I haven't slept well the last three nights. And there's nothing really wrong. Precious oldest is doing great, loving school and is coming home this weekend. Precious youngest misses her sister and the start of the school year has always been stressful for her, but she seems to be holding her own. Work is OK. Busy, but not overwhelming. So why am I awake?
My history with anxiety, insomnia and depression is a long one. And every cycle starts like this one. At first a few hours a few nights a week. I'm not even that tired, but I start getting anxious by mid-afternoon. Then I'm up most week nights. Then it starts creeping into the weekends. At it's worst I sleep two or three hours a night for weeks and months at a time. I think everyone has a sleep bank and I just got mine back in the black. But after so many withdrawals the serious depression sets in and then I'm screwed. Last winter I was nearly psychotic from the lack of sleep.
I have current prescriptions for Wellbutrin, Xanex and Ambien. I take the Wellbutrin every day because so far it's the only medication for depression/anxiety I can take without debilitating side effects. I've spent months weaning myself back to just a half a Xanex at bedtime and I don't want to start up again. Do I add Ambien back in the mix? On top of the stupid fucking "natural" melatonin?
I don't want to go back to therapy. I just want to sleep. I've been great for the most of the summer. Why can't I feel like that,sleep like that, all the time? I'm beginning to wonder if I can ever be well, and it scares me.
My parents had their 46th wedding anniversary last Sunday. My mother was twenty and my father was twenty three when they got married. My Nana remembers watching them drive away (in a borrowed car) and crying: my father was still in school, neither one had a job and they were broke.
I was born two days shy of their first anniversary. My father was still in college and working nights. We lived in a five story walk-up in the Bronx. My mother has great stories about those days, but I’ll leave that for another time.
When my second sister L was born, my father left law school for full time employment. (With five mouths to feed, working nights at the ice cream factory was not going to cut it.) After three daughters in rapid succession, my mother gave birth to two sons who died in infancy. The first child was stillborn and our brother Richard passed away when he was six months old. My sisters have no memory of these bothers, but I have vivid recollections of visiting Richard at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. (When we buried first my grandfather and then my grandmother, it was disconcerting to see those two small headstones between the graves of our grandparents.) Against the advice of doctors my mother went on to have two more children, my brothers T and J.
Today is my birthday. I am 45. If I live to be 90, my life is half over. I'm looking forward to the next half. I like to think I will do things better, that I have learned some things along the way.
This is the first time since Precious Oldest was born that I won't see her on my birthday. But she called me this morning and that's better than nothing!
The Girls got me a "Banishment Kit" for my birthday. We only have two televisions in our house. One in the family room and one in our bedroom. When large gangs of unruly teenagers come over to watch the game/a movie/the latest greatest TV show We often get banished to our room. Bahh! (Then I have to keep thinking up reasons to walk through the family room and make sure all activities remain above board.) The "Kit" was a DVD player (hhmm, The Saint might have helped out financially with that one), thesegreatmovies, pop corn, twizzlers, raisinettes,and the best movie candy of all time Good and Plenty.
Tonight The Saint and the P's are taking me to dinner at this place. Yum!
Tomorrow I'm taking my GNO girls to the lake. We'll They will be drinking by noon so I'm hoping I'm not hungover.
Precious Youngest is a very social gal. High school has lots organizations and clubs to join and join she does because it gives her a great excuse to associate with friends during school. Last night we learned of a particularly spectacular reason to join various school groups....
Well, not posters in and of themselves, but PEOPLE! It turns out that if Precious Youngest wears a roll of masking tape on her wrist at all times? She can roam the hallways at any time of day. If questioned as to WHY she’s not in class? She says “I was putting up POSTERS for the XYZ club Mrs. Gullible”. As she is a member of many clubs, and there are fucking posters plastered everywhere, they believe her. Also, she gets good grades and isn’t a known troublemaker so they’re not suspicious.
