I’ll be honest, I’ve started and stopped this week’s post a number of times. Every draft I put together wasn’t quite right, so I’d walk away and come back thinking I’d figured it out. The end result? 3 separate drafts. All of which should be great blog posts, mind you, but they’re just not right for today.
So, what are we going to talk about today? Truth. Specifically how telling the truth about our illness affects us, our friends, partners, and most importantly, our kids.
I went into parenthood with a lot of confidence. “Parenting guilt” wasn’t on my radar at all. After all, I’d spent a lot of time honing my skills on my younger siblings since I was the oldest child, and wasn’t guilt a by-product of failing at the basics? I knew the basics. Diapers? I’ve had that on lockdown. Nursing? Well, that’s easy! Just give the baby the boob, right? Sleep, cuddles, burping, and all that? Yup, no problem. I was ready!
It’s the boogeyman of pregnancy. The creepy monster hiding in your head. It’s the thing that keeps you second guessing yourself every time you start sobbing because the baby just won’t sleep, or eat, or stop crying. You wonder… is this postpartum depression?
As scary as it may feel, it’s critical that we talk about this remarkably common condition. PPD shows up for approximately 15% of new parents, and while it’s not even vaguely guaranteed that you’ll have it, it’s essential we be aware and vigilant in catching and treating it. I learned the hard way that without proper care, can become a lasting, possibly chronic, condition.
When you’re in the middle of a complete freakout, it can seem nearly impossible to calm down. The world is spinning, you can’t hear anything but noise, everything starts aching, and so many more things. How on earth are you going to be able to reach that moment of zen?
Honestly, it can be hard. But if you take the time and try a few different tricks, chances are good you’ll find something to ease the stress enough for you to be able to function again. So, without further ado, here’s some of my top choices!
It happens to all of us. No matter how skilled, or strong, or capable, we all eventually hit that moment. We’ll be going along, doing our thing, when suddenly we realize it’s just all too much… We become overwhelmed. Some call it the straw that broke the camel’s back, or maybe the age old “when it rains, it pours,” but it will happen.
And honestly, it sucks.
But guess what! It’s at least a little bit preventable. I mean, it’s part of life, but you can definitely decrease the likelihood of your day going under. Much like taking your car in for an oil change can reduce problems later, taking the right steps now can prevent overwhelm. So, how do we do it? Let me share some of my favorite ways!
Man, as a kid I never would have imagined needing a question like that, but, alas, that’s how it is. We live in an era of too much to do and not enough time, which means additional stress. Additional stress, though, can lead to a whole host of symptoms that ultimately lead to some pretty nasty symptoms, many of which are incredibly similar to depression. So how can we tell the difference? And more importantly, what can we do about it?
Yeah, I’m leaving it a bit late for the whole New Year Resolution thing. After all, most people give up their resolutions by now, not start them. But, as of now, I’m making a decision to focus on making SMART goals for myself and this blog. What does that mean, you ask? Well, TONS of planning, for one… and a whole lot more.
But first, let’s look at what happened and how I’m going to fix it!
I have to say…it’s a scary feeling, knowing I have no motivation. After all, I have goals. I have dreams and passions and things that I want to get done. But the fact is, I have no push to pursue them. Hands down, it’s one of the worst parts of chronic depression. It’s that moment when your brain looks at everything you love and tells you: eh, you don’t need that.
Seriously. Not. Fair.
But it also forces me to ask myself: What can we do when we have no motivation to do anything? Here’s what I’ve learned so far…
We’re all going to be too busy tomorrow to have any chance of reading a blog post, so I’m jumping ahead a little and posting today! First off, I really hope tomorrow turns out to be an amazing day for you! Usually, we would spend the day getting ready for a massive meal with friends in the area, but this year everyone’s off to see family. What that means is we’re actually going out to eat with Morgan’s family. No cooking for us! And no leftovers!
Yeah, I’m excited. 🙂
You know what else? I think this is a great time to talk about the importance of family traditions. So, here we go!
Traditions are what we remember
Let’s start with my favorite reason family traditions are important. They are what we remember! I don’t know about you, but those traditions are what stuck in my mind from my childhood. They’re the bright points when things really sucked, because no matter where we were, we still did our best to keep hold of them.
Traditions are an important way to build strong bonds and memories with our children (honestly, with everyone in our family). I can guarantee, as silly as it may seem, that morning tradition of tickling them awake will stick with them, even after they outgrow it. The weekly tradition of going to see the grandparents will, too. They might grumble and moan, but as they get older, those times will become precious. Let’s face it, traditions stick in our minds.
