19 November 2008


That is the sound of me hitting what feels like the bottom.

We had another rough night last night. Maddie woke up screaming at 11:30 p.m., which immediately set off Riley, and nothing I could do would calm them down. This time, Maddie was awake and wanting to be comforted, but finding fault with everything I did to try. "No singing! No blankie! No duckie! I wanna get down! I wanna get up! I wanna agua!" Riley was likewise inconsolable. I sang, I hugged, I yelled, I cried with them, I left the room, I came back (a few times), and eventually we were all just good and wore out and they went back to sleep.

I felt absolutely miserable. I was angry with myself for yelling, for not being a better parent, for being unable to comfort my own kids, for not eating healthy food, for not exercising, and for an endless list of other items, big and small. I was angry with the twins for all these middle-of-the-night shennanigans, even though I know to be angry with them is unfair. I was angry with the universe for not cutting me some slack. I was angry with John for dying and leaving me all alone.

I called my mom and cried for a long time. And I realized something, something really, really obvious.

I'm angry all the time. Every moment of every day. I feel like punching someone in the face 24/7.

This is not normal.

My whole life, I have practiced being fine. Even when I don't feel fine, I've pretended to be fine because I have been taught that that's what you do. You go on. You persevere. You help yourself. You make lemonade. And if you pretend for long enough, the pretend will become reality. And really, until John's cancer diagnosis, my life was fine. It was more than fine. It was full, happy, and rewarding. It had ups and downs, but most days I felt truly happy.

It's becoming increasingly evident to me that pretending I feel happy is not a legitimate coping strategy for dealing with the death of my young spouse and subsequent sole responsibility of my two young children. I've been pretending for a long time now and I'm tired of it. In fact, all the pretending has worn me out at least as much as all of the actual grief and the responsibilities of parenting. It's exhausting. I even pretend I'm OK when I'm at therapy! How lame is that?

I will continue to get up and get to work and get my kids to daycare every day, and I will do those things as cheerfully as I can for Maddie and Riley. But at least when I'm at therapy and when I'm with family and friends who have the strength to take it, I need to talk about how fucking angry I am all the time. I need to work that out. I'm like a time bomb right now, and I'm getting closer and closer to going off in a spectacular, ugly, and dangerous explosion. 

First stop: therapy tomorrow. Maybe it's time to try medication. It's certainly time to talk about that option. Maybe my therapist will have other ideas. And I need to come up with some ideas of my own. Maybe I need to find a way to take a week's vacation, just me, with nothing to do but sleep and read and relax. Maybe I need to think about selling my condo, which feels like an albatross around my neck. Maybe I need to quit my job, or at least explore other options.

Other than airing some really dirty laundry at therapy, I don't need to do any of these things right away. But it's amazing how just talking to my mom last night, in a snotty, tear-infused delirium, and telling her how awful I feel, has already started to make me feel better. The kids were adorable this morning, so sweet and bright and loving. We ate cereal and read books and even weathered flu shots with aplomb. We can do this, we just need to do it differently. I need to do it differently. I need to do it more honestly, and with more help.

Even though I've spent my morning leaking tears and blotting my eyes, I feel like this is the start of something big.


s_ivan said...

count me in as one of the ones who can take it. bring it on, sista!

Snickollet said...


Hopefully I will soon find the energy to dial my fucking phone. When that happens, you will be among the first to hear from me!


Badger said...

My dearest Snick,

Ah yes, the anger. Guilt, anger, grief, emptiness, rage... I hear ya. I know there's no set path for this whole process, trust me, but I do think I'm about 9 calendar months ahead of you on the being-a-widow-timeline, so I can definitely relate to how you're feeling right now. I feel as though I've pulled myself through in some aspects, but in others, I too am barely treading water.

My kid is far older than your two, but he's been really struggling lately as well, and despite my reservations about anti-depressants, we're going down that path with him now.

I say this merely to reiterate what you know: we're gonna get through this, maybe not with grace and poise (fuck grace and poise. seriously). But we'll make it. But whatever help we can take -- whether in the form on friends, family, or medication -- we shouldn't be reluctant or ashamed of.


Sally said...

You are such a strong person, I can see that just from reading your blog.

I used to think that antidepressants were for people who were more screwed up than I was or for lazy people. Then I took Zoloft, and my life got so much better. I still hated my job and had no friends, but I was able to see those things more clearly and come up with constructive solutions and separate what I could fix and what I needed to accept.

Good luck with your journey and thank you for blogging.

Watercolor said...

Hugs. You are on the right track. Hugs and prayers to you hun.

EK said...


Although the video is all political, the song It's a New Day by Will.i.am is great and always, some how, manages to put a smile on my face. Perhaps it will do the same for you:


It is clear to anyone that reads your posts that you are a strong person. And I have faith that you will overcome the challenges you currently face.

All the best to you!

Elaine said...

I have not lost a spouse so I won't say I know how you feel, because I don't. But I did lose my Dad and my Father in Law within one month and kept thinking, what is next, how much more can I take? You seem like a strong wonderful person and mother. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, venting at therapy or even medication if needed. It only means you are willing to get the help that you need to deal with the grief you are feeling. I really hope you get to feeling better soon. After my Dad died, I found myself getting angry at my youngest child for reasons that were not her fault. As soon as I started talking with a counselor, I learned how to channel all that anger I felt.
Stick with it, you can do it.

El said...

