Monthly Archives: September 2009
In every family, there are roles that each person plays. Because I am the youngest of three by quite a few years, I slipped easily into the role of “the baby”.
Not much was expected of me as far as chores around the house, not like my sister and brother years before. Some of this was just because of convenience – for example, by the time I was old enough to wash and dry dishes, we had a dishwasher. Some of it was circumstance, as my parents loosened up over the years and chose to take over some of the tasks previously delegated to my siblings. In fact, I was one of those kids who goes off to college and has to learn how to do laundry from their first roommate.
Because I moved a thousand miles away immediately after college graduation, this role of “baby” was perpetuated, even though by then my sister had children who were babies themselves. Every visit home, I continued to evade responsibility. No, you don’t have to do the dishes. No, you don’t have to clean up after yourself. No, we’ll pay for that. I fought it, certainly, though my role was still clearly there. Even as I cooked delicious meals for my husband and cleaned up every dish afterwards here in Colorado, it just didn’t happen back at home.
It has only been recently that I realized that my role has been extended to the emotional sense as well. The deepest problems I face stay with me, I shy away from telling my family good things that happen at work or with my writing, I have a hard problem communicating well at all. I blame it on being too busy or being too far away, which is sometimes true. I just don’t expect much because I feel like I had enough in the past. Like I don’t deserve help or praise or a phone call if I don’t cook or clean or pay for something while I’m there. And it creates fear that when my family needs me, I could never be as good as they have been to me my entire life.
It is clearly messed up thinking, some of the type that hurts me most when it comes to anxiety and depression. Current situations dictate that it needs to change, once and for all. It’s a big step, moving away from this role, but now there are four in the generation behind me and my siblings. It’s beyond time.
This statue sits somewhere in Newport, Rhode Island. Photo was taken in May 2005, as we drove all over New England in the course of two weeks.
This is how I feel lately. Jumping into the water without a care in the world, finding the real me somewhere beneath all the anxiety and depression.
Together with my psychiatrist, I discovered that while I had come close to this sense of self during therapy in 2003, I hadn’t quite gotten there yet when I got sick.
When I got sick, so incredibly fatigued and worn out and out of whack from undiagnosed hypothyroidism and probable type 2 diabetes.
Now that my physical health is under control, it’s time to go back and look at the mental health. Find the real me. I’m close. I know I must be close.
I’m not good at endings.
Abrupt and quick, like pulling a band-aid off a healing wound. That’s how I’ve ended friendships and quit jobs and “fired” doctors. It’s easier that way, I tell myself, no looking back.
Finding a suitable conclusion has also been a problem with my writing. From all-nighter assignments analyzing literature back in college to attempts at short stories and poetry to blog posts, the endings have always been difficult, like something out of reach I can’t quite grab.
Is it possible for me to say goodbye to bad endings? We shall see, as that becomes the first thing I choose to tackle with those books full of writing exercises left undone.
(As far as saying goodbye to those other bad endings? Never fear, I’m working on that, too.)
Even though I’ve lived in Colorado for eleven years, I have only taken one trip to the mountains to see the aspens changing colors. Though it’s been years, this photo continues to bring back memories from that one weekend when we visited several spots to see the gorgeous trees in their fall glory. And look at the clouds contrasted with the brilliant blue sky.
Seems like a rather peaceful spot, doesn’t it? I’m thinking of including it in a collection of calming photos to help me when the worst of anxiety hits.
Want to show and tell? Head on over to Stirrup Queens.
As I have mentioned before, I’m not your typical girl.
You should see me when I go out the door for work every morning. No hair product, no make-up, usually wearing a loose blouse and jeans. Part of it has to do with the casual work environment at my company, part of it has to do with having no one to impress there either.
Frankly, I’m getting kind of sick of not dressing up and not doing my hair and not putting on my face like I used to do every day at the medical device manufacturer years ago.
While I’m at it…
I don’t want to be the woman who is asked if her parents are home when she answers the front door of the home she has owned with her husband for the past nine years.
I don’t want to be looked up and down by the cops for being a possible truancy case when I’m out walking in the middle of a random weekday anywhere near the local high school.
And I absolutely don’t want anyone to assume anything about me and my work ethic.
Maybe it’s the business attire gathering dust in my closet. Maybe it’s knowing the gray hairs and the “freckles” are multiplying; that the laugh lines are deepening every single month.
Maybe I’m just ready to finally grow up and gain some respect.
