The first blog I ever wrote was called “UpsideDown Kate”. I started writing it soon after becoming a new mom, because I went from being the kind of person who wanted a career and no babies to the kind of person who had a baby and no career. I wasn’t unhappy with the switch; I had made that decision joyfully, but I was also in over my head. I had no idea what I was doing, and was certain I was doing it badly while everyone kept telling how happy I should be.
Has anyone ever noticed that someone telling you how you’re supposed to experience something is the actual worst? I don’t think I have ever (in the history of ever) been more frustrated than by someone telling me that I should feel something differently than what I am feeling. I didn’t feel happy. I felt alone and scared but writing it down and putting it out into the world made me feel less alone, and eventually, better.
The blog has changed a bit since those days, but I still come here because you remind me the way I feel is exactly okay. Sometimes, you have good suggestions on how to experience it differently, or gently point out an angle I hadn’t considered, but mostly, you remind me that I am not alone in the way I see, or feel, or think about whatever it is that I’m seeing/thinking/feeling. And you let me just ramble on about the things I’m doing which is fun too.
Last week, I started Prozac (again). It’s been too many years of struggling while thinking, “This is external stuff, not me stuff. Things will get better.” Hoping that the world would get its shit figured out before I needed medication has me questioning my lifelong membership to the pessimist club. The struggling became too much. Whether external or internal, things haven’t gotten better and my plate is full. Full of health stuff, and raising adolescents, and raising adolescents through health stuff, and extended family stuff, and grief, and the shit storm that is the daily news. I talked to my doctor. I started meds.
It’s been a lot. I feel alone, and scared, and frustrated with people telling me how I’m supposed to feel. (Thank you for not being those people. Toxic positivity sucks.) Some days, I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and failing miserably and I recognize that I’ve been here before. The gap between where I want to be and where I am is widening, and I’m not sure how to fix that just yet, but being honest and putting it out into the world seems like a good enough place to start.
For those of you on the other side of the teeter-totter, KEEP SHARING YOUR JOY!! It makes my heart so happy to see it and reminds me that I’ve been there and will be there again.
Speaking of joy, did you see that cute little guy in the corner of that nasturtium picture? He was a happy little surprise when I downloaded them.
And because it’s Tuesday and I’m here:
Reading: I listened to Obama’s book while working on some house stuff this weekend. I still have SEVEN HOURS TO GO. I even sped it up just a smidge. It’s NEVER ENDING. I may listen to something else for awhile. Read Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid and It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover.
Watching: Violet and I watched Dug Days (Disney+) which are some adorable Pixar shorts. Abram and I watched Luca (Disney+) which was also fantastic. For adult (and I mean adult) viewing, I watched Sex/Life (Netflix). Not for me.
Knitting: Have the foot of Jesse’s sock to finish, then the hat, then I need something that feels inspiring.
Making: This (We were doing hello fresh for awhile during the pandemic, and this recipe has continued even after we discontinued that service) and chili because I have the peppers from the garden and onion from the CSA and V requested it. I am going to spend some time either cross stitching Chicago or playing in my sketchbook. I need some not knitting creating.
So that’s me. I hope this finds you on the joy side of teeter-totter. And as always, I’d love to hear what you are -ing if you have the chance.
A couple of days ago it was the 25th anniversary of the three of us—my husband, our new baby, and me—moving to another city in another province. That move was sold to me as a 2 to 3 year stint, and once it was over, we’d go back to our home city where I’d be able to pick up my career again. Long story short, we kept moving farther and farther away, and I have never been able to figure out how to combine motherhood with a career. Just this weekend I had a talk with my husband about how much I am struggling with, well, everything. So FWIW, Kate, you are not alone.