My youngest son (now 6) went through several years' worth of nighttime, irrational, infuriated, screamer, monster-child episodes. I don't know how I survived it, except to say that he's past it now. But it was AWFUL when it was going on. I felt such despair during those years. It wasn't every single night, but was several per week. I was alone with him and his sister who is two years older (their father became my ex when I was pregnant with my youngest). I was horribly afraid, as it seemed it was never going to ease up, that the neighbors were going to report me (yes, he could be heard from outside the house).

The only thing that helped (and I tried everything) was time. I learned that the best response I could give was a neutral, monotone murmur. I couldn't fix it, change it, or make it go away. He simply had to cycle through the night-terroring rage. And then he'd sleep.

You have my deepest sympathy, and oh how I hope this is a short-lived phase for Maddie.

Rachel said...

I think the anger part of the grief process can be really scary for women, because we've been taught to suppress our anger. Maybe you could take up kickboxing?

I don't have any words of wisdom, but I am thinking of you, and I hope you find the answers you need. {{{Hugs.}}}

L. said...

snick, I can't speak to the deep grief that losing a spouse must bring. But I can say that one thing I've learned is that emotional honesty, even if it's being honest about some really hard, ugly stuff, is healing in and of itself. Doesn't mean you have to be that open every moment of the day ("How are you?" "So angry I'd like to punch you in the face!") but if you can vent to your mom and some close friends, and let it all out to the therapist, that will make a huge difference in your day-to-day mood. (Actually, that is a lesson I need to revisit of late...)

Stick with it and your next therapy appointment could be revelatory. I wish good things for you. We do the best we can with the information we have at the time. Now you have some new information and you seem like the kind of person who can really run with it.

Cheryl Lage said...

Don't think for one minute that you are not a good parent. Yelling doesn't make you a "bad" parent, it makes you a human one...you've got human babies...that's a good thing.

Wishing you some relief and peace, and less self-condemnation. You are an amazing woman and mom.

The Whitsitt Family said...

Hugs to you Snick. Being a sinle parent is so hard, and I think you handle things so well. Sounds like you could use that vacation. It might be good for you to get some medicine especially if you gave realized you are feeling this way everyday. I hope things get a little easier, and that you find some kind of relief.


madelyn said...

Do you think that the upcoming Thanksgiving trip is pushing a lot of this to the surface? Or the holidays in general? Not that it matters, really. The fact that you are identifying the anger is HUGE. I have always thought that therapy ONLY really works if you actually DO the work. It is hard hard hard, but ultimately that's what leads to knowledge, healing growth. I know you know this...just want to be supportive. Oh, and don't dismiss the lasting effects of Larium. I truly believe that that alone can lead to tendencies toward chemical imbalances. Do talk about the ADs. I think, as someone else said, that they are a tool that can really help you do the work.

I am so sorry that this is all so hard. Your children are lucky to have a mom that is so dedicated to being the best she can be. And remember, BEST does NOT equal perfect. That doesn't exist.

chicklet said...

While my anger is about completely different things, I went through a period there too where all I wanted was to punch things. I had really horrible thoughts about kicking strangers, breaking other's happy moments, etc. I'm not pro or anti drugs, but I am hesitant about them because I'm afraid I won't "feel" anything, and I'd rather feel angry than nothing cuz at least that's real. So for me, it came down to a whole lot of talking it out, exercise, and a trip - to get away from it all. The trip was like this life-changing thing that really let me run away from it, so I talked more, and it helped. For me. Yours is different, but that's just my two bits.

Amelie said...


amber said...

what a breakthrough. i'm not in your situation, but i've always been of the same ilk -- just say it's all fine and eventually it will be. and anger is not an emotion that i usually feel. except now. for different reasons than you, but things have happened over the past few years that absolutely make me see red. it's scary for me, but sometimes you have to embrace those scary emotions along with the good ones.

i'm glad that you feel like you are making some headway into all of this. you know we're all pulling for you. you deserve to be happy again and i hope that you are able to find that soon.

Joy said...

Breakthrough. You are on to something big, and healthy, and good. Letting anger out is so hard because hardly anyone does it well and so we feel like we can't / shouldn't. Anger is the only sane response to your situation. Be encouraged, you are your own best healer.

Susan said...

Thank you for your honesty. You are helping people that you don't know just by writing your "walk". I don't have much to offer as a cyper person but wish you the best and continue to affirm that you are a wonderful mom who is fighting to get through each day!! Just you wanting to get help and work through it is awesome. Keep fighting.....


Beth in CA said...

I rarely comment but wanted to add my voice to the many offering you much support and love (in the strangers on the Internet way!). I feel like Madlyn hit it right on the head when she said that your kids are so lucky to have a mom who works so hard to be her best and that best doesn't equal perfect. Amen. Your children will learn that life is messy and unfair (REALLY f'ing unfair!) sometimes and that it *is* possible to make your way through. And you will. You absolutely will. Be kind to yourself in the meantime (back to that cliche of treating yourself the way you'd treat a loved one in the same situation...it really is true). And even though you may doubt it from time to time, we all admire you and how honest you are and how hard you work at finding the right life for you and the kids. Oh, and while I'm on a roll here, do not underestimate the emotional wallop of the holidays and of travel to John's family. These kinds of things are enough to send even someone without huge, hard things to navigate over the edge (um, I get seriously cranky "for no reason" just before every visit with my inlaws, and I genuinely like them.)

So, be gentle with yourself, let your therapist into the ugly swirl of your anger (and your close friends, too), and hang in there. You'll make it, Snick, you really will. And your kids will shine; they already do.

bostongirl said...

thinking about you so much. I don't know how you do it with twins and no partner. You're so self-aware that perhaps this new admission will help you really make the breakthrough. We're all here to listen and we're all hoping for the best (i.e., your real happiness).

