Sunday, October 26, 2008

With apologies to Al.anis Mor.isette

All I really want is to be normal.

To feel normal. Not this 'new normal', but some semblance of the person I was, I was becoming the one who was looking forward to life and challenges and making something of herself despite all those years of doubt. The one who finally said, yes, I can do this. I like this person. She will do great things.

All I want is to feel normal without feeling like something is missing, something is off. Like something is wrong because I'm not miserable.

All I really want is to move forward into my life. Not even confidently. Just not shaking with fear. Not weeping with indecision. Not tied to some past dream that may or may not ever come true.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Some of the medication has begun to help. I'm feeling a little less panicky and jittery, a little less weepy. Still scared. Still sad. Still lost.

Maybe a little more lost. Trying to figure out, again, how to go on with the next 6 months. To confront somethings or to withdraw from them. As I type that the lump in my throat grows and my eyes get a little glassy.

C is working hard to take care of me, but he still struggles. Needs his own time to heal. It is a weight on his shoulders.

The psychiatrist says to err on the side of pulling too far back from stressors like school, so I can heal. C says just focus on getting better. If I do that, my studies get pushed back probably six months. At least. What does it do to my professional development? What does it do to the rest of my life? What does six months matter in all this? Where am I actually going with my studies. What does any of this matter? In the scheme of things, what does any of it matter?

Talking with some of my colleagues/classmates, they say push through. You'll be glad when it's done. Some say confront the rigid prof, push her to work with you, to give you some leeway. We have always had a sort of odd relationship. All of this scares me. I want to run and hide. I want to quit.

Talking with a colleague, a wonderfully supportive one who has not been afraid to talk to me in my grief, has said to find someone else to teach you this course. Do it in a different way. Even with the drugs I feel flushed with anxiety, and fear of even trying.

I am tired of crying in front of my faculty. I'm tired of crying in front of my mentor. I'm tired of feeling like I'm just failing at everything. Even with good days, and good hours...i'm just so tired of it.

I had a good talk with one of my profs (SL), someone I'm taking an advanced research course with. Her role in the department is kind of transdisciplinary, and she in addition to the social issues around education, she also works with the Women's Studies and the Family Studies departments (neither of which have phd programs). I was following up with her about a conversation we had had about "amb.iguous losses" and how I was starting to see my interest in research head in that direction: the idea of what makes a mother, a baby, a family, how losses of babies -- before and after they take a breath -- gets discussed or not discussed. The new so-called "cult of mo.mmy". (Of course, the rigid prof specializes in girlhoods and femininity).

It was a good conversation, even though I admitted to her (SL) that I hadn't really come in to see her with any specific question or point. I talked a little about what my experience was like at school after I lost the boys. About how hard it was to see those birth announcements everyday fr 4 or 5 or 6 months. About what a hard time people seem to have talking about these things and how that furthers the innate sense of isolation of a new DBM.

I talked to her about how I had come to this community of smart, articulate, supportive, loving grieving mamas; what a safe and wonderful place it is; and what it said that many of us had to go outside of the traditional routes or institutions to find a safe place. It occurred to me that it might be worth studying the idea that one of the few safe places for people like us to deal with this, with something almost as common as autism, was so far outside the everyday community.


Something that left me speechless? This awesome prof told me (with glassy eyes) that when the initial email went around to faculty announcing happened, it was made clear that I preferred not to talk about it, not to be approached by faculty about it directly. Perhaps that followed the initial announcement.

Way back when, when I sent the chair an email asking her to let folks know, I told her it was because it wold be too hard to make the announcement over and over again. Maybe she took that as "don't talk to her about it." All my colleagues, the other grad students greeted me with hugs and cards and tears. Very few faculty approached me, and all this time I've wondered why.

I don't know what do do next, personally, professionally.

I don't know how to end this post.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


There's some saying that we enter the world alone and we leave alone, too. In between, it seems, there is this frenzy to not be alone. Or to not feel alone.

