"Sometimes going Mad is the closest to Sane you'll ever get."
This was a message I downloaded from the divine this past week leading up to my 37th birthday.
I've been wrestling with a lot this year so far in making a declaration that I'd like to work with my emotional regulation.
You see, ever since I started undergrad in 2005, I've been experiencing this weird 'me versus me' journey. Me trying to figure out, hack, beat, and compete with - my own brain and mind.
I've always - let me say this
I've always always ALWAYS
Perhaps you have too?
I've always felt like my brain was this big beautiful bitch but that she worked so totally different from others around me and I didn't get it and I felt like it was my JOB to finally get it so I could actually be successful. But I keep feeling 'not successful' anyways at the age of 37, because I've also made some weird declaration [that I think I need to destroy] about how I won't consider myself or my business successful until I consistently make 10 grand a month.
Whew! Sigh. Exhale. I'm done with the run-on sentences for now. I think.
There's so much even in this above section to pick apart, digest, unpack, work on and work with. Take your pick.
For instance, why do I view my brain or mind as something to compete with? [Firstly, it feels more like a little friendly competition, actually. Secondly, when it doesn't, I really DO feel like my brain is out to destroy me.)
Also - why have I deemed 'success' to be 10K a month? Is all success only financial? Could I be even more successful at 5K a month? Or 100K a month? Why am I even attaching a number?
But anyways I digress. If these sort of tangential thoughts don't give you a picture or insight into the functioning of the ADHD brain, I don't know what will.
So, back to emotional regulation. Why did I declare I wanted to work on this in 2022?
Well, I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2019, which in my opinion is way too fucking late in life to find out a thing like that. But it's common, especially as a woman, to only find out in our thirties. (YIKES). It certainly explains why I had to start competing with myself in 2005, in order to get through university. Until that point, I hadn't studied a damn day in my life, and managed to sail through school with A's and A+s because I'm a fool for school. It was only in university when I actually needed to LEARN how to study, and yet the very act felt like I was setting my own brain on fire.
But, either way, I found out I had ADHD in 2019, some ten years after graduating that undergrad (so ten years too late), and I decided to biohack my own brain using food, supplements, lifestyle and mindset strategies. I kept a running list of the symptoms I was looking to mitigate or decrease.
I wish I'd saved the whole list but it was literally on a scrap piece of paper on my old fridge, in the house I left when I broke up with my former fiancee that same year. It was all tied in together. The break up, the ADHD discovery, the also losing of three people in my family in 18 months. It was.... a LOT.
I went on Vyvanse for nine months that year (and never again). From the month I was diagnosed - April - until December. I tracked how the Vyvanse affected the list of symptoms on my fridge. I literally never felt better in my adult life than when I was on Vyvanse, up until that point. It made the vast majority of my symptoms better. During that time, I became so level-headed and clear-minded on the Vyvanse - for the first time in a LONG time, despite all the chaos going on in my life like moving house and breaking up. I used that clarity of mind, and I went a little nutso-obsessed [as I tend to do], studying ADHD and learning how to live with it.
I started my plan fairly early on in May and June of that year and stayed on it until December 2019.
A functional medical doctor said something would happen, and it did - he said when your brain becomes rebalanced from the nutrition, supplements and what not that it will literally start rejecting the medication - and it DID! It felt like I all of a sudden became 10X ADHD again - which was supremely uncool, of course. But the moment I stopped the medication, I was back to my clear-headedness. And this time, without a trace of Vyvanse.
So, why the long-winded tail? To bring you to this point where I share that, while the Vyvanse - and then the ADHD Natural Action Plan - both served to reduce SO many of my symptoms, the ability to regulate my emotions has always waxed and waned.
