Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Confessions of an Anxiety-Ridden Mother

There's nothing quite like sick children to push you to the brink of insanity. Both of the girls have some sort of virus with a fever and sores in their mouth. The doctor said it should pass in a few days, but they are both whiny and miserable. Add to that the fact that Amelia is a lousy sleeper (just ask everyone at the family reunion- she won the award for the Noisiest Sleeper) and you have two very cranky parents. Dan injured his back in a biking accident a couple weeks ago and it's just not healing up. He's been taking narcotics and trying to take it easy, but it's just not going away. He's very stressed about work because the jobs are taking much longer to complete and get paid for than we had originally anticipated. Money problems suck. Period.

My good friend Jenny and I shot a wedding together a few weeks ago. Don and Lora, my brother and his wife, were friends with the bride's dad so they were there too. We all sat together to eat and at one point I got up to take a few photos. Jenny and Lora were talking about me and how I was so easy going and just let things slide off my back. Lora was like, "I don't know how she does it." Jenny's answer was, "Prozac." Said in jest, yet true (this is an answer I have given Jenny many times when she's asked me the same question.)

I don't feel like that kind of person anymore. For about the last two months I have been noticing my anxiety level increasing. I keep thinking that I'll feel better when Amelia starts sleeping better or when finances aren't such a burden. I just feel like I can't cope anymore. It sounds so weak; there are always other people who have much worse problems. On Monday I went and tended 4 kids for a lady in the neighborhood who is pregnant with her 5th child and has to be on bed rest. She has an incompetent cervix so she has had to be on bed rest with every one of her pregnancies. And they have all been unplanned despite using multiple kinds of birth control. And here's the kicker: the oldest kid is 6. Holy crap! The age differences are 14 months, 26 months, 19 months, 18 months, and this last one will be 18 months. If that were me I'd be in the funny farm for sure. Yet I have trouble coping with my two kids who are 4 years apart.

When Lily was younger I used to take medication for anxiety on an as-needed basis, usually once a week or so. I can't exactly recall, but I think I started taking it around the time of the punching-the-wall-in-a-rage-and-breaking-my-hand incident when Lily was around 2 1/2. It's a somewhat amusing anecdote, but something I'm definitely not proud of. Lily was throwing a fit about staying up late and I told her she could stay up, but that her Dad and I were going to bed. She started screaming because she wanted me to stay downstairs. I was so tired and cranky, reasoning with her wasn't working, nor was yelling. In a fit of rage I punched the wall and the wall won. I fractured the hand bone under my pinky finger. Some of you may remember the hand brace I was wearing at the family reunion in 2004. I was embarrassed but I kept consoling myself by saying, "at least I hit the wall and not my kid." It was a big wake-up call that I needed to get my emotions under control.

I don't want to go there again. I quit taking the anxiety meds when we started trying to get pregnant because they cause birth defects. I've continued to stay off of them because you can't take them while you are nursing. I was hoping I could get my anxiety under control at least until Amelia turned one, so I could keep nursing. But I am a wreck right now. Every day in my prayers I beg for some relief, for Amelia to sleep better, to stop stressing so bad about everything. Dan keeps reminding me that Lily went through a similar phase with not sleeping well. Time has mellowed those memories, but I am certain that I'm not coping as well with it now as I did then.

I find myself yelling, even at the baby, for the smallest things, like when Amelia puts her hands in her dirty diaper or when she starts crying the minute I lay her down. During the day she's getting more and more leechy and I'm getting more and more distant. Moms are supposed to feel nurturing and want to comfort their children. Instead I find myself pissed off when Lily whines or Amelia fusses. I think, "when will they just leave me alone?"

It's very hard for me to accomplish any work with my photography business because the girls are so needy right now. And quite frankly, in the past couple of weeks I've just stopped caring. I just can't handle the stress of knowing that I'm late on everyone's orders, yet my baby is sitting by my feet at the computer just crying for me to hold her all day. It's just too much to try to take care of your kids and make a significant financial contribution to the family, all from home. I'm doing a mediocre job at both. A couple times I have looked into just putting the kids into daycare and getting a full-time job, but it just doesn't really help us financially at all. I just want to feel like I am taking good care of my kids and supporting my husband the best I can without constantly being stressed out and distracted by work at home.

This has been quite the venting session. Perhaps it's a bit too much information to admit on my blog, but I've never been shy about my feelings or my opinions. And blogging is really a release for me. It's an outlet where I can say what I want and do something for myself. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow to talk about my anxiety, so hopefully there will be something I can do to make it better.