Should we be proud of her ingenuity or string her up for cutting class? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
Taking my kids for their first day of school was always bittersweet. Supplies were bought, uniforms were unearthed, forms (OMG the forms!) were filled out. Year after year we organized and prepared. Then the class lists were posted just days before the start of school! Good teacher or bad? Best friends in your class or not? Even as they grew older there was always excitement and anticipation before the start of a new year. But I was never quite prepared. As I walked away from their classrooms my throat would tighten, my eyes would well and out would come the Kleenex.
Don’t get me wrong, after a summer of driving to hell and back sixteen times a day, bickering, nagging, boredom leisure, I welcomed the return to the routine of the school year. (The same routine which I abandoned with unadulterated joy every spring!) But even the high school years leave me feeling a tiny bit empty. My heart hurts a little knowing these children of mine are that much closer to leaving me.
And then it was upon me. We took Precious Oldest to college on Saturday. My beautiful girl. My first. She’s ready. So confident and sure of herself in ways I never was. She needs this experience, this slow moving away. And though she’ll be back, I know in my heart something fundamental has shifted. And I miss her.
I have a small post office branch near my office; conveniently located next to the dry cleaners and across the street from the liquor store. On the way to and from work. And the folks that work there are generally pleasant, I shit you not. Nice right? Except I can’t go there any more. Why? Let us get a clear picture shall we? I had a mailing I needed to get out and as the mail service in our building sucks, I decided to run to the post office my own self. It was a small mailing, only about 100 letters. But the mail box outside of the building, as it was the end of the day, was pretty full. When I opened the door I could actually see the mail inside, and I wasn’t sure all of mine would fit.
Being a resourceful sort of gal, I went inside to use the lobby mail slot. But because it was the end of the day it was pretty full too. No matter; as I slid the mail in I used my free hand to sort of push the mail down to make room. I got about half the letters stuffed inside when I found my left hand stuck in the slot. As in my arm, wrist and palm were on MY side, but my fingers and WEDDING RING were on the other. My ring was jammed between the slot and my knuckle. I did not panic at first, primarily because the mail slot is not visible from the customer counter, and I was alone in the lobby. So I pulled. I twisted. I pulled some more. Nothing. Nada. Now another customer comes in to put HIS mail in the slot. He looks at me and asks if I need help. Like a complete idiot I say “No”. WTF right? He looks at me, headed cocked to the side, and says “are you STUCK?” Well now I have to say “yes”, panic has set in, my fingers hurt, my arm is going numb and it is clear there is no fucking way I’m getting out of this on my own.
He kindly goes to the counter, jumps the line, and says there’s a lady with her hand stuck in the mail slot and she needs help. Needless to say, not only do the postal employees come to see what I’ve done but so does everyone in the damn line. So now I have an audience. One asshole is taking pictures with his fucking phone! (If this ends up on YouTube I expect compensation) I tell the nice postal employees that one of them is going to have to go back and pull my ring OFF so I can get my hand OUT. One of the NPEs goes to the back and starts pulling. But with all my pulling and twisting my finger is now the size of a sausage and the damn thing is NOT coming off. But guess what? At the post office? They have machines, and conveyor belts and shit? So they have WD40!!! Sucker slid off so fast the nice postal employee almost dropped it.
NPE came back out front to return the ring and guess what I did? Started putting the rest of my mail in the slot. Oh yes I did! In the nicest possible way NPE suggested I give the mail to her and she’d put it the bin herself.
Scene: “Family Dinner”(someone more clever than myself would have some pop-up of a child rolling their eyes each time this phrase is used. I am not that person) somewhere in the Midwest around a kitchen table.
Fannie: So what are the plans the rest of the week? (oops, back story, we’re taking Precious Oldest to fucking COLLEGE on Saturday)
Precious Oldest: Just tell me when I have to be here for “Family Dinner” and I’ll be here, just don’t make me do pots. (A subject unto itself)
The Saint: How about just Thursday?
Fannie: (interrupting, what a shock) Well we were invited to the B’s pool party Friday, and it would be nice if we could go but I don’t want to have a late night if we’re leaving early in the morning.
Precious Oldest: How early do we have to leave?
The Saint: The loft guys are coming at 10:00, so probably 8:00.
