Being a Special Needs Parent is Exhausting

I know what you’re thinking: Yeah, kids are exhausting. Parenting is hard. Welcome to the club. 

What I really mean is, my kids are exhausting for me, a person with mental illness that is not yet controlled. That’s more accurate but not a very catchy title. Let’s just take a look at what parenting is like sometimes when mama or papa has a brain that won’t stop. Cuz let me tell ya, my brain, it’s a doozy.

Can’t stop, won’t stop

First, for the biggest and most obvious example: babies. Everyone wants to look at babies. Touch the babies, talk to the babies, make the babies laugh, and then they ask the parent questions like, “how old are they?” “why are they not wearing shoes?” “do you have any more?” “can I hold them?” “can I move in and turn this anxiety attack into full on panic mode?”

Okay that last one doesn’t happen, but still. It is overwhelming. My doctor, upon first meeting me, diagnosed me with “a variety of anxiety disorders,” which kinda makes it sound like a fun pack of candy, except it’s just different ways my brain likes to screw with me. Anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia, etcetera. Going out in public and dealing with strangers is hard enough for me, but I used to be able to awkward my way through things with as little social interaction as possible.

But then I had kids, and my children demand attention. My youngest, who is currently 16 or 17 months, something like that, is in the cutest stage imaginable. In public he will give people flirty eyes, he will wave and say hi, blow kisses, do whatever he can to ensure that everyone in the vicinity will come bow to his awesome adorableness. Honestly I can’t blame them. I made some cute kids. (Yes husband, you helped too blah blah blah.) But the whole time I’m just itching to get away and get home where no one will talk to me. Until the big kids get home.


Second example: when they come home from school, or *terrified gasp* are home for winter break! Or even worse, SUMMER BREAK. I’ve got to admit, I never understood why parents celebrated back to school time so damn hard, until I had kids myself who went to school. This shit is hard! But for me, I hate even saying it, but I feel like it might be a bit harder. One of my conditions is PMDD(premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and a major symptom is sensitivity to sound. To SOUND. I’m a mom of special needs kids with a sensitivity to sound. So at that time of the month I cannot bear to hear my own children talk to me. The constant singing, the fighting, the gazillion questions, and no kid, gazillion isn’t a real number. Do you guys know what comes after a googol? Or after a decillion? Too many questions!

Sorry kid, can’t hear ya.

Speaking of questions, and whatever else I was talking about, have I mentioned that my daughter and I both have ADHD? First of all, I struggle with so many of the normal things that badass parents conquer every day. Things like getting the kids to school on time, remembering what time to pick them up, making phone calls to therapists and doctors and the worst of all, playdates. My kids school is pretty awesome, and the people are so sweet so I’ve never been made to feel bad, but let’s just say I’m the one parent they will call on a half day to remind me that it’s a half day. Because I have forgotten and left my kids at school one too many times. Oof.

Oh, there’s so so so many more examples I could go through, but honestly, I’m tired. You know, because three kids, and a brain that won’t stop. The point is, I’ve come to look at things a bit differently over the years. I often say that I am a special needs parent. Which originally meant I am a mother to children with special needs. But who are we kidding here? I’m the one with special needs.

I need my kids to be quiet. Not possible.

I need them to pay attention. Because I can’t.

I need them to not attract so much damn attention. But seriously kid, we all know you’re cute.

I have so many needs in order to feel like I am a good mother, but let’s face it, these things aren’t going to happen. So instead I rely on what I can. Lots of alarm clocks, prayer, meds, alcohol, more meds, the occasional mental breakdown. Parenting is hard. So hard. But parenting special needs kids when you’ve got your own special needs? Damn exhausting.


Oh, and for any judgy Janes I’ll say it: It’s still worth it. 

The horror that ended my breastfeeding journey

Okay, so this post is a little late for me, since I stopped breastfeeding my third, and last, baby over 6 months ago. But I’ve learned something new that I wish I had known then. And holy hell it is insane.

