Time to Get Uncomfortable


Well, you don’t exactly have to be a scholar to know that the world is in a bit of a tumult right now.  Maybe more than a little bit, to be honest.  With the news of the death of George Floyd at the hands of some obviously corrupt & evil police officers last week, Coronavirus has finally taken a backseat.  I’m writing about this today for a variety of reasons & I hope I can be at least somewhat eloquent as I rush to finish this while my daughter is napping.  Here goes . . .riot

First off I want to apologize to the black community for any hand I, as a white person, may have had in racism over the years.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always been as sensitive as maybe I should be.  Furthermore I’ll be the first to admit that there have been times when I was more vocal about my anger over rioting & looting than I was about my anger over police brutality or other injustices wrought against African Americans.

I’ll also freely admit that I’ve always had mixed feelings about Colin Kaepernick & the kneeling protest he started.  On the one hand I’ve always felt like it was their first amendment right to free speech & that the matter they were protesting had merit.  Yet on the other hand I was always taught to respect the national anthem & the military & since so many people saw the kneeling as disrespectful towards them- though in my heart of hearts I’ll admit I’ve never been sure WHY- I confess it left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak.  But the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realized the REAL reason why it left a bad taste in my mouth.  The real reason is that I didn’t want to face the inconvenient truth that our nation is still struggling with systemic racism, particularly in the police force.  I was always taught to respect LEOs but the cold hard truth is that there are some seriously corrupt & evil folks hiding behind a badge, & it’s our responsibility to stand against the injustices wrought by them.  If we don’t- & if good LEOs don’t- we are complicit with the problem.

I want to sincerely apologize for all of this because I realize now how insensitive & wrong I was.  I realize that so much of the time we don’t want to admit that maybe we aren’t as “color blind” as we like to think we are.  As white people, it’s very easy to think “Well, I don’t hate black people, I’ve never been overtly racist, so I’m ok.”  But the truth is that if we don’t examine our own internal prejudices & speak up against police brutality & other racial issues, these injustices will never go away.  And the rioting that follows won’t go away either.  There is a reason people are rioting- it’s because THEY AREN’T BEING HEARD! 

Secondly, I’d like to say that I don’t think rioting & looting is the answer- especially when it’s directed at random people or businesses that have nothing to do with the police.  But let’s be real- most people don’t.  We don’t all need to constantly talk about how appalling this is.  I think most of us can agree on that, regardless of race.  Violence begets violence- it breeds a vicious cycle that never ends & rarely- if ever- causes people to be sympathetic with the “other” side.  But truthfully I think most of us get that.  We just aren’t the ones on the news getting all the attention right now.

Thirdly- & this is really my most important point- what’s more appalling to me than rioting is that so many white people seem more upset by the rioting & looting than they are by the murder of George Floyd.  Or Ahmaud Arbery.  Or Breonna Taylor.  And the list goes on . . .  They are more upset by black people stealing a TV than they are by the fact that police have been caught dispersing tear gas on PEACEFUL protesters.  There have even been white people caught inciting violence & rioting so that black people can then be blamed for it.  Y’all, something is seriously wrong with this entire picture!  Yes, everyone has a right to be upset by the violence that has erupted over the weekend.  But if you’re bothered by that kind of violence, shouldn’t you also be bothered by the unnecessary violence that was wrought against Mr. Floyd & so many other black Americans?  The answer is unequivocally yes.  If you suddenly think that the case against police brutality is completely invalid because of the way SOME people are reacting, then frankly you need to examine yourself.

So before you post about how terrible the riots are, please stop & think about how that comes across to your black friends & neighbors, especially if that’s the ONLY thing you’re posting about in regards to this whole situation.  Please stop & think about WHY people are angry.  Please stop & think about the fact that no matter how black people protest- even something as simple & peaceful as taking a knee- they are always told they’re wrong.  Yes, it’s inconvenient.  Yes, it’s difficult.  Yes, it means admitting that maybe your parents & grandparents were wrong about some things.  And, yes, that is HARD.  But the truth of the matter is there is still systemic racism in our society today- perhaps most notably in the police force- & if we as white people don’t admit that & work on it, the violence & injustice from all “sides” will never end. 

I hope that this has come across as compassionately as I intended it.  I hope that anyone who reads this can see that my heart is bleeding for all of those who are hurting right now for so many different reasons.  Most importantly I hope that we’ll all take a moment to react with love, compassion, & empathy rather than with judgment, hate, or anger.  

