I’m tired of writing about it and you’re probably tired of reading about it…

But I promised I’d be honest.

These are some of the things I’ve been thinking in the last few weeks.

It will get better when school is out.

It will get better when baseball is over.

It will get better when I’ve caught up on sleep.

It’s not better.

Yes, I haven’t been questioning the value of my existence, and that’s a huge step. Not one to take lightly and I truly am grateful for that.

But things still feel forced and are life draining.

I’ll have one day where I get up, get dressed, have a plan and fulfill it, checking items off my list like the productive, organized individual I used to be.

But then the next day I am completely spent. I sit in my chair and read. I don’t bother to make a list. I take a two hour nap. I dread appointments because then I’ll have to socialize. I order pizza for dinner and play mindless games on my iPad.

The other night I was so tired of broken sleep with disturbing dreams I took some Restoril and slept really well. The next day, even though I was clouded until 10, I actually had energy and weeded and planted and sprayed and watered.

The next day that energy vanished.

This past Wednesday was the worst, and it prompted me to try and schedule an earlier appointment with my doc.

The separation of children from their families was something I knew would tear me apart, but then there was an article in the Detroit Free Press that told of two centers that were receiving kids and were extremely low on supplies and caregivers for these children–some still in diapers.

I researched and donated and flooded my Twitter and Facebook feeds with articles and statistics, but it didn’t alleviate the anger and helplessness I felt. And that led to feelings of hopelessness.

By that evening, we were driving to my son’s last baseball game and I had an overwhelming desire to replace the emotional pain with physical pain. I wanted to cut myself. Feel the blade. See the blood. Focus on something outside to avoid my inside. The urge, fortunately, passed.

So here I am. Weeks into a drug regimen that should have reached its peak efficacy by now, and I fear I’m going to have to start all over again. I compare it to drug roulette. Maybe this one works, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe the side effects will be tolerable, maybe they’ll be horrific.

And my greatest fear is that when all the drugs have been tried and nothing helps, what next?

I’m willing to try, but I guess this is one of the reasons depression is so hard for others to tolerate. Because it doesn’t just go away magically. There is no perfect cure that works for everyone. Something may work and then not work.

Depression is an incurable, chronic illness. Remission can be achieved, but there’s no guarantee how long it might last.

And when it does come back, it might be mild or severe. It might vary day to day. It might expose itself as rage, fatigue, restlessness, overeating, undereating, sleeping a lot, insomnia.

I get it–having a friend or family member with depression is exhausting and frustrating.

We’re exhausted and frustrated too.

Just please try and be patient. It’s a lot to ask, but we want to be normal as much as you want us to.

I want to be me again.

I’m at 85% and I don’t know if that’s good enough

The meds are working. That I know.

Are they working well enough?

That I don’t.

I go in every month now and see my psychiatrist for updates. This last month he asked how I was doing and I said I felt at about 85% of what I was. He replied that by this time, maximum relief should be present.

So what now?

Ha asked about work and of course I mentioned that it stressed me out. But doesn’t everyone’s to some degree?

He said he was looking back at his notes and noticed that work was a constant stressor that never seemed to abate during the school year and he asked why that might be.

And yes, there are stressors related to last minute changes, parents, being rushed, administrators and all that, but that’s not the main issue for me.

It’s the kids.

I’ve posted about this before, but every year the kids come in with more needs than ever. They come in with tougher backgrounds, secrets few people know, and hardships beyond most people’s imaginations.

And I encourage these kids to write about it. Talk about it. Release it just a bit from their conscience and allow them to work through it safely and somewhat objectively.

So I know they have been sexually assaulted. I know their parent has committed suicide. I know their sibling has died of an overdose. I know they were hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. I know their dad beats their mom. I know they have been traumatized by gun violence. I know they suffer crippling anxiety. I know they are homeless or living with grandma because mom or dad are in prison or abandoned them or died.

And I think about how I can help them. I wonder what I can do, I feel guilty that this is their reality, I feel angry that they have had their innocence brutally stripped from them.

And my mind turns.

On my drive home. While I’m grading papers. In the middle of the night. In the morning.

All day.

Every day.

I can’t shut it off.

After explaining this, he said that being in a constant state of high stress is horrible for my mental health and asked if I had considered trying anything to help buffer that pain.

