As the time has moved closer and closer to me returning to work, I have felt like anxiety is rising to the surface. It feels like I'm living in that scene of The Little Mermaid when Ariel and Eric are clinging on to each other in the middle of the dark sea and Ursula is bubbling up below them, ready to throw them into her craziness. Lauren has been getting better and moving further away from her health problems, which is allowing me to deal with the problems that I have been left with. The depression that I'm fighting with and the anxiety that I have to work against are my focus now.

Thinking about throwing work into the mix has caused my anxiety to grow into a scary monster. I will be sitting with Lauren while she's eating away and clapping her messy little hands together and I have flashbacks where I can see her now but I also see her collapsing in her high chair with her eyes rolling back. It is sort of like I'm having double vision and I have to consciously think about what the reality is and push the flashback away. I repeat to myself, "This is the present. Lauren is sitting here. She is happy. She is safe. Look at her eating, etc, etc." until I can see her clearly again. It actually takes a lot of effort to live in the present sometimes.

I contacted someone about returning to work on a graduated basis and that led to a meeting about how I'm doing now. Depression and anxiety are a tricky thing because you look healthy on the outside. I tend to think about how I'm doing day by day and I've found some ways to cope. At our meeting, I had to go over all of the ways that my life is impacted and we ended up as a good sized list. It was a little overwhelming because I had never put it all together in one place but it showed me that I might still have more difficulty than I thought. When I went to my doctor to discuss going back to work he told me that I wouldn't be going back in this school year. And in that moment, half of me fought against his decision and half of me breathed such a sigh of relief that it was like I had never had oxygen before. 

Before Matt and I got married, we only had one fight... and it was epic. It lasted for three days and involved lots of arguing and tears (on my part). We had different desires for our family life. I didn't want children and Matt wanted me to be a stay at home mom. We were on completely different ends of the spectrum and there seemed to be no happy resolution. After those three days of blah, we decided that I would probably have a kid but I would continue to work and we would use daycare. About a year after we got married, the baby bug came knocking (/banging loudly/screaming FIRE) and I could not ignore it. But we tried and after a year and a half, I had a diagnosis that ended with a doctor telling me that I wouldn't be having kids. Thankfully another doctor felt that there was a medication that might help and soon we were pregnant with Lauren! If I thought that the preamble to Lauren was a roller coaster, I had no idea what a roller coaster was. I worried constantly through the pregnancy that I wouldn't be able to love Lauren enough but the moment she was placed on my chest, I knew that I loved her in a way that I did not even know was possible. And she was mine... for a few months, until I almost lost her. To go through such an overwhelming love and to experience such deep, screeching fear in a short amount of time was enough to send me over the edge with my depression. It was all I could do to keep myself moving.

Now, it has been three months since Lauren's last surgery and she is rocking the show! With Lauren doing so well it finally gives me time to start dealing with myself. Going back to work would help to fight against my feelings of being lazy and not contributing to our house, but staying home will allow me to accept that my self-perceived laziness is actually depression and exhaustion and taking care of Lauren is a full time job, so I am contributing. I am so used to being busy and being defined by the things that I do that I have a hard time being kind to myself. One of my friends told me that this time off of work is like being given the gift of time. So, now that I am not going back to work just yet, I'm going to focus on getting outside, eating well, and doing devotions on a regular basis. When my depression was first postpartum depression, doing devotions was just as healing, if not more healing, as taking the medication. If I want to get off of the medication eventually, I need to find other ways to help keep myself healthy, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Lauren has had her time to recover and now it is my time.

Tomorrow, Matt and I are going out on a date. I will get out of my sweatpants, put on makeup and I can't wait. Have I ever mentioned that I have the best husband? He has been so kind to me through this past year and he helps me to be gentle with myself. Sometimes I think he must wonder where the woman he married has gone, and tomorrow she is coming back. It will take conscious effort at first but I know that I can recover from this.

1 comment:

  1. Amanda, you are wonderful. Never second guess what your love has led you to - it's all good. Coming to terms with what you and your body needs right now, and taking action to build your physical and emotional strength is just the right thing to be doing! Enjoy your date! You certainly deserve to be celebrated!


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