Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dear Carbamazepine,

Dear Carbamazepine,

If I'd wanted to feel hungover, I'd have gone out and drank drunk imbibed lots of good wine, or cheap wine, or heck . . . some of the "hard stuff" that I haven't touched since, oh, 1992 or so. But to be honest, I haven't felt a desire to lose myself in an alcoholic haze in a long, long time. And I certainly haven't craved a hangover. Sheesh.

But I got one, or something like it, dear Carbamazepine, thanks to you.

The Prescription. One pill for four nights, increased to two pills per night after that. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Well. I tried my one pill for four nights and that was fine. Then two pills for two nights and . . . ugh. It started out with a little dizziness, some slight nausea, nothing unexpected.

The Symptoms. Soon I couldn't feel my feet, other than some tingling below my ankles. And I started sweating buckets, particularly at night. I woke up Friday morning thinking I'd wet the bed. And again Saturday morning. But folks, you'll be happy to know that I haven't yet broken my 40-year not-peeing-in-the-bed streak after all, but that's how much sweat I'd excreted in the night--enough to soak my clothes and sheets.

My Weekend on Carbamazepine. So the Hubster had planned on a weekend backpacking trip with the guys for several weeks, and he left Friday morning. This was before my reaction to you, Carbamazepine, had gotten bad; otherwise, Hubster would have stayed home. Friday evening, I didn't feel great, so I let Scout watch TV and play computer games all evening. We got to bed early that night because we had fun plans for Saturday: Go to the Barnes and Noble at Biltmore Town Square, maybe go to a movie if an appropriate one was showing, and then hit the ol' Waffle House for some waffle-eatin' and Johnny Cash. Sounds like a fun day with a four-year-old, doesn't it!

Well, it would have been . . . if it weren't for you, dear Carbamazepine.

Saturday morning, I had that feeling of being somewhere between very drunk and very sick. Weirdly enough, it reminded me of the bathroom at the Chimes in Baton Rouge, probably because I experienced that very same feeling in that very same bathroom so many times back in the late 80s. I couldn't walk in a straight line and kept thinking I was going to throw up. The only difference between Saturday morning and the Chimes was that I wasn't being further nauseated by the familiar old aftertaste of Bacardi and Diet Coke.

Still, my sweet kid was so excited about going to B&N, so we went to B&N, which we probably shouldn't have done, considering how dizzy I was.

Oh, me. When we got there, I found I could barely walk. I thought, "You know, I haven't had much to eat today. Maybe I just need some food in my belly." So we went to a burger place (I figured I needed a large dose of protein). I sat on the floor of the burger place for several minutes, so sick I thought I was going to throw up right there. But I was merely dry-heave-y, thanks to you, Carbamazepine. Oh, how I've missed my dry-heaving hangover days from so long ago. (Insert eye-roll here.)

So right there, sitting on the floor of the burger joint for twenty or so minutes, I sent out the modern woman's version of the APB: I posted my location to Facebook, said I was sick and couldn't drive, and hoped someone was in the vicinity to pick me up. Probably not the smartest thing to do, but I wasn't thinking very straight.

My sister (who I suppose I could have just called, but she was having a fun pajama day with her young daughters) saw the FB post and was able to pick us up. We went by my house to pick up clothes, she brought us to her house, where I promptly went to bed (at around 5:30) for the most part of fifteen hours.

I did wake up a few times with another hangover (or a continuation of the one from before) and spent a couple of those hours on the floor of my sister's bathroom, kneeling before the porcelain god.

Now. Now I'm feeling a little better--good enough to do something other than lie in bed and/or hang out on the bathroom floor. I also got some food in me and drank lots of water and only a little coffee since I'm probably pretty dehydrated.

Should We Break Up Already? Should we break up already, dear Carbamazepine? My pharmacist brother-in-law said it could be more of a dosage issue than the medicine itself--which means I have too much of you in my system, or maybe too little, or maybe you and Fluoxetine just aren't playing well together. If you're able to perform as a desperately-needed "mood stabilizer" for me, then perhaps we just need to make changes in how much we see of each other.

Whatever it is, dear Carbamazepine, I'm not very happy with our relationship right now. That is all.