Breastfeeding can be the most wonderful, fulfilling act in motherhood. The bond with your baby, the way they look up at you with all the love in the world while they nurse. The way they squeeze your hand and smile with milk dripping down their chin. The way they decide then and there that they want to grow up to be acrobats in the circus and start practicing in your lap, still attached to your nipple. Wait… That last part isn’t wonderful or fulfilling.

There are some real downsides to breastfeeding. The judgements and scrutiny about every single decision, cover on or off, how long should you do it for. Everyone has their opinion and people love to make mothers feel like shit for not following what the masses feel is best. That’s only the beginning, and the type of thing we unfortunately see all the time. I found out first hand that it can get a lot harder than that.


Due to fear, I failed at breastfeeding my first. The doctor insisted that I NEEDED to supplement with formula and once I did, my baby was no longer interested in nursing. But with my second, I had done my research. I ignored my pediatricians formula pushing and went for it on my own, and I ended up nursing my baby girl until she self weaned at 16 months. And I loved it. Obviously there were baby acrobatics and the judgements for going past a year and all that garbage, but I was happy and proud. So once I had my third baby, I was sure it would go well. Why wouldn’t it? I’m no rookie mom anymore! I know what I’m doing and this is going to go great.

I started my breastfeeding journey again, and this time, life was determined to knock me down a notch and show me how hard things can really be. Things seemed fine at first. Baby latched on right away and seemed happy. But before we even left the hospital, I was already starting to worry about his feeding schedule. He seemed to try so hard that he would fall asleep. Then wake up a bit later, nurse himself to sleep, and on and on and on and nothing ever seemed to be enough. He had lost weight after birth, like babies always do, but he was taking way too long to gain it back. I supplemented with a bit of formula to make sure he would get enough to grow, and I figured that once he got a bit bigger, he would get better with nursing.

That wasn’t happening. Finally, the pediatrician took a closer look and noticed that he had a tongue tie. It wasn’t severe, but it was enough to make nursing difficult. They recommended I get it snipped. I was so hesitant because it seemed so scary and honestly formula isn’t a bad alternative anyway, but this was my last baby. I wanted that bonding, and I was determined to make it work. So we went and got his tongue tie snipped. It was so fast and he cried for maybe 2 minutes before nursing again and it was such a relief.


So at about a month old, he was finally nursing long enough and strong enough to get as much as he needed, and I slowly weaned off the formula. I baked lactation cookies and drank beer and tons of water and got my supply up and I was so proud. Again, I got a big head and figured we’d be fine now. I’d nurse until he was a year and a half! Maybe even longer, who knows! And things went really well for a while. They really did.

Until he got his first tooth. I don’t know if it was just teething, or if maybe my supply dropped and he was frustrated, but the booger started biting me. He was only 4 months old, and I just couldn’t give up so soon, so I tried to hang in there. But he got another tooth and the biting got worse. I pride myself in having a high tolerance for pain. After all, I birthed all three of my children naturally, without any drugs or help at all. I figured I could handle some biting.

But I couldn’t. My body started reacting in ways I couldn’t control and it was overwhelming and scary. Every time I needed to nurse, I would feel like I was punched in the gut. My stomach would drop and my heart would speed up and no matter what I tried to do to calm down, it just got worse. I would latch him on, cringing the whole time, and then yank my breast out of his mouth if I thought he might bite or if he was almost done. This continued for over a week, and my reactions got worse. I became nauseous, and I was basically having a panic attack every time he nursed. Sobbing and everything. I just got these intense waves of fear and depression and it scared the hell out of me.

I felt like I was going crazy.

After a very emotional outburst, my husband convinced me that it needed to stop. I was a wreck and only getting worse, and with my mental health, we need to avoid as much bad as we possibly can. So I made the decision to pump instead. I did that for as long as I could, supplementing formula when I couldn’t pump enough. And for a few months, I made it work. Every week I was getting less and less from pumping and I was supplementing more and more formula, until I decided it was time to put the pump away forever. And honestly, I felt so free.