Anger and deep bitterness about my husband's diagnosis is plaguing me, too. I also need to learn to face it, forgive myself, and try to move past it or at least deal with it more honestly and effectively. It's really tough stuff.

Caustic Cupcake said...

Please don't feel like taking medication is a sign of weakness or giving up or giving in. Some people only need it to give them the mental breathing room to sort shit out for a while, to get their lives back in order. It's not permanent. It's just a little help. Asking for help is not wrong.

Email me if you ever want to talk, or bitch, or complain!

Me said...

I think being open to getting a little help with meds can't hurt. I have taken some at different times in my life (divorce) and it certainly helped. Didn't change me at all, but helped me be a little more even with my emotions. :)

Roads said...

It's a long hard road bringing up small children on your own. People so often said to me 'The kids will bring you comfort' and yet they had no idea what it was really like when you had hardly slept for a week.

At the same time, it's good to recognise that it takes stuff out of you, and that sometimes you need more help. Even just recognising that you are coping under enormous pressure and giving yourself some credit for it is a huge step.

People forget that. They see you going about your business, and they don't realise how things are -- and the better you cope, the less allowance they make.

I remember once arriving for work at 0905. My then boss smiled cheekily, 'Good afternoon,' he quipped.

That's when I surprised myself.

You have NO fucking IDEA what I get through, just to get to this place I said, So I'd be grateful if you cut out the crap.

And jeez, did that feel good. He never made those remarks again, and we're still friends, too.

I think...

Much admiration winging its way to you, from a damp November evening in London.

Anonymous said...

You know Snick, you're right, you can do it and will do and ARE doing it...as a parent I have to remember to forgive myself when the after yelling guilt comes on, we're just people, we need time, space, serenity to recharge, take it where you can.

I sure wish we in the ether could be more helpful in the day to day tasks you face, in lieu of that take the blessings we send, the hard hugs and the gratitude we have for you sharing your journey with us.

Lots of Love,

JudithNYC said...

Been there, done that. No words of wisdom from me, but I think you are on the right track. I pretended for too long, until my twins were grown. Just wish I were your real-life friend and lived closer so I could help.

Anonymous said...

For some reason out of all your writing this post broke my heart right open for you. You have all my compassion and empathy. I think this (blog) record of how hard you tried and never gave up will be such a gift to the kids.


(Also, I think you are doing some amazing therapy work through this blog, btw.)

Sue said...

You literally have the world on your shoulders. It's heavy, and pointy and goddammit it hurts. Coming to a place where you say "enough, I want things to change" feels like the bottom, but it is actually a sign of great, great strength. Even if you don't feel "fine." I'm starting to learn that myself.

From a mostly lurker, Boston transplant, long time reader

Anonymous said...

You can do this. Good for you for realizing where you are and what you need (or at least how you might get there). All best wishes -- you are better than anger.

Wendy said...

A few years ago, we lived in Belgium and my husband was deployed to Bosnia - for 18 months. I had 5 children between the ages of 2 and 9. I was going crazy, I was hitting bottom EVERY week. Then a few friends got together and gave me a weekly night to sleep. They came to my house before dinner - fed the kids - got them to bed - slept on the couch - got them up for breakfast and off to day care/school. Once a weeek, I stayed at a local bed and breakfast, I had a whole night of sleep - quitely read a book, took a long bath, ate what I wanted and regrouped. The military families have an amazing support system for times like this.
Do you have friends that could give you a night off once and awhile? Even if it is once a month - to recharge, reflect, and SLEEP!!!
Take a few very deep breaths - widowhood is very rough - you are doing an amazing job. You will have times of anger, guilt, grief, rage, and yell at the kids, be mean to family and relatives (or even strangers who try to give you advice). We all go through it - and those of us who have a spouse "helping" find it difficult - so you have it a hundred times over. Belive me - kids are VERY forgiving. My 5 are now in their twenties - and they all find me the funniest and most wacky mother - they really don't remember the screaming, the stomping or slaming of doors - and that was just THEM! (Only kidding...)
We are with you, Snick - it's going to be fine - and we are all in awe of the great job you are doing!

Jen said...

your resident lesbo friends are here for ya.. right down the street.. even hung over at 9am on a weekend morning. we'd be happy to help with the kids or lend an ear (or drink heavily or partake in that thing shiela mentioned a few weeks ago.. *grin*).. btw.. ask my wife about the anger thing she went through a few years ago.

caro said...

I just wanted to say I'm thinking of you, wishing the best for you.

Ginevra said...

I love you, sweetheart. You're doing a great job. ITA agree with the poster above who said the better you fake it, the more people forget what you've gone through. The pain of your situation is just not fresh in their mind the way it is to you--to them, John died so long ago! But for you, of course, the grief and stress are still daily companions.

You know what I thought of when you said pretending to be happy was wearing you out? Remember when we had to work the booth at conferences? Remember how the effort of being cheerful all day long was just as tiring (if not more) as standing most of the day? Yeah. Pretending is EXHAUSTING. As for the pretending at therapy, I know someone who went out to take an overdose of pills to commit suicide, decided not to, and then went off to therapy the next day and didn't say a word. So it's not just you.

Might a dose of Benedryl be in order for the kids tonight? (Or just Maddie.) Would that be so wrong? Get everyone some sleep and you'll all feel better. Sounds like the kids feel fine, actually, but YOU'LL feel better, and you know the saying: if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Sending you many hugs,


Anonymous said...

