Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Happy Pill...the Whole Truth and Nothing But!

I make a lot of jokes about my happy pill...professionals call it Cymbalta, an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication prescribed for a variety personal issues.  My issue?  Anxiety and irritation...without it I have the shortest fuse on the block and I am emotional, yeah, a bit of a cry baby - not the greatest combination, right?

I haven't always been on an anti-depressant - just the past eleven years.  That's not to say that I didn't need something before that, but becoming a parent made it a necessity.  Sad, but true.

Becoming a parent is an emotional journey, especially when you've been trying/waiting to become one for almost ten years.  Five years of trying "naturally," a few years of tests & fertility treatments, until we came to our senses & sealed the deal with adoption.  International adoption - we had been through enough emotionally that I was not going to risk having some crackhead knocking on our door to get their kid(s) back.  Just sayin'...

I know, I am making light of a pretty emotional journey, but that's how I roll...and besides, that is not the point of this story.  So, back to the happy pill...

We'd been home from Samoa for about two months and I noticed that my patience level had become non-existent.  I was wound tight and for once in a very long time, had no real reason to feel that way.  My family was complete - awesome husband, two beautiful little girls and two very loyal springer spaniels...we'd even just moved into a new home that completed our 21st Century nuclear family.  So why so anxious?  Why so emotional?  Was I just an ungrateful bee-otch that didn't know how to appreciate her awesome life?

Well, did you know that a woman can put their body into post-partum depression without giving birth?  Yeah, me neither.  But apparently I am pretty damn special and that's exactly what my doctor felt was happening to me and my snarky, quick to snap self.  She said that the sudden change from no kids to two kids who only wanted ME (the girls were not accustomed to men) was enough to kick the hormones into overdrive, creating an imbalance.  It also does not help that I was genetically pre-destined for this nonsense...depression, to varying degrees, runs deep in my family, so honestly, it was inevitable.  And to say that my life had changed would be an understatement.

I had gone from a married woman/teacher who could come and go as she a mother who was married and taught for a living.  I couldn't go anywhere without hearing "mommy" or feeling somebody poking or squeezing me, wanting something, if not food, just a snuggle.  And now that I type this I feel a little bit of guilt because it was what I'd always wanted...but damn, so much so soon?

So back to the pill...the doctor hooked me up with an anti-depressant and two weeks later, I was a calm, cool collected mama on summer break.  I felt better - even keeled, chill, going with the flow and loving my new life.  After a couple of months I had to go in for a check-up and D went with me...the doctor (military docs so it was my first visit with him) looked at D and said, "What do you think?  She needs it?  Do you notice a difference?"  Now this was over ten years ago so I don't recall exactly what D said but it was along the lines of "it works, keep it coming Doc."  Yeah, well that was certainly confirmation that my nonsense was being taken care of thanks to the miracle of modern medicine.

Now I've tried, over the years, to take a break from the happy pill, but to no avail - this chemical imbalance nonsense that turns me into a cry baby bee-otch is here for good folks.  The longest I've gone without it is one year and hmm, it was interesting to say the least.  The mood swings were nuts - I went from laughing, happy go lucky to getting my feelings hurt over nonsense that would normally crack me up.  The final straw was when we attempted to move to Wisconsin and it did not work out -- the crying jags, oh the freaking crying jags, even I couldn't stand me!  So, back to the doctor (it was time for the annual poke & prod anyway) and back to NORMAL.

But I don't always learn the first time, so I tried it again last year...yeah, two weeks and when I broke down in tears because I couldn't concentrate long enough to dial the number to the doctor and then when I do get through I get the voice mail...let's just say they got me in the next day and we were all (including my work colleagues) singing Hallelujah and speaking in tongues.  Okay, not really, but all was right in the world, again, and for that I am thankful.

So fast forward to today, where I realized, quickly, that I had not taken my pill last night.  Now one would not think that 24 hours without it would make a difference.  Hmm, yeah, right.  For me, it's as if I am instantaneously blanketed in a serious case of adult ADHD...full on with the lack of focus, giggles, and the incessant need to move.  If I were a stay-at-home mom this might not be that big of a deal.  But I am attempting to educate the masses my dear friends and if a teacher needs one thing it is focus and control...

Point in case:  We are neck deep in test prep and standards review. The lovelies have been reading passages and answering questions, using test taking strategies that we've been doing all year long.  No biggy, right?  Well, it is when you begin to read & review the passage with your students and realize that even YOU are bored to tears.  Here is where I confirmed, that I had not taken my pill:

Question 5 asks:  Which word would describe Blobbity Blob (can't recall her name, that is how disengaged I was from this reading passage):
a) interesting

Lots of vocabulary discussion ensued and we narrowed it down to a & b...and in full-on teacher mode I say "well, she was a spy, so she was not very honest or trustworthy, therefore she was deceitful. But on the other hand she led a pretty interesting life so I can see where someone would choose "interesting."  Now folks, this is where I SHOULD have reiterated the character and her actions so they'd clearly understand she was deceitful.  But nope, that's not what happened...instead I continue discussing "interesting" and proceed to say "Now, I think she was pretty interesting, I'd probably want to read more about her.  Well, no, that's a lie, I don't think she was that interesting and besides...she's dead."  Yes, that is EXACTLY what I said...WTH, right?

