Category Archives: ADHD

Depression: From the Inside Out

I usually consider myself a fairly up-beat person. If nothing else, my ability to find humor in the oddest places helps to keep me sane. Unfortunately, depression has ever-increasingly consumed my life lately. I’m not sure if it’s because, at 41, I’m closer to menopause – and all the symptoms (including increased depression) which accompany that milestone – or if it can be attributed to something else entirely. Perhaps it’s because I’m focusing – for the first time in my life – on speaking openly about and learning the affects childhood sexual abuse has on my mental and physical health, while at the same time struggling to raise (and understand) an adolescent boy who lives with ADHD and Asperger’s? I don’t know. Suffice to say, if I must suffer with depression, I want to be able to survive with my sanity intact. So, for me, that means talking – and writing – about it. From the inside. I don’t know how depression looks from the inside to anyone else, but I’d like to tell you what my depression looks like to me…

Depression-1 Cropped

red runs through my brain. nerve endings are sensitive. everything becomes its own little Broadway drama. i shut down because if i don’t everyone will be caught up in the hurricane that consumes my mind. i don’t talk much. ocd feeds my depression. i suffer mostly with the obsessive part of ocd. if i tell you i’m “stalking” you & grin or wink, i’m mostly joking. but there’s a very real part of me that does obsess, does wish to stalk. to get as close as i can to you (that’s why they call it “obsessive”). but that’s illegal and people would have me committed, so i keep a lid on it. my compulsions aren’t usually anything useful, like cleaning the house. no, i’m compelled to count the letters and numbers on billboards, license plates and various other signage. boring and very, very useless.

when my obsession(s) is/are, for whatever reason, unavailable to me…either because i’m attempting to appear normal & sane, or because they’re just unreachable for a time, then my depression deepens. i know, insane, right? the irony is, i don’t know if these are symptoms of my survival of child sexual abuse or if they’d have been part of my personality either way. my abuser took my innocence and trauma rerouted the synapses in my brain before my personality could be truly known (although, my grandmother reportedly told my mother when i was just a few days old that i would be trouble. sooo…). i don’t really know who i am, who i’m supposed to be. some attempts at discovery (writing and editing) have met with surprising success. other attempts (marriage) have met with crushing failure.

Photo from Credit: Wyman H.

Photo from Credit: Wyman H.

purple streaks bruise the darkness of my mind. The white-chalk Cliffs of Dover and long drops appear suddenly and i weave violently to avoid falling. sometimes i fall. if i’m lucky, a ledge catches me. if it doesn’t, i fall into the deep, narrow pit of depression. the sides of the pit are almost completely vertical. where did the hand and toeholds go? sometimes it takes a while to emerge. all the while functioning, attempting to be normal for the sake of those around me so they don’t wonder and ask what’s wrong. because i’m so close to tears at this point and cannot explain what’s wrong with me. because i’m not even sure myself. except that the demons have come out to play, to taunt me with what i don’t have with what i cannot have with what i am not with what i never will be. pushing them back behind the door at the bottom of the pit again and securing the padlock that hangs on rusty hinges takes all the energy i don’t have. i’m exhausted. and i cannot replace the lock, the rusty hinges. i don’t know how or where to find replacements.

my therapist sees the anger and the desperation and the depression and the despair and the darkness that lurk within. i try not to let others see. what will people think? i don’t know if this is para-menopause or if it’s just Wendy. is this depression and ocd or symptoms of something more? the one constant in my depression is music. not books, not people. music-mostly instrumental or few lyrics. this session of depression’s playlist (if you care to know) has been full of enigma’s a posteriori & love sensuality devotion, draconian’s a rose for the apocalypse & turning season within, really slow motion’s iron poetry, chopin’s nocturnes, imagine dragons’ radioactive (from night visions) and two steps from hell’s invincible (don’t really like their name, but love their music). i don’t know how long this bout of depression will last. it started about a week ago. the last one was on and off for the whole month of June (as in, 2 months ago). it pretty much has to work itself out of my system, i guess.

i become an automaton. i ask no questions. i don’t want to know. i don’t really care at this point. i struggle to care. i can’t people. i don’t adult very well either. i do my work and avoid people as much as possible. my focus is inward. i’m selfish. even my son suffers lack of my attention during this time. fortunately he’s mostly independent so i don’t have to worry about being arrested for child neglect. i just can’t people. too much drama. too many eyes. too many breaths. too many hands and fingers and feet and toes. too many smells. too many voices. too much noise. just. too. much. i’m a mass of nerve endings. i hunch inward around them. trying to protect them. because if you brush up against the wrong one, i might implode. i’ll fall apart. maybe not in front of you because that just makes people uncomfortable. but in private i fall apart. i try to keep the implosions to a minimum because they make the depression worse. there’s a lot of self-deprecation and self-flagellation and self-recrimination going on inside.

