I hope everyone is doing well. We’ve finally had a little time to catch up with family, breathe in some summer air, and stretch our legs a little… and boy, it’s been nice! And, I don’t know about you, but all of these things feed my soul and improve my mental health. They also keep my girls smiling.
It’s no secret that I’ve been quiet on TYY for the past few months. To put it simple, life just got the best of me. I never realized how grateful I am for routine and support until the world changed in mid-March. And I wasn’t prepared for this shock to my mental health. Routines shifted, support disappeared, social events were cancelled, new crises emerged, and life got turned upside down.
As I talk to more and more people, I realize that most of them struggled in one way or another. Some struggled with mental health, others with finances, and others with juggling motherhood. Even though our boats may look different, we’re all navigating the same storm.
So, I decided I’d write about my experiences to get back into the swing of things, and more importantly, to be transparent to all of you about where I’ve been.
A lack of sleep causes a lack of clarity
Back in March, Jana HATED sleep. She was just about to turn six months old, and she hadn’t slept a full night in her life. She loved waking up for food and comfort about every 2-3 hours. This is the common new mom struggle, I know. But it’s difficult to lose sleep over an extended period of time with almost no relief. There are actually many negative effects on our health, and I was feeling most of them. Coupled with losing the ability to get out of the house, this all really threw me for a loop.
But, we learn how to deal. I even started drinking coffee, which was the first cup I had in my entire life. (I know, crazy…) It worked, but not for long. I had to stop since it was leading to afternoon crashes, but that’s a story for a different day.
During this time, it took all my focus just to complete my part-time job as a content creator for a web marketing company. After I got done with that work, my cup was already overflowing. It was enough for the time being, especially with one horrible sleeper, one toddler who loves crafts, books, and all the hands-on things, and a dog I was trying to walk a few times a day. My neighbor called those my “sanity walks.” The term stuck, cause he was right. Those brief walks were the only times I got to myself for almost two months.
Transitions are tough for me
I was jealous of all the people binge-watching Netflix series. And don’t even get me started on those complaining about being bored. But then, in a moment of actual clarity, I realized that I was being ridiculous. Everyone is entitled to their own struggles and complaints. I chose my path. Being overwhelmed and exhausted were just colliding, and I was struggling.
I told myself I’d find my balance once again. It’s just a tough transition going from one kiddo to two, having both of us parents working from home, and being in the middle of a deck construction project that took all of Brad’s spare time.
We just have to keep climbing to see the view. We’re almost there, I swear. These are the things I’d tell myself. Adjustments take a lot of mental energy for me to fully acclimate. And both my girls are well-behaved, sweet girls. I’m lucky, and I knew it. Even if I was still adjusting. It just takes time.
In comes the balancing act
Needless to say, it’s tough to perform the jobs of multiple people with only two arms. We juggle what we can. Sometimes we drop the ball, and sometimes we get through the act with only a little wobbling. Let’s be real. It’s never a perfect 10. That’s just life. But, sometimes, we need to give it all our focus just to keep moving.
I recognized the need for action and change during one, tough night.
Jana was still sleeping (if you can call it that) in her portable crib next to our bed. Lily, who was still sleeping in the nursery at this time, was going through a regression of her own. She was waking up often and crying for our attention more frequently. Lily, who came home from the hospital and slept 6+ hours immediately, is our sleeper, so this was unexpected.
One night, all five of us were in the bed. The dog, too, of course. It was one of those toes-in-your-face, toddler-lying-perpendicular-to-us nights. And it was awful. The next day, I’d had enough. Too many of these nights were stacking up, and the circles under my eyes were just becoming more prominent. Dark circles, bushy eyebrows, and overgrown hair are NOT a good look for me, and things were starting to show.
I got the crib in the nursery ready for Jana, and Lily’s new “big girl” room was all ready with her toddler bed and, of course, her blankies.
Although I was prepared for a tough few nights with each of them, it actually went better than expected. I’m still kind of kicking myself for waiting too long for these changes. However, to this day, we are still working out some of the kinks with Lily’s sleep in her big girl room. Adjustments take time and patience. Lots of patience. But, you can expect a more lengthy post about those transitions later.
The mental health struggle is real
One of the biggest reasons I took some time for myself is because of my mental health. Whenever I go through a lot of life changes or I lose control, I tend to have a setback in my mental health. Throughout my twenties, I struggled with depression, anxiety, and some OCD tendencies. At times, these have crippled my ability to do simple things, like get dressed or get out of bed. I’ve come SO far, with the help of therapy, medication, and the support of others, but most especially, Brad.
But, that doesn’t mean the journey is over. Hormones, weather, overwhelming life circumstances, big decisions, frustrating moments, and loss of control can easily cause discomfort or even flare-ups in how I’m feeling. I’ve learned a lot of management strategies to continue doing what I need to do, and I try to have perspective and awareness of my own emotions.
During these past few months, there were a lot of changes. I don’t need to go into detail, but everyone struggled in their own way with the crisis of coronavirus, the lockdown, the economic downfall, important social event cancellations, and much, much more. Everyone has their own story from this time, and some were extremely hard. But, I suffered some setbacks that made me shy away from raising my voice here.
The mental health stigma is no joke
I feel this stigma all the time. So, I set out to be transparent about my journey in hopes to decrease the stigma and raise awareness, in hopes that maybe someone else out there will feel less alone. I spent a lot of my twenties feeling isolated or alone in my journey. Misunderstood, maybe. Afraid, probably. Ashamed, definitely.
And according to this article on the Washington Post, I know I’m not alone, which is why it’s time to lift the curtain on my experiences, so I can shed some light on my growth AND my setbacks. It’s about taking the good with the bad.
I have this sign in my home that says “Not to spoil the ending, but everything is gonna be alright.” It may seem rather simple, but that sentiment has gotten me through some tough times.
Keeping things in perspective takes a lot of effort for me. It hasn’t always been easy, but I try to remind myself of its importance. And I’m smart enough now to recognize when I need a little extra help to get there. I’m lucky to have the support of my husband, whose really been there for the ups and downs. And we’re both lucky that we have family who love spending time with our girls, too.
As Dory says, we “just keep swimming”
Even though this goes without saying, these past few months, we’ve all been trudging through unchartered waters. We continue to push forward and find our new normal, and I’m excited to see what’s next. I have some exciting content lined up for all of you, so stay tuned!
How are you guys holding up throughout all of this? Has anyone else struggled with their mental health? Drop some comments below so I can read about your experiences this past Spring.
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