 

Nostalgia


Well, it’s safe to say I haven’t blogged in so long that I honestly don’t even KNOW the last time I blogged or what it was even about.  Pretty sure it’s been long enough that I can confidently say this is my first blog post of 2020… Shameful compared to how I used to be but hey, that’s life with a three year old.  Anyway, since we are truly living in historic times right now I figured what better time to break out the old blog?

I don’t know about y’all but my anxiety has definitely taken a turn for the worse the past few months.  Initially I was actually scared of the virus, not so much of getting sick myself but of bringing it home to Rachel.  Additionally I was terrified that going to work was going to become the war zone it did in Italy & Spain (& to a certain extent in NYC too).  To be brutally honest I’ve never been so glad that I left hospital nursing after Rachel was born.  But if things do get really bad here it is possible I could be sent to the hospital to help.  However, I am grateful (for many reasons) that that scenario is continuing to become more & more unlikely.

Anyway, as time has passed & it’s become clear that this virus isn’t nearly as fatal across the board as initially feared, my anxiety has become more about being terrified of being indefinitely quarantined.  Plus I’ve been losing hours at work which means more days at home with a very spirited three year old.  In some ways I’ve loved this extra time with her.  But let me just tell you, when you can’t even take a three year old- one who LOVES the outdoors, by the way- to a playground, that is ROUGH.  Yes, we’ve taken lots of walks & played in the yard, but this kid misses going to the park.  She also misses going to the gym & playing in the kids’ room & even just going to WalMart & Aldi.  Probably more than anything she misses my parents.  I am so grateful for video chats because those have a been a lifesaver for us.  Even so, being on quarantine with a three year old is NOT easy.

Furthermore, as a Libertarian this whole situation has been incredibly challenging for me.  Obviously as a healthcare professional I want our decisions to be based on science.  But the more I’ve read & learned about this virus, the more I fear that many decisions are being made based out of fear & to achieve political goals.  Even though I know it’s probably “better to be safe than sorry,” there is a part of me that just cannot help but be very uncomfortable with the idea of this indefinite quarantine for all.  It seems like far too good of a way for certain groups to usher in socialist/communist policies as the “only solution.”  But that’s a whole other blog post for another day…

What I’m really trying to say today is that all of the craziness in the world right now has made me, perhaps for the first time in my life, truly nostalgic for what was ostensibly an easier time in my life.  For better or worse I have never been someone who spends too much time thinking about the past.  It’s just not something that appeals to me.  On the other hand I probably spend too MUCH time thinking about the future.  I’m well aware that I would be a much happier person if I could live “in the moment” a lot more.  But it’s just something I really struggle with & probably always will.  However, here lately I keep finding myself thinking back on college & missing it in a way that is honestly a little painful.  I guess one reason I’ve never dwelt on the past very much is I’ve always felt that was a sign that you aren’t happy with your current situation.  And it’s always seemed really sad to me to constantly look back on the past & say “Oh, man, I wish I could go back.  Those were the best days of my life.”  I mean, how depressing is that?  If any time in the past was the best time of my life, then what do I have to look forward to?  You see what I mean?

Yet here lately I cannot help myself from having random memories from college cross my mind, things & people I haven’t thought about in ages.  I’ve also been listening to a lot of music from that time in my life, even some stuff I hadn’t listened to in years & had frankly forgotten about.  I think it’s probably just a sign of how difficult life is right now that I am naturally drawn to a time in my life that was simpler, or at least SEEMS simpler in retrospect.  Because, you see, that’s the thing: nostalgia is always looking at the past with rose-colored glasses, seeing things as easier than they really were at the time because comparatively speaking your current challenges seem so much harder than your past ones- & maybe there ARE.  But what we tend to forget is that just because something seems easy now doesn’t mean it was easy when we were facing it.

For example, I could easily look back on grade school & think “Man, I didn’t have a care in the world back then.”  But I know that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I was never a very happy go lucky child, truth be told.  The kids who made fun of me & all the fears I had about never being accepted at school were SO BIG to me at that time.  Those things might not have had great consequence on my life as a whole, but at the time they were MASSIVE.  So yeah, objectively the challenges I face as an adult, particularly as a parent of a toddler during a worldwide pandemic, are probably harder.  But wishing I could go back to childhood isn’t really a solution because the challenges I faced then felt just as overwhelming at that time- even if maybe they “shouldn’t” have.

