Texas is not the place

I’m obviously horrified by the new Texas law essentially banning abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy. It doesn’t necessarily affect me much personally, as I’m nearing the end of my fertile years. But I am horrified on behalf of all the women who it does affect.

To be honest, I’m not even sure how it will work, since it relies on others to report the act (and rewards them financially for doing so!) I predict that once people try to put this in action, it’s going to become a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

And yes, it’s just another one of the many reasons I have grown to dislike this state. The anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers are bad enough. And I honestly still haven’t gotten over the fucked-up privatized electrical grid.

No part of me ever wants to go back to Michigan. And even though I was looking up other countries to live in again last night, the truth is that I’m probably likely to stay here anyway, even though I could have a much better standard of living in another country.

Because ultimately, my kids are here. If Adam really does move to Germany someday like they’ve mentioned, maybe I would join them there. But in truth, Adam is enough like my dad (who’s famous for making big plans that never pan out) that a large part of me takes that with a big grain of salt.

Maybe the furthest I would move away is Oklahoma City because I could still be here in DFW in a couple of hours. OKC is no liberal paradise by any means but at least they have their electrical grid straightened out.

In truth, I got what I wanted in moving back here. And I am glad that I got out of Michigan. But moving here also brought with it some less than desirable things.

I don’t know if I’m just being too pessimistic or what but I honestly don’t see a good future anywhere, really. Climate change is rapidly accelerating and the whole world feels like it’s literally on fire. I have read some estimates that the climate crisis is going to make most places pretty unlivable within this century.

Something is also seriously going to have to be done regarding healthcare in this country. I’m going to be struggling along with my Medicare and its uncapped 20 percent deductible. Something has to be done but what? What is it going to take to make us not have a for-profit system anymore?

Maybe the best thing I can do either way is just try to stay close to my kids. If things really are going to be as bad as they say, I’m probably better off staying around them and suffering with them rather than trying to escape it.

Med switch again…and trying to look forward

I started back on Zoloft today and reduced my Pristiq dosage. Reducing the Pristiq is not fun in terms of side effects but increasing it was definitely not the right answer.

I have an appointment with my psych nurse practitioner at UTSW tomorrow; she was able to get me in sooner than October 4th after all. I’m not sure if she’ll just put me on Zoloft or if she will recommend something else in addition.

Honestly, there have been several times this week that I seriously thought about going back on Abilify because I know that would make all the hell in my brain go away. But I honestly can’t risk getting so out of control with my spending again.

I’m trying to look ahead to the future and find something to be optimistic about. Honestly, right now (probably because of the depression) it all looks so bleak.

My kids are all moving on with their lives, as they should be. But my husband isn’t going to be around forever, even if the end date is unknown. I don’t know if I’ll be one of those people who dies of heart disease shortly after losing their spouse.

I don’t want that to be me. But at the same time, right now I don’t feel a lot of motivation to try to avoid that, either.

I guess that’s something I have to figure out in the next couple of years: what is my reason to go on without J? Right now, I don’t really have one.

Another day

Still here and still hanging on.

I had a really good appointment with my therapist yesterday. She had me do some yoga-inspired breathing techniques and I just broke down and cried. I think I really needed to cry and I almost never let myself do it.

I just cried about how unfair it is that my husband has cancer and that my best friend—my youngest son—moved away. Strangely enough, once I was able to cry, I did feel better. And it’s a nice contrast to my last therapist, who I saw for months and never once cried.

I’m still in a creative dry spell and it’s all I can do just to keep up with my regular work. I did pick up some extra work that’s a bit outside of my normal wheelhouse; it’s marketing writing. But it pays $50 an hour so I’m going to give it a shot and even plan to wake up early tomorrow to finish it.

I’m really grateful that I have the skills that I should be able to write something at least passable, and if I do a good job on it, there will be more work where that came from.

Adam and I are doing somewhat well with taking over the cooking in Dylan’s absence, though what we’re having is much less fancy than what Dyl cooked for us. (The bright side is that it’s also a lot cheaper than what he cooked for us.)

Adam decided she’s going to postpone getting her medical assistant certificate until after her legal name and gender change. She’s thinking about trying to get hired at Starbucks in the meantime, as they’re a very trans-friendly employer. I think that would be really good for her.