Stop looking backward, start looking forward.
(Maybe a pair of contact lenses would help the effort, if the dry air of Colorado allows…something to think about, anyways.)
“Who was Patrick Swayze?” If that’s not proof that I’m older (much older?) than I look, I don’t know what is. Other than “Who was John Hughes?”, of course.
Proof because I saw Ghost in the theater as soon as it came out. And I first watched Dirty Dancing in junior high before I knew what abortion was and what it meant for it to be illegal. So there!
RIP Patrick. You fought the good fight with that horrible form of cancer.
Once again, the calendar has turned a page and now it reads September.
It means football. and turning leaves. and the fall harvest.
And then there’s dusting off the light box.
For those of us who deal with seasonal affective disorder, September can be a mixed bag of feelings as the days shorten and the weather cools. It’s the calm before the storm that begins to brew in October and November and churns wildly in the months of December, January, and February before slowly subsiding in March and April.
We may play endless hours of touch football or head out to the stadium to watch our favorite college and professional teams. We may love the sound of autumn leaves crunching under our feet. We may sip wine in candlelight and consume a harvest feast. Underneath it all, there is always a fear, always an anticipation that things will turn ugly at any moment.
Now I wonder if it’s all a self-fulfilling prophecy – worrying about how bad the worst of seasonal depression will be this time around in fact leads to the worst of seasonal depression.
So this year, I’m going with a different attitude, an amazingly positive attitude.
It won’t be that bad. It can’t be that bad.
I will stay faithful to the light box and the mid-day walks in the sun.
It won’t be that bad. It can’t be that bad.
I will be good to myself, allowing massages and bubble baths as needed, and continuing to avoid alcohol.
It won’t be that bad. It can’t be that bad.
And if all else fails, the calendar will read April soon enough.
National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week will be held September 14-20, 2009. It includes a FREE virtual conference, with four speakers per day presenting on subjects such as marriage and chronic illness, finding health insurance with a pre-existing condition, and finding a career in spite of illness. To prepare, Lisa has asked those interested to participate in a meme about our invisible illnesses. While I usually talk diabetes elsewhere, I decided to do this meme here, to show my general audience my thoughts about having type 2 diabetes.
30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know
1. The illness I live with is: Type 2 diabetes
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2005
3. But I had symptoms since: 2001, when I first started getting screened
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: exercising regularly
5. Most people assume: I must be lazy if I didn’t take care of myself enough to avoid type 2 diabetes
6. The hardest part about mornings are: dawn phenomenon – I must limit my carbohydrate intake ( 7. My favorite medical TV show is: Grey’s Anatomy
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: blood glucose meter
9. The hardest part about nights are: getting enough sleep
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) four, but none for diabetes
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: love massages for stress relief and have thought about acupuncture.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: invisible – it can stay invisible if I choose, depending on the situation
13. Regarding working and career: It’s hard to balance work and life and stress, especially when stress causes blood sugars and blood pressure to rise – both things not recommended for those with diabetes
14. People would be surprised to know: what foods I should avoid or limit
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: eating differently
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: participate in a 2-day, 39.3 mile charity walk. (I only walked about ~28 miles, but was proud of myself for doing it for breast cancer research and treatment.)
17. The commercials about my illness: only show the pricy new treatments like Januvia and Byetta for type 2 diabetes, not the traditional ones of metformin and insulin that have fewer side effects
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: having French toast sprinkled with powdered sugar and drenched in syrup for breakfast
19. It was really hard to have to give up: cranberry juice – any juice spikes my blood sugar too high
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: diabetes advocacy – in fact, I’d like to make it more than a hobby…
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: not change a thing. the things I changed to tame my diabetes also tame my tendency towards anxiety and depression.
22. My illness has taught me: that I can be an athlete after all.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: ”You can’t/shouldn’t eat that!” Sorry, but actually, I get to choose how I use my carbs each day and it may just be that cheesecake/cookie/pizza, thank you very much.
24. But I love it when people: tell me about new ways to exercise.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: ”You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” - Virginia Woolf
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: You may need to change everything you’ve ever known – food choices, beginning to exercise, and changing jobs to reduce stress – but once blood sugar is under control, you may feel the best you’ve ever felt in your life.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how much I’ve grown as a person.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: made me laugh. hard. very hard.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: there are so many of us out there who are willing to inform about the realities of having invisible chronic illness.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: informative and honest.