Tag Archives: depression

Don’t Go It Alone: Important Parenting Addendum

I can’t believe I didn’t include this in my previous post, “The Kids, the Crazy.”

But in addition to “it gets better” I should have said “DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, FEEL OR THINK YOU HAVE TO PARENT ALONE!”

Because that way lies further madness.

We’ve got this idea in much of the United States that we have to be independent and handle things on our own. And in general, yes, we do have to learn to be responsible adults and not depend on Mom and Dad for everything. Many people do not even have the option of depending on Mom and Dad for support.

But the idea that you should be able to do everything on your own is just as ridiculous as expecting to be a child forever.

So if you have young children, and you are losing it, accept help or go looking for it! Ask someone to watch your kids for a couple of hours while you read a book or go for a walk or resolve some things with your partner or spouse. If you aren’t currently in need of this help, and you’re able to, keep an eye out for people who could use your help, because they may not ask. And they may not have families who can help out.

And if things are really desperate, there may be professional services available to you, from counseling to children’s relief nurseries. These aren’t just for people who have socioeconomic or other issues. They can be helpful for anyone. Google them. Also look for new parent support programs, playgroups, anything that will connect you with other people who can support you. I know church isn’t for everyone, but a spiritual community can also be a great source of support (as well as an opportunity to support others).

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 

The Kids, The Crazy

BABIES. They’re a thing right now. Oh, I suppose they’re always a thing. But it seems like a lot of people I know are having them lately.

We are done having babies, even though I often think MOAR BABIES would be awesome. I mean, BABIES! Cute and cuddly and always learning new stuff, right? Oh, and always wanting to eat, and not wanting to sleep, and teething, and screaming for no apparent reason.

And despite what some people say, you really can’t do everything you used to do or that you want to do, because you have a baby to feed and change and hold and you’re too darned tired to do anything properly.

And if you’re really lucky, you fall into depression! You might get anything from a bit of baby blues from being to tired to full-blown postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis. And if you’ve already got a tendency to depression, this is all the more likely.

AND, it’s not just the women who get depressed; it happens to men, too. Especially the good ones who actually help with the baby care.

Hey, I think I just talked myself out of those baby longings again.

So yes, I was frequently depressed when we had babies. I still get depressed, but those were definitely some of the hardest times. I first started taking medication when my depression was intensified by postpartum depression. There were times when I cried because the baby wanted to nurse AGAIN, after 20 minutes, and I was sore. Or when I just felt like everything was happening in slow-motion, and I couldn’t manage to get anything done. There were times when I just wanted to chuck it all and just do whatever I wanted to do for a day.

How do you deal with this without TOTALLY losing it?

I guess it really comes down to acceptance. You accept that you have to lower your expectations. You won’t be able to get as much housework done. You may not be as effective at your money-earning job, or anything else you have going on.

I set priorites for certain things that HAD to be done. For instance, I decided that no matter what, every day I would pick up any dishes, dirty clothes, and garbage that were lying around. And sometimes these things did lie around all day. But they got picked up at least once a day.

I eventually accepted that I would be spending a great deal of time holding, nursing, or lying down with babies. At first, I thought I would pop the baby in a sling and go on with life. It didn’t work that way. Sometimes it did. One of our babies spent hours in a sling while I sang in a church praise band. Our youngest spent small amounts of time strapped to my back while I worked in the garden. But I definitely couldn’t do this as much as I expected to.

However, I did make an effort to do things that made me feel more like ME. This included the singing and gardening, as well as exercising, reading, and meeting other parents on the internet.

It took me a long time to accept that I would feel depressed sometimes, and that I would come out of it. But it’s true. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you still get depressed. But you will get through it.

And that’s the other thing about babies: it gets better. Or different, anyway. Those first years are HARD. Many wonderful things happen, but at times, it’s hell. My youngest is seven, and it’s only within the past couple of years that I’ve started getting more sleep, having more energy, and being more effective in general. But it does get better.

I don’t know if “it gets better” is a very helpful sentiment for new parents! But it’s true. I’m proof.

This post was inspired by John Metta, struggling new parent of twins.

 

 

Unplugging Details

About last night: no, I’m not unplugging completely and/or forever. I still plan on using the internet and even playing some games. So you’ll see me here and on Facebook and Twitter and wherever else I decide to be.

But I am going to limit my internet time. So, starting today I’m trying 30 minutes after work and 30 minutes in the evening (plus whatever time I scrounge in the morning and on breaks). I have the timer set RIGHT NOW. And I’m going to do this for a week and see how it goes. I suspect I’ll survive. And I’ll be ADDING all that good stuff like reading, exercise and meditation. I have plenty to read. I’m certain I won’t be bored.

 

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski from Flickr, used via CC BY-SA 2.0

Unplugging, for my brain’s sake

I think I might finally be figuring out how to deal with this anxiety and depression. It’s been a bad couple of days, in which I’ve wanted to hide under the desk, eat, sleep, etc. Today I was thinking that managing depression is almost a full time job itself. When I took those two weeks off and focused on getting myself better, I did get better, and it lasted for a while. But I can’t just take time off all the time, either.

I do, however, have time to spare. All of the time I spend messing around on the computer or (less frequently now) watching tv.

I can unplug and spend time with the family, read, meditate, exercise, do yoga – all the things that help me to feel better.

It’s not easy. I’ve gotten used to filling that time with games and witty internet banter and making excuses for doing it. But tonight, unplugging sounds good and feels good. I’ve been reading a book (yes, on the phone, but still), and I just came upstairs to bed early. The quiet feels good and is encouraging me to do more with it.

