Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cloudy with a chance of healing

That's what I call this scarf, "Cloudy With a Chance of Healing." The yarn is from Ellen's Half-Pint Farm and the color way is unnamed, but it has the gray, purples, blues, and pinks of storm clouds. I felt compelled to attempt to return to knitting in some way, even though my mind itself is still very cloudy, so I just cast on 34 stitches and knit Old Shale until I ran out of yarn; that was 100" later it turned out.

I'm doing better; my psyche has healed a little and I'm having fewer anxiety attacks as well as less depression. The drugs are probably mostly to thank, it's just too bad they took a full 6-8 weeks to have any effect. My cobwebs are clearing out little by little too; I've been able to drive a couple of places, follow short recipes for basic things, and read a little bit of light reading.  I'm still very depressed and anxious, but more of a 3-4 on a 1-10 scale, whereas before I was a 7, which just isn't livable.

I'm still having trouble with sleep even with the medicines. Some nights I can't fall asleep, others I can't stay asleep. Last night I was fine until 5 am when I woke up fully; before 6 I gave up on staying in bed, I wasn't dozing at all, but I lazed around just checking up on Facebook and reading the newspaper until about 8:00. Then I got in gear, made an angel food cake, went shopping, put away the groceries, and baked a peach pound cake (using fresh peaches from our From the Farmer delivery last week, I can't believe I hadn't eaten all the peaches already).

My shoulder is causing a lot of pain still, especially after the knitting, shifting around some heavy boxes yesterday in a small de-clutter effort, and driving today. All the same, once I'd blocked the first scarf, I cast on another, this one in a very different color way but an equally basic stitch pattern. I'm trying to really back down on the compulsive knitting; somehow, though, my brain just craves it.

This isn't poetic nor insightful. It's just me and my thoughts today, where I'm at. I've really lost this summer. I'd like to get some living back in my life.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I need my time and me

I need me. I'm working on it. Some of my head cobwebs have cleared out and I can now follow a simple recipe, so I've made chocolate fudge cake for the family for Sabbath dessert (well, for those who will eat chocolate, at least):

My new psychologist gave me homework for the week, to work on talking back to all the negative thoughts that fill my head all the time. Yes, it's pretty much all negative, all the time. We don't expect I'll be able to turn things positive, that's too much to ask, but I'm to work on neutralizing it at least. 

The thing is, I feel so inadequate, so much a failure, in many ways. My kids are spending the summer as couch potatoes because I can't send them to camp, can't take them out, can't even manage to take them to the pool on days I try to do any other thing(s) as simple as making a cake. I can't take them to friends'. I can't take them fruit picking. I can't take them to the farmers' market. I can't take them hiking. I can't do any of the summer things I feel I should be able to do with them to enrich their time. I feel they're losing out because of me.
The younger one is under there, just mindlessly playing on

The psychologist has emphasized how much my life is the way it is because it has had to be that way. With children with medical issues, with six children, with serious depression of my own, there is no way I was going to be a hot-shot high powered professional at this point; just being the mother who has kept all six of her children alive and surviving and mostly thriving has been more than a full-time all-encompassing job. I am struggling with letting go of the image I always had though of what I was "supposed" to look like at this point in life.

The older one isn't exactly challenging himself reading
Garfield comics. His mother should be providing more for
him, but she can't.

Meanwhile, I really can't find my own mind. I can't cope with even the smallest noises. The motion of other people likewise gets too much for me but not as badly as sound. I can't think. I couldn't find my baking pans this morning; if you know how many hours I've invested in baking over the last 25 years or so you know how absurd and disturbing that is. I'm not myself and I hate it. I want myself back. I deserve myself back. I may not claim to deserve much, I'm trying not to be an entitled brat when I'm already having to spend so much of my time sitting on my butt staring into space because my head can't handle accomplishing anything more, but I deserve my own thoughts and feelings. It's a horrible feeling to have lost them and to still not have them back.

This isn't uplifting, and it's not even positive; it's not exactly negative about myself though. I didn't cause myself to be empty. I don't want to be leaving my kids bored and uninspired. I want to be the mother they deserve, and I'm doing my best. I know I'm improving cognitively. I hope it starts to go faster. School will start in a few weeks and they'll be intellectually challenged and spending time with peers even if I haven't healed enough to accomplish anything. The kids will get by, they'll survive. It's the best I can do and I'm doing it.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

From the Depths

I haven't been here. I realize that. I haven't blogged since last December, and I'm not going to be very eloquent now.

Most of my friends who are on Facebook know most of what's been going on. I figure I'll try to give a really brief open explanation here though. I hope in some way returning to blogging, another form of creative process, might help with some aspect of the healing.

When your heroine was last seen, she was suffering from severe shoulder pain following a couple of surgeries (to remove a benign but large tumor and to repair some of the shoulder damage from that first surgery); and even more life-altering, suffering a recurrence of severe depression.

The shoulder pain put an end to all efforts to craft. I'd tried knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning, embroidery in multiple forms, cross stitch, needlepoint, wire wrapping, beading, chain maille, and other craft forms, but every one of them was hampered by the shoulder. I was taking steroids, receiving injections, taking strong pain killers. I needed to create and I just couldn't.

The depression may have been increased by the lack of ability to create, but really it's just me. I've suffered from depression since childhood. It's horrible when it comes on strong and won't leave. This time it's been completely treatment resistant. We tried almost every drug in the psychiatrist arsenal. Then we pulled out the big guns: electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Normal ECT courses are 3-6 treatments. I had 20 over 6 weeks. I came to crave the anesthesia as an opportunity to briefly not have to feel the depression, but aside from that there was no effect. With the neurologic damage from the convulsions and the anesthesia increasing seemingly exponentially, we had to stop. I'm back on a regimen of juggling 5 different psychiatric drugs.

