I got an email from a friend this morning. Asking me how I keep it together, as she knows I went through a tough time last year.
If I seem like I bounced back and seem composed all the time, far be it from me to pull the wool over your eyes. That isn’t to say I’m not feeling better, I am, but it’s actual mental work on a daily basis. I’m sure it’s mental work for anyone on a daily basis, but suffering from anxiety with two small kids sometimes feels like scaling a mountain. Maybe it’s harder for others, maybe it’s easy, but this is MY mountain and I’ll get anxious if I want to.
Generally, I will full on admit, I’m a hot mess. I don’t really hide it. My friends know I suffer from anxiety. It isn’t something I go on bragging about, but when I flake on something, it’s easier to laugh at myself and make the joke first. Like, “Oh, dude, I’m so fucking ADD, I totally forgot again. FRIEND FAIL!” Whether or not it’s annoying, who knows. Maybe my problems are “White People Problems.” But opening up about them makes them real, and easier to deal with. And here’s how I deal.
1.Meds: I think everyone and their dog is on some sort of medication these days. Medication has become the new norm. Either society is becoming vastly more fucked up as each generation goes, and genes are becoming more damaged, or we’re just more aware and able to “fix” whatever the problem is. I don’t love this. I’ve said it many times, the meds are like a necessary evil. And even though I’m on them, I don’t always agree.
2.Routine: Having two kids in two years, I just gave up on myself, and working out, or anything of the sort. The fact that the Mini had developmental delays on top of that didn’t really help. A lot of my time was spent either having therapists over for appointments, or shuffling him to and from, and then school started. Now that they’re both in school (albeit opposite schedules this year, and I’ll delve into how THAT’S going another time, because me and PM kindergarten are having a tiff right now, and no BJ’s for PM kindergarten anytime soon /frigid bitch), I made it a point to put me time in there. I either go to the gym, or get out and ride my bike. It has been YEARS since I was on my bike before this summer, and I had forgotten how in love with riding I am. It’s helped my mental state more than it’s helped me to get in shape. The getting in shape part is the added bonus, really. I now need less medication and I find that working out has become such an intergal part of my life and routine, that I can’t go a day without doing something active. I feel out of sorts and cagey when I don’t do something. That simple hour – hour and a half is amazing. I know working out is hard to get started. People think of going to the gym, or doing something and it’s daunting and overwhelming. But even something as simple as starting out with a nice walk can do wonders for your mental health.
3. Therapy: Seriously, lots and lots of therapy. After my stint in the hospital, I fought tooth and nail to get into an out patient program. Two weeks of 9-3 sessions were so exhausting, but they gave me this feeling of accomplishment and hope. I felt that I could do anything. I still see a therapist once a week. She’s amazing and I love what she’s done for me. That said, therapy is something you have to be ready for, and you have to embrace it whole heartedly. I’ve had many failed attempts at therapy. Either a bad therapist, or just that I wasn’t really opening myself up. I wasn’t facing what was going on in my life truthfully.
4. Humor: Yeah, I know, right? But my sarcasm isn’t only a fight or flight tool, it helps me to see deal with the small things, like my children being on my last nerve, or the Meester saying one more eye-rolling ridiculous thing. When you feel like shit, it’s hard to roll with it.
That said, my days are still so hard to get through. I have mental moments every.single.day. I feel guilty that my kids are suffering when I snap over something. While I’m now learning to catch myself, and use “self talk,” it’s not a perfect thing. What mom hasn’t flipped her lid over hearing “Momomomomomomomomomomomomomom,” one too many times? My worst time is getting out of the house. I am super agitated when I’m running late, and my “anxious fits” upset the Mini. All he wants is for me to be Happy Mama again. And that’s another thing that snaps me back. He’s actually started to tell me to “take a chill pill, Mom.” Maybe that sounds like he’s being snarky and a smart mouth, but he isn’t. He’ll tell me to “go upstairs and get yourself together.” Wise words from a five year-old. It’s his way of saying “Hey, stop being such a cranky asshole.”
I’m learning to let go, and not feel guilty for every little thing I do “wrong.” I’m learning that an extra hour of television one day, or 30 more minutes of DS time isn’t the end of the world, if it means that I’m able to get that extra time to decompress. I know that I can’t ever stop being anxious, but the funny thing about my kids journeys, is that its a road paved with self discovery.