When I was about thirteen years old, I was pretty majorly depressed. Oh, they gave it names like "school phobia" and adjustment issues or some crap, but looking back now, I think it was just plain old classical depression. I withdrew from my few friends. I had no concentration for school and then just beat myself up because I wasn't doing my work. I didn't know my value. I didn't know my ability. I didn't trust what anyone said. It didn't matter. I knew I was failing, and wasn't worth much.

I still have this image of me all curled up on the read scratchy loveseat downstairs in the rec room, as we called it. Skinny, with overly long limbs. Fetal position, I guess. It was just a few moments, but I remember just wanting to escape from everything or just have someone make it all better. But I was alone. Even if in my own head. I had sibs and parents dragging me to therapy and my one best friend, but, but it just seemed... I couldn't feel it. It was just me. Failing. Worthless.

And yet I was never suicidal. It's not that I wanted to die, I just wanted the pain and sadness to go away, and felt powerless to do anything about it.


The insurance code the pharma used was major depression, severe. The initial change in meds did almost nothing, in fact seemed to make things worse, so he ramped up scripts. And I think "I'm ill." "I have a huge problem." "My history of depression, my family history (including bi-polar disease), my previous experiences, and the unending hell that has been this year have led here."

Who the hell am I? Who can I talk to about this? I'm not talking about support groups, I'm talking about friends, family. In my worse moments I imagine my family thinking, "yup, we were right, she's fragile." In my better ones, I know they love me and want to be there to support me.

Mentally ill. Depression. And one of the meds I"m taking is for panic disorder. Or it's used for it, anyway. And it's helping. At least in keeping some of the anxiety away.

In the meantime, I still feel like I'm failing at just about everything else. My pharma says to reduce the stress, meaning my courseload, as much as I can so I can use my reserves to heal. Others say, push through. That way I'll know it's done and it will be a relief.

C says to just do what's going to help me get better, not to worry about time frames and deadlines. And he's not going anywhere. I can't believe how lucky I am to have him.


I know I have some good tings in my life. Right now all I see is the shit. All I can feel is the struggle. And, really, I have almost nothing good to say. Even as wonderful as all you DBMs out there in the computer have been, I have nothing to say. It's the same crap. And I have pulled away. Even from you wonderful people.

When it comes down to it, I still have to do this myself.


And I just don't know how do it. If I can do it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Auden got it right

(Posting this just because...)

"Funeral Blues"

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I don't know how to do this

How to reconcile this new life with the one I wanted. I know lots of people have, in one way or another. Or they've reconciled that they will never reconcile.

But I'm stubborn. Dammit, and I'm so angry.

There are some things I still believe in, but I don't believe in much anymore. I guess it's the hope that's gone. What am I living for? I'm living with the hope that things will get better. I'm living so I can spend my life with my dear sweet C. (Don't worry, I'm not going to do anything stupid.)

But what else? I know there is life beyond children. That I am not defined by this hole in my life. But it feels like it. Nothing feels right. Nothing feels really good. I have nothing to say. I've owed my dad a phone call for 4 days. What can I say to him?

Yes, I'm depressed, I know. Yes, I've just changed my meds. Yes, I'm grieving. But I don't know how to find the joy anymore. Nothing sustains.

Maybe that's just growing up. Knowing that everything changes, knowing that joy fades, evolves, shows up in different things.

I've only gotten to the fading part. Can't really trust much else. C. My friends in the computer. My dear friends IRL.

Everything changes.

This is stupid and pointless. Talking in circles. The right words are just out of reach. I have no idea what they are.

Ranting **edited

(Watch out: I'm going to get political. And Angry.)

Allison, at Our Own Creation has a post today asking readers to be sure that they sign the March of Dimes petition to support research on preventing premature birth and helping to save those born prematurely.