My -ings: Today I sent my youngest off to grade 11 and then (so as not to spend the morning crying) got busy with the Great Kale Harvest. I’m still knitting my cardigan, which I hope is going to work out. I’m combining two patterns, which is proving to be quite a mental exercise. (My father is in a long-term care home with Lewy Body dementia, so there’s the specter of that to worry about; I figure anything that works my brain can’t hurt…) I’m reading Tove Jansson’s Moomins series. (They’re children’s books, but I’m really loving them.) And I’m re-watching Downton Abbey with my youngest. The other day I re-potted quite a lot of plants, which momentarily helped quell my existential angst. (No danger of toxic positivity here, apparently.)
Take care, Kate.
Marian, I can always count on you to get it – or at least to sympathize when you can’t empathize and I can’t tell you how much I value that.
I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling and fending of existential crises (but if plants/chores/moving the world forward one job at a time isn’t the way to do it, I don’t know what else is) but grateful that you’re my kind of people.
How do you like to preserve your kale? We processed it last year by steaming it and then smooshing it into muffin tin pucks but I found I didn’t use it like I thought I would before they got freezer crisped.
And I haven’t heard of Tove Jansson’s Moomons series but it sounds like something I need to look up!
I’m sorry to hear about your father and impressed at your ability to combine patterns!
It is always so good to hear from you, Marian.
“[M]oving the world forward one job at a time . . . ” It’s funny—in my initial comment I nearly mentioned something Austin Kleon once said about “doing the work that’s in front of you.” He was talking about it from a writerly perspective, but it resonated with me—a non-writer—because this has pretty much been how I’ve lived my life so far. (This is both a good thing and a bad thing.)
I also steam my kale, but I store mine in mason jars in the freezer. (I can see how squishing it into muffin tins and forming pucks would be a good way to freeze it too.) We eat quite a lot of kale—I regularly put it into soups, stews, and stir-fries—but it does take several months to use up everything I’ve frozen. (Last fall I had over 30 jars.) By May or June, there is a bit of frost in the jars, but I use it anyway.
Tove Jansson’s first Moomin book came out in 1952, but they seem to have aged well. (I haven’t finished the series, so can’t promise that with certainty.) Each book I’ve read so far has contained some remarkably profound insights for stories that are aimed at children.
“Do the work that is in front of you” seems like such a simple thing but it is NOT easy.
You are definitely not alone, Kate. I started on Zoloft in May which is similar to Prozac. I’m here with you for support. Your pen pal.
Thank you so much, TD. Sending you hugs!
Kari Wagner Hoban says
Thank you for sharing all of this with us. I can identify to a lot of what you said. I’ve been on antidepressants since June of last year. They help most days, and some days they just don’t. And that’s okay too.
Psst- I STILL feel upside down. I don’t feel like that will ever go away. I’m glad I’m not alone.
I spy crystals in one of your pictures. I just started dipping my toe in the crystal pond. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I love it anyway.
We watched My Girl on Netflix with Ella the other night, and she loved it. I haven’t watched it in ages. We plan on watching Twilight tonight. 🙂
I have a book called The Crystal Bible that was recommended to be by someone who knows a lot about them so I can pass that recommendation along but I don’t really use it and I don’t know anything but that I like them and I sprinkle them throughout my house. (I mean, who really KNOWS anyway?)
V loved the Twilight series last year. I started reading the series when I was pregnant with them so it made me chuckle. Full circle.
And thank you for your sweet words, Kari. You’ve been so good for my heart and I’m glad we found each other!
I’m not sure why I wrote “in May” in my note to you. But I started Zoloft in September of 2019 after being off Lexapro for two years. I went to a new doctor and was recommended that I try Prozac or Zoloft instead of back to Lexapro. I had success with Zoloft when I was 36-38, then I no longer needed the antidepressant when I got through life changes at that time.
So I chose to give Zoloft a try again.
As you might remember I’m in my sixties now, and I have been off and on antidepressant and/or anti anti anxiety medicine depending on my life changes.
There’s a benefit for me and I will hope that you will benefit as well finding some relief until you no longer have a need as I have. I think of it as “in remission”.
