Feeling SO MUCH Better

I spent this morning reading back through my posts of the past couple months. The timeline was much longer in my head, and I was thankful to have some of my thinking documented along with the dates that different things happened.

I am feeling SO MUCH better - like back to my old self. Still protecting my mind and heart from high stress situations, but feeling like I can handle what the future holds.

We went camping over memorial day weekend. It was wonderful - primitive car camping in the Los Padres National Forest. There were a lot of bugs and even with lots of deet I came home with plenty of mosquito bites, yuk. We camped just above a small creek and spent most of our days in the shade of the creek, or exploring down the river. There was a swimming hole deep enough to float around in and enough moving water that the sediment cleared quickly. We had to leave on Sunday night though because Mr Fox came down with the flu. It was a reminder for me that I need to be outside more.

 I have an appointment with my Dr for tomorrow afternoon. We'll review my medication and I'm going to ask to eliminate the last two medications (abilify and gabapentin) that were added when everything fell apart. If possible I'd like to get back to just taking the Lexapro, and also eliminate the Wellbutrin. I am also going to ask for a referral to a nutritionist for some help getting my weight back down to at least what it was before this mess (175), and ideally back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 155. I want to be healthy, but I also want to feel good about my body again. I am also going to ask about the status of my referral to a sleep specialist to talk about Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome.

The other big weight that I got off my shoulders last week was interviewing and choosing a couples therapist. We met with two different people and Mr. Fox chose the one who has a strong background in recovery. I was surprised, honestly.  She called him out for his drinking and basically said that it was going to ruin us sooner or later and she at least wanted to warn him/us. She came to us highly recommended and we'll see her once a week. Our first appointment is tomorrow.


Shopping for Plus-Sized clothing Sucks

I will be attending a few high profile events next week that require me to wear professional attire. Normally this would be a challenge, because I am lucky enough to have a typical wardrobe of jeans and a nice blouse, or if necessary a pair of slacks and a nice blouse.

The medication that I've been taken has led to a weight gain of nearly 30 lbs in 2 months and nothing fits. I ordered some yoga pants on amazon, and since I'm out of work, that has been my daily outfit. It sucks in its own right to feel so out of control of my body in addition to my mind.

So last night I went to the mall. I told the lady at the fancy store I never shop in because it is crazy expensive that I needed help selecting an outfit. OMG I must have tried on dozens. It was painful. At least the sizes were right, for the most part, but the styles were so far from anything I would ever choose it was hard to see ME behind the clothing.

The other big challenge was finding something that hid my tummy which could, for anyone everyone who knew that we were doing IVF is going to be watching as an indicator of my 'pregnancy'. Because we all know that IVF = pregnancy = a baby. The last thing I need is someone at these events to make a comment that brings me to tears, and the tears are so close to the surface that it wouldn't take much.

The nice lady helped me walk away with an outfit that I immediately wanted to return. But I brought it home, and curled with Mr Fx on the couch and cried about how hard it was to go shopping for clothing in this body that I feel has betrayed me.

In other news, I bought a FitBit ChargeHR and am working really hard to get as much walking as I can in everyday. I know that some of the weight won't come off till I eliminate certain medications, but until then, I am going to spend my extra time trying to control what I can.


Regrets, Requests, Appreciations

I want to make amends for:
  • holding so much anger feeling so much betrayal about your decision to drink again.
  • the fact that you had to take on so much of little Fox's care responsibilities during the November IVF cycle and not picking back up the morning responsibilities because I felt like it was ‘getting back’ at you for all of the responsibilities I had during the first two years. 
  • not being interested in intimacy, due to medication side effects, but also because of the feelings of betrayal that I carry.
  • being so defensive about and not wanting to attend the Intensive Outpatient Hospital program. 
  • Taking on volunteer commitments without consulting with you, given that they take time away from my role as a wife and mother.
  • hiring household help without consulting with you about the type of help and who I hired.
  • my lack of morning engagement. 

