Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The gift of Foaming Handsoap

Welcome to a new feature on my blog (okay, we all know I post very infrequently, so perhaps calling it a 'feature' should be considered tongue-in-cheek.) Money-Saving Tips!

Today's money-saving tip is all about foaming hand soap. If you have kids of just about any age, you know they have absolutely no concept of how much is too much. And using a pump-type handsoap can drive you crazy when you see how often they use WAY TOO MUCH. Not to mention that even if you do your own refills, it will still cost you mega $$ for all that soap. But I still prefer the pump soaps to regular bar soap, because it is STILL less messy, and I think most moms out there know exactly how fast a single bar can disappear into a sink full of milky-looking water.

So when I found the foaming hand soaps, I fell in love. Two or three pumps of foam looks impressive, but will not spread far enough to coat more than half the bathroom counter. And even when they miss most of the rinsing part of washing their hands, there is not enough left for more than one sticky/slimy door handle.

But, you say, isn't foaming hand soap mega $$ too, in the long run?
This is where the gift part comes in - refilling those containers. But they DON'T SELL refills for foaming hand soap. A major marketing failure on the part of the soap companies. Because when you buy the large refill containers for regular liquid hand soap, you get 10 times as many refills and save mega major $$$.

You still occasionally have to buy the original foam soap pumps. You will need at least 2 or 3 times as many jars as you use at any time to keep refills available, and the pumps eventually wear out (it is a little annoying when the pump does not spring back up). I keep about 8 extras in the hall closet to be switched out when one in the bathroom runs dry, and then I do a round of refills when the last full one gets grabbed. (As long as someone remembers to tell me they have grabbed the last full one!)

The secret refill procedure involves putting about a half inch of liquid soap in the bottom of the bottle. In the photo, the open bottle has about the right amount of soap in the bottom. Also pictured are the refill I used - less than $3 at Wal-mart! - and a brand new bottle I bought to replace one that wore out, with a many-times refilled one of another brand about half-full now.

After you have the soap, then fill with water to about an inch from the top - the pump takes up a bit of room at the top of the bottle. A handy towel wipes off the outside when I inevitably underestimate the size of the pump, and the bottles often need a wipe anyways after being used for so many dirty hands. Another handy tip - if you tilt the bottle when filling it, so that the stream from the tap hits the inside of the bottle and runs down, you won't end up with the bottle half-filled with foam - another mess-producing wipe-requiring problem.

The other part of the secret procedure requires letting the bottles sit for a day or more, at LEAST a few hours, before trying to use them. The liquid soap actually needs times to dissolve in the water, or else it will be too heavy for the pump and not come out as the foam you need. It is not an exact science, and sometimes my foam is a bit watery, or a bit too stiff, but generally it is a great solution, and a huge savings on my shopping bill.

When I get down to the end in the refill bottle, I usually try to eyeball the ratios and add enough water to create the right mix. After the waiting period, this can just be poured straight into an empty pump bottle. If I was really organized, I would keep enough empty refill bottles around to do the mix and the waiting period in them, but how much fun would life be if I was that much on the ball?

Have fun penny pinchers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Questioning.... everything

I question everything now.

I am clinically depressed.
How much of each thought, each action, is the real me, and how much is the distortion of the depression?

I get so easily irritated, I am so quick to blow up. I give up on things so quickly... it's just not worth the effort. But would the real me - without the filters of depression - be irritated by this, or angry at that? Would the real me give up, or is it really something that should be pursued, something I should try to fix.

My husband came home from nightshift this morning. He was being sweet, trying to rub my shoulders. I was just irritated that he was in my way - couldn't he leave me alone until I finished what I was doing? But I have to question... reacting this way is not going to lead where I am trying to steer this marriage. Maybe the real me isn't irritated, maybe it's just the depression talking. Or maybe the real me just needed a few moments to finish what I was doing?

He left something on the counter. Should I complain? If I do, he will get defensive. If I don't, there is no way for him to know this bothers me. I don't have the time or energy for an argument... but this is another barrier between us. What would the real me do? What is the best answer to get me where I want to be?

Oh my god, for someone with so little spare energy I spend an awful lot of it fighting with myself. Fuck I hate this.

My kids were arguing tonight. I intervened once, but the argument flared again almost immediatedly. I intervened a second time, but they continued to bicker. I had no patience. I shouted, I sent them to bed early - more than half an hour before the regular bedtime. My youngest was very upset... disappointed that he lost his story. I already feel bad for shouting. I know that I am too crabby tonight, but I am also so tired, so worn out. I said goodnight anyways and left him feeling torn. Did I overreact? But backing up on a punishment is not a good precedent to set. And I did give them chances. But I still feel worse than before. I want to cry.

