Life has been tough, and that is an understatement, but it’s also been so rewarding and filled with love and laughter and smiles. The past few weeks have been very difficult for me, and I had no problems reaching out to friends and family and to this community of lovely bloggers/friends for advice and for support. One thing that I kept hearing repeatedly was that it would probably be in my best interest to start seeing a therapist again. So, I made it my business to try and find one. I have to say, “therapist dating” is annoying and frustrating. I had several phone consultations but just couldn’t get a good feel for the type of person that I am looking for. I like a therapist that is going to challenge me, and ask me questions about my choices and my behavior and how I’m feeling. Someone who isn’t going to sit back and say, “I understand why you would feel that way”, but instead ask ,” And why do you think you are feeling that way”. No one I spoke to did that, not a one!
So the journey to find a therapist continues.
I had taken off Thursday and Friday of last week from work just because basically I couldn’t. I just couldn’t deal with the pressure of work and the commute and the exhaustion and I just need time. Time to pull myself together, time to spend with my wife and kids, time to share with friends, and time to catch up on some sleep. I text my boss at 5:45am on Thursday morning telling her that I wouldn’t be in because Callie had an appt (true) and that Levi had a hip ultrasound on Friday that I had already sent her an Outlook reminder about. Thank goodness for FMLA! I also added in the text that I wanted to have a conversation with her about some other “stuff” when I get back and that I would be sending her an invite for a meeting.
So I took a 4 day weekend to try my hardest to get back to my old self. I was feeling pretty good after 2 days full of cuddles, lots of kisses from my wife (who had been phenomenally supportive of my mental breakdown), Saturday birthday dinner for one of my best friend Nikki, and Sunday a baby shower for our good friends (another two mom couple) who we absolutely adore, and got to meet some other really fantastic couples there. It really was a great weekend, and being able to take that time was much needed…until the dreadful reality that Monday was just a few hours away and it would be back to those feelings of sadness and stress and exhaustion and lots and lots of tears (did I mention that I have NEVER EVER in my life cried as much as I have the past two weeks!?!? NEVER!!!)
So off to work I went on Monday morning, after a terrible nights sleep, and a treacherous snow storm, and I walk to my cube, turn on my computer, and my boss’s head pops up behind my wall and says, “Sam, how you feeling? Wanna chat around 9:30? Let’s talk. Break out room 3.” So now my heart starts racing, and I know that I am about to really trust her with some seriously personal information while still treading lightly on the fine line of “but she’s my boss and this could be used against me possibly” but I walked into that meeting with my held high, chest puffed, and unfortunately tears in my eyes. The second I sat down, I broke. The tears came flowing out and it was all over! My boss handed me the box of tissues and heard me out. I started by stating that I consider myself a good employee and valuable to any company or position that I am chosen to work for, but that in the past couple of weeks I have not been myself and I have not been diligent in my work for various reasons. I have made careless errors and I have been distracted and feeling almost lost. I wanted to make sure that she knew that I did not want to disappoint her and that I did not want to make a fool of myself or of her (we work in HR and things like this do not go without notice). I wanted her to know that I was not checking out and trying my hardest to be present In every moment at work and that I was there, totally, just struggling. Basically after a few minutes of unloading on my boss (and probably looking a damn fool!) she suggested that I go talk to Bruce over at EAP (employee assistance program). He’s the therapist. She told me she would call him right away and see if he could take me today. She reassured me that I was chosen for a reason, that I caught all of my own mistakes and corrected them promptly (and thankfully that none of them were a big deal) and that we were gonna get through this as a team. I found out that after she gave birth to her son almost 3 months premature, she went from work (7am) to hospital (6pm) to home (3am) and up for work (5:30am) for 2 and a half very long months. She knows the struggle and wants me to do whatever I need to not only be pesent At work but also for myself and my family. She gave me a hug, sorta congratulated me and thanked me for being honest with her and said she would call Bruce and touch base.
I have to admit, I felt relieved. Within 20 minutes she was calling my phone letting me know that Bruce would see me in 20 minutes! Wow! Talk about an awesome boss! So I grabbed my jacket and was off to see him. His secretary greeted me at the door and before you knew it, I was pouring my heart out to a gentleman that was everything I could have looked for in a therapist. It’s unfortunate that he can only see me for a few session before I have to find a regular therapist ::le sigh:: but I’m lucky to have been able to talk to him. In the course of one hour he was completely able to put my whole “new” life as a parent of 3 into perspective. All these feeling so anxiety and depression? Not so much related to being a new parent even with all the stressors. He said it sounds more like I’m getting anxious and depressed because of the possibility of being anxious and depressed due to my past history. I’m scared to go back there and rightfully so. What I’m really feeling is the “adjustment period”. All new parents go through it but we all have different sensitivities. He said I’m catastrophizing (Callie lost her job and now we’re gonna end up in a shelter! 😳) and that I’m super emotional because that’s what exhaustion does. I’m feeling guilty because I’m at work all day and feel like I’m not contributing to the raising of our children, but he made it clear, that I’m also taking care of my family by being the provider and he challenged my feelings of guilt by asking if Callie had ever mentioned not getting enough help. She never has! In fact, te past couple of nights she has let me sleep through the 2am feeding so that I can function at work! He said we needed to have some dialogue about me having time to myself no matter how minimal to deconpress, which of course, again, I feel guilty about, but Callie always encourages. “I don’t need help, but if I did, I have tons of it! I’ll just call one of our parents or our friends!”. True indeed! So getting rid of those feelings of guilt are also an important thing to address. He put so many things into perspective for me that I obviously couldn’t see through the sleep deprivation and piles of poopy diapers. Things were immediately feeling better. I was a feeling a little less “crazy” and a little more normal! The past 3 days went from being a 3 to a 7, just like that! So we booked another appointment for next Monday, with some homework of course, and we’ll take it from there!
So I’m fortunate enough to have a wife who is sticking by me, helping me raise this family in love and hope and trust and light. She’s held me every night for the past two weeks (and I’m usually the big spoon!) as I broke down and cried and confessed to her how I feel like such a horrible mother. I know she too is feeling some relief right about now. All in all, I’m blessed, every day, and I’m realizing that like ever big transition in life (graduating high school and going to college, moving in together, getting married, having children) there is an adjustment period, and one day at a time when, I’m adjusting the best I can…