I request that you:
  • Be fully emotionally present for me by not drinking (or hiding your drinking) when we are together. 
  • help find and participate in experiences as a a couple that will strengthen our relationship. 
  • Give me space on a monthly basis to take care of myself by leaving for an overnight.
  • Take time for yourself when you need to - biking, or visiting college friends, or overnighting somewhere without little Fox and I.

I appreciate that you:

  • are so involved as a loving father. That you are fully engaged in raising little Fox.
  • Have taken care of little Fox and I, and all our household responsibilities, since I got sick in March.
  • are engaging in counseling with me, that you care about our marriage enough to talk through our issues.
  • manage our household finances, pay monthly bills, do our taxes, handle most bank transactions, etc. 
  • appreciate a clean and tidy house, and take on a large responsibility for the daily cleaning and tidying our home.
  • recognize quality and care about quality in our life (touring Odyssey, original artwork, etc)
  • are so smart - that you care to read/listen to the Economist, that you know about random things like a hat trick, know about political super delegates, 
  • took me to the mountains at a moments notice last earlier this month when I needed to get away.
  • Are the tech guru for our household.

Asking for Too Much

What do I need Right Now?

I need to be heard. 
I need to feel like I have an ally, someone on my side. 
I need to not be stuck in a tiny room full of fucked up energy all morning.
I need to be in a healing program - I am not okay
I need a healing program that meets my needs
I need help finding a program that meets my needs
I need a support team that is unified in support of my healing and recovery
I need one-on-one support.  More 1-to-1 support.
I need to take my medication, and keep my anxiety under control.
I need to have space and time to heal.  

I want to be outside.
I want supportive movement and exercise. (yoga, nature walks, )
I want one-on-one therapy
I want groups that are held outside. 
I want groups that feel relevant and supportive.
I want body therapy - massage.
I want time to write.
I want to heal my body and my mind
I want to sleep.
I want space (physically and emotionally)  to heal
I want time to heal from the years of infertility, and the recent loss of growing our family. 

From Mr Fox
I want to feel connected.
I want to feel loved even when I am ‘activated’.
I want to be touched and comforted.
I want feel heard and supported.
I want to feel like he is going to help me find the right solutions.
I want us to be honest with each other.
I want to be allowed to be upset about his lying about drinking.

From my Mom
I want to know that you and Mr Fox are coordinated
I want to feel unconditional love.

From my Therapist
I want to be and feel heard.
I want to have clarity about what we will be talking about at each session.
I want to know what to bring prepared to each session.

I want a clear ‘next steps’ conclusion from each session.

If only...


Fatalistic Thinking - on Mother's Day no less.

I cried the whole way to celebrate Mother's Day yesterday. It was a long drive, about an hour. It wasn't that I am not grateful for the little voice in the backseat that wouldn't stop talking, but I am sad beyond belief that our attempts at growing our family are likely over. We have one more perfect embryo, but I'd have to stop using all of my medication that is contraindicated in pregnancy and I just don't see that happening. I am having these fatalistic thoughts that I am never going to get better, that I'll end up on medication forever, and never be able to go back to work, and end up on disability. Its not a very positive perspective, but it's how I'm feeling more often than not these days.


space to be devistated

SO I'm in this 'intensive outpatient hospital' program because I had what can best be described as a nervous breakdown after our chemical pregnancy. I am glad that it is not 12- step based and know that those are hard to find, but I just don't feel like it is the right place for me to be. I feel like I'm being led to believe that my nervous breakdown was caused by all of my life activities. I've been told that I have own my own recovery and face my anxiety head and learn to deal with it without staying busy.

Yet no where or no one is talking about the very real fact that I'd been on hormones for over a year and had just lost a pregnancy that I'd worked so incredibly hard to achieve. I'd being led to believe that the reason I am sick is because I was involved in to many activities, because I was spread too thin, because I use work and community service to stay busy to avoid my anxiety.   While I can buy into that thinking on some level, I really don't think that it is at the core of my falling apart.

I think that I DO qualify for a diagnosis of  Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. I also think that the loss of this past pregnancy was devastating. Really truly devastating. I have to wonder how a mother who had a busy life who lost her child would be treated? Would she be in a program that focuses on the ways in which she is masking her general anxiety with keeping busy - or would she be given the space and empathy to grieve the loss of her child, her dreams for that child, the life that she had planned with that child?