And this is where I lost it - I couldn't stop giggling because I knew that I had truly lost it.  I'd even said, out loud, "Hmm, what's wrong with me today?  I should have kept that in my head!"  And because I'd realized, quickly, why I was so goofy, I embraced it and the rest of the day went off without a hitch - at least in my opinion....and I promise, I will take my happy pill (+ vitamin D) tonight and all will be right in the world of educating my lovelies.

BTW - My morning lessons are normally repeated for my afternoon group but due to MY morning shenanigans, I spared the group my personal views on Blobbity Blob (Belle something or other) and opted for a more low key afternoon.  So yes, I do learn from my mistakes, sometimes;-)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

There are two things that I really cannot tolerate in life, as in "I am scared sh$tless and I am going to run and scream like a five year old girl" intolerance: snakes and mice.  Now, where we reside, snakes very rarely get into your home, therefore not much to worry about there.  But mice, yeah, frequent visitors in the winter - we live in a somewhat rural area and when they cut the corn fields, BAM, Mickey and all of his freaking pals try to sneak into our house for food & shelter.  And by sneaking I mean practically opening up the front door and shouting (in their best Ricky Ricardo voice) "Hey Lucy, I'm HOOOOMMME!"  

We had a particularly bad year, about four years ago, where the little bastards thought they were going to move their entire family (and we all know how quickly they procreate) into our home, via the pantry & fire place.  D was out of town, work related, and the girls and I were holding down the proverbial fort and the little shit droppers were literally storming the home front.  It was a Friday, as I clearly remember because D was coming home the next day.  I opened the pantry and to my surprise (and apparently the Fieval raiding my pantry) one of the nasty buggers jumped out at me and as I belted out a blood curdling scream, ran behind the fridge.  Panting like I had just run a marathon (or around the block, same difference), the girls and I ran to the car and abandoned the house...for school.  I promised myself if those little buggers were going to invade my home they had another thing coming...sticky traps (cue ominous background music) and many of them.  

Now we had tried a variety of trapping devices in the past, my favorite being the little electric box - the crafty critters were lured into the box by the wafting fragrance of peanut buttery goodness and when they stepped closer they stepped onto a metal plate which ZZZZZAAAAAPPPPed the life out of them.  It was awesome - no mess, no screaming, no blood (I'm sure there was but D took care of that nonsense).  But a year later, after our influx of rampaging rodents shorted out our trap, we sadly learned that Lowe's was no long carrying them.  Argh, this meant we had to go one of three routes:  Poison (nope, they die in the walls & stink to high heaven), Traditional with bait (nope, too easy for them to get the peanut butter and they were bloody by nature) or sticky traps.  

So you see, I really had no choice but to line my baseboards with the infamous torture devices. Mind you, I considered them torturous and I'd shunned them because I'd heard that the trapped/stuck mouse will emit an ear piercing scream.  Hmm, no thank you - that's all I need is to have that nonsense replaying in my head!  But I had reached my breaking point folks and having mouse after mouse mock me, laughing in my scared to death face caused me to jump on the "Last Resort" train and not turn back. 

Note:  Upon arriving home after a day at school, totally forgetting the morning mouse incident, I walked right into our kitchen only to have another freaking mouse run out from under the pantry door (apparently my pantry was the "happening place" for these bastards and their wicked friends), right past me and behind the fridge (again).  I screamed and told the girls to get back in the car, we were going to Lowe's - all the while wondering if it would just be easier to pack a bag and go to the damn Hampton Inn for the night!

Traps were purchased, dinner brought home in a paper bag that may or may not have had golden arches and we were ready to chill out for the night.  Little did we know that we were going to have an influx (no exaggeration) of mice scampering their shitty little arses along the living room walls.  All it took was one scurrying past, bypassing my ONE trap, and I quickly devised a plan:  big bottle of wine, myself and fed children in pj's on the couch and sticky trapS strategically planted along the based boards of the living room...and BAM, Friday night's entertainment, a homespun extermination experiment, was up and running.


