Can I just say thank you?

So many people have been sending kind words my way not only regarding the state of my mental health but also how much they enjoy my willingness to air my dirty laundry all over the internet. Feed back on my writing is always welcome and you’ve been so sweet about that.

As far as my mental health. It’s so nice to know that we are not alone in our struggles. I am finding a new community of depressed people and, ironically, it’s making me feel better. I mean, I’m not happy for others depression but I am happy when someone else comes to me and says, “I feel exactly like that and now I’m not alone.”

To continue on our merry path of depression and loneliness I want to add inadequacy.

Inadequacy and low self esteem. (Yay Teri! You know how to bring us all up!!)

 

As I was going through my divorce I was in therapy. As much as I wanted to get out of living with my ex husband I equally did not want to get a divorce. Divorce was failure. The thought of spending another year with a man I did not like, let alone love was equally as abhorrent as divorce.

I feel I took the lesser of two evils. But this isn’t really about my divorce and why I got one. It’s about how not standing up for the real you can screw things up. And how we allow the people in our lives to keep us down or bring us up.

At one point my ex had done something that really needed to be addressed but I was afraid to bring it up and my therapist said “What will happen if you do, what would be the worst scenario?”

“He will yell.”

She looked at me and said, “Teri, that is the fear of most five year olds, not grown women. Is that really the worst that would happen?”

Yes. My answer was yes. That is what I wanted to avoid above all else. It is why I never challenged my ex over so many things. I did not want to be yelled at. I did not want to be belittled. I did not want someone to tell me how stupid I was, or what a failure I was or to sigh with disgust at my utter lack of ability to do anything right.

Most often, when a yelling match was about to break out- and yes, you can feel them coming, like the rain coming in the spring, you learn to smell it, predict it and do what needs to be done to avoid it- when I sensed one coming on I would work to avoid it. I became the queen of diffusion. It’s partly how the break down of our marriage came to be.

I knew my real feelings about things would bring on conflict so I pretended to have other feelings. I guess I knew about ‘fake it ’til you make it’ before AA. Sadly, by faking my feelings I didn’t allow my ex to react properly. He was reacting to my faked feelings. Meaning my true feelings were never being addressed…how could things ever possibly be fixed if we weren’t addressing the real issues?

They couldn’t. And wouldn’t. And didn’t.

All because I didn’t want to be yelled at.

And when words of adoration were tossed my way I knew they weren’t true because he loved someone that didn’t exist. He didn’t love me, because when I expressed my true feelings he told me how wrong those feelings were. He didn’t love me because he didn’t even know me.

What I am saying to you is….I already had self esteem issues…I don’t know if I was born that way or what. My ex contributed to that bank. I bought into it. Another woman may have been able to stand up for herself, I could not. But this is MY story. This is about ME and how my life choices contributed to what has made me me.

And if you look at the many women who return to husbands who abuse them I feel confident in saying lots of us don’t know how to fight it. Lots choose to stay. And maybe if we all had healthier self esteem that number would decrease. I don’t know.

I didn’t like the woman I was. But I have worked at changing and though I still struggle, I still have depression, I still have self esteem issues, I love the woman I am today.

Most of the time.

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Fake It ’til You Make It

Fake it ’til you make it.

This, as I’ve said before, is a phrase used in AA. The thought behind it is to fake living a sober life until, eventually, we realize we are not faking it anymore.

I am good at faking it.

Not that good, but pretty darn good.

My husband always reads my writing and always gives me feedback. Most of the time he is very ,very positive. As we were riding in the car over the weekend he says, “Babe, don’t you think it’s time to go see your doctor and maybe up your meds? People are reading the blog and calling me…they are concerned. I’m concerned. Should I be concerned?”

Soooooo, no depression conversation today. (YAY!)

Let’s talk about organization and forming good habits. (YAY…wait, what? Let’s go back to depression.)

Being organized has never ever been my strong suit. I do really like all the things you can buy to BE organized. But to actually use them? Not so much. I find as I am getting older that few things grate on my very last nerve more than not being able to find something. Or forgetting an appointment.