When do I get that space?

Instead of being given time and space to grieve, I am being asked to deal with a totally different life issue, being told that I am sick, and being told that I am not willing to face my problems if I question anything.

When do I get space to be heard as a mother who will be celebrating Mothers Day with a beautiful miracle, knowing that my hopes and dreams for a sibling miracle have no where to be shared or grieved?


Giving as Addiction

My assignment yesterday was to answer a series of questions intended to get at the underlying issues of why we participate in addictive behaviors to distract us from our anxiety. I had a really hard time identifying that I had an addictive behavior or even what my 'addictive' behavior is. As I've stated before I don't see the cognitive distortions I identified as being bad things, but instead as things that serve me and help me control my anxiety.

I think I am beginning to see that I am using all of these cognitive distortions  to keep myself busy to distract myself from my anxiety, rather than addressing the underlying issue that is the anxiety. It's like saying "ohhh your leg is broken, let's put some tape around it, and keep hiking".

I have to be present for myself, to take care of myself first, before I can do anything for anyone else. I've said it before, but I think that maybe I am beginning to actually understand. Somehow I ended up developing 'positive' addictions as distractions, rather than 'negative' addictions like substance abuse or an eating disorder. The point however is that I found a way to distract myself from my anxiety, and I took that distraction to a point that was unsustainable and led to a nervous breakdown.

It's the equivalent of having one glass of wine with dinner every night vs having a whole bottle every night. I found myself 'giving' and engaged in much more one glass of wine every night. It overwhelmed me to the point that my anxiety took over and brought me back down to my knees.

I'm not yet sure how it plays out from here, since I will most definitely remain involved in my community, but I'm going to have to figure out how to do it in a way that is sustainable. One of my most favorite quotes has always been and Rumi / Coleman Barks quote "Let the Beauty we love be what we do, There are a Hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground." I always took that to mean that I could give to my community in ways that   made me feel good. I guess that I need to think about myself as being 'beauty that I love' in the same way that I love the community work I do.

 And if we decide to to another final FET, I am going to need to limit everything else in my life so that I have the emotional capacity to deal with those emotions.

In any case, here is a list of the questions and my answers from our assignment yesterday.

What do I struggle with?
Keeping busy to distract from and avoid my anxiety.

Saying No with a full and loving heart

What Triggers me?

Having free time - not being busy

Seeing a problem and knowing that I have the skills/expertise to fix the problem.
Being asked to help solve a community problem, knowing i have something to offer.

Vulnerability Factors
  • Being asked to help
  • Seeing a problem that I can help with

  • Forgetting my priorities
  • Not communicating with / feeling disconnected from Mr Fox
  • Feeling like I have something to contribute

  • Commitments that take more time than expected
  • Feeling resentful about my work / my colleagues
  • Having authority figures tell me what to do. Not having autonomy.
  • Lack of Sleep / Being Tired

Feelings During Activity


Pay off from my Activity

Contribute to my community
Recognized by community
People have improved lives
My community benefits

Relationship Strained
Shut down
Lack of Time for other things

Coping Skills
Keeping busy to distract from and avoid my anxiety.

Remembering that I have to come first. In order to be present for anyone else I have to take care of myself first. Keep a list of the things that I can do to restore and care for myself.

Just say NO!
Keep a list of my priorities
Delegate to others / Trust that they will figure it out.

....More to come, this program is intense and is giving me A LOT to think about.


Cognitive Distortions -top 5, i mean 7.

My homework this last weekend was to identify the top five cognitive distortions I identify with and write about them. The Distortions that I most identify with are:

Fallacy of Change - Expecting that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure them enough. My hopes for happiness depend on other people agreeing with me.

Fallacy of Fairness - I feel resentful because I think I know what is fair but other people don’t agree with me.

Polarized Thinking / All or Nothing - I tend to see things as being black or white. There is very little room for middle ground. This is usually related to an opinion that I have about being correct or wanting to control other peoples actions. 

