When you’re right in the middle of it…

I’ve blogged before about how I experienced antenatal depression and how sharing my experience helped to heal.

While it isn’t easy to be vulnerable and open yourself up to potential judgement, it’s easier to share your historical experience with depression and how you overcame it than to share when you’re right in the middle of it…when you’re still in a fairly vulnerable spot. Where you’re susceptible to well-meaning folk who might say “just think happy thoughts!” which makes you want to give off a “resting b*tch face” that would make them want to quietly tiptoe backwards away from you.

But here I am saying – I am right in the middle of it. And it’s tough.

For me, depression is this unwelcome familiar feeling. The feeling that your body is heavy, your emotions are numb (because what you really feel is so unpleasant that your attempts to numb the bad feelings unintentionally numb the good feelings too). When you logically know that things will work themselves out and that you can only control what’s in your control…but even with that knowledge you can’t control the emotions that leave you in a constant Eeyore-like state.

It’s subconsciously pulling out all of the stops so your outer appearance “looks normal” (and others have said you look like your usual self), but inside you feel bits of your soul and happiness crumbled inside your body. It’s “just not feeling yourself” for extended periods of time…hoping that you’ll “feel yourself” today. but feeling like at any point in time you’re not too far from shedding a tear or unintentionally snapping at someone. And you’ve done both a few times over the last few weeks.

It’s telling yourself don’t give up, you can get through this, there are so many benefits to just sucking it up and getting through this, just stick it out a bit longer because things are bound to turn, I know you can do this……………………………but not knowing when things will turn, and if you’re at a point where continuing down this road is throwing good money after bad money…or if you’re at a point where it’s time to make a different choice.

It’s exhausting.

It’s tempting to end this post on an optimistic, chipper note…as if to say “This sucks, but look at me – super rational, ambitious, goal-oriented woman!!!!!” – complete with a charming grin, wink and thumbs up.

But let’s not say that.

Let’s say that I’m a work in progress and that that’s okay.

Let’s just say that I’m prioritizing sleep and exercise, to try to naturally battle it, I’m keeping commitments to a minimum (but spontaneously spending time with friends when I feel up to it), and I know that if I continue to feel unhealthy months down the road, that I will need to make some intentional decisions to limit stressors & ensure my health doesn’t suffer – for both myself and my family.

And that’s okay.

Daily Snapshot – Day #22

“We can give ourselves a fresh start whenever we want…we just need to give ourselves permission to do so.” (Is it wrong to quote yourself? Last night, this phrase was a welcome reminder after a stressful work day)

I am grateful for … a church that believes in promoting inter-faith dialogue and that actively seeks out opportunities to work together with our Muslim neighbors. On a regular basis. Not just in response to terrorist attacks.

I am hopeful that… I prioritize rest this upcoming weekend. And challenge myself to … focus on taking care of myself in the now, instead of focusing so much on taking care of others and pre-planning for the future (if that makes sense). That sounds kind of brutally self-centered, but everyone needs some time to rejuvenate and refresh. And let’s be honest, between work messy-ness and toddler tantrums I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed these days.

I enjoyed … the mint Aero bar I devoured with my lunch.

Previous Challenge: I am hopeful that… I spend the hours of my day intentionally and focus on my priorities, instead of falling into old habits. And challenge myself to … see when I’m falling into an old habit and pause for a moment to ask myself “Does this make my family healthier or bring value to their life? Does this make me healthier or bring value to my life?” Does this bring value to someone else’s life?”

Update on Previous Challenge: I felt like I did a pretty good job on this! Minus some facebook surfing yesterday, for the past few days I was very mindful of what I was spending time doing at home. And it was really either cleaning, laundry food prepping, spouse time, or catching up with people on the phone…yesterday was a difficult day and sometimes you lean on the crutch that has supported you in the past.

Daily Snapshots – Day #21

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take the step.”

I am grateful for … new beginnings. Whether it’s from a new job, new city, new friendship, new year…heck, you could consider the start of a new week or a new day a new beginning! New beginnings are great for re-energizing yourself, for letting go of things that held you down in the past and for giving you the conviction to take steps (baby steps or big steps) towards being your best and truest self. If you think about it, we can give ourselves a fresh start whenever we want…we just need to give ourselves permission to do so.

I am hopeful that… I spend the hours of my day intentionally and focus on my priorities, instead of falling into old habits. And challenge myself to … see when I’m falling into an old habit and pause for a moment to ask myself “Does this make my family healthier or bring value to their life? Does this make me healthier or bring value to my life?” Does this bring value to someone else’s life?”

I enjoyed … seeing the world with new eyes. While driving to work I noticed a bird’s nest in a tree and wondered what J would think if she saw it. I imagined how she’d be curious about who made it, how it got there, what it was made of, etc…and when I realized how much it took for that nest to be built I was in awe. what do I mean?