Your pet guinea pig,


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Things I Would Rather Do Than Write

Here's a short list of things I would, at this moment, rather do than write:

1. Work out.
2. Eat chocolate.
3. Watch TV.
4. Do logic puzzles.
5. Do math puzzles.
6. Play piano.
7. Go hiking with my husband and kid.
8. Fold clothes.
9. Vacuum.
10. Clean the bathrooms.
11. Take a walk.
12. Go for a run.
13. Look at old pictures on Facebook.
14. Phone a friend.
15. Dance.

Considering I would rather do math puzzles and clean bathrooms than write, you can imagine how desperately I've been avoiding writing this past week.

But . . .

The Hubster said he will never support me in my writing endeavors again if I don't finish this book. So I have to finish it. And I have to finish it before the end of the month. October 31 is my set-in-stone deadline.

So. It's time to get started. It's noon and the Hubster and Scout have gone hiking--something I really wanted to do, but I told myself I'm not allowed to have fun until I finish this thing.

So. Now that I've procrastinated for another 30 minutes since starting this blog post, I guess I'll write.

Either that, or floss. Or crack all of my knuckles. Again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ten Things from the Last Seven Months.

I’m going to write. And write and write and write. I haven’t posted here since March, so, for posterity’s sake, I suppose I should catch myself (and you, my devoted readership of two) up on what’s been happening for the last seven months of my life.

1. I’ve been keeping a written journal. I hate that word “journal.” I’ve been keeping a notebook. One of those old-fashioned ones with the lined paper and curlicue-wire bindings. So, even though I haven’t been writing here, I’ve been writing.

2. Speaking of writing, I’ve spent the past year working on a novel. Like all the other novels I’ve started, it seems to be falling apart just as I’m getting toward the end of it. None of the other novels ever got finished, so I fear this one is headed for the same fate. If I were hand-writing the wretched thing, I would throw it across the room and delight in the sound of it hitting the wall with great force. However, since I’m typing it on a laptop, I can’t do that. Which means lots of pent-up frustration in my throwing arm. Which also happens to be my writing arm, coincidentally enough.

3. My kid is almost FIVE YEARS OLD. She’s in PRE-KINDERGARTEN. She’s READING at a third- or fourth-grade level. She’s taking BALLET and is showing some TALENT at it. She can color IN THE LINES. (I’m not yelling those all-caps words. I’m just saying them really loudly because they are concepts of some disbelief for me.)

4. I’ve fallen off the fitness wagon. A year ago, I was in the best shape of my life. Now I’m . . . I’m not sure what I am. I won’t say that I’m in the worst shape of my life, because I’m not. I can’t say that I’m fat, because I’m not. I’m just . . . flabby. I’ve lost a lot of muscle tone. And why? No clue. One day I just quit working out and haven’t been able to start again. Until yesterday. I did my Burn Circuit 2 yesterday, and today is core work and a short run (jog, actually). So I’m going to take my “before” pictures today and will take “after” pictures in another couple of months, after following my ChaLEAN Extreme/TurboFire hybrid workout for that long. No, I will not post them online.

5. I got a job. I’m working in customer service for a company in downtown Asheville. I work with good people and enjoy the work, plus it’s all for a good cause, so I’m pretty happy with the old professional life these days.

6. I’ve been pretty stable mentally/emotionally for almost two years, thanks to the miracle mood-stabilizer Depakote. Unfortunately, Depakote also makes me stupid and shaky (think Parkinson’s), so my pdoc and I are trying to figure out how to fix that. I’m hoping my new re-commitment to fitness, while not what the doctor ordered (the doctor likes to order pills), will have more of an effect than anything else.

6.5. I think the Depakote may also have made my hair curly. Either that, or I'm just getting old. (See #9 below.) But I now have curly, curly, curly hair. People keep asking me if I've gotten a perm.

7. I’ve played a bit of piano here and there, but not as much as I should or as much as I want to. To be honest (and why wouldn’t I be? why do we even use that phrase in the first place?), this novel has been my life for the past year. Outside of my husband, child, and job, it’s come before everything else.

8. Yes, I’m procrastinating. I’m avoiding the novel because I don’t want to get depressed at how much time I’ve spent on it and how it now seems to be falling apart. You’d think that, after a year and three drafts, the &^%$ book would have enough redeeming qualities to be completable.

9. My other favorite mode of procrastination has been puzzle books. The kind old ladies have. I think a fondness for puzzle books may be one of those “You know you’re getting old when . . .” indicators.

10. It’s time to stop procrastinating and work on the novel. I feel like a kid who’s about to get in trouble, and the novel is the principal’s office. I do not want to face it.