I guess the beautiful thing about college (& the reason I find myself so nostalgic for it sometimes), especially the first two years before the chaos of nursing school set in, was that it was the first time in my life that I was truly free to explore the world on my own: any ideas, any music, basically anything I wanted.  That kind of freedom was something I’d been longing for my whole life.  And it was intoxicating, more intoxicating than any alcohol or drug could ever be– perhaps that’s why I’ve never been much of a drinker or had any interest in drugs.  Just having that freedom to explore the world- I don’t mean so much travel as just exploring ideas & ways of viewing the world- that was enough for me.  It was also the first time in my life I overcame my natural introverted tendencies enough to reach out & make new friends & build a true group of friends.  It was the first time I felt truly accepted by a group of people for being nothing more than myself.  It was the first time I didn’t feel like I had to underplay how smart I was or be fake in any way to try to fit in with a group.  And the truth of the matter is I’ve never been able to recreate that kind of friend group since college.  I am incredibly grateful for the few really close friends I have, one of which predates college, even high school, partly because I now realize how rare it is to find someone who you can stick close to despite the challenges & distance that adult life brings.  But I still miss that feeling of being part of a group.  Maybe that’s why I fell in love with Friends last year…

Anyway, all of this thinking about college of course makes me realize how “fake” it all was in some ways.  That wasn’t the real world.  It wasn’t a place I could stay forever.  Part of me can’t help but be sad about realizing that too.  Furthermore, the fact that I’ve lost touch with some of those friends- who at the time I thought I’d be friends with forever- is a bit heart-breaking at times.  I know it’s just real life, & logically I know it doesn’t diminish the connection we had at the time.  I guess what it all comes down to is something I’ve had to realize a lot over the past few months, particularly with reducing my hours at one job in favor of taking another one.  The truth is that just because something is great doesn’t mean it has to last forever & just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it wasn’t great while it lasted.  I keep coming back to this truth over & over again the past few months but I’m not entirely sure it’s getting easier to accept.  Maybe it is.  It’s something that I feel like is so simple, & yet it’s also so incredibly hard to accept.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe for some people it isn’t.  But for me it is.  Maybe it’s just the way I was raised.  Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m married to the first man I ever dated.  I don’t know.

I guess I’m just saying I miss the newness of everything in college.  I miss some of the (cautious) optimism I had about the world.  I’ll be the first to admit that almost a decade of nursing has made me a bit cynical, though to be honest I’m not sure that has as much to do with being a nurse as it does with just being an adult in general.  And I’ll admit that sometimes maybe I let that cynicism get the best of me.  Perhaps that is particularly true now that we’re facing a true worldwide crisis.

I guess I hate being nostalgic because it forces me to admit that I’m not totally happy with my current situation.  Or at least I’ve always assumed that’s what being nostalgic HAS to mean.  But maybe that isn’t true.  Maybe it’s ok to be nostalgic sometimes, especially during a time of crisis.  (Frankly at this point I’m just nostalgic for being able to take my kid to the grocery store!)  Perhaps it’s ok to look back on the past sometimes & miss it.  Maybe it doesn’t have to mean we aren’t happy where we are now.  Maybe it just means we were lucky enough to experience something good enough to miss.  

The Two Types of People in the World


In my thirty years of life, I’ve come to realize that there are basically two types of people in the world: those who take charge of life, grab it by the horns, & create their own “destiny,” & those who sit back & allow life to happen to them, acting as passive passengers on this ride of life.  yungblud.jpg

I like what British rock star Yungblud said about labeling people or putting them in boxes: “Boxes are for cereal.  Labels are for clothes.  We are human & the need for division is becoming less relevant every day.”  Even so, I think it’s just human nature that we try to label people or put them in boxes to try to make sense of the world.  Perhaps even more so in today’s world of constant information overload, I think we feel like we have to find some way to organize & process all the information that is thrown at us on a daily basis.  At the end of the day I think we probably NEED some kinds of labels or boxes to help us make sense of the world- BUT we also need to have the presence of mind to know that not everyone will- or should- fit these boxes or labels, & furthermore that everyone has the capability of transcending whatever box or label they’ve been given- or have willingly claimed.  labels.png

Anyway, when I say that there are these two kinds of people in the world I’m not trying to cause division or hatred or to make you, the reader, feel like you have to choose between these two types.  It’s just something I’ve observed along this road of life & I’ll be the first to admit I could be totally wrong.