What gets me about her post, based on a report from the CDC, (and since I am someone who teaches about political ideologies and the impact of where we draw that line between the public and private spheres) is this: the United States, with our privatized, world-renown quality of medical care (if you can afford it, of course) ranks number 29 in the world in infant mortality. Tied with Slovakia. And BEHIND Cuba at 28. A communist country with (if I recall correctly) SOCIALIZED health care. So, all you folks who say that socialized medicine (among other services) drive down the quality and motivation of those in a given service... how do we explain this? We, in the United States who theoretically "value life" and all those "pro-lifers" who treasure the lives of the unborn... But only if you can pay for it. I'm not saying that our medical system should be socialized, but let's not pretend that our capitalist system is the only way to do it.


Why is it that the incidence of autism is, as noted on Antigone's blog, about the same as that of stillbirth (almost 1% of births). The problem of autism gets lots of attention, but we tiptoe and avoid conversations about how to save the lives of children who are wanted, whose mothers have made the difficult decision to bring a child into the world no matter her circumstances... I've worked in special education. I understand many of the implications of this disorder. Autism, which affects millions of kids and families, many of whom can live good, productive lives with a little help and a little good education. But stillbirth, dead babies, are whispered about like cancer was in the 1940s. Don't want to make anyone uncomfortable, I guess.


Did anyone catch McCain's sarcastic concern for women's health at the debate last night? I love how he, with two little twitches of his fingers, dismissed the struggle of 99.9% of women who seek abortions, a fraction of those at late term. The idea that women go into such a procedure so callously offends me to my core. The idea that we would make such a decision with so little consideration of the implications, the pain, the loss of everyone involved? And the idea that doctors who perform such procedures don't really give a shit and are perfectly content to collude with all those horrible, irresponsible women who treat life so callously.

Cecily, at Uppercase Woman, expressed this so much more eloquently than I, and I would encourage you to read her post on the subject.

I try to be respectful of differences of opinions, sometimes I even think I can understand the viewpoints of those who are opposed to a woman's right to choose. Can anyone explain to me how any of this makes sense? Please?

Depending on the kind of comments I get, I may just turn off comments. Or take the whole thing down. I'm just really freaking angry right now.

It occurs to me that these are all issues that affect women most directly. I think that says a lot, though I'm not prepared to articulate it quite yet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


And burn. Again.




Saturday, October 11, 2008


Monkey and Noah's mom over at The Turtle and The Monkey is having a very, very difficult time. If you have a moment, stop on by. I think she could use some love, and some reassurance that she's not alone.

Friday, October 10, 2008


A few months or weeks before our wedding, C and I were watching one of our favorite movies, O Brother, Where Art Thou again. Early on in the movie, after the three heroes have begun their journey, they hitch a ride with an old, blind man on one of those old hand pumping railroad cars. I don't know what they're called. The blind man speaks in kind of a mystical way, seems to know what the three are up to, even though there is no way that he really could. He begins by saying, You seek a great fortune... About halfway through his soliloquy, C and I looked at each other and knew we would put it in our wedding. As one of C's sisters read a slightly edited* version, her words felt like a prayer, age-old advice, knowledge that, even though we thought we had some idea of what we were beginning, we really didn't, couldn't know. Not for sure. These are the words from the script.

You seek a great fortune, you three
who are now in chains...

And you will find a fortune - though

it will not be the fortune you seek...

...But first, first you must travel

a long and difficult road - a road

fraught with peril, uh-huh, and

pregnant with adventure. You shall

see things wonderful to tell. You

shall see a cow on the roof of a

cottonhouse, uh-huh, and oh, so many


...I cannot say how long this road

shall be. But fear not the obstacles
in your path, for Fate has vouchsafed
your reward. And though the road

may wind, and yea, your hearts grow

weary, still shall ye follow the

way, even unto your salvation.

Those words have been bouncing around in my head for a little while. Like we knew, but we didn't. But we did.

It occurs to me that this is actually a hopeful speech. Though it's a long and difficult road, perhaps we will come to our great fortune. Even if we don't know what that fortune might look like. It's scary to even consider that. Not sure what I think about that. I think I need to think about it some more.