What really got me, was that about a year later, I learned about something that sounded very similar to what happened to me. It’s called D-MER, or Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. It seems to be tied to the sudden decrease of dopamine in the brain during letdown. Most commonly used words to describe it are: anxiety, sadness, dread, angst, irritability, etc, etc, just a wave of all negative emotions. Although anyone experiencing it would experience it a bit differently, it’s the same underneath. And it is devastating. I think my anxiety disorder made it a lot worse and made me fear the crushing wave that I knew was coming. At the time, I thought I was just majorly overreacting to being bitten, which is bad enough to experience! But I felt so weak and couldn’t understand how a little pain could make me feel so low.

The worst part of all this is how alone I felt. I had never heard of anything like this before. I even read a bunch of pregnancy and baby books cover to cover(years ago) and I do not remember ever hearing about this. And it kills me to imagine other women going through it, thinking they are going crazy, or thinking they are failing their baby, that they’re a bad mom, and none of it is true!

I hope my story can reach at least one person who needs to hear it. Because I wish someone had told me.


Adulting with ADHD

First, I must warn you. This is not going to be a “how to” post. This is going to be a “this is so hard” post. To commiserate. No advice here. Sorry. There’s probably plenty of other ADHD bloggers with their shit (sorta) together though so… Okay, moving on.

First of all, I wasn’t diagnosed with inactive ADHD until I was 26. (It’s all classified as ADHD these days. So basically, Inactive means that the hyperactivity is in the brain, and Active means the hyperactivity manifests physically as well.) That means I struggled with school and life and everything for a long time and I never knew why. I’ve always had that there’s something wrong with me feeling and who would have thought that finding out that there was, in fact, something wrong with me would make me feel better! Well, not better, but understood I guess.


Why? Because it erased my fears that maybe there was nothing wrong. Maybe I was just lazy. Maybe I was just kind of a waste of space. A waste of breathe as a person. But no, a diagnosis meant there’s an actual problem, and if not fixed, can at least be managed better than stumbling my way through life because my sense of direction has failed me again.

I can’t think of a single area of my life that my ADHD doesn’t affect. As a kid, I missed birthday parties because I totally forgot about them. I got bad grades on projects because they seemed so overwhelming that I procrastinated and then had to cram in a weeks worth of work into a few hours. Getting older didn’t change any of these things. What changed was the impact of my highly irritating quirks.

Now, instead of forgetting birthday parties, I would forget about a shift at work and arrive super late. I actually missed out on a job because my sense of direction failed me in the biggest way and I never made it to orientation. I get overwhelmed by bills and often pay late because I procrastinate on those now. And the brain fog? Well, let’s just say when other moms started talking about “mom brain,” I didn’t know what they were talking about because I have always been like this.

Forgetful. Absentminded. Lost. Overwhelmed. I. Am. A. Mess.

I can’t seem to finish a single household chore without getting distracted and starting on another. And believe me, getting much done at all is hard enough. Seeing a mess makes my brain shut down and not want to do anything at all. My view as I’m typing this is a desk with a billion unsorted papers scattered everywhere that I’ve been meaning to get to for…. forever.

And with my kids… Sometimes I’ll have to ask them to repeat themselves more than once because I just couldn’t focus on what they were saying. I am completely useless with my sons math homework because math has always been like an alien language to me. Recently, I missed an important doctors appointment simply because I forgot about it. And don’t even get me started on where my keys are because your guess is as good as mine. And biggest one, I am the worlds most annoying fidgeter. I think my ADHD pairs up with my anxiety on this one and I drive my husband crazy with my leg twitching and awkward hand movements and inability to sit still without moving my foot or my finger to trace an object across the room.