My one weapon to battle that is to make lists. But then I can’t find where I put the list.

So I got a calendar.

Don’t even tell me to use my phone. No. Can’t do it. I love paper and pens and stationary and stickers and pens! I really like pens. I choose a calendar over my phone because I can just flip back and get a look at what I did or flip forward and see what’s coming up. And there is no eye strain. I find the phone to be too small for me to enjoy using it.

Besides, the visual of having a calendar makes me look like I’m organized which aids in the fake it ’til you make it theme.

What I will do with my phone is write notes down during the day as stuff comes up and transfer it to my calendar that evening….well, that evening or the next…or on Sunday…mostly….ummm…more like, sometimes it then makes it to my calendar

I find I am always trying to improve myself, to incorporate better habits into my day. My Fitbit was the device that got me hooked on achieving goals. My goal was 10k steps and I found if I was close I would get up and walk around the house just to get the last few steps needed to reach that goal.

Before the Fitbit  I thought of myself as ‘moderately active’. Fitbit says the reality is I am closer to sedentary. Ouch. 10k is not as easy as I thought.

What I have read lately about forming better habits says you should attach the new habit to something you already do every day. For example, you want to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. You brush your teeth everyday. (I hope, if not, this could be your first good habit to start.) Attach the new habit of exercising to brushing your teeth so that brushing your teeth acts as a trigger to exercising.

Now brushing your teeth triggers you to exercise so you add the next habit, making your bed perhaps. Brushing your teeth triggers you to exercise. Exercise triggers you to make your bed. One act, that you already do daily is the springboard to many better daily habits.

Using my calendar to measure my successes.

 

I have made a little grid in my calendar. A daily habit tracker. My list is about fifteen items long. Some examples are walked 10k steps, had no sugar, cooked dinner, stuck to food plan. At the end of the month, if I’ve been successful with most of my goals the pattern on the chart looks kind of cool.

(This is not my tracker but it is the design I am going for.)

I only started this last month in the middle of the month. I think, over all it worked well for me because the idea of an empty space was  often the inspiration I needed to get things done. Not to say there weren’t lots of blanks-there were. But really, if they were all filled in what would I aspire to this month?

I am adding a new daily habit. Meditation. Mindfulness seems peaceful to me these days. Sometimes, the non stop buzzing of thoughts in my head can be too much. Other times the thoughts are negative and can spiral down, down, down and I am hoping meditating can help control them.

I’ve got my calendar, my daily habit tracker and my pens…I’m on my way to…to do something. I have an idea. Why don’t you call me and we can set up a time to have coffee. I will put it in my calendar and we will talk about what you do to be more organized or what habits you practice on a daily basis.

Image result for call me gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squirrel Lady

After word got out that I had saved a squirrel some people referred to me as the squirrel lady. (Okay…most said CRAZY squirrel lady). Either way, my reputation as a squirrel whisperer became known across the land. With fame comes fans. Let me tell you, there are sooooo many crazy squirrel ladies and gentlemen out there. It’s nuts.

Here is the most famous  Squirrel lady. I see some similarities between her and I…but I would never sell my squirrels!!

It is illegal to keep any wild animal with fur in my state. Even as a licensed rehabber you are not to keep them more than a few months and so what I was doing was against the law. I’m a squirrel outlaw, which sounds much better than crazy squirrel lady. I think I pull off both titles.  Anyway, I looked into becoming licensed but with licensing comes many, many people calling with many, many baby squirrels in need of saving.

I wasn’t prepared for that and the thought of more than one at a time sounded nuts to me.  I decided Sheldon would be enough. Until my husband texted a photo of a baby squirrel with the words “Can you save her?” Heck yes I could! Bring her! And that is how we got Hazel. Two weeks later someone else called and we got Esther. Both of these girls are out in the wild now, Hazel still comes to the house for an early evening snack.