Other than an early retirement? Which I can’t afford? No.

He said, I’m not going to say straight out that your job is making you ill, but…

Say no more. I know. I really do know. It’s not an accident that these episodes come at the same time every year. It’s not a coincidence that the summer and other breaks provide a temporary lift.

So what the fuck do I do?

He suggested therapy— figure out why I take these stories to heart and possibly learn strategies to buffer myself from them.

But I think I’m just wired this way.

And in my head, I don’t get how people aren’t wired this way.

I wish I knew their secret.

My school year is over. I haven’t run since a girls’ weekend in May. I had to quell an oncoming panic attack last night. Yesterday I looked around my house that resembles a city dump and felt like a failure as a mom, wife and teacher.

Is 85% enough?

I don’t know.

I forgot how much this hurts

This is a tough post to write. First I didn’t have the energy for it. But then I was afraid to write it. To try and put into words what it feels like when your brain’s been hijacked by itself. To adequately explain what it’s like in the depths of darkness.

So here goes.

I have been over the max dose of my medication, so it was time to try a different one. The idea was to wean off the first while building the second.

And everything went to hell.

I felt like my brain was mis-firing on every level. I had symptoms of withdrawal from the first drug, and side effects from the new one.

The fatigue was overwhelming, and my body felt like I had the flu. Headaches raged for days at a time. I felt nauseous, dizzy and dumb. My concentration was shot and I had no appetite.

And those were just the physical symptoms.

My brain is kind of s shit show right now. I can feel ok and think about a goal, and the next feel so exhausted I have to sleep for the next 12 hours. I cry about being a burden to my family and my inability to be there for them, and I get numb with complete apathy for anyone or anything. I second guess everything until I have to mentally shut down and go into safe mode.

About ten days ago, on a Tuesday, I actually had a pretty good day. I sang to the radio on the way to work. I laughed sincerely. I asked students questions and really wanted to hear the answers. I joked around.

I felt like I was maybe turning the corner.

And then the next day, I had less energy. I tried to play it off, denying that I might not be as well as I had hoped. By Friday, I was about as low as when this all started.

And I felt hopeless. Defeated. Weak.

My poor colleague took one look at me, asked what was wrong and I burst into tears.

It sucked.

I haven’t run since spring break. I haven’t left the house unless necessary. I have buffers with me wherever I go— I bring Ginger, or keep score, or have one of the kids, or my parents. I have pre-planned places to escape if needed. There are some nights where I just can’t do anything but be quiet and stare at my iPad.

Otherwise it’s too exhausting.

I’m afraid of going backward, afraid this medication won’t work, afraid I’ll damage the kids, afraid I won’t be able to finish the school year, afraid I’m too much of a burden.

I’m afraid I’ll never feel well again.

But I haven’t lost hope.

I snuggle cats, hold Ginger close, pour my fears out to Bill, take my medicine and stay in constant contact with my doctor. I take a day off, let the grading slide, lie in my bed and push the snooze button. I go to track meets and baseball games and work and function as well as I can.

The fact that I can write this shows I’m a little better.

But I’m not sure these are the right words to communicate what’s going on. How depression makes your soul hurt. How it steals the belief in everything that’s good with your life and replaces it with numbness and pain. How it tells you you’re worthless and without value. How you question the point of your very existence and wonder why anyone bothers with you.

Just typing this— and it’s taken all day— I feel the fatigue closing in and the ache in my arms.

But I still believe it will get better. I have to. Because the alternative would drive me to madness. And I need to get better because I still believe that being a mom in my current state is better than not being a mom at all.

I don’t even know how to end this, except “to be continued” because it’s not over. It will never be completely over, that’s not how depression works, but it needs to go into remission. Slowly, I hope to pack it away— a little tighter, a little more carefully— so it can’t escape again.

Pot, paintings and palm rats, oh my!

No exposition, I’m getting right to it.

We rented a house in Naples, FL. Did our research, checked reviews, beautiful house.

We pull up after 9, totally dark and there’s a pimped out Jeep, monster tires, top down in the carport.

The owner left the house open, so we turn the knob and hear jazz playing throughout the house.

We walk in a little further and the TV in the screened in porch is on.

And the whole house smells like Hash Bash at Michigan every year. At least that’s what someone told me.