I am the worst housekeeper ever and completely unreliable in planning anything or getting anywhere on time. And believe me, it annoys me as much as it annoys the people around me. But I know now that I’m not alone. I’m not just lazy and useless. I have an actual medical diagnosis to explain why my brain is the way that it is. Hopefully soon, I’ll even have a fancy new prescription to change my life and make it better.


What Animals Mean to Me as Someone with Mental Illness

Ever since I could remember I have loved animals. And I wasn’t picky. I loved my childhood dog, but I obsessed over the wild and spent many years longing to move to Australia and marry Steve Irwin. (I was a kid, don’t judge me the man was amazing.) I would daydream about catching snakes and wrestling crocodiles, nursing a baby kangaroo back to health or pulling over on the side of the road and checking a dead possum to see if it had babies in its pouch, and you guessed it, saving the little guys. I know that seems extremely specific but it happened in one of his episodes…

As I got a little older, I started begging my parents for pets. I had a parakeet, then a hamster, and then my parents were fighting so bad the pets stopped for a while. After the divorce and years later I convinced my mom again and got a mouse, then later still a cockatiel. Only one of those pets died, the hamster that was probably already sick when we got him. But the rest, I was forced to give them all away at some point. It broke my heart each time.

So I went in another direction. I don’t remember which animal started it, but I turned myself into an amateur wildlife rehabilitater. From my early teenage years, then moving out of my moms house and in with my grandma, up until I was engaged and ready to move out, I took in whatever needed help. I mean, I’m not in Australia so there was nothing too crazy. Countless baby birds, a mourning dove with a hurt wing, a baby crow that was sick in some way, a baby raccoon, baby bunnies, and a baby squirrel that gave me a reputation at the ASPCA when I took him out of his cage to kiss him goodbye before turning him in. (Whenever I turned an animal in, it was because the SPCA or the vet had found a real, qualified rehabber to take care of them.)


But to be honest, I didn’t only do this to help the animals. I did it for me too. Caring for animals is the most natural therapy for me and it helped me through years that I didn’t even realize I was not okay. And when that all stopped, because I started having kids and needed to focus on them, I didn’t even realize how much it was helping my mental health until it was gone. It felt like a huge part of myself died and I have gone without therapy for a long, long time.

Now, my husband and I rescued a giant German Shepherd who was sick and weak and sad, and he has grown into a happy, and very anxious, beautiful boy over the last two years since adopting him. He’s mamas big baby and I love him to pieces. And I gotta say, shoving my face in his fur and loving on him when I’m down really does help. So much.

Lately I’ve been in a depressive episode, and although I’m medicated and functioning well, I’ve been finding it hard to be truly happy and care about much of anything. Until I finally convinced my husband to let me get another pet. And ever since, I have been going nuts finding a tank and supplies and contacting a rescue group and it’s all made me so happy. And now that I’m just about done, and almost ready to go pick up my new friend, I’ve realized that this is what’s been missing in my life for so long.

So it’s time. I’m starting over, and sticking to pets for now, but this time no one will be forcing me to give my babies away. The rehabbing will wait until my youngest is older and I’m certified to do it the right way, but that’s okay. Because I’ve finally remembered my first therapy. My best, most natural approach to happiness and good mental health. And I am finally so excited to see where the next few years take me.

Ain’t no rest for the anxious

Sleep. That elusive lover that taunts us all day and hides from so many of us at night. As someone with depression, ADHD and a general tendency for laziness, I enjoy my sleep. So much. But it was only recently that I realized how important it is. And oh, does it feel good.

I don’t remember when I started having nightmares. I think I’ve always had them at some point, but they used to be infrequent enough that I’d just complain about a bad night and stick that IV of coffee in and go on with my day. Just kidding, I don’t do an IV drip of coffee. That’s crazy. I inhale it, obviously. 