And I largely suspected something was behind it.*
I had a few episodes of completely freaking the fuck out. I recall being pregnant in 2020 when the virus first hit, and freaking out on the phone at a customer service person, which I never do. (It was the most mild freak out compared to what was coming). It was followed up a few days later by freaking out on my then-7-year-old daughter for staying up until 11pm. It was the first time my partner witnessed me go so crazy - screaming at the top of my lungs and losing my goddamn mind.
I also freaked out in a ragey manner around that same time when an ex reached out to me and got stalkerish.
All three incidents happened within the same span of time, and I began to get serious about 'how do I get this shit under control.' I went on a super clean diet, revisited all my sups, and also chalked some of it up to pregnancy hormonal changes. I think I was right about that last one.
It really scared me, though. It scared me that I could flip out to that degree. And every time it was: a) during my pregnancy, b) during a time I was poorly rested, c) highly-stressed and d) not eating the absolute best. For example skipping breakfast, having too much caffeine, and not including enough protein at my meals as well as eating foods that I know hurt my brain. (And..... all while pregnant, let me reiterate that a million times.)
I was hoping it would subside after the pregnancy, and it eventually did, but not before driving me over the edge of the cliff in the first few weeks postpartum. My second baby would wake up every 30 minutes, effectively destroying any sleep cycle I was in. We used a FitBit to track my sleep and over the course of a week, I was only getting about 37 minutes of REM sleep or rapid eye movement sleep per night. It should be more like 90 minutes! And so it set me up for what I believe was a psychotic episode (or many), where I started to suffer from paranoia, having a deep fear of the knives in the kitchen and asking my partner to hide them. There's so much more that occurred that I won't get into but I definitely felt like I was losing touch with reality.
Luckily we somehow increased my REM sleep, those weird episodes of me feeling like I was going crazy stopped, and I never had a rage moment again. Until....
I was now 9 months postpartum. It was April 2021. I hadn't had a rage episode or a psychotic type episode since those first couple of weeks postpartum. But one night I just freaked the fuck out after my baby bit me while breastfeeding. I was feeling wildly under-supported, wildly over-touched, wildly underslept, wildly underfed because I was wating for her to stop breastfeeding so I could finally eat, and just like a hot fucking mess.
It was honestly so awful. I screamed so loud I swore the windows would break. Both of my daughters were trembling and my partner just stared at me in awe. (In a bad awe). I put on my Hunter boots without wearing any socks, which as you probably can guess, putting on rubber boots without socks is a bad idea and truly speaks to how much of a rush I was in to get the fuck out of the house.
I was screaming and losing my fucking mind. I couldn't stand one more goddamn minute of having my body be bitten, ripped at, scratched at, poked at and used, and feeling like I was left to die as a piece of roadkill because we had little to no support in those early days and my partner was 'CEO of the Goddamn world' as we women like to say. That's what you say when your partner works 40 hours, commutes 15 hours, is overworked and underpaid like you are. Basically he's so important he's needed everywhere all of the time and you're left scraping by not because he doesn't want to be there but because he literally can't be there. (The world aka his office team would fall apart without him).
I ran out of the house into the cold-ish air of that April night and I rage-walked while bawling and screaming voice messages to my best friends for 5 kilometers without stopping from 9 to 11pm. Then I decided to go home. But to be honest, I didn't leave 'for me' to get some 'me time.' I left to prevent myself from causing harm to anyone, because I could feel the psychotic feelings descending upon me. And I always fear something bad will happen, which is apparently a type of OCD and has historically never resulted in people actually doing bad things (notable from the fear they have of doing anything bad and how disgusted they are at having the thoughts so out of alignment with them.)
It's really, really scary.
What comforts me at the very least is that I've never hurt anyone physically - I've only screamed. But it's awful.
And it's almost always precipitated by a lack of engaging in my pillars of health. Not because I 'don't do enough self-care' but because it literally was not possible. I don't know if you've met my middle daughter but there is something 'wrong' with her - the same thing that is 'wrong' with me that I am describing here. And I'm tired of my intuition as a Mother being dismissed, and being told that she's 'just a normal baby' when I know sure as fuck deep in my soul that she isn't. Something's wrong and she needed help the way I needed help.