Where they also used to have the Naked Mile. Allegedly.

So I am completely freaked out and we start calling, “Hello?” but no one answers and I’m starting to think we just scared off a group of hellions in the middle of a Jazz-listening, pot-smoking, Disney TV-watching soirée.

I mean, that happens. Somewhere.

But no answers, and I walk through every room opening every closet door and bathroom door and looking and peering and running through all of my kick ass Black Widow moves but there’s nothing to stun with the taser discs attached to my bra (not really, but I would love those) so we unpack and watch the end of the NCAA Championship final (sad but expected) and go to sleep.

But not before noting some of the owner’s… ahem… art.

And what the fuck is up with that photo? Yeah, here’s a cute picture of mom and daughter and I think I’ll put it on the table under the painting of these women and their vaginas. And while I’m at it, I’ll set the clock to six. Permanently.

And then this one.

I call it Woman in Bush with Bush.

Now, I’m not a critic and everyone has their own taste and ideas of what might be appealing, but when your 13 year old daughter says, “The guy and the girl in the painting in my room are totally naked and you can see the guy’s penis,” well… nuff said.

Fast forward 36 hours where I get groceries, we go to the beach, out to dinner, I drink a little much, the kids swim and we fall into bed.

Next morning, hubby goes golfing with friends who are also in Florida. Kids are watching TV when I go get a banana.

And find this.

And this.

And text this.

And this was me, in the kitchen, behind the kids who were still watching TV.


If you’re unfamiliar with the palm rat, it is common in southern Florida, and looks like this.


If you’re a new reader, this is not my first encounter with rodents. Please see my earlier terror in the archives.

I start putting boxes on shelves and throwing things away quietly and quickly. “Hey kids, how about we get Dunkin Donuts on the way to the beach? We’ll eat lunch at the restaurant too.”

Yay…cool mom points.

So we go to the beach. For SIX HOURS while Bill and I try to figure out what to do because there is no fucking way I am going back into that house unless it’s to pack and get the hell out.

We eat at the restaurant and I have a drink. YES JUST ONE WHAT DO YOU TAKE ME FOR?

Oh, right.

And I furiously text and badger my dad and friends back home because I HAD to talk about it, but not to the kids because they would totally freak out unlike me who was holding her shit together, thank you very much.

Bill returned to the house after golf and started packing everything up, and by the time the kids and I got back, we had a place to stay. During the packing, I threw a ton of stuff in the trash and found this.


We drove away while explaining why to the kids, and then vacationed happily ever after.

Except for the whole red tide alert thing. Which apparently causes a rash. In some. With me it’s like a nuclear reactor erupted under my skin. And of course, I’m the only one of us who got it because that’s just the waythings are.

My brain is on fire, but I need to make it a rainbow

My brain is rattling rattling rattling and running running running. It’s zooming and pinging and bouncing and banging and thinking and asking and full of worry but I’m just so tired it




Papers to grade, plans to make dinner to cook, practice to drive, visits to schedule, things to buy, plans to set, people to text and pets to feed.

Nothing in focus, nothing in memory, nothing gets done, it’s halfway or midway or half paid and then it zooms away and in comes something new.

And I’m tired, so tired. Coffee to get me out the door, to stay awake on prep, to stay awake to drive home, but I need to grade and run and drive and cook and be nice and prepare and bathe and




But then it’s night and the meds didn’t work and I fell asleep but not totally asleep and the dreams came and I was in grandma’s house and I was sleeping in the dream and trying so hard to wake up and looking at the clock and watching TV and drinking a can of Coke— not the big can, but the small can— and the sugar and syrup tasted so good and I looked at the clock and it was late morning.

And in my dream I wondered why Grandma wasn’t up yet and what would happen if she died in her sleep while I was visiting and who would I call— Blair Funeral Home— and what clothes would I send— the outfit in the back of her closet— and what would I do— call EMS first, then my parents— and then, still in the dream, I realized

Grandma was already dead.