Precious Oldest: 8:00 isn’t that early.
Fannie: We’d LEAVE at 8.
Precious Oldest: Well I’m packing the car Friday night; I won’t be able to sleep if I don’t.
STUNNED SILENCE ALL AROUND
Fannie: (Fake sobbing into my napkin) This is the proudest moment of my life!
Precious Youngest: Don’t you wish there were things you could think in your head without ever saying them out loud?
Precious Oldest: Can I be excused now?
Fannie: After you top off my glass. (Very nice – Chateau Saint Martin De La Garrigue, Bronzinelle)
Fade: A good “Family Dinner”? Sarcasm with a side of irony!
A little bit of background. I was a stay at home mom for 17 years. I loved it. I was good at it. But from the day Precious Oldest was born, something in my brain short circuited. I, who previously could sleep through anything (I will regale you with a few such stories at a later time) COULD NOT SLEEP. Even when the baby was sleeping through the night, I couldn’t manage to do the same. Insomnia is a terrible thing, an insidious thing. The numerous diagnosis and medications are best left for another post; sufficed to say there are periods of my life where going through the motions was the best I could do. There were also periods of my life when the beast was held at bay – sometimes for years at a time.
But as high school and college tuitions began to loom I felt that returning to the workforce was a good idea. Precious Youngest started high school and I found a job. Let’s just say the re-entry was not smooth. The job was not a good fit; I had a toxic co-worker and ended up with severe anxiety issues which led to the worst insomnia I’d experienced yet. Week after week - night after night - two to three hours of sleep. There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as an instrument of torture people! My now poor health coupled with the unpleasant job situation forced me to turn in my resignation after only six months. I felt like an utter failure.
I took about four months off to regroup and get well. I found another job, and thought all was under control. I was wrong. Last winter the beast was back with a vengeance. Shrinks, meds, therapy, hell I even tried acupuncture. December through March is a blur. I managed to go to the office every day, but was so emotionally drained by putting up that front that there was nothing left for my family. Slowly as spring came sleep started to return. The last few months have been pretty great. By July I was feeling like myself again.
Yesterday I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t fall back asleep. My alarm goes off at 5:30 during the week, so at 5:00 I just got up and figured I could suck it for a day. I figured last night that I’d sleep well because I was so tired. I tossed and turned and fell asleep about 11:30. Only to wake up at 1:25. FUCK. I can’t do this again. Seriously.
It has been a tad warm here in the Midwest. In fact the last seven days have been 100 +, as today promises to be: "Mostly sunny. Highs around 101. Very hot and humid. South winds up to 10 mph. Heat index readings 112 to 117. " The “heat index” is just the hot weather version of the “wind chill factor”.
Aunt Flo came to town Saturday, so I’m cranky and bloated. My boss was gone most of last week so work will be insane today. And where will I be spending my relaxing evening? Attending a baseball game! The Saint wanted a family outing to the old ball stadium for Father’s Day and this was the first evening we all had free. I don't know about you, but sweating at sporting events is not one of my favorite past times. People, there isn't enough beer in all the WORLD to make this a pleasant prospect.
I’ve been toying with the idea of a blog for awhile. My life has been is a state of confusion, turmoil and transition for the last few years and I need a way to vent about what’s going on in my life that DOESN’T end with me consuming a bottle of wine. The anonymity of blogging (I know, I know, all relative. Once it’s out there it’s out there!) is appealing because I censor myself at times and I HATE that!
In other news, Precious Oldest just called to say that she is done with her last day of her crappy summer job. A job she HATED. With a burning white passion. And she had the crappy summer job because, instead of doing as the The Saint and I suggested, and looking for a job oh let’s just say in the spring, she waited until school was out for the year. And all the GOOD jobs were taken. I’ll give you ONE guess whose fault that was. And it wasn’t hers.
I am Fannie: a 40ish mom of two daughters; Precious Oldest (23) and Precious Youngest (20), who are both in college, please pray for me. I have been married to the Saint for 26 years. We share our home with a cairn terrorist. This is my story.