The funny part is, a few days after my rage walk, I discovered..... I was pregnant. AGAIN. Yes up to that point, all rage sessions had occurred during a pregnancy!
I truly believe something hormonal happens to me in pregnancy that deeply affects my mind.
I didn't rage out again until last week. So that means I spent a good ten months, rage-free.
But last week I had had enough. My second daughter - her name is Mæve. Maeve is 18 months old now. Mæve has actually broken two different child-proofings on our drawers and we broke one. It's horrendous but this is our life. She's now tall enough to reach the cutlery drawer. And I had taken all the knives out of this drawer, while awaiting our fourth type of child-proofing to arrive: magnetic.
My partner did NOT know I was keeping the knives elsewhere and so when he emptied the dishwasher, he put one of the paring knives back in that drawer.
And now before you blame me for being a shit mother, Mæve is the type that can find the most dangerous thing in the room in 2 seconds flat. She just has a fucking RADAR for these things, it's UNCANNY. Like, really. It's extremely eerie and is partially why my partner and I are suffering feelings not unlike PTSD at the moment. Our nervous systems are in a constant state of overwhelm for her life. Somedays we both just want to curl into balls and rock back and forth on the floor while staring into the nothingness and repeating random words like Elle's mother in Stranger Things.
You know I've met quite a few mothers of boys who are like this, like Mæve - in search of danger. Maybe one of your children were this way or still is this way. Certainly my first daughter wasn't - she's extremely, extremely cautious. So I'm not yet built to handle or expect the way Mæve does her dangerous things.
Anyways, I was in the kitchen cleaning and when I turned around, I noticed not only had Maeve reached into the cutlery drawer, but she had pulled out the paring knife and was pressing the sharp tip against her body. God, Dear Lord Jesus do not ask me why this child does these things because I do not know and I don't think I want to know. But she seems quite averse to harm a lot of the time.
And the moment I saw this - everything imploded. Exploded. Melted. Died. Whatever.
Every scary negative traumatizing thought ran through my mind in 1.3 seconds flat. Thoughts like
Oh my god what if she FALLS onto the knife? Oh my god is my precious daughter going to die? Oh my GOD WHY IN THE LIVING FUCKING FUCK IS OUR CHILD-PROOFING NOT HERE YET? Oh my god WHY did no one tell us about magnetics first and foremost? Oh my god am I going to jail and leaving my children behind? What if I wasn't even in the kitchen and didn't even see this happen how much farther would this go? Would she stab or kill herself? Would I lose my beautiful baby? Have I failed as a Mother, have I failed my family my biology my DNA!? Have I failed my God-given calling on this Earth and not done my duty my due diligence to protect this girl?
This isn't even a FRACTION of the thoughts I thought in those nanoseconds. I'm sure as a mother you've been there too about some thing or other. So my head, as a result, just about exploded as I told you. I simultaneously felt sick, so sick to my stomach, like I was about to vomit all over the room.
I started screaming at the top of my lungs at her to put the knife down. Part of it being angry at her but MOST of it being angry at myself and my partner and our fucking bullshit lives for taking this long to get a (fourth) child-proofing solution in place.
I screamed so hard, my poor 7-week postpartum pelvic floor just gave out and I peed all over the kitchen floor (like, who does that? Also, a post for another day - I'm really tired at having zero pelvic floor strength).
My partner walked in right at this moment, right into this madness. Me screaming at the top of my lungs [again], my 18-month-old cowering in fear and tears, and pee running down my leggings and all over the kitchen floor.
I screamed so loud there was nothing left in me to give.
He looked at me, he paused for a good long while, and then he walked up to me, and he hugged me.