She doesn’t want to get a car of her own because maintenance and insurance are too expensive. But she’s just passing those expenses on to me instead, which I don’t think is right. But I’ll probably drive her to work and back until she gets her medical assisting certification. By then, she’ll be making enough money that she can afford it herself.

Later this week, when my work slows down a little, I’m going to try to go over my budget more closely and figure out how to plug up all the holes in it so we can really start saving more money.

I talked to my mom a couple of days ago about not knowing what I’d do when J dies and she quickly changed the subject to my cats. I know she doesn’t really care about my cats and just wanted to change the subject. And that’s fine with me. I just hope she isn’t thinking that I will want to move back to Michigan after I lose J.

I might want to move but I still don’t want to go back to Michigan. But I’ll figure out later where I want to go instead (if anywhere…I might just stay where I am and have super-cheap rent, especially if Adam’s working and paying rent.)

More paranoia

I’m running a low-grade fever, around 100F. I don’t know if maybe it’s an early Covid symptom and I caught it a week ago when we were moving Dylan into the dorms.

I had another day away from the news, which was good, but I’m realizing that all social media might be bad for me, too.

I can’t seem to escape the awareness that at least half the population doesn’t care enough about me to try to protect my health and my husband’s health.

I also have been dwelling a lot about where to live when my husband’s gone, which is pointless because I don’t know when that will be, where my kids will be, etc.

But I’m increasingly feeling like I don’t want Texas to be my future. I just don’t know what would be better instead.

I’m trying to force my brain to slow down, to stay in the present moment, instead of worrying about the future. But that’s really hard to do, both because the future is uncertain and also the present is pretty scary, too.

Vampire Weekend put this feeling really well: I don’t wanna live like this but I don’t wanna die.

It’s just trying to put one foot in front of the other for now. I can’t see the future—nor can I see even wanting to be alive without J. But I guess at some point, I’ll have to find my reason. It’s really hard not to just give up on myself now, proactively.

Things that aren’t helping

Namely, pretty much nothing is helping me right now. I’ve been having an extended panic attack since yesterday. I feel almost like I did when I was trying to quit Abilify only now there’s no known cause.

My husband advised me to stop watching the news, like I normally do every night. I am sure that the news isn’t helping me in any way, so I didn’t watch it last night. The only thing is that I still didn’t feel any better.

I’m still afraid of so many things right now. Chief among them is my husband’s health, of course. It doesn’t help that he’s on a chemo cycle this weekend, as that always makes me feel worse.

I genuinely don’t know if I “know” something bad is on the near horizon or if my panic is just running away from me. But either way, I do feel like something bad is coming soon.

I don’t know where this feeling is coming from or if it has any basis in reality. All I know is that I feel like nothing is ever going to be good again, even though I can rationally understand that that’s not true.

This is probably the closest I’ve ever felt to needing to be hospitalized for my mental health. But I’m holding on by the skin of my teeth because I know that hospitalization wouldn’t help me and would probably make things much worse.

I just have to really hope and pray that this feeling passes soon and keep faking that I’m okay until it’s actually true.

My son and my diagnoses

They’re actually two separate issues…well, sort of.

My day started out with a bang yesterday. I was contemplating going back to sleep but then I got a call from my son’s girlfriend’s guardian. They had gone down to take him some supplies and my son wasn’t doing well.

He was nauseous and lightheaded, much as he was on the day we moved him into the dorm. His girlfriend’s guardian asked what I thought we should do for him, which was really hard to say because I wasn’t there.

I advised him to drink more water and get out of the heat for a while. He got on the phone and told me he’d had a cup of coffee and someone had given him a free Red Bull. I figured that it was probably a combination of heat, too much caffeine, and stress. (Plus he’d only ever tried Red Bull once before, and I can say that they also make me feel lightheaded and nauseous, even though I’m normally fine with caffeine.)

It all ended up working out okay in the end and he and his girlfriend got to go to a concert they were having on campus. So I guess all’s well that ends well.