Several years ago, I was reeling from the aftermath of a divorce, trying to raise three boys by myself, and dealing with anger that was only barely controlled by stuffing myself with food night and day. I found someone who would watch my boys for a weekend and checked myself into a nice hotel, where I cried and ranted and raged and soaked in a huge tub for two solid days. At the end of it, I went home, hugged my kids, and finally admitted to my therapist that I was damned angry. It took months of spewing out ugly clots of rage in his office (and an affair with a man who was absolutely wrong for me except for ways that still make me grin--I USED that man for his body, and I'm still so glad of it. Personal maintenance sex, I called it.) before I began to feel like normal again. But today, 80 pounds lighter, I have a loving relationship with my boys and with myself. Take care of yourself, Snick, because that's the key to taking care of your kids. Hang in there, and know how many people care about and are rooting for you.

B said...

You're a strong, inspiring woman, and a great mother.

Neurotic Grad Student said...

Please do something or your adorable kids will grow up resenting and/or afraid of you. I don't want to be Anonymous harsh or anything, but I'm just speaking from experience.

My mom had (and still has) depression when I was growing up. She refused to acknowledge that there was a problem and refused all treatment. This meant I had a mother who worked and slept and that was it. I never spent time with her, she never fixed us meals, and I never really knew her. I have forgiven her, but as a child and especially as a teenager, I resented her a lot for giving up on life and giving up on raising me and my sister.

My dad was the active parent. I know he turned out to be the bad guy because my mom was never around, but he yelled a lot. And never turned away an excuse for corporal punishment. To this day, at 29 years old, I am terrified of the man.

I avoid both their phone calls and spend as little time with them as possible.

I'm not saying this WILL happen to you, but if you don't get the help you need, it's certainly a possibility.

Anonymous said...

For your childrens' sake, and yours, you need medication. Take it from someone who knows. Caroline

OTRgirl said...

As to the yelling, my Mom yelled ALOT. She wasn't mothered much and didn't have coping skills for all the creative and terrible ways kids break you down. I think you're much more patient than she was. All that is to say, I still know she loved me and valued me as a person. The yelling won't erase all the other ways you show and do love for the twins.

Being able to name the emotion you're in is HUGE. I've probably told you the analogy I developed for grief? The first year or two, it felt like I was walking next to the ocean. I wouldn't even realize I'd been swept out to sea until I was overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings that just weren't 'normal'. Eventually I'd be able to name the particular ocean I was in (denial, depression, anger, etc). Once identified, it became slightly easier to find tools to survive until I'd find myself on the beach again.

You haven't done anything wrong to end up there, but being able to name it and having some outlets to process it is exactly what you need.

I agree with other commenters: don't underestimate the impact of the holidays. It makes grief much heavier.

Nikki said...

I know you've come to this realization within this post, but you can't act like everything is okay when you're with your therapist. Because then it will do you no good. I hope this eye opening will help you out more. You deserve it!

Anonymous said...

Are you still giving Maddie benadryl? My kids would fall dead asleep for an hour or two, and then wake up absolutely wired. If she still really needs it, try to find the clear kind (no red dye).

Thinking good thoughts for you.


Crash Course Widow said...

I think we have/had twin widow experiences in these arenas. Unlike most people in my support group--most of whom lost their spouses to natural causes--I was seething with anger...particularly in the 2nd year. Sure, I was angry the first year, but it took on a life of its own in the 2nd and into the 3rd--particularly as Anna hit her Terrible Twos/Demonic Threes in full force. I felt awful to begin with, but once Anna switched from being an easy, manageable child to one who was NOT, my anger got even worse. There was no squelching it anymore. I yelled at her some, I spanked her occasionally, and I had absolutely no patience for her shit. I knew it was normal--her behavior as much as mine, given the circumstances--but it didn't make it feel any better.

Medication may or may not help. I refused to take anything for about 14 months, but when our house was for sale, I just couldn't handle the stress, mood swings, and desolation anymore, so I got on something that started with a C (I think). And I guess it helped, at least some. I can't tell you if it helped me feel better, because everything was so hard and excruciating right then...but it certainly might have helped to bring up the baseline ever so slightly. And I certainly felt worse when I went off them 7 months later, @ 21.5 mos. out--it was actually when the grief really started spiking back up and stayed awful til this past spring--so perhaps they did more than I thought...but I can never really know. (Read here, at the end of the entry, for a bit more on it.) But one thing I didn't like was the way that I felt do deadened while on them. I couldn't cry and felt sort of stoned emotionally, and the tears I could shed when I went off them felt better...but it came at a price because I certainly felt worse overall too. Some people in my support group have been on them (and still are, at 3-4+ years out), some never did. They might help, but they might not...and they're not a quick, short-term fix. It takes a while for the effect to build up, and it requires maintenance. And be forewarned that you may have some nasty side-effects going on or off them. But you deserve to feel better, so if you decide to try them, don't beat yourself up for it; you're doing the best you can, and even crazy, angry, grieving, single-mama widows need help too. =)

As a widow who's both sold (or tried to) a house twice and quit work since her husband died, I'm strongly cautioning AGAINST doing those things. If you're feeling this awful right now, there won't be any break or distraction when you don't have work as a "safe" place to go where you don't have to be mommy and where it gives you a sense of normalcy and distractions. Selling the condo might help, but selling "our" house (it sold and I moved @ 16 mos. out) was excruciatingly hard and painful...and it was easier to live somewhere other than "our" house...but in this market, I don't know that it's worth it. If you can stick it out for while, it might get better. Plus, what I found is that selling the house and moving just delayed the grief for a while, and (IMO) ended up making it worse for a long time. See if there are other ways--being more truthful in therapy, being more honest with the hearty ones who can take it, taking vacations, cutting back your hours or responsibilities at work, getting extra help with the twins, getting out on your own socially more, taking the meds--to help make it more manageable before you go to such epic steps. And in the end, quitting work or selling might be the right choice for you...but for me, I can't say that they were the best things for me in the long run.

