Running on Fumes

When I started this blog, it felt like I had nothing to lose by speaking my truth. I felt like it might even save me. And it did contribute to my avoiding another depressive episode. I told a lot of secrets, was very open, and tried to use positivity to balance the raw honesty.

But things have changed. I said what I wanted to say; I allowed for the blog to move in a new direction; I was ready to continue my focused effort to keep my mental health in check. And then type 1 diabetes came along. And everything changed.

It will have been 11 weeks ago tomorrow that we got Ada’s diagnosis. At first, honestly, I was kicking ass and taking names. I was focused, in control, and capable. But I’ve run out of gas. I’ve been working on fumes, and I feel like I’m about to breakdown. I feel like we’re all about to breakdown. My wonderful little family. We’re all hurting. We’re stressed. We’re isolated. And we don’t want to ask for help because we feel like we ought to be able to do it on our own.

I can’t help but ask God, “Why?” I don’t understand why God would give a child that needs special care to a mother who can hardly keep her own shit together. Why would God put depression and diabetes together? My daughter deserves better. She deserves someone who can do it all, so why did God give her me?

I am having a harder time putting my usual positive spin on things. I find myself crying more and more often–grieving more rather than less. And I don’t know what to do to change it. I have lost so much emotional balance in order to maintain my daughter’s blood sugar balance.

I feel like I have to be stronger than I feel, and that I must put on a strong face despite how I feel. Even here. I’m drowning, but I feel like it’s my own fault for not being stronger. Somewhere, at some point I made a mistake and it caused this Sisyphean struggle. Or it’s just chance without purpose or meaning. Either one seems depressing.

So, it seems like I’m worse, but I feel like it’s just that being the same is getting harder. I am mentally under pressure, emotionally unbalanced, physically negligent, spiritually struggling. But I am getting every insulin shot and blood glucose test done, and I am counting every carbohydrate. And they’re all recorded in nice spreadsheets. I am doing that without fail.

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4 thoughts on “Running on Fumes

  1. You have a rough road–it’s gotten even rougher these past weeks, but there is always hope. You know that Jesus stands in the gap between you and your pit (just as He does for me). You also know that we (everyone, even you and me) were created to live in community (any doubts, go back and read what you just wrote about feeling isolated and having to do all this on your own). It’s not just because you’re depressive and Ada has diabetes; it’s just because we’re all human, and God made us this way. Nobody has all their shit together, and nobody has all the answers–those who seem so aren’t being honest or transparent. You hereby have permission to ask for help. You can cry all you need to. You can be honest with us and let folks love you well. And, BTW, I’m writing this for you and for me (and anyone else who is struggling, hurting, and can’t do it all)–we need others. We need others almost as much as we need God in our lives. It’s a crucial combination. Reach out to your church family, to all those folks who said they’d love to help, and let them love you well. Love you!

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  2. You are going through the grieving process! Believe me, it is a completely normal progression of a problem that you now see as not going away. It’s ok to grieve; you need to grieve. It’s all right to question God for allowing this in your life! It’s all right to get angry and shout at God! He’s big enough to take it. You may never get an answer in this life. We hardly ever get a glimpse of God’s plan. We just have to trust that there is one. I remember throwing my Bible across the room and bouncing it off the wall as I shouted at God for abandoning me during Donnie’s long decline. I half expected Him to strike me dead, but he did not. I just picked it up and started reading it trying to find some comfort from it. I found comfort and identification with the bitter Psalms, etc. I could identify with the laments of those who were drowning and could not find God in their circumstances. I felt reassured that others had walked the path before me and came through the difficulties. That you are meeting Ada’s needs is a sign of your love and strength. You are giving her something that no one else can give her. Your all! That’s what she needs, and you are meeting that. Love you. Pat

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  3. I think it is very normal to go thru a grieving process with Ada’s diagnosis. There has been a loss so why wouldn’t you grieve? And just like when you lose someone you love, you have to go thru it and find that new normal on the other side. Please don’t be so hard on yourself. This is a sucky hand you’ve been dealt. You will come thru it and eventually know the purpose of your suffering. I love you, sweetie and pray for you often!

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  4. I thought a lot about your post last night, and a lot a lot while I was falling asleep. And I almost didn’t come to add this today because I didn’t want to be someone who comes in and writes a big long essay when this is your blog and it’s about your experiences. So that being said, please feel free to hide or remove this as you like (it won’t hurt my feelings) but I wanted to let you know what I was thinking about in response to what you shared.