I'm sure for him it felt equivalent to trying to hug a feral animal or perhaps one that was just hit by a car and unable to run away. He could feel my heart pounding a million beats a minute under my thin tank top. He could feel that as he tried to pull me in closer to his chest, my body was just wiry and frantic and agitated and upset and unable to hold still. He could feel the hot hot heat transcending off of me and the cold hot sweat that began pouring out of my skin. It was fucking awful.
I know that I wasn't just outpouring my anger over the situation. It was all the residual bits of anger, frustration, sleeplessness and aloneness I was feeling - WE were feeling - at being new parents again, still without a tribe, with our second C-V-D baby.
It ALL came out. He took Maeve then and drove her to daycare (thank fuck) we get two days a week of reprieve from 9am - 2:30pm. Two days where someone ELSE can worry about her pulling knives out of drawers. Two days where we sit in balls and rock back and forth staring off into the distance. I went into the bath and scalded my flesh off and continued to bawl my eyes out so hard, I was so shaken by it all.
I had the message come to me, shortly after. When my breath caught up with my body. When the water scalded away all of my sins. When the minutes soothed my anxiety. There was nothing left, actually. There were no feelings left to feel, besides a cool, calm tranquility. There was nothing left but me and my heart. And finally there was no more space between them - my heart and I. No more space filled with frustration and anger and resent and all the little bits of crummy emotion like the crumbs that fall to the bottom of the toaster.
It was just Me. Just me and my heart. And that message came loud and clear:
"Sometimes going Mad is the closest to Sane you'll ever get."
Because it's true, and I knew it.
In that moment I saw with such precision what the only things that mattered were.
In that moment, the spiderwebs of bullshit that have been cast onto women and mothers, they were gone. I could finally BREATHE for a moment without them.
It was the most clarity I had in weeks. And actually the first thing I thought to do was, to start blogging again. To write this very article.
Okay it wasn't the first thing. The first thing was ordering even MORE magnetic locks on Amazon. But it was up there.
And so here's the thing.
Why do we have to go mad to touch sanity? I'm chewing on that. And, it's why I'm continuing delving into emotional regulation.
God, I have so much to share with you because,
I want to tell you about the Pyroluria* protocol we're doing - which almost seems to explain it all. The rage, the episodes, my issues, Maeve's issues, even my partner Tom's issues (not rage but other).
I want to tell you about the continued mindset work I'm doing.
I want to tell you about the different emotional regulation techniques I'm looking into.
I want to tell you about the keto / carnivore diet I'm embarking on to clean up my brain and emotions even more.
But alas I realize this article is already long enough, so I'm going to wrap it up for now. With the intention of coming back and sharing more about this journey when I can.
And I want to say that, I think me being mad and scared with the knife situation made total sense. My Anger wasn't unwarranted, but perhaps the level with which I expressed it was.
And I want to say that, this entry isn't meant to just touch on minds and ADHD and rage episodes and biohacking. it's meant to begin the conversation of WHY are all so fucking alone and disconnected and under-supported? WHY have we as a Society allowed this to happen and what can we begin doing about it? I obviously have ideas. This entry is meant to touch on how HARD mothering / parenting can be, while also saying that, it helps u discover our strength, even if we have to scream our way to it every now and again.
And so I've shared all of this with you so that you might find hope for healing your 'different' brain. Hope for things like focus and productivity, maybe. But also hope for strong emotions that overpower you. Hope for rage. Hope for the Anger that comes with parenting without a community. Hope for working with emotions that exist because we've been pushed into living unnatural lives.
And so we might not be together in real life, but I hope to give you the sensation that you're not alone in these odd scenarios that you might be too afraid to talk to others about.
Either that, or now you just see me as totally batshit crazy 😜
A brief review of things that have wildly helped me that can wildly help you too (or get your money back!)
* You Mustttttttt remind me to tell you about these pyrole things again!!! They explain SO MUCH of my ADHD, my ragey episodes, and my Maeve's erratic-ass behaviour that drives us all crazy at times.