One of the things I did while I was on my recent blogging hiatus was to start talking to a counselor.
Last week we talked about what it is that triggers my anxiety and depression, and what I can do for myself to try and prevent things from getting overwhelming, and from getting to the point where I feel like I am just going to friggin' snap.
I'm going to tell you a bit about what I learned because I having a sinking suspicion that as women and/or mothers, we all struggle with this - at least to some degree.
Here's what I learned:
I put WAY too much pressure on myself. For everything. I seem to have this all or nothing attitude, and it's high time for me to knock that crap off.
I continue to struggle with mommy guilt. If I spend too much time getting stuff done, I feel guilty for not playing more with Kaylee. If I spend all my time playing with Kaylee, I feel guilty for not doing more around the house.
Guilt, guilt, guilt. It's gotta go. It's not going to be easy, as it seems to be a theme that is ingrained in my head, but I'm working on it...
My counselor had me list all the things that pile up and and stress me out, and then he drew a picture of a person with this big boulder on their shoulders, and he sectioned off the boulder into all the different roles and responsibilities I have.
Work. Housework. Meal planning. Budgeting. Chasing a toddler around all day. Paying bills. Scheduling our family. Being a wife. Being a mom. Having a social life. And on and on. I'm sure the list is very similar to what many of you would put on your lists.
After he was done drawing, he looked at me and said, "Well? Anything else? That's a lot of stuff right there. That's a lot of pressure."
I couldn't think of anything else, and he said, "Uh, what about self-care?"
Ahhhh, yes. That funny little thing called self-care. That concept I'd slowly grown to eliminate from my mind.
The board was filled up with all his little scribbles describing all my stresses and worries. And as soon as he put self-care up there, he erased everything else.
He said, "How about you just focus on one thing at a time?"
So, I'm slowly but surely working on eliminating this kind of thinking...
"But...I've got 5 loads of laundry and a sink full of dishes. I've got to get to the store because we've been out of milk for 3 days. But...I can't go to the store. I've gotta balance the checkbook and pay the bills. What? Is that a poopy diaper I smell? Ughhhh....Why can't I just get it together and do what needs to be done around here!?!?"
One thing that's been great for me about talking to a counselor is getting to the root of things. After just short while, he pointed out to me that I have an awful lot of "have to's and should's" in my vocabulary, and he said that I need to lower my expectations of myself.
WHAT? Are we both speaking English here? How can I lower my expectations when I can't even get done what needs to be done???? You are a crazy, crazy man!
But, he's right. He reminded me I need to be realistic.
Sure, there's a lot that needs to be done. But, is it really necessary to balance the checkbook 2 times a week? Do I really have to do 4 loads of laundry in one day? What's going to happen if I don't?
Nothing. Nothing is going to happen. The world will go on.
So, the game plan is that I schedule my week, and that I consciously make the choice to have time for ME.
As far as the scheduling things goes, rather than have a huge, looming list of things to be done hanging over my overwhelmed and frazzled little mind, I'm breaking it down.
I'll set a couple goals for the day. Today? Today I accomplished everything on my to-do list by 1 p.m.
Kaylee and I went to exercise class.
I called 2 places to make payments for Kaylee's mountain of medical bills.
I did a load of laundry.
I paid one bill online.
I spent time blogging.
My aim is to have one outing a day with Kaylee, whether it's to the store or to park - just something to get us both out of this house.
Next, I will choose one or two things to accomplish around here, but they will be small, realistic, reachable goals. No more page long lists of things to do in one day, only to reach the end of my day and feel that I accomplished nothing.
As far as the self-care aspect goes, I had to make an effort to schedule that as well. Dennis has karate Monday nights, so my parents agreed to watch Kaylee after work that day so I can have a night just for myself. I can go to the gym, go out with a friend, sit around in my pj's and watch TV all night - whatever I want - it's my night. And, I've designated the hour between 9 and 10 every night for reading, and then hitting the hay no later than 10 so that I get enough rest.
Now? Now I will go watch Grey's Anatomy because I haven't done anything JUST FOR ME today, and that whole self-care concept? Leaving it out of my day is just not an option any more, and I am not going to feel guilty anymore for taking care of myself.