I realized a few weeks ago that I hadn’t taken any PTO in months- most likely since January when my daughter had her tonsils removed- so that wasn’t exactly a vacation!  But I did take off work yesterday since I was in a wedding on Sunday & wanted a day to travel back home & generally recover from a busy weekend.  As it turned out I got sick last night so that day off turned into two days off.  As you can probably guess I’m struggling with guilt over being “lazy,” even though logically I know I need to rest & recover so I can get back to my normal routine.  type

As you’ve probably guessed from reading this far (or if you know me in real life), I am definitely the first type of person I described at the beginning of this post, & while I think there are great advantages to being this way, I have to admit I occasionally wonder what it would be like to be different.  To not feel the need to plan so much.  To not weigh every life decision with so much gravity.  To not feel like I have no one else but myself to blame for my mistakes.  To be able to just say “Oh yeah, life happens.” cicero

But that’s just not me.  I see what happens to people who allow life to just happen to them.  In the end even indecision is a decision.  Even inaction is an action.  Does that make sense or is my sick mind just delusional?  While some people might be happy living this way, I know I never could be.  I may not be the most carefree person ever, I may be far too serious sometimes, but at the end of the day I don’t know any other way to be.kevin hart

There’s a reason I was married for over five years before having a baby.  There’s a reason Rachel is almost three & I’m still not ready for another kid.  There’s a reason I haven’t gone back to school yet even though my original life plan was to be an NP by thirty (or thereabouts).  I weigh these life decisions very, very heavily & I can’t make these kinds of changes until I know I’m really, truly ready- or at least as ready as I can ever hope to be.  Sometimes I hate being so self-aware, so analytical.  But I don’t how to be anything else so I’m just going to embrace it & hope that someone else reading this can relate & know they’re not alone in feeling this way.

So… which type are you?  And do you ever wish you were different?

Mental Health Awareness


Today’s post is in honor of mental health awareness day.

As our society’s religious attitudes evolve, it seems that psychiatry has found a way to cross the boundary between evidence-based science to a faith-based institution. Instead of “thoughts & prayers” our new mantra is “get help”, “go see a therapist”, or  “tell someone.”  Every time another celebrity commits suicide, mental health becomes all the rage again.  Every time we need to divert blame for another mass shooting by a self-proclaimed believer in a violent religion or political ideology, we are told to watch others for any sign of mental instability.  While I certainly appreciate the idea that we need to be more open about mental health, I’ve also realized that our system for actually addressing mental health issues in this country is incredibly, incredibly broken. It is entirely possible it is broken beyond repair & evil to the core. And yet, the system to which we tell the mentally ill to turn does nothing more exploit them for profit & brutalize them for pleasure.

Last spring I made the biggest mistake of my life.  I trusted “the system,” against all my better instincts.  In a friends’s lowest moment, I betrayed their trust.  I turned them over to a system that chews people up, spits them out, claims they are healed, when in reality the intent was to make them even more broken in the name of maximizing profit.

This friend has suffered from severe depression for basically their entire life.  One weekend they got drunk & admitted to me that they often have intense suicidal thoughts.  As a new mom, I was obviously a bit overwhelmed hearing this.  Against my better judgment, I did what “the system” says you should do: I called 911 & told the cops my friend was suicidal.  My hope was that 24 hrs “drying out” in the ER would wake them up to the fact that they needed help.  What really happened was that within barely two hours, a secret court to which the accused was not notified or represented at convened & stripped my friend of their human rights, making them property of the state.  The police arrived to violently threaten my friend & lamented they were not able to send in the SWAT team, all while my friend was paraded in public handcuffed behind their back.  My friend was taken to REX hospital where blood was drawn without their consent, they were denied access to outside communication & legal counsel, then IVC’d for almost 2 weeks straight by a doctor who made their full decision without speaking to the patient.  Most of the two weeks were spent in a hell-hole called Holly Hill Hospital where the only “treatment” was having all the “patients” sat in front of TV for about 12 hrs a day & seeing a useless doctor who literally gave every single patient the exact same diagnosis & the exact same medication, regardless of symptoms or history, & kept them there for at least a week for “monitoring.” Attempts to speak to legal representation were met with threat of retaliation. Therapy/counseling to address issues? Non-existent!

It was made abundantly clear throughout the process that the only treatment available was to maximize days billable to insurance. My friend was finally released on the last day possible before their imprisonment would have automatically triggered a court review.  They were then subject to an inquisition by their employer,  conducted with blatant disregard for HIPAA, as my actions had resulted in them being flagged as a threat to society despite no wrongdoing on their part.

The sad truth is I should have known that this was the worst possible thing I could have done to someone who values their independence & strongly supports human rights.  I should have known “the system” would see someone with great health insurance & decide to milk it for all if was worth.  But being the naive person I was I trusted that those in the mental health field would do what was right & actually try to help someone.

