(this will be a post in two parts. Probably.)
It was about this time last year.
I couldn’t breathe.
I would feel it wash over me, covering me, suffocating me.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get dressed. I went through the motions of feeding and clothing the kids. I lost all interest in everything.
I cried. A lot. And was angry.
I didn’t know what it was. All I knew was that this wasn’t me.
It would come. And then it would go.
I would try to describe it to Tim but I couldn’t even find the words. We agreed that I would talk with my doctor at my annual checkup.
I sat on the table in the doctor’s office, trying to describe what was going on.
“My hair is falling out. I’m not sleeping. I’m just feeling…out of sorts. Maybe it’s my thyroid? Or hormones out of whack? My youngest is two, maybe my body never bounced back?”
I couldn’t say what I needed to. I’m completely overwhelmed. I can’t breathe. I cry all. the. time.
“We can run all those tests,” she said. “We can rule out a thyroid or hormone level issue.”
Then she looked right at me.
“You’re a mom in your late thirties. You have three young boys, two of them with extra needs. You aren’t sleeping, you aren’t exercising. I bet everyone else’s needs come first.”
I nodded and looked at my feet.
“I bet there are moments when it feels like a wave coming on. You’re okay one moment, and not the next?”
Again, more nodding and feet looking.
“I can prescribe something for you to take when you start to feel like that. But you need to start taking care of you. Exercise. Even if it’s just running up and down the stairs when the kids are in the shower. You can’t do it all. No one expects you to.”
I walked out of there promising to think about the meds. I promised to start taking care of me.
That was a year ago.
I’ve been able to manage the wave. So far.
I can feel it coming. My body tenses, my chest constricts. I yell more. I eat more.
Sometimes there are triggers. A call from school. A playdate that goes bad. Or good. A doctor’s appointment. A developmental evaluation form.
I know now that it will be short-lived and it will pass. So far.
But I still haven’t been able to do the things for me.
I have three kids who are as different as day, night, and afternoon. They all have needs. They all have doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments. All need 100% of my time all the time.
I give that to them and more. And by the end of the day, there’s nothing left.
Tim described it like a raisin. I start the day like a grape. And slowly all the juice inside dries up, leaving me like a raisin by bedtime.
I have to get the juices back.
I’m not even talking spa vacation.
I’m talking eating lunch sitting down. Remembering to shower. Changing into pajamas before falling asleep.
Reading a book. Watching a movie with my husband.
A friend of mine proclaimed this the “Year of the Oxygen Mask” for her, meaning that it was time to remember that we need to be able to breathe if we’re going to help our kids stay afloat.
It’s the “Year of the Oxygen Mask” for me too.
Step one: making another appointment with my doctor.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, panicked, paralyzed…remember that you are not alone. Read this brave post from my friend HERE. Or this from another incredible friend HERE. Or this raw, honest post from The Bloggess here.
It’s okay to talk about it. In fact, it’s necessary.
Reach out. Get help.
Put your oxygen mask on now.
“When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in anyway.
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,
Now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors.
Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground,
Won’t you please, please help me?
And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like, I’ve never done before.” – Help by The Beatles