Tuesday, July 17, 2012
It reads: “Dear Math, I am not a psychiatrist. Please solve your own problems.”
I saw this notebook at Target tonight… I kind of wish I had bought it, except that I don’t hate math, not even a little bit, so while it was funny to me, it’s not as funny as it could have been. But still, it is pretty funny, no?
Another reason it’s funny (to me) is that I started seeing a psychotherapist today. Her name is Kate. She was recommended to me by my nurse practitioner after a rather teary 6-week post partum visit.
This is where I talked about the stuff I don’t want to talk about, because *gasp* you might actually learn that I *gasp* don’t have it all together all the time and *gasp* I have a really hard time admitting that I don’t have it altogether.
Why the teary visit? What’s going on? Well, for various reasons, I’ve developed post partum anxiety… the other side of the coin of post partum depression. I didn’t own up to it then, but I had post partum depression after Raven was born and was treated for it through therapy sessions for a number of months. The depression was triggered by a number of events, but even more so as I learned today, much of my now anxiety… then depression… is simply because I’m too hard on myself.
That’s right. I’m not a nice person. To myself. I expect too much, push myself, and then berate myself when I don’t mean my own expectations. Who knew? Well, really, I know that already about myself, but talking about it with someone else who is unbiased puts a lot of that into perspective and reminds me that I need to be nicer to myself and allow myself to be filled instead of constantly pushing, giving, emptying myself only to end up in the state I’m in right now.
I don’t know why it’s anxiety this time instead of depression. Maybe it’s because I have more responsibility, more kids, more life going on around me and I know that I can’t completely shut down so I keep moving forward and I continue to function, but only to have this crazy suffocating tingly feeling in my chest most of the day. That anxious feeling.
What am I anxious about? What am I NOT anxious about. Examples just from today… I was anxious about Adam having Anna on his own in the car because I don’t think he ever has and I thought for a half a minute that he might accidentally leave her in there and she would die and he would come back to pick me up and she would be dead… so I was anxious until he came back. We bought a new car today and Adam was the one to drive it home and I was anxious that he might get into an accident before he even got home, since he was just in an accident not two weeks ago. I get anxious about whether or not the door is locked at night, whether I’ve locked enough windows, whether the noise I heard at 3 am was someone trying to kidnap my kids. I manage to become anxious about everything. Everything.
I’m really anxious about returning to work. Really. Anxious. Am I good enough? Can I pick it back up? Can I handle it? Will I burn out now that I have three kids instead of two? Will I be able to find a good balance between work and home life?
I’m anxious about Anna going to daycare. Will she be loved enough? Will she take a bottle? Will they swaddle her for naps? Will she still love me after I’ve left her there for hours on end?
I’m anxious about Julia’s food allergies. I’m anxious about Raven’s increasing mean streak.
I am Anxious. About. Everything.
A lot of people would say to just stop being so anxious. Stop being so hard on yourself. Stop expecting so much of yourself, stop worrying about everything. If you’re a Christian you might tell me that I need to go to God more and pray more and everything will work itself out. A health nut? Maybe if I ate better and exercised more my body would balance itself out.
And. I don’t disagree with you.
But that’s where post partum depression/anxiety and I think depression and anxiety in general are weird balls to play with. A person can know these things – can know the techniques for being able to return from this bad place – but not be able to put them into practice. Pray more? Go to God? I try. I do. Eat better? Exercise more? The sheer thought of trying to put exercise into my day right now gets me into a tizzy about my schedule which sends me into a tizzy about what life will be like when I go back to work and I either spaz out or I shut down. It’s not as simply as just overcoming the feeling and putting techniques into practice. I’ve tried.
And so, when my nurse practitioner suggested therapy, I agreed to it. It worked before with Raven and I know working through it again will work this time. It will just take time. And each time I go, I will be given a tool I can take home and focus on and practice. This weeks? Do one thing a day that fills me – that fills me up – and only do the things absolutely necessary for our family to survive. This is that attempt to stop trying to be everything to everyone at all times and putting effort into things that have little meaning and missing all of the little things that DO have meaning.
Julia ate ALL of her supper tonight. No questions asked. Not even a whimper. A time out actually WORKED with Raven tonight. Actually worked. And, after leaving my kids with my husband for a couple of hours so I could get out by myself and decompress, my baby was still awake when I got home so I could take cute 9 week pictures of her to post on our blog. I forget these little things and how really truly awesome and important they are and that these are the things that have meaning. Not making sure the dishes are done or the laundry is put away or that I’m making everyone happy at work every minute of the day while I’m on maternity leave.
I hope I can learn to be nicer to myself. I hope I can learn to enjoy life a little bit more than I do right now. I’m sharing this with you all – I’m sharing this with myself – because I don’t want to forget
being here. I don’t want to lose sight of what I’m working towards because there will come a time again when I reach this place and have lost focus, and I’m hoping that next time I can find my way back on my own.