She is strong, but she is tired

Yesterday, I had a meltdown. It is a meltdown that has been brewing….it’s been bubbling, almost erupting to the surface but then suppressed back down. Sometimes, life has a way of feeling completely overwhelming. I feel as if I have literally felt a weight on my back – continually growing and continually weighing me down. It’s the weight of motherhood, of trying to settle into a new home, of trying to find the balance in something that just isn’t meant to be balanced. Yesterday, it finally all came to a head. I am strong, but I am tired.

I sobbed, I sobbed real hard….and I buried my head in my fiances chest. His words? “You are an amazing mother, you truly are. But you need to do more for you. You need to be “you”. Wow… I continued to sob but then was able to choke back my tears. Stunned, I just looked at him. He was so right.

Now, let me say this now. I am happy. I am so damn happy. I am the happiest I have ever been. I feel more fulfilled that I have ever have. Being a mother is everything I have ever dreamed of, and more. It’s little tiny hands wrapped around my neck holding me tight, it’s hearing “mama”, it’s the smile she gives me when I walk into the room – it is everything and more. However, I’m not sure if I am just exhausted with the new responsibilities of motherhood, which are constant, or if I have truly begun to neglect myself along the way.

I’ll be the first to admit it, I have always struggled with taking care of myself. Rather it be physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. I will practice self-care for a little while, but then the responsibilities weigh heavy on me and I become a last priority. Not on purpose, but just by default. There are so many things that always need to be done. This list is truly endless. At the end of the day, it’s hard to find time for me.

But today I had an epiphany – if I want to be the best mother to my daughter, I have to be the best version of myself. If anything, she should be my motivation. And she is.

Things I would like to change:

  • Prioritizing: I don’t get much time to myself, but the time I do get I want to make sure I prioritize. I swear, it’s like a constant battle for me to decide if I should rest while Amelia’s napping or get housework done (dishes, laundry, tidying up). I guess depending on the day, I’ll decide what is more important. If it’s a short nap to revitalize? I’ll take it. If it’s getting things done around the house because the clutter is driving me insane? I’ll do that. Putting first what my body and mind is saying it needs most is what I will do
  • Read: I really enjoy reading, that is if I can find a good book that I can’t put down. Instead of watching TV at night before bed, I want to incorporate reading into my nightly routine. It’s a good way to unwind after a long day and quite honestly? Do I need to get stressed out by the drama on The Real Housewives of OC right before bed? No, I don’t. No one really cares that Vicki and Kelly are feuding again over god knows what… (okay, maybe I do… just not right before bed) 😉
  • My diet: I don’t always fuel my body properly. I just eat whatever…whatever is easy or whatever is convenient. I’d like to think I eat somewhat healthy, but….I have never followed any sort of meal plan. So I’d certainly like to clean my diet up, so I feel better overall!
  • My workout routine: HA, workout routine? What’s that? I certainly don’t have one now… I like to take walks or go for runs when I get spare time (very seldom). I also enjoy taking yoga classes, but I no longer can do that with the difference in mine and my fiances schedules. So, truly, I’ve never followed any real routine (besides when I was training for my half marathons). I don’t want to take on a complex workout routine but want to make it a goal to at least get 10,000-12,000 steps per day. I will track this with the help of my Fitbit! I also want to incorporate some strength training activities (using Amelia as my very own 22 lb weight) and some yoga at home
  • My mind: This is most important. I lately am very easily getting bogged down by the “noise” – all the thoughts about all that I have to do. As I mentioned earlier, it’s truly overwhelming. At the beginning and end of each day, I just want to reflect. Self-improvement can’t happen unless there is reflection. No one is perfect. I certainly am learning that I am no where close to being perfect. Not the perfect fiance, not the perfect mother, and not even the best version of myself. I AM HUMAN. There will be good days and bad days. However, there is always room to better yourself, better your life, and in return, better the lives of those around you. I want to start to better my life NOW….I’m tired of waiting. It’s time I start doing somethings for myself again. After all, if I want to be the best mother to my daughter? I have to be the best version of myself

Fear of the unknown

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I’m very open about my battles with anxiety and depression. I think that this is wildly important, especially in today’s society where mental health often goes unspoken about or pushed to the side. It is a true issue in our country, and one that I hope gets addressed soon. But that’s a whole other matter, maybe I’ll do a future blog post on that…anywaysssss…

I’ve experienced anxiety and depression since about 15 years of age. I suffered from some substantial trauma, but with the help of medication and extensive therapy, pulled myself out of what was a very deep hole that was dug…a hole that I had no part in creating. Was this an easy process? No. Was there any easy fix? No. Did I switch medications and therapists several times? Most certainly. But I was dead set on trying to help myself in whatever way I could…I wasn’t going to settle for the dark gloomy clouds that lurked over my head daily. I set out to find the sunshine again, and no one was going to stop me.

