Monday, March 31, 2014

Sanity is Expensive

Let's see...where did I leave you?

Oh, yes.  My nervous breakdown.

Turns out that regaining sanity is a somewhat time-consuming (and expensive) process.  Remind me that I said that when I tell you that I'm doing so well, I don't need to go to therapy anymore or that I can handle everything on my own, no problem, who needs sleep anyway?

Just say to me, "Catherine.  Don't be a dumbass.  Go therapy just for a tune-up and no you can't do everything yourself.  Remember the breakdown of 2014?  You don't want to go 'there' again."

And I promise I'll listen.

Therapy, yoga, two different doctors, anti-anxiety meds, Flonase, and sleep.  Mix it all together and you'll create someone who can eventually leave her own house.

As with everything "head" related in my life, I would really like to speed up the "regaining sanity" process and get to the part where I can actually sit across the dinner table from someone without getting dizzy and begin to think about a future vacation with my kids without breathing into a paper bag.  It's just like when Brad died and I was so ready to expedite the grief process as much as possible. I was totally willing to sit in my bed for one solid month, if necessary, bawl my eyes out, allow all of the stages of grief to have their allotted 6.2 hours, and then move forward.

Well.  I set myself up for disappointment then and I'm doing it again now.  Because even though the insanity is a little different...there is no quick way to go about getting rid of it.

But I'll get there.  I do see progress.  Of course, the second I saw things improving I went back to my manic ways...and then immediately felt dizzy again.  So, even though things are better, I have a feeling it will be a little while before I'm 100%.

Actually, when it comes to sanity, I don't know if I'll ever be 100%.  I think at this point I'll shoot for 70% and see where I land.


I've heard a lot of people say that kids (girls especially) who have lost a parent at an early age, usually enter in a second phase of grief when they hit the (pre) teen years.  In spite of the fact that I pay absolutely no attention to my mental health, I am very vigilant about what's going on with my kids'.  And since I have one daughter who is at the jumping off point, leaving the cliffs of childhood and diving into the rough seas of adolescence, I'm pretty hyper-vigilant these days about what's going on.

When my daughter started middle school last year, I told her I was leaving it up to her if she wanted to tell teachers about what happened to her dad.  She's a smart cookie and has been pretty mature since the age of two, so I felt comfortable with letting her make that decision.

Last year passed by without incident and this year has been pretty easy.  But a few weeks ago, something happened that make me prick up my mom ears and listen.  

She came home from school one afternoon and told me something that had happened that day in her science class - that they had been talking about the space program and my daughter raised her hand and said, "My dad worked in the space program.  He worked on the Titan."

Her teacher, unaware of our situation, said, "That's awesome!  When you get home you should ask him some questions about it and let us know what he said!"

Now, when she told me this story, giggling the entire time, I was somewhat mortified.  I said, "Did you tell him that your dad died?"

"No," she said.  "I just kind of laughed."

"Do you want me to talk to him about it?" I asked.

"Not really.  It's no big deal, Mom."

I let it drop for the afternoon and thought about it for a while.  My first instinct was to email the teacher, but I felt like this was something I wanted to discuss further with my daughter.  For those of you who have parented teenagers, you know that you don't want them to stop coming to you, so going behind their backs is not always the best option.  I will make the best decisions I can and my vote will almost always override hers, but this was something I felt like we could figure out together.

My other concern was probably what you're thinking right now:  Did she really think the whole
situation was funny, as she claimed, or was it bothering her more than she was letting on?  How concerned should I be?

I know you're thinking that I was probably over-thinking all of this.  But she had had another smaller incident earlier in the year when the same teacher was talking about organ donation with the class and, to try and bring it down to their level and keep them interested (I think), he kind of made it sound gross.

"Did you tell him that your dad was an organ donor?" I asked her then.

"No, I just didn't say anything."

Now, I know that my grief about her dad dying and her grief about him dying (she was five) are very different.  She doesn't have to be as heart-broken as I have been all of these years because she was so little and the way she has been brought up has been her normal.

The night of the science story, I went into her room while she was reading and after I'd put my other two kids to bed.  "Can I talk to you about something?" I asked.

"Sure," she said, putting her book down.

"Why didn't you say something to your teacher about Dad?  Is it because you don't want to feel different from the other kids?"

She sighed.  "I just didn't want to get into it.  You know?  I'm tired of telling the story over and over again."

Boy, do I know how that feels.

"I know you are," I said.  "Tell you what.  Would you mind if I just emailed him so that he knows?  Because here's the problem:  He's going to find out and then he's going to feel terrible for saying what he did.  That's the worst part about it.  I don't like getting into the story either, but it always comes out at some point and then the other person feels bad and then I feel bad that I wasn't upfront about it so that we could skip this uncomfortable moment.  Does that make sense?"

"Yeah," she said.  "You can email him if you want to."

You all know what happens next.  I send the email explaining our situation, the other person feels bad, I feel worse, and then I have to go back and forth several different times over email until the other person feels better, but I still feel worse.  But we got it over with and it's a lesson learned for both of us:  I think I need to be more proactive and still explain this to the teachers and she now knows that we're both in the same boat.

No matter what your sucks to have to tell this story for the rest of your damn life.


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  2. You have no idea how much I needed this. After 6 years the aftermath of my husband's death has become too much. Sadly, I cannot claim the Super/Wonder woman title. Rolling with the punches has become barreling down a cliff. So it is either reach a hand out for help or crash spectacularly. Yep, help seems preferable to a crash and smash. My kids need me, heck I need me.. the sane, hopeful, rational me.

  3. this really hits home for my son and me. I am tore between ok say he died. Its ok but then I don't want him singled out. we have to live with his choice of suicide.