Personalization / Mind Reading / Emotional Reasoning - This one is bizarre because I only feel it as a parent. Generally speaking I am confident and could honestly care less what others think of me or my decisions. But as a parent I feel so much judgement from others and I take it so personally. I feel like everyone is watching and judging every interaction I have with my son, judging every decision that I make about my parenting. I find myself avoiding certain families and activities where families appear to have it more  ‘together’. 

Catastrophizing - I often think of a worst case scenario and overrate the likelihood that this will occur. 

The thing is that I don’t see these as bad things. I see them as strategies that protect and serve me well. They help me plan my life. They help me control my anxiety. They help me achieve my goals and get things done and feel emotions that are appropriate for the situation, if necessary.  


I asked Mr Fox for feedback about what he saw as my top five distorted thinking fallacies. We walked out to the lake beach and watched as my little fox stripped off his clothing to play in the sand and lake. While watching him frolic with such carefree innocence Mr Fox and had a talk about mental illness. We talked about the stigma that comes with mental illness, comparing it to a broken leg. He would have to care for me and take on many of the same responsibilities if I had a major physical injury, but somehow this feels more unfair or more burdensome because it isn’t something that can be seen. 

After much discussion, much of which revolved around whether these are current distortions or ones that I tend to fall within my general personality when I am not having a mental health crisis, Mr Fox identified what he thought were my top three. He initially identified every single one as an example of distorted thinking that he sees active in my current thinking process. After we talked about it, he clarified that he saw these as being specifically relevant to people and relationships. He concluded on a top three as being Fallacy of Change, and the Fallacy of being Right, (which Ihad on my top 5 as well) but he added:

The Control Fallacy  - saying that I see myself as helpless and a victim of fate and for being responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around me. 

The thing I hated about our conversation is that I know he has been drinking, which activates all of my “Polarized Thinking”. I want to believe that it would be less triggering if I knew that he knew that I knew. This is a tangent that I’m not prepared to delve into just yet. I asked him to be honest with me about his drinking, to tell me when he was drinking, and he has failed to do that. 
In our discussion, I realized that I needed to add “Should”  to my list of fallacies that I most identify with:

Should - Having a list of expectations of about how other people should act and being angered or frustrated when they break those rules. Having expectations for myself and feeling guilty when I fail to achieve my own expectations.

There is something about being here, sitting under against the backdrop of a perfectly green tree-line under a uniformly blue sky that allows me to let my guard down, to hear Mr Fox and not get defensive. I’m listening the the geese and watching the ripples of the lake caused by my dog who is playing with a rope attached to the dock. The sun is so bright and feels warm through my clothing. With the exception of a plane every so often, all that exists is the silence. The perfect silence that exists in this place that I feel so perfectly comfortable and calm. 

Fallacy of Change / Fairness
Just last week I asked for a meeting with my therapist and Mr Fox to talk about changing my treatment plan. I felt that, I still feel that, I know what I need for my healing better than anyone, and that spending all day at the iop treatment center was not conducive to that recovery.  I walked into the meeting with a plan, a proposal. I’d done my homework and verified that what I was presenting was possible. I wanted to reduce my days at the iop treatment center and then later in May spend 10 days here is the woods working on my writing, art, reading, and generally relaxing. I’d checked the dates that the condo was available, cross referenced my school board meeting dates, and confirmed that mom would be able to stay during the week when Mr Fox went home to work. I proposed that upon my return from the mountains I could see my old therapist three days per week and follow a set schedule of a more relaxed recovery at home. 

The meeting didn’t go as I’d planned. I made my proposal and worked hard to justify why it was best for me. I argued my points and tried hard to listen to the concerns that were expressed by my therapist. She laid out her bottom line, saying that it was her recommendation that I continue at 5 day per week but was willing to compromise at 3. She said that 10 days away was out of the question, both for insurance and for my health. I tried hard to make the case that what I needed was to spend my days sleeping in, reading in a hammock, writing from the deck overlooking the lake, and focusing on the simplicity that I had lost. Mr Fox expressed his fears that I would ‘bounce’ back into the.... depression/anxiety/nervous breakdown whatever we want to call it if I wasn’t at the iop treatment center 5 day’s week. He was fearful of me being left alone. I felt angry that I wasn’t being heard, that no one in the room trusted me to know what was best for me. 

