If you read my previous post about being a perfectionist, then I am sure you can surmise that I am also a bit of a control freak. My husband would chuckle at the word “bit,” but oh well. After having two small children, I felt as though my life had become very overwhelming. Now, please do not misconstrue my message; I was born to be a wife and mother; however, no one is truly prepared for the juggling act.
After I had my first daughter, I stayed home from work 10 weeks. At the time, I was teaching 8th grade Language Arts in a middle school. I missed the kids, but I knew leaving my baby would be even harder. It did help knowing that my mother would be my daycare provider, but it was still difficult, nonetheless. I cried and cried when the day to return had finally come. With my school bag on one arm, my breast pump on the other, and the baby carrier in my hands, I left super early so I could drop my daughter off with my mom. Every morning I tried to get in one pump before I left for work, one during my lunch, and one at the end of the day before I left work. It was an exhausting day! I felt so very overwhelmed, and this is the point when my anxiety took on a whole new level; and my life started to feel very out of control.
With a baby, a husband, a full-time job, and all of the responsibilities that came with those, I didn’t feel as though I had time for anything else. My housework slid; my me time was nonexistent, and my credit card frenzy began. I wanted my little baby girl to have the best of everything. Needless to say, I had no control over anything. I did join Weight Watchers in order to at least try to get back my pre-baby figure. With breastfeeding and healthy eating–certainly I could not find time for exercise–I was back to my pre-baby weight in about four months. So, at least that part of my life was in control the way I wanted it to be.
After the birth of my second child, I really hit a low. I suffered depression, increased anxiety, and even deeper credit card debt. I felt really out of control. I loved my baby girls with every inch of my being, but it was myself and aspects of my life that I felt were most difficult to get under control. Losing the baby weight the second time was not quite as easy. I did join Weight Watchers, but I struggled more. Because my second daughter was born in the summer, I was not able to take any time off of work; my six weeks had already expired. Now, I could have taken time, but the money was needed for covering bills. Again, my mom took care of both girls, so retuning to work was not as hard mentally. However, this time, I was teaching high school English, and the demands upon me were greater. I still entered work every morning with my school bag and that trusty breast pump. I tried to to fit in a morning pump, a lunch pump, and an after school pump. With the first baby, I made it a full year, but with my second, I only survived 7 months. I think with the increased stress, my milk flow was just not cooperating for me.
My husband and I tried to give the girls everything we could, including toys, clothing, and experiences. That created more debt for us. I think at the time we thought we would be okay, but as many of us know, those credit cards add up way faster than we can imagine. Before you know it, you are looking at your statements in amazement. So, my anxiety increased, and my journey to find inner peace started.
I tried everything in terms of anti-depressant drugs, doctors, therapists, and psychiatrists. Medicine was just a band-aid; it worked for about a month or two, but then I was back to being a frazzled mess. My doctors were trying, and I love them all for that. However, nothing seemed to bring about the inner peace I so desired.
Ten years later, I am still struggling with high levels of anxiety, mood, swings, and depression. Some of it is self-induced; some of it may not be. Sure, I have made plenty of mistakes along the path, and I do wish I had handled my finances better. However, today, I am in a much better place, but I am still a work-in progress. Sometimes that really scares me; I’m 38 and still a work-in-progress. I try not to compare myself to other people, but that becomes difficult. I see others who are so successful, and some of them never even went to college. I wouldn’t say I am jealous of my friends, but maybe in some ways I am. I love them, but I always wonder, “Why couldn’t I do something like that?” As I said, though, I am getting better.
I switched doctors about two months ago. I decided that maybe a homeopathic doctor may be what I need. I had met my new doctor at church, and I remember he had talked about the fact that unlike other doctors, he is more willing to experiment with medicines and procedures. On my first visit, just from talking with me, he looked at me and said, “I really think one of your problems is the fact that you are suffering from adult ADHD.” I know that sounds silly, but to tell the truth, I think I may have had some form of ADD all my life. However, when I was a kid, no one used acronyms such as ADD or ADHD, and my parents certainly would never have medicated me. I did feel somewhat embarassed handing the pharmacist a prescription for Adderall, but the medicine has helped me to focus on parts of my life that were a mess for me in the past. For example, I was never a great organizer. However, with the medicine, the help of Pinterest, and other magazines, my organizational both at home and at work have greatly improved.
Two other changes I have made include my weight and a hormone test. Last April, I stepped on the scale and weighed in at 155. I nearly fell over; I never weighed that much in my life. But, with the juggling and stress, the pounds crept back. My mom and I again joined Weight Watchers. I can proudly say that as of this morning I was 123 pounds. So, there is again an aspect of my life where I feel in control. My new doctor also said that he thinks perhaps I may have suffered a hormone imbalance after giving birth to my first daughter. When he asked me when my anxiety and worries truly began, after giving birth was my answer. Now, don’t get me wrong; I have always been high strung and highly stressed out, but after giving birth, my worries multiplied. I can remember spending every night waking up about every 15 minutes just to touch my baby’s chest to make sure she was still breathing. Yes, it sounds nuts; but that’s what I would do. I walked through life like a zombie, because I hardly slept. Between my crazy thoughts and breast feeding sessions, I may have slept two hours a night. Having a second child only caused me to become worse.
So, I did take a hormone test last week and am awaiting results. My family doctor told me he is strictly against hormone supplements, so I am somewhat torn. However, my new doctor told me that if I do have a discrepancy in my hormone balance, I may never achieve the inner peace I so desire without treatment. He told me his hormone treatments are all natural, not synthetic.
As you can see, my steps toward my inner peace have come slowly, but I think I am getting there. Changing habits and beliefs does not come easy. It is a long and winding road. However, I have never once stopped trying to find an answer. I won’t stop until I reach my happy point. I have a great life, and love everyone in it. So, I also want to love myself and feel good within. In order to do that, I need to make changes and seek out answers. I am taking the necessary steps; I just have to wait for them to take effect. I cannot forget to mention my God in all of this. I pray every day to him, and I know he is with me. I cannot explain why the struggles occur, but I have learned not to ask “Why.” God will help me; he will strengthen me; and he will see me through this.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms I described, please seek help, no matter what you choose. Also, feel free to reach out to me. Knowing that you are not alone is important. I would love to chat and share my journeys. I have led a good life and have been blessed; yet, I still struggle with aspects of my life. I think that is human. Nothing and no one is perfect.