Motherhood & Madness: I knew this would be hard but this is REALLY hard.

I am staring at the computer screen trying to think of how to illustrate to you how difficult I find my life now. This does not mean I hate it, it just means I spend a lot of time wanting to throw my hands up in the air and say “fuck it”. After having my son, I was supposed to not work for a year. This did not turn into a reality. B was supposed to be actively involved. This did not turn into a reality. I am trying to hardest to balance caring for my son and work to bring in money. I also take on the majority of the responsibility for the physical chores and mental work (ie: noticing my son’s needs and what our household needs to function). I am not different from the millions of women and femmes that are in these beautiful and strenuous loving caretaker roles. This is new to me though and the adjustment makes me want to rip my hair out.

I finally know what sleep deprivation feels like and it feels like stupid. I am very forgetful and cognitively slow. I never feel rested. I always feel like I’m pushing myself and running on fumes. I find myself spending longer in the bathroom or shower when I can so I can have more time to myself. I bubble with rage when B says that he’s tired because I know he has slept longer than I have. I cannot for the life of my figure out why B has time to watch a movie and I don’t. How is it that he has finished 2 books since our son was born and I have started 4 books and abandoned them all?

I am trying to balance everything because I need to radically accept that this is what is happening in my life. I was life-balance_23-2147533397given a colouring book day planner and have started to attempt to organize my time. I have decided to dedicate 2 days a week to each of my jobs. None of these days will be weekends. All the other days will be solely dedicated to my son and to doing enjoyable activities during his naps such as reading, colouring, meditating and whatever else I want. I want to enjoy my son and when I am worried about fitting in work I do not enjoy him. He deserves all of me.

Well, a new year is a chance for a new me right?

I wish you all a very happy new year and that 2017 brings you one step closer to wellbeing 🙂 We got this!!

I Need to be Skillful

This past Saturday (August 1) B and I moved into an apartment. After 1 year of living with his Mom and Step-Dad we finally got out and into our own place. I was (and still am) very excited but it seems like every day brings a new challenge. First, the moment we came into the unit on moving day, there was bits of ceiling on the floor which, as we saw, came from previous water damage to the ceiling that I didn’t notice before. Second, the toilet broke. Third, we found out our unit does not have a phone jack and cannot currently hook up our internet. And fourth, I heard from another tenant that the previous tenants in our unit left because the ceiling was leaking and suggested we keep our eyes open for leaks.

All of that within a week.

The ceiling does feel dry and has been patched so it doesn’t look ugly. We were given a brand new toilet which is pretty nice (no lever, it has a button), and we’re going to discuss with the landlord about installing a phone jack and let them know that we are aware that our unit has a history of leaks and that we trust it has been fixed. So, everything is being dealt with. I am just trying to keep the negative thoughts at bay that say I have made a mistake moving to this building and that I am stupid. The stress is physically showing. I am not sleeping well, I am anxious and have been clenching my jaw so much that it hurts. I haven’t made time to practice DBT skills because there has been so much to organize!

But, I have decided today that I NEED to start being more skillful. Tonight, I am going to listen to a guided meditation that we listened to in my DBT class before I go to bed. I will continue using my anti-stress pillow spray and light and candle to give my bedroom a nice, comfortable glow. I will focus on how I have my friend coming over for dinner and that B is supportive of our decision to move here and that we will face the good and the bad together.

Now, here are some pictures of my place!!! We have done a great job of fixing it up and making it look awesome!!!

Why I Can’t Make Decisions

I am sometimes laughed at for the “easy” decisions that I cannot make in my life. Something as “simple” as picking a restaurant can cause me a great amount of stress. I’m not just talking, “Oh this is a stressful decision,” I’m talking brain overload, tears and a huge knot in my chest and stomach. The reason why this happens is because of the questions people ask me about my decisions.

I understand and appreciate it when my decisions are questioned. It is through questioning our decisions we learn about how we think, what motivates us, problem solving etc. These are all necessary things in order to develop critical thinking and confidence in our explanation of our decisions. I think people went over board with me. It never seemed to be just simple questioning (“Why did you do that?”), it is the simple question combined with letting me know that what they would have done was better.

I cannot make decisions because too many people have told me my decisions are wrong. I cannot make decisions because too many people have been hurt by my decisions (even if that means they did not enjoy their meal at the restaurant I chose). Combine that with my constant fear of letting people down and you have a recipe for disaster.

Even when I feel good about my decisions and go forward without questioning myself or asking others for validation someone has to chime in and explain to me how I’m incorrect.

For example, I made chicken for lunch today and used a metal pan. Originally I picked up an aluminum type pan and put the chicken inside it to see if two would fit. I decided they did not and used the metal pan. The chicken was cooking and I was in the process of making a grocery list when my partner came into the kitchen, say the aluminum pan and said, “Why didn’t you use that one?” I explained that the chicken didn’t fit. He told me that it does. I said again that I did not believe that it did. He then started telling me that I just created a dish that was going to be more work to clean and to use the aluminum pan. I told him I wasn’t bothered by the so-called extra work and that the chicken was getting cooked anyways. He repeated that I should of used the aluminum pan. I tried to emotionally keep it together.