Hang in there, Snick. It'll get easier...eventually. Can't tell you when, but at least at some point I can attest that it does get better. That second year is still so early and fresh in the grief process--despite that, as you're in it, you think you're a solid veteran and have it all figured out (mostly, anyway)--but in reality, 18 months is still so incredibly new in many ways.

Hugs (and sorry for the epic length here! =)),

Giovanna Diaries said...

I knew we should have gotten wasted Saturday night!
Hang in there kiddo. I'm here for you if you need anything.

Anonymous said...

You want to sell your house. You want to go on vacation and just read. Those are only geography, it won't change your attitude. Which isn't the best right now and who can blame you for that? You are admitting that it is bad and that is a good thing. At least you aren't in a big pile of denial.

Yes, you chose to have children with someone who wasn't going to be there for you or for them. Not to be flip, but what did you think it would be like? Did you maybe have some expectation of what you or life would be like and it's not and you are let down by yourself too? No parent is perfect. So you yell. It's just a habit and a coping mechanism right now. I am a reformed yeller. I still do once in awhile, but you'll figure it out. Don't freak out too much about it. Again, you are admitting you don't like it and it's making things worse, so just keep working on it.

Try them and if they don't work, at least you will know. It's certainly not a sign of weakness to give them a go. What's the worst that could happen? What if they work? I think the sooner the better! ;)

Take care of yourself and lots of people are thinking about you - if only there was more that we could do physically for you!


Lals said...

Awww, Snick, Congratulations! I'm so proud of you! You've figured out in a short time, what it's taken me years to sort out -- pretending to be happy (all the time) simply does not work, it just delays the inevitable.

I encourage you to find some sort of physical outlet -- in the form of working out as hard as you possibly can. It's always helped me release some anger. (I do imagine, however, that finding the time to work out with two little ones at home may be challenging.) I also encourage you to continue to explore this path without medication. (I realize that this is going to be an unpopular view on your blog.) But you're on to something good, and you might just be amazing at your own strength.

((Hugs, darling.))

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing woman and mom. Please don't be so hard on yourself. Its so obvious how much you love your children and how much you strive to be all you can be.
Your posts from the past couple of months have sounded so upbeat and happy. (I mean this in the nicest way) but was that not the real you or is it possible that, like others have suggested, the holidays are taking a toll on you? While I agree with the therapist/meds to help you, what about getting rid of the holiday stress - travel - and just stay home and take care of yourself and children?

Take care -

Lyndsay said...

Rage on girl - we're here for you.

django's mommy said...

I really, really wish I lived in Boston.

Talk it out, girl. You're doing great. Naming the emotions is a HUGE step in the right direction.

shmo said...

Since unfortunately I can't fly to Boston to help in person, please add me to the long list of people who are hurting for you and hoping that better days are coming soon.

Denise said...

So sorry that you're having a tough time. I just want to add to the chorus that said it sounds like Maddie is having night terrors. My son has them, and he just screams and screams no matter what you do. You could ask him if he wants to watch TV while eating cookies and he will still scream and cry. It's hard to tell that he's not awake--his eyes are open and he's answering questions, but everything is "no." It usually happens when he is very tired. If he's had a great, active day and collapses in a heap before bedtime, it often means we're headed for a night terror. The fastest way around it is to do nothing--holding, stroking, talking, etc. just seem to prolong it. For him, anyway, the less stimulus the better.

Angela said...


I've been a "lurker" for a long time now and I really feel your pain. I'm a 35 year old single mom to a 11 year old who has ADHD. I was diagnosed with bipolar II (manic depression) back in 2004 and have gone through times of anger and depression. I have felt like you...the feelings of guilt, feeling like I'm not doing enough for my child, feeling angry all the time, etc.

Yesterday my son was diagnosed with bipolar and also oppositional defiant disorder. So now I'm struggling with the guilt of knowing that bipolar is hereditary, wondering what I could have done differently, knowing that he now has to take yet ANOTHER medication, and feeling angry at myself for yelling at him when he acted out.

The bottom line is that we are all human, hon. Us single moms have been given a really hard row to hoe, and when you throw in depression and feelings of anger it makes that row even tougher. We are our own worst enemies and are harder on ourselves than anyone will ever be.

My best advice to you is to just breathe, relax, follow your gut, and do what you feel is best for you.

BrooklynGirl said...

Hang in there, sweet girl. You're among the strongest ladies I know.

Anonymous said...

Drugs. Drugs are Very Good. They don't make you feel less; they just make you feel well.

Anonymous said...

Yes, definitely give antidepressants a try. I think they will be helpful for you.
A Ph.D. in NJ

Astrogirl426 said...

Oh honey - if you need it, I'm a nice sturdy shoulder to cry on. I've been through the medication debate (see previous comment :)), so I hear you on the should I/shouldn't i.

Tell you what - you ever feel like a road trip, stick the kiddos in the car, hop on 90, and come over Albany way. We're about 10 minutes over the NY border (so, about half an hour east of Albany), and we have 20 wooded acres and a funny round house the kids can run around in (and no worries about keeping things pristine, we love running around in the mud, and cement sweeps clean!). And a stay-at-home mom to kvetch to, and a great dad to watch the kids while we go out and get some drinks!! Anytime you need, you have my email girl.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about last night. I know how hard it can be with one inconsolable child-- I can't imagine two.

