January 31, 2017

Mental health is health.



I’ve started seeing a therapist. Or counselor, or whatever you want to call her.

I’ve debated writing about this for days, feeling on one hand that’s it’s very necessary - and very much a part of my real life right now. I’m a huge believer in being authentic and cutting through all of the pretend crap. But I’m also feeling like - what do I have to complain about? There are so many people out there with much larger problems… and yet. There are also many other women in a very similar position to mine, so I’m going to push through the feeling of “Why would you/how dare you” and as always hope that my heart speaks loud enough to be heard.

In November, I had a panic attack. Severe enough that I couldn’t finish driving out of the parking garage at work. I pulled over on the first floor and called my mother. Thankfully, Alan was picking up the boys that evening and they were safely at home - I was alone. It took me about 45 minutes to calm down enough to take deep breaths and feel confident enough to drive home. My mother is in Austin, and was understandably worried that she couldn’t do more. She called a dear family friend who is local in Denver, and she also called me to ensure I was safe to get home. I’m very thankful to be surrounded by folks who love me dearly - not just when things are good and easy.

No other attacks came, and in the bustle of the holidays, life just kept going.

In January, Alan & I had some ideas of changes we wanted to make for the better. Not truly “resolutions”, but hey - a fresh new year is an undeniably great time to implement change. It was important to me to start taking better care of myself now (especially since we’re done having babies and we’re done nursing), but fitting in the gym after work wouldn’t work for us. That meant getting up early to alternate days, but it was so worth it.

For 4 days.

Since the beginning of January, Thomas has been… not sleeping. Generally speaking, he’s been a pretty easy kid - even though he often spends the second half of the night next to me in bed. Wake up, bring him in, go back to sleep.

All of a sudden, something changed. We were getting maybe 1-2 hours a sleep before Thomas would wake up, and he was super grumpy. Even after bringing him into bed and addressing his major needs (hungry? diaper? paci?) he would toss and turn for hours, sitting up, moaning, draping himself on top of me, fussing. We were getting something like 4 hours of sleep, if we were lucky. Night after night after night.

There was no telling when he would wake up or when he would sleep. So all plans of a structured “I’m waking up at this time to leave the house” were shot to crap. Instead, we were trying to maximize what little sleep we got, often from 4-5:30AM. Then leaving the house to go to work, then coming back home to start it all over again.

Not only was I exhausted, but every other thing became so much harder - either literally or figuratively. Laundry was clean, but we couldn’t find the time or energy to haul it upstairs to put it away. I cleaned out the boys’ drawers of too-small clothes, but that pile took weeks to be figured out (put in crawl space?) and was still on the landing. Dishes? There are literally always dishes. The pantry needs cleaned out/organized. The 3rd bedroom needs to be cleaned out and organized. The crawl space is full of outgrown baby stuff that needs new homes. The floors need to be swept/mopped/vacuumed. Our closets need to be cleaned out/organized. We are often eating convenience food because I cannot for the life of me figure out how to both meal plan and grocery plan/list at the same time (which sounds ridiculous typed out, but I just can’t figure it out). And all of this isn’t even the “big progress” stuff we want to accomplish someday - like moving the gravel out of the backyard so we can get our wooden fence fixed. Refinishing the deck. Figuring out how to turn our dirt pit yards into yards. Insulating the garage.

It’s good stuff, don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful to have our house, our boys, our jobs. But it’s overwhelming. Paralyzing. Hugely impossible and demoralizing. Couple that with exhaustion, and it’s too much even for me to reframe.

I like to be in my own head. To know why I think and feel the way I think and feel. But recently it’s been too much. I’m treading water - just barely. Less and less able to find my energy and natural positivity and motivation. I haven’t even been able to reach out to my circle of friends for help and support - I just can’t even find the energy to know where to begin. I don’t feel like myself.

My company offers mental health benefits, and while I’ve been employed with them for several years, I truly haven’t felt like it’s a benefit I wanted or needed to take. On a particularly tough day earlier in January, I decided to try to find someone again. I worked with a therapist for awhile in college during some dark times, but not since. It almost feels like a relief to reach out - because there is truly no shame or fear or discomfort at this stage of my life. I need help? Let’s find some help. After connecting with my benefits company and receiving a list of possibilities, I found a woman that I thought I could connect with and eagerly anticipated our first appointment.

It’s pretty much one of the fastest hours in my life - and not in a bad way, but in a “we covered so much ground but also barely scratched the surface” kind of way. And being completely overwhelmed by everything makes it so hard to do what I normally do for myself - reframe my thoughts from negative to positive or grateful.

There isn’t a one size fits all or immediate “answer” to what I’m going through right now. But I’m not alone. I decided to reach out for help, and I’m so looking forward to what this will bring to my life.


 
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