January 1st is just another date on the calendar, another ticking of the same clock. Normally I make a few silly resolutions and let that be that. Yet somehow this artificial ‘new year’ springs a fresh hope in my heart. The last couple of weeks have been pretty dark here. Posting has taken a back seat after bringing the blog up to speed post-baby. While I was full of vigor post-op and feeling wonderful, I crashed once reality set in. Lack of sleep, coupled with a constant changing of schedules and the pressure of the holidays has put my anxiety meter on ‘rock in the corner and pray no one speaks to you.’ I didn’t actually discover my anxiety issues until after my last child, although you’d think it would have been obvious to a psych major, it seemed pretty normal, as that’s been my life story. If I’m not in a dark spot, I’m worried I will be. I just happened to glance at one of those ‘health mailings’ that my husband’s work sends out and I thought, gee I’ll take this anxiety quiz–there were about 25 questions and I answered 16 of them with ‘yes’–I didn’t think that was too bad, until I read that anything over a score of ‘3’ was a reason to seek help. GULP! I’ve had a post in my drafts for a year or two, niggling at me, but haven’t had the time or gumption to get around to it. I feel like I need a mental inhaler sometimes–a boost to get me up to everyone else’s ‘normal.’ That’s a hard thing to admit, when you’re not anywhere near an emotional center of gravity. I’ve talked to my doctor but haven’t made the plunge with any type of medication. I still don’t feel comfortable taking anything while breastfeeding, but that could be the anxiety talking–catch 22 anyone?
This year I decided to care for myself more. I was at the point where I was putting the proverbial oxygen mask on 4-5 other people BEFORE myself. No wonder I keep hitting bottom–I’m not getting any air. As I’ve said before, psych major, and the psychologist Maslow had a great theory with his Hierarchy of needs. If you can’t get the basics in life, there’s no way to strive toward self-actualization. It’s why stay at home moms tend to get by with sweat pants and no make-up if they don’t leave the house–they’re so busy taking care of things IN the home that it doesn’t even occur to them to ready up for the world out there. Thus why my husband looks at me strangely when I don’t get a chance to brush my teeth or shower– he knows I’ll take care of the kids should the need arise when he gets ready for work, but he is leaving the house, no matter what, and his timing doesn’t always allow for me to sneak in something as simple as brushing my hair without danger of the house burning down–let alone anything else. 🙂
That being said, there are things that I can do better to care for myself while still being in my children’s presence. If these things make me feel better (and they usually do), then I should put them on my self-care to do list and try and stick with it daily. I can play music that I enjoy–and thanks to a kitchen radio that sports bluetooth capabilities, I can now play whatever I want through youtube while cooking, checking homework, or nursing the baby. I can mentally remind myself to step outside at least once a day, even to the porch for fresh air, if I can’t make it out for a walk. I can choose to drink water and take vitamins and make healthy food choices, even once a day. After all if I did it while I was pregnant for the baby’s sake, why can’t I do it now for my own? All those things that tend to slip my mind on a daily basis, I can affirm for the future. Some of these may even make my kids happy, who knows? But for now, I’m taking one step at a time.
I understand what you’re talking about. For me, the most important thing while the kids were babies was a shower. I had to have a shower every day.
It meant getting up super super early usually, but I felt so much better after the shower that it was worth it. And I usually caught a quick nap later.
But I don’t think I can understand to the degree that you can… I had two babies. Six years apart. Your workload is tremendous, and you’re doing the most important job there is. So add to your list ‘permission’.
To be tired. To be crabby. To feel wiped out and despairing of ever seeing ‘normal’ again.
Permission to feel however you feel. There isn’t anything wrong with doing so.
Regarding anxiety. I have it, too. And like you, did not medicate while nursing. I think that’s a smart choice. But it’s hard. Anxiety is not a rational thing, so rational people don’t understand what it’s like. So give yourself permission to be anxious, too. It’s not fun, but it’s also not your fault.
Happy New Year.