Thursday, August 18, 2016

I Shall Be Well


I wrote a bit about what a hard time I've been having last week and I wanted to share a little update.

First of all. I've really been thinking about this and the thing is so multi-faceted.

Mainly the hard emotions have felt like sadness this time. But I've had some of the scary visualizations like with Annie and now some of the overwhelm like with Graves.

I just have these weird stream of consciousness spirals. For example, I started thinking I was  disappointing people? I know nobody thinks it's my fault, but people like to hear a happy story. There's so much sadness in the world and I'd already complained for nine months about how hard this pregnancy was and I know it was nice for people to just see Sallie and enjoy the sweetness and then everything got dark again. What a downer. OR did people think I was being fake when I shared the happy stuff? OR did they think I was being overly dramatic about the this? And then the last was kind of the worst. I started wondering if people (like even real life people, my best friends and my parents) knew how much I loved Sallie and that I never regret the decision for a third (even though sometimes I do wonder what I've gotten myself into).

Plus- and this was a really big thing- I realized that the good stuff felt almost painful (more on that in a minute).

And the incident that happened a few weeks ago still kind of shakes me up. I told a friend a friend about it and she said it sounded like a panic attack. I'm hesitant to label it as such in the same way I'm hesitant to label my headaches as migraines. (Though I will label natural childbirth as a ten on the pain scale. That's still a source of contention between me and P, albeit a lighthearted one.) But I've only gotten like that twice before that I can remember- once in college after a heated argument with a friend and once in high school at the funeral of someone very special to me.  

It was actually very reminiscent of SL's birth- everything was very chaotic in my brain and felt completely out of control. There was a lot of fear (mostly, like with her birth, about how long it would last) and at one point I felt like I could hardly breath and was choking I was crying so hard. But P said I managed it really well. 

I found that endearing. He does a lot of things well but he's not a man who throws affirmation around lightly. It sort of meant the world to me.

In talking with another friend, I realized that two things I need to look at when doing a cost-benefit analysis about getting on medicine is a) how frequent are the really good days and how frequent are the really bad ones and b) how intense are the good ones and how intense are the bad ones? I have almost no mediocre ones these days and they virtually all were when I was on medicine last time. I didn't love it.

And a lot about my days felt really good.

But I knew I needed some action steps so I wouldn't get to that scary dark space again:

1. Exercise. The sunshine and physical activity make my mind feel healthier. This is such a duh thing and really many of these are. But even a short walk around the block puts me in such a better headspace.

2. Sleep. I've struggled with this for a long time. I so value alone time and I cherish that time after the house goes to bed. Which is great in moderation. But sacrificing sleep is sacrificing my sanity. 

3. Eating. Our Tiny Girl still nurses like a paria. I'm a pretty low energy individual anyway, but I've got to keep shoving things in my face unless I want to be a no energy one. 

4. Allowing myself time for the things I enjoy- writing, music, reading- as long as it doesn't conflict too much with number three.

5. Not getting too isolated. The one car thing is typically VERY doable, but sometimes it's almost frightening how it robs me of a sense of freedom and autonomy and it can feel sort of paralyzingly, especially when Peyton has a lot of commitments close together. But I have places we can walk to, a backyard we will never take for granted after sixteen months without one, and friends and family who are happy to come to us when I force myself to extend the invitation despite my exhaustion and our messiness.

Last week, I had a two hour lunch with one of my dearest friends- my truest mentor. The trip and the lunch were inexplicably good for my soul. It was so restorative. I need to make space for these things more.

Carrie and I were talking about how it used to be so easy to see each other weekly when our big girls were babies. In some ways, there's just so many more responsibilities and things to work around now. Having elementary age kids seems like such a sweet spot in so many ways, but it's complicated because you can't leave them at home like teenagers but you also can't just grab them and go like we could when they were babies and toddlers. I guess it might be different if the big kids were in traditional school and that might allow for more schedule flexibility, but with our schedules it seems tough to manage.

So we came up with a plan! Once school starts back, we're going to shoot for one play date a month, one family date a month, and one girls' night or lunch a month. If we can see each other three times a month that will be remarkable and almost like the old days. And I'm working on figuring out ways to be more intentional with other friendships, too. 

 I think those five action steps will go a long way. 
But also, number six.

I had a big realization. One of the big ways my anxiety (or depression, I don't really know what to call this?) is manifesting is that sentimental and beautiful things just tear me to pieces. They are such a heavy weight. If you know me well, you know I'm probably one of the most sentimental and nostalgic of all your friends and also that I've basically devoted my life to searching for beauty and documenting it is some way. So, this is tough.

One of the main reasons I wanted to avoid medicating is because it made me so "blah" when I was on it before. But the peeks haven't even all been easy. The really happy things sometimes seem...bittersweet? 

A friend mentioned she didn't know I was having a hard time. She said something like that everything seemed so bright and happy. And sometimes they were. They really, really were. But too infrequently I think. 

I mentioned to several friends that this has felt a lot like when I finally decided to supplement with formula with Annie. I gave it my very best, but ultimately what was the very best wasn't necessarily what I would have chosen. 

I cannot, CANNOT let Sallie's baby days be a sad fog. I deserve better. It's not fair to myself. It's not fair to her. And it's not fair to Peyton and my older children.

So here we are.

Julian of Norwich says "All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” 

I believe Julian's words. And I trust that I too shall be well. 

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