Depression-3 Croppedsometimes i want people to ask questions. just so i know they care. but they usually don’t know the right questions to ask. and i don’t know how to tell them which questions are the right ones. if i knew, don’t you think i’d answer them so i could go back to being me? sometimes i just want to be held. ask me what i want. what will pull me from this depression? what will work this time? i don’t know. i can think of a dozen things over which i obsess at various times, but will any one or more of them pull me from depression this time? i don’t know. i just want oblivion. want to slink into the cave of my room, cocoon myself in my bed and be one with oblivion. at least temporary oblivion. until this passes.

maybe tomorrow the sun will shine again.


(The depression finally began to dissipate after about a week. I’m beginning to feel like my usual self again. But I know it will return. If only it would adhere to a set schedule, I could be prepared…)


Filed under ADHD, Anxiety, Blogging, Depression, Life, Mental Health, Writing

Pass/Survive Middle School – CHECK!!

CelebratingI’m celebrating the end of another school year. This one was particularly difficult. If memory serves me correctly, this was the first year – ever – that my son had “Fs” on his report card. BUT – WE SURVIVED!! And my son told us (his grandparents & I) this past Tuesday evening that he PASSED 8th GRADE!! By the skin of his teeth. (What does that even mean – “skin of your teeth” – our teeth don’t have skin, so…Why…?) I confirmed this Wednesday with one of the 8th Grade secretaries.

I give honor where honor is due – to God and His angels, my mother and myself, the school staff who came in contact with my son and prodded him.  Not only for helping my very unwilling child to succeed in his last year of Middle School, but for helping me hold onto the last shreds of my sanity whilst refraining from committing great bodily harm to my oppositional-defiant-disordered offspring. And I guess my kiddo himself deserves SOME of the recognition…

We have a very loving relationship.

We have a very loving relationship.

Hopefully, over the summer, I’ll find more sanity somewhere and be able to store up (er…hoard) reserves. Because now we come to the next phase: HIGH SCHOOL. (I should check in the mirror for new gray hairs, because I’m sure they’re there…in my hair…not in the mirror, mirrors don’t have gray hair.)

Yes, folks, I am now the parent of a newly-minted, incoming High School Freshman…that phrase gives me hives for some reason… My mother asked me Wednesday morning – when I dropped my son off at her house for his LAST DAY of Middle School (I decided we all deserved to skip the last day of school, which was really only a half-day anyway) – how it feels to be the parent of a High School Freshman (I guess she’s forgotten, since it’s been about 16 years since one of hers was a HS Freshman). This prompted a short monologue of the things I would do differently if I’d “known then what I know now.”

I wouldn’t have skipped having children. (…I DID consider that for a moment…but the experience “helped” to make me the wonderful, sarcastic person I am today…) Instead, I would’ve tried to understand more about mental health issues 15 years ago, when I was married to my son’s male parent, since his issues are what woke me to the problem in the first place. (By then I’d learned to “cope” with my own “emotional issues” and they weren’t as much of an “issue” as my ex-husband’s GAD and paranoia became.) I think I would’ve also moved back to Florida a year or two earlier, so my son and parents would’ve had the benefit of each others’ presence sooner – we didn’t move back to South Florida until my son was 3. But, until we discover time travel, that’s the stuff of fantasies.

High School - HivesAnyhow. We resorted to bribery the last two weeks – well, my mother did – to be sure he didn’t “get sick” and need to come home early (my boyo “suffers” from frequent headaches, stomach aches, and what have you…some of this CAN be attributed to his Asperger’s/ADHD, etc, but once a week or more is quite out of control. Every day he stayed in school the ENTIRE DAY, he earned $5 towards an iTunes gift card, and on the day he had to get his own breakfast & off to school WITH NO PROMPTING, he earned $15 (I threw in an extra $5 that day). I’m not ashamed to admit it. Bribing your kids to finish the school year WORKS! I only wish we’d done this for the entire school year! On the other hand…he managed to earn $50 in two weeks. Mom & I would’ve been more broke than we are now if we’d done this all school year!