Traditions give us a sense of belonging
The other key part of building traditions is that they make us feel like we belong. Knowing that on Saturday Dad is going to make pancakes tells us we are loved and cared for. Having a Christmas stocking on the mantle tells us we’re part of the family. Making the mashed potatoes shows us we are part of something bigger.
Being a part of family traditions tells us we are family. Knowing you’re part of a family, unsurprisingly, is very important for a person’s mental health.
Traditions connect us to our history
This isn’t the case for everyone, but family traditions are an important part of our history. Some traditions we build on our own, but others can date back through generations. In the midwest, you might find a tradition of lefse at Christmas. Maybe Grandma used to make it every year and for you, Christmas just isn’t right without it. Or maybe your unintentional family tradition is being stuck politely listening to yet another tale of Grandpa’s youth.
Whatever it is, those traditions connect you to your history. The history of your family, your culture, or even something like your hometown.
The Importance of Family Traditions
Let’s face it, tradition binds us together. Whether it’s about remembrance, a sense of belonging, or your own history, it’s an important part of who you are.
So keep that in mind the next time Grandpa traps you in a corner to tell you about his weird Aunt’s habit of trapping him in a corner to force him to listen to some other obscure relative’s history. This is your history, too. One day, Grandpa will be gone and you won’t be able to ask him questions about where he came from. I can guarantee you won’t forget or regret those moments.
And with that, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Remember and cherish your traditions, no matter how big or small. They are part of who you are!
It’s been a hard day. Let’s be honest here, it’s been a hard week. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t really want to dwell on, but to summarize: Emotions are high, energy is low, outside things are going wrong, and, oh, panic attacks suck. But when you’re a parent, you just have to push through the pain. Life keeps moving, yeah?
But sometimes it all goes wrong.
We all struggle sometimes when it comes to life. I mean, you can’t stop your car breaking down or the dishwasher exploding. That’s just how it works, right? Okay, sure, you can do some things to reduce the risk, but ultimately things are just going to go to crap now and then.
In my case, we had a batch of really emotional days here. When I get really moody, I tend to isolate. Admittedly, sometimes that’s really helpful, but others it makes things worse. The other side effect is that my mood tends to get absorbed by everyone else. So, a bitchy Hana makes for a bitchy Mike and Morgan. When I’m depressed, suddenly everyone else is depressed.
Wanna guess why I hide?
Add it to it a bunch of random stuff going bad and a couple fights, and… well, you get a panic attack. Actually, I don’t really know where the panic attack came from. That’s just my best guess.
So I push through the pain.
In this case, it was quite literal. Yesterday I had a panic attack much like the one that sent me to the hospital. I was in the car when it hit – clenching chest, knotted neck, difficulty breathing. The first time this happened, I seriously thought I was dying. The pain was so intense, it felt worse than childbirth (with no painkillers…). So, when I say it hurt, I mean it.
The problem was, we were on our way to get a whole bunch of errands done, so there wasn’t a lot of room for coddling myself. I had to push through the pain and get stuff done.
Now, is this healthy? Probably not, but it’s a problem pretty much every parent faces at some point, regardless of mental health status. You get a cold? The kids still need to get up and ready for school. You only got two hours of sleep? I’m sorry, but there’s parent teacher conferences today and you can’t just skip those. Day three of a depression bad enough you can only eat the bread sitting on the counter? That’s rough. Kids still need dinner, and no, they can’t just have bread.
What can we do?
It’s an important question. What can we do about the terrible stuff that doesn’t seem to care we have obligations in life? Sadly, not much.
I know. We want to hear “Of course there’s a handy trick that makes it all better!” But there isn’t. Does that mean we’re completely out of luck and destined for a life of misery and pain? No.
There’s no miracle cure, true, just like there’s no miracle cure for our illnesses. That doesn’t meant we are powerless to ease the struggle. We can’t keep our car from breaking down eventually, but we can do preventative things to make it less likely and be better prepared for when it happens. If you know it’ll happen eventually, you have a better idea how to prepare.
So, let’s listen to our doctors and get rest, eat well, exercise as able, and all that jazz. Practice those coping skills. Create a crisis plan. Be around loved ones and make time for the things that bring you true joy. Then, the next time you have to push through the pain, you’ll be ready for it. You’ll have help.
We can get through this together.
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