Fatigued and Dehydrated in Paradise

Alpine girls

Avonlea and Rilla picking wildflowers in Bear Creek!


It’s a spectacular, sunny afternoon in Alpine Meadows. I’m alone in the “Munchkin Cabin” while Lucy naps on the cool kitchen floor. The rest of the family is swimming in the brisk Truckee River. Fortunately Craig and the girls understand that I need some down time. Moreover, if Lucy and I accompanied them, she’d drive everyone bonkers barking at the plethora of ducks floating peacefully down the river.

Meanwhile, this past week I assumed I’d avoid updates about Robin Williams since I’ve been unable to receive internet or television/radio in the cabin. I was wrong. It turns out that Robin Williams had strong ties to this area, which was relatively close to his San Francisco base, for over the past twenty years.

He loved taking his family skiing at the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, which is five minutes up the road from our cabin. He enjoyed Alpine so much that he became close friends with the ski director. When the ski director had his first child, a Fed Ex truck delivered a gorgeous rocking chair sent to him by Williams that has become a family heirloom.

How do I know these facts? Well, the other day in front of Truckee Safeway I grabbed the two local weeklies. In my hurry I didn’t see that Robin Williams was on the cover of each one. Since these feature stories were personal, heartfelt accounts that went beyond the gruesome headlines, I allowed myself to read them.

One article discussed Williams’ longtime patronage at an upscale Tahoe City restaurant called Wolfdales. He visited this waterfront locals’ favorite many times. Once he even brought some of his Monty Python friends and they evidently brought down the house.

Today, while Craig visited the Tahoe City Library with the girls to do some work, I walked by Wolfdales restaurant with Lucy. We paused for a moment just ten feet away from where my hero Robin Williams crossed its threshold numerous times. I imagined him having good evenings there despite his troubles, but the darkened doorway was an eerie sight.

I took in a deep breath and carried on with my stroll with sprightly Lucy by my side. Walking in the fresh, lakeside air with my adorable puppy helped me mentally, and I didn’t feel quite as sad as I’ve felt since Monday night.

Meanwhile, Craig and I noticed that we’ve been affected by the Tahoe altitude more than we have in the past. I know we’re both getting older, but…the entire time we’ve been here I’ve felt totally wiped out. Craig mentioned that he has woken up each day feeling as if he had a hangover. Neither of us drinks alcohol anymore, however, and today he told me he thinks we’re not drinking enough water.

“I bet you’re right!” I agreed.

During past visits to Alpine Meadows, I drank plenty of the delicious Tahoe tap water, but on this trip I’ve hardly had any. Duh! I should have known better. I’m hoping that I’ll get more energy as a result of drinking enough water from now on…

So please believe me, I know how lucky we are to be on this trip, but I’m not going to lie to you – in many ways it doesn’t feel like a vacation at all! My husband has been dealing with work-related crises every day. Our two daughters have been fighting up a storm, which is nothing new. However, before this trip I’ve had them occupied for several hours at a time with their friends on a regular bases, giving me an essential break. Up here for the most part we are around one another 24/7.

We’re in tight quarters in the aptly named Munchkin Cabin, so it feels claustrophobic at times. There are no four-star restaurants on our agenda – that’s for sure. We make most of our meals in the cabin. Due to our trip budget, our activities must be low-cost and they mostly consist of visiting state parks and beaches. Lake Tahoe has some of the most beautiful state parks in the world.

I can just hear some cheesy, woe-is-me, “wah wah wah” music playing in the background as I type this; I’m not sure how I’d take it if I read someone else complaining about a Tahoe vacation! I’m hoping to earn your empathy when I explain that I’m personally really struggling…mostly with the lack of structure on this loosely planned getaway as well as with the other points I brought up.  

Another big challenge is that since I’ve been so fatigued, I haven’t exercised the way I have at home, and obviously that brings down my mood. My sleep has been worse than usual, complete with 2:00 a.m. bouts of coughing. At least last night I finally slept without waking up to cough my lungs outs for twenty minutes – at last I’m on the mend.


Anyway, please…don’t be jealous of my vacation! 😉


At least I haven’t seen a bear through the window this time like I did during my previous visit! Yes, that happened a few years ago. I was taking a shower while my girls watched a video in the Munchkin’s living room. Craig was napping upstairs. When I came into the dining room, I looked out the large window. Five feet away from where I stood dripping in my towel, I saw a BIG bear cub staring right back at me.   I couldn’t believe my eyes!