    Nathan has been expressing a lot of similar feelings of being unequal to tasks he thinks are important lately, so it’s come up quite a bit. And here are some of the reasons that I personally feel like people who have experience with chronic depression have some skills that are incredibly important when helping anyone else with their own chronic situation.

    1 – You can express that it’s awesome to be yourself and not do things like everybody else. Every day will not be a day where you wear new clothes you haven’t worn for three weeks. Every day will not be a day that all the dishes in the sink are done. Every day will not be one where the to-do list is completed in a tidy fashion with a flourish on the end. Because some days, the priorities that someone else might set are not the ones that you need. Some days it’s as much as you can do to get up, make sure you’re eating on a good schedule and choosing the foods that are going to support your body and not hurt it, and get in a comfy position and go from there. And if that’s what gets done on the list, that’s okay. There will be days where one task dominates all the others. And getting through that one task that may seem simple to someone else takes everything that you’ve got to complete. And that’s okay, too. And sometimes, you have to give yourself what you need today (like a super cute haircut 😉 ) even when that may not be something another person would set as a priority, so that you are able to have a better day tomorrow.

    2 – Sometimes, you have to make decisions that are best for you and the people in your household and are not what everybody else chooses. This is similar to #1, but there’s some important nuance to it that builds, I think. Nathan’s accident that gave him his permanent spinal injury was when he was 19 and I was 17. Because of his physical challenges among other decisions, we chose not to have kids. I have other friends who have chronic illness that want nothing more than to have children. The same decision isn’t right for both households. Both sides get plenty of criticism for either decision. You have to make a choice for you. The job you choose may not be the one that other people think is ‘best’ for you. You may choose one that has benefits over one that is more fun and doesn’t. Or you may choose a few smaller part time projects that make ends meet because it’s the best way to be able to handle #1. Some of these things will be hard and wear on you and make you wonder if you’ve made the right decision, but understanding how to make a decision that’s best for you and not best for everyone else is really important.

    3 – You can show her that nobody is a diagnosis. In my experience (which is not as limited as I’d like it to be for the people around me) that is an understanding that can only be shared by someone who has faced daily chronic pain and challenges and moved through them. You can read about it, you can hear it from little videos on YouTube or from doctors and nurses. You can intellectually understand what that looks like. But until you’ve had to explain to someone in your life over and over and over again why you are doing what you’re doing, explained to new people that enter your life over and over and over again what you are dealing with; you really can’t internalize how easy it is to become the illness you have to watch for every moment of every day. That you are constantly talking about with nearly everyone you meet when they want to become part of your life. How just like depression, it sneaks in and takes over aspects of your life that you never imagined. But, it’s possible to keep it from taking over everything around you and all aspects of your life.

    4 – You can show her that you both have a family that loves you no matter what. I think this one may be the most important. You and your husband have already shown her that when you don’t have the best day, that’s okay. When you don’t have the best week, that’s okay. When it’s been a really hard month with more bad days than good, that’s okay. You love each other, you support each other, and that is in no way diminished by the challenges in your life. And she will know that if she has a bad day, it’s okay. And if she needs help, she has a Mommy and a Daddy and a Nana and Aunties that will help her and be there even when she’s not at her best. And will love and support her even when she’s working through #1 and #2 and #3. And having seen people who have been afraid that if they rely too much on any one person, that person will leave them or become tired of their challenges, I can only imagine how valuable that will be in every aspect of her life.

    5 – You can show her that even when somebody looks like everything is great on the outside, there may be so much more going on inside. Or at home. Or in the other room. And that not everyone who has challenges looks like we expect them to. Or are told they should look. Or is even going to tell us about. And that sometimes, the best thing you can give to someone is your kindness and compassion. Because they may not get that from anyone else. Even if it’s the only thing you can give today.

    These are not things you can learn from someone who hasn’t fought a dragon every single day for years. It’s just not possible. It’s not something that is easily empathized with. It’s not easy to understand. And it’s wisdom that can only be gained through experience.

    So, in regards to your question about why you would be given such a beautiful little girl with such big dragons when you have dragons that you have to fight yourself every day, I would say this. You can’t learn to fight dragons from someone who’s only ever avoided them. If you have to learn how to live with dragons, you can only learn to master them from someone who does it all the time every day. And that’s why such a beautiful lady has such a beautiful little girl to teach about dragon taming.

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