Thursday, August 4, 2016

Fits and Starts

I got bored of life-blogging my mental health crisis so I had to step away for a while. I think I'm starting to feel a little better. Not great, not happy, but not depressed anymore. Still anxious, which validates the psychiatrist's statement that low doses of SSRI are great for depression but don't touch the anxiety very well. The tr@zadone does help me sleep a little better, without too much of a hang-over effect. I feel groggy, yes, but you know what else makes me feel groggy? Yup, not sleeping.

My MIL is here, its day 10/22. Its going OK. Some routine annoyances, generally related to her over-indulging the kids with treats and screen time. But I think we've hit some kind of breakthrough in our relationship, which is freaking me out a bit and will take a while to process.

See, I've hated her for years. Sincerely hated her. And for good reason---she's done some awful shit in the past. I've completely demonized her to the point where even thinking about her was causing me major anxiety, not to mention gearing up for her visits and enduring them. It was always an antagonistic relationship, and while I was civil, I was never warm and I never tried to have an actual relationship with her.

Right before she came this time, G told me she'd been having some issues with panic attacks, mostly due to financial worries (no details, but we are going to need to help her out). She is considering selling the house, is looking aggressively for jobs (she's been out of work for a couple of years, but has been steadily job-hunting, its just hard for a 60+-year old to find a job), and is also the primary care-giver for her mother, who has moderate dementia.  The day she came, I was sitting with her in the living room and she opened up to me about all this.

Maybe it was because I feeling so fragile myself (this was still during the SSRI-initiation horror phase) but I really felt for her. I've always "felt bad" for her---I felt pity on this poor, pathetic, hateful old lady who seemed like she would never be happy. This time, though, I actually felt empathy and compassion. I used to think "well, she should have planned better, she should've saved more when she was working, its her own fault she is terrible with money and now WE have to deal with it?" But I'm realizing that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that she "should've" done this and "could've" done that. She did what she did and she did what she could; it wasn't like she had a high-paying professional career, she got whatever admin type jobs she could with her high school degree, and she saved what she could and then spent down the savings when she couldn't find work because the bills keep coming.

I don't even know who I am anymore! She annoys me on a daily basis, don't get me wrong; we are very different and she's got some f-ed up ways of thinking about things and the superstition and religion drives me batty. But...I don't hate her. I've been helping her cook, and going on outings with her on the weekend with the kids and talking to her. I'm not like "opening up" to her or anything, I am VERY private, even with my family (which is one reason I have this space, because if I don't get it out I will burst!) But we talk a bit about the kids, and about cooking and gardening and Hillary Clinton (she's a fan).

I'm sure there is still a lot of conflict in our future, I don't see that every going away, but its sort of weirdly nice to not have to expend my energy on hating her. I hope it lasts.


  1. Sunk cost. (The money, the previous relationship stuff, etc.)

    Life is a lot easier when there's less hate, even when the hate is deserved. I loved the way at the convention that HRC had a Bernie narrative that healed rather than divided, even if some divisiveness would have been justified. Sometimes if you tell the positive narrative enough, everyone starts to believe it until it becomes the truth.

    (But don't let her move in with you guys permanently.)

    Good luck!

    1. Yes, I think it actually saves ME a lot of stress/negative energy to not be anxious about her very existence all the time. I just don't have the time/energy for that shit in my life anymore, I realized.

  2. My notifications are f-ed up, so I just saw this. I am so glad that you're finding some common ground with your MIL! I feel like the older I get, the less I want to spend my energy being angry at people. It's not like things become more okay or I feel them differently, I just choose to move on. Some people tell me I need to stand up for myself more, but I think I'm choosing not to fill myself up with negative feelings. Who has the energy for that?

    1. Yes! especially when you are talking about something in the past or a situation that isn't going to change---you can spend your time getting angry about it or just move on/change perspective. I was really hell-bent on being angry and unforgiving out of principle, but it was literally making me sick and I just needed to get over it and move on.

  3. I don't have much intelligent to say, except I totally know what you mean by getting fed up with yourself for being inside your head all the time. And kudos for improving the relationship with MIL! Key to those things is always finding the other person's humanity, but that's very hard when they push your buttons and irritate the bejesus out of you; it looks like you were off your game just enough to give yourself the time to feel compassion before irritation... I have felt a bit of that with mom's visit. Seeing her as her, and not necessarily as someone who exists only in relation to me, if that makes sense.

    But I am so happy to hear you are feeling less depressed and the meds are working!

  4. Very impressed with the work you've done with your MIL. I know how much stress she adds to your life, and the fact that you have to take her in 3-week doses makes it that much more challenging. Well done. You are a bigger person than I. ;)