On the joyful side of things, now that I’m settling in to life in my bay side cottage the uncontrollable crying has dissipated. I’m considering tapering off the antidepressant.
As far as -ings and me.
I’m almost finished with Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. It is so suspenseful and I’m really enjoying the read.
Last week my 81yo neighbor has been assisting me with trapping possums that decided they wanted to nest under my home. We have successfully completed and he repositioned their place. Your Peter Rabbit is similar to the possums around our street. Another joy!
I’m still working through my financial system and it’s close to completion. I’m finding relief and a challenge.
As far as my thoughts on a career, I will say that I don’t miss not working at any of the jobs of my past. I truly envy your success with 19 years of marriage, having children and the financial well being that you have successfully contributed to creating! (Perhaps these might be my own feelings that the grass might be greener on the other side. But it might not too.)
Enjoying seeing your rearranging of rooms as well as those beautiful bell peppers!!
TD, I think the idea of being in remission is a good one. And very apt. I didn’t have much luck with Lexapro the first time I was on it but had success with Prozac so am glad to know I have that available. Im glad you found Xoloft helps you.
Thank you (and your neighbor!) for trapping and moving the possums. I know they’re not the prettiest of creatures, but we love them here because they eat ticks. Anything that eats blood sucking critters is a plus in my books!
And lastly, thank you for your kind words on the 19 years. It sometimes helps to have someone else’s point of view. It’s too easy to see my own choices and think if I would have made different choices I could have the “perfect life”, but that’s just silly. (Also I’m sometimes envious of your cottage and what sounds like a lovely neighborhood and your sweet dog, so i think we all have a bit of grass is greener sometimes.)
Yes, greener pastures is in the imagination. My cottage and neighborhood is by far not something I ever wanted or dreamed. Yet, it was what I was able to get it all pulled together on my own. It’s in a mix low income to mid income area, yet highly sought for area of Corpus Christi. There’s poverty. And there’s people who are able on my street and next to million dollar homes on the bay front. It’s a mix! It’s been a challenge to accept where I am in life. (I’ve had much better most of my life.) Sigh. Breathe.
What makes my street lovely is the people have lived in these old houses for generations, some 80 years, 60 years, 20 years. These are the people who look out for each other, care about and for each other, and volunteer to help each other and have known each other most of their lives. That’s the charm. And there are a mix of younger to mid-age long term renters which is nice.
I have been considering tapering off Zoloft and my thoughts today told me to wait until spring. The less sunlight and short days do lower my mood swings. You had a good point that the Zoloft is helping me.. Zoloft and Xanax is my cocktail to deal with it all! So I will still be with you in taking meds. I have decided to tapper of the Lyrica as that is the most risk. I will be able to see if it is still necessary for nerve pain. Grateful that it’s an option available for us.
Thank you for your kind reply, Kate.
A bit of joy for you Kate. I tapered off Lyrica (for nerve pain) for a full week without any issues! And Yorkie recovered from having a week of upset tummies. Joy of Yorkie pooping a good size solid Lincoln Log! We are walking to the end of the block and back in the early mornings three days in a row. A slow pace walk, see and sniff with a few pauses to take in whatever is on our short path. I suppose it’s more of a curious stroll as I sing It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. This has been good joy for both Yorkie and me. (Rita’s comment gave me a great laugh with Daisy’s poop in the house raining situation. Happy to know they are Happy And Pooping.)
I’m definitely staying on Zoloft low dose and the anti-anxiety med very low does only as when I am having an anxiety attack. I watched some of the nine eleven tributes on TV Saturday morning. Then around mid afternoon, started the uncontrollable crying! I spiral downward. I guess that my mind was still processing the current events, and that past event, and what was going on in my personal life during that particular time. Triggers are important for me to be aware and acknowledge that crying is a healthy form of release.
Wanted to send you a hug with wishes for well-being.