I argued that I’d been very clear about my needs every step of the way - even saying to Mr Fox and my mom when things got bad that I needed help, that I was waving the red flag and asking them for help when things got bad. In the same manner, I was voicing my intention to change my treatment plan. 

I really tried hard to hear the concerns that were being expressed. I tried hard to act in ways that were not defensive. But I felt angry and helpless. 

After my therapist gave her bottom line, I deferred to Mr Fox. Everyone said that ultimately the choice was mine about how to proceed. I tried to explain that it is isn’t really. The choices are not mine. Given the reality that I am not able to drive, that I’m not managing our finances, that Mr Fox has already taken significant time off of work, that I have a son who needs his mother present, the reality is that the very real consequences of my choices lead to the conclusion that the choice is not mine. 

Three days a week at the iop treatment center with a clear plan for home therapy on the other two days was the conclusion of the meeting. We would go to the mountains for the weekend, but not for an extended stay. 

I felt resentful and angry. Mr Fox suggested that it would be a waste of time to stay at the iop treatment center if I had decided that it wasn’t helpful, that I’d be ‘checked out’ of treatment and I felt like I had to look to my therapist and the other therapist to confirm that I was, in fact, an active participant in the group therapy, contributing in ways that are relevant and meaningful. 


Control Fallacy
One of the therapists stated in group recently that my ‘disease’ is helplessness. I feel that this statement is not accurate and honestly take offense to it. Mr Fox identified the “Control Fallacy” which also mentions seeing yourself as helpless. I generally consider myself as a very independent and capable individual, so to be labeled as helpless is confusing. In the past month since my breakdown I have most definitely required and accepted the help of others, and am generally good at asking for help from others when i need it but i’m having a hard time seeing it as a defining characteristic of myself. 


Should Statements
I definitely identify with the “Should” statements. I have very high expectations for myself and for others. I think that it is part of why i have never been a good employee. I find it difficult to do my job well when my boss or colleagues are not meeting the expectations that (I perceive) exist for their position. I hold myself to very high standards in the work that I do and feel confident that I am highly capable and excel in my responsibilities. I joke about being a bad employee, but the reality is that it is rare to find a job where everyone is as committed as I expect them to be.

The past 6 weeks have been one crazy rollercoaster. It was March 12 that I stopped going to work. This past week has been the first that I didn’t cry everyday and that I feel capable of doing normal things again. I stayed home alone for the first time in months, I reduced my use of benzo’s enough to for the first time (very briefly), I helped with childcare planning, and have taken on more responsibility with little fox. I felt so good that I even offered to help with a small work project. It was a small project but quickly I found myself overwhelmed. I completed the work, but said no when asked to do two more important projects. It was clear to me that I am so far from being able to return to the stress of work. I do feel guilty about leaving so much work to my colleagues during such a stressful time.


Catastrophic Thinking
There is this looming question of when I will return to work. My colleges miss me and want me be back. I love my work and I want to return to work, but after feeling overwhelmed with such a small project I can’t hep but Catastrophes that I will never be able to return to work, that I’ll end up on long term disability, lose our health insurance, and my ability to provide for our family will be reduced a small disability payment and I won’t be able to contribute in meaningful ways to my community. My current employment is dependent on the June re-election of my boss. If she wins, my job will be waiting for me with any accommodations that I need. I’d been thinking about asking to return from .5fte to full time. If she loses, I will not have a job after December. 

The other looming question is if or when we will try to do another Frozen Embryo Transfer. We have one final genetically normal embryo waiting for us. If we do decide to try again, it means twice weekly blood draws and acupuncture, ultrasound appointments, and a shit ton of hormones that are constantly changing based on the blood and ultrasound results. It also means a week in Denver and ultimately a 65% chance of a live birth 9 months later.