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Hazel was a messy eater and would not let me wipe the top of her nose after eating. This is what caused her to lose the fur on top of her nose.

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Esther had an injured front leg and back leg and other gross things.

The following spring, April 2017, we got a brother and sister. Hagar and Hilda and somewhere in there we took on a blind squirrel, Helen. Yes, Helen. She got that name from some one else and it pretty much fits. She is a red squirrel all the others have been gray.

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This is Hagar and Hilda on the ride home with me. They didn’t even have their eyes open yet.

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Helen, you can see how red her cheeks are compared to the grays.

In my two years as a secret squirrel saver (Hmmm…SSS, also a bit better than crazy squirrel lady, but I still like outlaw better.) I have saved five squirrels and made the life of a blind squirrel a little better. Our life is quite nutty.

And I’m telling you, each one has taught me a life lesson. Honestly.  I believe it all began with depression. And prayer. Please God, help me get up from this spot. And He sent squirrels. I’ve had such great experiences with all of them that I felt I needed to share the wisdom gained through squirrels.  Hence the restart of the blog, though it will not be all about squirrels. It’s just what’s on my mind these days.

My over all lesson? God has always sent help when I’ve asked. More often than not, the help does not look anything like what I expected. Here’s some advice you can take and apply to your life today. If any of you are praying for something, I think He will ultimately send you what you need, but most likely will NOT send you what you ask for specifically. Pray for squirrels. Chances are He is gonna thing that’s a nutty thing to pray for, you most likely won’t get them. And if you do? Well, who ya gonna call?

Be a little wild today…go nuts.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a Conundrum

I want to draw a better picture of  what depression looks like. For me. Maybe for others. Far be it for me to think mine is textbook and everyone else’s looks like this. I am certain they are all different. But I also think some will relate to what I’m saying.

I’ve explained that it works better in secret. Somewhere in my head I know I am depressed and should be doing things, something,  to help me escape it but somewhere else in my head is the fear of what life would look like without it. And part of it is I decide in my head that the energy to come completely up for air is not worth it.

Not unlike alcoholism which also works better in secret. Somewhere in my head I knew I had a drinking problem and I loved my drinking so much that I didn’t want anyone to know how much I drank for fear that they would make me give it up. Continuing to drink was much easier than quitting, I will take the easy way.

It makes no sense, I know it doesn’t, to want to STAY depressed.

I want you to know that you have not caused this deep darkness. You have not added to my reasons for being down in the dumps . You are not on the list of things that make me sad. You are not responsible for my depression.

Just as you are not responsible for bringing me out of it. You can’t.

It’s not to say that I don’t take great joy in the company of friends. I do. I still love to laugh. I always, always feel better after spending time with friends, talking on the phone with anyone, exchanging texts.

It’s just that sometimes, when the invite comes, I think to myself, ugh…I have to look presentable. Ugh, I have to leave my sweatpants at home. Ugh, I have to put on make up. Ugh, I should probably shower, shave my legs, smell better, brush my teeth. These simple things that most people don’t even really think about doing become daunting. They feel so overwhelming that I just can’t. Just. Can’t.

Fake it ’til you make it. An often used AA saying. You fake feeling great without alcohol until eventually you do feel great. So I muster up enthusiasm for going out and I’ll be darned if I don’t feel better. I will gear up and go for a walk and guess what? I feel better. I put on make up and something other than sweatpants, and inevitably the whole day does feel better.

Depression is a conundrum. Isolation feeds it, strengthens it and I know I should avoid it, yet it is what I crave.

 

Why Are You Doing This?

To help one person.

To help one squirrel. (I love squirrels.)

To get it off my chest.

To squelch the voice that continues to say “you should be writing.”

To become a better writer.

To reach out to humans so I am not alone.

To make money.

Ha! That was to see if you were paying attention…I don’t think their is money to be made here.

To be more like Jesus. (I have always wanted to be more like Jesus, like I used to want to turn water into wine. Then I got sober. So I read up a bit on Jesus to see if he had any other talents I might want to copy. He was a pretty decent human. Wouldn’t the world be awesome if we were all a bit more ‘pretty decent humans’?)