You have an amazing self awareness and I really admire that about you. I think you are on the right track to feeling better.

Good luck and if you'd like to leave the kiddies in RI for a break, count me in to help!

Karen said...

for reasons completely different than your own, i have been fighting off a depression for close to a year now. i finally "broke down" and went to see a psychiatrist 2 months ago (my therapist can't presribe meds). he suggested lexapro and asked me to come back in a month to see how i was doing with it. i went back, but hadn't started the meds. i had a million reasons/excuses. in the end though i couldn't really put my finger on why i was so hesitant to take them.

i have medicated through depression on 2 previous occasions, with fairly positive results. they definitely helped the depression. its just that, for me, the meds sometimes create their own set of side effects that have their own issues. i did finally start taking the pills a few days ago but its obviously too soon to tell if they're helping. the trigger for me though was, like you, realizing that its just not right to be so angry ALL the time. i don't really feel depressed or sad, per se, but this constant anger just can't be right either.

in any case, i guess i don't really have any advice to offer - just support from yet another stranger who thinks your own strength of character and love for your children is so evident in your writing and your constant efforts to ensure their happiness and well-being.

hang in there - and try to be kind to yourself.

(another) karen

Anonymous said...

Me, too. Hit bottom. Started thinking about meds. Admitted to myself that I'm angry. Really cried. Really started thinking about meds. Realized that I had come to believe in chin up, act as if everything's fine until it is fine, making lemonade is the only way to make a good life. Realized that ain't workin'. Ready to try something new.

winecat said...

Snick, congratulations for hitting bottom and realizing that you are incredibly angry. It can only go up from here. It may take a while (speaking from experience) but with the help of your therapist and possibly meds you will get back to the top.

hugs to you and take care

Anonymous said...

A long time ago, in a land far away, I followed your old blog. I cried for you when you lost your husband and wondered how you would cope with your very young twins. I wished there was something that I could do to help you....

Then I found myself in something similar to your shoes. My husband died suddenly of a cardiac arrhythmia on July 8,2007, when my twins (B/G) were 22 months old.

I found your blog by happenstance the other day and I have found you could be writing FOR me. The anger. The hidden anger. The wanting to be "fine" when you are anything but. The feeling like a bad parent when you are just plain overwhelmed and exhausted.

I wish you luck dealing with things in your life. I hope your plan works.... and let us know if it does. Maybe I'll give it a try! Lord knows I'm drowning over here.


Erin said...

Have you thought seriously of moving closer to your mom? That's what I would do. There is nothing stronger than the love and support of a parent.

amanda said...

my dad died at age 38 leaving my mom, also 38, with three teenagers ( all angry post death ! ) and myself, 9, and my brother age 4.
To say it was tough for her - is a HUGE understatement. She used to say "thank God I buried him so I would have somewhere to go and yell at him for leaving me" !!!
We look on it now with humor, but now that we are all parents we TRULY appreciate how tough those times must have been for her.
I'm on antidepressants now and see the difference they make in my level of patience and anxiety.
Please give them a try for a least two months and journal the difference here on your blog.

Sandy (ann arbor) said...

My heart is crying for you. I don't know how you do it all; wish I could help somehow.


Midwest Mommy said...

I am new to your blog today. I will pray for you and hope that you get through all of this and heal.

Tiffany said...

I really don't know what to say but you have been through a LOT in the past year or so. I just hope things get better for you.

On a seperate note I featured you on my weekly blog tour. Maybe you will get a few more readers!

Anonymous said...

It’s okay to feel so incredibly angry like you’ve never felt before in your life. It’s okay to do what you want and what is right and best for yourself even if that’s not what others, such as family, want. If you really don’t want to visit the in-laws, then don’t. If you just want to stay home and ignore the holidays, then do that (maybe just something really small and simple for you and the kids, at home). For this time in your life, in these circumstances, maybe you have to stop considering everyone else (except your kids, of course) and just take care of yourself emotionally. You are not obligated to make John’s family’s holiday “better” or less sad by bringing the kids to visit them. You should just do what's best and feels right for yourself and your kids. Your kids are young enough that they won’t remember the yelling. However, if it continues for a long while, it will contribute to the formation of their personalities and how they relate to others when they are older. This is why, as you already know, you need to get a handle on it at least in their presence. Grieving takes time. Lots and lots of time. 18 months isn’t enough time to expect things to be okay in your life. I can’t address the issue of meds or no meds. I did the widow trip without but also did not have kids to care for during that time. I’m hopeful that you and your therapist can figure out what’s best for you in that regard. Hang in there! Someday a rainbow will appear for you!

Anonymous said...

I have nothing helpful to say but wanted to offer moral support. I wish there were something more concrete I could do.

I do second the thought that you will get through this (and I LOVE the commenter who said "fuck grace and poise"), and I'm not going to tell you it's because you're strong and wonderful (although you are). It's because you have no other choice. We'll be cheering for you every step of the way.


Yummy Mummy said...

it takes an even stronger person to know when to ask for help. Whether it's meds or not there is nothing wrong in admitting you can't do it all yourself. No one can. Not me that's for sure. You continue to be my hero, rock bottom or not.


Anonymous said...

