18 January 2016

5 Days until House: How We're Holding Up

I think the process of moving to House is going really un-traumatically for the girls. They ask me constantly, every. single. day. if we can go to House. When we pull in the driveway, Abigail shouts, "House!" with great enthusiasm. They run crazily across the living room and down the hallway, they gleefully do high-knee dances in the basement. When they get agitated that their toys are disappearing into boxes, I just tell them, "We are taking the toys to House," and they calm right down. I am trying to involve them in the process as much as I can while keeping it positive. When I take them with me to lug boxes or do some work before we move in, I make the trip a big deal.
"We're going to House, Foxy Man!" (Always start with the baby, kids want the spotlight more when they have to fight for it).
Abigail: "Mommy? House!"
"Yes, we're going to House! Let's get Foxy's coat and shoes on so we can go to House!"
"Kegcorn!" how she pronounces her sister's name now, "House! Boot shoes! Coat! Keggggggcorrrrrrnnnnnn!"
The basement has a few dozen ball pit balls and a basket full of stuffed animals that they are allowed to throw against walls, doors, whatever they want down there. And when they start to get fussy-bored, I wrap up what I'm doing and we leave. When we arrived at the house on our first day as homeowners, I took each girl into the house one at a time and told them, "Daddy's House, Mommy's House, Abigail's House, Eleanor's House, Theodore's House, Cat's House!"
"Car?"
"Yes! Car's House too!"

For the most part, I am really like our slow-move technique. By moving day, the books, china, glassware, bathrooms, laundry room, and most of the kitchen should be unpacked and organized. I do have to say, though, that I don't think moving would be going so smoothly if it weren't for my anti-depressants. Depression and anxiety are two sides of the same coin, and while I knew I struggled with depression, I never realized how deeply rooted the anxiety was until it was gone.

My life now:
Pack a few things, entertain the girls. Pack a few things, feed Theodore. Eventually get a carload's worth of the stuff ready. Load up boxes and kids into the car. Drive to the house. Unload Abigail and Eleanor, take them inside, take off their coats and shoes. Unload Theodore. He's usually still sleeping, so I leave him in his carseat in the house until he wakes up. Unload boxes. Unpack and put away as much as I can until the kids let me know they are done. Coats, shoes, load kids, drive back to the apartment. Figure I'll return either tomorrow or after everyone goes to bed, whatever I feel like doing.

How it would have gone without medication:
Set a very high goal: I will pack this cupboard, all the china, and all the little things in the kitchen. Secretly hope I will also get that other cupboard done too. Pack a few things. Freak out when the girls want Mommy time. Continue to pack while fending off the girls. Loose my temper. Yell at them. Go back to packing, feeling guilty, but determined to finish packing. Get hungry Theodore, sit in the rocking chair to nurse. Feel anxious and frustrated the entire time. Repeat over and over again my head the list of things left to do. Plan out exactly how I'll pack them and where I'll put them when I unpack them. Run over these thoughts again and again until Theodore is finally done. Put him down and finish packing. Load up the boxes and kids into the car, frustrated that it's already so late in the afternoon. Unload the kids and the boxes. Start unpacking. Freak out when the girls want Mommy time. Continue to unpack while fending off the girls. Loose my temper. Yell at them. Go back to unpacking, feeling guilty, but determined to empty these boxes. Get hungry Theodore, sit on the floor to nurse. Feel anxious and frustrated the entire time. Envision myself unpacking the rest of the boxes and putting the items away over and over again until Theodore is finally done. Finish unpacking the frickin' #@*$&@#%& boxes while various children cry and/or yell. Load everyone into the car. Drive home while making lists of what I'll pack next and when I'll come out to the house next. Feel so completely drained that I don't make dinner or finish the girls' laundry. Rant and rave to Matt when he gets home. Spend the evening collapsed on the couch because I am too sore and exhausted to do anything for the rest of the night.

I don't repeat lists over and over in my head anymore, I don't set impossibly high goals, I roll with the punches when my goals aren't met, I don't freak out when the girls come between me and my to do list, I can lower my expectations without feeling like a failure, I don't push myself to the point of exhaustion, I ask for help, I am more patient. I feel like a whole different person when I'm on these meds. I still feel things - I don't have zombie-like side effects - but I can still function in a healthy way. Before the anxiety would drive me to do everything exactly perfectly how I planned it in my head, no matter what the cost. If I couldn't do it exactly perfectly, I would have to recite these lists over and over again until they "felt perfect" to feel normal again. I had no idea how stressful and exhausting it was until a magic little pill silenced the craziness.

I'm not trying to say anything about what anyone else should or should not do. I've just been reflecting lately on how much anti-depressants have improved my quality of life. I'm watching myself move again and it's almost like I'm a different person. I keep waiting for the "freak out" switch to get flipped, but it never does. It's mesmerizing, testing myself and watching myself succeed: Can I leave this box in the house and return tomorrow to finish it? What? I can? I'm okay with the imperfection of a failed goal? Yes! Sweet! Let's do it; I'm tired.

I like this me. Once I no longer need the medicine for postpartum depression, I'm going to see a psychiatrist about how best to make this new me the permanent me.


*Side note/post script
I am of the very strong opinion that while some disorders may be over-diagnosed or be curable by lifestyle changes, there is always a base of people who truly have a disorder and can only treat it by medication.

For example, I definitely believe lots of kids are incorrectly diagnosed with ADD when they are simply bored at school or don't spend enough time outdoors. But I also definitely believe that ADD really exists and those mis-diagnosed kids don't take away from the kids who genuinely struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder.

There are other people who have disorders or diseases that can be treated by lifestyle changes. I have one of these too, I have an irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Doctors wanted me on medication for the rest of my life, but I found a nutritionist who believed meds weren't necessary. I worked with her for a year and I now control it completely through diet.

In sum, I believe there are people out there who are mis-diagnosed as depressed when they are really just lazy. I think there are people out there who are correctly diagnosed as depressed, but could treat it through exercise and a healthy diet. Then there are people out there who are correctly diagnosed as depressed, but are not helped by lifestyle changes, and need medication in order to achieve a normal life. I really want to discern where I fall on that chart, because I never knew separate my personality was from my anxiety before now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a really interesting post. I agree with you on the post itself and the side notes. One thing I would add for consideration is that, in my experience, I have "chilled" in the anxiety/perfectionNOW dept. considerably as I've had more children. Recognizing my limitations during pregnancy, afterwards, and as I have more Persons to tend to has significantly decreased my at-home stress level.

I'm also better at putting things into a positive perspective. I keep a minor journal daily which records, simply:
The date
My weight
Breakfast
Snack
Lunch
Dinner
Prayer
Work
Study

If I jot down under work "2 loads laundry, made breakfast, homeschooled," etc., it helps keep things in perspective when I have a busy week and many things I want desperately to accomplish. This way, when I start feeling like nothing's gotten done and ill never get to my "extra curriculars," I can look at my mini journal and say, "but you DID change 4 diapers, make breakfast lunch and dinner and 2 loads of laundry -which, btw, is why you didn't get to the other things." This strategy also helps me relax in the afternoon/evenings to be able to say to myself, "no, you don't 'need' to dust the furniture or clear the clutter, you've done enough for today."

Anyway, I guess that was a bit of a brain dump. :-)

But you have seemed very happy and upbeat since FoxyMan arrived. Don't forget that the love in your home multiplied exponentially among all the members of your family through his addition! God is good! TB