The End. (Oh, to be able to write those two words, once and for all, in reference to this novel!!)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gripey & Grouchy

I've been in a gripey, grouchy mood all morning. I haven't had a moment of "me time" in about a week. I'm not getting any today. Like an idiot, I went and volunteered for something this afternoon and am going to miss a chunk of my monthly write-in with the AsheNo group. I look forward to that thing, as it's one of the few writing times I get each month where I don't feel like I'm stealing time from something else.

This novel I'm writing has come to a standstill, and it has nothing to do with writer's block. I have the entire reverse outline written and am chomping at the bit to get started on the next draft. Problem is, between errands and school cancellations and such, I haven't had a normal day of writing in over a week. So now I'm out of the zone and I hate it. Even right now I don't feel like I can work on it because I only have about ten minutes.

Whine, whine, whine. Time to list ten good things that happened this week while I wasn't writing.

1. I got to spend the day with Scout yesterday.

2. Scout and I were sitting at an outdoor cafe yesterday, and Scout was busy charming everyone. There was this one retired couple from Florida, and then these three kids who seemed between maybe fifth grade and eleventh grade. We ended up staying at the cafe for an hour an a half because Scout was making so many friends. It baffles me that such a social butterfly came from my loins.

3. We got to celebrate Hubster's birthday yesterday.

4. I got to read some here and there.

5. Scout and I watched The Wizard of Oz together three or four times. I was so glad she wasn't terrified by the witch and the flying monkeys the way I was when I first saw it as a child.

6. I went (mostly) gluten-free starting last week. I'm amazed at how much bread I used to eat.

7. Scout and I made fun little Easter egg decorations for her friends and teachers.

8. My little niece, SG, said my name for the first time last week.

9. Hubster has lost a few pounds.

10. We interviewed (successfully, I think) with the school we want Scout to go to next year. We'll find out for sure sometime this week if she's been accepted.

Ah. I was starting to feel better when Scout came running into the room, crying because I put milk in her cereal when she wanted it dry. (This was thirty minutes after telling me she wanted it with milk.) On top of that, she can't find her stickers. And she doesn't want to eat her sog-fest of a breakfast at her little table because the seat is not comfortable.


Back to gripey and grouchy again!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Burn Circuiting

My hair is sweat-soaked, doing what it does most naturally: parting itself right down the middle of my head, curling up into wings at the sides and at my temple, and poofing into two Golden-Arches-style bumps on either side of the middle part at the top of my head. My clothes are icky and sticky, and I probably stink. I can definitely smell the mix of sweat and the Aveda stuff I used yesterday. And it smelled so good when I squeezed it out of the bottle and ran it through my hair ...

But I'm happy because I finally worked out. Today's workout was Burn Circuit 1. I love that workout.

I've been procrastinating on workouts for weeks. I don't know why because I usually enjoy exercise. I think part of the reason is all the writing I've been doing: Writing simply offers more instant gratification than exercising does.

Each night, I plan to wake up and exercise first thing in the morning. Then, when I wake up the next morning, I tell myself I'll exercise while Scout is at school. And then, when Scout is at school, I tell myself I'll exercise after she gets home. Of course, it's impossible to exercise when she's home. So then I tell myself I'll exercise after Hubster gets home. But with dinner and dishes and Hubster-time and everything else, evening is the worst time for working out. So that night, after a full day of saying I'll work out, I promise myself a workout first thing the next morning.

Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

I'm hoping I've started a new habit here. My plan is to work out while Scout is at school until I get addicted to exercising again. Once I'm addicted, it will be easy to change my workout time to 5:30 a.m. I know that from experience. And I'm going to post something here each time I complete a workout.

I know this is a very random, unexciting, and self-absorbed post (like most of the ones I've written in the past few years), but I wanted to publish this so it could give me some measure of accountability.

If you're reading this post and wouldn't mind leaving a comment, please leave one that says something to the effect of, "Now I know about your secret goal! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!"

Thank you! Shower time!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Good Read and a Fun Write

Friends, I seem to be writing a page-turner. I'm working as a co-writer, so the book won't be published under my name (which is the way I want it). But isn't that exciting? I'm writing a page-turner! A "good read"!

Even better, the novel is a "light read"! The kind of thing you would finish in a three-hour sun-worshiping session at the beach! The kind of thing you might read on the flight from Atlanta to Denver!