And this was her house and it was empty except for me and I got up and walked to the bedroom door and that’s when my alarm



And I woke and I brushed and I clothed and I drank and I fed and I walked out the garage door to face the day

A day of running and talking and explaining and helping and caring and encouraging and raging and commiserating and moving and I’m now



But I don’t want to disappoint


My greatest fear

And I’m hanging on to my appointment like a lifeline and hoping there’s a life preserver and the end and not a frayed end to find out what the hell is wrong THIS time and what did I do and what can be done and how long will it take to



So tonight I will run

I will take a shower that runs out the hot water

I will snuggle with my pup and cuddle my cats

I will play mindless iPad games

I will scroll through @dog_rates

I will breathe in

And out

And in deeper

And out longer

And I will begin anew

What’s helping

Thanks to all of you, and I’m sorry if it scared you. I think it’s scary too.

But it’s real, and like any issue, there are things that help alleviate the darkness. I wanted to make a list of what’s helping right now so I can look back and either add things or remember things that bring me joy today. So here they are in no particular order.

Seeing the sun rising as I drive to work

Daylight savings time

Awesome friends that keep inviting me places and treat me like a regular human being

Naps with Ginger

Snuggling with cats

Encircling my girl with my arms, telling her I love her, and she doesn’t resist

Sharing my chair with my boy while he shows me his Minecraft house

Sharing my kids’ triumphs

Running outside

Sleeping in

Because of the way the mental health care system works, I don’t have an appointment until the second week in April. And as any high functioning depressive will tell you, we don’t usually decide to make the call until we’ve already tried everything else. So I’m doing what most people struggling with depression do.

I’m going to work, driving to practice, fulfilling most obligations, making dinner once in a while, showering, washing my hair, going to my kids’ events, being polite and kind to my students, friends and neighbors, and sleeping… kind of. But I’m taking things day by day, or hour by hour, or breath by breath.

And right now, it’s ok.

Thank you to all who let me know in so many ways that you care. And if you didn’t say anything because it’s awkward or you didn’t know what to say, it’s ok. It’s taken me 13 years to be able to talk about it, and I still do a shitty job and don’t completely understand it.

Right now I’m just going to do things that make me smile and feel good. And if that includes destroying a box of Entenmann’s chocolate covered donuts, so be it.

Self-care, y’all.

I need help. Again.

Warning— this is not a funny post, or uplifting, or positive. When I first started this blog, I wanted to open a dialogue for anyone dealing with mental illness and provide some insight into regular person (me) who has dealt with this and will continue dealing with it for the rest of my life.

Sometimes depression goes into remission, but then it comes barreling back.

It’s back.

Over the last several weeks I’ve been denying, ignoring, rationalizing and negotiating these feelings and why they’ve returned, but as usual, that doesn’t work, so now I’m admitting that my brain has become reckless and ruthless and I need help to stave off its lies.

It’s really uncomfortable and upsetting when you have no idea what your brain is going to tell you every day. And it can switch at a moment’s notice.

There are days when it lies to me from the moment I wake up. It says that I’m useless. That nothing I do matters. That no one would miss me if I was gone. Yeah, they’d be sad, but they’d get over it and move on because life is for the living.

It asks questions like what is the point of existing? We live, we die, and more people come to take our place. It reminds me of the ee cummings’ poem, “anyone lived in a pretty how town” that expresses the monotony of everyday life and the lack of impact people have in the world. I’m not curing cancer or discovering new worlds or saving lives or really doing anything worthwhile.

Except raising my kids.

They are the ones who I know need me. The ones who I HAVE to be here for. The ones that make me need to fight my brain.

I KNOW with absolute certainty that no matter how broken I am, I’m better broken than non-existent.

But when I’m driving or up at night and it’s just me and my brain, we don’t always get along and it gets tough to tell it to shut the fuck up.

And it gets so confusing because I’ve always relied on my brain and trusted it. It’s my sense of humor, my intelligence, my drive, my skepticism, my ability to see things from multiple perspectives and I LOVE my brain.

Until it starts being an asshole.

A lot of people have asked me what depression feels like, and I can’t speak for everyone, but this is the best analogy I can make for how it feels right now.

Imagine that you have a gallon of milk without the cap, and from the time you get out of bed until the time you go back to bed, you have to carry that gallon without spilling a drop. At first, it’s not bad. You figure out how to drive to work and maybe congratulate yourself for your strength. Maybe you even mock people who say that this is a difficult task.

Then you get to work and start your day and your fingers start to get numb. So you switch hands. Then you notice a ridge of plastic that’s cutting into your fingers, so you reposition the milk to avoid it.