*No cows or cottonhouses in our wedding, thanks. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


(Not up to a long post* today, but wanted to check in. Thank you for hanging in there with me.)

So, a week ago yesterday, I saw my shrink. Then, the pharmacologist. He said that he'd like to treat me aggressively, as he sees me moving into a major depression. We talked for an hour and a half.

Two therapy sessions in one day. A girl could get used to that. I left feeling still sad, but better. Somehow, having someone who is outside of my life, but spent at least a little bit of time listening, asking questions, carefully listening, and giving me a name helped. Not crazy. Not entirely.

And talking, hearing myself. Listening to my sad voice reel off the events of the last year or so. The challenges I've had my whole life. My parents' depression. My grandfather's misdiagnosed disorder.

I knew I was depressed. Am depressed. Don't get me wrong. I know I hit bottom, or I could see it from here. I just didn't realize how low bottom is. Was. You know what I mean.

Even though I'm seeing a great shrink, have a great husband, family, friends. All of whom had been urging me for weeks. I guess it was the culmination. Maybe I was ready.

I think what it was, was that he gave me permission to feel what I've been feeling, somehow. That sounds fucked up.

Somehow taking that step allowed me to acknowledge how bad I've been feeling. It was scary to hear some of the words leaving my own mouth. What a fucking mess.

I'd like to treat you somewhat aggressively, he said, after 75 minutes. Increased (okay, doubled) the dose of what I've been taking. He gave me new 'scripts for A.tivan and Am.bien. If it helps, take it. Sleep is important. It's okay to take something so you feel better, until you feel better.

So we titrated the, I drove straight to the drugstore to get everything filled. Started that night.

Had some side effects, but not too bad. I feel incrementally better. As in, able to focus for 5 minutes at a time. Not horribly, weepily angry. Well, not so much. Have had a couple of good days teaching, even. A few weeks for full effect and getting past plac.ebo.

I'm holding my breath still. I'm not better yet, but I'm not as bad, if that makes any sense. And, just like 6 or 8 months ago, I'm shaky. Not comfortable anywhere. Sad. Really sad. Not quite so awfully sad. As the sadness, or depression or whatever it is, wanes just a teeny bit, the anxiety rises. Afraid of feeling better. Afraid of falling again.

Just afraid.

We'll see, I guess.

*Okay, so I lied.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


When he turned sixty, I gave my dad a short poem I had written, remembering a sweet moment the summer I was five. I was sitting in his lap reading The.Cat in the Hat C.omes Back out loud, and he was helping me, gently, with the harder words (what and the). I wrote the poem in my early twenties, and it wasn't very good technically, but it was read out loud to the celebratory dinner party; it was much appreciated and brought a tear or two. It still sits in its frame on the desk in his living room.

Last night as we were driving home from dinner (we have instituted a weekly dinner date) C and I were talking about how our parents occasionally allowed us a sip of tea or coffee or wine or beer when we were children. It allowed us to try things, but the tastes were always met with a frown or a "yuck!"

I flashed on a moment of sitting in the kitchen, on my dad's lap, his long bony legs angled slightly upward as he sat on the chair. I was 6 or 7 or 8, trying his tea or coffee or something. But I could feel his bony knees, and see his big hands. ...And I thought, what a nice moment it must've been, especially since my mom's was the lap of choice, and Dad was always working. Not easy to get close to him. But he was loving and open in that moment.

A sweet memory, and I thought about how I wish he had a grandchild with whom he could have that same experience. I wished I had a child who could have that experience with him. Just a "nothing" moment, after dinner, hanging out. Sitting on his lap, holding his hand, trying his tea.

It occured to me today that he had 4 potential grandchildren taken from him. The real hope of two grandchildren, taken. Twice.

It's just not fair.

I think about how sweet and silly he was when he visited, the week before we lost the boys. I let him pat my belly. He raved about how I should get be drinking organic milk, not the regular stuff. "Not for you," he joked. "This is for the boys." He loved them already.

Not fair.