Life has been tough lately. OK, so that makes me sound melodramatic and incredibly ungrateful for the fact that I have a job and a healthy family. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but things really have been tough.

No news on the job front for Patrick. We did get an extension on our unemployment benefits, so now instead of having them run out in mid-March, we have until early June. I think we might be eligible for another extension, but we’re hoping Patrick is employed by then.

I continue to be amazed at how extensive the effects of unemployment can be on a family. I am overwhelmed with being the only one bringing home a paycheck. Don’t we all have those days when wejust want to tell our boss we quit? We don’t really do it, but the fact that we could is enough to sustain us for another few weeks. I am swamped at work – too many deadlines and not enough time or energy. The fact that I can’t just up and quit my job (even though I wouldn’t really do that) is suffocating. There is such an enormous amount of pressure on me to stay employed (let’s not even discuss the Illinois budget and the fact that I work for a non-profit that is expecting to see major cuts).

But that’s not the only effect. There’s this constant biting of my tongue that I must engage in so I don’t say something angry or spiteful toward Patrick. I don’t blame him for his situation (although I do go over and over in my head all the ways he could have circumvented this situation), but there are times when I want to say something to him. Something like, “Since you don’t have a job, would it hurt you to run the vacuum/wash some pots and pans/fold the laundry/fix the window in Griffin’s room/etc.?” It’s such a delicate balance of being supportive and not going over the deep end myself because I take on all the responsibility.

I know that being unemployed is having an effect on Patrick. I can see it in his face and in the way he sits and in his voice. I feel for him. I know he feels a sense of responsibility to our family and he’s doing everything in his power to help. It’s hard to watch and it’s even harder to walk on eggshells each and every day.

We have gotten to the point where we are accepting help from places we never imagined. We’re still waiting to hear if Griffin will be covered through the state of Iowa for his health insurance. There was a lot of paperwork that needed to be completed/submitted and I think we might finally know something by next week. For now, we can’t afford his medication, but because I work for a social service agency, I’ve been pointed in the right direction to a couple of places that might be able to help us out with the cost of his epi-pen. We tried to apply for assistance from WIC so we can pay for some groceries for Griffin (milk, bread, juice, peanut butter, etc.), but we make just a bit too much to qualify.

I told Patrick the other day that he and I have both been in denial about our situation. We have been living on one paycheck and unemployment for almost one year. We have drained our savings. We have borrowed from both of our families. We cannot pay for our mortgage, credit card debt (even just the monthly minimums), utilities, groceries, and day care. We owe more than we make each month, but somehow we’ve “gotten by.” Some people get paid, some don’t. But it has caught up with us.

I always felt like we weren’t as bad off as some other people. But I don’t think that’s the case anymore. We are the people who don’t make enough to get by each month, but make just a few too many dollars to get help. I finally told Patrick that we need to get help wherever we can and in whatever form – food pantry for some of the basics, local agencies for Griffin’s medication and help with our utility bill (so that doesn’t get shut-off), the home retention program through our mortgage company (we’re already in a trial period), etc. Whenever I think about this I feel as though I’m taking help away from someone else. Maybe things aren’t as bad as I think. Then I look at my checkbook and the stack of unpaid bills. I see that the mortgage company has sent yet another letter threatening to take our home. I receive another phone call from a debt collector. Add all of those up and we deserve the help as much as the next person.

I don’t think Patrick wants to think we’re at this point. I believe he still thinks we’re going to be OK the way things are. We’re not. He keeps saying that once he gets a job “everything is going to be OK.” Eventually, yes, but not right away. We’re going to have to work our way out of this pit.

So for now, I am the one who calls for help. I will be the one to go to the local church and get some free food. I will be the one to wait and see if we qualify for Medicaid for Griffin. I will be the one who apologizes every time a bill is late. I will be the one who begs for a little bit more time to find money to pay our mortgage. Just another burden added on my shoulders.


– I totally forgot to write a New Year’s post. Honestly, I was on vacation from work and being near a laptop made me think too much of writing grants and all the piles of work that were sitting on my desk just waiting for me. I didn’t feel like posting anything.

– Today marks the 11th anniversary of my aunt and uncle’s house fire. It seems like just yesterday that he died. It’s even harder to believe that she ‘s gone now, too.

– I have a lot that I need to post about – the holidays, my new medication, writing, and the weirdo ear infection I had last week. Seriously, my ear was messed up for over a week…while I was on vacation. It sucked.

