Good days, bad days

by DaniGirl on May 19, 2009 · 11 comments

in It IS all about me, Rants and rambles

One of the most valuable things that this blog has given me has been a record of the minutiae of our daily lives. Not only of the milestones and special occassions and momentous changes, but of the rhythm of every-day life as our family has grown.

And because I tend to blog whatever is in my head, however I happen to be perceiving it, the blog is in a lot of ways like my own personal mood barometer. Without it, I might not have realized, for instance, that the month of May seems to be a particularly difficult time for me on an emotional level. It’s a funny time to be depressed, with the flowers blooming and the days growing longer and full of sunshine and warmth, but for whatever reason, I seem to be more likely to be anxious and even mildly depressed in May. Also in November, which makes a little more sense from a seasonal perspective.

(May also happens to be when I am most fertile. Of five pregnancies, four of them were conceived in May or June. Even with the vasectomy last year, I can’t bring myself to have unprotected sex this month!!)

A friend and I were discussing the anxieties of parenting, and what you do on the dark days when it seems like you’ve truly lost control. I don’t blog about those feeling much anymore, partly because it got a little embarrassing having my colleagues who read the blog come rushing into my cubicle to check on my obviously precarious mental health after reading that morning’s rant, and partially because I was just sick of listening to myself whine about the tedium of the anxiety of the moment when by the time I hit “publish” or at latest, the next morning, I was over whatever knot had twisted my knickers.

The anxieties still come and go, though, in a sort of a regular cycle that I am now learning to recognize. That recognition has been a huge relief in and of itself, because now I can simply say, “This too shall pass” and believe myself. I can see in the blog that I’ve felt overwhelmed by my own life on a fairly regular basis, that the feelings of being incompetent and lost and simply exhausted by it all come and go like the tulips and the fall leaves — sometimes in a couple of hours, sometimes over the course of a couple of days.

I’ve even wondered, occassionally. whether I should find a way — through therapy, maybe, or medication — to try to fight off the bad days, the dark moods, the wrenching anxiety that occasionally gets the better of me and turns me into a tantrumming two-year-old or feeling hollow and frustrated and incapable. But then the tides turn and I feel strong and smart in control again, and I forget — until the next time.

All this to say, in talking to my friend about this, she said that if nothing else, it was good to know somebody else sometimes feels that way, too. It makes me wonder whether we’re all in a similar place on that continuum of contentment to anxiety, slipping back and forth depending on season and circumstance.

It’s a very personal subject, and something we just don’t talk about very much, even in this most personal and intimate of forums, but if you’d like to talk about it I’m curious: do you know that feeling, of slipping beyond comfortable footing into the panic of despair? Do you just hold your breath and wait it out, knowing that this too shall pass, or do you have other ways of coping? How do you judge the difference between “I’m having a bad day” and “I need professional help” and “I really need to get the hell out of my head”? (That last one would be my personal Achilles heel.) When the stress threatens to break out of whatever containment system you’ve rigged up in your brain, what do you do to get it back under control?

(And even as I type, I’m thinking about just deleting the whole post, because it’s too close to the sort of self-indulgent navel-gazing and whining that I dislike in myself. But I’ll publish it, because if nothing else I don’t have any other ideas for today.)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Annika May 19, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Dani…am I ever glad/thankful that you wrote this blog today! I am still new-ish to parenting, but I have two little ones now and I definitely feel the following, often all at once or in various tones depending on the day and how I am handling the demands of my babies:

*I’ve never been so content or in love
*I am anxious out of my mind over the mini-crisis of the moment
*I’m in control
*I’m SO not in control
*Am I doing a good job as a parent?
*I have everything I’ve ever dreamed of, so why am I often overwhelmend and down?
*I am grateful to be surrounded by love all day, every day
*Will I ever feel rested again?
*Why do I sometimes want to take out my stress on my spouse? Will our marriage survive these busy years?

I cope by leaning on my friends and my husband, and by exercising (stress reduction), oh and by eating chocolate. LOTS of chocolate. I think having the ability to say and know, “This too shall pass” or “I will and can do better tomorrow or in five minutes or whatever” means that things are okay and we don’t need formal therapy. I think.

No one ever told me how all-consuming and stressful and intense parenting is. Or how incredibly isolating it can be. I count on online friends and blogs such as this one to help me feel a sense of community and to know that I am not alone. Thank you for writing this. You have no idea how much I needed it at just this moment.

2 colleen May 19, 2009 at 4:23 pm

There will be nothing more difficult in your life than being a Mother. Every day is hard but when those angels are tucked in for the night, there is nothing more beautiful. I well remember when my children were small and I felt just like you..I cried a lot. Older Mothers would tell me how it would all pass. Not very helpful when you are having a breakdown but ultimately true. I wish I had some sage advice but sadly I do not. For some strange reason we muddle along and our children and husbands love us anyway. I know you Dani, and you are a strong, talented and funny person. Your sense of humour will get you through. That and some good choclate and the occasional glass of red wine.