Why am I so proud of writing something so light and non-literary?

Because I've spent too much of my life being heavy and dark and depressed. And I know I'm a good enough writer that anything I write will be respectable (enough) from a literary standpoint. I'm not creating fodder for future American lit classes, but that's fine with me.

I'm just glad to be writing.

And I'm having more fun writing than I've had in a long time.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Good Little Weekend on the Foothills Trail

For the last few years, our family has been in kind of a rut when it comes to weekends. Between having a third family member, working weekends, and such, I suppose that's not all that surprising. But Hubster and I sat down last week with our calendars and said, "No more. It's time for us to start living on weekends again."

So this weekend the plan was to (a) take Anne to a movie if the weather was bad, or (b) go backpacking if the weather was good. As it turned out, the weather was perfect.

Friday evening we got all the gear out and got things packed and ready to go. We still needed to get food, plus a replacement filter and a replacement battery for Anne's headlamp. So the next morning we went grocery shopping and gear shopping--which, of course, is always fun, except for the part where you have to give them money. Fortunately, Diamond Brand Outdoors gave us a very cool coffee mug for spending $50.

We were a little late hitting the Foothills Trail that afternoon, but we managed to hike the two miles to the campsite that night. Dan and I had argued some over how far we should plan for Anne to hike. We were in disagreement then, and we're still in disagreement now. (He said she could have hiked planned three miles if we'd had time for lots of breaks. I said that a mile was plenty for a four-year-old, and that I wouldn't plan for more than a mile and a half.) She started to get tired and cranky at the one-mile mark, but we finally made the two miles to a lovely campsite on a ridge overlooking Lake Jocassee.

We realized at some point that we'd forgotten (1) Froggy and (2) the hot chocolate. Horrors! Seriously. We ended up making a substitute Froggy out of bandannas and a bit of rope, and Dan and I tacitly agreed not to mention the hot chocolate (a good decision on our part, because she never mentioned it either). She named her substitute Froggy "Frog-white." Hubster misunderstood the name and thought it was "Frog-lite." Ha! A good name as well!

Froggy and Frog-white, back at the trailhead
At the campsite, Anne helped gather firewood and set up the tent. Dan had a nice campfire going by the time I was finished setting up house in the tent, and we had a yummy dinner featuring roasted all-beef hot dogs. I am not a big fan of hot dogs, but something in the old taste buds change when the hot dogs is roasted over an open campfire.

Anne was a little firecracker in the tent that night, bouncing from one end of the tent to the other, laughing, tickling us, amusing us to no end, and generally driving her tired parents crazy. She'd seemed apprehensive about the trip before we started, and I seriously think she was giddy at having made the hike and gotten this far. She also loves sleeping in a tent. Though "sleeping" is a strange word for giggling and squealing, and later trying to crawl into the mummy bag with Mommy.

Next morning, we lazed around the campsite for a couple of hours before packing up. Anne got her first lesson in pooping in the woods. (Is that TMI?) We also taught her how to hide evidence of where our tent was. It's so much fun teaching her "Leave No Trace" principles. I hope they'll be ingrained into her little mind by the time she's five.

The day before, I made a list of things to find on the trail, kind of like a scavenger hunt. Well, exactly like a scavenger hunt. It had things like a tiny pine cone, a heart-shaped stone, and a rock that is bigger than Daddy. Another item was every letter of the alphabet. That definitely made the hike more fun, and it had me looking at the woods in a way I never had before--instead of just looking at trees and rocks, I'd be thinking, "Could that rock be considered heart-shaped? Oh, look! The roots are making an N! Or maybe a Z!"

So much fun. I'm looking forward to our spring scavenger hunts, where I can put flowers on the list and teach her about wildflowers!!

All in all, it was a good weekend. When we got home, Hubster and I did yard work, which we hadn't done together in years. (We hadn't needed to at our last house.) Weirdly, I felt like I loved him more after we finished. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed doing yard work with him.

Now it's Monday, and the week lies stretched before me. I tutor someone this morning, and we tour a school this afternoon. (We are looking at pre-K options for our little one.) On mornings for the rest of the week, I'll be alternately working on a novel and editing Hubster's book. And then there is always housework. Always, always housework!