I’ve never worried about finding work. I may not be a good employee but I can find and excel at contract work and/or start up my own gig. BUT everything feels up in the air if I am still recovering from this breakdown, if i am pregnant, and if my job disappears, in June. This could certainly qualify as catastrophic thinking, but in my mind its just planning ahead. I don’t know what formal disability diagnosis i might have but Generalized Anxiety Disorder seems to fit and i’m sure I also have a sleep phase disorder.


The Mountains

We made it to the mountains. I wanted it but didn't believe it would actually happen. But here I am, sitting on the deck, listening to the frogs sing songs of a winter gone by too quickly. Although I suppose it is almost May and might qualify as Spring. On Tuesday I'll celebrate a May day festival at my sons preschool.

I’m grieving the reality that I did not get to go skiing this year. It would have been the first chance I had to get back on my ski’s since getting pregnant with Little Fox. The weekend that we had planned to come up and spend a real day skiing fell apart that Friday when I ended up in the Emergency Dept for a Psych Evaluation. That most definitely was not the plan. Had it not been for Mr Fox who insisted on an outpatient Psych appt, which magically became available, I would have spent that weekend as an inpatient in order to be seen by a psychiatrist. 

My assignment for the weekend is to identify my distorted thinking. It sort of goes with my ingrained sense of stubborn. I look at my life and for as long as I can remember I have had such certainty and confidence in my decisions, in my opinions, in my personal determination.

I’m pretty sure it's why I have been fired or politely asked to leave almost every job I’ve ever had. i do not make for a good employee. i do however kick ass when I am working under my own rules, under my own determination. 

Without even looking at the list of distorted thinking I can say with some confidence that it is those thoughts, at least some of those thoughts, that have led to my success. It's true that I can be a pain in the ass when I am on a mission, when I am convinced of something and convinced that I can convince you. For the most part though, I think they have served me well. Everyone who knows and loves me will tell you that I am incredibly stubborn. 

I personally think that I am pretty easy going and down with whatever the plan is. But when I have an opinion about something, you can bet that I am going to stand my ground. 

What I think I am realizing, again and again, is that my real distortion comes in knowing what I am able to handle, knowing how much of it I can handle, and knowing how to say no with a full and loving heart. 

I’ve not been graceful in my transition to motherhood, nor have I been graceful in my hormone filled attempts to grow my family. I care deeply about my family and my community, and feel like I have so much to offer. As a result I am involved in A LOT of organizations and take on what is apparently too much responsibility. 

The air here is so cold and fresh. I can smell the smoke from our fire, and a sweet scent of the pine trees that are just beyond the deck. I love it here. With nothing to do but simply be. And the soul filled memories of growing up in this magical place.

The other night, after I’d had a really successful public board meeting and convinced my treatment team to reduce my days from 5 to 3, I felt so accomplished. I felt sure that this was the right plan and that I was on the right path. I even got home that afternoon and drove, for the first time in 2 months, just across town to the the enrollment papers for my son to start school. I was feeling so independent. But at the same time i wasn’t. I was overwhelmed and not so sure that I was as far along as i had envisioned myself to be. 

I them attempted to do some work -a small project for work. There are things that i can do that will take 5 minutes but to leave them to someone else it could take them 5 hours. I completed the two tasks that i’d been asked to help with but found myself feeling SO overwhelmed. i couldn’t focus on the work the way I needed to, and it took so much energy to complete such simple tasks. I was asked to do more but I had to say no. As much as I want to be involved, I want to be helpful, I want to be efficient, I wasn’t in a position to do any of it. I had to say no. 

Maybe part of the sweet scent I smell is from the rosemary that I rubbed my hands in earlier today when I had to step out of core group to take a call from my psychiatrist. I interrupted Beans, and felt bad, but had to take the call. I stayed outside for a few extra minutes and braided the strands of rosemary. 

SO here we are. In the Mountains . It's cold outside, too cold to stay on the deck and listen to the song of the frogs. I wish I knew what they were trying to tell me. I feel like there was a time when I knew, when I could find meaning in their collective course, but that time feels so far away from me right now. 


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