But it also makes me feel like I wonder if he’ll be able to stick it out away at school. I certainly hope so. He has so many opportunities and so much potential. Yet I also know that he feels a lot of pressure and he deals with more depression and anxiety than he likes to let on. I just suddenly feel like his fate is still something to worry about.

So I also found out my official mental health diagnoses since seeing the psychiatrist at UTSW: major depressive disorder, recurring, moderate; generalized anxiety disorder; and panic disorder, not agoraphobic.

To which I say, duh.

I’m clearly not doing well right now and I don’t think my antidepressant is helping. But I’ve tried so many other antidepressants that didn’t help, either. Literally the only thing that ever helped me was Abilify and that ended up being so toxic for me. (Thankfully, I was able to get off of it finally, though.)

I gave $20 to another person’s GoFundMe campaign last night, even though I suddenly feel panicked about not having more in savings. And we need about $1000 worth of car maintenance in the next month, which my husband doesn’t want to put on credit, so that’s going to deplete our savings even further.

I’ve cut way back on my personal spending but the last couple of months have been expensive. Between getting everything my son needed for college, buying about $300 worth of things for my daughter’s new apartment, and getting our dryer vents cleaned out (which ended up costing double what I thought it would), I’m just feeling very, very tapped out. And that makes me feel vulnerable.

Suddenly I realize that I really need to be saving up as much money as possible or I’m going to end up like the women whose GoFundMe accounts I donate to. And there’s no guarantee anyone would ever start a GoFundMe account for me when I lose my husband—and certainly not one of the ones that raise tens of thousands.

Add all this to the fact that he’s on chemo this weekend and things are just feeling extra bleak. I’m really not surprised that I have a diagnosed case of both generalized anxiety and panic disorder.

I just have to figure out how to be more okay at a time when almost nothing actually feels okay.

Dispatch from the dumpster fire

Well, I see that the world is still a dumpster fire. I don’t think I ever expected it to get better, really, but it actually feels like it’s getting worse.

I don’t know anymore how to carry on like everything is normal when it so obviously is not.

Other people seem to be fine with playing pretend. Or maybe they just don’t have as much at stake, particularly with regard to the virus.

To be honest, I really envy the ability to act like everything is normal and will be fine. But that’s never been my strong suit. I don’t have a very powerful imagination and am terrible at trying to immerse myself in a fantasy world.

I do try to find small joys in most days, which I guess is something. But overall, I just live kind of in the shadow of doom.

If I had known that the world would become this much of a dumpster fire, would I have had children? Sadly, I think I still would have because on some very big level, I always expected something like this.

Well, definitely not my husband’s cancer—that totally blindsided me—but yes to all the upheaval and the negative effects of late-stage capitalism.

I guess I have contributed in some small way by raising kids who are very aware of the world and really want to make it better. And I certainly hope that they can and they will. They are so kind and empathetic, which the world desperately needs.

But I also feel profoundly bad about the world they’re inheriting and even worse that they are going to have to lose their father at a young age.

In the meantime, I really feel like I should be doing more but for some reason, I can’t. Dylan moving out has really thrown me for a loop, even though he has such a great opportunity to make it and to become really successful. He wants to study engineering to create improvements for the quality of life for people with cancer. I think he might just be able to do it.

I guess he’s making his life’s mission inspired by what my husband is going through. Why can’t I do the same? Right now, I just feel paralyzed by everything.

Blah

I have nothing of interest to write about today, just lots of worries preoccupying my mind.

I have significantly overspent, between trying to get Dyl set up for college, trying to get a few small things for Amy’s apartment (which still added up to hundreds), and paying to have our dryer vents cleaned (which ended up costing double what I thought it would because the dryer vent is blocked in the attic.)

On top of all that, we have about $1000 in regular maintenance that needs to be done on the cars and my husband thinks we should pay for that in cash, rather than putting it on a credit card. While I understand his logic, doing so will substantially drain our savings. That savings is my lifeline if shit hits the fan, which it always feels like it will.

I’m trying to build up our savings and buying less but it feels like it’s taking a very long time to see any progress. (Of course it does, what with two of my kids moving out at once.)

I got an email from Dylan’s college today, which says that if he gets exposed to Covid, he’ll have to quarantine at home. J mentioned going to a hotel if that’s the case but 10 days of quarantine in a hotel is another $1000 which he probably wouldn’t put on a credit card either.