Anyway, some time in the past year, maybe two years, I don’t know, the nightmares kicked up. I ended up having so many that I was woken up all throughout the night, heart racing and mind reeling. And this continued for so long that they stopped truly bothering me. I’d wake up with these horrible images in my head, and instead of being afraid of going back to sleep, I’d just mentally shrug it off and snuggle back into my pillow, only to slip right back where I left off and continue on with the murder camp or zombie apocalypse or whatever hell my brain had conjured up that night. 

Through all this time, I thought my sleep was good enough since I was technically in bed for 6-8 hours. I thought that was pretty good. But I realized that it had been months since I had lost a single pound, all the while on a keto diet that had previously helped me lose 40+ pounds. I wasn’t screwing up my diet, so why couldn’t I lose weight? Add in the fact that I was permanently exhausted, and my husband and I were worried there was a problem.  He was convinced that my thyroid was failing. 

So I saw a doctor, got some blood work done, and talked to my psychiatrist in the meantime. They both asked how I slept, and both times I said something like, “Good. I mean… I do have a lot of nightmares. They wake me up a lot. And pain wakes me up sometimes… But I mean otherwise….” Both doctors, without even knowing of the other, told me the same thing. I needed better sleep. Not more hours, just better sleep. 

In the end, my blood work came back excellent, besides telling me that I am anemic, which explains part of the exhaustion, and I’m working on that through diet and iron supplements. But the major factor here came down to my brain. My psychiatrist gave me a new prescription for an anti-anxiety med and told me to take one every night right before bed. And both doctors also told me to take melatonin to make sure I’ll sleep.


And the craziest thing happened, I started sleeping better. My dreams are still weird as hell but they’re no longer nightmares, and no longer wake me up. And I swear, as soon as I started sleeping actual REM sleep, I started losing weight again. One of the doctors, I don’t remember which one, maybe even both, explained that it doesn’t matter how many hours you’re in bed. If you keep waking up and you never actually get into that deep REM sleep, you will not wake up rested. Your body doesn’t just need you to be in bed. It needs the good stuff. 

And who’d have thought my brain would have been the culprit for all this!? Oh, that’s right, all my doctors. I should listen to them more. 

Self care for the chronically sick

In the past, I’ve always related self care to “selfish” things. Just doing things that you want to do but never have time for. Taking bubble baths, doing your nails, going out for a haircut or manicure. When I made self care a priority for the new year I was still thinking along these lines. And while I enjoyed the Epsom salt baths I treated myself to those two times, I’m starting to learn that there is way more to this than a half hour of sitting in hot water.

When you suffer through chronic illness, disability, mental illness, whatever, taking care of yourself is more needed than ever, but it is hard. I’m not going to pretend that any of this is easy, but the things we live with aren’t easy either. And taking the time for you might be hard at first, but it’s so worth it in the long run. You are worth the effort. So if you’re like me and can’t seem to look past manicures and bubble baths, don’t worry, I’ve got some ideas.


  1. Ask for help. Life can get overwhelming fast and no matter what it is holding you back, it’s tough to move past a bad spot when you don’t have the energy to do it. But over the years I’ve learned to ask when I need something. It helps me regroup to see something get done, and when I can check something off my mental to do list, my OCD chills out a bit. In turn my anxiety calms down just a bit and when all of that is chill, the depression doesn’t have as much fuel.