Because I haven’t posted anything in a while, I need to ease back into it. So here’s a total cop-out. It’s a video I took just a couple of hours ago. It’s Griffin being, well, being Griffin. There’s really no other way to explain it. Just do me one favor – don’t look at or comment on or even judge me for the condition of our family room. I’m chalking it up to fatigue, total vacation laziness, and the weirdo ear infection. Just watch Griffin and enjoy…

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

– Mary Anne Radmacher

I don’t think the blues I’ve been experiencing on and off since August are going away. I want them to. I desperately want them to, but they’re not. Over the past 24-hours I’ve been trying to think of how to describe it because I know I’m going to have to see the doctor to talk about things. The word “depressed” doesn’t cut it. Neither does “overwhelmed,” although I feel both. This morning, when my alarm went off in my ear, it hit me. Heaviness. Bogged down. I wake up every morning, sometimes to the alarm and sometimes to Griffin fussing to find a more comfortable position in his crib, and I want to cry (and sometimes I do as soon as my eyes open). Why? Because I feel the weight of the world on me. And you can all try to convince me that I’m just overreacting. On a cerebral level I know this, but my goodness, it sure feels that way…and that’s what’s important. I feel this heaviness pushing down on me every single day. Every single second. And as hard as I try, and believe me, I’ve tried, I can’t get out from under it.

The heaviness is work and financial stress. It’s taking care of people – Griffin and Duncan and even Patrick. It’s feeling like I have nothing that’s truly mine. Seriously, as hectic as NaNoWriMo was, it was so lovely because it was all mine. It was my challenge and my time to do something for me. I’ve lost myself somewhere along the way and what I’m left with is this weight that sits on me, pushing down harder and harder. It makes me feel trapped and sometimes I have these flashes of “this is my life now” and that makes me feel even more claustrophobic.

I worry all the time. About Griffin and finances and everyone’s health. I used to love sleep, but now I find myself dreading going to sleep. As strange as it might sound, I’m worried that something bad will happen in the middle of the night. I think about Griffin’s bout with pneumonia and how he just woke up and had this insanely high fever. I think about the phone call we got at 2:30 AM almost one year ago that Patrick’s father had a heart attack and was on life support. I figure that if I stay up, nothing will startle me in the middle of the night. Stupid? Yes, but I don’t know how to work through that. And when I do sleep, I wake up to the smallest sound and I stay awake.

I have an appointment with my regular doctor this afternoon to discuss antidepressants. I tried my hardest to avoid them, but right now, I don’t see how I can. It makes me feel like a failure, like I couldn’t do it on my own (even with seeing a psychologist). It makes me feel like I’m not strong enough when I always thought I was pretty tough.

I don’t want people to think I’m relying on medication to make me better, but I think I need a jumpstart. The weight is so heavy that it clouds my view on everything. Going to work is frustrating. Cooking dinner is too much to handle. Griffin’s recent meltdowns are driving me to tears. This isn’t me normally. It’s the weight. And right now, I don’t see any other way to help lift it.

I was browsing some of my favorite blogs during lunch and came across this gem of a post from All & Sundry – I don’t think I could have said it any better myself. Especially after the past couple of weeks.

And yes, Griffin, I love you very much, but seriously?

I went back to the doctor yesterday for my third appointment. She showed me my paperwork with my official diagnosis:

Major Depressive Episode (moderate)

Specific Phobia/Generalized Anxiety Disorder

I’ve opted for no medication at this point. I’m not trying to prove a point to anyone. In fact, there are times when I would really, really like to take something because I just don’t think I can do it on my own. But that’s the whole problem. I know what I  really need to do to deal with this – everything I never did over the past 20 years. So without getting into the details, I’ve got a long road ahead of me. I’m not looking forward to it because it’s going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of retraining my brain to think and react differently, but I think it will work. It’s what I’ve known all along would work, but was too scared to try.

{This all sounds like some weird science experiment, but it’s just a form of therapy where you challenge your current way of thinking. I’m an all-or-nothing, black-or-white type of person. For example, I think I’m a horrible mom because of that time I didn’t want to be around Griffin when I was exhausted and had a migraine and he was fussing. I felt awful and guilty and I cried for two days. Am I really a horrible mom? No, but I need to retrain myself to stop thinking that way. That’s just one small example. The list could go on and on. And it does…}

Why does the title of this post sound eerily familiar to me? Did I just use it? At this point, I don’t care. I like it and it fits with what I have to say.

It has been two weeks since I saw the doctor and I’ve got another week to go. Somehow, I’ve managed to make it. I don’t know how because there were days (and nights) when the sadness and anxiety seemed unbearable. It’s not so much the anxiety as it is the anticipation of the anxiety {and anyone who has ever experienced this knows exactly what I’m talking about}. I could be sitting at work, having lunch with my coworkers and then all of a sudden, a wave of dread washes over me: I’m not better. This hasn’t been some awful nightmare. I still have to face it every day.

I have these moments when things seem normal {whatever that means}. I cook dinner. I flip through a magazine. Sometimes I even sneak in a laugh. But it always hits me. The dread. It’s like some invisible person pokes me in the arm just to remind me of how awful I feel.

I like getting lost in those little moments – those small breaks from the sadness. I want more of them because I’m tired, so tired, of dragging myself around. I’m tired of faking smiles at work and with family. I’m tired of pretending. I’m just tired.

I’m very impatient this time around. I want to feel better and I want to feel better NOW. I know there’s work to do and it’s not something I can rush, but it’s really difficult when I wake up each morning and dread going to work to have to deal with things that don’t seem very important. And it’s difficult to come home exhausted and have to take care of my family when all I want to do is crawl into bed.

One more week.

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