I have to say that so far, 2014 has not lived up to my hopes for it. We are not even two months in and already I've spent a full month trying to get over an antibiotic resistant strep infection, had a long-lasting allergic reaction to the one antibiotic that worked, had our bank account hacked into, had to start a very restrictive anti-imflammatory diet because after so many antibiotics and illnesses and poor self-care, my immune system was basically trying to kill me. I also have an infection in my finger that sounds like a small thing, but I assure you that it is searingly painful, though at least not dangerous. It feels lately like the hits just keep coming. Add to that all of the snow and cold and cancelled and made-up classes, the cabin fever and cooped-up kids who are yelling and fighting and running through our tiny house, and you have a recipe for bad feelings.
I took a step I've never taken before, and this winter I reached out for some serious help. Of the pharmaceutical variety. I've wrestled with depression for years now, and always felt like I could manage it with diet, exercise, self-care, phototherapy, or some other means. But not this year. After a month solid of feeling horrible, being in pain, and (most importantly) not being able to sleep because my tonsils were so huge they blocked my airway when I laid down, I was in a very bad place. Thankfully, I was able to reach out for some help. A coworker covered for me so I could leave work early to have an emergency appointment with my therapist, who immediately knew something was wrong when I called. I never call. My doctor was able to sit down with me and talk about what some of the contributing factors might be, and I am so thankful to have a doctor who actually is familiar with my chart and my family, and who told me point-blank that if I didn't get some sleep and start taking my thryoid meds, nothing was going to get better. And who also understood that I was reluctant to go straight for the zoloft and was willing to explore some other options with the caveat that if things didn't get better pretty quickly, we were going that route.
And thankfully, my husband was there to step up as much as he was able in his limited time at home. After my last post about building a local safety net and appreciating the one I already have, this was a pretty damn concrete illustration of how the safety net works. And things have been getting better, despite the fact that the hits keep coming. I stumbled, and I fell hard, and then people were there to help me back up. I think that maybe now I'm up and I'm walking, just maybe not as fast or as efficiently as I normally do.
Things are hard. This winter is hard. And it's not looking likely that things will ease up in the foreseeable future. But I am trying to care for myself the way I would care for a sick friend, and that's the part I really wanted to share.
As mamas, we are so hard on ourselves. I feel, so often, like I am doing everything wrong and I have messed up my kids forever. Like all their shortcomings and difficulties are somehow my fault or my responsibility. The stakes feel very high with all of this parenting stuff. In the space of 3 minutes with your kids, you can have both a breathtaking victory and a devastating setback. And as women, our self-talk is often atrocious. I say things to myself that are so horrible, I would never say them to another human being. I have so much compassion and understanding for others, particularly those in a difficult situation, but i direct almost none of that toward myself.
I am on a mission to change that. It's exhausting to monitor my internal dialogue so closely, to make the effort to speak to myself as I would speak to a friend. But thankfully, I have good people to model after, good friends who check in on me by phone and by facebook and email. And I have a small amount of energy that I am directing toward building a local support network as well. So while at this point, I will not (even remotely) say "bring it on", I will say that I think I can handle what I've got. So maybe, universe, just keep it right here for now?