Priorities, People
Play With Your Food

Surfacing

Last week, Jason and I decided to have an impromptu mid-week date night. This in and of itself was somewhat significant, as I haven't been too keen on things like "leaving the house" and "putting on pants" for the last few months. We went to one of our favorite restaurants (alas, no House of Cards cast and crew this time). I picked a half-order of tortellini to start and the braised short rib as an entree. They were both great. Exceptionally great. I couldn't stop talking about how great it all was. 

"I am really enjoying this meal," I said at one point, mid-delicious bites. 

Then I froze. I put my fork down. I looked at Jason and repeated, with a bit of dazed wonder:

I am enjoying this meal. 

***

During my first appointment with the psychiatrist, she asked me what I liked to do for fun. Any hobbies, activities I particularly enjoyed?

I stared at her as my mind drew a blank. ...Fun? ...En-joyed? What even were those words?

"I liked going to restaurants," I finally came up with. "Eating out, trying new foods. Cooking and baking with my kids, having people over and entertaining."

She smiled and nodded. "That's great! All really fun things."

Then she looked at my face and pained expression. She reached out and patted my hand. "They'll be fun again soon, I promise."

*** 

My therapist and I have traced the origins of this depressive episode back to the death of my dad. In 2011. A six-year slide sideways and downwards while my grief grew tendrils through my brain, the symptoms of which I vigorously, studiously ignored while hurling myself at any distraction possible. 

First there was a new baby, then a new job, then a new house, then another new job, then all our pets died and and we got new pets but then we also got a new president who has made every single day a living psychic nightmare and somewhere along the way I started spending more time in bed and missing work deadlines and ignoring my friends and letting important things slide because I was unable to make phone calls. And then the anxiety attacks turned into panic attacks started and the self-sabotage amped up to a whollllllle new level. 

And everything I liked to do -- going places! doing things! being with people! -- was now just...awful. Stressful and unpleasant, and I started taking bigger and bigger steps and jumping through bigger and bigger hoops to avoid the stressful and unpleasant things -- sorry, so busy this weekend, sorry, just saw your text, sorry, I don't know what my deal is right now. But the anxiety could always just find something new to latch onto; something new that was now a source of stress and unpleasantness that needed to be avoided at all costs.

I could talk about my dad just fine, even in therapy. His death was no longer a trigger or something that made me cry or feel specifically sad about. I'd grown very matter-of-fact about the whole thing. He died. I was six months pregnant. Yeah. Really sucked. It's okay. I'm fine. 

lol ur not, another voice would say. But I got pretty good at ignoring that one.

***

None of this stuff is linear, of course. While I have no doubt the medication is working, it's still a bit of give and take. Just days after our Triumphant Enjoyable Dinner I briefly slipped into a couple of Bad Days. Which, while not nearly as Bad as some of the Worst Days, can feel like it because now there's a point of comparison. Dammit, I remember now! I'm a fun person who likes fun things! Why do I keep disappearing on myself? 

***

On Saturday I took Ezra out for a very, VERY special dinner, just the two of us. Gordon Ramsay (who Ezra knows and loves from MasterChef Jr.) has a new restaurant in Baltimore and I'd been promising him we'd go once it officially opened. He was so excited he barely slept on Friday night, and spent most of Saturday staring at the clock while attempting to speed up time with his mind. 

(Of course, I'd made that promise under the mistaken assumption that the restaurant would be one his more casual pub-type affairs, not the mucho expensive upscale steakhouse that it actually is. But a promise is a promise so Jason and the other kids got left at home, because no fucking way.)

We got dressed up and I drove us into the city, then got briefly confused because of the restaurant's location inside a casino. I knew I couldn't bring Ezra into the actual casino but there didn't seem to be a direct door into the restaurant. But I'd checked Yelp and one person specifically mentioned bringing his own Ramsay-obsessed child there so I assumed it would be okay and I assumed there'd be a separate entrance or something and the only door I could find was plastered with signs about no one under 21 being allowed inside so what do we do what do we do we're going to miss our reservation crap crap crap. 

"Mom, I'm cold." Ezra whimpered while I looked around for some kind of Authority Figure who could help us. A valet and a maintenance worker both admitted they had no idea, this is a goddamn casino, not too many people try to come here with their 9 year olds, you know?

I pulled out my phone and called the restaurant. A very helpful hostess gave me directions on bypassing the casino floor (which were basically, "walk inside, look to the left, you're literally calling from 10 feet away from where you need to be") and came over to greet us in person once we got inside. 

