Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Father the Star Wrangler

     So this week is national Schizophrenia awareness week. This hits particularly close to home foe me because, as a lot of people are well aware, my father is schizophrenic. For those of you who were not aware, that my father is schizophrenic, well, happy Schizophrenia Awareness Week. Consider your self aware.
 That's probably what one does for Schizophrenia Awareness, right? Become aware of someone who is schizophrenic, and maybe send them a basket of cheeses and cured meats? That's what I send my dad for Christmas and he really likes it.
     I can give you his address.
    Oh. Erik just pointed out that it is Schizophrenia Awareness, not Schizophrenia Appreciation Week.
    Guess I better make with the aware-i-fying.
      The whole awareness thing is good. It's relatively new, and it is good to be able to mention to people that there are schizophrenics out there who are not homeless or in prison. When we were kids, we were not allowed to tell anyone about my father's illness, which was fine with me, because I really had no idea what anyone was talking about when they said my dad was sick. He did not seem sick. I suppose he did things that I didn't understand, but adults were always doing things that I did not understand, and I never troubled my self with comparing adults inexplicable behaviors. My dad did talk to himself, but so did I; I still do actually, so there was nothing even remotely strange about that.      On the contrary. I have fond memories of falling asleep to the sounds of my mother working at her sewing machine and my father quietly mumbling to himself, and feeling as though everything was right with the world.

     I do remember the first time I was aware that my father was having a break down. My mother had gone to a family wedding in Texas and we children were left with my father, who was behaving in a very silly manner, shouting at the TV, marching around the house singing, praying at the top of his lungs. I wasn't scared. On the contrary, I think all of us kids were very excited to see my dad in such a fervor. We shouted along with him, danced in parade behind him and happily acted as a sounding board for some of his more precarious ideas.
     "What about this apple, Doll? You think this is good for eating?"
     "No Dad, that's a ceramic apple." I remember giggling, "You can't eat that."
      "No? That's not a good idea?" I laughed. I knew he was genuinely asking me, and I was delighted to be able to care for my father who very often was stoic and intimidating. "No, you can't eat that. Do you want a real apple?"
     I remember my father's face lighting up and him grinning ear to ear. "Yeah, that'd be great!"
     I was so happy to be helping, that my father's illness was more an opportunity to play and be close to him, than anything I ever would have considered a disorder. In fact, it feels strange even now to think of it that way.
      "My father's schizophrenia is a disorder."
      Yeah. That seems weird.

      As an adult, I have come to understand what schizophrenia is indeed a disorder. I know that it can be a terrifying disorder that can torture both the patient and their family. My father's path through his mental illness has been horrific at times, as it has been for my other loved ones who suffer from a similar disorders. I don't mean to make light of any of their suffering. Right now my father is working to promote awareness of the humanity of the schizophrenic. Isn't it sad that we need to remind people that though schizophrenics may behave a bit differently than the majority of society, they are still human? But it's true. Too often when we see a homeless person speaking fervently on the street, or when we hear of disturbed people committing crimes for what are clearly delusional motivations, we forget that these people are humans who are not only disabled, but who are suffering. We need to have sympathy for them.
(The sound gets better in the video after a minute or two)
Did you watch it?  Isn't my dad awesome?  Don't you want to watch the whole talk now.
Ah, then my job here is done.
Thanks Dad!  I love you!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to experience pregnancy without getting pregnant in four easy steps

I love this post on Jezebel about how you are not even close to being ready to have a baby.  It is so true, and hilarious, and so full of things that for some of the more ridiculous reasons people think they are ready to have a baby, most of which I completely subscribed to.  The best part of the article is wherein she suggests ways to prepare for having a baby.  My favorites include:
  • Wake up every two hours at night, punch yourself in the face, walk around for 28 minutes pleading in jibberish. Go back to "sleep." Repeat.
  • Stand around a tennis court and catch fly balls with one hand for two hours a day while also preparing a peanut butter sandwich.
  • Practice wrestling aforementioned large, slippery fish, then dress it in seasonally appropriate outfit, including hat and/or jacket. Then go back, remove all clothing, and apply sunscreen. Re-dress fish.

These exercises only prepare you for the child.  I am making a list of things that will prepare you for pregnancy and child birth.   It's a work in progress, but this is what I have so far.
  • Take a laxative and Ipocack at the same time.  Go to work.  Encourage coworkers to say how excited they are for you.
  • Fill a basketball with water.  Just before bed, put on elastic-waist pants and insert the basketball.  Leave it there for four months.
  • Gain 20 pounds.  Allow strangers to enthusiastically comment on how large you are.
  • Poo out a seven pound terd surrounded by all your loved ones and several strangers.
Any others you can think of?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Define "Improvement"

