Working On Me

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…

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33 thoughts on “Working On Me

  1. Thank you for being honest and open and sharing in your journey. Being the other mom I have already started to worry about some of these things myself (and our babies are not even here!) so it is nice to hear I am not alone on those thoughts. Just another thing I have come to appreciate about this blogging community. It sounds like you are on the right track and maybe Bruce can recommend someone to you to see to continue your therapy with. Much love to your family.

  2. I just wanna give you a big ole hug right now. You have a lot of your plate right now, and I can see that you have such a big heart and want to give 120% to everyone around you- home, wife, kids, work, and self. I’m so glad that your boss was supportive, and that your temporary therapist did a good job of helping you sort things out a big. It’s nice to hear that it seems like he understands- catastrophizing, adjustment periods being difficult. I think adjustment periods are tough for most people, but particularly for people like us who have anxiety issues, because we tend to be perfectionists and during transitions, it’s hard to control all of the factors going on around you. But remember that you and Callie are a TEAM. That means that you each make your contributions to make your family work, and they don’t need to be the same, and they can shift. You’re feeling in the dumps is a sign that you’re taking on more than you can handle right now. I don’t know where there is flex, but I believe that you two will be able to figure something out. I know that for me, if I were the sole financial provider for our family, that fact alone would give me major anxiety. I’m not sure if you feel the same way, but I suspect you do. Good luck my friend. I am here anytime you need to chat (just Facebook messenger me). I hope you find a good therapist soon. So much love to you, Callie, the babies, and Mary. You will get through this.

    • You are absolutely right about being a perfectionist and adjustment periods being more difficult. When I get thrown out of my routine, I get all frazzled and out of sorts. When you have kids who do their own thing every day and the routine is more of like a line drawn in sand, where even the smallest wave will ruin it, it’s realllllllly tough! I know that I have a ton of coping skills from when I was in the DBT program, and I have actually been really good about using them, but sometimes (thanks exhaustion) it’s difficult to apply them. And for sure, Callie and I are totally a team…sometimes, it’s hard to believe how in sync we are, but it was my own feelings of guilt and losing control that made me feel like i had to take on more and try and get some of the control back. I know NOW that it was too much, so we had a great chat, and now things are a little more, umm, not even per se, but no one is taking on more than they can handle. And also being able to leave some things for another day. When there is time for laundry, then it’ll get done, otherwise we’re all wearing the same jeans for another week! LOL! Thanks for being such a good friend!

  3. I like the find a therapist search on psychologytoday.com, you can enter your zip code then narrow search by insurance and specialty. You’ve mentioned DBT worked for you, so you can probably search for therapists who specialize in that– I think that is a search field.

    • PS you are doing a great job, it is not easy being a parent and working. I can’t imagine what it must be like with twins and dealing with the dynamics you’ve had to face with Mary’s mom and watching how it affects her. I’m glad you are going to take care of you too!

      • That’s the search engine I’ve been using. The other thing is that it’s difficult with my work schedule. I live in a suburb right outside of NYC but it’s still a 35 minute commute home, so I wouldn’t be able to see anyone until after 6, which makes it a little more difficult. I will talk to my boss though about maybe coming in late, or leaving early once a week to be able to take care of myself. I’m pretty sure she would be supportive of that. And thanks for the kind words…I really am doing my best to be the best I can…

      • Do you have sick leave you could use? Not sure if you used it all with the babies. I think requesting a flexible schedule for therapy is a reasonable accommodation in the ADA and mental health counts!

      • I used all of my sick time and personal time for when the boys were born, but i don’t mind taking time without pay to take care of myself. Not that I can really afford it right now, but i also cant afford (emotionally) to be all screwed up!

  4. Thank you for sharing this with us, and more importantly, people who can help you find tools that new parenthood has hidden from your grasp. Here’s to continued support, compassion, and perspective. You can do this–a new normal is on the horizon!

  5. I’m so glad you found someone to talk with. Therapist dating is crappy, but bravo for searching for the right fit instead of just settling. A good therapist makes all the difference in the world!

    • It really does! I have had some really crappy therapists in my life, but the ones where I did my best work, were the ones that challenged me and that I felt comfortable with which made me open up to them more. I hope i find someone that I work well with for sure!

  6. I’m so grateful for you to share your story. I’m having my own emotional crisis right now, so I really appreciate you bringing this up and sharing it. I do not envy you and you have lots of things you need to work on, I’m sure, but you need to take care you, hon! I am thinking of you and sending you lots and lots of hugs.

    • Thank you Rachael. It’s definitely a lot to take on, but I’m starting to feel like I can definitely get through this…actually i KNOW i can! I’m osrry to hear that you are going through some stuff too. I hope that it gets better for you, and that you remember that you have a community of people that support you and are behind you 100%. Receeving your hugs and sending you some right back! Kisses to Punky!

  7. You and Callie have so much going on and it is so easy for people to minimalize what is really happening in your life because you seem like troopers. You trudge on with smiles on the outside until you just can’t take anymore. You gotta take care of yourself though. Sleep deprivation can be downright dangerous to your physical and mental health. NGPs can have postpartum too! Even the strongest person with nerves of steel would snap under the pressure ya’ll are facing! I struggled for a long time because my wife just handled things better than me and it was comforting and frustrating at the same time. It made me feel terrible but finally I had to acknowledge that I am not superwoman and need breakS too. From one twin momma to another, I hear you and I hope that things calm down and you and Callie catch a break soon.