I’m so glad to hear that you’re still pain free after tapering off Lyrica and hope that is still the case!
I finished my book just before the evening news today. It is so good!! Yorkie wasn’t feeling so well today, so I snuggled up with her and read, read, and read. (Like a Deavonport read…). I know that you aren’t wild about the author. But I wanted to share it with you.
Um… September 11th tomorrow; twenty years. I suppose that you were a newly wed then? Well wishes for you!
I hope I am not too late for you to see this note; the past two weeks have been a wild ride. So far, I’ve had migraine after every day of teaching, and I teach every-other-day, so…that math’s not complicated.
I am so sorry that things have been so challenging. I think it’s really hard to know right now what’s brain chemistry and what’s a rational response to the world. For me, depression has always had an external situation at its root, but once it takes hold it’s a hard weed to eradicate. I think I’m more susceptible than some others. I haven’t tried medication, so I can’t speak to that, but I’m glad you are and hope it brings relief. I have had more struggle than not for the past five years, and I have been so grateful during this time to have you and others here to connect with. I think it’s important for us to share our situations and feelings; the worst part sometimes is feeling all alone in it. (Whatever “it” is.)
I haven’t had time for many -ings. I listened to Malibu Rising sometime this past year, and I enjoyed it. A good beachy kind of read. I’ve listened recently to several books by Laura Dave; they are a few steps up from standard chick lit fare, but still easy. I’ve appreciated that they don’t have the typical rom-com endings you so often get from movies. I’ve recently started Laundry Love (non-fiction), which promises to help me “find joy in a common chore.” Believe it or not, I think it’s both entertaining and informative.
We are still working on merging households, and that’s been my biggest -ing (other than teaching). I was home today and spent a chunk of it clearing my office of all the junk we dumped in it because we didn’t know where else to put it. Really all I did was move most of it to the garage, but that’s better than the office (which will be our office moving forward). I wish I were doing more writing, but I haven’t had enough space. I wouldn’t trade it for the better work situation, so I’m not complaining. But I hope things at school can settle down a bit and I can find my groove with that again.
Oh Kate, I’m not “pain free” after tapering off Lyrica. And I wasn’t “pain free” taking it. I was having side effects that wasn’t worth the risk of continuing to take Lyrica for treatment. I gave it a try per doctor’s recommendation.
I went back to doing routines for pain management. Actually I would prefer to not take any doctor’s prescriptions and live more naturally. Perhaps one day I will achieve that goal..
Hope you are feeling better and working through it all!
I’ve been thinking, wondering, about you this evening. “And because it’s Tuesday and I’m here:”… missing you. Know that you are loved, not only by your family, but also by those who connect to you through your blog. I’m one of many who struggle with depression and anxiety. I’m here as the season is changing. A mild cold front is expected to come this evening with rain. Not too cold like you get, but more of a welcome delight temp with changing from always high humidity to a welcome delight of dry air and sun for a few days.
I’m wondering what is going on with you, your family, and how’s the med treatment going for you? I’m up and down on the teeter totter these days going into November. Hope to hear from you soon.
So good to hear from you, TD!! What lovely things you have to say. I appreciate you reaching out. I am overdue for a post but I’ve been up to my eyebrows in sporting events and choir concerts and chauffeuring children. It’s been so good, but has kept me from the computer. Today is the first day in over a week where I’ve even sat down to my desk.
We haven’t gotten too cold yet. Only one frost so far which is late for this time of year. I keep hearing people say that signs post to a horribly cold winter but this time last year we had snow on the ground but we had fresh tomatoes growing until last week so I have zero complaints!!
I hope you find that your depression and anxiety don’t take hold too much this winter. I’ve found my meds to be very helpful so far, but am also allowing myself to be a little slower and quieter as we move into winter. Shorter sunshine hours should allow for more rest, I think. Sending happy, healthy thoughts to you, TD.