I mean a seed was planted to make the tree that bore the twigs and leaves (building materials), two birds would have mated to give birth to the bird that made the nest, that bird would have scavenged every twig and leaf, and spent hours building the nest…it was pretty impressive when I thought about it.

Then I drove a bit further and saw a hydro pole and thought the same thing – tree would have been planted, cut down and shaped at some lumber yard/plant to make it into a hydro pole. Somebody would have needed to stake it in to the ground, someone else would have fed all the wires through it, installed the attachments to make the wires stay in place, etc…not to mention another company would have made those wires and wire attachments…and on top of that someone would have had to initially plan and invent the structure of these things. A hydro pole! All that work! And here I sit pretty with the luxury of hydro because all these people contributed their individual parts…pretty cool.

Previous Challenge: I am hopeful that… I stay positive and focused when things get tough. To recognize my feelings when I get overwhelmed. And challenge myself to … allow myself to really feel and experience the moment I’m overwhelmed…soak it in…every last tense muscle, strained breath, quickened heart beat, racing thought…..be aware of it all and acknowledge on it.

Then breathe it out. And focus on how I can best attack the overwhelming challenges.

For breathing. For being flexible to embark on mini family adventures. For having time open to doing crafts as a family. For having time to catch a Sat. morning movie, if we so fancy.

For simply having the ability to live in the moment.

Update on Previous Challenge: I allowed myself to really feel and experience the “overwhelmed-ness” a few times the day I wrote that post. And then I forgot about it….but with the reminder I just allowed myself to experience it again…and it’s such a relief to embrace it, instead of fight it, then let it go.

Daily Snapshots – Day #20

“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.” – Karen Ravn

Love this.

I am grateful for … medication, safe travels, and making it through an out-of-town conference on 2 hrs of sleep and a tired body. Thanks for hanging in there, Body! 😉

I am hopeful that… I stay positive and focused when things get tough. To recognize my feelings when I get overwhelmed. And challenge myself to … allow myself to really feel and experience the moment I’m overwhelmed…soak it in…every last tense muscle, strained breath, quickened heart beat, racing thought…..be aware of it all and acknowledge on it.

Then breathe it out. And focus on how I can best attack the overwhelming challenges.

I enjoyed … talking to my husband about the workings of hydro companies, asking questions about the effects of the current inflated prices on the industry, and learning a heck of a lot more than I ever thought I would about a topic I, quite honestly, haven’t cared too much to learn about.

Previous Challenge: I am hopeful that… I consciously block time in my family’s schedule for unwinding. For not going out of town. For not having company over. For not getting caught up on laundry.

For breathing. For being flexible to embark on mini family adventures. For having time open to doing crafts as a family. For having time to catch a Sat. morning movie, if we so fancy.

For simply having the ability to live in the moment.

Update on Previous Challenge: We have out-of-town plans with family this weekend. Given the current sickness and exhaustion, I called to say that we’d have to see how we were feeling and that there was a chance we might not come…and that if we did come, it would be for the day and not overnight.

I was creating flexibility! Unintentionally! But perhaps subconsciously because I had planted the thought in my head through yesterday’s challenge…way to go Subconscious Brain!

It felt so nice to not have the pressure in the back of my mind of “just get through this week to Friday…then make sure you get up early enough on Saturday to get to Toronto, have multiple visits then drive home that night…then take the girls Sunday morning to give H a chance to catch up on sleep. Then try to nap when they’re napping……………..pending there isn’t a backload of laundry that’s begging to be done, or something else which……”

Because really – that’s how my mind works. It was nice to say “Yup, we committed to something, but given the current circumstances, we need to reassess closer to the date to do what works best for our family.”

*big sigh of relief*

Daily Snapshots – Day #19

“You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens.”

I am grateful for … God-given direction to slowdown. While battling an ear infection, throat infection and pinkeye…throw in a case of confirmed pinworms in J, and we hunkered down and stayed home this weekend, instead of the 4 hours of travel in a day + baby shower that were originally planned this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, it was terribly hectic, tiring, and uncomfortable, but I like to think of this being part of God’s plan to extend his hand and say I’m going to slow this right down for you. I’m not going to give you a choice but to slow down, rest, and get a bit more caught up on life.

I need that.

I often struggle with wanting to do more and believing that I can make anything happen if I just go for it and make it happen…but it often comes at the cost of rest. This is a second reminder to myself that too much of a good thing is too much.

I am hopeful that… I consciously block time in my family’s schedule for unwinding. For not going out of town. For not having company over. For not getting caught up on laundry.

For breathing. For being flexible to embark on mini family adventures. For having time open to doing crafts as a family. For having time to catch a Sat. morning movie, if we so fancy.

For simply having the ability to live in the moment.

I enjoyed … watching C dance for the first time (i.e. slightly bending her knees and lightly bouncing up and down). I love how the radio brings out all our family members’ dancey-ness.