  2. Meal prep. I know. This doesn’t sound fun at all! But we all know that diet can play a huge part in how we feel. If you aren’t feeling well, you’ll be more likely to reach for food that doesn’t take long to make, or worse, something that’s prepackaged and not very good for you in the long run. Instead, try to get ahead of the game. Personally, I’ve found a diet that not only helps my PMDD, but it also combats my arthritis and helps me stay at a good weight so my back pain stays manageable. (Read about the keto diet and it’s role in mental health here.) It’s important for me to stick to this way of eating, so whenever I am having a good day, I plan ahead. Chop veggies to prep for the week or cook a huge dinner and put a bunch of leftovers in the freezer for a rainy day. Even if all you do is make a healthy dessert to lift your spirits when you’re down. On bad days, it’s nice to reach in the freezer for a good meal or a pick me up in the form of chocolate that won’t break your scale.
  3. Taking care of business. I know first hand how hard it is to make a phone call when anxiety levels are at an all time high. Or realize that your home is a mess when you are in too much pain to do much about it. Believe me, making a dreaded phone call on the wrong day has ended in panic attacks more than a few times. It’s not pretty. But the trick, which I’m admittedly still working on, is to take care of things when you can. When I’m having a good mental health day, I try to tackle one thing that I know will be too much to handle on a bad day. Likewise with pain. When I’m having a day where I feel good, I try to pick a job that I can’t handle when I’m hurting. This way, when the bad days strike, the stress may still be there, but at least that one thing isn’t lingering in the back of your mind. At least your living room is clean, so lounging on the couch doesn’t feel so horrible.
  4. Find yourself a hobby. Ok, this one sounds like the self care that I talked about in the beginning. But having something all to yourself, that can benefit you and your own mental health, can help in all areas of your life. I freely admit that I am terrible with this. This blog is a hobby, along with Twitter, but I’m on the hunt for something away from the computer.
  5. Keep up with your therapies. Whether you take meds, do yoga, pet all the dogs or go to actual therapy, make sure you keep at it. Go out with friends if it helps, volunteer, talk with strangers on the internet, hit the gym, do anything that helps you feel good.
  6. Reach out. Talking to someone who understands your struggles is so important and can really help. There are so many great places to look for support. I recommend browsing The Mighty for articles from real people with real conditions, writing about their personal experiences. Also, check out Facebook groups and search hash tags on Twitter to find likeminded new friends.
  7. Space out. Sometimes life can be too stressful all around and I totally get that. Diving into a good book or putting on a movie can help you get out of your head for a little while and calm your mind. You could do meditation, yoga, browse social media or get lost in a YouTube rabbit trail of videos. Even just going for a drive on some back roads with no destination or time constraints. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something positive that won’t bring your stress back to the forefront of your mind.


No matter what it is you’re going through, you need the self care. You deserve it. Now go on, get off my page and go do something. Or stay and hang out, whatever works. I’m here.

Back to School and the Anxious Parent

Kids test our patience, don’t they? By the time my son was 3 years old, there was talk of school starting soon and although part of me was sad about it, the other part rejoiced. I’d only have one kid at home for a little while EVERY DAY! It felt like I had an upcoming vacation. (To be clear, my son started early preschool because of learning delays.)

When the time came though, it was nothing I expected. The teachers were great, school staff was great, everyone was great. But that little part of my brain that likes to remind me of all the what-if’s and worst case scenarios was suddenly loud and full of ammo to drive me crazy.


  •  I was anxious about being outside on time for the bus.
  •  Then on my son traveling in a strange vehicle without me.
  •  Him being away for HOURS without me.
  •  Packing a lunch that wouldn’t make the teachers think I was a bad mom.
  •  His behavior at school.
  •  How people would treat him and his differences.
  •  How he would treat others.
  •  Being home on time for drop off.
  •  Not looking completely disheveled so no one would judge me.
  •  Being judged for being a young mom.
  •  Going on errands and seeing school buses driving around! Is it a half day and I didn’t know!?
  •  This list could go onnnnnnnnnnn


Now, I’m a bit older and a bit more chill. I’ve got two in school now and a baby at home and I no longer worry about some of those things. Like how I look when the bus comes to pick the kids up, or whether people judge me for being a young mom. Besides, children have aged me, I don’t look like a teenager anymore!