Now my dear hearts, this was four years ago and I was under the influence, but I do know that we snagged at least three of those sneaky little buggers and threw them out into the cold night air (yes, trap and all), where D would be home the next day to take them to their final resting place.  C & I screamed every time one raced out and K giggled with glee as she knew IT would be meeting an untimely demise.  K was also the brave soldier to scoop the trap (with mouse) onto a dustpan and toss them out the door.  I should be ashamed to admit that, because she was only eight years old at the time, but hell, someone had to do it, right?  And who am I to strip my child of such obvious joy?  Heck, she even talked to the little arseholes as she took them outside...hmm, what does that say about my kid?  Pfft, just another one of my parenting wonders, right?

We woke the next morning and decided that the majority of the day would be spent the little buggers and buggerettes had yet to journey to the second floor.  But a unanimous decision was made: if we saw any more mice we'd leave a note for D informing him that he could find us at the Hampton Inn.  We had displayed immense bravery the night before but we were officially tapped out. 

Lucky for D & us, all went well and he eventually took care of the mice situation...poison that dehydrates the mice, thrown under the house and kept in the garage for those that snuck in for a quick munch.  Fast forward four years and we now own Frappe', a 1 1/2 year old cat that we adopted from the SPCA after I saw a mouse, dead on a sticky trap, in our front closet.  She has kept us mouse free and now insect free - certainly earning her keep, more than I can say for the teens, but that's another story for another day.

BTW:  The mice don't scream, but rather emit a high pitched squeak...that is, when they aren't trying to gnaw their own leg off to "release" themselves from the trap.  Stubborn little bastards.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Guilt Schmilt

What would it be like to never live with regret?  To never worry about making the right decision and how it would affect others?  I'm certainly not the one to ask because I feel guilty all of the time.  For big things and little things and things that should not even matter - it's all about questioning myself, not being confident in decisions that I have made.  But why?  I know that I come off as very confident, self-assured, and definitely capable of handling a wide variety of nonsense - and many times this confidence is interpreted as being a bee-otch.  So be it, right?

I once asked my husband if I came across as someone that thinks they are better than others...he paused.  Yes, paused, WTH was that about?! Well, if he didn't agree you know darn well his silly self would have said "oh no, honey, you're just self-assured."  But not only did he pause, he proceeded to say "Yeah, pretty much, but it's okay, you're just particular."  Wow, particular?  I don't about you, but I would say that's a great vocabulary word  for "picky."

Now this really should not come as a surprise since my Grammy and Grandpa G used to call me Picky Nikki - no lie and sometimes it was Nickle Pickle (hmm, this must be where I get my love of rhyming, but that's another story for another time).  If I wasn't picky, as in particular about what I ate or wore, I was picky in the respect that I "picked" at others.  If you had lint on your shirt, a hair out of place or a boogie hanging from your nose, I'd be the first to bring it to your attention.  Lucky for me I saved this not so redeeming character trait for my family members - good thing or I'd probably never have had a damn friend throughout my childhood!

I'd like to think that this "picking" was because I was becoming a detail oriented person, something that would be necessary in my future profession as a hairstylist (yes, that was my major career goal from the 6th grade on).  But why did that lint on your shirt or that "bat in the cave (my absolute favorite reference to boogies in the nose) bother me so much?  And even worse, why did I feel that persistent need to share it?  And even better, let's wonder why I didn't turn this constant "picking" onto myself.  I promise you that if I had I would have been a textbook case of OCD, taking perfection to a whole new level.

So fast forward 30+ years - do I really think that I am better than others?  Hmm, no...but I would like to see others step up and live/work to his or her full-potential.  Is that wrong?  I'll be honest with you: the poor choices of others, laziness in general and disrespect towards others drive me NUTS.  But who am I to judge if you've chosen to wear your pj's to Walmart (another place that I despise, but I will not waste key strokes on that nonsensical place), or you come to work unprepared and disorganized?  If your nonsense doesn't affect me, why do I care?  

I'll be honest, my best guess is this: if I focus on your issues, I can ignore my own.  So it's time to change (yes, I am hearing Peter Brady singing in his puberty stricken voice) my friends, time to focus on making the best ME - not just for me, but for my family.  Because a better me will share, not pick.  A better, kinder me will exude positivity (how's that for some sappy nonsense?) and it will be contagious.  People will be singing from the rooftops, smiling at strangers, completing random acts of kindness like there is no tomorrow...Okay, now I'm just cracking myself up, because I am a realist and while I can work on not being so "picky," I don't think that I'm ready for that much change...not only do I not have the motivation to become Polly Positive 100% of the time, but I kind of like ME - picky, judgmental, sassy and witty.

But I can work on keeping some of my comments to myself.  I am sure that dropping my "picking" habit will not be easy, nor will it be fun.  I mean, when I see someone with dragon talons for toenails, kicking it in flip flops, I will literally have to bite my tongue to NOT share this nonsense with someone, ...seriously, that's some funny stuff and how can I not share it?  Damn, this is going to be harder than I thought...