Without thinking, I yelled out “Bear!!!” The cub ran up the steep hill away from the cabin (No mama bear was in sight!) and I ran to check the front door, which was wide open.


Our metal garbage can was inside the hallway and its metal lid was on the floor. There was some garbage strewn about. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the bear quietly climbed up the long, steep staircase into our cabin while the girls watched the video; it went through our garbage without a peep, and then it took off.


It turned out that Craig had made the egregious mistake of leaving our door cracked open in bear country. It amazed me that the bear was so quiet inside our cabin, and of course I thanked God that baby bear or Mama Bear didn’t explore the Munchkin further and spot our girls!

All is peaceful for now. No bears are meandering outside my window, no ostentatious multi-million dollar homes are being constructed next door (as is happening throughout this area), and I don’t have to hear my girls switching from sweet to screechy within ten seconds flat.

I better get my book and read while I can focus.   I brought up my copy of the recently published “A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness – A Story About Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis” by Jennifer Hentz Moyer. It’s not exactly light reading, I know, but very interesting and relevant to me nonetheless. Moyer was not only diagnosed with postpartum psychosis immediately after her son was born; she also received a postpartum bipolar disorder diagnosis a whopping six years after childbirth. Moyer has become an active mental health advocate and she’s featured in the book “Back from the Brink” which profiles people with depression and bipolar disorder.

Thanks for reading, and take good care of yourselves! I’ll return to reading your wonderful blogs next weekend – I miss them all!












A Blessing In Disguise – Unexpectedly Cut Off from the Internet!

Evening at Squaw

 The above photo of me & my girls was taken a couple years ago here in Squaw Valley.



Note to my readers – I’ve been out of town the past week with only a smidgen of internet access.  I won’t be back online regularly until Friday, August 22nd.  I’ve missed reading your blogs, and I’ll be sure to catch up with them upon my return!  


This has been a strange, heartbreaking week for many people and the ripple effect of this sorrow began on Monday.

 Last Monday I scheduled an innocuous-sounding appointment that I dreaded attending. It was my one-on-one session with Lucy’s puppy instructor Belinda. Yes, the same instructor who asked me to leave her puppy class due to Lucy’s incessant barking and aggressive behavior.

 I had been anxious from the moment I woke up that morning. My general anxiety and social anxiety have been much greater since I recently lowered the amount of my Seroquel medication. I tapered from 100 mg to 50 mg, a significant drop, and while I was relieved that my grogginess had dissipated, I was bummed about my heightened anxiety. My psychiatrist suspected that my 100 mg nightly dose of Seroquel had most likely been tamping down my anxiety; therefore, when I reduced the medication, my “hidden” anxiety would emerge.

 I hate anxiety almost as much as I loathe depression, and I felt grateful that depression had not reared its hideous head as well. I hoped and prayed that over time as my body adjusted to the lowered Seroquel, my anxiety would drop.

 To my relief, my session with Belinda went a lot better than I expected. During our time together she spoke with me about Lucy’s specific behavior challenges and how best to approach them. Although I felt anxious going into our session and I felt anxious leaving it, I was proud I didn’t cancel it, which I had been tempted to do earlier that day.

 I headed home with Lucy, picked up my daughter at her friend’s house, and looked forward to chilling out. After I walked in the door and settled down, I checked my email. That’s when I read the news – the news I’m sure you know about by now. I read about the awful fact that Robin Williams’ had ended his life.

 I’ve been a huge Robin Williams fan since the late 1970’s, ever since I watched him on “Mork and Mindy”. I grew up in Los Angeles, and when I was in my early teens, I stopped off at Vicente Foods, an upscale market. As I stood by the registers, I spotted actress Pam Dawber, the actress who played Mindy opposite Williams’ unforgettable Mork. Despite my living in L.A. I hadn’t seen many famous people, so that moment was very surreal and exciting for me. Unfortunately, she gave me a dirty look because I kept staring at her from twenty feet away. I was in shock, I think – I didn’t realize that I was being rude.

 The evening of Williams’ death, my mother told me she stood next to Robin Williams on her way into a taping of the popular television show “This Is Your Life” featuring the actor/ musician Dudley Moore. My father, a violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was friends with Dudley Moore and he’d visit him at his Venice home to play music together. I assume that Robin Williams and Dudley Moore must have been friends, I imagine. (I don’t have internet as I write this, so I can’t verify it!). My mom noted that Williams was acting strange, most likely loaded on cocaine, alcohol, or both substances.