As the day goes on, all you can think about is the milk.

You can’t concentrate, or do your job, or experience joy because all you can think about is how painful the fucking milk has become and you know it’s just milk and you shouldn’t be such a baby, but no one else has to do this and you hate them just a little bit because don’t they see how much you’re struggling?

So now you’re obsessed with the milk and you hate the milk and you wish you could just dump the whole damn thing and just end it but you know you can’t for real, but you think about how light you would be without the milk, and how the pain would stop.

But you manage to make it through the day. But you’re exhausted and have a headache and your stomach hurts and you have no energy to do anything and you’re irritable and impatient and miserable to be around.

You finally get into bed.

And the milk goes on the side table.

And you think of all the mistakes you made, and all of the strategies you’ll try tomorrow and all of the guilt you feel because you could only focus on the milk and you finally fall into a restless sleep at 2am.

The alarm goes off at 5.

Time to carry the fucking milk.

So, I’ve started the process. Again.

I’ve come clean to Bill and emailed my doctor and requested an appointment.

I’ve researched if the meds I’m on lose their efficacy over time and what can cause a recurrence, and I’m doing what I can do be nice to myself and trying to ignore my brain that says I don’t deserve to be nice to myself.

And right now, in this moment, I’m ok.

But I’ll apologize now for saying no to plans, or making a quick getaway, or changing my mind at the last minute, or staying in my house and cuddling with kids and animals rather than talk to humans.

And I’ll say thanks for reading, and hopefully understanding.

Official diagnosis— crazy (mouse saga part 2)

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse.

I entered my classroom at 7am ready with elbow length rubber gloves, bleach-infused cleaner, and a roll of paper towels.

It was time to disinfect and re-claim my desk drawers. I felt like a Bad Ass Martha Stewart.

I removed the drawers, hoisted them onto a front desk, pulled the trash can close by and prepared to remove all rodent feces and urine.

After the first few paper towels, I heard it.

*scritch, scritch*


Behind my mini fridge, a brown blur disappeared.

Are you fucking kidding me? Not today, sir, NOT TODAY!

Then it ran behind an empty cardboard box.

Without thinking, I pushed the box against the wall to trap the bastard.

Its little head stuck out from behind the box, its beady eyes watching me.

I was on prep, alone, and shouted for help. And shouted again. And again.

No one came.

I grabbed a hold of my phone with one hand and called the office and my work wife.

“I need you! I have the mouse trapped!”

But when people came, and set up traps on both side of the box, I pulled the box away from the wall, and Dasher fell over sideways. Dead.

And then I cried.

My principal wrapped him in a plastic bag and there were only 8 minutes until my prep was over and classes would begin.

It was the only time I have been grateful for standardized testing because I could get the kids started and just zone out.

I was numb the rest of the day, grossed out, sad, disgusted, panicked, depressed.

I slept horribly that night, but returned the next morning to finish cleaning.

Halfway into it, my arms started burning and a rash appeared.

In exasperation, I trotted to the office to evoke sympathy for my NEW calamity, when our Health Occupations teacher, an RN, took one look and said, “That looks like a strep rash. I’d go get tested.”

I needed no further prodding. I grabbed my stuff, arranged for a sub and left.

Then my brain took its twisted journey into crazy-ville.

What if I have something from inhaling the spores from the shit and piss? Hantavirus– potentially fatal. Leptospirosis. Lasso Fever. Lymphocytic Chorio-Meningitis!!

Maybe I should go to the ER! Maybe I need to call Bill! Am I dying because of mouse shit?

I decided that the normal thing to do was go to urgent care first and then they would probably admit me or send me to the ER to treat me. Wow–thank goodness I was informed about this ahead of time! I could save the doctors all kinds of time by explaining my exposure and symptoms and history and could avoid death!

But this is how the convo went.

Doctor (kind of? I still think he might have been an imposter): Well, you’re not 9 years old, so I don’t think it’s a strep rash and if you’re worried about mouse droppings then you might as well never eat at a restaurant or drink a canned soda or eat canned food because they’ve all been contaminated by mouse droppings, and the only thing you can catch from rodents is the plague, and we wiped that out hundreds of years ago.

Me: (internally shouting) What about hantavirus, huh? What about leptospirosis? (actually verbalized): You’re not helping me by saying that.