To be honest, I expect that it’s only a matter of time until that happens, and I feel like I’m sitting on a walking time bomb.

Not surprisingly, I still don’t have any motivation to write anything. I know I should try to ramp up my freelance work but I’m just so low on spoons.

I feel like I need at least a day or more to try to sleep and catch up from all that I’ve been through lately. But I’m just not getting that chance.

I wonder if I’ll ever feel creative again, like I did even two months ago. Right now, it feels like just surviving is a full-time job in itself.

Adjusting…and thinking about the future

We’re slowly getting used to life without Dylan here, although it still feels weird and empty.

On the bright side, I told Adam that I really miss getting hugs since Dyl moved out, and they have been really good about giving me more hugs. Maybe we’ll come through this time closer together.

I remember that as recently as 7 years ago, Adam used to do things like calling me back into his room and saying that they didn’t want anything, they just wanted to say that they loved me. Maybe that level of closeness isn’t possible again but maybe we can find something new.

In general, I’m kind of in a funk, though, which I guess is to be expected.

I found out today that the 25-year-old Army veteran son of a classmate of mine died of Covid. He wasn’t vaccinated, of course—they thought that surely because he was so young and healthy, he wasn’t at risk.

To be honest, I got to thinking again about whether I’d want to leave the country after I lose J. On the one hand, I see that as being very lonely, even lonelier than I’ll be already. And I don’t think I would like being without my suburban conveniences.

But on the other hand, I don’t have much hope for the U.S. in the coming decades. I don’t know if we’ll gradually slide into an even more politicized environment or if the roughly 35 percent of the people who want authoritarianism will win. If either of those things happen, I don’t see myself wanting to stay here.

Sometimes—and I know this sounds horrible because he’s trying so hard to stay here— I almost envy the fact that J won’t be around to see everything go to shit here.

But of course, if he were around, it would be a lot easier to get through the shitty parts of the future. Kind of a Catch 22.

I don’t know if my best shot to make it is just to move to a different country when he’s gone. But where will my kids be? I don’t want to leave them.

Maybe the best I can hope for is that one of them will want to move somewhere that’s good for me, too.

All I know is that right now, I feel kind of lost and adrift. I wish I could think of something profitable to do with my time but for now I’m just stuck.

What now?

Dylan’s away at college. I was in touch with him twice yesterday, so it doesn’t feel like we’re losing our connection yet. He’s having a bit of a rough time because his roommate isn’t there yet and most of the activities he goes to on campus have kids who already know each other.

I’m trying to bolster his spirits, reminding him that most of the people who already know each other are probably from older classes and that there are probably a lot of other freshmen in the same boat as him.

I’m reminding him that he’ll meet a lot more people once classes start and am encouraging him to stretch outside of his comfort zone and join some clubs. He says he’s already found a few that look promising. I’m reminding him that people will like him. (As a family of introverts, that’s always a big concern.)

I think I’m saying and doing the right things to help him. But I feel so lost and unfocused myself.

Adam is likely going to start a training program next month for medical assisting. I think it will be a good fit for what she wants to do.

And then Amy moves out in about three weeks.

I went from thinking all my kids were going to be home forever to suddenly realizing they’re all getting ready to be on their own at once. And it’s more than a little weird. There wasn’t anything gradual about this, which I think just compounds the feeling of overwhelm that I’m getting.

What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Should I try to get my master’s degree and become a therapist? I don’t even know if I could handle the course work anymore.

Should I try to ramp up my writing career? Should I finally start my business?

Right now, it’s all I can do to get out of bed. I don’t feel like I have enough “spoons” to pursue anything greater.

I can’t let my lack of spoons determine my whole future. I still have so much that I want to do with my life. But at the same time, I also feel like the past few years have really taken a toll on me and I’ve never let myself grieve for the life I thought I would have when all my kids were doing their own things.

I can’t really let myself grieve that for too long, though, because in the meantime, this is what my life really is. I have to find something to give my life meaning now because I’ve spent the past 23 years living for my kids. Now I’m free but with lots of limitations. What will be next for me?