Fuck this is a shitty place to be. And I HATE that I can't even trust what's inside my own head.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Depression is the reverse of Amnesia

Maybe I need to post more Happy stuff.
But hey, since no one is reading this anyways, it doesn't really matter - right??

So, in the past 3 months I have been diagnosed with Depression, refused to take medication for it, and begun both counselling and marital counselling sessions.

It is difficult... things in my marriage are improving, slightly, it seems maybe just because we are attending the counselling sessions. I don't know if anything actually IN the sessions is doing anything. Maybe it is just the idea that we are focussing harder on trying to make things work.

Part of the difficulty is me. The counsellor began the very first marriage session by telling us we had to figure out what we thought was wrong, and then identify what our partner could do to fix it. If no action that the partner takes can repair what is wrong, then it is not a problem with the other person, it is a problem with us.

So I begin to see that a lot of what I see as wrong with our marriage may be caused by, or complicated by, the things that are wrong inside my own head.

I don't feel the connection with him anymore, I wonder if I even know who he is anymore... but I have completely lost track of who I am inside.

I have difficulty trusting him, believing in his motivations for change... but right now I am having trouble trusting anything that goes on inside my head. If I can't decide what I believe about my own thoughts, what can he do to make me believe him?

How do I aim for a happy marriage if I can't figure out what happy looks like for me?

Depression is like the opposite of Amnesia. Amnesia takes the past away from you. You cannot remember what happened yesterday, last month, or last year. Depression takes away the future. You cannot envision what you want to happen tomorrow, next month, or next year.

Friday, October 7, 2011


I never realized before how almost-impossibly fucking hard it can be to ask for help.

When I went back to seeing a diabetes team (nurse, dietician and endocrinologist) over two years ago, they asked me if I thought it would be helpful to see a psychologist.

At first I resisted - resisted for nearly a year - but eventually agreed, so they put in a referral.

The first referral fell thru completely.

I missed the phone call looking to book me the first appointment. When I called back, the receptionist couldn't find the info for the referral, and I didn't know how to explain what it was supposed to be for.

The nurse persisted, and eventually got me a few appointments with one psychologist (who had to go on maternity leave after about 4 visits) and then another one. We explored the issues. I very slowly and gradually began to open up.

From the very beginning both psychologists asked if I was depressed, suggested medication. I vigorously denied it. Yeah, I get upset sometimes. Doesn't it make more sense for it to happen more office in front of a psychologist who is asking the tough questions about emotional issues?

I explored the idea that there are problems in my marriage. I have been feeling more and more distant, more disconnected with my husband for quite some time now. The more I investigated my feelings, the more obvious the problems there seemed.
But along with the marriage dynamic other problems, other issues that had always been present were dragged to the forefront.

I have never been a social butterfly. Issues with bullying long in my past have left me uncomfortable with strangers, and I don't make friends easily. Questions from therapy began to make me see how I avoid social situations - and becoming more concious of how I avoid them did not make it any easier to confront this, or to take part in gatherings I might have tolerated briefly, uncomfortably before.

Feelings of stress from work, from home, from kids, from school began to pile up on me. I found myself near tears for seemingly no reason, and it recurred over and over for more than a week. In a moment of despair, I found enough clarity to realize that even though I loved my job I desperately wanted less of it, at least for this period. So I reduced my hours from full-time to 3 days/week, and bought myself a reprieve.
But the reduced stress did not bring back the balance and clarity I was hoping for. I found myself constantly irritable. My sleep was suffering - it took forever to fall asleep, I slept very restlessly, and it took more and more effort to drag myself out of bed every morning. I had heart palpitations, and stomach issues, and often felt like I could not breathe.

My psychologist told me he thought I was depressed. Faced with the mounting evidence not only in my state of mind, but the reactions of my body I felt compelled to agree. He then told me gently that this was more than he felt qualified to deal with - his mandate was to help people make the positive changes required to better deal with a metabolic illness (diabetes). He was not a counsellor specializing in depression or anxiety issues, and I would likely deal better with a psychiatrist or an MD who could prescribe medication. He is still following me to make sure I get the help that I need, but this was where the REALLY HARD part started.