“Doctor”: Well, we’ll swab you just to put your mind at ease, but I really think you’re fine.

I got swabbed, but the “test”was complete in less than a minute.

“Doctor”: All normal! Go home and rest.

Me: (embarrassed and ashamed): ok…

I went home exhausted and developed a migraine that put me out for another day.

The only bright spot was that Bill came home with a bag full of presents.

Mouse traps.

I can’t make this shit up

About six weeks ago, the week before Christmas vacation, a potential new student showed his face in my classroom. He was small and shy, but had a clever air about him. He didn’t tell me his name, so in the spirit of the holiday, I christened him Dasher.

Now, mice don’t really bother me, but I’m also a realist that understand that this is how epidemics of the plague start, so I reported him to the proper authorities, “Hey, Megan, I have one in my room,” made a meme, added some jokes and I never saw him again.

Fast forward to last Friday.

The weather was temperate, the sun was shining, it was the end of the first week of the new semester, and I was all set to proceed through my lessons and have a nice ease into the weekend.

I was so fucking wrong.

Being in my awesome mood, I thought, I haven’t filled my mint basket in a while. So I opened the bottom drawer of my desk grabbed the mints and some leftover suckers I had.

And then I made the most audible gasp ever that interrupted my class while they took a quiz.

Is that… MOUSE SHIT?!?!

Oh, but that’s not all. I pulled the drawer all the way open.

This fucker, who I had NAMED and deemed HARMLESS had unrolled the plastic bag, pulled the candy out, unwrapped it with his little paws, ate it, and then MADE A NEST OF THE WRAPPERS.

Forget Bear Grylls. This kid’s a real survivalist.

The bell rang, and even though I was nauseous, I went to lunch to decompress and plan my next move.

The next hour started, and I explained to my students what was going on. I had some gloves, so while they started working, I began emptying everything from the drawer into the trash. All was tolerable, but then I decided to check the drawer above it.

And that’s where I lost it.

I was done, it was over, I needed to go home, I needed a Silkwood shower.

I grabbed a huge trash can and dumped everything. I lost boxes of pens and pencils, clipboards, student work, surveys, speakers, and even a pair of gloves I kept in there for days when my classroom is 64 degrees. All of it eaten and shredded.

The best I could do was borrow a vacuum and suck up the dried pellets.

I apologized to my class for not being a teacher that day, and I hope they understood.

In all of my college classes that were meant to prepare me for educating young minds, this was never mentioned.

Fucking out of touch professors.

When you’re in the darkest dark, an ember lights your way

Darkness has been closing in, in many ways, through various forms.

Some are derived from the usual sources.

News headlines.

Judgmental eyes.


But lately, they have been accompanied by an avalanche of stories.





And they link, and spread, and envelope, and engulf, and overwhelm, and suffocate.

And you think, “Why keep breathing, when it’s such a struggle?”

You see no one, hear nothing but your thoughts.

And they lie.

Tears roll down your cheeks and you have a tinge of relief that you still feel.

But that’s part of the problem.

You feel.

For the dogs left outside to freeze. For the little girl tortured and killed by her mother. For the girl in class who is hungry. For the strangers you never met. For the loved ones who are struggling.

And it becomes a swirl of black and gray and indigo and it’s chalky and it gets in your eyes and ears and mouth and nose and lungs and you choke and sputter and almost relinquish and stop fighting.

Then, inexplicably, the corner of your crusted eye sees something.

It’s so small and weak you have to stare intently.

It glows.

A tiny ember.

And you stare, afraid to blink, afraid to scare it away.

You sweep your hands through the darkness, trying to get closer.

The closer you get, the larger it becomes.

It is warm.

It is a beacon.

You reach it and stretch it and pull it around you like a blanket, tucking your arms into yourself and curling your legs to your chest.

You feed from the light.

Slowly, your eyes begin to clear. The chalky darkness begins to fade from your body. Its inky blackness drains from your mind.

And at last you see the full picture.

The rescue group saving the dogs. The prosecutor guaranteeing this mother will harm no child again. The offering of food. The people who are helping the strangers. The outpouring of love and support for loved ones.

So you hold on and keep breathing. And you take notes, remembering this experience. And you realize that there is always an ember there when you need it.

Even in your darkest days.

Always, always search for the light.

It’s there.