Black Hole Sun: Follow Up

Still thinking about this. Bear with me as I work some of it out. (Or, you know, click to a happy blog!)

I have been depressed before, to a certain extent. After Gabriel was probably the closest I came to true depression. But every day, through my sadness and heart-crushing grief, I got out of bed. I usually ate and showered. I told myself that the day I couldn’t take these basic steps was the day I would ask for medication. Yeah, I got up and went to my couch and cried for an hour (or four) some days, and yeah, I went into therapy. But every day: out of bed.

I have been flirting with depression since Michael was born. First it was some post-partum stuff, a little more than the baby blues I was used to. Then difficulties breast feeding made me feel bad; having to return to work full-time didn’t help; conflating Gabriel and Michael was heart-hurty (not a real medical term).

But again, I was functioning: getting up, showering, dressing, eating, taking care of my family, going to work. The pressure was definitely increasing. Talking to some friends at Cook Forest at the end of April about my current schedule, one of them said (incredulously), “How are you doing all that?” I said, “I’m faking it.” I didn’t realize until Saturday how true that was.

Usually, when talking about “mental health issues”, I default to anxiety. I get worked up and overwhelmed, and panicky, and have anxiety attacks. It ain’t pretty.

So the depression of Saturday was, uh, different. Not in a good way.

I’m trying to do things a little differently this week to take off the pressure. First, and I admit I’m not proud of this, I am giving my kids easy dinners this week. A lot of “not”dogs, mac and cheese (not a staple at home; they get it enough if we go out to dinner), vegetarian baked beans, etc. I’m not cooking from scratch this week. They are getting fresh fruits and veggies, though. No need to skimp on those with my CSA.

Second, I am trying to keep lines open between Dan and me. I am looking for little ways to treat him right (making a big salad for when he comes home, writing notes to tuck into his briefcase) so that we stay connected. He is trying to do the same for me.

Third, I am trying to take 20 minutes or so daily to read. I’ve really lost the habit since I went back to work. Which is weird, because I LOVE to read. Trying to get back into that groove.

My next goal — my perpetual goal — is incorporating exercise into my life. Little walks during the day, bouncing on the stability ball at home, deep knee bends as I put away laundry or empty the dishwasher.

So that’s where I am now, today, this minute as I write this. Breathing deeply, and focusing on not falling again. Not much else I can do.

8 thoughts on “Black Hole Sun: Follow Up

  1. Small steps, but they can feel like huge changes. I hope things get easier for you, it is so tough juggling everything and feeling like you have to Be Everything To Everybody. (I recently threw in the towel with the meals thing. Because SERIOUSLY. I cannot do it everyday. I need to cut myself some slack, dude.)

    Hugs, lady.

  2. I have become convinced that women who have a perfect house – always clean – and make it to all their kids activities and do JUST EVERYTHING are either lying to you, don’t ever sleep, or don’t have small children. It’s one thing to do it when your youngest child is around 5. It’s quite another when you still have toddlers and babies in tow.

    I constantly hold myself to that standard and then wonder why I don’t do fun stuff with my kids. It’s because I can never let the housework and yardwork go – I’m always thinking about how I’m failing at it – and then I never take my kids places to do fun kid stuff because “I have laundry to do.” In the end I feel like a failure because the house isn’t perfect and I feel like a failure because we don’t take advantage of the awesome things to do in this city.

    So, yeah. It’s all about choices. This summer, I’m making an effort to do the fun stuff and not let the state of the house overwhelm me. When we’re stuck in the house all winter, I’ll clean.

    • Right. Things were starting to get a little easier, and then I went and had another baby. 🙂 whom I love and wouldn’t trade, but it did set us back a little on the financial and organizational fronts.

      As far as the house: Dan and I need to step it up to having a neat baseline (not perfect) and be more organized. We, as a couple, are suffering because it’s a little too out of control. But, in general, I am trying to have more fun, too, and not just with the kids.

      • I know this is kind of getting off topic, but as far as the housecleaning thing goes, I found that it helped to set up a weekly schedule of chores. You know, “On Monday I do kids laundry, clean the kitchen, pick up the family room. On Tuesday I clean bathrooms, clean the kitchen, pick up the family room, etc. etc.” I split up all the chores from dusting and vacuuming to laundry and KP duty over the days of the week. So, instead of focusing on THE WHOLE DANG HOUSE every day, I could focus on a few small things, get them done, and then feel like I’ve done what I’m supposed to.

        I’m still not religious about it and there are days I get NOTHING done, but for me it helped to know things like “today, I’m not supposed to worry about the bathrooms. That’s Tuesday’s chore. And the linens laundry will get done on Thursday. Today, focus on the kitchen.” It helped me to compartmentalize all that extra stuff that needs to be done so it doesn’t overwhelm me.

        Also, since your two elder ones are big enough, you can set small chores for them, especially now that it’s summer. For example, Liam is responsible for cleaning up his room, making sure his stuff makes it back to his room every night, and helping with the trash on garbage day. You could assign small stuff to Flora and Kate. We tell Liam that there’s no doing anything fun until the chores are done. So far, so good.

        As far as the rest goes, just know that we all fall down sometimes. The important thing here is that you’re looking for ways to get back up again.

  3. I am glad to see you are working in some time for yourself…you need that time to recharge your batteries. Perhaps a couple hours set aside on a weekend day could also be negotiated? Even if it is during Michael’s nap time and you send the girls to the ILs…you can read, sleep, exercise, whatever YOU want for those two hours (does he sleep for 2 hours? one hour even?) getting out to shop, or get a massage, see a chiropractor…it can be a different activity every weekend! something to look forward to during your hectic weeks… it may sound silly, but I went bowling over the winter months every other thursday night…and it REALLY helped me stay sane, just knowing that I had that time, despite all the kids therapy appointments, dinners dinners dinners, dishes dishes dishes, husband passed out on the couch AGAIN and still a hundred things to do before bed. I went even when my husband complained (well, some of the times). All I am saying is that it HELPED…ALOT! the ladies I bowl with are my family and friends, so it was a chance to vent and get support too…and relax with a beer, and think about something besides the kids.
    Hugs hugs hugs for you!!!

  4. Any time I start to feel myself slipping, I read this particular blog post from Dooce:

    I read it when I first figured out I had PPD and I use it to remind myself how horrible I felt. Now, I use it to keep myself in check.

    I lost who I was. Me. I was just a Mom. Now I realize I NEED to take that time for myself otherwise I’m a horrible Mama to the kids and a bad wife to my husband.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s