I'll stop rambling now. Have you guessed that I can't find my big orange journal notebook? Yeah, that's why I'm posting this "what-I-did-on-my-weekend" update to my old blog. :-)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

2013: Year in Review

The year 2013 rocked. I needed a good year. That last few years before it had been difficult. And the worst thing about that was how much of the difficulty was in my head.

Here are some reflections on how the past year has been for me. Questions are from Simple Mom.

1.  What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

I don't know if there was one single thing. I think the best thing was accepting my bipolar diagnosis (first made in 1992) and letting the doc put me on bipolar meds. They're actually seizure meds, but they work well for bipolars who don't respond to the usual ones. I started these meds last year in early February. I can't tell you how drastically they have changed my life for the better. 2013 was my first year since maybe 1981 that I haven't spent a significant part of it severely depressed. And since I can depend on my moods to be stable, I'm now a much better mom. I've also been able to make better-informed decisions and complete quite a few writing projects. All in all, 2013 has been a great year.

2.  What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

We had a renter for our Franklin house, but he lost his job so he and his family had to move out ASAP. That left us with a nice new monthly bill we hadn't anticipated.

3.  What was an unexpected joy this past year?

Participating in National Novel-Writing Month, completing a my first novel since 1991, and finding a writing partner for yet another novel.

4.  What was an unexpected obstacle?

Our buyer for the Maggie Valley house backing out at the last minute. Or maybe it was when the bank sold our loan to another bank at the last minute and all the terms changed.

5.  Pick three words to describe this past year.

Serene. Productive. Healthy.

6.  Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your year—don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you.

Undepressed. Productive. Happy.

7.  Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their past year—again, without asking.

Stressful, overworked, stuck.

8.  What was the best book you read this year?

Leo Tolstoy, Resurrection

9.  With whom were your most valuable relationships?

My family.

10.  What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?

I began to identify as a fiction writer again, for the first time since the early 1990s.

11.  In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

I don't know if this is emotional growth since so much of it is wrapped up in meds, but I finally stopped being a perfectionist and beating myself up when I was anything less.

12.  In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

My love for the people I love has increased a thousandfold because I'm not spending so much energy being depressed and hating myself.

13.  In what way(s) did you grow physically?

For some reason, I shrunk. I think it's probably age. Even though I'm still doing ChaLEAN Extreme, am eating right, and am in pretty good shape, I still weigh about 112 ... when most of my adult life my normal range has been between 120 and 125.

14.  In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

Hubster and I got through a rough spot, which resulted in growth, as it always does. My daughter and I became closer than ever. Because we moved to a new town mid-year, I don't see my old friends as much as I used to, and I haven't yet planted social roots where we are.

15.  What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

Professionally: Treating creative writing as a job! While I haven't been paid for much of it, I'm taking myself seriously as a writer and have had an amazing output compared to previous years.

At home: Living in a smaller house that is closer to Asheville. It's easier to keep a small house clean, and I truly love living in a place where they don't roll up the sidewalks at 4 p.m.

16.  What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

Work: The fact that I didn't make any money. Not that I expected to, even though I entered (but did not win) quite a few writing contests that offered nice monetary prizes.

Home: They were understaffed at Hubster's job all year long, which meant Hubster worked all the time and was never home. It was difficult for him, and it was difficult for us at home. I felt like a single mom for much of the time.

17.  What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

Sleeping in when I knew I should get up and get moving.

18.  What was the best way you used your time this past year?

Selfishly: I allowed myself time to write, usually three hours a day minimum. I also started reading again. Now I'm as addicted to reading as I've ever been.

As a mom: Spending as much time as possible with my daughter. She's in half-day preschool, so we get to spend every afternoon together. Also, taking her to play with her cousin Ella. I love seeing their friendship bloom. Plus, it's nice visiting my sister. :-)

19.  What was biggest thing you learned this past year?

The right medication can make a world of difference.

20.  Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.

Interestingly, my statement for 2012 was this: "2012 was intense and unbalanced. I love intensity and am allergic to balance, but I'd like to pursue a less intense, more balanced year in 2013. For my own sanity and for my family's sanity as well."

Well, in 2013 I made huge strides in learning to maintain balance. I know a lot of it was due to the medication. So 2013 was a year of being "normal" for me. I could start and finish projects because I wouldn't get hit by crippling depression in the middle of them. It's been my best year in a long, long time.

Blogging Elsewhere

Hi, Strangers! I've been blogging with my friend Anh over at Then a Gentle Whisper . Check it out!