To talk about squirrels. (I love squirrels.)

I am certainly not doing this because I feel I have a lot of important stuff to say. I mean, have you read any of my other posts? Not too much important is really going on in my life. But I honestly enjoy writing.

Math, not so much.

And, the ever infamous birthday countdown should really be starting soon (I have to wait until after the baby child’s birthday so as not to steal any of her birthday thunder.) and I needed a larger platform than just Facebook.

Double nickels deserves a large platform.

I did not do the birthday countdown last year and I continue to hear how disappointed people were. Who knew the countdown could bring such joy?? And really, wouldn’t you rather talk about my birthday on Facebook than join the downer wagon that seems to have taken over?

The first countdown event will explain why I didn’t do the countdown last year. It’s a tear jerker so I will give you fair warning to arm yourselves with tissues. It is a story about squirrels. (I love squirrels.)

 

 

A Squirrel is Light

My gramma once caught a hummingbird.  She cupped it in her hands and brought it to me so I could see it. It was so tiny. She handled it so carefully. Once I had my fill of looking and got a quick little pet in she let it go. I have no memory of how she got it but I remember how delicate it was and how red the little spot on its throat was. Today I think about that and I realize how unbelievably lucky that catch was. A hummingbird for crying out loud!

I was very young at the time but I am pretty sure that was the point that I realized you could catch a wild thing. If Gramma could catch a hummingbird, surely I could catch a bunny. I would sit patiently holding clovers. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Being a statue. And closer, closer the bunny would come.  So close, but they always took off just before I could grab them. To have and hold a wild thing. To walk outside and have it come running to me.

A dream come true.

Enter Sheldon the squirrel. Poor little thing had been sitting under a dumpster all day calling for it’s mom. A squirrel baby crying for it’s mom is a surprisingly loud chirp. And if that mama is anywhere near, they will come a running. It’s hot out, mom’s not coming, no food all day. My heart hurts a little just thinking about it!

He made it through his first night, despite my logic telling me he would not. (See previous post on how Sheldon landed at my house.) And so I got on the internet to find out what needed to be done to save this little wild thing that had finally come my way. Making my little girl dreams come true.

I estimated his age to be about five weeks and according to the information I found on the internet  he needed to eat every four hours. Formula. With a syringe. Every four hours. So that’s what I did.

I got up as early as 3AM. I stayed up as late as 11PM. I mixed his formula (puppy formula at first, but later, in the underground squirrel network, I discovered a source for formula made for baby squirrels–I know! I couldn’t believe it either). I heated the formula, I tested a drop on my wrist, I kept it warm for the whole feeding, I washed his face thoroughly when done and…I stimulated so he would eliminate…

Yes. Baby squirrels can’t ‘go’ without a little help. So I helped. The best indication of a healthy squirrel is urination and pooping. All the ‘experienced squirrel savers’ on the web knew what healthy squirrel poo poo looked like.  Color, consistency and frequency. It started out dark (mom’s milk) and turned a golden yellow (formula) it needed to be a little pellet, not runny. I learned what to do if there was none, what to do if there was too much.

Why am I telling you so much about squirrel poo poo? Because prior to the saving of Sheldon I had no desire to do anything. I went to bed early. I rarely cooked. Sometimes I didn’t shower. Some days I even skipped brushing my teeth. I wore sweatpants or pajamas all day long. I ate bags and bags of Oreo cookies. I didn’t leave the house unless I had to. Truthfully, I knew that I wasn’t in a good spot and I knew what healthy looked like so just when someone (my husband) might notice that I hadn’t been practicing healthy habits I would rally and do enough to make me look like I was normal, like there was no depression, like I was a happy girl.