Instead it turns out that our mental health system is even more woefully inadequate than I had thought.  It turns out that trapping people in a place where they have no human rights does absolutely NOTHING to help those who are suffering from depression.  It turns out it usually makes things WORSE.  It turns out taking people away from their entire support system, demonizing them with half truths in front of that support system in their absence, & making them feel like they’re nothing but an unwanted animal makes it impossible for them to ever trust anyone ever again.  And makes them extremely unlikely to ever seek “help” again.  Furthermore it marks them for life as somehow less than human.  In the age of electronic records & big data, every action must now be weighed in light of this record.  Do future employers know?  Would going to the hospital for any non-psych treatment result in another imprisonment as long as they have insurance willing to pay?  If they are ever pulled over in the future, is their scarlet letter of a psych history flagged to a potentially violent police officer?

As a healthcare professional myself, it scares me to know that I am technically part of this system.  It scares me to know that the “help” that’s out there is basically just a newer version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  It disgusts me to know that there are psychiatrists who make a fortune abusing the human rights of a vulnerable population, deny them their right to a lawyer, provide laughable “medical” care, & then go to bed knowing the world thinks they’re modern day saviors.

It’s terrifying to know that police officers can hold two mental health patients hostage, literally chained in a vehicle, during a hurricane.  That those two women can be forcefully drowned & the world barely blinks an eye.  Yeah, most of you probably haven’t heard about that, have you?

One of the worst parts of this whole broken system is those who have been victims of it can’t speak out against it without being dubbed “crazy.” Attempts by these victims to speak out are immediately met with threat of violent retaliation, knowing that their medical record means they can be IVC’d anytime, anywhere, without any chance of a defense. That is one reason I’m writing this, to try to give a voice to those whose voices will never be given a chance. I am writing this to warn anyone willing to read this far that IVC’ing someone to our current healthcare system is tantamount to attempted murder & kidnapping.  I am warning those suffering to be extremely cautious who they ask for help, as there are predators with medical degrees out there hunting for their next victim.

I know this isn’t what you WANT to read for mental health awareness day.  You want to hear something warm & fuzzy about “just get help.”  But this is the sad truth.

Screw the Rat Race


Everywhere I look lately I feel like I see & hear people praising the idea of being busy.  “Oh, she has such a busy life but she still does xyz.”  “How have you been?”  “Oh, just so busy, you know!”  And it’s true: real life IS busy.  Yet part of me can’t help but wonder if all this busyness (is that a word?) is worth the stress it so often causes us.  I can’t help but feel like maybe we are missing out on the simple pleasures of life in our constant quest to always be DOING something.  I worry that our children are kept so busy with school & extracurricular activities that they’re missing out on the beauty of being children who don’t NEED to be busy all the time.  What it comes down to is I fear that many of us are so busy making a living (& I don’t mean just working) that we forget to make a LIFE.hustle.png

I’ve learned a lot over the past almost eight years of being a nurse.  But the most important thing I’ve learned is this- & it’s really quite simple: Life is short- way too short to be anything but happy as much as we can.  What I’m getting at is people don’t get to the end of their lives, whenever that may be, & think “Gosh, I really wish I had been busier.”  People often wish they had traveled more, spent more time with family & friends, or just experienced more things.  But they don’t usually wish they had worked more or generally been BUSY all the time.busy

Now if you know me, you know I am by no means lazy.  I’ve always been a hard worker at everything in my life, but that being said the older I get the more I value my “down time,” the more I realize the power & necessity of not always being busy rushing from one thing to another.  For our own emotional/mental well-being I think it is truly vital for all of us to have some time to just unwind & feed our souls.  For me that means making sure I have time to listen to music, play my flute/piano, read books, etc.  For others it might mean something else entirely & that’s ok.  As an introvert I truly value my alone time & now realize it is absolutely vital for my sanity.  And furthermore I realize it is not selfish or lazy to make that a priority in my life.self care

As some of you may know, in addition to being a nurse, I am also a Rodan + Fields skincare consultant.  I am about as a far as possible from a natural saleswoman but I truly love these products & what they’ve done for my skin.  Therefore I do enjoy sharing them with others & of course making a little extra money in the process.  But could I do a lot more with this business than I do?  Absolutely.  I could do what I’m “supposed” to do & message everyone on my friends list about the company.  I could carve out time in my day to constantly try to drum up sales.  But the truth of the matter is I just don’t have the mental energy for all that.  I’d either have to take time away from my family, stay up late or get up extra early, or take time away from my own self-care activities in my already limited alone time.  And frankly I’m not willing to do any of those things.  Obviously it would be a completely different story if I were truly strapped for cash & desperate for any extra income I could generate.  But thankfully I’m not.  To be clear, I don’t look down on anyone who works their R+F business (or any other direct sales gig) like a real business.  In fact I greatly admire them.  But it’s just not for me, at least not at this point in my life.  I need all the mental energy I can muster to care for my toddler & stay on track at work & home.  So if I don’t make as much money with my side gig as some others, that’s ok with me.  My sanity is more important in the end.rodan and fields