He told me a psychiatrist would require a referall from an MD, and told me to go through my family doctor. I have a family doctor, but do not feel it is a very good relationship. She is not someone I feel comfortable talking with, and I have some leftover resentment from over a year ago when I went to her about the first of my heart palpitations and chest pain. All I really wanted was reassurance that this was nothing to worry about. Instead, she suggested that it was panic attacks (Not really what I was feeling in my head at the time. In retrospect it may have been the first harbinger of my current mental crisis, but at the time I was not willing to admit that it had anything to do with my mental health, and I resented her implication. Still do - perhaps even more if it means she may have been correct!) tried to give me a prescription for it, then nailed the coffin shut by finishing the exam with "you know these are signs of a heart attack. If it happens again, go to the ER." which provoked a thoroughly embarrasing emergency visit where I was diagnosed with heartburn (also something I don't - or at least didn't tend to suffer from).
So I made an appointment with my family doc. It surprised me how much a struggle it was to call to make the appointment, and how much my heart pounded and my head hurt in showing up for the visit. I managed to mumble out that my psychologist thought I was depressed and I should look for drugs or a referral to a psychiatrist. She asked if I wanted drugs. I told her that I would very much prefer to avoid that route. So she checked my symptoms and agreed that I was depressed, and wrote me a very nice letter confirming that fact.
I left the office, and slowly the results soaked in. The appointment was the exact opposite of anything I had hoped to get there. I didn't need a letter saying I was depressed. In fact one of the reasons I had resisted acknowledging for so long that I was depressed was because I was afraid of the possible repercussions of being diagnosed with a mental illness. What I needed was for someone to find me a psychiatrist and make me an appointment with them so I could begin to fix the problems in my head. And there was no way I would be able to go back to my doctor and ask her to do that. I was screwed there. On to plan B.


Plan B. He gave me a phone number for a service called 'Access Mental Health'. Telephone services for people in crisis. Was I in crisis? I didn't feel like I was in crisis yet, but I could feel myself getting closer and closer to a breaking point.
Sweating and shaking and feeling like I was swimming through drying cement, I called the number. It led to a recorded, voicemail message - if you need immediate help, call 911 or go to emergency. Then a voicemail menu to wade thru, then I was put on hold.

To be quite honest, the first time I called I hung up before speaking to anyone.
Then I called my family doctor and made the appointment for the stupidly unhelpful visit described above.

So after striking out with the doctor, I called again. I waited for a time and place I could be alone, fairly certain no one would interrupt or overhear. I used my cellphone, trying to keep my home line and my home life away from this thing. The physical symptoms of terror were absolutely present throughout the call. I don't know why but it was as if my mind and body were fighting against me taking these steps, against me trying to overcome the darkness that was invading my mind and creepingly consuming my life. The call itself was relatively ordinary, aside from trying to find the words to explain why I was seeking help, what I hoped to accomplish. The result of the call was another phone number, to be called to try to book an appointment with the local mental health services. They also gave info about urgent appointments, available for walk-ins on various dates and times.

I didn't feel (yet) that I needed an urgent appointment. I tried calling the phone number but it led to another voicemail menu, and not a real person to talk to but a voicemailbox, with the note that calls would be returned within 3 days. I just could not handle the thought of the message at that point, so I hung up without leaving one.

All of this seemed to be surrounded by deteriorating mental and physical health. The realization that I was depressed - not just sad, not just going through a phase, but a diagnosed, definite mental disorder - had thrown my precarious mental balance completely off-kilter. I did not feel I could talk to anyone about it. The problems with my husband were worsening, I did not want to burden my kids or other family members, I did not have any friends close enough to disclose this secret. So I tried - and I think, failed miserably - to continue as best I could with a day to day life that felt increasingly out of control.
I took several long walks, not for exercise but simply to escape from home, family, and as much as I could from all the things I couldn't face, couldn't handle.

On one of these walks, I plunged forward far enough to actually leave a message - name, city, and phone number (cell phone of course). The phone call did not feel easy to make, but afterward it was somewhat of a relief, knowing that the next step was now somewhere within 3 days away, and for the moment, not my responsibility.

Only, there was no return phone call. I knew it was possibly my fault - maybe I had not been clear enough in the message I left, maybe there was a problem in the cell reception. But it was another body-blow in a process that was already one of the most difficult things I had ever done. I wanted to just simply give up so often. I'm not even certain exactly why I kept trying, but there didn't seem to be much for alternatives, and I wasn't quite ready for suicide yet, although thoughts of death recurred over and over, and I found myself oddly hopeful for a serious traffic accident or other physical health crisis to give me a different reason to take a break from reality.