For the whole period I was receiving ECT and for a few weeks after, I simply couldn't do anything. I sat and stared into space. I held comic strip books and flipped pages, not taking anything in. I dozed in bed. I cried. When I recovered from the 6 weeks of anesthesia and the most immediate effects of the convulsions, I found myself in the state I'm in now: completely unable to think, missing large sections of my memory especially of the last year but also of short term things occurring now, and severely depressed so that several times a day I just cry. I am without self, without ability, without real being it feels.

Still, I'm making progress. I still feel like I have no hope and no future and no presence, yet I have received so much help from so many people, and so much support, and I recognize that. In the last 24 hours, I've had a new-to-my-treatment medical professional tell me to step back, that rather than expect and demand more of myself I need to give myself permission to appreciate how very much I am accomplishing given my current medical state. I've had a wonderful, wonderful online friend tell me the same thing. I'm getting out of bed in the morning. I'm taking my medicine, drinking my coffee, reading the newspaper, most nights making dinner for the family now (so long as it's simple and I don't really have to think too much). 

Most importantly, I've forced and pushed myself to make the one real stretch in my life getting the youngest kids to the swimming pool for the summer. I got them to dive practice every single morning once I was a week or so out of ECT treatment. The pool is the one and only place I know how to drive to right now; I can't remember how to get anywhere else even in the neighborhood much less farther out.
Paper plate awards at the end of the dive team season

But the kids did dive. I got them to practice, Jeffrey got them to the meets on Sundays.  Now that dive season is over I've been bringing them to the pool almost every weekday afternoon for an hour or two. My limitations have left me short tempered so it's hard to deal with their fighting and whining, but it's so important to me that they get to get outdoors, move around, have some normalcy to their lives when they're living with a mother in this state. 

So that's me. I'm crying, I'm mourning who I used to be and what I used to do and how I expected to live. I'm clinging to life. I'm hanging on. How are you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Magic Sock, a Return to Knitting

There it is. In all its lack of glory. Plain vanilla in every way--simple 2x2 ribbing (properly offset to be even), stockinette leg and foot, Dutch heel. 

But it's the first thing I've completed in knitting in a year.

The glory which is Percocet and steroid injections combined has knocked my shoulder pain down enough that I could do this. My brain is so fuzzy from the Percocet that the sock had to be completely basic and patternless, and even so I Kitchenered backwards (and for those who don't know, I pride myself on being able to Kitchener stitch anything without thinking about it--lace, garter stitch, never mind 16 stitches worth of stockinette in a sock toe, but I blew it). There's still a second sock to knit.

But this one is finished and my shoulder isn't screaming (figuratively) too badly.

Sock along its stages…just for fun.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Full spectrum

I had learned to weave this design, Maillestrom, a few weeks ago but I didn't have any red rings at the time. I haven't really been working any chain maille for the last several weeks, it's just too hard on my shoulder.

Today I've been crying for no good reason except depression, and the embroidery kits I hoped to get in the mail didn't come yet, so I figured I'd give myself something to cry about. First I spent an hour using my very limited executive functioning skills to mostly prepare some goods to show a shop manager who may start carrying my jewelry. I still need to write descriptive hang tags for each and every item, but at least the ones to bring are selected and organized. That took a good hour and was exhausting for me, but I did get it done.

Then I went ahead and worked this up, a full-spectrum Maillestrom all the way to red, and created a necklace for it out of the last bit of chain I had stuffed away. My shoulder definitely gives me a reason to cry now, if my exhaustion and frustration from the organizing before didn't already. But it's done. I have never had so many rings break or go flying for such a small project before, ever. It was a mess. It's a good thing the finished product is worth it. I put plain anodized aluminum rings between the colored ones, but I think I like all colored outer rings better, so the next time I work one up it will be with all uncolored or all colored rings.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Learning Hardanger skills and pulling thread

I decided to put my hand to learning Hardanger, an embroidery style I've never learned before. I'm using Roz Watnemo's study series leading up to full Hardanger, a set of four bookmark projects teaching all the various stitches involved before getting to the fourth piece which involves most of the learned stitches plus the traditional cutting of warp and weft fabric threads; they're distributed through the Nordic Needle shop storefront and webstore. So this is Bookmark #1.

First came learning kloster blocks. I had my head pretty well wrapped around this concept already, so it worked out pretty well.

 The center is now done with kloster blocks and box stitch in this photo. Box stitch made me a lot crazier than did kloster blocks somehow. I had to be sure while working out that I got the stitch count exactly right at all times or working back on the diagonals it just wasn't going to match up. Much holding of breath ensued.
Next I did the edge patterns, still done entirely in kloster blocks and box stitch, but somehow with less to anchor the counting or at least it felt that way.

 Finally after that the eyelet stitching was added. In real Hardanger, only a few of the blocks would probably have eyelet patterns; the rest would be cut. But this used four different eyelet stitches to pull center stitches out, making it pulled thread work. And here is the finished bookmark!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Aleph-bet sampler

Not exactly a traditional sampler, but this aleph-bet presentation is embroidered in a different color and different stitch pattern for each of the twenty letters. Yes, it took a little mental stretching to come up with twenty two different easy to produce, small scale filling stitches, and no, not all of them came out great. Still, the piece is done, my shoulder is in a disaster state now so I can't imagine what I'll do with my time next. I can't even hold a book.
Incidentally I started it last Thursday. Oh, and the strange lines you can see underneath aren't lines on the fabric, they're just markings on the blocking board I used.