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Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

In re-starting this blog I wanted to give people an honest look at motherhood, the good and the bad, the successes and the failures.  With that in mind, I write today’s post.

I had a meltdown.  After a long week of putting on the brave face and saying, we’ll get through this, this will pass, etc., I finally had a breakdown.

Baby C has been challenging this week, to say the least.  I’ve had an average of 3-4 hours of sleep per night.  And I’ve had virtually no support.  My husband has been completely absent, either at work or so tired at home he was asleep or zoned out.  My cousin did help me on thursday for a few hours, but C was so challenging that I spent a lot of my time with the two of them.  I spent the rest of my time rushing from one chore to the next: piles of laundry, putting toys away, writing/mailing thank you cards, etc.  So by friday I was completely exhausted.

I had hoped my husband would take the day off, since his company stole his vacation last week, but no luck.  Instead, he went to work cranky.

On the home-front, C had a terrible day.  He was incredibly tired from not sleeping well all week either.  He didn’t want to eat cause his gums hurt.  He didn’t want to nap.  He didn’t want to play.  He just wanted to cry.  So all day I tried not to pull my hair out as my baby cried.  Sure we had short bursts of play time, when he was occupied and amused for a few minutes, but they didn’t last long.

I tried all my usual tricks.  Nothing worked.

By 6pm I was done.  Done!  My husband wouldn’t come home from work and I’m stuck in LA far from my family.  So I called my parents’ house crying, begging for someone to please come up and help me.  I spent the next half an hour watching C alternating between playing and crying, while I silently cried, trying not to go into hysterics.

My mom and husband showed up at the same time.  I silently handed over the baby, made his dinner, and locked myself in my bathroom.  I took a very long lavender-scented bath.  Even then, through the walls I could hear C crying. My nerves stayed on edge until at last I got dressed, made C a bottle and he finally fell asleep.  It still took me an hour to de-stress enough to sleep.

I’d like to tell you that it’s all ok today.  I’d like to say that everything’s fine.  It’s not and that’s the plain truth.  I’m not looking for sympathy.  I just want to be honest and let you know, motherhood isn’t always easy.  It’s rough and it’s ok if mommies have meltdowns.  The babies get to, why shouldn’t we?

I’m going to try and indulge myself in a few things today: chocolate, shopping, a nap, maybe even a pedicure.  Maybe this will make it better, maybe I just need a break.

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Just a quick post about my neurosis for the day, as my anxiety only ended moments ago and I thought I’d share with you how my neurotic mind works.

Nearly all day the bottom of my right foot has been incredibly sore.  Alternating between aching and throbbing, I spent a good part of the day obsessing about what could possibly be wrong with me.

Was it some foot ailment?  Did I have falling arches or plantar faceitis (not that I know what either of those mean, I just know that they are painful foot ailments)?  Was it a pulled muscle?  Could you even pull a muscle on the bottom of your foot?

Or was it something worse?  The bottom of your foot is related to a lot of nerves in your body, as well as having many pressure points that relieve stress and other emotional ailments.  Did the pain on the bottom of my foot mean that I had something metaphysically wrong with me?  Was my chi out of whack?  Did it signify that there was a problem deep within me that I didn’t even know about?!?!?

After considering whether or not to call a friend who is an Eastern medicine practitioner, I thought I’d wait it out.  My foot felt better when it was properly supported.  I probably just need better insoles (or to not walk around barefoot all the time).  No need to alert anyone.

I was willing to leave it at that, just grin and bear it, waiting it out, when in the hazy blue light of the tv I saw something on the ground.  It was a kind of square shadow.  Weird.

That’s when I remembered: two nights ago, in the middle of the night, half asleep, I had stepped on one of my son’s blocks that frequently dot the floor like hard little land mines.  At last I had an answer!  It was a block shaped bruise on the bottom of my foot, deep and painful.

Just one more sacrifice to the mothering gods!

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Roughly 10% of the US adult population suffers from some various form of depression. It may be anxiety based or mood based. It may be moderate and affected only certain times of year by seasonal changes or it may be severe and require constant attention, drug and talk therapy. It may be undiagnosed until late in life or present and obvious since adolescence. In short, millions of Americans suffer from this disease (since it is not “the blues” or something that can be wished away), but so little is offered to help this portion of the population.

There are a variety of reasons for this that would take too long to delve into in one short blog post; there are entire books on the subject. Instead I wanted to focus on the multitude of self help books out there right now that are focusing on “happiness.” These books instruct the reader on a variety of ways to feel happier in their day to day life. Each book has its own special strategy: force yourself to smile more and you’ll feel happier! say to yourself everyday “I am a happy person” and you will be! try small amounts of kindness/pampering/exercise/insert innocuous activity here every day and you’ll feel happier! And then in small print somewhere on the back insert or credits page “not intended for actual depression.”

Not intended for actual depression? What is then? Who are they marketing these books to? Are there millions upon millions of readers out there who are suffering a daily unhappiness that nags at them so deeply they feel compelled to buy a book about it? And are these people without the tell tale signs of depression? If the authors have such great ideas on helping reasonably happy people feel happier, couldn’t they put a little effort towards helping clinically unhappy people feel moderately happy? Why is depression excluded from these books? Would it be so hard to add one chapter about those who suffer from this disease and things they might do to help themselves?

I think part of the author’s fear is that someone with undiagnosed depression, or even diagnosed and desperate for help, will read this book and not achieve the success it guarantees. This failure to achieve happiness may be just another nail in the coffin of their depression.

So where can people turn if they are depressed or suffering from depression? There aren’t really a lot of places to turn. There is drug therapy, which is helpful for some sufferers and not others. There is talk therapy or counseling, which is proven to be the most helpful for all patients, but is expensive. And after that what is there left for people to turn to?

You may ask, dear reader, why those suffering from depression who are receiving treatment would need something else? Shouldn’t the pills they take everyday turn them into normal, happy people? One would like to think so, dear reader, but that is not the case. There is no 100% cure for depression, no guarantee that therapy or drugs will work forever in every situation. The loss of a job for a normal person might be hard to deal with, but a person suffering from depression might find the situation heartbreaking and impossible to navigate. So if they had been taking drugs or attending therapy, they should be better equipped to deal with it. Still it could send them into a deep depression even with the drugs and therapy. So what do they do now? What tools are there left for these people to employ?

Now that is only one example of a situation in which a depressed person might need assistance. But the truth of the matter is that some depressed people need help on a day to day basis. Drugs and therapy alone may not be enough for them to conquer their daily battles with the disease. They need something more to help them lead a happy and healthy life. But what is there?

In my experience, I have found only one group that offers help beyond these two types of therapy. It’s called Recovery, Inc. It was founded by Dr. Lowe over 50 years ago, when even less was known about mental illness, such as depression, than today. This group runs today in several countries, and in this country nationwide. They offer meetings for those seeking help in the form of moral support from other people just like them. Or they have several books on the subject of how to combat the daily effects of living with a mental illness. These techniques are meant to be used in conjunction with traditional therapy. I have read a few of the books myself and found several techniques helpful. While the language is a bit antiquated and the examples can be sometimes hard to follow, I have found that I could identify a few techniques that would help in my own struggle with the disease.

This may not be for everyone, but I thought that if there was just one person out there like me, looking for a way to deal with the day to day of living with metal illness, then I thought, it was worth writing about. You, dear reader, may not need help or you may find your deal with your unhappiness successfully. But, dear one, you may know someone who needs help. You may know someone who wants to pick up those self help books that aren’t intended for actual depression. You may know someone looking for that little something extra to make their life better. Maybe you could help them towards Recovery.

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