Take A Deep Breath…and Try Not to Scream

When I sat down and wrote my first blog and said this would be random and all over the place, I meant it. My life is random and all over the place. I’m trying desperately to remain calm, because I am anything BUT calm.

I suffer from depression, which manifests itself in all types of ways. Firstly (and mostly), I get angry. And not just “ooh, I was so mad.” I mean blood boiling, steam coming out of my ears anger. Where every word out of my mouth is loud and screamy, and I am often left with a sore throat. All while the little voice in my head is whispering “stop yelling,” and trying to be heard over my own voice that is streaming out of my mouth at Threat Level: Broiling Hot Lava. My husband is also somewhere about, speaking in a normal tone, telling me to stop yelling.

We Snuggled; We Snacked.

My depression has also gone so far as to become debilitating–thankfully only once. Unfortunately it was while Justin was deployed, and I was alone in Germany. And I was pregnant. And un-medicated. I could fake sanity enough to get through a 9 hour work day (which, thankfully, began at noon). My partner -in-crime (and snacking) was Bruce, our grumpy pug. We watched tv together, and got fat together. It was fabulous. I cooked for myself until I ran out of clean pots and pans. Then I ordered take-out until I built up the momentum to clean my filthy kitchen so I could start all over again. My therapist at the time was amazing, thankfully. Each week she would reassuringly say, “this week, just try to clear off…” and would name one surface in my apartment to work at. Obviously I survived, but it was certainly the lowest of low points.

Back to anger. My daughter is difficult. Shea is 8, and she is beautiful and funny and sweet. Of course then she is also defiant, confusing, and the puzzle I can not crack. Most people only see the sweet, funny girl, and that’s a good thing! Her teacher has seen both sides, and is probably the most incredible teacher she will ever have. I am beyond thankful for his ability to help her when she is at her most defiant.

This morning it was her outfit. If you know me, then you know I am very carefree. My kids can dress any way they like, even if that means Shea is wearing her white flower girl dress over a pink shirt, with rainbow leg warmers and sneakers (and Justin is staring at me and saying “she looks ridiculous!”). Today was one of those days where I had to step in, and suggest a little more. Even now, an hour after she left for school, it is only 27°F. Shea chose a long-sleeved shirt (perfect choice), multi-colored pineapple print short shorts, dinosaur leg warmers, and penguin knee socks. It was really something, BUT it’s still below freezing, so I asked her to please put a skirt over the ensemble, or a dress. Anything to add an extra layer. “I don’t have any skirts.”

“Ok, here is a skirt.”

Grumbles and growls from Shea. I then brought her 4 MORE skirts. At this point, she is whining at a low and constant hum, something like a window AC unit. My last words are “fine, then you pick something else,” and as I walk away, she is yelling at me that she has nothing.

Nothing? NOTHING?! My heart rate is rising. I’m still trying to grasp on to calm. I suggest pants, skirts, and dresses again. Justin is now reminding her that they have to leave so he can take her to school and get to work on time. It’s already 8am, which is usually when they are walking out the door. Still she refuses.

And then Calm Mom whispers goodbye, and she floats off to the land of Children-Who-Don’t-Get-Mad-and-Growl-at-Their-Parents. Blood Boiling-Angry Mom steps in. And I yell.

Justin tells me to stop yelling. I yell back that “I CAN’T!” Honestly, I can’t. I want to, but the heat building up inside has to come out somehow. For a while, I pushed it back down inside with binge eating. I would get mad; I would stand in the kitchen eating Nutella from the jar, while I searched for a bag of chocolate chips, or any other candy I could shove in my face. Then I would get a stomach ache and find myself looking in the mirror, wondering how it is that I’ve gained 50lbs since getting married.

I’m fresh out of Nutella, and there is no chocolate in the house, and I stopped the self-destructive binge-eating a year ago. So instead, I walk away. I stand in the kitchen and drink my coffee, and occasionally go to check on her progress. Now, with my EXTREMELY CALM husband’s help, she is putting on jeans. That are way too small. I snap, “those do NOT fit! PLEASE put on pants that FIT!” Justin AGAIN (and still calm-how does he do it) tells me to stop yelling. “This is RIDICULOUS! What size are these?! 6?! WHY ARE THEY EVEN IN HERE!?” I take the jeans and leave. I am most definitely making everything worse.

Justin says I created the “Shea Monster,” and he might very well be right. In my defense, I try REALLY hard to stay calm. Really I do. I can go days, weeks even without yelling, or raising my voice. My therapist, and Shea’s, have told me I need to be firm with her, and not let her walk all over me, because it seems when I give up (“you did your homework and answered every question wrong. Let’s erase your answers and work on it together. Oh, you DON’T want to correct it? Fine. Turn it in like this”), I’m letting her win. But how are you supposed to “stay firm” and hold your ground (without yelling), and not give up, when your opponent (in this case, an adorable 8 year old with ADD and Oppositional Defiance) will NEVER back down?

Now Shea is wearing a pair of jeans that are downright falling off of her. Justin asks if she has any clothes that actually fit her, and I can’t decide who I want to yell at the most. I think I just want to stand in the middle of the room, stomp my feet and scream at the top of my lungs. Just because. I get Shea a THIRD pair of jeans, and while she take five whole minutes putting on her sneakers, I take our puppy, Emma, outside. And breathe.

Justin and Shea leave for school. Then Justin is off to work. I have 5 hours to regain my cool, and chances are, by the time Shea walks in after school, that happy sweet girl will have returned.

I still feel like a terrible mom. Justin would (lovingly) agree. Because we love each other, and are ridiculous. He is calm, and I am volcanic. Or at least my mouth is.