I am a mother of boy girl twins (2 on Saturday). I cannot imagine going it alone. I am very much against medication, but suffer from OCD, and survive only by medication. You have experienced more stress and grief than many will ever know. This can cause a shift in your Serotonin levels.25 or 50 mg/day of a nice anti-anxiety or anti-depressant will probably do the trick in getting your chemicals back in line. Good energy your way~

kim said...

Don't know if you will get through all the comments but when my 6 y/o has his night terrors I take him into a different room. He and my 4 y/o share a room and it just makes life easier to not have both of them up and crying. Also, I have noticed that his night terrors, while almost every night, they have gotten shorter so that he is back asleep soundly within a minute or two.

Sara said...

awesome. i mean that you are done with being fine, not all that you're going through. awesome that you've had this breakthrough and that you have the courage to be and feel and express these "unpretty" feelings and stop being what anyone besides maddie and riley need you to be.

on the kids and sleeping note- could it be the benadryl? maybe it agrees with riley but there seems to be a direct correlation between maddie's uncharacteristic hysterics and the introduction of benadryl. it makes my son bonkers, that's why i thought of it.

hoping you find some relief soon!

Betty M said...

Its fine to be angry. I'm glad you are going to get more help too - its really sensible.

flaneuse said...

Hi Snick! I have been following your blog for a long long time too and just wanted to send you my support. You are a fantastic Mom. I love how you are so aware and proactive--so many other parents are NOT.

I remember when my son was at M & R's age and it is TOUGH. I think that two-three age range is so difficult for parents and the kids. DH was not there for that year so I had to cope by myself...not fun. I was exhausted, frustrated, angry. I ended up "visiting" my parents for 5 months until DH could come home and collect us.

Anyway, I think 2009 is going to be YOUR year. I have a feeling many good things are on the horizon for you.


Lisa said...

You know, I thought of you today. And I hope this doesn't sound weird or bad...but I thought of you because I yelled at my kids all day today and felt miserable and emotional and crappy.

I thought of you because at least you fess up to this feeling of anger, being overwhelmed by the single parenting deal, of the guilt for yelling at your kids. At least you are honest about it, and I am not so much. I yell at my kids too much, and I don't tell anyone.

And the first step is admitting what you are doing, right? Looking yourself in the eye and saying this isn't working. You are brave to do that. I need to do that some more. I don't know what the answer is (for either of us) but I want to tell you that your honesty has really helped me to see MY reality. Which is helping me to take action and try to find a way to make it better.

I'm here, too, if you want to commiserate. Hang in there, I guess we just keep going, right?

Anonymous said...

I think I've probably been depressed for while too and it also took me having a breakdown with my mom over the phone to realize that it may be time to start thinking about medication. Sometimes I guess we just need our moms.

And I agree, getting it out feels SO good!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this - I don't have time to read every comment - but this time of year can be tough on many people ... even for those of us who don't have the same stresses and recent history you do.

The dreary weather and shorter days, the hoidays coming up, with all the accompanying unrealistic expectations ... all of it can really undermine optimism and confidence.

I applaud you for your insight and the drawing up of enough energy to be self-aware and take charge during this truly difficult time. I hope you also give yourself the credit you are due ...

All best wishes being sent your way.

... leslie

leslie said...

hi snick,

i have struggled with the depression thing for a while, and it is ALWAYS worse around this time of year and right after the holidays. taking anti-depressants won't make you miss your husband any less, it won't make life problem-free...they just help make life a little bit more manageable. you said a few posts ago that the holidays are always difficult. maybe you can try out medication now and view it as a temporary thing, to help you get through this tough time

keep calling your mom, it always helps!!

Kathryn said...

Hugs and love and support for whatever option you decide has the most chance of actually making life manageable for you.
You are a mega star to confront your situation and "tell it like it is".
Your anger is more than understandable.
Many prayers and hopes that recognising it may be a step on the way to making things better.

Christine said...

Snick -- Only you know what's right for you re: meds. However, I know how much they took the edge off for me (and all the other people who have left comments singing the praises of their meds on your site). Just keep your options open, keep being honest and know you have a lot of fans in blogland.

Nancy said...


Anonymous said...

Your post resonates strongly with me. I could have written that. I have come to that realization and it made me feel better and I believe it is what I need to do. I have found it hard to maintain it though, so I feel like I cycle through pretending to be fine and then realizing that I'm doing it and recommitting myself to not pretending. It is hard to do. I hope you have more success than I have had.

annie said...

Hello there. I just wanted to say that the way you describe yourself is exactly how I feel about myself. The only difference is that I only have one child and with my husband so I can't even imagine how much harder it is for you. Crying DOES help and it seems like that is all I have to relieve the stress and frustration. I've tried medication but I have yet to find one that helps.

I just wanted to send you a big "HUG" and let you know that you are a GREAT MOTHER!

Anonymous said...

So - I'm not the normal "Anon" who posts contentious comments, and is generally an ass - but I am choosing to be an Anon for this comment.

I just wanted to take a moment to comment on the manifestation of your anger... aka... The Yelling.

I grew up in a house with a periodic yeller. My mother was a doormat and my father was "The Yeller". The tricky part was you never knew which version of the Dad was going to be home... the nice one, or the yeller. And you never knew what was going to flip the switch, or how long it was going to to be flipped for.

It was highly stressful as a kid, to contantly be walking on eggshells, to contantly be worried that something wasn't "right enough" and anytime something was set down harder than normal or closed louder than usual, that the yelling would begin. The longer it went, the nastier it got - and the escalation and triggers only got worse as I got older. The yelling led to slamming things, the slamming yelled to breaking items, so on and so forth...