Kris said...

Hi Sue,
I hope the doctor visit helps. I'm sorry things are hard right now. You are a great mom. I'll email you so I don't write an epistle on your blog. Hang in there!

Josh and Jenn said...

Hey Sue, I'm sorry I missed your call yesterday. I was working at the office all day, and I left my phone at home. I'm pretty busy with work lately, but if I have a night off I'll definitely call you so you and Dan can go out for a night on the town. We definitely don't need any more broken fists for you, so I'd be happy to help!

Lizzy Lou said...

Advice from your crazy 'ole Aunt Eliz: Live simply, Sharpen your saw and Antidpressive meds were designed for the modern LDS woman! First of all, we all attempt to accomplish too much... and if you attend relief society on a regular basis, you try even harder. Calm down and realize that you are a wonderful person who is greatly loved and respected for all the tasks you accomplish. You are great at what you do. Give yourself alot of credit for just getting up every day. And don't listen to all the negative voices in the world. They are not necessarily telling the truth, they only see their perspective. Take a deep breath and let a few things slide. Believe me it will not matter in 25 years. #2. Sharpen your saw: That's a Stephen Covey-ism. Meaning you can't cut firewood if you don't take time to seat and sharpen the axe. It means take time to build yourself up before you work to help any body else. #3. I am a great believer in use of modern medication. At work, I see miracles happen because of proper use of modern meds. Just as miraculous as the use of penicillin in that day and age. I have certainly seen it help in my own family and in myself. The brain is an amazing organ which is not unlike the heart. It could use a little tweaking with modern meds. Just think of how many people take meds for heart conditions or diabetes and think nothing of it. But think they are being a weakling if they have to be on psych meds. Believe me, Making your life better with approved medication is the modern answer to the use of antibiotics aganist germs. Well, the bottom line is this: I love you and rock on!!! But take a nap first.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Sue, motherhood is very stressful and is quite sacrificial for the 1st 24 yrs or so. remember you're loved and admired by family & friends alike! Thanx for sharing your pain. WE CARE!

Becky in Wyo said...

Sister, sister, sister. I could right an epistle, too. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! Children will drive you up a wall, and it is so difficult to work at home. I know, I've tried, and frankly, I couldn't do it. Either the kids suffered, or the business suffered, and I could never reach a happy medium. This daycare thing has only worked for me because it allows me to completely turn myself over to children, and therefore I don't feel so torn in two anymore. But two things that will help you in your photography business: the sleep issue (which, thank goodness, as of this comment, you have made a major breakthrough thanks to Dr. Ferber), and figuring out a way to do the majority of your work without the kids. Sad, but true. This could mean getting part-time daycare, so that 9am - noon, they're with someone else, and you ARE NOT allowed to do anything but photography. Now that Lily is in school, see if you can get a sitter during the mornings for Amelia. Another option is to work your way into early bedtimes with the kids, (like 8pm) so that you can get a solid 3 hours of photography in a night. The hard part of all of this, is to discipline yourself to use your alone time to do work, and not take it as personal time for bills, errands, housework, reading, favorite tv shows, or any kind of goofing off. That's the problem I always ran into when I tried to do my business at home: it was hard to give up my alone time to the business. I just could not be consistent with my work ethic, and was too easily distracted by other stuff. It seems counter-intuitive, because the great perk of working at home is supposed to be flexible time, but I think the best way to run a home business is to have a very structured environment and schedule. (This time of day I work, this time of day I can do housework & bills, these times during the day I have for my family, etc.) If you have the discipline to stick to your schedule for the most part, I think you can better develop the skills you need to ignore the things that aren't really an emergency, but will have to be done eventually (bills, housework, church commitments, etc.) And your kids know what to expect out of you, too, when you are on a schedule. I'm in an environment now that automatically structures me: Part of my job is to see that meals are served at regular times, and nap-time is also at a predictable time as well, so because of the structure, daycare is succeeding for me in many ways that the scrapbooking did not.

Oh, monkeys. I wrote an epistle anyway. Hope this helps. LOVE YOU!!!

Becky in Wyo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky in Wyo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky in Wyo said...

Oops, I had to delete the extra copies of my long post. My computer was being weird. That's all!

Laura said...

Sue, sorry it took me so long to check out your blog (you left me a comment almost a week ago!). I love this post. I'm totally linking to it ;)