Now that I have a college student and two high schoolers, life is at it's most challenging. Between helping my daughter face her anxiety about starting college and trying to find a job to gathering medical records and planning meetings to get my special needs fourteen year old on an IEP/504 Plan before he starts the ninth grade, I am stressed out to the max.
|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
And in the middle of all of that I need to plan my middle son's sixteenth birthday party which is in two weeks! That's a lot to manage for any average mom. But average I am not. I have chronic migraine, depression and anxiety throwing wrenches into an already hectic life. When I wake up with a migraine or feeling beat down by depression, taking care of the needs of my children can be extremely overwhelming.
On days like that (which happen to be every day now for the past two weeks), I wish motherhood had a pause button. Like, can a sister get a break for a day or two - or twelve? Some days I can easily push through the pain or anxiety. But lately it has been really hard for me to do that.
With feelings of inadequacy and being in a slump emotionally, finding the energy to get certain tasks done has been a challenge. This depression cycle started almost immediately after I returned home from the BlogHer conference. I felt important and special (as tacky as that sounds) when I was there. Speaking at the More to Migraine breakfast really solidified for me that writing my blog was a valuable thing because it allowed me to speak about something extremely important to me.
A day or two after I got back home, I had to come back to reality and deal with the isolation of migraine, stress that comes with parenting, and feelings of inadequacy. Normal and seemingly easy tasks have been giving me great amounts of anxiety. Things like driving my son to counseling or having to take my daughter to buy her textbooks have raised my anxiety to panic attack levels. Logically I know what I am feeling is absurd, but I cannot control the way my body physically reacts to those feelings. The nervousness, stomach aches, heart palpitations... boy do they suck.
It would be so nice if I could actually take a few days off from the responsibility of taking care of my kids so that I can take care of myself like I really need to. Yes, my husband is here to help me out, but as a police officer who works midnights, his availability isn't very...available. Everything happens during the day and that's when he has to sleep, so much of the load falls on me to take care of.
Under normal circumstances, being a LEO (law enforcement officer) family is tough. Long hours spent away from home, working on holidays, and being called in on days off is a rough life for all of us. Most of us wind up doing things by ourselves because our spouses are at work a lot. I am not complaining by any means. It's just that chronic pain makes an already tough situation even tougher.
Since I am unable to put in a leave of absence from motherhood, I have tried to manage my anxiety and depression in other ways. I began redecorating my kitchen. Ever since we moved into our house, I have been wanting to paint. It's been eight years and nothing has been done. So, with my knack of finding things very cheap or almost free, I started decorating the house. Through coupons, cheap finds on Ebay, and the paint clearance shelf at Lowe's I have begun transforming my living spaces.
|My pantry door|
Spending time painting and shopping for new curtains and light fixtures has definitely helped to take my mind off of my rambling, non-sensical anxiety. By giving myself something to focus on rather than let my mind wander off into panic land, I am able to calm down and center myself again. Besides, I love doing crafty and artsy things so this is right up my alley. My body wasn't too appreciative of the bending, climbing, and reaching afterward but that's okay. Having a pretty kitchen for under $100 is well worth it.
I say all of this to say that even though we technically can't take a vacation from our kids and responsibilities, sometimes just acknowledging to someone (our spouse, sister, mother, best friend) that we are having a hard time getting through the day can take some of the pressure off. Harboring our anxiety or depression only harms ourselves.
Having someone you completely trust to talk about your feelings to really helps lighten that burden of carrying around negative thoughts. For me, that's my husband, mother and sister. There is no judgement or guilt-tripping when I talk to them. What I get in return is validation for how I am feeling and reassurance that I am doing everything right when it comes to my children.
I am the only one expecting to be superwoman. Not my kids or my husband. So, I can stop trying to do more because what I am doing now is already enough. I am enough. And in lieu of a pause button, I have found that a glass or two (or three) of wine works just as well (if it's not a trigger)!