Progress

Today I started a new work assignment, in a new place, with a new kid.

I had a few butterflies, but no debilitating anxiety. It’s only a three-hour work day, so I have plenty of time for other things.

I’m pleased with my progress on the anxiety/depression front. I do need to continue my mindfulness practice so that I can maintain this level of sanity. And I’ll still have an appointment sometime to review my meds. But I’m doing well overall.

Now I need to do a little more biking! It’s been just over a week since my last ride. I’m planning to try riding to work and back tomorrow, which will be fairly challenging. It’s eleven miles each way, and it’s going to be hot. I’ve got to do it, though, because the big ride is coming up in less than two weeks!

Twitterless

I read a Sports Illustrated magazine on Monday, for the first time since probably the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals (boo, Lakers, boo, refs). Now I know about some college football scandals besides the one at Penn State and about the early days of the NBA (although the medical assistant pulled me right out of that article).

I probably wouldn’t have bothered, because the magazine selections at the doctor’s office are pretty poor these days, but I had FORGOTTEN MY PHONE! I’m usually connected at least 15 hours a day (I do like to sleep). I post Twitter and Facebook updates, play games, read books, track my exercise, EVERYTHING on line. Without my phone, I get even more jittery. And that’s why I was seeing the doctor – because I’ve been jittery and anxious and depressed. Even on good days, when I was working with fun and caring people, when the kids I worked with were funny and heartwarming, I wanted to sit and rock back and forth, or curl up in a ball under a desk. When I got home from work, I had no energy for anything.

I did get through it, though, without the help of Twitter. The doctor was sympathetic, took me seriously, and agreed that I was right to come in. She ordered labs, increased my meds and referred me for a psychiatric consult (to review medication options beyond what I’m taking now). She reminded me to use techniques I’ve learned before like breathing exercises and mindful meditation. I went straight to the lab and got five tubes of blood drawn, and then I had a baseline EKG (just for monitoring purposes in case there are any problems from the medication). All managed without Twitter! And without checking in on Foursquare.

Of course, when I got home I did get online and check on everything. But maybe, just maybe, I can unplug a bit more each day. My husband suggested that THAT might be good for my mental health too, and I suspect he’s right.

And don’t worry. I’m OK. I took a week off to deal with this stuff, so I’ve been getting plenty of exercise and rest. I’ve been doing daily meditation practice, and I even had a massage to help with stress relief. I feel much better. I know that doesn’t mean I’m cured. I need to keep doing all of these things. But I feel more able to deal with it now.

Anxiety – I Can Get Through It

I tweeted about it yesterday.

10:08 AM: Anxiety and self-questioning FTL.

About 5:00 PM: NERVES.

Nothing I did made it better.  I took my daily meds. I exercised. I completed a few menial tasks. I didn’t stop and do deep breathing exercises, because I didn’t remember that it might help (even though someone did remind me to BREATHE).

But in the end, it was fine. I survived the anxiety and everything else I had to do yesterday. I’m still feeling a little tension in my shoulders, but I made it, and I know I can make it today, too.

Mindfulness and Getting Things Done

I’m not doing anything right now.  Sure, it’s Sunday.  It’s a good idea to get some rest and relaxation on the weekends.  But at the same time, I’m fully aware of how many things I ought to be doing.

So why don’t I just do them?  Well, I know I won’t be able to get all of them done satisfactorily, which is so depressing that I just don’t even bother to start.  Also, some of them are unpleasant, so I just don’t want to.  So I’m depressed because I’m so freakin’ lazy, too.

What to do?  I finally finished reading The Mindful Way through Depression today (it was on my to do list, and it was do-able).  Here’s what the book had to say:

It is not so much making “to do” lists that is the problem. The problem is our sense of impending doom if we don’t get through the list.

OK.  So don’t take the list too seriously. Don’t feel like you have to do everything in one day.  Good advice, but easier said than done.  I can’t just turn off the part of my brain that feels guilty about not getting things done.

The book also says that we should practice living in Being mode instead of Doing mode. However, as you may have noticed, the world pretty much runs on Doing mode.  If I don’t pay my bills, utility companies and creditors will not care that I was embracing Being mode.  If I don’t find the extra paperwork that the State of Oregon wants to prove that we were both working and paying for child care, we’re going to end up owing the state money.  If I don’t clean the kitchen…well, you get the picture.

That said, I guess doing things in Being mode doesn’t mean they will never get done — assuming I do something more than hang around on the computer all day.

I’ve also recently been doing Getting Things Done (GTD).  GTD involves collecting all of the things you need to do (in a list, file, etc), and developing a regular review system to make sure that nothing gets forgotten.  This is supposed to allow you to relax, because your “stuff” is all in a safe system where it won’t get forgotten, and you don’t have to keep thinking about all the things you have to do.

Ha. Once again, easier said than done.  I got a system set up, but somehow the daily processing and weekly reviews rarely get done.  And that list of Next Actions is pretty much getting ignored.

Why is all of this happening?  Well, every time I think about getting close to that list, I panic.  I can feel it in my body.  All of my muscles tense up, my stomach starts to turn, my head starts to ache, and I want nothing more than to run away, or maybe to curl up in a little ball under a table.  Why is that happening?  I don’t know.  I just know that it does.

I’m missing something here.  I can feel it.  The mindfulness philosophy says that I should gently and lovingly acknowledge the negative feelings and move on.  It’s the moving on that I haven’t got yet, though.