But… The rest is still hard. I constantly worry about every single detail about my babies being in school. That’s totally normal to think like that, and I know most parents do. But most parents don’t have nightmares of the school bus driving off a cliff. Or have frequent intrusive thoughts about their babies somehow getting badly injured or even killed while they are away from them. And these things stay with us, taking hold in our brains and staying there, refusing to leave. We can’t shake this stuff away and it can often lead to anxiety attacks, panic attacks, even anger, directed at the very loved ones we worry about. I’m not just worried. I get sick. Like there’s a rock sitting in my stomach that doesn’t go away until my children are home and in my arms again. (And for those who are itching to suggest homeschooling, that’s not a possibility for everyone. Although I would love to, I am not cut out for it and I applaud those who are.)

These days, in the United States, I think its becoming common that parents are struggling with anxiety. How could you not? I’m not going to get political here, but I’ve never met a parent who wasn’t terrified of the possibility of a school shooting.


Having children is terrifying.

Sending your children away from you is terrifying.

Having anxiety is terrifying.

So, parents who deal with it all every day, I see you. I know your struggle and your pain and I see how strong you are to keep your fear from your kids. You are amazing and I am so sorry you deal with this level of anxiety with me. But we will keep doing what’s best for our kids, even if it’s hell on us. Because we are parents… That’s what we do.

Another attempt at medicating

So recently, I made some big decisions. Due to some issues that I’ll talk about another time, I had to stop breastfeeding. I could have kept pumping, but I made the choice to stop for good so I could take care of me. I saw my psychiatrist and was quickly given some meds. Antidepressants, the same ones I was on before getting pregnant, and klonopin, to help with my panic attacks and whenever I felt like I would need it.


It’s been rough. Starting off slow, I went through 4 days or so of nausea and bad headaches, but I wanted to stick with it. Sure enough, those things faded, and I increased the dose. Slighter headaches for a few days, but not bad, so I kept going. Increased again.

I started feeling okay once in a while. I still had bad days, and I wasn’t having good days yet, but I was having good hours. I was calmer, and I had more patience with the kids. But I started to notice I was having hours at a time where I kind of lost myself. I just felt nothing. I was on autopilot with the kids and the cleaning and the husband but I felt nothing.

It was time to increase the dose one more time. And then… I was still having good hours. I was laughing with my husband, playing with the baby, spending time with the kids. I was more patient and slower to speak and faster to love instead of get angry. But in between… I was nothing. All my energy was going into my family while I interacted with them, and it was making me a better mom and a better wife, but there was nothing left for me.


I was moving slower. My body felt heavy and my eyelids were permanently closing. My throat tried to close up and strangle me all the time. I wasn’t sleeping well. I got plenty of it, but so full of dreams of horror and anxiety that I woke up exhausted. I was tired. I felt like I have nothing to say, nothing to offer, nothing of value. The good started to wear off, and I knew it was time to call it. My fourth attempt at antidepressants was a failure.

I know that it’s unlikely that any prescription will feel perfect. There’s bound to be some side effects that stay in some way. But when it comes down to it, some of them are not worth the risk. And that numbness, that heavyness and feeling like I’m nothing? That’s not the kind of thing to mess around with. Because even though I looked like I was doing well from the outside, I had lost myself completely. And I deserve to feel better too. For me, not just for my family.

I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do from here. I’m getting tired of all the meds that don’t work. I’m tired of the side effects. I’m tired of losing myself, and sacrificing things to try and feel the way “normal” people feel without any effort. I’m just so tired.

I’m not real today

It’s one of those days. Nothing bad happened, but my mind is against me. It’s raining like mad so I decided to make the day all about movies and baking goodies. The kids were happy. I was, delirious, for a while. Like oddly upbeat. I was super active on social media, flirting with the husband and being super engaged with the kids. All the while feeling like it was a high that I had to hold on to. One that would inevitably come crashing down. And it did.

Now I feel… Unreal. I’m wandering my own home with this sense of fragility, feeling like Thanos just snapped his finger and I am one of the unlucky ones, about to crumble away into nothingness. I’m seeing my house, my dog, my kids, through a foggy lens I can’t remove. Now I’m having a big glass of wine, against my own drinking rules, in hopes of waking up and feeling things normally again. It’s not working.