On a different note, I’ve been haunted lately by some words that were spoken to me many years ago when I was a teenager.  My boss at my first job told me more than once in no uncertain terms that I would never live up to my full potential in life if I didn’t become a doctor.  I’m sure he meant well but for many years those words hung over my head as I wondered if I was “wasting” my potential by being “just a nurse.”  But a full scholarship to nursing school was a hard thing to turn down . . . Plus I always planned to work just a few years as a bedside nurse & then go back to school to become an FNP which I always figured was just as good as being a doctor in my mind.

smart nurse

Despite the challenges & frustrations of my career, I’m still glad I chose nursing over med school.

Well, here I am almost eight years out of nursing school, & the last thing I want to do right now is go back to school.  I graduated nursing school with a 4.0 GPA & I always thought I’d be one of the first ones from my class to go to grad school.  Yet I’ve seen many of my classmates go back to school, some of whom did not have the grades I did, meanwhile the thought of going back to school right now just makes me feel sick.  Sometimes it’s hard to see other advancing their careers while I remain “just a nurse,” but for me the extra stress & time away from my family wouldn’t be worth it right now.  In ten or fifteen years I may well change my mind.  But I work with NPs & I see the workload they carry home with them & the time it costs them away from their families.  And I simply don’t want that right now.  To be honest the longer I’ve been “just an RN,” the longer I am thankful to be “just an RN.”  And honestly, especially with the vulnerable population I serve, patients today need the smartest RNs possible.  As a nursing friend & I were discussing over dinner last night, just because you’re smart enough to do something, doesn’t mean you have to do it or that you should do it.  I have no doubt that I am smart enough to be an NP but I also have no doubt that it isn’t the right path for me right now.  And that’s ok.  My yardstick for success isn’t the same as everyone else’s.  And that’s ok too.sucess

The point of is this post isn’t to discourage people from going back to school or advancing their careers.  My point is simply that we need to ask ourselves what price we are paying for all of the busyness to which we so often commit ourselves.  If it isn’t costing you your mental health or time away from loved ones, then that’s great.  But if it IS costing you those things (& I suspect it is for many of us), I challenge you take a step back.  Stop & smell the roses a bit.  Consider what will be important to you when you reach the end of your life.  Remember that being busy isn’t a worthwhile goal in & of itself.  Being happy & mentally fulfilled is far more important.  Remember that success has different definitions for each of us- & that’s ok.  We aren’t all on the same path so there is no need to endlessly compare ourselves to others. walk two moons quote

I’ll end this post by sharing one of my favorite quotes from one of my all time favorite books, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.  “In the course of a lifetime, what does it matter?”  I think about this phrase often & it helps me not to stress as much about everyday worries & fears while it also helps me to focus on the things that really DO matter in the course of a lifetime.  I challenge you to do the same.

The Other Side of Being a Mom with Anxiety


I saw my therapist last Monday for the first time since Christmas & it was so therapeutic that I left there thinking “I’m never skipping a monthly session ever again.” It was amazing how I could feel months worth of tension easing so much just from one therapeutic session. I also saw my NP last week for my annual physical & she reassured me that being a “Type A” person who struggles a bit with anxiety does present some unique challenges as a mom & that I should never feel the need to compare myself to other moms, especially those with different personalities &/or who don’t struggle with anxiety.

hello-my-name-is-anxiety

I struggle with anxiety, but I’ve found that this blog is a great way to tame the “anxiety monster.”