Because this depression was mine. As sick as it sounds, as much as I needed to escape it, I didn’t want it to be discovered. I didn’t want anyone calling me out. Telling me I needed to let it go. Pointing out flaws. Depression thrives in secret. Depression is a powerful lover. Depression is possessive. It wants you alone all the time so it can court you. And despite its mistreatment of you, you want it to stay. Because it’s what you know.

This little squirrel needed me. He needed me at a time that I didn’t feel needed. I am telling you that I had been praying for motivation. Pleading that ‘something’ would come into my life that would make me want to take part in the world again. I did not know that Sheldon was that something, but he was. Now I got out of bed. I took care of him. And I started taking care of me. I didn’t want Bob to think that my lack of self care, house care, home care, was because I was spending too much time with the squirrel.  Instead of protecting the depression, I was now protecting the squirrel.

Above all else, I didn’t want him to make me give up the squirrel. Because to lose the light would mean going back to darkness.

**To cover my butt I must say that all rehabbers encouraged me to find a licensed rehabber to take care of Sheldon. Keeping a squirrel is against the law.

 

It Will Be Dead By Morning

But it wasn’t.

My stepdaughter called us late one evening with a sad story about a baby squirrel. She called her dad and I could only hear his half of the conversation.

Awww, how cute. Awww, how sad. No. No. No.

No to ‘will you take it?’

No to ‘can you save it?’

No to ‘can I bring it over?’

His last words were, “Do not bring that animal to our house.”

I had been able to squeeze in a question or two during this conversation and learned that the kids she worked with at the pool had found a baby squirrel. A little one that had been crying all day under the dumpster in the parking lot at the country club. They were trying to feed it and save it and would we help.

I told him to go ahead and let her bring it to us. My logic said by the time we were able to tend to it it will have been away from its mom for more than 24 hours and there is no way it will still be alive. My logic said it will be dead by morning, so we will not really be taking on the care of a baby squirrel. My logic said  we would only be taking on the burial of a baby squirrel.  We took it and I fully believed my logic would become fact.

It was not dead the next morning. So I got on the web and googled many, many, many questions about how to save a baby squirrel. Then I went about saving him. This is the story of Sheldon the squirrel and how I saved him and at the same time, how he saved me. This is the story of how I prayed to God for something to fix my sadness and how God answered, with a squirrel. It’s going to take a while. Get some coffee.

I realize now, looking back, that when Sheldon came to me I had not been in a good place for way too long. With the deep, deep sadness comes apathy. I didn’t care, actually, I couldn’t care, about anything. I’d nap a lot, sit on my computer, eat unhealthy foods, decline invitations, neglect housework, have no desire to cook. The effort involved in just trying to make the decision about what to cook was too much for me. I don’t think Bob understood that when I asked “What would you like for dinner?” I was actually asking because I couldn’t make the decision.

So his answer of “Honey, everything you make is so delicious, I don’t care what you make.” was meant to be a compliment. He really is that good to me. It could be taken as flippant but he means it from the heart and my head knows this. A depressed brain on the other hand treats words like a kaleidoscope treats glass. What goes in looks one way, what comes out, how it is interpreted, is not anything like the original.

My reaction to his response is totally irrational.  I feel like I have just asked for help and he is refusing to help. So screw it, I’m not cooking, you can have whatever you want, I am eating ice cream. And I do. For dinner. For more nights than I care to admit.

It gets worse, this kaleidoscope thing. Later in the week I decide to cook. I can cook, I make good stuff. I make a meal and  my sweet husband says how delicious everything is and the depression kaleidoscope turns it into a passive aggressive move. My brain convinces me that what he is really saying is, “It’s about time you actually took care of me, acted like a wife, stepped up to your end of our partnership and cooked a meal.” And I decide that is absolutely the last straw, I don’t need his attitude and don’t cook for the next eight days.

The only thing that made me happy  then and in the days to come was that squirrel. The only thing that I was able to do consistently was take care of that squirrel. The only thing that made me smile, gave me hope, made me feel worthwhile was that squirrel.

This is a long story. I can’t write it all out in one day. Please come back and read on tomorrow.

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