As an adult - anytime a male raises his voice, I cringe. Its an automatic reflex. As I see men get torked about something - I cringe, and try to fade away into the distance. God forbid an angry man raises his arm - I literally physically cringe... Its a fun thing leftover from the yelling.

I'm not saying it's goign to be this way for your kids - but you have the opportunity to make it not that way.

Please be honest in your therapy sessions, ask for the help you need, and do what you have to do to get it. You have recognized the issue - so you have the opportunity to deal with it.

You can make a change today, that will affect the tomorrow for your kids.

Lisa said...

I realized I was very angry too and and at myself for being angry. Then guilty! I have been on lexapro for over a year and it really took the edge off. I still get angry but not every day over every little or big thing. I wanted to do it on my own but couldn't. I am so glad I did it.

Julia said...

Snick, I am so sorry. What a rough night.

And I would like to be counted among those who can take it. Plus, I serve coffee... I find that anger pores forth nicely with a steaming latte on the side.

Anonymous said...

I, too, grew up with a periodic Yeller. It was terrible in my house until my father entered serious therapy and took medication. I am happy to say that our house turned peaceful and my dad and I had a MUCH better relationship - and still do.

Elizabeth said...

I only know you through your blog, but if yelling makes one a bad mother, well, I'm right there with you. I was so busy denying I was sad, that I didn't realize how angry I was, so it seems like recognizing the emotion is a step in the right direction. I don't know what the rest of it is like, except I can tell you that anti-depressants made a difference for me. They didn't make everything better and I still felt sad and angry, but I didn't feel that way All The Time.

Thinking of you.

Anne said...

So proud of you for all you're carrying so beautifully. (Even if you don't feel that's the case.) Sending you love and warm wishes.

Danielle said...

The moment I realized it was time for medication, after 8 months of therapy without it, was very similar to what you just experienced. The truth is you are NOT fine. You have realized this.

Deciding to medicate myself was one of the biggest and best decisions I've ever made. Remember, it's not a PERMANENT decision. It does require some research and weighing of pros and cons, but it doesn't require endless what-if scenarios.

You need to get closer to YOU, and right now something is blocking you. And it's not something you alone have the power to change. Recognize and accept that and give yourself over to the care of your doctors, therapist, and family and hope for the best.

Karyn said...

Good for you for acknowledging that all is not right with your world. I, too, came from a family where everything was Just Fine, Thank You Very Much, and it was hard to be able to learn to show emotion and be okay with it. (Now I cry at almost every sappy commercial. Maybe a bit too far in the other direction?)

Exploring your options re: ADs sounds like a good move. Maybe you just need the edge taken off, and the baseline restored. It did wonders for me, and it's not a life sentence. You might just need them to get over this hurdle you are currently facing. My Dr. said that probably 80% of people go through a depressive episode in their life, not all needing medication of course, but that it is way more common than we think.

Cheers to you and you wonderful kiddies. You will all be just fine.

Anonymous said...

Long time lurker, de-lurking to say one word: Wellbutrin. A small dose, no side effects, and finally, the voice in my head isn't filled with rage.

Feeling angry all the time, whether you keep it in (and have it leak out the edges) or let it out, is hell. I know.

Karen O said...

Just say "yes."

My anxiety, directly inherited from BOTH parents, made me crazy with constant worry. Lexapro has made my life so much easier.

Admitting that I needed it was the hardest part. Wishing I'd made the step years earlier - typical, I suppose.

Strength -

Jane said...

Congrats on this breakthrough. Once you hit rock bottom, there's nowhere to go but up, and it sounds like you've got a good handle on what it will take to go in that direction. It won't be easy, but you'll get there.

And for the record, my parents used to yell at me and my brother all the time, and we turned out just fine. I think it's WHAT you yell, rather than the fact of yelling. There's a big difference between yelling, "You're a worthless little brat!" and "I want to help you, because I love you, but you won't let me!" I think even kids pick up on that.

tinshee said...

Another supporter for meds...

I was having anxiety attacks on a regular basis, but for some reason I couldn't even put into words I was reluctant to go on medication.

After 3 nights in a row of major panic attacks I bit the bullet and talked to my PCP. 20mg/day of prozac later, I can't believe I waited so long. Fewer panic attacks, less severe anxiety in general, and a bonus- I didn't cry every single time I got frustrated, nervous, or overwhelmed.

I'm now a fan.

Cindy said...

Your post sounded like me - I was angry ALL.THE.TIME...for no reason that I could tell. I told myself that I was stressed from getting married, moving, getting a new dog, etc...but after a year or more, I couldn't excuse away the anger and pain I was feeling and causing.

I'm much happier and more of my 'normal' self (but what is normal, really?) now that I'm on Lexapro. My doctor told me that my family and friends would notice the difference first - and they did. I'm much more level headed about things and can 'deal' with things so much better.

Good luck with whatever you do decide. :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow...I read your post and realized that this was me. I've read your blog for a while, and am constantly amazed by your strength. I lost my mom when my son was 7 mths old and now 2 years later I'm realizing that maybe I need to be back on some meds or at least in therapy again.

Thanks for helping me come to a realization about myself! Best of luck.


Anonymous said...

I am not going to be in the popular crowd here and tell you to take medication. I guess all the bad experiences I've had in the past with my Mom being on medication. I don't really know who she is because she's someone different all the time with the pills.

At least if I yell, cry or laugh, I feel that's me. I may be hormonal, moody, whatever. Sometimes just talking to the right person or getting some time alone to read or exercise is the answer. If you could get a sitter, rent a nice room somewhere just for you, or schedule some time to yourself for exercise, that may be more helpful than medication.