3 Kerry May 19, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Hey Dani – I don’t think you need to have kids to have this problem. It’s more of a life thing, and sometimes it’s a chemical issue, too. If you’re wondering, you might want to try EAP where the first few therapy sessions are free. They’ll help you figure out if you’re dealing with something bigger than the occasional massive insecurity that temporarily overwhelms you. Remember when you were single and/or kidless and you changed your clothes five times before going to work because nothing *felt* right? Same insecurity, different issue.

EAP is indeed, as always, my answer to everything. They help a lot of people and could help you define what’s normal and what might need a little more help.

4 Brie May 19, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Oh, I have those days! I have had my dad jokingly ask if he should be calling the paramedics after reading one of my blog posts. I even stopped blogging for awhile (even though I just started and love it) because I was feeling bad for complaining all the time. But then I realized it isn’t really complaining. It is just accurately describing my day and how I felt during it.

What often gets me through the day is phone calls to my husband. Yay for desk jobs! I talk to him, he listens and that gets me through until the next phone call. Sometimes I just walk away from the kids (making sure they are safe of coarse). And I breathe. Deep.

Thank you for your post. Sometimes I feel like it is just me struggling through the day. Like I am a bad mom for not being able enjoy my children all the time or prevent tantrums. It helps to find other moms who will talk honestly about their lives. While I love those kids, I don’t always love the day with them.

5 Bonita May 19, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I can so relate…how about those times when you feel like crawling out of your skin! When your friend looks at you like you have two heads because you are so “not yourself”.

6 Marianne May 19, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Thank you for your post today, and also to those who have already responded. It is so good to know that I am not alone. In my case, the challenges I encounter in making sure my home and my husband and 18-month old daughter are loved and valued and looked after are only compounded by my job as an elementary school teacher in a community with a very high-needs population (and an especially emotionally needy class this year). Wish I coudl go into more detail, but apart from the need to maintain confidentiality, if I got going I might not stop!

I have considered medication, but for now have decided to try to manage without, since we are trying for baby #2 and we don’t want to be doing a trial of medication at the same time, nor do we want to delay trying. I am learning to just do the best I can, and to do as much as I can, and to leave the rest. And hopefully, it will get easier as I go on! In the meantime, I can’t wait for summer vacation and a chance to re-charge and regroup (and hope for a calmer class group next year … or at least, some different problems to drive me nuts!)

7 smothermother May 20, 2009 at 6:46 am

Dani your blogs about the tough days pull a lot of us “new” mothers through the day. When I was on mat leave I cherished reading your blog everyday knowing that I wasn’t the only one going insane. I have finally realised that most of my bad days are monthly cycle induced and have learned to cope with them. But i have seeked professional help which helped me get through the panick attacks I started to have on a regular basis. Some days parenting just sucks and everyone needs to know that that is an ok feeling to feel. as long as you get to the other side. Do what feel right, wether EAP, support groups, friends, family or your blog. You do work a lot of things through your head as you write. I would just ask you not to delete them once you have worked it through as they help a lot of other moms out there. I know, big favour to ask. I guess that’s the price to pay for such a great blog! 😉

8 yvonne May 20, 2009 at 10:05 am

Whew. That is all I can say.

9 Sharon May 20, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I don’t know how to answer this Dani…There are days I feel like there is no hope and then the next I’m smiling and thinking…I really got to quit thinking like that.
I feel that I was a good mother to one and crappy mother to the lastest one and I am loosing control with this one more and more. Actually I feel completely out of control on most days. BUT not in a bad way KWIM? I think with me it’s a mid life thing. I’m going through so many personal changes I don’t think my mind can keep up.

You can do it is all I can say…day to day. It’s all I can do at the moment.

10 meanie May 21, 2009 at 7:03 am

eeesh. with my first kid it took nine months be diagnosed with severe Post Partum and go on medication. With the second, the first sign of anxiety/depression I went straight to the doctor and got help (I didn’t want to waste nine months again!) now medication free, with many more stresses in my life, i just sort of roll with it and my mantra is “i’m not saving lives here” to put things i perspective. good thing i’m not a doctor.
i still have my moments, but i am much much better at dealing with them.
and i think women should talk more about it. it doesn’t help anyone to pretend you are perfect.

11 Chantal May 21, 2009 at 8:45 am

I have those days, even those weeks. Sometimes my husband will say to me “You just don’t seem happy?” and you know what, sometimes I am just not happy. I tend to clam up when I feel that way. Which hurts my husband but he is getting used to it. After 10 years of marriage he has learned that if he sits back and lets me wallow for a while eventually I will open up and we will talk it out. My biggest problem is that the things that upset me the most, our finances, my job, my disorganized cluttered house, just won’t go away (especially on their own, why oh why can’t I just wave a magic wand!). So I get upset about the same stuff over and over. It is boring and I also get sick of myself.

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