Every year at this time, I sit down and write a post about Mother’s Day. I often don’t know what I’m going to write until I sit down. But as I sat down this year, the word that kept coming to mind was, “help.”
It’s honestly no wonder. This was the year I asked for a lot of it.
Something about watching my baby girl grow into a little person made me want to be better. Better than all the hurts and sadness I’ve pushed down beneath the surface. Pushed down out of fear, out of defiance, out of an unwillingness to go back.
I know I talked in the past about going to counseling, which made a tremendous amount of difference. I felt better, was thinking more positively, and was more relaxed and confident. I was able to unload a lot of memories I hadn’t been dealing with, and stop letting my mind constantly go to worst case scenario situations.
The only issue? These pesky little anxiety attacks that even positive thinking couldn’t control.
They’d hit at the oddest times. I’d be fully immersed in some task, not stressed, not thinking about anything negative, and the tingling would start, followed by shortness of breath and blurry vision. The first few times it happened I thought I was having an allergic reaction, but I later realized it was the beginning stages of a panic attack.
At first I thought I could control them, but I couldn’t. They’d hit at the oddest times when I really thought I was fine. As it became more of an issue, I was embarrassed because it was obvious that the problem was bigger than me. How on earth could my mind be deceiving me in this way? The episodes would hit when I was alone with the kids or out grocery shopping…and finally one day it happened at a busy intersection while running errands with the kids. Lucy was in the backseat yelling, Jon David was asking me about homework, cars were zipping by left and right, and I felt things slipping away.
I tried to remain calm and nonchalant as I rolled down the window and focused on breathing properly. My hands shook from fear. And all I could think about was having to tell my husband that I could no longer be trusted to take care of our kids.
I was indescribably ashamed.
After talking with my husband, I made an appointment to see a doctor. I can’t even tell you how embarrassed I felt when she asked what I was there for and I had to tell her that I couldn’t control my panic attacks. It’s so much easier to say that you have a cold or your leg hurts or your throat is sore. But the problem was with my mind and that made me feel weak and ridiculous.
And I was so relieved she looked at me with sympathy, put her hand on my arm and said, “you poor thing, you must be exhausted.”
Yes. That exactly.
We talked a bit about my day to day life and routine and the possibility that I was suffering from social anxieties or even a bit of depression. I’m not going to lie — I’ve stayed home for 10 1/2 years and sometimes being home for that long changes you. You get used to being removed from a routine amongst other people. You become accustomed to being at home, to withdrawing in order to stave off loneliness. Is it possible that I developed social anxiety?
She asked how I felt about trying an antidepressant, and I responded that I was willing to try anything. I was so tired and scared, I no longer had the luxury of being hesitant of being “on medicine”. She warned me that I may gain weight or get tired or lose my libido, so we agreed to check back in a month and see how it went.
I did get tired. Very tired. I have never EVER been a nap person — I am too much of a worrier and too high strung, but suddenly I couldn’t keep my eyes open once 3 o’clock hit. It started to become an issue, but I decided to stick it out and see if it got better.
And it did. And amazingly, so did my panic attacks. It’s hard to describe the effect the medicine has — I don’t wake up every day feeling blissful and loopy, I just don’t feel that weight on my shoulders every day. The weight that made me feel like if I didn’t check XYZ off my list today, the world would end. The weight that makes me feel like everything has to be like this or that or that I can’t sit and take a break because there is STUFF TO DO.
I thought it would embarrass me to be on medication, but it doesn’t. I’m just way too relieved to care. The biggest blessing of all has been the ability to enjoy my life and my kids more. There are days that after laying Lucy down for her nap, I lay down and take one too. Sure I know there’s laundry to fold and a blog post to write, but it’ll get done. Being able to enjoy my day in that way is something I’ve never been able to do.
The point of all this? Not to say that medicine solves all your problems. It doesn’t. I’ve spent the year going through counseling as well, and the medicine wouldn’t be nearly as much help if I didn’t have the tools in place that I do now.
I guess what I want you to know is that sometimes you have to ask for help. And it might make you feel like less of a mom or a wife or a woman. You might be embarrassed in front of your husband or your in-laws or your kids. I have spent the last year asking for more help than I’ve ever asked for in my ENTIRE LIFE.
And you know what? I’m so much better for it.
Your help might be a babysitter (I have 3 great ones on regular rotation) or weekly “me time” (I do that, too) or counselling (check) or talking to a doctor about medication (once again, raising hand). Whatever it is, ask for the help. Be your best darn self. And anyone else who thinks less of you for it can kiss my dang behind.
Even Beyonce has a whole team. Don’t ever forget that.
I just really love you guys. Have a happy Mother’s Day!