Now this drive and motivation didn’t come overnight. I spent several years battling my inner demons. With the support of my loved ones behind me, I one day realized that I couldn’t live the rest of my life feeling this way. That was the day I decided I was going to make the most of the cards that I was dealt, pick myself up by the boot straps and try to find a new “normal”…a normal that I could be happy and content with. To this day, I give a lot of credit to those loved ones for helping me along the way.

I’m happy to say that today, I am no longer taking medication for my anxiety or depression, and have found ways to maintain my state of happiness and inner peace. I went off my medications prior to getting pregnant, in an effort to clear my body and clean my system out of anything that may interfere with a healthy pregnancy. I was very scared to do this, but thankfully it all went fine and I felt okay without the medication.

When I was pregnant and thinking about the birth of my child, one thing kept crossing my mind…what if I suffer from postpartum depression? I was PETRIFIED of this. Of course, working in the field and previously working as a psychiatric social worker didn’t help. I had seen new mothers on the unit who were suffering from postpartum depression or even worse, postpartum psychosis. I had witnessed first hand the sadness in their eyes; their blank stares, their abnormal behaviors. So many of those mothers had a previous history of anxiety or depression before giving birth. I truly feared that this could be in store for me after I gave birth to my child.

What I think is important to note about this looming fear, is that I openly discussed it with my fiancé and my doctor, and together we decided the best course of preventive action. I went as far as looking into having my placenta encapsulated, in hopes that this would lower my chances of experiencing postpartum depression (as well as the other benefits it brings) but I decided not to. Someone would have had to transport my placenta 45 minutes away shortly after I gave birth, and truly I just wanted the attention to be on my new baby. I was already getting stressed about being stressed about having someone deliver my placenta to the place I had chosen to do the encapsulating. See? This is what an anxious brain does…therefore, I nixed that idea.

My OB/GYN suggested going back on medications immediately following my delivery. But I ultimately nixed this idea too. The final decision was to just wait it out. If I started showing or feeling any signs or symptoms of postpartum depression, than I would go back on medications.

“What’s coming will come, and we’ll meet it when it does” became the quote I lived by. I wasn’t going to let the fear of the unknown keep me from enjoying my pregnancy.

After I gave birth to my daughter everything in my life had changed, but somehow, I felt more like myself than I ever had before. She was like the missing puzzle piece I had been longing for. She gave my life meaning, a new sense of purpose, and filled it with joy. So, my advice to expecting mothers who are preoccupied with the same fear I was, is to take it day by day. Most definitely have a conversation with your doctor and decide what the best plan of action is for you. There is no sense of worrying about what may happen…be prepared if it does, but decide that what’s coming will come, and that you’ll meet it when it does. It’ll all be okay.

…and my advice to those that are experiencing anxiety and depression? Don’t give up. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you will be able to find happiness again. You are not alone. Seek help, talk to others, talk to a professional(s), try different therapeutic methods and again, just don’t give up! Keep on keepin’ on! I am always willing to talk others through difficult times so if you need someone to confide in and talk to, I’m here! <3

 

Disclaimer: I am by no means a medical professional, and this course of action was what worked for my specific case. If you are experiencing any symptoms of anxiety, depression, or postpartum depression talk to your doctor. Also, always make sure to talk to your doctor before going on or going off any medications.

 

 

Six ways to practice grounding when you experience anxiety and intense emotions

As a school social worker, I often encourage my students to engage in these practices. I was also encouraged by a reiki specialist to engage in some of these practices for my own benefit. She also recommended “earthing”, which happens to be my favorite way to ground myself.

Earthing is the process of absorbing earths free flowing electrons from its surface through the soles of ones feet – in other, simpler terms? It’s literally standing or walking around in the grass barefoot hahaha. Call me a hippie, but I love it!

Grounding practices:

  • Body: lay on the ground, press your toes into the floor or squeeze something (stress ball, playdough)
  • 5 senses: wear your favorite sweatshirt, use essential oils, make a cup of tea
  • Self-soothe: take a shower or bath, find a grounding object, light candles
  • Observe: describe an object in detail (color, texture, shadow, light, shapes)
  • Breathe: practice 4-7-8 breathing (inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8)
  • Distract: find all the square or green objects in the room, count by 7’s, say the date