So, on Hayden’s last day of school – Wednesday – my mother called me at about 2:30 that afternoon, asking if he’d called me from school. I said he hadn’t and so she told me she was on her way to pick him up, because apparently in Reading he picked up a soda bottle that one of his friends had been drinking from, and finished the contents. The teacher saw and told him that she’d put cleaning solution inside the bottle. Hayden immediately hurled several times, attempting to get all the “poison” out of his system. He then called his grandmother from the school’s phone & asked her to pick him up because he was concerned for his safety. (Okay, yes, I rolled my eyes, too). My mother asked me to call the school and check up on the incident, to see if we need to take him to the ER or some such. I spoke with one of the secretaries who said she hadn’t seen Hayden in the nurse’s office (Clue #1), that she would call the teacher, because now she wants to know what’s going on.

Hayden - Middle SchoolThe teacher’s side: she saw Hayden drink from the soda bottle and asked why he would do that, saying that he doesn’t know what’s inside of it, could be cleaning solution or poison or something.

I reminded the secretary that this is HAYDEN we’re speaking of, assuring her that he didn’t hear the “could be” part of the teacher’s statement…only the “cleaning solution or poison.” We both laughed in relief and I told her his grandmother would be there soon to pick him up. Called back my mother and told her the story. I added, “I guess it wouldn’t be Hayden if we’d finished Middle School without any drama.”

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Me vs Public School System

I dislike making blanket statements about people, places, things or entities, but I think public education should come with a disclaimer: Public school isn’t for atypical (i.e. – anyone with mental health challenges, behavioral challenges, physical challenges) students.

I used to love school. Sure, I had trouble with mornings – still do – but I loved school. Loved it so much that after graduating high school, I continued my education for 20 years and 5 degrees. Yes, by now rather I’m over-educated. But I love learning!

Stay strong!Now, though, I’m pretty fed up with school. Or rather, I’m fed up with middle school. Hoping high school improves my feelings, because as of right now, if it wasn’t against the law to pull a 14-year-old child completely out of the education system, I’d do it. He can learn at home by reading stacks of books, playing Minecraft, mowing lawns, and going on educational field trips to places like Walt Disney World. I’m pretty sure his stress levels would be much lower; I know mine would be cut in half, at least.

Let me start out by dying that I have great respect for teachers in general. But. Several of them at my son’s school seem to have gone above & beyond to make this year a challenging one. I spent the first half of this school year (8th grade) trying to get his teachers to contact me whenever he had homework, remind him to take photos of the assignments on the board, and/or remind him to write them in his agenda. Yes, I know he’s 13/14, and perhaps in your opinion by now he should be a responsible little pre-adult, never needing to be reminded about homework assignments, but frankly, I’m a 41-year-old adult and my Book Manager has to constantly remind me to send her posts for author interviews. Why do you expect a young teenage boy to remember everything he dislikes about school? Why is it so difficult and beneath you to take the time to remind him and take 5 minutes out of your busy schedule to call me – or text – to let me know details about his homework?Pay attention

I get it: we’re trying to teach our children to be responsible. But responsible for what? Their grades? Because it seems that’s ALL the public school system in America is concerned with. Do you teach my child how to interact in a positive way with his peers? No. Do you teach my child alternate acceptable behaviors when he gets in trouble? No. Mostly, my child receives your attention when he’s done something wrong. You give him a consequence and expect ME to correct his behavior. I can only do so much. I’m not with him in a school setting, so I have to take your word for what goes on there. And I’m a pretty skeptical person. I usually need EVIDENCE. I work in law enforcement and have that training, so evidence is very important to me. But don’t think that I take my son’s word for law, either. I’m skeptical of him also sometimes; especially when a certain behavior is repeated. Over and over and over.

So. The second half of 8th grade, suddenly everyone bombards me with assignments that he needs assistance with so he can pass middle school and continue his education. Why did it take you so long to listen to me? I know my child well enough to know that while he’s highly intelligent, he doesn’t function like a typical student in a traditional school setting. Why is he there, then? Two reasons: I needed him to be evaluated by the school board so I could get a McKay Scholarship for him to go to private school, and so I could (hopefully) find a way to finance private education for high school. I’ve accomplished the first of these and am still working on the second.

So, if he fails middle school, that’s on all of you. And that saying “Hell hath no fury…”? Yeah, that’ll be me. And I’ll send him right back to you next year and demand that he have the same teachers he had this year so y’all can try to get it right next time.

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Filed under ADHD, Family, Life, Mental Health, Writing