Anyhow, all that left me thinking about what being a mom with anxiety is like. No, I don’t have crippling anxiety that makes me unable to leave the house or to have a professional job or anything like that. But once I got into therapy as an adult & eventually started Prozac for my anxiety I realized how much anxiety has affected my life for a very long time, dating back to well before adolescence. In fact my blood pressure was actually elevated at times during my senior year of college & my first year after college because of my anxiety. However, once I got my anxiety better under control, especially after starting Prozac, my BP has never been high again (other than when I developed preeclampsia while pregnant, but that was obviously a whole other issue). My point is there are obviously people out there who struggle with much worse cases of anxiety than I do, but that doesn’t invalidate my struggles. Nor does it mean that my story isn’t worth sharing.

anxiety

When people think of moms with anxiety they probably think of the mom who can’t stop worrying about her child, who is obsessed with incessant “what if” scenarios: “What if I’m in a car accident with my child?” “What if he falls & hits his head?” “What if she chokes on that piece of popcorn?” Or the mom who runs in her child’s room every hour to check that she’s still breathing. While I’ve certainly had those moments as a mom- I think we all do- that really isn’t how anxiety affects me as a mom. I’m actually remarkably “chill.” For example I’ve never been a worry wart about germs. If my child eats something off the floor (at home anyway) or after the dog licks it, I just shrug & say “She’s building a good immune system.” When she was a newborn I rarely ever felt a compulsion to check her breathing while she was sleeping. Even when she had her tonsillectomy earlier this year, I was remarkably calm.

touched out

The ways anxiety affects me as a mom are a bit different. For example, I get touched out really easily. When your toddler routinely uses you as a jungle gym, this can be quite trying! As a devout introvert, I fall apart if I don’t have enough alone time– which is why nap time is so incredibly sacred for me- & also why I could probably never survive as a true full time SAHM.

Anxiety also causes me to feel like whatever stage I’m in as a mom will last forever. When my daughter was a newborn & she breastfed CONSTANTLY I felt like I was going to lose my mind because I just couldn’t imagine that things would ever change. (Talk about being touched out- breastfeeding a newborn is the ultimate way to get touched out. Ha!) Now that she is a toddler thankfully I have the knowledge that I survived that crazy period of her life so I have the reassurance that if I can survive that- which at the time seemed like it would never end- I can survive anything else she throws my way. But even so when she is in the midst of a tantrum it is very difficult for me to remember that this too is just a phase- & that it too will pass.

introverts cats

Anxiety also causes me to constantly feel inadequate as a mom. I talked about this in my last post, but I look around & see all these moms who seem naturally “gifted” with babies & toddlers & I feel like I’m an impostor. I’ve always been very honest & admitted that I’m not a “baby” person, nor am I a “toddler person.” As I’ve written in previous blog posts, for most of my life I never even wanted to be a mom, largely because I feared I’d never be able to survive the first five years or so. Eventually I changed my mind & I’m so glad I did, but I’ll be the first to admit that I highly doubt the baby/toddler years will ever be my favorite. Yes, I will have loads of wonderful memories from these stages- I already do- but I truly believe I will “come into my own” as a mom when my child is a bit older. (I suppose it isn’t “normal” to be so honest about these things but I know that somewhere there has to be a mom who feels the same way as me- & if she reads this I want her to know she’s not alone.)

Frustrated Mother Suffering From Post Natal Depression

Here lately, I’m bombarded by people telling me “Oh just wait, 3 is so much worse.” “If you think she’s difficult now, wait till you see her in a year or two.” “God help you when she’s a teenager if you think THIS is hard.” And every time I inevitably want to slap these people of course. First of all, these kind of comments are so incredibly unhelpful- in fact they’re downright discouraging- & second of all, how do you KNOW that 3 or 4 (or whatever age) is going to be harder for me? As someone who is very logical & pragmatic I think the toddler stage is particularly challenging for me because toddlers are pretty much the exact opposite of logical. Most moms are terrified of their kids growing up & having to discuss difficult subjects like war, sex, & death- but those things really don’t scare me. I know I can handle that stuff. I’m not saying it will be easy- I’m sure it won’t be. But I can handle it. I know I can.

jewish proverb

But these tantrums? The blood curdling screams- not to mention the kicks- every time I have to get my child dressed? Of if she doesn’t get the exact food she wants at the exact second she wants it? Whew, this stuff is hard, y’all. I’m not rushing her growing up, I promise I’m not. I’m just saying this toddler stage is really hard for me. I know it’s not easy for any of us, of course it isn’t. But my anxiety has definitely been on an upswing since around the time Rachel turned two. And the last thing I need is for anyone to tell me “Oh, it only gets worse from here.” So please, the next time a mom tells you she is struggling (whether she actually says it or you can just read it on her face), take a second & remember that no matter how put-together she seems- or how completely un-put together she seems- you really have no idea how she is feeling on the inside. And the last thing she needs is you telling her things are only going to get worse. After all, her child may be very different than yours. And she may be very different than you. Just give her a smile, a hug, & a quick “You’ve got this.” You might just make her whole day.

tantrum

The Return of the Bad Mom Days


Oh man, this blog post has been a long time in the making.  My computer recently broke so I ordered a new one only to receive a total lemon that wouldn’t even turn on right out of the box.  Needless to say I returned it.  My mom was generous enough to loan me her laptop since she doesn’t use it anymore while I continue to ponder which new computer I’m going to buy.  I think I’ll have my husband choose one since I seem to have such bad luck with technology.