I know what this means. This is the calm before the storm. I’ll feel this disconnect for hours, days, weeks, no telling how long until suddenly I snap. It will feel like all the emotions I haven’t felt during my unreal time will come flooding back and then my mind is spinning, I feel sick and I can’t breathe. A panic attack sets in. It is cruel and it is strange and it is beautiful too because believe me, feeling anything is better than being numb.

When that comes, I’ll have different problems. But for now, I am not real and I’m sorry.

Signs your PMS might be something more

We all know what PMS is. It’s the butt of jokes and the bane of many women’s’ existence. But sometimes PMS isn’t really PMS at all.

It’s those typical symptoms that women can sometimes get before their period. We all know, the mood swings, the cravings, the bloating! For some women it can be on the mild side, with slight cramps and an indulgence or two in ice cream, or nothing at all(lucky!) For some, it’s on the other end and they may experience debilitating stomach pains, bloating, breast tenderness, nausea, bowel changes, a whole list of very not fun stuff. I think most women who do experience PMS probably fall in the middle. I know I did. I’d be moody for a few days, like any typical teenager, bloat a bit, crave some ice cream and my breasts would ache a bit. Despite the hope though, it never meant they were growing. Dang it. 

But as I got older, things changed. I’m not sure when it started but there were such severe symptoms that I kept thinking I was pregnant over and over again. After months of torture of am I or am I not, my husband and I agreed that there was something wrong. The poor guy looked braced for an explosion at all times and he could barely look me in the face anymore. I started looking into it and one day I found a video about PMDD(Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). It listed off 11 major symptoms that can accompany PMDD, and if you’ve got 5 or more, you’ve got it. I checked off all 11 easily.

But… how? How could I be suffering from a disorder this debilitating when I didn’t even know it existed? I felt betrayed, like this was something that should have been mentioned in health class along with PMS. “Sorry girls, PMS is a thing, but it can be worse!” A heads up would have been nice. But when I started talking about it, I discovered that most of the people around me hadn’t ever heard of it either, and that’s including a few doctors.

Woman Suffering From Depression Sitting On Bed And Crying

So, how do you know when your PMS isn’t just PMS anymore? The best thing would be to start tracking your symptoms, and pay attention to these things:

  • Increase in appetite
  • Food cravings
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Mood swings
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating(brain fog)
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Random bouts of crying
  • Feeling out of control
  • Rage/Extreme Irritability
  • Feeling disconnected with your life
  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Less interest in relationships/hobbies
  • Depression
  • Feeling numb
  • Suicidal thoughts/tendencies
  • Symptoms severe enough to interfere with life/work

If you need a good monthly tracker, I highly recommend the new one from ME vs PMDD. It’s free and created specifically for us who struggle with PMDD. You can also check out the C-PASS scoring system to check off whatever applies to you. I included a few more things here than are mentioned in the 5-DSM, but things that those suffering may also struggle with.

If you think that you may have PMDD, check out Gia Allemand Foundation to learn more and find resources for help. My recommendation would be to find a gynecological specialist who specializes in PMDD, a psychiatrist who specializes in women’s health, or a psychologist specializing in women’s health. Ask if the doctor is experienced in treating PMDD before booking an appointment. And be warned, they aren’t that easy to find.

Read about my bad experience with a “specialist” here.

But most importantly, if you think you might be struggling with this, know that you are not alone. What you’re feeling is real and valid and not your fault, and there is help out there. There are diets and herbs and medications that can help, even surgeries to try if you exhaust all other options. But better, there are some amazing women around to talk to. They can be found on Facebook and Twitter, ready and willing to answer any questions or commiserate with you. We may be suffering from something horrible but we are worth the effort and we will thrive.

Click here for more resources and to connect to women fighting this together.