Up by the Bootstraps
Last week I wrote that I was feeling overwhelmed and rather hopeless. I appreciate the support I received and it’s great to know that there is a caring community of women out there willing to help, even when they’re reaching out to someone they’ve never met.
I still feel overwhelmed. My boys are rarely taking more than 20 minute naps and it’s really difficult to even find time to shower, much less eat, clean up, or cook dinner. I also miss being able to just hang out online for relaxation. I stay connected via my smart phone, scrolling through Twitter and my forums with one hand while I nurse or just hold a sleeping baby. I stay up way, way too late at night after they’ve gone down for the night. I write or read, and it’s virtually the only time I have to write blog posts. I made a quiet commitment to myself to write a post three times a week because I know it’s good for my soul and for my mental health. I get to write here about things I can’t tell anyone in my life. I don’t have real friends in my offline life. I am developing friendships with a couple of other moms I’ve met but we’re definitely not up to the level of true sharing. My husband is my best friend but there are lots of things I don’t want to share with him because he’s a dude and because I don’t want to put additional pressure on him.
I’m not feeling quite as hopeless this week as I did last week. I feel like I’m sort of teetering on the edge of depression but I’m not there. I do know all about severe depression and I’ve been hospitalized a number of times. I was diagnosed years ago with Bipolar II. My manic episodes are not as common as my depressive ones and the medication I’m taking seems to have almost entirely eliminated the mania. I think it also helps keep me from plunging into the deep darkness but it’s not pure magic. I have a responsibility to myself to do the things that help keep me out of that hole.
When I am at this edge, I know that it is up to me to take measures to avoid disaster. Once I start sliding down it becomes much more difficult – nearly impossible – to pull myself back up.
So I’m committing myself to doing some of the things that I know will help me. If I still feel like I’m sliding I’ll call my doctor and get an appointment.
- Stare at my little miracles and think about what miracles they really are.
- Talk to people, not about the depression but about life and my boys and our family’s activities.
- Do tangible things for other people. I’m not in a position right now to commit myself much in the way of charity work, but I can make a card for my friend down the street or make some banana bread for my neighbor.
- Go for walks in my neighborhood in the evening. Many of the families here do this and it’s a good way to connect with people, develop friendships, and get some fresh air.
- Let as much natural light into the house as possible. In lieu of that, turn up all the lights.
- Do little things around the house to make it more pleasant. Light a scented candle. Take five minutes while the boys are napping to sort through a pile of papers. Make the bed (this is a surprisingly effective pick-me-up for me).
- Watch really funny sitcoms like The Office, Community, The Middle, and Modern Family. If I can’t muster up some belly laughs from those I know it’s time to go to the doctor.
I’m going to print out this list and post it on the refrigerator to give me reminders throughout the day. Hopefully I can stop this slide in its tracks.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.