John Lennon, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix or Marilyn Monroe personally, why would you react this way? There are reports of fans committing suicide when Michael Jackson died. Why do you mourn those whom you have never loved and in most cases, never met? You may have been touched by their performances, but is that enough to justify the tears? I see the irony in that statement -- me suggesting that tears need to be justified.

Part of the reason I am turned off by our reaction to the deaths of famous people is that it seems to speak volumes about what matters to us. We cry over lost lives in Hollywood and read every tribute and bit of gossip about those lost souls, but we're quick to turn the page or change the channel when we see photos and hear the stories of hundreds and thousands who are dying from disease and violence in countries we can't find on a map.

But then Robin Williams died.

I did not know him personally, but I still cried when I heard the news. And the more I read about his death, the more tears I shed. I cried because he was still in his prime and had much more to give. I cried because he made me laugh and it hurts to lose someone who gives us the gift of laughter. But perhaps the main reason I cried is because, as a friend of mine said, if Robin Williams couldn't fight the demons of depression, even with every resource at his disposal, what chance do the rest of us have?

If anything good can come from the loss of one of the world's comic geniuses, let it be that the conversation about mental illness continues and that in our darkest moments we recall this line from the Walt Whitman poem "O Me! O Life!" spoken by Robin Williams in one of his most extraordinary movies, The Dead Poet's Society:

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;  
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

So, this is how it's going to be

The summer of 2014 will be remembered as the season in which I lost my children. I think in my very last post, just two short weeks ago, I said something about really liking my kids, and as a result missing them when they're gone, which was the case for the first half of the summer. Well, Ian returned home on Saturday night and I spent a week on a mission trip with Abby, and I can now say that I don't like them nearly as much. Okay, that was a little harsh. Perhaps I should put it this way -- they both turned into teenagers this summer. Just putting that in writing makes my skin crawl.

Perhaps you think I'm lucky that Ian didn't hit this evil stage until now, but maybe in some ways that makes it harder to accept. I really thought that if my 16-year-old was still fairly likable that I was in the clear, that I'd made it past go and could collect $200. I had been patting myself on the back for being such an exceptional parent, having raised a kid who never rolled his eyes or gave me major attitude. Oh, how very foolish I've been.

When picking him up at the airport, after being gone for two weeks, my son's reaction to seeing me was "Hey." And no, it wasn't an upbeat, happy, let-me-give-you-a-hug "Hey!" In his first 24-hours at home I spent maybe three hours with him (he ran off to a friend's house), and in that short amount of time he gave me "the look" and the attitude to go with it. He actually had the cojones to attempt to "decline" a volunteer assignment for the following day that benefited an organization of which he's a member. He seriously thought that by stating, "I don't want to," he would get out of doing the job at hand. I don't know what kinds of kids he spent the past two weeks with, but I'm holding them responsible for this metamorphosis.

And then there's my daughter. Abby also deserted me, physically and emotionally, for most of July. The good news is that I know she felt some degree of guilt because of it. Case in point: Last week, Abby and I worked on Habitat for Humanity houses that were just a few hundred yards apart. During a lull in my work, I walked down to check on my girl (who, by the way, won the tool belt award for hardest worker on the first day of our trip). While visiting, I expressed concern for her safety with regard to something she was doing. She scolded me, in essence telling me to return to my own job site. I realized she was right and so I sulked and with my tail between my legs made my way back. Feeling melancholy over the distinct lack of interaction I'd had with Abby since the trip began, I sat myself down in a quiet place outside and contemplated the increasing gulf between me and my children. And I ate some Swedish Fish. And while I was wallowing in self pity and trying to get the candy out of my teeth, Abby came up to me and expressed concern for my well-being. She asked whether she'd done something wrong and apologized for upsetting me. I got teary-eyed telling her everything was fine and sent her on her way. Guilt is an invaluable tool.

Three days after returning home, Ian is ignoring my repeated requests to put away his clothing, groans when asked to do most any household chore, and feigns illness when he doesn't want to do something. In other words, things have somewhat returned to normal. At least he has stopped rolling his eyes and seems to like me a bit more. Of course, that could be because he again relies on me for food and lodging.

Abby, too, seems to have rediscovered me. When she was away on Monday, she texted to say goodnight and tell me she loves me. It was like the good ole days.

Today, Ian woke early to tell me he was heading to the shore with Noah for the day, asking if that was okay at the same time that Noah's dad was pulling into the driveway to pick him up. Sure, it's okay. Thanks for asking. Maybe 10 minutes notice next time instead of five? I believe that, starting tomorrow, Ian and Abby will both be home, together, for the rest of the summer. Which makes me think it's an excellent time for Rob and me to get out town.