I ended up at one of the urgent, walk-in appointments for the mental health services. Once again, an action required on my part that was REALLY FUCKING HARD. Like the emotional me was battling the rational me for control. Rational me just wanted to get better. Emotional me just wanted to RUN AWAY. Run where? Anywhere. Away. Hide in a corner. Drive where no one could find me. Just get into a spot walled off from everyone else and stay there. Not a sustainable course of actions, but emotional me seems to be short on what comes next.

At the urgent appointment, a counsellor listened, discussed, and analysed for me. I'm not sure what I took from that appointment. I left with the feeling she was pushing an agenda that didn't really apply in my case (I have problems with my marriage, but it felt like she must specialize in abuse, because she framed it all in terms of my husband mentally abusing me, which I still feel is not completely accurate, and not what I see in terms of his motivation) but she brought me to a point of decisions and actions with regard to my marriage that I had not reached before.

Frustrating once more, I could not progress from an urgent appointment to regular appointments. I had to call the number, and leave a message, and wait for a call-back to get a regular appointment. Why the hell is everything SO FUCKING HARD??

At least this time, leaving a message resulted in a return phone call. I had a small breakdown at work, and was sent home for the rest of the day betweent the urgent appointment and the return phone call. But I now have an appointment for follow-up mental healthcare. And I am moving forward.

I am cautiously optomistic. My mood seems to have temporarily risen back above the darkest depths that I reached in this struggle. I try not to consider whether this might be only temporary, or how much of an internal struggle it might become to show up for the appointment I have booked, or the last follow-up with my original psychologist to reassure him that I am getting the help that I need.

I just needed to vent on the struggle to get this far. Because it really was, and continues to be, VERY FUCKING HARD to reach out for mental help. And maybe some of it just shouldn't be this difficult.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A question of honesty.

My marriage is being eroded by questions I am afraid to ask.

I've complained before about my husband and his smoking.

The smoking bothers me, but there is also the question of trust.

We have had fights, when I ask if he has smoked in the house. There are little things that make me think that maybe he has. He swears up and down that he hasn't.

Today, I saw an empty pack in the kitchen garbage. We were away all afternoon while he was home by himself. He says he only smokes in the garage. There is a giant garbage can right in the garage, beside the door into the house. Why would he walk all the way to the kitchen garbage to toss the empty pack??

But I realized today, that it serves no purpose to ask him. The problem comes because the question even occurs to me. He can say yes, he smoked in the house. Then I am left with the choice to make a big stink about it, or to ignore it. Neither one feels like a win to me.

But the other option is for him to say no, it was an accident, there was no smoking going on in the house. Then I either have to believe him and drop it, or disbelieve and start a fight. The problem is, if I have to ask the question then I have a reason to disbelieve him already.

And I also find that I have another question I want to ask him. Unfortunately, I find myself in the same kind of dilemma, and that scares the shit out of me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Don't Care.

I don't care.

It's hard to think of another sentence in the English language that is used as often, and almost never means what it semantically says.

More often it means "I don't want to care."; "I care too much."; or just "This hurts."

It is a defense mechanism. A blanket of distance enfolding a wound, containing painful truths. It means "I don't want to fight about this." Or maybe "I can't talk rationally about this because I am so emotionally invested right now."

I don't care because I want to shut down and not hurt anymore. I'm building a wall to keep the ugliness away from the world where it will splash out and create more ugliness.

But what do I do if the festering mess inside presses too hard against the barriers, oozes out of all the cracks. Maybe I need to walk away from everyone and everything and just be more alone.

I don't care.

Note: This post was originally written July 19. I saved it, not sure I should publish right then. Now?? I don't care. :P

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Me and Nicki

There is another woman in my husband's life. She was there before he met me, and I told him I wouldn't hold it against him. Maybe I lied.
But he married ME. Although he kept seeing her. He broke it off for a while, when my first child was born, but that didn't last long. And it drove me nuts to find him sneaking off to see her.
There have been other times he has given her up, but he never seems too serious about it.

Maybe it's me. I have certainly never been accused of being a sexy, addictive bitch like she is.

I can't win when I'm pitted against nicotine for his affection.

We went out for dinner tonight, just the two of us (three of us), and left the kids with a sitter. He can sit through a movie in the theatre without sneaking out to be with Nicki. But in the less than 90 minutes we spent at the restaurant, he had to leave twice for a moment with her.

I just can't compete.