If you have been keeping up with my blog for the past few months, you may see the recurring theme of the stress that so frequently visits my life. But it’s not just my life, it’s the life of just about any parent. We try so hard to juggle everything and give our children the best, yet it comes at a cost. The price? Our sanity.
I love my children and would give them the world if I could. I am sure every parent feels the same way….but I have learned that the best thing I can give them is a calm and happy mom. So as I reached my breaking point back at the beginning of last December (a Tuesday), I had some wonderful friends encourage me to do two things…see a doctor and see a therapist. I took Wednesday off from work as recommended by my boss so that I could have some “quiet” time to myself without kids around. Happy to find some help and/or relief from all my anxiety, and the chest pain I had been experiencing as a result of these same stressors, I went to see my doctor on Thursday. I had shared my feelings and the incidents that lead up to my “meltdown” with many of my friends and the more I talked about it, the more ridiculous I felt telling a doctor. I’m a mom. Mom’s are suppose to do these things. Aren’t they? But the doctor reassured me that I had good reason to be stressed and while many moms seem to be able to handle these things with ease, as she pointed out, how do I know what they are taking to get through it or what their support system is? Excellent point. Not only was I lacking in support with my extended family living all out of state, but the support I did have was letting me down as well. It was agreed that I had been trying to do too much for too many, without taking care of myself, and not only was my pain not being “heard”, but I wasn’t telling anyone I was in pain either. I was prescribed Prozac and again received a recommendation to see a therapist. I immediately obtained a therapy appointment for Friday. Amazingly the doctor also told me that my children, at the ages 8 and 10, were old enough for me to sit them down and explain to them exactly what they were doing to contribute to my stress.
That night at the dinner table, I sat down with my husband and my girls. I explained to the girls how stress affects the chemicals in a person’s brain. I also explained to them how a chemical imbalance could drive people crazy (whether it just be crazy in anger or crazy enough to kill someone), and how they could actually cause a person’s health to deteriorate to the point of death. Harsh for kids to hear? You bet. But as my doctor pointed out, it was necessary. I then went around the table telling each person present (hubby included) what they were doing that was “killing me”. I explained to them what I was going to do to take care of myself and do my part to be a better mom. I also explained to them what I needed them to do to be a better family to each other and me. I could tell that what I said was heard.
On Friday I went to an EAP therapist that is provided by my employer. I was amazed to find that as I told “my story” once again, I still felt all the anxiety and stress come up as I talked. I felt like I talked a million miles a minute. As I explained the events that lead to my so called demise, each instance would take me to an earlier event, and I would say to the therapist, “wait, I need to go back to…”. That was when I discovered just how far back my major stressors began. I didn’t have a melt down over one or two incidents that took place within the past week. I had a melt down that had been in the making for months/maybe even years. I talked for what seemed like forever…but it was only an hour. And I didn’t even cover all the so-called incidents that I could have. Wow…was I a mess or what? But I felt better after my hour, because now I had help. Someone was listening. Now lots of “someones” were listening.
The first week on Prozac was interesting. As my body adjusted to this new drug, it was as if I didn’t have a single care in the world. The house could have burned down, and I probably wouldn’t have cared. Luckily for me and those I love, it balanced out after that first week. I had a better grasp of “reality” and was able to deal with anything that came my way in an calm, yet effective manner. I LOVE IT! I was also able to start saying no; no to the many activities that I participated in unwillingly, and no to endless running in my evenings and weekends.
I have continued to go to therapy in addition to taking the prozac for the past three months. Each time I see my therapist I keep waiting for the dreaded day when she tells me I no longer need therapy. I don’t ever want it to end. Why? Even though I may have been able to get my act together and have been able to better manage my family and my life now, she points out little things that I need to work on and challenges me on what to do with that information. I am finally living my life again, not just existing. I am happier than I have been in years. Not that I wasn’t always happy, but now it is a more balanced happy. I am reaching out of my comfort zone. Sure it can be a little scary, but it can be awesome as well. Today I took a big leap forward and purchased my first passport. I’ve always dreamed of traveling out of the country, but fear kept me from following through. Now with the awesome friends and support system I have, I am reaching beyond my fears to try something new.
Yes, I am still nervous at the prospect of leaving the country, but as I have also been reminded recently, life is short. We have to live it to the fullest. There isn’t time to waste doing things we don’t want to do, and there isn’t time to waste putting off the things that we have always wanted to do. Of course, I won’t be making any drastic changes just yet. One step at a time. It’s still a start, and that’s good enough for me.