In list form, because darling Jackalope was up from roughly 12:30 to 4:30 last night and slept thereafter only while nursing. No apparent reason, and she bit my right nipple so hard at about one that it hurt the whole time. Even when I tried to ignore her and she came and sat on my rib cage. Woke up fresh as a daisy, altogether too early.
Item: It appears I do not have thyroid maladies nor anything else weird in the blood test arena. On the one hand, boo for the loss of a sensible, treatable explanation for the sudden rise in crazy. On the other hand, yay for not having a serious physical health problem. Dr. Wonderful says she will send me to a cardiologist if I really want, but that she really, really thinks I am healthy.
Item: It has meanwhile occurred to me that there are two things on top of my chest that could be implicated in the acute (but not agonizing) pains I am getting, namely my ribs and my boobs. Is it possible some of the physical stuff is rib cartilage gone awry? My posture and so on is awful, and I spent a lot of the summer carrying a heavy baby and huge amounts of beach stuff in less than ergonomic ways. Or could this be milk duct shenanigans? As a side effect of My Summer Adventures With New Phobias, I discovered that my nipples no longer spasm at this level of nursing (yay) and therefore stopped taking the nifedipine. But possibly there is still some spasm action at the duct level. But this doesn’t really feel like that, so I don’t know. I might go get a massage; I have a gift certificate and I don’t have to teach on Tuesday, thanks to the large Jewish population of this city. Edited to add: I mean thanks about Tuesday. To be clear, the gift certificate is from Sugar, though I am not opposed to gifts from entire peoples. Interested parties should inquire via email for terms.
Item: Welcome back, ability to safely eat grapefruit. I missed you.
Item: I have met with Friend’s Therapist twice. She is nice, even if she does have a slightly annoying poster about how great breastfeeding is. The kind with 80’s drawings of glowing women. Very Park Slope. I want to take red pen to the parts that are overstating what the research shows, which is to say all of it, or at least say that isn’t the least upsetting thing to hand next to a therapy couch, but those minutes are expensive.
Item: She is not ridiculous or annoying, and she has had one or two insightful things to suggest in terms of what kinds of things bother me.
Item: I think I have to break up with her anyway.
When we first exchanged emails, I said I was looking for someone who does CBT. She lists that on her website, but she cautioned me that she doesn’t primarily do that. At the time, I was so desperate and relieved that someone had written me back that I said I didn’t care, but it turns out I care. Her method of approaching this problem seems to be 1) techniques for feeling better right at the moment, and 2) talking a lot about the past. The trouble with 2) is that I already have a degree in writing, which I increasingly think covers a lot of the same ground as this kind of therapy, and that the roots of my current problems don’t seem terribly complex from a literary perspective. My mother died unexpectedly, suddenly, and alone, leaving me feeling very, very not okay; I subsequently develop a panic problem based around the belief that I am suddenly and unexpectedly dying (poison, heart attack) that is made worse by feeling terrified about leaving my children. A disgusting amount of education went into making such a simple mind.
(And then there’s all the stuff about being raised with a sick mom, the responsibility/fear/resentment thing people always seem to think I won’t have realized. I get very, very touchy about that. Probably because: resentment/protectiveness, but also because yes, I realize that. This isn’t the first time I am hearing this story.)
The trouble with 1) is harder to explain. I have noticed that I am more likely to get panicky or have a true attack if I am underslept, hungry, or if I have alcohol, even in small amounts. Likewise, places and things associated with a previous incident may raise my anxiety level and make another more likely. Last Saturday night, for instance, we were visiting friends in Boston, where, in March, I thought I was dying from an overdose of my albuterol inhaler. (Spoiler: I wasn’t. An extra puff isn’t enough to do that. Moreover, I had not actually taken an extra puff.) Jackalope had a very rough night, and I was up for most of it. The next evening, very tired, I made myself a weak Salty Dog and proceeded to come apart at the seams.
The following Tuesday, I sat down to talk goals with Nice Therapist. I would like, I said, to be able to have a drink with close friends in a very safe environment without wigging out. That’s a goal. It’s a good goal, she said, but some people do need to make permanent lifestyle changes to avoid panic attacks.
Look, I’m not opposed to the idea that clean living is generally a healthy idea. Drinking less alcohol and caffeine, getting exercise, all that jazz. But I’ve been doing that on my own. I drink very little now. I have about half a cup of coffee in the mornings. And I think it’s making things worse. This kind of anxiety appeasement just seems to make I more real, more scary. Meanwhile, I see the sphere in which I live getting smaller and smaller, as every step outside the lines I am drawing around myself seems fraught with danger. I’m terrified to do anything, lest my heart beat.
Meanwhile, I watched this very convincing Scottish psychologist on YouTube make a case for a different approach. He sends his patients out with orders to have a panic attack as soon as possible and then, rather than breathing into paper bags, telling themselves that the attack is uncomfortable but not dangerous. I find this whole idea scary but intriguing, and I’ve been giving it a bit of a go. It sort of works, and it’s much more appealing than teetotaling.
Item: So I suppose I will give that CBT shop another chance to find me someone at price level Mildy Outrageous.
Item: I am not looking forward to writing this break up email. She’s very kind, and sitting around talking about my life history isn’t unpleasant. I’m just not sure it’s what I most need right now.
Item: What I suspect I could very most use is a whole lot more sleep. I wonder if about 80% of what’s wrong with me isn’t 4.5 years of broken sleep wreaking havoc on my cognitive abilities. Certainly it is true that being especially tired seems to undo some kind of executive function in charge of keeping a lid on things; I wonder if something on a grander scale no longer works properly.
Item: But short of sending the children to boarding school, I don’t know how to make things better. Sugar thinks I should wean Jackalope. I’m certainly more than ready to night wean her, if only I could figure out how to do so in a in apartment with the Bean, who has just now started mosly sleeping pretty well. Even the middling step of giving her a bottle won’t work, as she can’t for the life of her figure out how to use one, a different post for a different day.
Item: on that note, to bed. In other news, The Bean started pre-kindergarten at our local public school, a subject about which we all have Feelings. Be sure to tune in next time, when we analyze the roots of my crabbiness about school uniforms.