Previous Challenge: I am hopeful that… our family continues to be open to new opportunities to grow personally, relish in new experiences, and grow as a family. Whether it’s trying a new sport, new food, or traveling to a new country.

Update on Previous Challenge: I think my new challenge fits nicely with this previous challenge (an unintentional coincidence!). I think that by creating more space in our schedules we’ll have the ability to do these things. I suppose the question is should I book these opportunities to ensure these experiences happen (which is my tendency), or should I instead block time in our schedules and keep a running list of potential things we can do…I think the more flexibility the better. 🙂

Daily Snapshots – Day #18

“F.E.A.R. has two meaning – ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise’…the choice is yours.”

I am grateful for … supportive people at work who listen, understand, and take action. A great job can be torture with difficult co-workers, and a messy job can be enjoyable (or at least tolerable) with supportive co-workers.

I am hopeful that… our family continues to be open to new opportunities to grow personally, relish in new experiences, and grow as a family. Whether it’s trying a new sport, new food, or traveling to a new country.

I enjoyed … asking J what she wanted to be when she grew up and after some thought she excitedly responded “I want to make food!”. She went on to share that she wanted to make pizza, bananas, water, ice, beer, hamburgers, calamari and pepperoni…and how she needed a restaurant book (menu) and suggested that we go to a restaurant to buy one. It was the best. [When we tried to re-create the magic over dinner she said that she wanted to work on a computer…the possibilities are endless when you’re 3!). Heck, if you think of it, the possibilities are actually endless when you’re 30!]

Previous Challenge: I am hopeful that… I stay motivated to better myself at work and at home and continue to set daily goals (there’s another set I keep by my bedside)  and challenge myself to … share these with someone in hopes that it will inspire them to set their own goals and give me a “goal buddy” so we can encourage each other.

Update on Previous Challenge: I did not do so well on this! The holidays interrupted my routine of setting daily goals…and to be honest, I felt the effects! During the time I wasn’t doing these daily goals I could sense myself feeling a bit lost…I noticed myself resorting to mindlessly surfing the internet or Facebook to fill time even though I was tired and would’ve benefited from sleeping earlier.

It’s hard to know where you’re going when you don’t know where you want to be.

Goals are my friends! I haven’t approached anyone to be my “goal buddy” (and completely forgot about that), but will look into this…

Daily Snapshots – Day #17

“Your soul could never grow old, it’s evergreen.” – Ed Sheeran

I am grateful for … lifestyle changes that have allowed me to spend more time doing things I want to be doing. By not watching tv and not routinely turning the computer on in the evening I’ve found more time for sleeping, reading my Bible (which seemed like a very lofty goal about a decade ago), and decluttering which has made my life significantly less stressful and chug through the day with a bit more confidence and conviction.

I am hopeful that… I stay motivated to better myself at work and at home and continue to set daily goals (there’s another set I keep by my bedside)  and challenge myself to … share these with someone in hopes that it will inspire them to set their own goals and give me a “goal buddy” so we can encourage each other.

I enjoyed … a weekend filled with quality time with my girls – including a girl’s breakfast at McDonald’s (a.k.a. breakfast of champions), Christmas shopping for their daycare provider, and a photo/visit with Santa at the mall (with mom sitting between the girls and Santa……………naturally). We also put up our Christmas tree and decorations – significantly later than most people, but rather than stress about how long it would be up for, we focused on enjoying the activity and less on how we were “behind compared to other families”. Life is busy! I don’t do anything perfectly, but I now make it a point to only do things that bring value to the lives of my family, friends and myself.

Previous Challenge: I am hopeful that… I never believe that I’m too small or insignificant to make a difference and challenge myself to … regularly reflect on how I can help or show love towards those who struggle with a variety of challenges life has dealt them (whether they live in my neighborhood or miles & oceans away), and action those intentions.

Update on Previous Challenge: I was able to put into action my love for another family. It wasn’t without some self-doubt – “What if they think this is dumb?”, “What if they wonder how I could possibly think this would help?”, “What if they think ‘That’s it?’?”, “What if they think ‘I don’t need this…’?'”. These weren’t a reflection of how I actually thought the family would think/feel, but a reflection of my own insecurities. In the end, I just focused on what I thought would be nice and said the worst that could happen is that they think it’s dumb, that it doesn’t help and that I gave them something they don’t need…..but the best thing that could happen is that they felt love from another person, they felt encouraged, and that it brought them happiness.

The expressions of gratitude and happiness they shared was so relieving and heart-warming. I received the most beautiful smile and hug from an amazing little girl. And they gave me the gift of remembering that as adults we can often overthink things and doubt ourselves out of being the best people we can be and achieving our full potential. My fallback advice to myself is always “What would you tell your daughters if they were in the same situation?”