Anyway, that is one of many reasons I’m just now getting around to writing this post.  I’ve written about this before & I’m sure I’ll write about it again, but there are days when I just don’t feel like I’m cut out for this whole parenting gig.  Lately Rachel has had SO many meltdowns.  And the worst of them are always with me.  I am fully aware this is because she is most comfortable with me & is actually kind of “flattering,” but trust me, that is hard to remember when you’re getting kicked & screamed at by your own child.

On these “bad mom days” where I feel like I’m just barely surviving I constantly wonder how other moms survive with toddlers AND newborns.  Is there something wrong with me that I can’t even begin to picture how I would tackle such a scenario?  Do I just take everything too seriously?  Do I let the crying & screaming get to me more than I should?  The truth is I just don’t know.

weird awesome

At least I like to think so . . .

Then there is this whole other phenomenon that makes me feel like a bad- or at least weird – mom.  Everywhere I go I feel like I’m constantly hearing moms say “Oh, my baby is growing up, I’m so sad.  I want them to stay little forever.”  Meanwhile I’m over here like “I cannot WAIT till my child is old enough to have REAL conversations with me & to go places without having total meltdowns, to be able to really explore the world together.”  Trust me I am enjoying where I am now but I look forward to the future & know I may well enjoy that even more.  Does that make me crazy?  Maybe it does because I feel like I’m really alone in this way of thinking.  mom guilt

Trust me, I love Rachel with my whole being.  Trust me, there are things I enjoy about this stage of parenthood.  But trust me, I also can’t help but wonder when is MY time to shine as a mom?  I feel like interacting with babies & young children just comes so naturally to most women, whereas for me I feel like I’m fumbling about trying to speak a foreign language.  On the other hand I feel much more natural with older children & teens.  Does that mean that in a few years I’ll actually feel like I’m a good mom & not just flying by the seat of my pants?  Or am I destined to always feel three steps behind?

I don’t know why I’m writing about this in a public space because I’m sure I’m opening myself up for judgment.  For people to say “Oh, she isn’t grateful for being a mom.”  “She should just shut up & enjoy it because she’ll miss this someday.”  But if there is one thing I’ve learned as a mom it’s that I really don’t give a damn what other people think.  After all, what’s easy for one mom is hard for another & what’s hard for one mom is easy for another.toddler dress

On that note, the newborn stage was really hard for me, for multiple reasons.  I’ve often said I can survive ANYTHING life throws at me since I survived that, & I still believe that.  The longer I’ve been a mom the more confidence I have in myself which makes all the new challenges that much easier to handle.  However, I must confess here lately Rachel’s tantrums have caused me to have fleeting moments of nostalgia for the newborn stage.  But then I remember how tired I was back then & I say “Hell, no, at least she sleeps through the night now.”  argeu toddler

But still this toddler stage is rough sometimes (who am I kidding?- it’s rough MOST of the time).  Especially because Rachel is usually such an angel for other people.  It’s like she saves all her crabbiness just for me.  Sometimes people even say to me “I can’t believe she has these tantrums you talk about.  She’s so sweet.”  And of course I immediately want to scream because these people have NO CLUE what they’re talking about & no clue how much it hurts to hear that.  They are as unhelpful & insensitive as the people who said “Oh you’ll miss this someday” when I was struggling so much in the newborn stage.  They usually mean well & I appreciate that, but I really do wish people would stop offering up so many unhelpful comments to moms. this too shall pass

My life motto right now is “This too shall pass.”  I constantly have to remind myself of all the other difficult stages I have survived as a mother- each of which at the time felt like it would last forever but didn’t- & know that this is just another phase, like all the others have been.  And yes, someday maybe I will miss some things about this stage.  But I have never been one to live in the past so somehow I doubt I’ll spend too much time feeling nostalgic about it.

Anyway, I’ve said all that to say this: If you’re a toddler mom & you’re struggling, you’re not alone.  If you’re a newborn mom & you’re struggling, you’re not alone.  Take a deep breath, listen to your favorite music, write a whiny blog post like I just did if you’re so inclined, & know that you can handle whatever life throws your way.  You already have- so just keep trucking.