Maybe many of you do not a  see a problem with the above situation and there wasn’t any hostility in my partner’s voice or intentions. But it’s the overriding of my decision that makes future decisions feel impossible. It’s those moments I just say, “Leave me the fuck alone,” in my head. I wouldn’t feel the need to make a comment like that unless what was happening was very wrong (ie: using a plastic container in oven).

Well, I’m glad that’s out. It was bothering me.

Take 2

Due to everything that I am experiencing in life right now I have dropped my Spring Field Placement course at school. It is the only course I need to complete my Early Childhood Education diploma so by not taking it this spring (and waiting for the fall) I will not graduate in June.

I am confident in my decision. I recognize my need for flexibility which I would not have doing placement full-time and having to meet a certain amount of hours and complete homework. I’m trying to show myself compassion. If I was working I would continue working but school has less flexibility.

I am a straight A student for the first time in my life. I am very proud of myself. This is another reason why I feel taking the Field Placement in the fall is the best decision because I want to be able to focus on the children and my assignments and I cannot do that right now. I need and want to get an A.

It’s also important that I take my own advice. Many of the youth I work with have come to Group, upset at the thought of dropping a course or multiple courses. I explain to them that it may be better to drop the course, take it later and do well then go through with it in their current situation and not do well or fail. This is what I’m telling myself and it’s right.

This is the first course I have dropped. This is the first time emotional/situational problems have effected my life in such a way but there is no shame in that. Not having placement means that I can work in May and also engage in other activities I had to originally dismiss.

I’m excited and feel better about going forward. So in September it will be take 2 for Field Placement.

 

Start Again

I wish I had time to start this day over again. It’s only 9:40am and my stress level is already high enough to give me slight chest pains.

One thing personally effects me. The other effects my values.

I’m trying to separate myself from both situations but it’s hard when the strong emotions are immediate.

We Need To Learn To Cope

An article was published yesterday on CBC News with the headline, “Canadian hospitals stretched as self-harming teens seek help“. Emergency rooms across the country are producing alarming statistics on teens being hospitalized for self-inflicted wounds and suicidal thoughts. As someone who has been self harming for a little over 11 years I was interested to learn what the new statistics were saying about teens who self harm.

I was fairly disappointed in the article. I feel that the article is downplaying the seriousness of self harm.

“”A lot of kids don’t really meet the criteria for these disorders,” [Dr. Kathleen Pajer] said. “Instead, they seem to be suffering an existential crisis that is sort of, ‘I’m empty, I don’t know who I am, I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t have any grounding and I don’t know how to manage my negative feelings.”‘

“They don’t actually experience a lot of adverse events in their lives,” he said of those who enjoy increasingly affluent upbringings with supportive parents. When something does go wrong — like a breakup, a death or poor grades — many young people are completely thrown, [Dr. Hazen] Gandy said.”They kind of go from pretty average, functioning kids to suddenly they can’t cope. They can’t manage. They’re depressed. They’re presenting to emergency departments, hopeless.””

“”It has become almost a fad to cut now,” St. John said. “And many of the young people that I see that cut do it to belong to a group or to stay within a group. They post it on Facebook.””

When I read these quotes I hear people from my past mocking me. I hear people telling me to get over it, that I have no reason to self harm. Reading these quotes reminds me of the doctors who turned me away because they thought I was just “being a teenager”. I have always thought it to be just as problematic for someone to self harm for “attention” or to “fit in” because something must be wrong inside for them to think that hurting their body will solve a problem.

This article does touch on an issue that I think is EXTREMELY important, one that I see in the children/youth I work with and I saw it in myself. Young people do not know how to cope with negative emotions. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble but coping is something that needs to be TAUGHT. No one, and I mean no one, develops positive coping without being taught.

Coping is a learned behaviour that adults seem to be skipping when it comes to educating their child/children. I feel we put so much emphasis on academics or athletics that we’re neglecting children’s emotional development which will help them succeed in life and as a matter of fact will help them succeed in the academics and athletics. Having worked with toddlers and preschoolers it is very obvious that screaming, crying and hitting/pushing are automatic responses. It is the role of the adult to kindly step in and model how using language and asking for help is the more effective way of expressing and coping with negative emotions.

What we end up with when positive coping isn’t taught is a bunch of teens who feel everything is a crisis and can find no way out except through self harm. This is a major problem.

The answer is fairly simple and the article touches on it: teach positive coping. Some adults may have to learn how to do that first before they can teach it but it’s never too late to learn how to better cope with stress.

 

Should I Work The System?

So, I’m signed up with disability services at my school. I’m arranging a meeting with a woman who works with the students who have learning disabilities to get some memory strategies since my memory is the reason I don’t well on exams despite knowing the content if I’m verbally prompted and given space to explore the topic. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll also get extra test time if I feel I need it but I need to book that ahead of time. It’s all ‘just in case’.

Would it be wrong if I ask for more time to hand in my assignments? I know that I could hand them in on time but, like right now, I feel rushed and panicked because I want to do the assignment correctly but I only have tonight to do so. The rushed feeling really stresses me out and can make me shut down or flip out but doesn’t that happen to most people?

Am I abusing the system or using it to get what I feel I need being in a program that is extremely demanding on anyone?