"Oh my God, he's so cute," she gushed as Ezra took off his coat to reveal his collared shirt and vest. 

Not long after we were seated, Jason texted to find out if we made there okay. 

"Yep." I texted back. "I had to call them on the phone."

"Wow, go you!" 

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Go me, indeed. 

Comments

SparkleP

I feel you. All the feels. Hope the good days keep outnumbering the bad!

Meghan MacMillan

Oh my goodness, I can totally identify with being SO PROUD Of making A PHONE CALL.

Hubs and I were in a different city for dinner and a concert, without kids, and we were staying overnight. I was using the restroom after dinner when I realized I had FORGOTTEN TO BRING MY ZOLOFT.

Only months prior this would have caused me to dissolve into a blob of anxious uselessness, but this time I formulated an action plan to call a local branch of my pharmacy to transfer my prescription even before I left the washroom. I calmly told my plan to my husband and he looked at me and said he was proud of me for not panicking. That in itself stopped me in my tracks and made me realize how far I had really come.

There are still good days and bad days and AWFUL days, but keep going. We’re all here for you ❤️

Cheryl S.

Thank God, my medication has been working for quite a while now, but I remember that AHA moment. I was someone who always had that little voice in my head saying terrible things -- you're making a fool of yourself, you're so stupid, and on and on.

My AHA moment was when someone asked me what I was thinking about and for the first time EVER I could say NOTHING. That damn voice had finally shut up. It's an incredible feeling. Keep going!

Cait

good fucking job, obviously you're getting really good at this

jodi

Thanks for texting me back this weekend. :)

Also, Michael would LOVE THAT (my own foodie kid). what a great idea.

Evelynne

I'm so happy to hear about these good moments. They'll keep coming!! Don't think the bad days mean you're not improving! I have a word file full of quotes I would read through when I needed a boost, and here's one of them, from Claire Weekes:

"The road to recovery is beset with many temporary failures. It is like traveling across the foothills toward the mountains. You travel downhill so often that it is difficult to realize that, in spite of this, you are still climbing... In spite of ups and downs on the road to recovery, the main direction is upward."

I take it the meal was everything Ezra had hoped? :)

Kyla

Making a phone call deserves a medal in my mind. Seriously, Go you!

flybigd

You are such a nice mom. What a great thing to do with your kid. And Hobbes too :-)

Jocelyn

Awesome. I hope you got the Beef Wellington. :)

Leeann

Love that you took Ezra on a special date and how much he was looking forward to it. Glad also for good days and may many more be coming!

Question: Your meal with Jason sounds AMAZING. Would you please share which restaurant you went to? I want to go too!

Stacey

Way to go! And he is so flippin cute all dressed up.

Sue W

You are awesome!

M

I recently had an AHA moment, and started to come out of my 5 year fog of my father passing away. I so get you. I'm so proud of you. And side note, you and Erza look fantastic!

ccr in MA

It sucks that the improvement can't be linear, but it's awesome that it does happen! I'm so glad you had these good days.

And hey, making phone calls is hard. I hate that.

Brandi

May MIL died 11 years ago and my husband hasn’t been the same since. You’re not alone. Grief can really fuck things up. I’m so glad you’re having some better days. Keep going, we’re all rooting for you!

Ami

Thanks for sharing your story, Amy. In November, my brother died. Then a friend's husband died by suicide. Then my BFFs dad (who I visited in a the nursing home when I was home for my brother's funeral) died. This meant I was at three funerals in 10 days. And then, last week, my FIL died. I am sometimes fine, sometimes I can't stop crying over stupid shit, and sometimes so effing pissed at everybody, often for stupid reasons. Reading this post, right now, I've decided to just go ahead and call the EAP and set up an appointment. Thank you for sharing your story.

Angela

Aw Amy. I am right tgere, except lately for me it’s been more of “wait, when did I become a rage monster? I distinctly remember I used to be a calm, quiet, FUN person!” I am glad tou are working with someone on this. I haven’t done that yet, but I really do need to. Here’s hoping we can rediscover our fun sides sooner rather than later.

Harper

Just thank you. Thank you for sharing what I imagine is exceedingly difficult. And as a fan of your blog and you for years now, thank you for doing what you need to be well and happy.