Last year when I was depressed, I went through a Robin William phase in which I watched him in a lot of different shows to take my mind off my depression. I took in my fourth or fifth viewing of one of my all-time favorite movies “What Dreams May Come”. It’s an amazing film directed by the brilliant New Zealander Vincent Ward in which one of the key characters takes her life, and has extremely heavy themes but has an uplifting ending. I rented some of Williams’ hysterical comedy DVD’s and I splurged and bought the entire season of his television show “The Crazy Ones”.

 During that phase, out of simple curiosity, I researched the internet to see if Williams had “come out” with having bipolar disorder. I couldn’t find anything official, but I didn’t do the greatest net search either!

 After learning of Robin Williams’ death, I cried and spent the rest of Monday evening in shock. Like millions of fans, I wrote on Facebook about my reaction. I received supportive, positive responses and I noticed many of my Facebook friends had written of their sorrow as well, especially bloggers in my Mental Health blogging community.

 Tuesday morning our family was out the door early, and headed on a long-awaited trip to Lake Tahoe. Driving through the Bay Area we listened to the radio only a little bit, as each news report began with the coroner’s report of Williams’ method of death, and we didn’t want the girls to hear it.  

 Williams’ suicide method hit too close to home for me, for I had considered using the same method as he did after I took the medication amitriptyline (Elavil). Hanging was a method I had never before considered in my life, even during other times in whch I had been acutely suicidal and had to go to the E.R. Without a doubt, I believe the amitriptyline made me want to hang myself. I’ve discussed this topic in more detail in my post “The Power of One Pill” and “The Green Bathrobe Belt” in this blog.

 So what to make out of all this? I don’t know. We thought we’d have internet access from our remote cabin. This is a special place that we’ve visited each year. Craig discovered it on Craigslist, appropriately enough, and we get a great, affordable rate. The owner likes us so much that she buys toys for the girls to play with. During past visits, we’ve been able to get online from this area, but the signal no longer works.   Despite my intense frustration, I know that my being cut off from the net has been my blessing in disguise.


Up to the first day of this trip, I’ve become dependent (well, addicted is more like it!) upon my daily habit of checking emails, reading blogs and being active on Facebook and Twitter. Being involved through these outlets has brought me some bona fide internet friends, some of whom I feel closer to than most of my “IRL” (in real life) friends.   Being unable to correspond with my internet friends unexpectedly and “cold-turkey” has been VERY frustrating and isolating.

However, if I did have the 24/7 internet access I’ve been accustomed to, I would be reading way too much about Robin Williams. Please believe me when I say I don’t mean to sound selfish, but I don’t think it would be healthy for me to do that right now, if ever.

 From just the few main facts I heard about Robin Williams on the radio last Tuesday, I’ve been deeply troubled and I have thought about his agony and the effect his suicide has had upon his family a great deal. There’s no need for me to read more details and read about others’ reactions to Williams’ suicide during this time in which I am more emotionally fragile than usual.

Last Wednesday, we drove to Squaw Valley. We hiked on a beautiful trail with Lucy, who loved being off-leash in an exotic, new location. Today we visited the gorgeous Sugar Pine State Park that sits along Lake Tahoe. This area is one of the most gorgeous ones in the world, and we are incredibly lucky to be here.

In some ways, it has felt healthy taking this “mandatory break” from my technology to focus upon nature.  Yesterday we stopped in front of Squaw Village with our laptop and my Kindle in tow, able to tap into a signal for a few minutes while the girls played together in the back seat without even one squabble.   (A true miracle!)

This is a working vacation for Craig and he needed to download some documents. While we sat there I hastily checked my email. I saw a plethora of Facebook notification messages about my friends and acquaintances’ reactions to Williams’ suicide. I didn’t read any of them as I would have done if I had unlimited internet at my disposal.

Each day I can’t help but think about the Williams’ family, and my heart goes out to them.   I know why he made his decision and I’d never judge him for one second for doing what he did. Since I’ve almost gone the same way I know it was not my fault nor was I “selfish” in wanting the worst pain I ever experienced to end. I only hope that he really is in a better place – that’s the only way that I can make sense of such heartbreak.