The Third Day On Venlafaxine

I lost 4 kg (8.8 pounds) since Friday. Even though it is getting easier on my digestive system and the nausea usually starts dissolving 90 minutes after taking the venlafaxine, I still can eat only selective groups of food, and only in small portions –  apples, bananas, pineapples, potatoes, rice, bread. Oh, and my soy drink works too. But meat, fish, eggs or vegetables make me instantly sick. While I actually welcome the weight loss, I hope that does not lead to a rebound further down the road…
The brain zaps are increasing, and sometimes it feels like thousands of ants are crawling over the surface of my brain.


Constant Dripping Wears The Stone

(Source: Dan Piraro)

I am not entirely serious about the comic strip; it’s more of a hyperbolic comment on my life, but I need some humour and the chance to vent in order to deal with today. My mum has been cavilling me since the morning, a constant trickle of criticism and petty jabs. And even though I am fully aware that I am not the reason for her jibes, but merely the most convenient target for her projections, it still hurts. Drip.
The individual remarks are trivial, not worth getting upset over, one should think: one was about my doormat having been dirty for “at least three months”, when the handymen who are currently renovating the flat next door had left the crumbs of mortar and concrete only 36 hours ago – which have been cleaned away since Friday night already. Drip. One was about me relating a news article of local interest I had read online which according to her was “old news” – despite the publishing date being yesterday. Drip. One was a degrading remark because I had to take a nap this afternoon, “just because you had to go shopping at 10 AM” – even though I’d had a really bad night with only 5 hours of fitful sleep (when I need 9 hours because of the depression) and still had gotten up without complaining. Drip.
What upsets me the most is that my mother makes these comments because she is upset with another person, and then takes it out on whoever crosses her path. I’ve been through this in therapy so many times and know exactly what I should do and say, but she triggers an automated behaviour in me which just makes me sound sulky and defensive instead. We are not really interacting with each other, but acting parts in a pre-determined script. There is so little self-reflection on her part…

My sister is between jobs right now, with another month to go before her new employment starts. Being divorced and unemployed, she and my mother spent a lot of time together: eight, ten, twelve hours a day, for the last three months. My sister also has started seeing a psychiatrist and taking antidepressants; generally speaking, a very good development. So I understood that my mother would be preoccupied with all of that, since it indirectly concerned a large part of her own day.
My mother has strong tendencies towards OCD-behaviour, with a myriad of unwritten rules one better not crosses. Doing something in a different fashion than the one she uses will give her a very hard time. She is also “orthorexic” in so far that she is obsessed with nutritional properties, minerals, vitamins, and whatever positive qualities an ingredient might have. So when my sister decided to try a vegan challenge, or go at least vegetarian for a while (she took a break for Christmas), my mother was all over that.
Now, I don’t have anything against vegans or vegetarians. I understand and even agree with a lot of the reasons why people would choose to eat this way. In fact, I try to have a vegetarian day or two every week, but I could not go without meat for a longer time, and my husband is quite the carnivore. I respect the choice others made, and want mine to be respected as well. But once my sister embarked on her vegan adventure, my mother’s occasional negative remarks on what I am buying / cooking turned into a steady stream. Drip, drip, drip.
Thanks to the antidepressants, my sister had the urge to walk a lot, and so they would go out together, walk two or three hours every day – and are now bragging about the weight they lost. Some days, they make me feel like a fat, blubbery pudding; the German word I have in mind is Trauerkloß, literally a “mourning dumpling”. The idiot who is too slow and pathetic to get on with her life, the fat fuck who always sleeps. Of course they do not use those words, but this is the effect their little verbal needle pricks have on me. Drip, drip, drip. And it took two years of psychotherapy just to come to the conviction that the problem is actually on her end, not mine.

Not only are they together 90 % of the time these days, but on the rare occasion I see my mother without my sister, she incessantly talks about her. And while I understand that this is on the forefront of her mind due to the many hours they spend in each other’s company, I would very much like to talk about something that is important to me once in a while. I feel like I am going to have a melt-down if the situation goes on for much longer.

Happy Holidays

The official part of Christmas is over – visiting relatives left, the big dinner is eaten, all the presents are exchanged. And for the first time in many years it was a really happy holiday for me: neither did the stress prior to Christmas Eve get too much to handle, nor did anything happen which threw me off balance during the celebration.

It was the first time my parents would officially have my husband over; they had met before, but never longer than for just a few minutes. Since my parents do not speak English and he does not know enough German yet, they cannot really talk without a translator, which is part of the reason why this was only happening now, but in the end it went really well.
My niece, who comes to visit us quite often and is not bothered by the limitations of her school-English, helped bridge the first few minutes of shyness, and my former brother-in-law can converse in English as well (my sister had it in school for a couple of years, but never became an actual active speaker), so there were no awkward silences. That was what I had worried about the most;  I knew everyone would be friendly and civil to one another, but was afraid that it might turn into a strenuous affair. And while for my husband it was all about meeting people he did not really know and wanting to leave a good impression, it was also an unusual and new situation for me because I never before brought any girl- or boyfriend over to meet my parents, ever! Fortunately, the whole evening was a success.

We’d spent the morning running errands, and in the afternoon my sister, her ex-husband, my husband and I went to watch my niece in a nativity play. None of us is religious and I personally have strong reservations towards the Catholic Church as an organisation, but it was only a lay-service for the neighbourhood and my niece loves playing theatre, and in years past it also proved a good opportunity to get out of my mother’s feet for a while. This year, she barked a bit, but did not bite anyone.
Afterwards, I went to help with the preparations for dinner. On the menu were: freshly squeezed mandarin-orange juice with lemon balm leaves as starter; coronation chicken as first course; the main course was pork filet with Roquefort-sauce, potato gratin and French beans; as dessert we had banoffee pie – all home-made. (For any British reader this might sound somewhat ordinary, but I can assure you that for Germans, there’s an exotic element to most of these dishes as they are not common here at all.) At five o’ clock everything was ready and I went to change into nicer attire and to get my husband.
Since in Germany presents are traditionally exchanged in the evening of December the 24th, we took a break after the main course. My niece was the only child of the group and she likes to draw out the whole ceremony to keep the thrill of suspension alive, so in my family one gift at a time gets unwrapped, meaning that it takes at least an hour until everyone’s finished. My husband and I mainly got practical presents, but given our age and financial situation, we could really appreciate them. Eventually, we returned to the dining table for dessert, and finally just sat together on the sofa for talking and watching my niece try out her presents. At nine o’ clock, we bid the rest adieu: mainly because the cheese-based sauce made my lactose intolerance kick in, but also because I felt that after four hours, my husband could use a break.

On Christmas Day, my aunt and grandmother came over for coffee in the afternoon (to my parents’, that is), and with their departure, the official part of Christmas ended. December 25th and 26th are both public holidays in Germany, and in my family, the latter is reserved for laziness. You sleep in, eat leftovers or meals which do not require a lot of preparation, go for a walk to get some fresh air and a little bit of exercise for your legs (mine start hurting if I sit around too much – they get rather stiff quickly as a result of my inability to relax physically), and otherwise do whatever you want: watch TV, read, play a computer game… Considering the fact that I need a lot more time for recharging my batteries than the average person does, I really appreciate this opportunity for relaxation after a busy and exciting start into the holidays.