Abesha1

It's so curious... when my dad died, after the initial few months of not sleeping and nightmares and zombie behaviour, I also could talk about him just fine. I'm fine, I'd think! But then I'd have more nightmares and generally awful grief, like a rebounded ball or a boomerang. It was so strangely familiar, what you just wrote.
Conversely, after my sister's death, it was more like a really long ascent from a black pot, and thinking and talking of her is always still hard, but I do it constantly anyway because I miss her so much. No rebounds.
Suffice to say, we all deal in the same and different ways. Best to you.

reenie

Sobbing at work.

I just...yeah.

Go you. You rock.

Meg

My ah-hah was reading the last book of the Harry Potter series in a city park on a sunny day and realizing I was actually ENJOYING READING for the first time in...I couldn't even tell you? Years? It's remarkable how difficult it becomes to see what isn't fine when you're so used to enduring what you feel helpless to tackle.

Congrats on a huge step.

Kim

My dad died back in 2005, when I was 18, and I'm still not the same. I used to be more outgoing and liked being around friends. Not social gatherings are just EXHAUSTING and I try to avoid them at all costs. Just like you, I can talk about his death without getting sad, but my life completely changed when he died. All the dreams I had for my life went out the window. Even today I'm still having to plan my life around not having a father (meaning someone to care for my mom). Very eye opening post. Glad you're doing better.

JenVegas

Oh lord I understand all of this. But that picture of The Mighty Zah puzzling over slicing up his steak is precious and the best. Just keep swimming, Amy! xoxo

Springsteenfan

I heart you. That is all. Pls keep writing. And eating.

Heather Evans

Great job! I've been reading your blog for a long time so I remember the Thing With The Phone, but you did it! I have my own phone thing, and it's been a million times worse since my husband died last year. I feel you on so much of this. I was doing SO WELL like two months ago, now I'm all in a fog again and just can't seem to do shit like I should. Thank you for reminding me it's just how it is.

zoot

Yes to all of this. The good days. The ditching friends. The self-sabotaging. The dead Dad stuff. The bad days. The phone.Thank you for reminding me I'm alone. I hope you keep finding your moments to enjoy.

Elizabeth K

So happy for you! This is wonderful -- you are wonderful.

Jenn

I can so relate - thank you for sharing. We're all rooting for you!

TERESA

Glad some of the sad is lifting and I am sure our thriving economy under this current Pres helps (sorry couldn't stop myself from that little conservative jab). It is so easy to check out but you are trying and that is what matters. You have an awesome life and I hope the sads stay far away.

Gary J.

For some reason, Google saw clear to put this blog post in my Google Now feed on my new phone. Why? I have no bloody idea.

I'm just popping in, however, to say that you are awesome.

Bad days and Worst days are still going to be in the mix, but little by little, you'll start seeing more and more Good and Great days.

Gare

Pamela

Here from the Google feed, too. It's been way too long since I visited and I still relate so hard. Thanks for writing and letting the rest of us depressives and phone-phobics know we aren't alone. Hang in there and don't settle for a half-lived life -- remember the good stuff.

Annie

I so appreciate you talking about this. Some of the hardest times for me were when things started to get better, and I could really see how bad it had been. Keep going.

Dori P

Thank you for sharing. I'm still working through my Dad passing away 2 years ago. I do have way more melancholy days than I used to.

Your dinner with Ezra looks amazing. He's so adorable. He and Noah combined remind me so much of my 7YO, Mason. :)

Jaclynn

thank you so much for sharing! i’m starting the journey of anti-depressants myself and i’m desparate to grab onto any hope that they will give me the strength i need to put one foot in front of the other and you’ve all given me some iota of hope that they can help!

Cecily

This sounds so damn familiar. Thank you so much for sharing about this. I'm so glad you're on the upswing, and hope I am too.

Christine

Was Gordon there? Did you met Gordon? (I presume not or there'd be photos.) My kids and I just discovered Masterchef Jr this year and raced through all the seasons and LOVED it all and they would be psyched about this! Except they don't really eat people food so unless it's a bread restaurant there's no point taking them...

So glad you're feeling better.

Marianne

I think you're so amazing. Your transparency about your journey helps so many people. Truly.

I cried while reading this. My nearly 10 year old had the worst anxiety attack a few nights ago. There was an hour of screaming, crying, and shaking. He's been on medication for about 8 months and that night felt SO BAD. But, talking to a friend yesterday, I realized it was SO BAD because I had 6-7 months of so much better to compare it to.

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