Sunday, April 12, 2015

Post-Recovery Counseling

I first started seeing a mental health counselor/therapist my senior year of college.  I've had all kinds of experiences with all kinds of professionals.  My last counselor was through a crisis center.  About two years ago, when I started to wean off my anti-depressant medication, I found myself going less and less to counseling.  It’s been more than year now that I haven’t seen a mental health therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist.

It had been my intention to continue to go to counseling even after I was “recovered”.  I thought it would help me maintain my state of mental health and prevent any major setbacks by catching them early.  But I find myself here, one year later, having not been back.

Part of my dilemma is that I don’t feel like I can go back to place I did before.  Because it was a crisis center, I don’t feel like I deserve a spot there.  There are plenty of people who need the services more than me.  The center was always busy, and the staff was always overworked.  I would feel guilty if I went…like I was taking up space…space someone else needed more than me.

When I think about it, it’s not just that place that I don’t feel I can go.  I don’t feel like I can go anywhere.

I continue to struggle with depression and anxiety, yet I know I’m not as bad as I once was.  I’m not nearly as bad as some people who need counseling more than me.  I hate feeling like I don’t belong somewhere or I am wasting someone’s time.  Even if I am paying them for their services, I am keenly aware of when I am burdening someone.  Counselors and Therapists are human too – how can they handle listening to people’s problems day after day and not get worn out or develop a mental illness themselves?

...Just some of the thoughts that go through my head.

Even though I think I need regular counseling, I talk myself out of it.  I don’t feel like I deserve counseling.

The fact that I said “I don’t feel I deserve” should raise some red flags.  Part of the reason why I ended up in a mental hospital was because I had such a poor self-worth and didn't take care of myself...symptoms of my depression.

I need to remind myself that I am deserving, I am worthy, and I should not feel guilty for trying to take care of myself.  If anyone tries to make me feel bad for doing what I do, then that is their problem…not mine.

Easier said then done...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

It's Not Poison

Nursing makes you really hungry...really really hungry.  I think I have a bigger appetite now than when I was training for my marathon.

Being able to eat a lot can be fun...if you let it.  However, if you struggle with an eating disorder, being uncontrollably, perpetually hungry can be terrifying.

Since having a baby, some eating disorder thoughts have crept back into my life.  I was anticipating having minor setbacks because of post-pregnancy body image issues.  I also knew it would be difficult to control negative feelings with not being able to use my coping skill because of the responsibility of taking care of a baby.  For the most part, though, I've been ok.

The other night I was really down because I ate a huge dinner.  I was beating myself up and having a hard time moving on.  I was upset, tearful, discouraged.  I felt ugly, worthless, defeated...all too familiar feelings, making things worse.

Craig reminded me of an important fact.  He said, "You ate food, Mary.  It's not like you drank a gallon of poison.  You body will use it as energy and food for Dominic."

Food is not poison.  Eating food does not make me a bad person.  And repeat until it sinks in.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Post Baby Post

I’m back!  …for anyone who is still out there.

I thought maybe I was done with the blog.  It had served its purpose.  It helped me get through some tough times.  And hopeful it helped others in the process.

But now I’m thinking it might have a little more time left.

Our little miracle, Dominic Michael, came into the world on November 23, 2014.

Having a baby changes everything.  I could write and write about the wonderful and terrifying experiences of being a mom.  But there are much better mom-bloggers out there doing the job.

I’ve had up and down moments with my mental health since that day.  More down than up…but the ups trump the downs 100 times over.

Subconsciously, I was hoping to be forever cured of all things depression, anxiety, and eating disorder related after having a baby.  Unfortunately, that has not been the case.  I was hoping that becoming a mom would ultimately fulfill my destiny and, therefore, motivate me to be that better person I want to be.  Not that that was the reason I wanted to have a baby – I just had underlying expectations of myself.

But I’m still me, I’m still human, and I’m still struggling with the same-old-same-old.

Having a baby challenges both parents, yet the mom takes the brunt of it early on – especially if she breastfeeds.  For the dad, his life is changed in the fact that something is added.  His life generally stays the same except for his new little “addition”…literally.

For the mom, her life is completely changed.  Nothing is the same.  The smallest tasks become difficult.  Showering is a luxury.  Even going the bathroom has to be properly timed.

For someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, the demands of motherhood can be extra challenging.  It’s so much harder to take care of yourself.

I know it will get better with time and experience…but, true to my nature, I am caught up in the “its-going-to-be-like-this-forever” thought.

The fear of not being able keep up causes me all kinds of anxiety.  Instead of just taking it one day at a time, I'm getting overwhelmed by all the days to come.  I don't know what it's going to be like tomorrow or next week or next month, but I imagine the worst case scenario.  I'll never get to do anything ever again.  I'll never feel like a normal person ever again.  I'll never get more than two hours of sleep put together ever again...

I'm afraid of failing my son.  I’m afraid he won't trust me if I let him cry.  I'm afraid of making mistakes and causing him to be scarred for life.  This little tiny person, who I love so much, scares me to death.

Living with all this anxiety can be debilitating if I let it get out of control.

I hate the catchphrase "God won't give you anything you can't handle".  It's not true.  He certainly does allow things to happen to you that you can't handle.  It happens all the time all over the world...on a much more dramatic scale of course.  You can’t say that line to a person living in a country stricken with famine and war.  You can’t say that to someone who lost a loved one in car crash cause by a drunk driver.  You can’t say that to a women who has been raped and beaten.  No, God doesn’t expect us to handle our problems on our own.

More accurately, “God won’t give you any trial to handle that you can’t ask Him to help you with.”

My little problems are nothing in comparison to what some people have to go through.  However, I still struggle with what I have been given. God allows me to struggle because good will come from it - even though I can't see it now.

Feeling so helpless and out of control makes me pray more, ask God for help more often, and put everything in His hands because I can't do it any other way.

It’s easier if I lower my expectations.  I tell myself that I don't have to do anything else besides take care of Dominic's needs.  If I don't expect anything more then I won't be so disappointed when I can’t get to the dishes or the laundry or the countless other things I want to do.

“Lord, help me let go of control.  Through the intercession of Mother Teresa, help me get done today the things that you want me to get done.  And help me to let go of the rest so that my mind can be free of anxiety and stress.  Fill me with your peace."