    • It’s funny that people do minimize these sorts of things. My dad said to me when I shared with him and my mom over lunch, sangria and tears, that I just have to convince myself that I got this. That sometimes talking to a therapist will make you more crazy! I know he was only trying to be helpful and remind me (in his own way) that i’m better than all of this and that I can overcome it. And Callie, although she lost her job, is in complete bliss right now. She is home with the boys, away from the place of employment that she has hated for two years, being the best mom she can be, holding me up when I’m crumbling, and putting whatever pieces that come undone back together. Seeing how strong she is really is frustrating to think i’m not holding it together quite as well. BUt one day at time, we will get there. Thanks for you encouragement and love B…kisses to the boys and the wife.

  8. I’m so glad you got some much needed help. Exhaustion can break anyone… And that’s only one of the balls you’ve been trying to juggle. I am so sorry you’ve been suffering but very relieved to sense you see a light and not only a dark tunnel ahead. Sending love and all the best to you and Callie as you find your “new normal” together.

  9. You’re amazing for being so honest with everyone – boss included – and getting the help you need! The transition to parenthood of infants (or any child, really) is freakin’ HARD! And then when you add lack of sleep to it, is it any wonder why you feel so unlike yourself?

    Exhaustion turns me into a crying, histrionic mess. I totally feel you. I’m always sending love and light your way. ❀

    • Thanks Linds…i knew it would be difficult, but never THIS hard! The only thing i can do is keep talking about it, keep checking my own feelings, and process them. This is day 4 of feeling pretty good, and hopefully this little slump will be something I wont eve remember in a few months! Thanks for being a good friend…kisses to you and Evie…

  10. Oh my swipply, I love hearing your success through this incredible journey. The mind can tell you terrible things and make you feel terrible ways when it’s broken. I’m overjoyed to hear that you are fixing it. You are an excellent mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, etc, and person. And you are only ONE person so no one expects everything from you. We are all doing the best that we can in this crazy chaotic (but beautiful) life., and YOUR best, is better than most people’s best, just sayin’! I love you my best Swipply! β€οΈπŸ˜‡πŸŒˆπŸ˜Šβ˜ΊοΈπŸ˜˜πŸ‘β˜ΊοΈ

  11. This was an incredible read. You should be extremely proud of how you handled this situation and made it through the cornfield so to speak. You already know it’s a marathon and not a sprint, but keep finding things to be positive and thankful for, lean on your support and don’t harbor/harvest the struggles and pain. It’s amazing how your supporting cast will pick you up just in time.

    I’m the farthest thing from a therapist, but We and a lot of our other woodlands family are going through this new family stuff, and I love seeing the posts and pics of all of us and our kids evolving. Keep Em coming an keep smiling!

    • Thank you! It’s not easy being a new parent, but you’re absolutely right…Lots of us are going through this adjustment period and are doing fairly well. It is pretty awesome to see so many of our Woodlands friends growing and changing with their families…it’s beautiful actually…thanks for the positive words!

    • You’re probably gonna cry your eyes out for sure…but remember, it’s a new adjustment to your life. It’s not what you want, and it’s not what you expected, but it’s what needs to be done. And then at the end of the day , you go home and see those three beautiful cuties of yours, and it’s all over! Love you right back, and give those babies a kiss for me.

  12. I’m so glad you had a chance to talk to someone and you’re feeling a little bit better. I know when I bottomed out over the summer, all it took was for me to be suddenly sitting across from a therapist and everything started magically falling back into perspective for me. She could have just sat there and not said a word and I probably still would have felt better. (Not perfect, but better.) You are an amazing woman, mother and partner, but even the best of us crack sometimes. (And yes, I am including myself in the “best of us” category. Hah.) Give those cutie pie boys some kisses and keep taking good care of yourself!

  13. Wow you are truly doing an amazing job, trying to work and care for newborns and run a household at the same time. I can’t imagine how hard this is. I’m glad you have a supportive work environment and that EAP was helpful. Babies are adorable and you look great, esp under the circumstances. Sending you a hug.

  14. Friend, I want you to know how proud you should be of yourself for recognizing how you were feeling and seeking help. That is a really courageous, really amazing thing you did. That level of personal growth is invaluable both for a parent and for someone who has had mental health issues in the past. So, first off, kudos on that.

    Now, that whole juggling life because life is all over the place? Both very normal and very, very overwhelming. It is hard to be all the people you need and want to be with all your new dynamics. You’ve added many new roles the past year: mother of newborns, wife, breadwinner. All of these new dynamics take time to work themselves out.

    It probably feels like it’s spiraling but the truth is, you’re doing an amazing job. All of your children are happy, healthy, thriving, and receiving the support from both you and Callie. You’re providing for them emotionally and financially. I’m sure Callie has told you countless times, but she is able to do what she does at home because you’re doing what you do outside of the home and both are equally important and the partnership is needed to keep everything smooth. I’m speaking from experience. I could not do everything I do if The Queen wasn’t doing everything she does. She is just as important, if not more important (honestly, probably more important because money is pretty necessary).

    Keep talking about it. Keep seeking out help if you need it, from wherever you’re finding support. Keep being as awesome as you’re being and know that some days, it’s just going to be shit no matter what you guys do and some days? It’ll be so amazing, you’re sure it’s some cosmic accident. πŸ™‚

  15. I love you so much for being so honest. Sweetie, this happens to so many of us, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You have just undergone he most radical transformation of your ENTIRE LIFE, and it’s going to take some time to adjust. All stress is caused by role conflict. Your role of provider vs. mother, etc, and you have a LOT of roles being thrown at your right now. When we don’t sleep, we also lose our fucking minds, so that’s not helping anything. I’m mentally sending you the BIGGEST hugs, and know that if I could, I’d do your laundry and let you both take a nap. πŸ™‚ Hang in, sister. I’m so glad you’re reaching out, because when we hide our struggles, they get so much worse.

  16. Pingback: A Whole Year | thechroniclesofanonbellymama

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