     I am the most pathetic mom ever.  Children are going to read about me in their history books as the most ridiculous mother who ever mothered, and shake their heads in pity for me.
This is how I look now when I put LO down for a nap.
     "But teacher," one little girl will ask hopefully, "Didn't she ever bathe at all."
     "Not for days and days, Sarah. And she only buttoned up her pants if she went grocery shopping, but even then she unbuttoned as soon as she got back in the car.  It was a very sad and sorry state of affairs."
     Sigh.  I don't know how other woman do it.  I read their very clean and proper parenting blogs about their beautiful children of whom they take gorgeous sunlit photos, wherein they wax poetic about how to grow your own kale for baby food, and how refurbish an old dresser so that it can be used as a credenza.  I'll bet they have never discussed with their husbands the possibility of training a pack of dogs to raise a baby.
     Truthfully though, things aren't that bad (not that things not being bad actually changes any of my aforementioned behaviors, it just means I feel better about them).  Thanks to Ferber, LO is sleeping in five hour chunks, which is a massive improvement from two weeks ago when she was waking us up every 20 minutes.  The first night she cried for an hour at least three times during the night, but she was actually kind of doing that before Ferber, so that isn't that bad.  No, the hardest part of Ferber is definitely the heart wrenching guilt.  I still have to wear noise dampeners to put her down for a nap, even though she only cries for about five minutes.  It is really hard not just run into her bedroom and hold her to my chest.  When she is awake I am always searching her face for signs of resentment.  Poor little girl.  I know it is silly, but I can't help feel like this is ultimately going to affect which nursing home I end up in.
     I am also working through a medication change right now, which stinks.  My friend Kaitlin just had her book published (which has me in it and totally makes me famous. You should totally buy it right now!  Buy it!  Buy it!) about how antidepressants are a solution, but not in the way one might hope.  For example, when LO wasn't sleeping, I was getting super depressed and I had to raise my Cymbalta.  Unfortunately, the Cymbalta makes it really hard for me to sleep.  Now that LO is sleeping, I am not.  So they added risperidone, which definitely helps my mood, but makes me gain weight like it is my job- so not that good for my mood from a a certain perspective.
     Oh, and it sometimes makes me feel like I am going to throw up.  That doesn't really help my mood either.
     All in all, things are getting a little better.  Medications are tricky and you just have to keep working at it I guess.
Or find a very reliable pack of dogs.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Where's Claire Huxtable when you need her?

Recently Kelly Kapowski has been giving me a lot of parenting advice.
     Like tonight, we are on the first night of implementing the Ferber method with LO, and Kelly is all "I don't know; she's just a baby.  You've come this far without getting more than two consecutive hours of sleep.  you can go a few more months.  She's just a scared, and wants to be with you."
     And then Jesse chimes in, "She needs to learn to fall asleep by herself.  This is important for both of you!  Be a strong, responsible parent"
     Don't give me that look.
     Oh, like you don't have nineties heartthrob giving you parenting advice.
     You know what I have to say to that?  Liar: that's what I have to say to that, because everybody has the cast of Saved by The Bell in their head, and don't even try to deny it.  Well, maybe not the entire cast of Saved by the Bell, but that's not the point.  The point is that everybody has those little archetypes that they measure themselves against running through their head.  The shoulder angel metaphor didn't come from no where.
     Fine, you may think I am just sleep deprived now, but sooner or later, you are going to realize that the one voice in your head that is telling you to pack a lunch is really Mrs. Cunningham from Happy Days, and you'll be all like, OOOOHHHHH.....

     Anyway, whenever Kelly becomes the dominant voice in my head, I start thinking I need a boost of confidence.  For being head cheerleader at Bayside, Kelly was not really all that self assured.

Oh my God, I watch too much television.

     Anyway, it seems to me that a major component of depression is self doubt; well, it is a major component of   my personality, and I have always chalked it up to depression, so let's just go with that.  For example, I just spent about eight minutes, reading and rereading that last sentence because I couldn't be sure that self doubt was a symptom of depression.  I ended up looking it up.  It is.
     Or with this Ferber thing.  It's a method of teaching your baby to sleep without your help but allowing them to cry themselves to sleep at night and only checking on them at gradually increasing intervals.  It's hard to implement for any parent, but we are completely at the end of our rope.  LO hasn't been sleeping for more than three hours consecutively since December. My depression has come back, my husband has started sleeping on the couch, and I am a zombie during the day.  I know letting her learn to sleep on her own is best for both of us, but I haven't been able to commit to anything, because I am constantly seeking reassurance.  I have read five different books on sleep, seen three different specialists for help, (all who tell me she is perfectly healthy and I don't "need to worry".  Super helpful.), I have read forums, and asked friends, but I keep second guessing, and postponing my decision util I am "sure" about what to do.
     Meanwhile, there is a very high likelihood that I may fall asleep at the wheel and drive us both off a cliff.
     Or just send her "perfectly healthy" little butt to a Russian orphanage for sleep training.
     I've got to start listening to myself more, because honestly, I know her better than any one.  I gotta pull myself together and go with what I believe is best without second guessing myself all the time.  Of course, I don't know how to do that exactly.....